Ah, I know. Friendship bracelets.
Told my coworker I’ll make a list of “calmer” games for the kids to play at the refugee camp, something we can do sitting down so their energy level doesn’t get too crazy; especially since yesterday smiley little amir mohammed, with his tiny toothless grin and big sparkling eyes, chucked a fat rock against the head of two-year-old Dameer and broke the kid’s face open. I carried this bleeding, screaming child all the way across the yard of the refcamp and surely everyone’s thinking, great, this fucking American just beat up an Afghan child. Not like that’s anything new. They know NATO for dropping bombs on kids and families all the time, without much discretion. I’m just a micro of the macro. Nobody actually said anything.
Duck duck goose. The silent murderer. Telephone. Down by the banks, but not that one, because the English is too difficult. Most of them aren’t at that level yet.
So the next day we load up the van and go, and I bring a sack of embroidery thread in 8 or 9 different colors with a tiny pair of scissors. Tape would have been nice but we didn’t have any, so we tied the strings to the table or held them taught by hand.
The plan was to teach the kids to braid, if they didn’t know already, and make friendship bracelets of three different colors. They all wanted to keep the bracelets for themselves, so there wan’t a ton of friendship going on, but companionship happened anyhow. We sat at a wooden picnic table in the center of the park area outside of the camp; kids between two and five, then some older Iranian woman, and one ancient Afghan great-grandmother of Asiatic heritage, wrapped in shawls, spoke only Persian, sat methodically braiding an elaborate chain from my coworker’s hand. He seemed to be falling in love.
Chasing beauty can be one’s permanent life pursuit. Chasing money is less abstract and equally achievable. Beauty is easy to find because it lives in dirt, in sorrow, in the separation of families, in the distance between young lovers, toddlers whose mothers have been killed in an airstrike and the community which rises to raise them, tiny hands braiding bracelets, wrinkles in brown skin and handmade trousers torn from jumping a border fence. Beauty is the most difficult thing to bear because it is temporary and somehow born from some type of hardship. Beauty is pain, blooms like flowers in the gut, and can never be fully destroyed. To chase one is to suffer the other.
they say we spend
looking at the faces of our friends
than we do our own, and
in the millennial era
that’s a massive pile
of raw bullshit
but if “friends” were changed
to “enemies” perhaps
it might be true.
like the last replacement girl
is the second time)
thinner than I was and
and way cooler hair.
i assumed you are also more
creative, more cunning,
better at cooking and
better in bed.
joke’s on him though, now
i’m a human spider haunting
his high corners, shaved
part of my hair and
on its own.
i trained my eyes
to see through
and when you
can see your
prey but your prey
cannot see you then
it means you are
as for the things i assumed
i suppose as logic dictates
i was correct
on every point:
made an ass of him and me
but not of you, so
guess you win this round
I have decided to write The Great Friendship Manifesto
It is this:
Trust no one (completely.)
Your trust is like a cookie. You can give it all away and then you are shit fucked with no cookie, or you can hoarde that shit all for yourself and never have any friends because nobody wants a loser friend who won’t share their cookie.
I’ve met plenty of folks on both sides of the board–those who trust too much, too easily; and those who claim to trust no one. The caveat is that there aren’t really two sides: those who trust too easily are those most likely to claim to trust no one. Those who actually trust no one probably wouldn’t trust anyone enough to get into that level of discussion in the first place, so we can only guess at who those depraved nihilists are 😉
Perhaps I am an overly trusting person. Let’s be honest, if I’ve known you for a 24-hour period then I’m good to pop a squat in your front lawn in broad daylight if the bathroom’s busy. I will tell you all my secrets, because I don’t have any secrets, because there is no story I won’t tell, nothing I won’t talk about openly to they who will listen. I figure it doesn’t serve me to keep all my stories and shit to myself; does it save face, really, to act and then live in silence about acting?
Why should I care about saving face, anyway? From whom? Am I afraid The Public won’t love me? Fuck the public. I save face for my mom, who I do not wish to destroy emotionally, and for my dad, who I already have. Certain things are implied or inferred in our conversations; there are certain facts of my life that we never confirm nor deny. That is fine, I’ll do that for them. But not for you.
Posting a smutty photo that I know you’ll see, pissing on your lawn, sleeping on your couch, recounting to you that time in Denmark where I woke up with my underwear missing, memory black and a video of someone’s flaccid cock wearing sunglasses on my phone — none of that is really an act of trust, for me. I’ll do that shit with anyone, provided they’ve got a couch to sleep on or a dick that wears sunglasses. I believe acts of true trust run deeper than stories; they run to emotions and to physical acts, sex, sleep, relapse, bleeding, sobbing, screaming. If I can fight with you then you know I must trust you, although I may also want to murder you..? Oh well. We’re not trying to figure me out. I don’t recommend undertaking that endeavour and I’m beginning to figure that pretty much everyone else agrees with me.
Feeling free to feel freely with people is a lovely thing, but don’t delude yourself. By no means does it signify you’ve got a confidante to rely on for anything — especially the painful or inconvenient things. All people want for themselves and for their clans, and very few will welcome you into their clan with open arms and no fine print. If someone does, be wary. People lie. People act out of accordance with their true desires and beliefs in order to save face, out of guilt or social pressure, or to serve their own means and ends. Everyone has their limits of how much they can love you. There is no boundless love the way we are taught to believe, there is only delusion and an internal battle to balance self vs. us vs. them. And as we all know, them is not us. And rarely does us reach the importance level of “self”. Only when another is considered part of the self do we see that real, authentic bond of trust.
If someone says they would die for you, do not believe them. Jump in front of a bus and see if it’s true. Jump so you won’t need to need anyone anymore. There is no way they will not let you down, no way you won’t hurt them. There is no one but your mother that will love you forever, and no one on this earth who merits your unfailing trust.
smearing black liner over my swollen eyelids, bloated from crying. must be out of the airbnb by 12. it is 11:55. he left at 7:30 to catch his flight, climbed into bed with me before he left, hiking boots and all, wrapped his big arms around my body and kissed me deeply as if it was our last kiss ever, which it would be.
i have a problem with love — too much of it to give out. a problem with timing — mine is terrible. a problem with pain — i like it too much.
love is a really ridiculous bond. almost more physical than mental. the mind doesn’t choose who to love, the body does. the fact that i could sit at his side and listen to his rambling, all of which i find basic and relatively meaningless, contemplate his way of viewing the world and end up being disgusted, or disappointed, or just confused as to how he came to be this way — how could anyone? in conversations, feeling like i was constantly educating — giving out my knowledge and ideas like candy, most of which he accepted gladly, as he needed them — validating his existence over and over, which he told me so often nobody had ever done, while simultaneously he tore mine down.
according to enrique, i am
intelligente, lista, guapa, adventurera, diferente
dificil de entender, dificil de aguantar, rara, demasiado liberal, rápida a enfadarme, i push people, i like to get under their skin.
told him i wanted the feedback. i would listen. i did listen. i want to think about it. I want to improve. but so much of our incompatibility came from his direction and his blatant fear and intolerance for difference that it’s difficult to know how i could have done better with this one. except for the obvious: to have left him immediately, or at least after the first intolerant attack on my being. when he called me a slut, when he behaved selfishly in bed, when he kicked me out of his car on the side of the highway. i held out. in the end mother nature brought us down — my period came before his final visit and it disturbed him. he wouldn’t touch me after he realized.
i do know why i held out, but i don’t know where all the love comes from, or why i have to feel all this for people who hurt me so badly. he never meant to. he’s a good man with misogyniistic tendencies, like so many of them. nothing special. nothing unusual. i always think i’m just in it for the sex, then come to find out there’s always been more to it. much more.
i feel destroyed. everything hurts. all i want to do is cry, i sound like a goddamn country song. lord help me, save me from the images that stick. his arms and his shoulders. he put a little weight on. his eyes, green. the warmth. cargo pants and hiking boots and two grey shirts. mountain boy stranded on an island; forever conflicted, forever torn in two. i love it, i love it, i love him. i shouldn’t. there is better, there is more. jess, go and find it. jess, don’t be like this. jes come on. please. raise your standards. don’t give when you don’t receive. jes, you’re hard to handle. give credit where credit is due. listen more, listen better. stay calmer. retain control. control yourself.
this is nobody’s fault. it ended well, with love. like pulling apart a peanut butter sandwich. messy, had bread in it?
because feeling pain is still feeling, and feeling is better than nothing. living is pain, and living is also better than nothing. loving is living, and loving is pain. pain means you’re living. and so on and so forth. forever, or until you can’t anymore.
chasing one little baby tick of unblackened weed around the rim of the pipe, warm in my bone-cold fingers: cold white light and me here on this dingy old velvet couch listening to the boys in AIDS’s bedroom pretending it’s a real gym. they listen to eminem a little too much, but i won’t givem shit for it.
genezareth and hannah are considering busking on a corner on weekends; seabass was turned down for a resto job due to his lack of a work visa; bethany was selling Christmas cards for a euro apiece; i was considering selling knit caps, AIDS and I have discussed becoming regional camgirls.
we are sort of brutally poor, but we do our bestish. combat creeping depression with routines and rituals: open the shutters every morning and close them up every night, go for hikes, go for runs, do pullups and pushups and abs, chat together in the sparsely-furnished kitchen all squattin on buckets and low stools on the ground. we are all in balls deep for bernie sanders.
written fall-winter 2015. entry 1 of a series.
he was at once somehow equally handsome and perverse, with a bit of a hunch from habitually lowering his height to interact with those around him. a life full of forced bowing as if bound to some socially obligatory servitude.
yet this servitude to others, it touches us all — forms a grid, a matrix to which we attach ourselves and from those fixed points create an extended reality. we have shaped it upon the play ground which was provided by mother nature. she threw down the backdrop and now is watching the scene unfold. the grand comedy. cheers Ma.
this net above us is held in place by our own hands and those of our neighbors. in public we expect things of people, and we reaffirm these expectations by accepting that things should be expected of us in the first place as a natural reality. we reinforce that reality by engaging actively in it regardless of our stance(i.e. being “anti-capitalist” but continuing to purchase new items)
peer pressure is the weight of the collective stare of a given population as it turns and questions everything about you in an instant. it is heavy. it is painful. It is a weight that serves to keep us in our places by allowing us to force manipulated behaviors onto others: with narrowed eyes we say, “because you are different, i doubt you.” that type of prohibitive garbage.
who knows. cosmic crap. remember to keep in close contact with friends and not be an asshole.
todo tiene su límite y tú
pero ninguna de ellos
sirve para mantenerme
una bomba química, lo llamas
esta cosa que nos une y nos
tortura como sal en las heridas que me
das y que te doy, rodillas raspadas,
piedras incrustadas en el piel,
falta de dormir y pesadillas de amores perdidos
y otros monstruos,
líneas de sangre, de cocaína,
todas esas líneas que tengo y que meto
entre tú y yo pero ninguna de ellas
sirve para mantenerte