29 November 2010

Home, Revisited

The title has two meanings.
"who journeyed to Denver, who died in Denver, who came back to Denver & waited in vain, who watched over Denver & brooded & loned in Denver and finally went away to find out the Time, & now Denver is lonesome for her heroes" - Allen Ginsberg, Howl
I came home for Thanksgiving break. Home. Funny how I can now say that word, and know what it means. It's a bizarre feeling, really, to have a hometown. To miss one place more than any other, to look over the city and know it's where I belong. To rediscover it each time I return, but each time to feel like it's the place I left my heart. Denver is my city, my home.

I walked the streets each day, smiling.  I wandered down sidewalks, through bookstores and coffee shops, looking up and West to remind me I'm just where I belong.  On Thanksgiving, the streets were deserted, and I could stand in the middle of roads.  I met a kind homeless man, spoke to him about Autumn and life.  I visited a community space with Denver's Zine Library. I visited a radical pizza shop, and I had a sandwich at Paris on the Platte.  The Platte passed beneath me, caught my tears like a lover, and reminded me that I'm alive.  I spoke of philosophy and history at Stella's, cigarette smoke like a cloud on my lips, and I never wanted to leave.

Still, I couldn't live in Denver today.  I love the streets, the coffee shops, the people, the places, but the place where my parents live is not my home.  In the months after I moved out, my bedroom was turned into a nursery, its red and black walls were repainted in baby green.  It wasn't a huge loss: I'd only lived in this bedroom two years; but it was a big symbol.  One day, I fell asleep in front of the TV. I woke up, went up stairs, opened my bedroom door - and remembered that I don't live there anymore.  My mother laughed at me as I stumbled downstairs into the guest bedroom.

DC is an interesting place. There really isn't anyone from DC. You meet people that are from San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Pullman, New York City, London, Tokyo; you don't meet many who are from DC.  Everyone here is in passing, coming through for a few years, then leaving.  Oh, and there are those who call DC home.  Young folk who find life and hope in the city.  In the end, they, too, move along.  I watch autumn fall over DC, the trees turn red, then brown, then fall.  The sun turned to rain and clouds.  I know DC as a local.  I know it well as I wander the streets each weekend, my heart beats quicker because I know I love it, but I can't call it "home".  Not in the same way I call Denver home, and not in the same way I call Khabarovsk, Pullman, Chicagoland, Palo Alto, and Boulder home.  Everything's in passing.

I hope Chicagoland can be my home.  I'm afraid because I'll be living fairly far from the city, and because the ChiTown just isn't the friendliest place to live.  But I know there are so many amazing people there, I know the culture and the places are phenomenal, and I believe I'll find my place there.

But, when someone asks me where I am from, I can now confidently answer:


19 November 2010

Are you afriad?

A month from now, I will be twenty years old, unemployed, unenrolled, and residing in Chicagoland, where I haven't lived since I was ten years old.  I am so afraid.  I don't know what I am doing with my life, or why.  I am terrified I'll never get a degree, that I'll lose my way and never have a home, but I have nothing to lose.  I have no choice.

It's going to be a long, cold winter in Chicago, with mounds of snow that I'll make into a slide like I did when I was a child.  There will be clouds in the sky each day, and I know I'll be sad, I know I'll cry a lot, I know I'll be alone and lonely, but I'll make it through the winter alive.

There's a genderqueer support group in the Chicagoland area that I'll visit. I'll try to get involved with Food not Bombs, find some friends to dumpster dive with, so I can free myself from the confines of store shelves, and maybe I'll find my way at last.  I'll get involved with activism in the city, learn how to do activism outside a college campus, perhaps make some change in the world, perhaps I'll find a community, reach out, hold hands, perhaps, at last, I will be brave. Perhaps I'll transition, and maybe my stepdad will support me, because he's the only hope I have.  I can't wait to get to know him again.  I'll learn how to cook, how to sew, how to live.  It'll all work out.

I'll find a job, save up some money, maybe I'll travel in non-standard ways, and I dream of the places I'll go someday, but I know there are places I cannot stay today.  I will find a place I belong, someday.  Today, I have a month to find the courage I need to grow up at last.

Yesterday, I went on Omegle just so I could ask a friend if they were afraid. They were seventeen, graduating highschool in June, and they told me they weren't afraid.  I said they were very brave.  They were probably telling the truth, but I think they were lying.

The day before, I sent a text to a stranger just to tell them I love them.  It took me six tries not to get a landline.  They said their name was Mat, and they said it was their birthday.  They were probably lying, but I think they were telling the truth.

04 November 2010

Help with what?

I am writing suicide notes.

I don't want to die.  I will not kill myself.  It's just a cry for help.

But help with what?  My life is not in danger.  Nor is my physical health.  I don't need help with school, I get things done, my grades are good.

I need help making friends.  I don't have any friends.  I follow the rules.  I messaged people on facebook casually, I say hi to people in the hallways, start conversations in class.  I text people when I have free times, and sometimes grab lunch with friends.  In the end they all leave.  Every day I'm alone.  I want someone to talk to.  I want someone to think with.  I want someone to get drunk with.

Sounds like a personal problem.

On Saturday of Halloweekend, I found myself someone else's dorm room.  I followed all the rules.  Talked to the kids hanging out in my hallway, walked into the room when everyone else did.  There were maybe six of us in there, and they were all going out for the night.  I asked them where they were going, told them I really want to go out tonight.  They named some greek letters, they mean nothing to me.  They weren't excited about me asking, they didn't want me to come with.  Why?  It was just a frat party, it was nothing personal.  I was still alone.  Still so alone.

Sounds like a personal problem.

Really, who's fault is it that I can't make friends?  And writing suicide letters won't convince someone to invite me to a party.

But I am writing suicide letters again.  Not because I want to die, but because, if I die, I want you to read them and know I was crying for help.

I am crying for help, but help with what?

Last night, I had dreams that I made friends.  Again and again and again.  I was so happy.  I said something about fat shaming, and a girl asked me if I was single.  I do think I have something good to say, I just have no one to say it to.  I don't "like" that girl, but I want to be her friend.  I want to be her friends' friend.  Her friend was in my dream.  I've seen her facebook, her twitter, her tumblr.  I see her smoking cigarettes.  I want to come up to her and say hi.  She is a feminist.

Sounds like a personal problem.

This isn't a real cry for help.  I can spend the nights crying all I want.  Because I do have friends, and they've all reached out to me, and I never responded.  I have friends who told me they don't want to be friends anymore, friends who asked me if I was mad at them.  I don't hate you.  But it's so hard for me to care.  I want a friend here.  I am so alone here.  It doesn't help when I have friends far away.  They can't get drunk with me, or hear my daily thoughts.  Why is this not enough?

Sounds like a personal problem.

Sounds like a problem I should stop whining about, stop writing suicide letters about.  Because I won't kill myself, I won't hurt myself.

I will cry.  But it's no ones fault other than my own that I am lonely.

02 November 2010

This time of the year, I become a smoker again.

It starts each day at 5, right after I get out of my last class.  My days are always far from over, always more tests to study for, or papers to write, or co-sponsorships to fill out.  Still, that first breath of relief quickly turns into loneliness.  I always walk a lap around the quad, desperate for someone to share a moment with, because I am alone.  I want to walk this lap with a cigarette.

Maybe it's the cold, the way I see my breath in the air.  Last year, I craved cigars the day that first chill came along.  Or maybe it's the way I've always connected around stacks of smoke, around campfires or waterpipes.  (I resurrected an old lighter from highschool this afternoon, there are three stickers on it: a green, a brown, and a pink; three letters spelling out the word "pot", reminders of a better time.)  Maybe I am just hoping someone will stop by and ask me for a cigarette, I'd give them one, and I'd hope for a quick exchange of words, maybe we'd exchange names, maybe we'd exchange feelings, maybe we'd become friends.

Maybe it's because I've been thinking about drugs recently.  I wish I could still smoke weed like I used to.  I want to escape.  I want to spend a Saturday on acid lying alone on the grass, and maybe I wouldn't feel so alone.  I didn't get drunk this Halloween.  I tried, but I had no one to spend Saturday night with.  Maybe I just want an addiction, maybe it would be something to hold on to.  I know it won't help.  I still feel lonely when I am surrounded by stacks of philosophy and poetry, it doesn't help when I finish a paper four days ahead of time, I just want a friend.

It's been so long since I bought a pack that I forgot what kind of cigarettes I smoke.  I stumbled over my words.  I took out my ID so far ahead of time, I must have looked like an 18-year old buying my second or third pack ever.  This pack will last me a week or two, depending on how many I give away.  At the end of those weeks, I'll no longer be a smoker; but, at the end of those weeks, I'll still be lonely.