when and where
Sir William Nicholson, Begonias
I document my life in notes taken on my phone, Tumblr posts and old emails. Here’s an excerpt from one written in 2017:
I. iPhone notes to myself (and now you, I guess):
“Live precipitously, plan for ruin”
“J: the little divot on the back of his head. The curvature of his right ear, and the mole behind it that’s mostly hidden by the leg of his glasses. Today he’s wearing the sweater that I borrow sometimes when I’m jogging and it’s cold out. He’s constantly losing and breaking pens, earbuds, laptop chargers. He bites his pens and they end up leaking on everything. He gets lost while taking public transit an alarming percentage of the time. I’m so used to his presence and the style and tone of his commentary that it feels at times almost indistinguishable from being alone”
“Istanbul, sun-drenched, narrow streets, stray dogs with tagged ears, snub-nosed cats suspicious of you and where you’re heading. My taxi driver drove me all the way to the wrong side of the town because he thought credit card was a destination instead of a form of payment. We walked down to see the ocean before the sun dipped out of view. The sky was slate grey like it was in Lima. I had ghosts echoing inside me like percussion, I was thinking of all the places I’ve been and what you would make of them.”
“I’m running out of adjectives. I feel like Persephone in the underworld, banished from you. Though you don’t know it yet we’re both waiting for the moment when you place a finger on my sternum and ask is something different? While feigning, feigning, always feigning ignorance I say nothing at all.”
“When living alone, one is apt to prefer a view of the water. I like seeing you online just as reminder that you’re alive and well somewhere in the world.”
“From I Love Dick: Knowing you is like knowing Jesus. There are billions of us and only one of you so I don’t expect much from you personally. There are no answers to my life. But I’m touched by you and fulfilled just by believing.”
II. I told you about that dream I had in which you said you loved me and I told you I loved you back and I knew it wasn't true but I thought it was okay because I knew I could come to love you. But it scares me: loving someone means knowing & being known & right now I’m terrified of both. You said breakups weren't hard for you and I'm getting to the point where they're not too hard for me. It hurts right beneath the bone for one day--regret and desire, like you said--and then the next I'm sitting in a classroom listening to a guy tell me about quantum algorithms and I feel fine, thank god. I know I use past tense and present tense like they mean something but I've always thought of life as a continuum: what happens remains, & so it doesn't really matter when something happened so long as it did happen, or will. This way, to have loved someone in the past, and to have been loved, is to love them in the present. This way, to have loved anyone at all is a curse you can't shake off.
Though I wrote it six years ago, you can see that I’m essentially the same person—my thoughts have the same rhythm, I’m preoccupied by the same things. Forget the the abandoned melodrama, not-yet-fully-developed prefrontal cortex, the changes to anxiety and attachment style—I have been me for a long time. I don’t doubt that if I found something I’d written in sixth grade I would recognize the same girl.