where have I been?

You’ve been extremely good, a little lonely, content with your friends, feeling alienated from close friends, feeling alienated from fading friends, feeling like a second-class friend, suddenly ready to cut people out, exceedingly comfortable with the people you love, willing to reach out to people you’ve looked over, unsure if this was out of desperation, motivated to reach out to people you’re intimidated by, confident in your independence, confident in your ability to walk into parties alone, confident in your ability to carry conversations and connect with people unlike you, neurotically depressed when friends prioritize others over you, endlessly needy about attention and shows of care, peaceful about activities alone.

Fast bikes to the beach in Tevas and sexless t-shirts, strolls by shirtless, tanned college students playing volleyball, and upturned sprawls on Mickey Mouse towels with Infinite Jest: unpretentious because no one cares. Chilly breeze but warm sun. Beach flies on a singular spot on the ankle; perhaps you wiped away a drop of honey there.

Leaving SS’s house with MB and N; she tells you she’s read Infinite Jest. Not unrelated, you begin to notice how self-aware, snarky, smart, self-satirizing she is. Also not unrelated, you hate that you’ve become this uncontrollably pretentious. Regardless, you want to be friends. Later, she tells you there is not enough room for you to come on the trip they are planning. The moment passes, tense, and goes.

You meet up with your group for the first time in a year. You notice, in passing conversation, that they have a group chat without you. The moment passes, sad, but only for you; its traces linger.

Long silences in a car driving to a gratifying nowhere; shotgun. Bad music and bad harmonizing; glazed eyes out to East. Bursts of laughter and camaraderie, internal smiles. You don’t need many friends. You have this one, and you know that it’s the ones like these that eclipse any quantity.

Trudging alone along a ridge, taking occasional photos of the ant-like figure that pops over peaks up ahead. Silence, silence, silence somehow more vast than the view. Ever-changing rocks: pink, brown, and that far-off blue.

The aurora of the sunset, minus the sun. Red-cheeked smiles and disheveled, damp cotton. A pebble tinkles down the ledge behind. Later, you trudge down with shitty headlamps, cold and sore. You forget to look up. You are happy.

Idiotic and yet delightful stories, even if all they do is provide and foothold for visual memories: shapes, imagined shapes: patterns and stories and people and imagined meaning: you decide: the stars must be seen everywhere.

Past midnight: all three of you are falling asleep on the carpeted floor to Black Mirror. None of you ask why the other two do not have plans for New Year’s Eve, are not partying with countless friends. It is still good. You may not have chose this, but it is good.

She is driving and you are shotgun and you are driving away from an incredible feat of modern parenting and laughing, laughing at an inside joke — when was the last time you had an inside joke? How do some create inside jokes with such ease? — it is something to latch onto, something that the trip has yielded. Your tongues sting with mango salsa and tostadas.

You toil over the dough, kneading and sweating, and timing, and pacing, and heating, and checking, and waiting, and it comes out: a miracle! a beauty! a child! and you feel it: the pleasure of doing something for you, for you.

Golden hour is thrown into relief against an already-yellowing series of perplexing metal poles. You meander there: you take a photo of you. He is smiling, really smiling, shockingly so: it is so difficult to get a capture of that smile. Later, you look at that photo over and over. You look at his open smile. You look at his crinkling eyes. It glows: gold.

You are muting his messages for the night. You do not want to see his apology for the thing he didn’t really do wrong. He cannot sleepover for this whatever reason, you know, but you also ask: why can’t you sleep over there? But you don’t actually ask. Instead, you act simply sad, but understanding, little vulnerable but in a loving way. But you are not actually vulnerable. To be fully vulnerable is to show the emotionally needy and the pathetic and the insecure, and you think maybe if you show that too much — as you worked up the courage to do last year — he might just begin to not stick around. Denial may just work yet.

You make a photo album of the trip and share it with his parents and him. On second thought, you share it with your mother. His parents respond immediately: lovely! beautiful!; your mother takes a bit. You are sad and happy that she takes a bit. You want her to have a full life, an overflowing life, with too many people to love. He does not look; does not like that you would know if he looks. You think about this: that he cares and does not want.

Tea and music in the backyard in the patch of sun just outside the shaded cover. Mellow, yellow.

A phenomenon: rain drops, at certain velocities and sizes, turn to fleeting, quivering bubbles on jacuzzi water. You think: there are few joys to eclipse dunking hair in hot water, head tipped back, face an island. You sit on the entrance steps, steaming. He kisses your feet: a prayer.

To be blatant: sex. Art, it is art, you are slow and you let out all the missing, all the thinking.

He wants Chick-a-fil-a and he knows you have moral issues with them and he spits you out, or so it feels, to the Panera. Is this ok? he asks. You are disheveled, angry, stressed, insecure. You find the heart and maturity to fill his tea and recup his tea bag. You eat your chili alone at the table nearest the window and want to punch him when he gets back and looks at you with apologetic and still impatient eyes. You don’t punch him. You hunch in and say: I’m don’t deal well with being rushed.

You cry your way through a movie that makes you remember that he will leave you, must leave you, or else you must drive him away eventually. You sit at the night spot with your friends. A vaguely recognizable girl comes to talk to your friend, does not acknowledge you, though you stare at her, willing her to turn, to nod at your presence, to validate your social capital. She does not. But at least you stared.

You go to a party of his friend’s girlfriend, alone. You are the first one there. Oh, you came! the hostess exclaims. You sit with his friend and his friend’s girlfriend, aware of the brimming awkwardness, refusing to acknowledge it. It’s surprisingly ok. You stay twice as long as you’d planned. People laugh at your jokes.

Maybe, she tells you, when you invite her to a thing, when you haven’t seen her it months. I’m telling everyone: maybe.

You pet this blind, deaf dog. It snores lightly. It bumps into a tree. Somehow, you and your friend feel these things together: love, care, the hilarity of it all, the tragicomedy of this trotting, courageous dog.

The waiter assumes you are not adventurous. Maybe you do not look adventurous. You do the jalapeño vinegar shot in one go to prove him wrong.

You message someone two things, both thoughtful, relevant, and requiring a response. You get nothing. You wonder: how many times are you supposed to try before taking a hint?

You jump: down the rabbit hole, excel sheets and wikipedia. It comes together. It’s coming together.

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02/24/17, 4:17pm

13 reasons why: the author said that he left out modern technology, and had the characters acknowledge the outdatedness of old technology present. I think this instilled in me a need to be timeless; I never wanted to regret something I did.

At the same time, a part of me felt the need to be completely temporal. My journals were — and are — still ‘snapshots’: reflections of me at a specific moment of time. I knew I was ever-changing, and always wanted to grasp, in some small way, that me that was present at that moment, knowing that that me would be gone in a year, a week, an hour.


Josh, traditional vs. experimental; he was everything that I had been growing up, to the extreme, and I recoiled strongly against that. Looking back, I think I see: he was a catalyst for me; he was a springboard from which I launched forward; he was the stable contrast against which I formed my new identity against — not around. I had the opposite problem: I didn’t morph myself to fit him; I morphed myself to clash.

Or did I just grow by myself and happen to clash? Causation or coincidence? Both?

I am in college. We are young. We are forever changing. Relationships are fleeting, but perhaps they should be.

Do I regret it? Is anything good or bad? No — rather, things just *are*. It’s not our job to judge, but to note.

I don’t know how to explain how I’m feeling

other than that I just hung out with three people, one of which is a friend, and the other two of which are previous ‘co-workers’ who are really quite amazing and sweet, witty and confident and wonderful, and yet I can tell that there’s a distance between us, that I cannot be friends with them. And the question then is whether that is because of myself or because of the self I was at work, which was simply not the first impression that did me any favors, quiet and reserved as I was. It oscillates, to be honest: on a good day, I know with all my heart that I am a decent conversationalist though not an expert by any means, but a genuinely kind person, occasionally funny; on a bad one, I wonder how people that I so genuinely like and admire can so subtlety feel and subconsciously communicate that somehow, I am not the type of person they would like to spend time with two weekends from now. It’s not been a great few days. Hopefully being with friends, talking to friends — hopefully this weekend will turn things around.

As much as I wish otherwise, I seem to need socializing more than I tend to think.

4/19/17 10:33am, on my bed in my dorm at college

Loudness is communication. Communication allows for understanding and change. What bothers me about MH, and now HJ is that they are quiet. They do not yell, or protest, or retaliate; they recoil. But this is far, far worse: in their quietness, they are resolute. Their judgements are set, their conclusions wrapped about you and your flaws. I would much rather they criticize openly.

05/21/17 8:51am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

It’s the end of a semester and I’m sitting on a thirteen hour flight listening to nostalgia-inducing but not necessarily inherent nostalgic music; rather, it’s music that I listened to while high just about a year ago from now — the end of freshman year, last year — and listening to it now makes me think of all the very many things that are different in my life. it’s quite appalling to think about: how very many things change over a year and how although I now know that, did know that a year ago, how I can still think through my year and how I got to the state of being in which I am right now and still somehow be appalled at everything that has changed in all the ways I could never have predicted: people in my life that I had never even imagined I would even meet, people who were so very different in a good way that they had effects on me that I could not have predicted, such that I am now not only a person that I did not think I would be a year ago, but I am also a person that I did not even fathom could exist a year ago, let alone in myself, with life philosophies and paths and hopes and dreams and pride and humility and interests and sadnesses and reasons to live that I wouldn’t have even started to understand a year ago.

I guess I should get used to this, but of course, I am sure, I will again be appalled come this time next year.

05/21/17 10:08am, on the plane from DC to Beijing

You’re ending with a shot of your friends outside at twelve-thirty in the morning outside on the quiet green. You were lying down, and they are all laughing so very genuinely that you feel a rush of affection just looking at it, and it is slightly blurred and lopsided so perhaps you were very genuinely laughing also. The flash bounces a sheen off of their skin: a highlight on the round chipmunk smile of AC’s cheek, on the underside of the tip of YM’s nose. You remember feeling comfortable. You remember feeling at home. You remember feeling open. You remember laughing on your back with your legs kicking the air in glee. You remember doing the same with HJ after watching a food video that carved vaginas into Thanksgiving foods. You remember reading an article about true friendships and the selectivity of that term and you remember thinking about YM. You are still looking at the photo. No one looks good, but It’s Such A Good Photo, you think. You’ll Treasure This Photo Forever, you think.