The stress dreams have swung around again. Things in my personal life have been difficult, and there’s been a lot of feeling like I don’t have much ground to stand on.

Yesterday, while I was trying to sort through the bad taste the latest dream had left on my waking life, my mom came in from watching the news in the other room and said there were a lot of shootings across the country happening that day. Several landed in San Francisco, where I live and go to school most of the year. Politics-related and targeting republicans in one instance, supposedly. Terrorists giving all decent, loving people of all colors and religions and political opinions a really, really bad name.

My heart is so heavy.

I pray the majority of said decent, loving people would know that the insanity of these hate fires doesn’t represent the whole.

The Internet helps us stay connected, but it spreads us so frightfully thin. Thinner than we were designed for, perhaps.

Something to stay mindful of.

It’s so easy for our news apps and social media to shove catastrophe in our face at all times, silently, imperceptibly accusing us of being horrible, selfish people for being unable to hold it all. In the face of so much going on in the world today, it’s so easy to let it fill you with so much outrage and fear and despair that you forget the old lady next door makes cookies on Tuesdays, or that your friend and his husband want to go on a hike with you, or that your parents are overjoyed to have you home from school for a little while. That strangers on the crowded bus readily squish and move over to let you wade through and dismount at your stop. That if you ask someone on the street for directions, they’ll do their best to help.

I know it feels like the world is falling to pieces.

Please please please do not let fear hold your heart.


I’m good at pursing goals, not people.

I thought I could find them by pursuing my dreams–tangible, logical. And if I was smart enough, kind enough, safe enough, they would want to stay.

Every week I work until I break down. Every week I have to step back and accept I am not invincible.

Every week I face the fear of how fragile my measure of worth is. How often I fall short.

I’ve seen how cold, how jagged and empty I can be.

I am an automaton bolted to a desk, trying to fashion a human heart of paper and ink.

I watch my peers find each other, stay for each other, connect and commit in ways I have never known. Ways I have always tried to earn, but which always push me further away from that picture.

Half of me is married to my work, while the other half asks, “Aren’t I good enough yet?”

Not yet is forever the answer.

Not yet not yet not yet.

Which is just a nice way of saying no.


A/N: Some angst and uncertainty from a little bit ago, before a recent academic turning point which I’ll have to write about soon!

I swing left but I’m not going to bite your head off…

I wish I could speak for everyone, but we’re human and humans are stupid and like to fight. We each like to think our sides are the vision of the future and in reality we do some good but we’re also both really lame.

A few weeks ago, I looked up a bunch of recent political cartoons on a whim, to see what passive aggression each side was flinging at the other. What I gathered:

Liberals are stupid, limp-wristed crybabies.

Conservatives are bigoted, narrow-minded hypocrites.

By this point, I’ve weeded my Facebook feed of the political zinger memes that just hurt their targets and negatively rile up those that agree with the sting. I’m not interested in alienating people like that.

As a young person, I inevitably don’t have a lot of chill. Yet as a storyteller, I am constantly looking for ways to connect and harmonize, to soothe and encourage, to assure people they deserve to exist peacefully on this earth.

Growing up, I watched how people who wanted exactly what I wanted—to live in peace and be a force for good—were shunned because they didn’t fit the mold that was prescribed for them. A mold that didn’t really fit me, either.

I am terrified of hurting people by trying to hand someone such a mold. Elitism disguised as piety.

Instead, I want to help people find the courage to learn what their own shape is. How they can be flawed and have room to grow, but can be worthy and good, too. How they best personally fit in the spiritual-physical scheme of things and let them grow at their own pace.

The world needs all types. All types of people, all types of viewpoints. I appreciate the conservative lean toward a strong moral foundation and personal responsibility. This is the environment I grew up in. It had it’s drawbacks, but my religious upbringing ultimately brought me to the things I hold closest to my heart, such as the conviction of compassion and courage I always strive for in my work and in my life as a human being. However, I swing more liberal politically because of that desire to help people find their own unique paths to wellness, since the world is a neverending explosion of hues and shades and I’ve found the conservative end of the spectrum a little too prescribed black and white for me to move as freely as I need to.

A guiding quote for me, in the midst of reaching adulthood and coming to terms with the full intensity of a broken world, navigating concepts of race, privilege, economics, propaganda and bias, trying to repair a faith with singed edges while the group I used to hail from accuses me and everyone like me (good ole’ stereotypes) of being stupid precious snowflakes, is this:

When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t. (Louis C. K.)

And I feel like, the least I can do, is listen to those I don’t understand. Set aside my own ego and amplify the voices of the silenced instead of demonizing them for being problematic to my own convenience. Personal accountability and an open ear, that’s what I strive for when I turn my face to the biting winds of politics.

The two zones, if you will, are complementary. “Liberal” is impassioned and energetic and pushing forward a mile a minute—which runs the risk of spiraling out of control. “Conservative” is sturdy and quiet (generally)—which runs the risk of planting too deep and refusing to move. Push and pull, movement and stability. We need both to check the other. Not assign “evil” to one and applaud yourself for being the epitome of good sense.

Fear disguises itself as common sense, as safety, as dignity. It plays into self-preservation and easy justification. It attaches itself to your pride, draws out your wrath and envy as claws to protect its root and increase its hold. It is noisy and insistent, and highly infectious. It tells you you look stupid or naive or problematic for standing up to it. It will coax you into anger, into closed doors and isolation and inactivity. It will try to exhaust you.

It’s easy to entertain, but it will drown you if it can. It will smother everything good and giving in you to benign, bitter charcoal; to convenience, apathy, destructive anger, to division, to silence.

So quit demonizing each other. No more pompous hand wavin’ “Just sayin’!” tones and tactics (see also: Facebook politics). It’s cheap negativity. Striking a dog, gluing glitter on a leech and declaring it useful. Who has time or energy for that?

Instead, take up your compassion, your courage, your ability to count to ten and take a breath. Bring your ears and leave your stingers and bear traps at the door. Look to your loved ones as allies, not enemies, even when you don’t agree on everything. Go outside, make new friends, admire a dog, call your parents.

The world can be a bleak, cruel, divisive place, but not absolutely every bit of it is out to get you. Find the good, grab ahold, amplify it.

We each bring something unique to the table and we need each other.

Exhaustion and Desire

I am wracked with warning signs when I thought I was setting myself free.

I’m tired of sleeping but I’m afraid to be awake:

Racing, gasping, tripping toward a finish line that seems forever away. And I wonder if I have the strength to go on. How can I believe I am good where I am when inadequacy is a constant driving force?

I don’t feel sick,

but I don’t feel well.

Never fully ahead. Never at peace in the mire.

My wrists are sore and weak. My hips, shoulders and neck ache.

My courage drains away and I am left with the familiar voice of exhaustion,

“Not good enough,

Never good enough.”

I can’t stop taking pictures of my desk and the sky: 2016 in review

2016 has been quite a year for me. One of contradictions and nuance and growth. Of trying to understand the bad things that happened both in the world outside and in my own personal life, of the necessity of committing to mindfulness and healing. Of the fragility of a confident heart when wounded and the journey to trusting it again. Of good things, of exponential progress and hard, fulfilling work. Of learning to live in new settings with new people, of making new friends and figuring out how to work for a better world with the resources I have just as it feels like it’s falling to pieces.

At the end of this year, I feel strangely disconnected. So many things happened at once and my ears are still ringing long after I feel like they should have stopped.

I kept trying to write a post, but it was difficult to make. I could talk about a lot of things; things I feel like I’ve talked too much about already. 2016 left me feeling pretty disoriented. To help reflect, I was looking through my photos from 2016, and I was reminded of the inherent good in my current trajectory, despite the challenges faced along the way.

A trend in these pictures: A lot of them involve either my desk or the sky. They were where I existed, perhaps. I found it therapeutic to step back and/or look up.

IMG_2311.jpgIn January, I was living in a suburb in the SF Bay Area and on Christmas break. After a lot of turbulence in the latter half of 2015, I’d finally had some time to rest and things were looking up. I obtained a Wacom Cintiq for digital work and instantly fell in love with it. IMG_2527

My second semester of art school in San Francisco started in February, which included my first graphic novel class. After spotty performance the semester before, I was determined to put the time and effort in to improve as much as I could. I put every ounce of power into my studies and still had to pull late nights to get everything done.


I lived at my desk. 2016 was the first full year I spent living far away from home, and, commuting so far to classes, it was hard to make any local friends. I roomed with my sister and a friend, and I found out too late that the friend was quite troubled. The negative environment it generated slowly tore apart our friendship despite every effort to save it.

The whole ordeal took a heavy toll on my mental health, and I pushed into my work both despite the distractions and as a coping mechanism.



Over spring break, one of my best friends came to spend a few days with me. For the first time since living in the area, I explored San Francisco. I love the sky there. It reminds me of home.


With lots of coffee and the help of my dearest friends, I made it through. The troubled roommate moved out soon after the semester ended. I tried to get a job through a temp agency, since I’d be changing location soon, but it fell through. Instead, I had most of my days to myself, and evenings with my sister when she came home from work. I pursued a lot of personal work, and committed to working through the negative effects of being more or less at my wits’ end for four months in my personal life. I had some dark cobwebby corners to clear out.

I decided they wouldn’t rule me, so I had to move on. It took longer than I would have liked to free myself from them.

IMG_3077.jpgIn June, my sister and I attended San Francisco Pride (our first pride parade). I typically don’t like crowds and noise, so I was a little apprehensive about going. Adding to that apprehension, the tragedy in Orlando had happened not too long before. Everyone understood the risks they were taking by choosing to attend. My sister and I wondered if we should reconsider our plans to attend as well. We never talked it over, however. We both knew in our hearts we needed to go.

When I try to describe my experience at the parade to people, all I end up saying is something to the effect of, “It was so dang positive I can’t even explain it. It was just so powerful.” And it really was.


The rest of the summer passed peacefully. I spent the first two weeks of August at home, gearing up to move into a new apartment in downtown San Francisco. I expected it to be purely restful.

It mostly was, but I was still in turmoil.


I realized that whatever happened now, it was another square one of sorts. I’d been away for a year, and wherever I ended up after graduating from art school, I’d be tasked with building my life, almost from scratch. It was a daunting prospect I didn’t expect to confront in the region where I’d grown up and gone to college in, a region where my family and most of my friends lived.

Like many hard epiphanies this year, I came to terms with that as best as I could and then it was time to head back to San Francisco. My sister would be staying in Oregon, and that was really hard. I’d be on my own.


I settled into the new apartment and commenced learning how to live in a big city. A new semester began and I was really looking forward to a fresh start.


I took a perspective class and another one in comics. I attended a lot more workshops than I was able to go to while living outside the city the year before, I got more into ink, practiced as much as I could on my own time. I read a lot of books, pursued as much writing as I had headspace for on the side, even though it took a grudging backseat while I concentrate on my illustration training.


I was apprehensive about trying again with a new living situation with new roommates, neither of which I knew before living with them. I was flying by the seat of my pants, searching for an environment I could thrive in and hoping for the best. It turned out to be a good arrangement, and I am so grateful with how well it turned out.

I felt like the most awkward person on the planet the latter half of this year, and it took me longer than I would have liked to start getting back in the swing of things. Thankfully, I made a friend who, little by little, coaxed me out of my shell and helped me regain confidence in my little homesick, mending heart.

A lot of things this year came up that I thought I’d already mastered. Turns out it was all just level one.

A perk of living in the city–you end up walking everywhere. I think I needed to take a lot of walks.

At the end of a successful semester, I got to come home to Oregon for a long Christmas break, where I’m attempting to unwind and regroup. Last year, my sister only got the weekend off work, so we were able to spend a mere 48 hours at home. This year, I’m on my own schedule. By the end of 2016, I really needed a vacation, so I opted for spending it mostly in Oregon, where I plan to return after graduation.

IMG_4175.jpg2017 promises to be very busy, and I’m really looking forward to all the things we’ll make and do this year to make the world a better place.

There will always be a need for storytellers, and in such a turbulent time where ignorance and fear are finding a terrifying amount of footing, it seems we need them now more than ever.

There’s so much I want to do, and I’m eager to get to work. But for right now, I need to rest and reconnect. Until I head back to school, I’ll be going on lots of walks with the family’s Scottie dog, taking pictures of the sky.

Rule No. 1: Do not cast unsupervised.

Kennick laid out his supplies: his notes, the spellbook he’d taken them down from, and the small lumpy stone from the garden.

He planted the latter right in front of where he sat crosslegged on his bedroom floor. He took a long, slow breath, carefully pulling the energy he’d swiped from the master reserve into a mass inside the center of his chest. He extended his hands over the stone, consulted his notes.

He took another breath. Channeling the energy up through the bones of his ribcage, through his shoulders and down his arms, he stared intently at the rock and said, “Náothrë, täthümkáel.”

The energy burst from his fingertips and wrapped around the stone in a glowing, sparking halo.

Náothrë, täthümkáel,” he said again, focusing hard. He hunched over, trying to blot out everything that wasn’t the rock, the energy, the words, the warm, buzzing connection with the Lifeblood. The words sounded perfect to him. Perfectly memorized, perfectly executed.

Irix probably wouldn’t say so, but it was working, regardless.

He imagined exactly what he wanted. His clear purpose for the stone. Every time he uttered the phrase, his connection with the stone strengthened, a gradual stiffening of his spine.

And as the connection grew, the stone levitated, pulling slowly up toward the space between his palms.

A slow smile stole across his face.

He tripped over the last syllable of the fourth repetition, and the stone flashed suddenly to the side, crashing straight through a pane of glass in the balcony doors and disappearing over the terrace.

The energy cord snapped unbidden and Kennick gasped, pulled slightly aside by the distinct feeling of its ripping from each wrist.

He sat there on his knees, gaping at the circle of broken glass across the room. Massaging his wrists, he slowly raised himself to his feet and stole over to the doors to look out.

Cynneth the groundskeeper was in the yard below, picking something up out of the grass. She glanced up, and they made eye contact. Kennick backed up, abruptly. He stood still in his room, eyes wide, heart pounding. He looked at the books on the floor.

Irix was going to kill him.

He turned and padded urgently to the door, down the hallway, and down the stairs. He grabbed his shoes by the door and cut through the sunroom toward the garden.

Cynneth met him on his way out the door at the back of the sunroom. The stone was in her callused hand, which looked small and dextrous when free of her heavy gardener’s gloves.

“What is this, Master Kennick?” she said, eyebrows raised.

Kennick swallowed his deep sense of mortality. “A rock, ma’am.”

“Did you throw it through your bedroom window?”

Kennick nodded and hung his head, hoping she would think him destructive, pass it off as a symptom of early puberty, and leave it at that.

She was studying the rock.

“There’s soot on it,” she said.

Kennick swallowed.

“You were practicing without the master’s permission, weren’t you?”

“Please don’t tell her,” Kennick said, fearfully.

Cynneth’s lips tightened sympathetically.

“Sorry, boya. You know I can’t do that.” She tucked the stone into the pocket of her overalls with a sigh. “So…Do you want me to tell her, or shall I let you do it?”

Kennick felt a sucking sensation in his chest. His head was still buzzing with traces of the extra energy in his system, the rumor of the broken energy cord like nails on a chalkboard in his sensory memory.

“I’ll tell her,” Kennick said.

“Good,” Cynneth said. She didn’t hand over the evidence. “Sweep up the broken glass. I’ll go up and tape the hole until we can replace the panel, all right?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kennick said.

Cynneth nodded. Before she turned to go, she pointed a finger at him. “As soon as she gets home, you tell her.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Kennick said.

The edges of the house seemed to loom in over him as Kennick stole back into the house and crept into the kitchen, hunting for a broom. Open, breathless, waiting.

He glanced at the square clock on the kitchen wall. Irix would be home in an hour.

He stared at it, clutching the broom in his fatigued, jittery hands. One more hour to live, he thought dismally.

Growing Pains

When I was in high school, I always prayed for empathy, and I thought I understood the world perfectly:

There were us humans, created for good but with destructive tendencies.

And there was God.

The world was black and white. Right or wrong.There was a cut and dry answer to every question ever.

Homosexuality was a choice, and it was a sin.

Evolution was a stupid worldly thing that in no way existed. Like global warming.

All of the Bible was objectively, literally true and did not contradict itself whatsoever because if it did, it would delegitimize itself.

A spirit was for sure imbued at conception, and abortion needed to be illegal at all costs. (Darn that liberal agenda.)

American Christianity was the “right religion.”

I knew all the words. I believed them all.

And then college happened. Little by little, what I thought I understood at the ripe old age of 18 was dismantled. Gently, quietly.

Until it wasn’t so quiet anymore.

Halfway through my fall semester senior year, I was sitting wedged between people in the bustling meeting room of a coffee shop. Even more members were due to arrive. It was a jovial space, a safe space. We were going to talk about gender this meeting. I was still trying to feel comfortable in this group, who I sensed had grappled far more than I had, regarding far more difficult questions I still had my collection of easy answers to—although these answers were considerably more tentative than in previous years.

These people had been eschewed from the system I had previously thrived in, hidden under. I knew I had so much to learn and I was terrified of that.

About this time, the pro-life club on my private Christian university campus had made an innocent, but very negatively received mistake regarding flyers in campus bathrooms, and on this particular evening, the college students around me were freely deriding this mistake as I sat among them. I knew they didn’t mean any harm, but I froze.

What seemed so obviously naive and assumptive to them, I had just realized maybe wasn’t a good idea.

They didn’t know I hadn’t thought in depth about this yet.

And in that safe space, quietly, I didn’t feel so safe, anymore.

It wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.

But in that moment, I began to understand what I was doing to myself that semester. Something necessary and terrifying and rife with sharp growing pains.

Earlier that summer I’d realized I was asexual. For those unfamiliar with the term, asexuality describes a person who does not experience sexual attraction, as separate from romantic attraction. I’d always thought I was just a late bloomer, and I faked crushes to fit in. I remained sex repulsed for most of my known life up until that point. And it was nice to find out there was a label that fit me better than the assumed one. It was like, after years of adolescent size changes, finding that one pair of jeans that fits like a miracle.

And after that realization, my point of view shifted. I understood, like a pound of concrete settling into place, that alternate sexuality was not a choice. The question of alternate sexuality vs Christianity was no longer just an intellectual topic. It was me. It was the friends who had just come out to me, as well as friends I intended to meet.

And I understood the world was not as black and white as I had presupposed. I felt it as close as my own skin.

As soon as the fall semester started, I reached out to the LGBTQ club created by students from the school; a club which, despite the invaluable support and solidarity it offered other gay and trans students at the university, hadn’t received official recognition by the university.

The leaders enthusiastically welcomed me into the fold.

Also that semester, I was taking a professional writing class, in which there was an overarching public relations project. My friends were starting up a pro-life club on campus, and they agreed to let me do some PR for them.

I sat through the meeting that night, feeling like a complete liar, and bombarded by a confused, panicky sort of shame (self-inflicted, of course). By affiliating myself with the LGBTQ club, was I somehow betraying my conservative Christian friends? And by affiliating myself with the pro-life club at the same time, was I betraying my LGBTQ friends?

I was more afraid of what the latter would think of me if they found out. These people who had endured so much hatred and fear from people like me, finding out that the dictionary illustration of a proper American Christian sat among them. Asexual but still hanging onto ideas she herself hadn’t arrived at on her own.

I didn’t want to hurt anyone.

But I’d stepped off the dock and there was no denying I’d gotten wet. I couldn’t go back. The mechanism was in motion, and I had no choice but to press forward (or shove my head in the sand but we all know that wasn’t an option).

My attendance of both groups dropped. I was too exhausted and confused to put myself through that anxiety every week, but I grappled long and hard with everything I’d thought I’d known.

I contacted one of the leaders of the LGBTQ club, a friendly political science major named Jen. I admitted my current position regarding the pre-meeting conversation the other day, and said I wanted to know more and hear what her perspective was on the issues of “pro-life vs pro-choice.” Something was off kilter and I really, truly wanted to understand.

We had a long coffee date, and as I walked back to my house on campus through the wet, leafy Oregon autumn, the framework I’d thought was impenetrable–obvious and logical and unquestionable–was breaking.

I talked to my friend who was helping lead the pro-life group, and she, too, was having doubts about how the “pro-life” movement, as it was, currently operated. We sat on a bench one afternoon in the center of campus, which was deserted for the weekend, and talked it over until we didn’t have anything else to say. Neither of us had reached any solutions, but we had at least admitted to ourselves that there were things that needed to change in the way we tackled the issues of maternal health.

I tried to apply more sensitive tactics into my PR material for the pro-life club, most of which weren’t actually used. Which was all right. It was just an assignment, and the club was still young, so it didn’t need much in the way of brochures. I have no idea how it’s doing currently, now that its founders have graduated. I hope maybe it has regrouped.

The LGBTQ club at my alma mater is still going strong, and I am very grateful to everyone who welcomed and supported me. I was asked to say a few words at the club’s graduation ceremony my very last semester, and that was extremely hard for me, since I did not feel the least bit worthy after how absent I had been. Even though I was trying to figure myself out and find some solid ground again.

Then I moved away to the San Francisco Bay Area for graduate school, effectively leaving the white-washed Christian suburban bubble of northwestern Oregon. This led to my current grappling with racism and how to help the violent racial tension in the United States, even though I grew up in a rather benign area. Being out of my home environment has considerably furthered my development into someone that may have shocked my high school self. She’d think I’d have backslid, gone completely off the deep end.

Maybe she’d despair that this version of me looks so different than she envisioned. Maybe she’d be intimidated, but I like to think she would understand, after a while.

I marvel at how much of a difference 6 years make. How a dutiful prayer has turned to genuine desire. When I was a kid, I didn’t fully understand what my pleas meant or why I made them. Only that I wanted to make the world a better place. I wanted to care. I wanted to think. I didn’t want to be left behind.

I’m pleased that this journey, for me, began on a conservative Christian university campus. The familiar space combined with all the people I had the honor to meet and speak with there was the perfect springboard into my adult life, into the deep end that grows ever deeper.

That evening in the fall semester of 2014, I began to understand what it is to be in the middle ground. What it is to think hard about things with a logical, open mind. To not be afraid of nuance and confusion and lack of answers, but to pursue empathy and compassion over being “right,” and to have the courage to show up when I am needed.

I firmly believe that if you search for truth, you will find it, and this is where my own search has led me.

And lately, I’ve been reflecting on how everything I’ve done in my life has fed very deliberately into where I am now, though I didn’t realize it while it was happening. Looking back, I can see the ties, trace the wires, and I stand amazed.

Be careful what you pray for, kids. God does not confine himself to the neat and predictable, and He may just bust your life wide open.


Ugly chest, ugly hips.

Sex on soft, ugly stilts.

23 years trying to accept this body.

In a sea of voices screaming.

You are female: You are ugly, beautiful, sensual, horrible. Cover your repulsive, delectable skin. Anything that happens to you is your fault. You are a woman, it is always your fault.

Wait to be rescued and valued by a kind charitable soul, because the world hates you.

Procreate and try to be pretty and maybe it will be satisfied.

Too much and not enough. The disgusting message of my culture.

Too much, not enough.

A 12-year-old, afraid of what was happening.

What it would mean.

A 15-year-old bleeding for the first time. Paying a lifelong debt of pain and fatigue and blood to be hated by the world.

A child, terrified to grow up. Because her culture tried to get her to believe that women aren’t human. Women aren’t funny. Women aren’t strong or unique or interesting. They are pursed lips and styled hair. They are strange, needy, bitter creatures with annoying high-pitched voices. They are sexual vending machines, a status symbol, a lubricated hole.

Ugly chest, ugly hips.

Is it any wonder I hated these parts of myself?

Because all I’ve ever wanted was to be human.

And this soft body made it hard to masquerade as one.

I could try to disown myself, if I wanted–say I am neither. I am nothing.

Except my heart won’t let me.

I intend to stay here, in this body and its labels, declare for myself that it is human. My body is a good place to live, and I have decided that for myself. I will reach out for as many hands as will join mine. I will raise my voice to be heard and I will defend to my dying breath that women are funny, they are strong and unique and interesting and they can be whatever and whoever is in their hearts to be. They are human.

We are human, and we do not owe the world anything.

Quiet chest.

Steady hips.

Cherished skin.

The world cannot define for me whether I am human or not.

My body is a temple, and first and foremost, it is mine.

Hate it, hate me, if you want.

But I will not.


A/N: Some thoughts on womanhood and rape culture.

The Verge

I’m on the cusp of bigger and better things, but today I’m losing my mind.

Perhaps it’s been coming on for weeks or days. Change, isolation, alienation, waiting, hoping.

My mind and body become a rush of reaction, of inarticulate, overwhelming emotion. The tears and pain and earthquaking heart push me outside, away from quiet, searching for somewhere else. Somewhere anonymous.

Down the busy street. Where to go? Union Square is too close. Yerba Buena, maybe. No, not far enough. Not far enough.

I walk fast, feet and legs pounding, hands shoved in my sweatshirt pockets, my face a dynamic, contorting inhale and exhale as wave after wave of pain rush in and out.

I flee underground, hop a subway just arriving, take it north. I walk and walk, throat closing and unclosing. 

There is no more logic in it. Now it’s just tears. Just raw pressure compulsively spilling out in wave after wave. The culmination of trying to keep it all together for too long. Trying to be brave, to control and contain everything in me that is weak and problematic and troubling. Terrified of becoming a warning sign while I still wait, sore and fragile, to feel human again.

Lorikeets bab and squeak in the trees above the park on the waterfront, and my emotions only magnify. More memories, of loved ones separated, of my own aloneness here on the edge of bigger and better things.

I walk out to the water down Pier 7, find a lonely bench on the uneven windblown boards. I plant myself there, rubbing at my leaking eyes with the sleeve of my sweatshirt. Letting it out slowly, so as not to crumble beneath its weight.

I stare at the water, at the ferry across the way, the bay bridge. A big white gull with well-kept feathers and greedy eyes sits on the railing a few steps down. Sometimes it cracks open its yellow bill and yawps at me, and I wonder if it knows. If it can sense the pain. If maybe it’s trying to comfort me, or is telling me to stop.

The bell on a fishing pole jingles endlessly in the wind and surf across the way. Its owner in a white plastic rain suit ventures over to my side of the pier. He looks into my eyes a moment, then saunters back to his effects.

Mostly, people leave me alone, and I’m was glad for it. 

When I finally muster my voice, I get up and employ my cellphone, letting any and all words speak as I trudge my way up hundreds of steps to Telegraph Hill. The sun is setting as I climb up and up, through forest and behind back porches, and I feel safe as I climb, out of breath but still talking.

There is a small water fountain at the top of Telegraph Hill, and its presence feels significant, somehow. I feel seen in that moment, in the cool rush of water, in the garbled voices but present hearts of my dearest friends, in the sun setting over the expanse of San Francisco.

I feel emptied and filled, then. At peace again, on the verge of bigger and better things.

A/N: Some prose about emotions. They’re hard and messy and inconvenient but sometimes you just gotta let your body do what it’s gotta do…