I taught myself how to ride a multi-speed bike in Anchorage. It was too big for me, so my feet barely even touched the ground when I braked and stopped. In July, it can get up to 75 degrees in Alaska and you can lose the sweater when you’re sweating. I felt like a complete fool, wobbling all over their sidewalks and having mini heart attacks whenever I gripped the handlebars to slow down. With my blue beach cruiser back home, I just pedaled backward. But an hour later, I was zooming away on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail towards Downtown. I felt so free. Then it started pouring rain. My favorite accomplishment in Alaska, but it still would have been nice to see some moose.
I stopped seeing you because I became an insomniac. I was emotionally drained, sick of faking enthusiasm, and constantly hoping that maybe you’d have something more to say to me than tepid “okays” and “yeahs.” Every night was haunted by the questions you never asked that I was too afraid to answer.
I started to fear that I was drinking too much. Instead of friends asking me how I was, I approached strange men that asked for my ID. When I woke up from the hangover, I realized that I don’t recognize you anymore.
A side note: When you add depression to relationships, it’s like learning to live for two people while lying to both. Deep down, I’m mortified by how many broken relationships I have to go through before I rewrite these scared habits.
And I know I could have saved us. Maybe it just wasn’t worth it to me anymore.
I sleep better but I wish our dreams didn’t become the nightmare.
I perfected a skill two years ago and it was the art of making strangers fall in love with you. I want to say it was by accident, but I’m bad at avoiding things I realize I’m good at. More than a skill, it was a game. You garner a look of interest, go in for a focal point, strike up a conversation, and if the odds are appealing enough, pull the lever and collect your wins. The game doesn’t work with everyone, and it’s rarely worth continuing with who those who would play it at all. Cheap thrills and artificiality.
Gone Girl was haunting and Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” was nearly autobiographical. But inevitably, I changed. I got tired of the weekly to daily “are you Thai, are you Filipino” comments. The catcalling. The metalheads and their manic pixie girl obsessions. Being a female before I was even allowed a personality. I cut my hair, raided the men’s thrift aisle, and let my favorite turquoise blouses sit dusty in the closet.
Truth be told, I’m wondering if you would like me more if I still looked like that wooden child with the lipstick and sheer chemise. But now, I want you to want me as me, and I’m not interested in taking home the spoils. I keep telling myself if they can’t appreciate poise and direction, then walk on. But I guess I’ve been bad at gambling in the meantime.
I wrote a poem called “Where is She?” last year.
When you’re in an environment that clashes against your personality, you learn take on other personas to survive. You promise yourself you’ll get out of the transitional stage soon but eventually poison yourself with the same half-truths you’ve been telling everyone else.
Which begs the question, where does “she” actually begin? Does she go back to the frustrated high school junior that wanted everything to go her way or the twelve-year-old that only ever wanted to be listened to? Where and at what age does the unconscious stop and personality begin? I’ve wondered if maybe someone could dig me out but then I remember why I don’t like to rely on other people. One only has to scroll down.
Until then, I carry fragmented thoughts with me and plod down these paths alone, with a heavy heart and even heavier backpack. I never thought I’d be one to pine to romantic cliches, but maybe that’s another lie I’ve been believing.
Regardless, the wilderness always tastes better when you have someone to share it with.