Thursday, November 17, 2016




1. Make or become unclear or less distinct.
"tears blurred her vision"


1. A thing that cannot be seen or heard clearly.
"the pale blur of her face"


I tried talking to god but I wasn't getting the answers I needed. I wasn't on my knees with my hands clasped together but I was lying in bed, my arms at my side, eyes looking up straight towards the ceiling. Blank, white and flat. The sound of traffic, a strangely soothing yet raucous symphony, outside my bedroom window. I am empty. My body feels devoid of bones, solid matter, blood and heart. My body feels light as air and inside my head does too. I try to figure out what I am feeling:

What are you lacking? 
What is hurting? 
Where are you?

When I can't and all I am left with are frustrated sighs and a wrinkled white bed sheet haphazardly weaved around my body to keep me from falling apart, I try to form words but all I manage to string together are visions of widely spaced out ellipsis. The wind turns my plastic blinds into wind chimes and the sound of plastic and it's dull tinkling brings me back to earth. 


"But she did look back, and I love her for that, because it was so human. So she was turned to a pillar of salt. So it goes. People aren’t supposed to look back. I’m certainly not going to do it anymore."

I am Lot's wife. 
I, too, keep looking back and I wonder when I will be turned into a pillar of salt. 

I look back in times of uncertainty because looking back brings perverse comfort. I look back when I am lost and am in search of familiar faces no matter how unfriendly, and familiar feelings no matter how searing and painful they might have been. I look back when I am on unsteady feet and need solid ground. I look back when I need to grasp onto the familiarity of something that already has happened because there is a safe word: PastTense. I look back when I can't remember if there was a sign. Some sort of unearthly signal that I had missed. If I just look back and look a little harder, will I find it? Will I see it? Will I take notice? Could I have saved myself? I look back when I need to apologize to a younger me, which I do more often than I care to admit. I apologize to 5 minute younger me, I apologize to 30 day younger me, I apologize to a 15 year old me. For as long as I keep looking back, I'll always keep apologizing.
One time he says,

"I think it's weird how you don't want to know anything about someone's past relationships"

The sun was beating down on the both of us and I could feel sweat pooling up above my upper lip. There was no breeze and the air felt stagnant with a subtle frustration. The saltiness of my sweat sat on the tip of my tongue. He was sweating too and I wondered if the saltiness of his sweat tasted the same as mine. I don't tell him that I take too many visits to my own past to be concerned about anyone else's, his included.

I wait for the salt to rain down on me. 


N and I are at the Korean spa. 

The spa is dated with fake marble tiles that cover the walls matched with dusty maroon tiles on the floor. There are women crouched down at the row of sinks, washing their hair with big bowls filled with water. There are three pools. The biggest pool is the 'warm' pool but it is often suffocatingly hot. The smaller pools are the hot pools and the ice cold pool. Women spill in and out of the water, naked and unashamed. I am shy and each time I get out of a pool, I grab a small towel to cover the front of my body. In the ceiling is a large rectangle sky light. It casts an unnatural grayish tinge on the room and makes our bodies look pale and stone like. But even so,  I feel warm and cocooned here. 

There is a mom and her young daughter. The mom sits back against the pool wall and her daughter with her long hair and round cheeks swims over to her. Her daughter is at the age where she is just about to start blooming. Her mom reaches out her arms underneath the water and pulls her close to her body. Both of their cheeks are warmed and pink because of the heat of the pool. The daughter swims around her mom and they both look serene. The girl looks sleek under water, like a Koi fish. Her mom's eyes are closed but her face is relaxed and calm because in this moment, her daughter's innocence is tangible. Her innocence is swimming around her in circles.  I try to remember coming here with my mom and grandmother as a little girl and I can only remember pieces. I can remember them washing my hair using the big bowls of water. I went with my mom once a few months ago and insisted on wearing a swimsuit. My mom rolled her eyes at me and groaned,

"Why are you wearing a bathing suit? Just take it off"

And I didn't know how to explain to her that she created me and she birthed me and every artist critiques the art they produce. Is the art ever as good as the artist? 

Keats said that touch has a memory but that isn't true because when my skin is raw from getting scrubbed off, I can't remember what his touch felt like. We are lying naked on a massage table in the back of the spa and as we lie there, the Korean halmonis with their soft protruding tummies and their strong hands create this magic of forgetting. Our dead skin, grey and mushy, scatter against the massage table. The sensation of my skin being rubbed raw is uncomfortable, irritating and persistent and sometimes it feels like repentance. 
Repentance for what? 
I'm still not sure. 

I get the same halmoni every time I go. She has short hair that only goes past her ears by an inch or so and her eyes are slightly bug-eyed with dainty scrawling wrinkles around the outer corners. Her arms and legs are thin but you can tell by the loose skin around her stomach, she has given life. She tries to communicate with me but it's hard for me to understand the dialect of her Korean. What I do understand is when she runs her fingers through my hair and she asks me where I get so much hair from, I understand when she places my hand on my stomach so I can feel how much skin is coming off of me and I want to tell her I'm shedding for a reason there is a purpose behind this shedding, but most of all I understand when her laughter matches mine and when she grips my shoulders with firm hands when I slide off the table to make sure I don't fall but if I do, I understand that she will catch me.

I can hear the halmoni N has softly singing Korean to her as she washes her hair. It's soothing and reminds me of when my grandmother used to sing a Korean song about a lady and her lipstick as I sat next to her in the front seat of her car. A tray of rice cake sat on my lap and between verses, my grandmother would reach over and grab a rice cake and hum along as she ate. 

N says that she's glad we came on the night of the super moon and I agree with her. I feel cleansed and reborn. As we stand in front of the mirror in the locker room, and as we take turns rubbing raw coconut oil on each other's backs, our skin soft and supple, all I can think is:

I am too pure for you or for anyone and your touch has left no memory.


I am at the park. There are twenty or thirty kids screaming and running around the playground, some are speaking German and others are speaking what sounds French. Caroline is with her best friend Leela, an Indian girl with curly short hair that barely kisses her chin. Her eyes are the color of Nutella and they are warm and bright. Only the half of her front tooth has grown in. She has a mischievous gleam in her eyes and her nose crinkles whenever she talks and she talks with her hands on her hips. She is wearing a bright orange tutu with a blue t-shirt. Caroline brushes her blonde hair away from her face and asks me

"Can I please, please, please paint on your arms?"

I ask her what she's going to paint with and she grabs Leela's chalk. I take off my sweater and expose both forearms to them. They shriek and Leela yells she's going to grab some water and she runs off with a small bucket. Caroline takes an aquamarine colored chalk and starts grinding it against the concrete. Her brow is furrowed and she looks determined. It quickly turns into a thick opaque powder. Leela is back, slightly out of breath with more than half the water spilled out of the bucket because of her running. Caroline dips her hands into the water and rubs them into her chalk powder. It forms a thick almost florescent paste. 

She smiles at me and raises her eyebrows


I start laughing and tell her, 


She dips her finger in and starts painting my arm. Leela does the same with a magenta colored chalk. Soon my arms take on the colors of Monet's Nympheas and both of them are in awe of how beautiful their art looks. 

Caroline says,


and Leela finishes, 

"This looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g"

They stand in front of me, critiquing their work. My arms are beginning to feel itchy but I smile at them and I tell them that they did an amazing job. Caroline asks me if she can pour sand on my arms now and I tell her no. Her face falls and I ask her to give me a reason why she thinks my arm should have sand on them, what purpose would it serve? She shrugs and says,

"I painted the ocean but I need to show earth" 

Her answer made perfect sense to me so I tell her to go ahead and pour sand on my arm. The sand sticks to the wet parts of the chalk paste. The two girls are proud of their work and I am their art. They are looking at me like I am the most beautiful thing they have seen. A mom walks by and asks me why I let them do this to me and I am confused by what she means because why wouldn't I let them? The mom walks away and says,

"You're a better mom than me"

And as I stand over a water fountain, using one hand to push the button to release the water and I try my best to wash this beautiful mess off my arm, I can't help but feel a heavy tinge of something similar to sadness but not quite sadness. Maybe it's a feeling of loss tempered with a frustrated impatience. 

This is what no one tells you about starting over: No one told me that by choosing to leave my ring on the bookcase, it would feel like I sacrificed myself to have a blank slate. No one tells you the universe shows you glimpses of what you are ready for when it feels the most unattainable. I'm ready to love someone more than I love myself. I know I’m ready for something more and I want that something more so badly I can feel it in my soul. I can see it. I feel it in these simple small moments but just like that, they disappear and I am left wondering why at 27 I already feel like I am slowly running out of time. 

The water spinning down the drain of the water fountain is tinted blue, purple and pink. My arms have a slight stain and Caroline and Leela beam up at me, one with half a front tooth growing in and the other with one missing completely and ask me, 

"That was so fun and so pretty, wasn't it? So pretty?"

"It was"

We walk back to the playground and Caroline grabs my hand. The weight of her little hand in mine is sweet; her skin is slightly clammy and sticky with sweat, dirt and chalk. 

When I get home, my mom and N ask how my day was and all I can say is,

'Fine. I'm just tired."

My mom says,

"I cannot wait to be a grandmother"

But it isn't about us, it's about her. And I tell her I know.


Men send you photos of the moon and you save them all but there was one that mattered the most to you and ironically, that is the one you didn't save. 


One week later (maybe if I'm continuing to be honest: two weeks later) I miss laughing with him more than anything else I miss about him but I force myself to pick that feeling apart and what I am left with is:

Laughter is just a sound

I make this sound with people every day and I will make these sounds with someone else

And it might not feel the same but I tell myself it will be


He half whispered, half yelled at me:

"Can you stop being so frustrating for five minutes in your life?"

Okay okay.

And then he came close and hugged me, my face in the crook of his neck. And as we leaned against the blue door of my laundry room, I felt my heart swell two sizes for him and it's funny that at the end of it all, it's moments like these I choose to remember. 


There was an expiration date. I knew it wasn't something to fight against.

We were like a can of lychee or pineapple or green beans. There was a packaging date and then there would be a day where we would go bad. We expired and went bad on the side of a busy street with the quiet traffic as our audience.


My body revolts against me. Both of my arms erupt in an angry red rash and spreads across and down my chest. I stare at myself in the mirror and I feel a panic bubbling in my gut. My left hand burns up, like there is a fire under my skin. I'm scared. It's swollen, a deep red and I tell my mom that it feels like it is in flames. She takes my hand in hers and says,

"It's just stress. I'm sorry. You get this from me" 

I wonder if I will be able to shoot fire out from underneath my fingertips. A week later, my hand cools down. Now the skin of my palm is blistering and peeling but my stress rash is disappearing and I tell my body I am sorry for the distress, I don't mean it and I can't help it, I'm trying to take care of you the best I know how

I promise I'm trying. 


I am in bed with my bathrobe. I feel incredibly alone without feeling lonely. My house is too quiet and too still. I strain my ears for any real sound that isn't the white noise of the cars zooming outside my window. I fool myself into thinking I would. It's almost midnight and a movie I don't care about playing in the background. The comfort is artificial and I wished I could call someone and ask: 

Can you please come over and just sit here quietly with me? 

Instead, I sit in front of my mirror and stare at my reflection. I feel something bubbling inside of the center of me and for a split second, I wonder if I am going to start crying and I know if I start, I won't stop. It will be a cry that ages you and leaves you feeling exhausted and swept away; a cry that leaves you like a puddle on the floor or in your bed; blinded by the own salt of your tears; a cry so desperate to be heard and to be seen but the painful truth being: you're your only witness and what good is that?  I'm disappointed when the feeling passes and the drama of the moment escapes. I'm six months into 27 and as I stare in the mirror and look at my tired eyes and my long tangled mess of hair. I think of when I was in LA and I sent him a 10 stanza drunk text and when I read it the next morning, with one eye closed out of shame and embarrassment, I couldn't believe how pure and honest my heart was and the embarrassment melted away. 

N texts me and asks me what I am doing. She saves me, again. I tell her I am coming over in my bathrobe.

Sometimes the Universe is listening and paying attention.


We're at hookah, our favorite place, and the music is loud and the three men sitting behind N are having the time of their life. It almost feels contagious but I'm not quite there. 

I can't remember everything but I remember the blue light hanging in the corner and how the light spilled across N's features perfectly and I wished I had my camera with me. 

Two glasses of wine later, we decide that the biggest lesson of 27 is this:

It is what it is, surrender and trust the process.

And that profound realization sits between us like a trophy. With another sip of wine I tell her I want to add something else,

It is important to be with someone who accepts you for what you are not. 

The three men sitting behind her start playing Bollywood music over the speakers and they get up and start dancing. One of the guys tells me to get up and dance with him and I shake my head. I am not drunk enough. Later as we leave, we see them dancing in the parking lot as Bollywood music blasts from their car and for the first time in a long time, my laughter feels honest and real. 


It's the Super moon and we're sitting beneath her. She came with a vengeance and she is glowing. And all I can think about is when Maggie Nelson wrote,

Empirically speaking, we are made of star stuff. Why aren’t we talking more about that?