I’ve Never Been in an Uber
what am i afraid of? am i afraid? i have to write myself out of this pickle that i’m in. i’m afraid the next year of my life is going to be the scariest. i’m afraid i’m not entirely through with my past, and little shavings of grief are collecting in the pit of my lungs and it’s slowly killing me. i’m afraid i’ll always be this lost. i’m afraid to lose my parents. i’m afraid, hold on, to lose anyone else. i’m afraid i’ll have this locked artistic energy reserve inside my head forever with no way to properly release it. i’m afraid i won’t remember any more of my dreams, and the message i need to hear is in them. i’m afraid the world really ISN’T right at my fingertips. i’m afraid of my hometown, i’m afraid of losing pals after high school. i’m afraid of pro life campaign posters. i’m afraid of eating any more shit than i have to. i’m afraid the smell of my mom’s cigarettes will never wash out. i’m afraid someone is going to offer money for me to write lies. i’m afraid to die. i’m afraid that this is all a dream. i’m afraid he’ll get her pregnant. i’m afraid everyone thinks i’m kidding. i’m afraid this is it. we’re here.
elsewhere park: a Last Summer Project by Aud Brown
I Still Think of You, Jim Henson
this is the hardest pill i’ve ever had to swallow.
i thought that when i left, you’d at least try to follow.
you didn’t, and now i can’t hate life and wallow,
i have to live it, even though my chest is hollow.
shadiest place i’ve ever seen
i was 15
trying to live the high school dream:
forget and don’t forgive, lifestyle downstream.
i hungered for it then, now i’m afraid of the spotlight.
afraid of them dark nights.
and being alone when the show’s over, but then i had more fight.
i was bolder, right now it feels like this summer’s gotten colder than any ever
i’m trying to pretend he is down for whatever.
we both know no better, just keep it together.
we graduate in a pregnancy,
so why fake chemistry?
Just Been Busy, Sorry.
i’ve been thawing for an entire year.
a whole 365 days of my life i have been dripping, still frozen at the center.
i’ve argued, and cried, and laughed, and vented more than any year of my life
but there’s still this awful knot of despair that lies dormant in my chest while i’m busy doing my thing.
but as soon as i’m alone, it all hits me.
really, i’m tired of cigarettes and stupid parties.
i’m tired of arguing about boys, and clothes, and opinions.
none of it is any of my business.
i hate the color of my walls, the soap i use reminds me of the mental situation i’ve been in,
and i hate that as of late, my body feels like a greenhouse.
so yeah, i haven’t talked to you in like 3 weeks, but i’ve just been busy. sorry.
the people who are emotionally damaged and the whole “kid cudi saved my life” kinda thing are totally different from the people who are like “tyler the creator and earl sweatshirt saved my life”. do you know what i mean? it’s just two different types of chronically sad.
you were either kid cudi depressed, childish gambino depressed, or you were tyler the creator/earl sweatshirt/odd future depressed. those were your three options that you had. depending on the situation, depending on the stuff you had to go through.
childish gambino went through the “oh wow people don’t think i’m black enough people don’t think I’m white enough” like he went through that. right?
tyler the creator went through the dad thing, right,
and kid cudi went through losing his dad, and being like clinically depressed, but he grew up in a kind-of-okay situation. you know what i mean? like spontaneous depression, not like trauma caused depression. those were your three options as a young black depressed kid, that’s what you connected to. i swear to god. there’s no other way.
unless you were dumb and angry, those like meek mill kids. i hate them, those kinda kids, they never mattered to me. they were the ones that didn’t really have real emotion besides anger. they didn’t feel sadness or guilt because their parents didn’t wanna see them or something. they just got angry, they didn’t get sad, the sad part didn’t come until later. that’s totally different.
his overall message and attitude and stuff is like weird, like bad, like why do we worship this. it’s nothing like deep or poetic about it, it’s just *blah*
Whatever it is You’re Looking For
(sometimes the person you need isn’t the person you think you need.)
the most incredible feeling finding someone who is also drowning
because when you do, it goes from “uh huh” and “that sucks”
to feeling like you have a floatie in a lake, like your situation doesn’t change,
but one thing you don’t have to worry about if nothing else is drowning alone.
it’s hidden aggression, hidden regret, hidden guilt.
those who are willing to express these secrets,
willing to be emotionally naked with you, are the ones you can never leave alone.
for the longest time i believed everything i heard.
here’s what’s really scary:
maybe the person you really need, the person you really connect with, is right there.
maybe both of your brains haven’t clicked open to each other yet.
the universe tugs people apart individually, and pulls them to other people.
it’s out job to figure why we think about them when we are showering,
or trying to sleep
or ordering coffee.
so when the world feels like a sinking ship, abandon it and remember that
it’s our job to find their little link to us, and no matter how long it takes to find,
it is unbreakable.
i think where i faulted here was falling in love with gifts i couldn’t touch.
i was never impressed by anything physical.
everything can be lost, destroyed; there is an end to all physical things
(and even the meaning behind them.)
and though you can dull the edges of, you can never destroy memories.
you cannot lose moments shared, vivid images burned into your brain of kisses,
so yeah, he does a lot for me.
but i’m not sure what he does emotionally.
Well, I Was Wrong
when i was younger, singing christina aguillera’s “you lost me”,
i had no idea what it would really be like to have been hurt by someone like that
and i had no idea what it would really be like to be fed up
but this does not feel like singing “you lost me” by christina aguillera.
this feels like nerve endings firing off what feeling like through your skin
while the inside of you melts
because you had a flashback and suddenly can’t remember what kind of coffee you always get every single monday like clockwork
watching your skin change from brownish to pink then red because the water is way too hot but if you close your eyes it’s frigid
and you won’t feel clean if you don’t just do this
and it feels like checking the locks more than 10 times in one night because “maybe i did” won’t cut it
because that’s what it is.
you didn’t lose me.
i lost me instead.
IT HAD BEEN MONTHS SINCE HE HAD SEEN HER.
surprisingly enough, his mental vcd wasn’t replaying their harsh ending, rather, their gentle beginning. all he needed to do was explain everything to her, and take the verbal whooping. then at last could he have back all of the beautiful mornings with her.
“James,” she’d whisper, kissing his forehead softly, “wake up, darling. it’s gorgeous outside, our coffee is on the balcony waiting.”
she’d continue to play in his hair and run her fingers over his freckles until he finally got up. his mind flicked through all of the blissful moments he had with her, and although the wind whipping his face on the walk to the airport was freezing, he couldn’t help but feel warm spots where she’d kissed him. when he sat down in the cab, he thought of her face when she learned of the other woman. she’d really meant nothing… but there was no explaining that to her then, she had retracted herself hours before he showed up to her apartment. her face, outlined and blotched from obvious crying, (which she failed to let herself do now, pride.) went limp and calm when he confirmed it was true; he had slept with her. she deflated, her shoulders went slack.
“you have to go now, i can’t hurt you.” she mumbled, picking at her fingers. he was thankful there were no nails.
she ignored him for months, only speaking to his family members on holidays. that hurt the most, really. he was too proud to pursue her as he did before their love began, and she was too hurt to contact him. somehow he mustered up the courage to visit his hometown after all of this time. he definitely regretted ignoring her before, but when things got empty and lost in winter, he missed her constant love even more. even in their ending, which was slow and painful, she remained loving. she cared for him just the same, but he could look in her eyes and tell it was a facade. she didn’t want to be there, but she didn’t want anyone else to hurt him.
he arrived at the house where he’d worked next to her, loved her, dried her tears, and spent a myriad of hours talking about The Future. he thanked the driver, and shelled out money for the fare. maybe a secret psychic, the cab driver wished him luck.
when he arrived at the door, he set his suitcase down next to him, preparing himself for the possible attack. she was a wild woman, but it was all in love. the attack he encountered, though, could only be fought back with a time machine. he could hear the locks on the doors clicking and sliding, and his heart raced: it was her, only she locked herself away like that. the heavens sent him the notion that he didn’t know her as well as he thought he did when a man, fair haired with piercing blue eyes opened it.
at that moment, when he swallowed his spit for composure, it felt as if warm, aged whiskey was sliding down his throat. the man coughed and turned to call her, and the hearing her name out of someone else’s mouth only made it hurt worse.
she appeared from behind him, shocked. she began to speak, and burst into tears. the man lowered his eyes and stepped away.
“why on earth,” she sobbed, “did you wait so goddamn long? what is it? who are you running from? i’m not the one to be running to…”
he watched her holler and swing her arms around, and couldn’t find an answer.
as quiet as u were, the world is so much quieter without you.
it’s as if the volume is turned down to negative numbers,
and all i hear is my organs working.
where do i even start?
the riot going on in my chest,
the failing parade in my brain,
and the percussion in my fingertips as i write this.
so what now?
sure, i have to focus on myself, but i’ve always pushed that aside.
everything is so fragile.
the wall i saw in my nightmares between us is building.
and it is real as my own trembling hands covering my face in the middle of the night.
What’d I Say, Parts I & II
In elementary school, everyone is your best friend. Your only goals are having the best day ever, and hearing “no” as little as possible. You can be anything and do anything, because you’re so young, with so much potential, and so much time left.
I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to be like her. She was thin but strong, mentally and physically.
Her short black hair was done up every day, rain or shine, sick or healthy, with a hot comb. Burgundy lipstick stained her Newport box 100 cigarettes in a black ashtray next to her can of Pepsi in the living room. Her legs were crossed pretty often, even when she wore sweatsuits.
Her name is Carolyn Brown, and she’s my best friend. We threw little parties almost every day after school. She talked to me about things my peers weren’t ready for, which I believe made me the speaker I am now. We took road trips and got lost to her sister’s house, and she taught me how to make spaghetti. She was more than just the regular grandma, she was a woman of art and wisdom and stories, so many stories.
One day, we visited an animal shelter and met a dog with the same color hair that I have. The man there told us that he was too small for anyone else, and that he didn’t listen. On the ride home, with him in my lap, she taught me to always go for the underdog, that the elite are boring and have nothing new to offer.
She was Sherlock, and I was Watson, and together we tackled the new-age, society, and anything else that came our way.
So you can imagine the pang of disbelief and agony I felt when my father told me she passed away. It was the end of July, halfway through the summer before 4th grade. I just flew home by myself from Georgia; I spent a couple of weeks visiting family, and all I wanted to do was hang out with my little cousin. I cringe at the thought of me ever being annoyed to go to her house, and I think that maybe that was a sign.
I walked into my grandmother’s house, and saw everyone but her. It wasn’t until my dad ushered me from the kitchen out onto the porch that I realized something was wrong. He sat down, exhaled, and nearly whispered, “Mom-mom passed away.” It didn’t register with me; it knocked all of the air out of my lungs as well as all of the knowledge in my head. I grew up a few years on that bench that day.
She was a buffer between me and the ranging atrocities of the outside world. She was a buffer between me and my parents. All I knew how to do was follow her. It dawned on me when I tried to call her to hang out that nothing is permanent. I remembered how she’d never lead me to destruction. All I have to do, I reasoned with myself, is never forget her.
I’d never expressed myself to anyone but her, what was I to do now? Who do I turn to? I would’ve never thought back then that the next best thing for me besides her would be a pen.
My grandmother was a beautiful woman from Bridgeton. She was intelligent, passionate, and had a firm grip on who she was. Aside from all of the good things you hear in obituaries, my grandmother was my hero, a perfect mess. No one is perfect, but even the not-so-good things about her were great to me.
She allowed me to express myself in any way, whether it was venting about something that upset me or dressing however I wanted for school. She was laid back, but firm enough in those early years for me to find myself without so many bumps and bruises. She taught me to not always believe what I heard, and to always say what I meant.
She was socially aware; I remember sitting on the couch next to her as she scoffed at how stupid Nancy Grace was, and vehemently rejecting almost every word that came out of Bill O’Reilley’s mouth. She was a self-educator, which I always found to be fascinating considering I never felt like I learned enough of the important things in school. Her books lined the basement wall, and she had books about everything. Her specialty though, was Africa, which gave me my love for travelling. We were best friends, and I don’t think I’ve had a closer friend since.
When you’re young, you stay blissful and innocent until hardships come. That day was a turning point for me; I had so much to do, and I had to do it all by myself. So much to figure out, along with decoding this new knowledge of grief. I had to find an outlet for all of the pressures, current and future, of life. I was afraid to invest all of that into someone else, and I still am.
But from then on, I started writing. Little thoughts at first, then entire pages, notebooks, a whole shelf of them. I found my purpose when I lost my direction, ironically enough. So it is with a heavy heart that I find the maturity to thank Carolyn Brown for everything she’s done, and everything she is still doing for me.
The Last Work
i’m surprisingly lacking inspiration. you’d think that i’d have more to talk about considering this is my last summer. this is my last trip to wildwood. i went to my first college class today. i’m with a guy that is also a senior. we don’t know what we want. none of us do, but it feels like i am the most lost person on the face of the earth. is that selfish? but i sit down to write and i’m finding i walk away with nothing but rambling. it’s hard as hell to write anymore. i feel like i’m surrounding myself with too much bullshit, i am always on twitter or something. so i switched it up. i thought i’d have this crazy moment of epiphany?? i was trying to find something important to say or like write about, some inspiration, but there was none. the whole time i was on the swings on the pier i thought where’s the inspiration. i feel like i lost it a little. my last work made me think otherwise. i just need to surround myself with better energy.
if i could stay on a ferris wheel forever i really believe i would. i want one, but i can’t think of the best place to put one. i don’t really know what it is, they’re not fast or scary. they give me anxiety, though. but it’s like a high. i don’t know how to express the manymanymany feelings inside me when i’m on one, it gives me anxiety. the view is usually too fascinating to make this feeling frustration.
so from this balcony, i bid you all a good night.