Things I miss

My own bed, even if it was just a mattress.

Silence.

The first art I ever framed over the first couch I bought in a foreign country.

That couch that no one ever really sat on.

The floor I cleaned religiously and lay on when I was sad.

I miss it now.

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Here, you hold this.

I haven’t written in a long time.

So much has happened, and so much has stayed–frustratingly–the same.

I had so much happening that every time I tried to sit down and write, I would end up just staring at the blinking cursor asking it what it wanted from me.

In the most condensed way possible, this is what has happened since I last wrote.

I decided not to renew my contract in Japan. I made a farewell speech to my school and cried a lot more than I thought I would.

Not knowing what to do, I took very seriously a job offer to work in a pastry department of a Japanese hotel. I took that as a nudge from the universe that I should go on and take that pastry class that I have been wanting to take for three years in the Philippines.

I moved to the Philippines for three months to study an accelerated course in pastry. The experience was miserable for many reasons not having to do with baking.

On the eve of completion of the pastry arts program, I was informed that the job in Japan was no longer available because the person who was resigning had decided to stay.

Living in the Philippines as well as the month I took to prepare in Japan prior to leaving n addition to moving costs ate into my savings, and I found myself not knowing what to do. I didn’t want to go back to Guam, I couldn’t go back to Japan, and as much as my heart wanted to stay in the Philippines, I knew that it would be a while before I could be able to make a living there without an immediate job.

So I packed up and I went to live with my family in California.

I have lived alone for a long time. My family moved one by one to California while I chose to stay on Guam, and so it is my first time to live in Mainland US.

I tried to get a job doing graphic design, but my lack of experience combined with a three year gap in a design field (I was teaching English in Japan) made it hard to meet even the minimum requirements for entry level work.

I cried. A lot.

I got a job a few weeks ago as a Kitchen 1 staff at a lovely cafe. My main duties are working the line and preparing things for baking.

I live with my parents and it is challenging as well as a blow to the ego.

I still have no idea what the fuck I’m supposed to be doing with my life.

 

I guess in the coming months I’m going to write about those experiences in that chronological order.

 

 

Steam

On Guam, when it pours, the rain is usually cool. Passing showers stain the streets as the asphalt hisses retaliation with wisps of steam. I remember walking home, heat hugging my legs, raindrops cool like a cloth upon the head of a fevered child. I’ve been living in Japan for three years. No matter how similar our climates look on wiki, I can assure you, similarities are short-lived. Sometimes I feel that no matter how many years away I’ve been, my brain bypasses everything before me opting instead to respond to ghost stimuli, reactions conditioned by a life I’ve not lived for the last three years.

It explains why today, upon hearing rain, despite the humidity clinging to my bones like the rogue locks that broke free from my hastily secured bun only to succumb to the sweat on the nape of my neck, despite the late realization that the raindrops are about as uncomfortably warm as a public toilet vacated seconds before I happened upon it, I’m the only idiot in the office wearing a sweater. Old habits die hard if they ever really die at all.

Some days I feel infinite and alive. I feel like all my doubts, all my fears, all my insecurities reside in another lifetime. Like a separate story in a comic book vignette. I can look back upon them and read them out loud as if I were reading a narrative written by another person, while struggling to figure out why the plot sounds so familiar. Some days like today, hot on the heels of paving a new path, the rain catches up to me. The memories gather steam. The pages stick together, the acrid smell of damp paper and printing ink cuts through the muck. Like the potency of sulfur-seeking propanethiol S-oxide from a cut onion, the combination leaves a tear-stained memo upon my cheeks “Hey Jackie, I know you thought you were doing really good, but don’t forget, you’re really sad. Oh and don’t forget to pick up some milk, too, K? Thanks.”

I’m not the biggest fan of running away from things. But sometimes in the process of taking each rough patch one step at a time, your prints get washed away, you close the avenue back into people’s hearts, people’s minds, people’s outstretched arms, you raze the diving board from which your name sprung off the tips of people’s tongues. People you thought you knew so well. There’s nothing left but to push on and plod through the rain with the hopes that maybe one day all of this will rise and disappear with the steam.

 

Creaky floor

I woke up before you.
I had no idea what to do.

I didn’t want you to wake up and have to hide your disappointment.

Slowly, I got up, and braced myself to tiptoe across your floor. I laughed quietly thinking that all of my martial arts training culminated in this stealth test. I laughed a little harder realizing that I had a pounding headache. “Too much whisky, fuck my life,” I thought.

Your floor moaned and creaked as I moved across with all the grace I could muster. Panicking, I turned around sure that I had woken you, but you lay there unaware of all the things your floor was dying to tell you. I breathed a sigh of relief.

Finally standing at the edge of your room, I turned around to steal a glance. It was the reward I let myself have for not waking you. You were perfect and I let my eyes greedily devour everything resting in its right place. I wanted to remember this forever.

A year later, I’m still standing at the edge of your room stealing glances. I heard every groan and creak and sigh sent up by the floors of my most absurd expectations as you tiptoed away.

She is beautiful.

You waded toward her warmth. Rearranging the distance between us, you never really saw me standing there as you worked to put everything in its right place.

Now I struggle to forget how I foolishly thought I could ever be anywhere but at the edge of the morning after, my body burning with embarrassment as I grab at the seams of the coming day, and pull it over me like a blanket.

Stealthily, under the cover of time I’ll tiptoe out of your frame of reference, me on the outside of everything in its right place.

 

Matsuri

I slide my glass sliding door open and watch as the wind makes my curtains dance.

The sounds of people racing their screams to the top of an epic night drift into my apartment and have a walk around before fading into memory. I know that in the city below, everyone else is having the time of their lives, whether they’ll remember it in the morning or not.

The trumpet tirelessly pushes out the same notes in succession to a backdrop of drums and marchers yelling, “Yaisho” as the red train joins in on the festivities, steadily grunting and groaning as it passes through the city. I sit and extract a paradox; tradition and technology sending up sighs as they struggle to go in any direction other than circles. How do we move on with one foot cemented to the past?

Between here and there is the realm of what could have been. Between here and there is a whole field of fertile ground that aches because nothing ever took root. In me was an earth eager to sing through the rustle of experiences we had yet to plant. Slowly, laboriously, painstakingly I lay down rail after rail, fastener after fastener, sleeper after sleeper, ballast after ballast, laying tracks like zippers straining to mute those melodies as I pull my train through. I don’t ever want to return.

Today I imagined what you would have looked like in festival clothing. What it might have felt like to have a beer with you on the beach. What might have been if we stumbled home drunk to land on each other. Instead I fall on tears as my train runs out of steam.

Word to the Whisky

Head pounding. Throat dry. Dress hiked up to my hips and the blanket a tangle on sweaty legs. Hair knotted in clumps. This is the price I paid for a good night’s sleep.

Slowly, deliberately, frightfully, like an orc taking shape from stone and slime, I rise up hit my head on the ceiling and cursing, force myself to get ready for Muay Thai practice. Fuck, my head hurts.

I’ve never been a heavy drinker. On my 18th birthday, I took my first shots of tequila and when my best friend yelled, “HOW DO YOU FEEEEEEEEEELLLLL?!” into my face, I drunkenly yelled, “ITCHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!” into her face. I found out the next day that had I not been allergic to tequila, the appropriate response would have been, “WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”

Most people, by the time they’re my age, have multiple stories of blacking out, or at least a few go to stories about the time they “got so drunk that … “. I’ve never blacked out, I can count on my fingers all the times I’ve ever been plastered, and the next day can recount, with horror, the stupid shit I’ve done. It makes me feel like I lead a boring life. Even in social settings when my anxieties nail me to the wall and my best intentions gather in my throat until I feel like a two-bit magician pulling scarf after scarf from my mouth, a bit panicked at the realization that the jig has ended before I’ve finished purging the scarves from my throat, I never really think to order a drink to take the edge off. I’m always afraid I’ll hurt someone unintentionally by saying something I don’t mean, or worse, by saying something unflinchingly honest.

For ages now, it’s been increasingly harder to sleep. I fight to keep my eyes closed, and consider sleep a pyrrhic victory at the end of a hard fought battle since I always wake up earlier than my alarm and more exhausted than the previous day. Tonight, I put on a little black dress, headed to a bar and sat alone in the corner, drinking and watching Jackie Chan gifs on my smart phone. I consider this “trying” to be social. I proceed to drink until I feel like I’m floating on my barstool; until I’m two sips of whisky away from getting up and hugging a random stranger, just for the possibility of being hugged in return. Instead I get up and walk home. Thank god I didn’t bust out the eyeliner for this shit.

On the way home, some pervert rolls down his window to invite me into his car. I feel terrible at the thought of inflicting myself on this piece of shit, so I do the mother fucker a huge solid and ignore him. I amble, with effort, up five flights of stairs, and then climb my ladder into bed with as much grace as a kitten has clinging to the sides of a bathtub to avoid falling into water. Crawling into bed, I take a second to steady myself before realizing it’s the room that’s turning, not me.

Then, I experience a miracle. Effortlessly I fall asleep. I have just enough time to utter a word of thanks to whisky with a smile on my lips before I wake up, head pounding. Throat dry. Dress hiked up to my hips and the blanket a tangle on sweaty legs. Hair knotted in clumps. Unfeelingly the world continues to turn before I’ve had a chance to get my bearings, but it was all worth it for a moment of peace.