January in the Asylum

Dear                    ,

It’s been seventeen days since you last wrote. Seventeen days since I stopped writing. Seventeen days since I last called you Lover.

I just wanted to ask about New Years Eve. Did they light the fireworks again? Did you walk down Copley Avenue in the snow and watch the night explode through silhouetted trees? Did you slide into old bars and eat your family’s food and do all the things you told me about?

Did you miss me at all?

Sorry. I hope you’re doing well. I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’m thinking about you right now. Missing the scattered pages I used to wake up to back when I fell asleep reading your letters with your voice in my head and breath in my ear.

I’ve started packing to leave this place and to reenter the world outside these gates. The world where you are. But I’ve stopped calling you Lover and, though I can walk down your streets, I can’t knock on your door.

Damn. I’m sorry. I just miss you is all.

I’m sorry I couldn’t catch you. I’m sorry that, from inside these gates, I couldn’t care for you. That these gates aren’t an excuse anymore. That I gave up.

I just wanted to write and assure you that if you’re hurting, I’m hurting too. And that I’m fine like a marathoner running mile 22 on a sprained ankle. Don’t write me back, please. Don’t give me a chance to stop running.

Last time you wrote, you sent me a newspaper from December 4th. Why?

 

 

 

More from the Asylum

The compulsion to write comes like thirst, a miscellaneous yearning with nothing quite in mind. It comes like hunger, like the view of a delicious delicacy that I think I deserve to digest. In these mountains, I’m always thirsty. It’s the altitude— the dry, biting, freshness. The salivatingly blue morning sky. But, still, I’m unsure what to say.

Not that there aren’t plenty of options. My little endings and beginnings sit in the shadows of bigger finales and unknown expanses. Holidays, birthdays, and new time whisper at me to restart and reset. To think about the past year and think about how every birthday gets less exciting after this one. To think about what kind of relationship I’m running from and running to. To think about what the fuck I’m going to do after school. About who sticks around.

Today, I’m turning up the music and hoping that truth seeps out—but not too much.

More letters from the asylum:

See First: I Promise I’m Chill, Chill 2


Dear Lover,

It sounds like they’re letting me out soon. I mean, out of this one. Apparently I was in too deep. Apparently white coats and white walls aren’t my thing. They should have asked me— I could have told them that day 1. Remember? I said I wasn’t that crazy—I wasn’t crazy! I’m chill. So they’re moving me to a new place. A place in the country, where I can work outside with my hands in the dirt. Where I can go into town for groceries. Where I can do my own laundry. Not bad, huh? Anyways, I’m missing you today.

Dear Lover,

They did the mail rounds for the last time before I leave. You didn’t send me anything—which is totally cool—but I just am worried that you’ll write me here and not there and that maybe you didn’t get my last letter with my new address so I’m writing this now fast so I can mail it before tomorrow and you will have my new address and write me there. Please write me there. Please write me, won’t you? All of my letters seem to drift into an abyss and I never know if I’ll get your little blue envelopes with your scrawling handwriting. But when they come, Lover, nothing’s better. I mean, it’s okay if you’re busy—I’m busy now anyways—But if you’re ever a little bit free, write me. Write me.

Dear Lover,

I made it! Jesus, it’s beautiful. It doesn’t even feel like an asylum—if that’s possible. Instead of white and plain, it’s fresh and blue and light and gentle. My eyes are full and my lungs are empty of air and gosh I feel far away from you. The sun is setting and I just want to grab it and smash it down into an envelope and send it to you so you could imagine just a fraction of what I see now. It makes me sad how much you don’t see.

Dear Lover,

Today, they told us to find something to be grateful for. I guess I’m grateful that you’re not afraid of me. I’ve given you the Words that they put on me, and they haven’t frightened you. I’ve told you where I am. If you wanted to, you could visit me here, I think. I can’t promise that it won’t be scary, but I can promise that I’m chill.

Dear Lover,

I just got your letter. Maybe don’t visit me just yet. Don’t. I’m not ready.

Dear Lover,

They’ve got us drawing pictures, here. I drew your smile, just from memory. Crazy how things like that stick. I hope you’re having a good day.

Next: 200 Laps

Chill 2

Before

Dear,

The idea of you snuck up on me today, kissed me on the back of my neck while I wasn’t looking, and sent shivers down my spine. What a good daydream you are. Maybe I’ll stay in my asylum. You, living in the crevices of my mind, have given me more heart stutters than anyone living in shine of my eyes. I’m taking you off the guest list.

But still send pound cake.

After

I Promise I’m Chill

Dedicated to: Casual conversations and covering up the crazy.


Dear Lover,

I think I’m getting used to life here. The weather’s been so beautiful lately, I can’t help but enjoy it. Every morning, I take a walk in the garden and I listen to the birds and know that they’ve been awake for hours. We all know winter’s coming, though, and I envy their beautiful wings that will carry them away from the cold. I hear it gets cold here. I’m not sure if I’m ready for that. Anyways, I just wanted to let you know that I’m okay. Little letters like this keep things in perspective, especially when I know they’re going to you.

Dear Lover,

I wonder what you’re up to tonight. I imagine you on your recliner talking about the Lions game and not realizing how much your friends love being around you. I’m sure you’re laughing. Even as I write this, I hear your smile echoing off the walls.

My roommate doesn’t have someone like you to think about. She just gets stuck in her mind, running circles around old regrets, twisting words, and waking up in the middle of the night. Thank God I’m not that bad.

Dear Lover,

They said you could visit me if you wanted to! But I’m not sure if I want you to yet. I’m not totally adjusted, you know. I’m not like other people here and I don’t want to freak you out. I’m chill, honestly. I’m chill and I really don’t want more than you want unless you and I talk about what you want and it’s different than what I thought you wanted in which case I’m happy to reconsider what I want. But like I’m just a regular girl who’d love to see you soon. Maybe I can take you for a walk in the garden. It feels like a real place there.

Dear Lover,

Thinking about you a lot today. I don’t have a lot of things to think about, you know. My life is white walls and white jackets and I’d love your face to bring a little punctuation to my never ending days. I also think about my yo-yo. Natalie sent me one and it’s fantastic. I think about it all the time. Mainly because I never actually got to keep it because the string was too long. If you send me a present, make sure there are no strings attached, would you? Those aren’t allowed around here. My roommate’s mom sent her a pound cake and she got to keep that. She didn’t even share. You should send me a pound cake so I can keep it and not share it too.

Dear Lover,

I hope I’m not coming on too strong. I know we’re still getting to know each other, but you should know that if I sound like I’m coming on too strong it’s just that they don’t give us anything other than Magic Markers for our letters, and those always make things look more dramatic than they are. In reality I’m chill. I told you that already I think but I just wanted to make sure to reiterate it so you didn’t forget it. I’M CHILL I’M CHILL.

Dear Lover,

When we met I didn’t think it would be like this. But sometimes when you’re in a life of white walls, you think about the little things a lot more than you’d expect and the little things become the headlines to your newspapers and you can’t wait to turn to page C5 and finish the story. Please don’t think I’m crazy. I’m just an average girl in an insane asylum for reasons that still escape my narrow mind.

Dear Lover,

I’m not going to stop writing to you. Writing is the reality that keeps me from getting too torn up about my day-to-days. Like, this morning I woke up to a bird hitting my window. But when I write it down it becomes insignificant.  I woke up to a bird hitting my window. I woke up to a bird hitting my window. I woke up to a bird hitting my window. I woke up to a bird hitting my window. I woke up to a bird hitting my window. I woke up to a bird hitting my window. Insignificant now, right? Just one bird not flying south for the winter. Stuck here with me and no wings and not enough breath to talk to the one person she wants to talk to more than anyone.

Dear Lover,

I promise I’m not crazy. I promise I’m chill. I promise I don’t want anything more than you expected.

Please. Just hold my hand, look into my green eyes, and tell me I’m human.


See also: Chill 2, More from the Asylum

The Tragedy: To Rain, From Blossom

Rain,

I told you I needed you, and you seemed to understand. But the forecast said you’d be here yesterday, and I haven’t seen any dark on the horizon. I’m not sure where you are or what you’re doing, but I want you to know that I’m watching to sky for you. Every humid night, I breathe deep and hope that you’re at the end of the breeze, sailing the skies to fix everything. From way up there, maybe you can’t see that I’m parched. My petals are browning and the soil around my roots is blowing away. I want to keep spreading, creeping, growing, but I can’t keep living without thinking about you maybe on the way. I heard tell of floods in Beaverton last week. Was that you, then? Hasn’t anyone told you you’ve overstayed your welcome? Hasn’t anyone told you that I need you here now? I’m shrinking into nothing. Please send word.

Blossom


Rain,

I tasted you again last night. Just for a second. A freshest flash and, God, it filled me full. In that moment, I felt perfect again. Beautiful again. I had watched you flanking the horizon for hours, drifting in nonchalant meandering that made me feel sick. Just as I couldn’t watch any more, I closed my eyes and you kissed my cheek with gentlest reinvigoration. My roots and petal folds trembled with colorful animation, and the feeling put all hope in me that you really do care. You care about nothing at all but me and my leaves that have waited so long for you to restore their playful flexibility. But then you left. And even when I reached as deep as I could into the rocky earth, I couldn’t find traces of you anywhere. You evaporated away from me and I fear that I dispelled you. I had to feel, once again, the crispening of a parched life. It is not enough to caress me for this night and blow through. It only leaves me a memory of sweet satisfaction, the weight of which bends my stem.

Blossom


And back to thirsty biding. My eyes to the east, I see the ravenous heat coming that tears me apart. I remember how you dappled that light. How you carried its gleam. How you painted color in magnificent joyousness, just for me. And now, dry, I am losing reality. Give it back to me, would you?

Blossom


Rain,

Leftover drip down won’t you

Fresh and down down won’t you

Underdone the won’t you drip

So stop to be disinterested and

Maybe near me gently won’t you

Pour once more before winter.

daisy


Please.

One drop.

Fragile, I will break

Under weight of your heavensphere.

And gone the pain.

One drop.

Drop.

Drop.

Drop.

End it.


The Fullness of Forever

I wrote this on a plane mixed in with doodles and drawings and the guy next to me looking over and being confused. 

Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.

– Clifford Geertz

And after everything we looked for whatever was left and found nothing. So we looked at each other and disentangled our identities from our histories and reunited reality like the kids dreamed of in tree houses when red wagons crashed down driveways. And he threw his hair behind his shoulder and forgot where the conversation began and I reminded him that he’d never want to know and we let everything stop or almost stop because if it really stopped the world would be invisible and we’d all be subatomic particles or whatever is less that that so we let the world keep going but slowly because I like the delusion of Me In Motion.

And then we decided to put the sun back in the sky and the moon in the stars because obviously the stars didn’t go anywhere. And around my fingers I spun just enough time to live well and whatever was left I gave to him. And the scraps of edges and fringes and pulls of thread I snipped off neatly and gave to the Spiders and they were happy to be back. But we of course didn’t call them Spiders because words were gone too so Spiders weren’t named until someone got scared of them later but we promised we wouldn’t talk about that. And to the spiders we gave wild grass of the gentlest sort to hang their threads of time. And then we made dew drops, pulling light out of the air with spaghetti strainers and powdering it on every thread on every strand of wild glass. And he cracked his knuckles in the sound of bells and pushed his hair out of his face. And I wanted to kiss him but I had work to do and this world wasn’t going to start with “So I met this guy…” because any life decision after that loses credibility. No, I am alpha and omega, revolving my own nucleus. I am electric.

And so I turned up the orange in the sun and sunk it in the sky and made rivers run crashing down mountains. Faster and faster I ran them and grander and I carved canyons and cliffs and pebbles and boulders and marshes and prairies and spun the world out like a lettuce spinner until everything was clean and fresh and beautifully broken. And after all had been spun out, I put the rivers in the clouds and sent clouds on their way.

And he wrote sin because how does good exist without sin? Right?

And I froze some places into whitening and burned some places into yellowing just as I remembered from the magazines on our coffee tables. And I filled the ocean with fresh water and loved everything.

And he wrote pain because how does health exist without pain? Right?

And I looked at my oceans and remembered the whales so I asked the spiders to weave me a whale and they did and it had fins and everything so I put it in an ocean. I knew it was lonely because it was born after pain so I asked the spiders to build it a lover. But the lover was made after sin so the lover was jealous and the lover was angry and the lover attacked and the spiders took out its teeth and forced it to smile.

And he wrote sadness, because without sadness, how can one know joy?

And the whales understood and the whales tried to give back their threads of time and slowly they unraveled.

And he brushed his hair and looked down on the world and he smiled and I wanted no more to kiss him. And I stole his diary and crossed out Sin and wrote Adversity and crossed out Pain and wrote Grit and crossed out Sadness and wrote ignorance. And then I thought of Hallmark greeting cards and thought maybe I was being naive but realized that the words didn’t exist anymore and naive didn’t make sense. And I got back to work and I salted the oceans and the unraveling whales began to float and I created fowl to rest on their backs with soft feet and resting wings. And I created the wind to lift them up and in the wind I scattered seeds of purple trees and white flowers and yellow lilies because they were perfect already and cacti who didn’t know how beautiful their bloom would someday be.

And he opened his diary and read my words and together we changed them to sounds that this language hasn’t tasted yet. And as we talked I let my eyes and his eyes create one focus and there was no distance because we’re all atomic particles anyways and everything is invisible and maybe also feelings.

And he said “let’s make this better” and I laughed because it meant nothing in this reality we created together and I got back to work.

I took a breath and perfumed the air and gave tiny wings to a tiny Spider and it knitted itself a sweater and unraveled its legs and it chose for itself a buzz that reminded me of summers on Cape Cod. So I fixed the buzz and turned it into a hum and it reminded me of nothing.

And I ran a river over a rock and made myself a chair and grew a tree into my desk and I tried to remember what else God made at his workshop and whether Noah would have saved the whales. And I had the Spiders knit me a soft and long and lined piece of paper. And I made a lamb so that I could name my paper Lamb-Colored Paper and it would mean something. And I made a squid and made Squid Ink in my pen and I sat and I drew a picture. Unfortunately, I was never good at drawing and my creatures were ugly. Fortunately, that meant nothing and I made them anyways. And he watched from the sky and laughed and forgot and about sin and pain and sadness and I began to write the definition of love without a definition of hate.

My Children:

I apologize if my words translate badly to this language. I apologize for the meanings they carry that have placed you into strings of spider. I apologize for it all.

As I created worlds, he gently and quietly and earnestly wrote Fear. And fear wrote hell. And hell housed sin, pain, and sadness. And Fear birthed hate and suspicion and webs of creation and time were separated. And he created “Other.” And our eyes touched no more and time ran too quickly, My Children.

My Children, look around you with the eyes I drew you and taste dew drops and drink rivers that carve canyons. Fear is not in the river and there you must play. Fear is not in the sky and there you must jump. I will float you to the stars in symphonies of blue if you pull your hair over your eyes.

You were created in nothingness, after everything was gone.

I did not write truth because truth means nothing. I wrote thought to guide my world to you. It is yours entirely and if not for Fear you would take ownership of your mind’s eye.

My Children, take caution but do not have Fear. My Children, do not reach through the ears of your young and make worlds for them for fear of their miscreation. Those who try will be frozen, and I will send my lambs to walk through you, and I will send my Spiders to patch you back up, and I will send you back in motion, as you will only then know yourself.

My Children:

He is gone. We shouldn’t have moved in together anyways. I’m glad it is over and his hair is now cut and his beard now holds yesterday’s dinner.

I am mine in the absolute and neither peace nor war will change that. My Children, this is your first day of school.

Unlearn everything. Close your eyes before you reopen them. Don’t use the word “truth.” Don’t let him write you Fear.

I did not define greatness for you, My Children. Define it yourself and let it define you. Let your breath perfume your life. Create whale lovers and Spider seamstresses and carry fowl on your wings. Wrap time around yourself, let it keep you warm and let it drive you on and let it carry the sweetest tastes of dew. Grow out your fingernails so you can scratch hard at the surface of things, but also buy a shovel. Set fire to everything, because when time stands still fire will change you. Scream new sounds and dance new dances to new music.

The World Before was glory and I remembered what I could. But it means nothing now and your time webs are stronger because of it. Snip at your edges and prune your gardens of yellow lilies that were born perfect.

My children, run freely and shake out your bones.

I am holding the sun for you in one perfect today. Rest in that fact, and stop asking for tomorrow.

My Children, with my two hands I give you knowledge of incorruption and sinlessness.

My Children,

I present to you: The Fullness of Forever.

A Portrait of Marriage in Pastel

Sometimes when I can’t get words out, I close my eyes. It doesn’t make much sense, of course. My words were never visual.

Maybe it’s the direct connection from my thought process to my fingertips. Like a conversation, I can’t take back my words or hardly remember what my last sentence was. Like Snapchat.

It’s an interesting thing, that. Snapchat chat. Texting like a conversation. It doesn’t seem to work out that way, of course. I still forget and I don’t have the eye contact or the same breath of air to keep me connected. I can read and forget and never respond and there is no consequence.

When I said I loved you, it was just what I meant. So when you ask me: Where was I when? Every time, I was right by your side.

What great lyrics. Thanks James Morrison. Hits me each time I listen. What a beautiful love song. What an image of love I never really think about. The idea of love that you’re building up to and looking back on. The kind of love that makes a stable trust through years and years. That skepticism and doubt can’t shake because you know and he knows or she knows or they know that you were there. No question of separation. Maybe that’s the hardest part of love. To be present in someone else’s life no matter what. To live with space, but never too much to fall away. I wonder if that balance has ever been struck. I wonder if that’s what I’m going to want.

Today, I think I want to get married. I don’t know if that sentiment will last forever. I don’t know if I’ll always want to take part in an archaic construction like marriage. I don’t know if I’ll start to disagree with those traditions and labels. But today I nurture a little image of little Robiny in a white dress that fits just right and a person waiting for me and smiling at me and holding my hand for a long long time.

Here’s the marriage I’ve got on my mind:


Lydia woke up late this morning. She forgot to set the alarm and slept right through the cycling class. She’ll have to text Sarah to apologize for not being there to grab breakfast afterward. She rolls to her left and places her palm on Greg’s warm back. Stirring, he smiles over his shoulder. “You’re still here.”

Yellow light arches through white curtains and lands on pale blue blankets and his soft olive shirt. She slips out of the sheets and enters her pastel world. Her feet are cold on the hardwood floor as she pads to the kitchen. She pulls out two clay mugs from the dishwasher and places them on the granite countertop.

The sound of grinding coffee beans were enough to get Greg out of bed. He runs his hands through too much hair as he walks through the doorframe. He ducks into the closet for a scoop of dog food, which he pours into a bowl Abigail glazed 20 years ago.

A golden retriever pushes past, hungry for her breakfast.

Greg pulls up a stool and watches Lydia steaming milk.

“I forgot to set my alarm again.”

“We’re gonna have to buy a rooster for you. Want to go for a bike later on then?”

She turns around, her metal cup holding the perfect ratio of froth and milk. “I could do that.” And they look at each other. Right in the eyes.

She pours the milk over two espresso shots each, a little more froth for her, a little more milk for him, and sits across from him.

They sip in silence, each treasuring the caffeine entering their bloodstream.

“Want toast?” He leaves his seat to grab the loaf from the woven basket by the sink.

“Sure—thanks. Is that the bread you got at the new place by Richard’s?”

“Yeah— Not as good as they made it seem, but it should be fine toasted.”

“Way to sell it!”

“I’ll tell you what. How ‘bout we make it French?”

Her hands leave her mug and she moves to the refrigerator. “Good idea. I wanna get rid of some of these eggs.”

She cracks and whips, he sparks the burner and warms the skillet.

“How’d the debate go last night?”

A childish grin spreads from his crow’s feet to his teeth. “I wish you were there to watch with me. It was hilarious. Trump just keeps getting crazier.”

With big eyes and a mocking seriousness, “Greg, it’s making me nervous. What if he wins??”

“It can’t happen! But if it does it’ll be hilarious.”

“Let’s move to Canada!”

Greg lets the toast sizzle on the skillet and wraps his arms around Lydia, looking off through the window in playful romanticism. “Too cold. Let’s go back to London.”

“Too far from Abby and Connor. Mexico?”

“Not with your Spanish. Or lack of melanin.” He looks down into her green smiling eyes. “What about Russia?”

“Fine. If Trump wins, we move back to London.” She pecks his cheek, wiggles out of his arms, and reaches for their coffees. “But I’m picking the apartment.”

In a messy kitchen in August, French toast burns, a golden retriever asks a hand for a scratch, unfinished books accumulate creases and coffee stains, Stephanie texts back, and the world keeps turning gently and slowly and forever.