A Conversation Between a Child and an Adult.

“I love you.” She says it in her mind a million times, staring into the green eyes that had become so familiar to her. “Iloveyouiloveyouiloveyouiloveyou.” She thinks it again.

“I have to go,” The man says to her, giving her a light squeeze and a kiss on the forehead.

“Okay,” She says back, closing her eyes at the squeeze, the kiss.

He sits up and swings his legs over the side of the bed. His hands clutch the thin mattress and he hangs his head and sighs.

“What’s wrong?” She says.

“Nothing – it’s just that – ” He sighs again and runs his hand through his hair.

“It’s just that…?” She sits up now, too, and joins him on the side of the bed. She runs her hand through his hair, softly, lovingly. She lowers her head to try and make eye contact with him, but his eyes are closed.

“It’s just that… I’m not sure I’m ready for this.” His eyes are still shut.

“Ready for… What, exactly?” Her initial hurt has already turned into anger and her words come out quickly, with a harsh edge. It all seems vaguely unfair. “How can you not be ready for something you won’t even talk about?”

“I’m talking about it now.”

“You’re not even looking me in the eyes. That’s not talking, that’s stating.”

He opens his eyes and looks at her.

“Well?” She’s waiting for him to say something revolutionary.

“I’m just not feeling it anymore.”

“You’re not feeling it? Jesus Christ are you a fucking middle schooler?”

“I don’t know how else to say it, Jess. There’s nothing wrong with you or with us or with anything, really. I just… Don’t feel it anymore.”

“Then why did you just fuck me? Why’d you kiss me on the forehead? Why’d we go out to dinner last night?” Her harshness cracks into a sob. “I just don’t understand.”

She’s crying now, her face buried in her hands, her shoulders shaking.

His voice is quiet, almost unheard with the sniffles beside him.

“I didn’t know how to say it.”

“Well you picked a great fucking time now.”

“There’s never a right time, Jess, you said so yourself.”

“Yeah when I told you that I fucking loved you, Mike.”

“Loved?” His voice inflects at the ‘ed’ and a touch of hurt seeps through the indifference he’d been trying hard to exude.

And with that, he’s said something revolutionary.

“Yes,” She says. “Loved.”

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I Found My Brother Orange

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago (2011 lol), I met a gremlin. She gave me a robe. 


I loved robes. And soon, I started to love this crazy cool gremlin, too. 

I flew to Denver on a whim to hang out with her, I went to a Tim McGraw concert for her, I even ran 7 miles for this broad.


Soon enough, I began to realize that this lady WAS IT.


I mean, just look at that awkward hand clench. 

Years passed by and we danced through it all. She taught me how to climb, I taught her how to watch Netflix and chill (not like that). She taught me how to backpack, I taught her how to backpack with someone who’s only backpacking to make the other person happy. 


We turned 21 and had parties and studied abroad and saw Europe through each other’s eyes (and one lady’s huge iPad at the Vatican’s Easter service).


Oh, also, she bought me a tattoo for Christmas. So that’s cool. Mainly, what I’ve learned with this kooky, lovely woman, is that as long as I’m with her, life can only be an adventure to be had.


Needless to say, I’ve found my Brother Orange in you and I’m ecstatically, peacefully, wholly, halfly (cause you’re my other half), joyously, achingly (cause I miss you), heavenly, ghoulishly (cause hell has better company)… completely thankful for your existence in my life. Like seriously, where would I be without you?


So let’s watch movies with pretension, explore the world without it, giggle like maniacs, consider issues with thought, run, climb, lounge, hike, fly, soar, live together (cause life’s much better that way). 


Happy birthday, Kaiti! I guess I love you or something. 

Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

“I just wish that you would have wanted me to be there.”

“I did, I did want you to be there!” He yells, his hands burrowing through his long hair in frustration.

“You only asked me because I asked you to ask me.”

“What’s the difference, Sarah? I asked you to come! Isn’t that what you want?”

“No, I wanted you to ask me because you wanted to ask me, not because I asked you to ask me.”

“I don’t see the fucking difference. I asked you to come and you said no… What was I supposed to have done, fucking begged you to come, forced you to come, chained you with handcuffs and dragged you behind me? I asked and you said no.”

“You don’t understand, do you?” Sarah shakes her head sadly and starts to cry. She tucks her hair behind her ears and looks up at him. “I moved here for you and you don’t seem to understand what that means. I left my family for you. I left my friends for you. I left everything I’ve ever known and loved for you.”

“I understand!” He screams, a little loudly in the already bustling café. “I moved to America first, you know. I did the same things you did.” He realises that he’s steered the conversation in a dangerous direction. Competing with Sarah is never a good idea.

“You have done the exact same things?” She’s fuming, but quietly so. “You didn’t feel the absence of half of your family at our wedding. You haven’t had to figure our your visa by yourself while your partner spent a week on holiday with their best mates. You haven’t cried alone at night, wishing you could be home to see the birth of your nephew. You haven’t done the same things.”

“Sarah, god, that’s not what I meant. I was trying to relate.”

“Well you’re doing a shitty job of it.”

“I just meant, I can understand.” Again, he realises this is the wrong this to say. “So what do you want, how can we – how can I – do better next time?”

“That’s why I asked you here. I’m going home.”

He is silent.

“Home?” He finally asks.

“Yes. To Washington.”

“Because I didn’t ask you to drinks with my mates?”

“Because of everything.”

“Everything?”

“I’m not in love with you anymore. I’m not in love with Sydney anymore. I miss home and it’s not easy to be here anymore.”

“Do you hear yourself, Sarah? You’ve always told me that when things get hard, that’s when life starts getting good.”

“I said that the first time we had sex.” She laughs at the memory and the tagline that they’d always quote to each other, mimicking the mushy Pinterest boards and Facebook quotes their friends virtually exposed them to daily.

“Yeah, well it bloody well applies here, too!” He’s desperate, looking back to where it all went wrong, trying to pinpoint a moment that he could go back to, to fix it.

“Well it’s not the fun kind of hard, love. It’s the sad kind where, once it’s all over, you don’t feel better, you feel much, much worse. Like everything’s wrong and you’ve made a huge mistake.”

“That’s what I am? A huge, huge mistake?” His hands rest gently on the table as he asks the question. He leans toward her, his eyes wide, begging.

“Not a huge mistake, no. But I think moving here was a mistake.” Her eyes skirt the room, looking anywhere, everywhere, but at him.

“I have to go.” She breaks the silence that had been hanging over them for more than a minute. “My plane leaves soon.”

Sydney is Sydney

“It’s so laid-back, it reminds me of San Diego!” I exclaim as we hike along the coast of Sydney, barren cliffs and crashing sea to our right and mid-century modern architecture to our left.

“Oh, but these buildings!” I shout above the city noise as we walk down George Street and the aged green rooftop of the Queen Victoria Building joins the skyscrapers and towers that create the Sydney skyline. “It makes me think I’m back in New York!”

“But these gardens, these gardens can only remind me of London,” I concede as I amble through the huge green space full of towering trees, squawking birds and, at the end, the majestic Opera House.

Everywhere I go here, I try to fit this place into another’s box: the gardens are from London, the vibes are like San Diego, the cosmopolitan downtown screams New York, the quirky architecture is reminiscent of San Francisco.

And the people oblige me:

“Sydney is expensive and sophisticated – exactly like New York!”

“Sydney is exciting and stunning – exactly like San Francisco!”

“Sydney is elegant and sprawling – exactly like London!”

“Sydney is…”

…But nobody would say what Sydney was exactly, without referencing another city to explain it.

So let me try:

Sydney is walkable.

Sydney is not walkable.

Sydney does not know what iced coffee should look like.

Sydney does know what an iced mocha should look like.

(Hint: it’s like a milkshake. Which is amazing.)

Sydney is striking.

Sydney is puzzling,

Sydney is like any other big city you’ve ever been to.

Sydney is unlike any other big city you’ve ever been to.

Sydney is big and small, unique and similar, hot and cold, coastal and cosmopolitan, artistic and rigid.

Like any other city and like no other city, Sydney is, well, Sydney.

Everything that everybody told me about it before I came was true and not true, all at the same time. Because, though it’s true that it is like New York and San Diego and San Francisco and London, it is also true that it is like none of those, really.

Sydney is Sydney, I really can’t explain it.

(So come and see it for yourself).

3/52

Prompt: What do you believe happens after you die?

“Claire, I’m begging you… Wait one more night. Think about this.”

“Gerald, I’ve been thinking about this since the day I said, ‘I do’. I’m done thinking about it.”

Gerald, a 43-year-old man wearing a bright red holiday sweater and a pair of reindeer antlers, begins to cry. Claire watches him, her face stoic and unflinching. She, too, wears a pair of felt reindeer ears, though her holiday sweater is pine green. She is not crying, but is instead perched on an old ratty lounge chair, her knees tucked beneath her chin, her arms wrapped around her legs, her toes and fingers fidgeting as she tells her husband of thirteen years that she has booked a flight to South Africa that is leaving tomorrow.

“You’ve always known who I am,” She presses, hoping for some sort of acceptance by the night’s end. “I’ve never been one to settle down, to stay still.”

“I know,” Gerald says. “I just thought – I mean, you have your job, you travel all the time – I guess I just thought that could be enough.”

“I thought so too.” Her voice breaks for the first time, she presses her lips firmly together in an effort to keep back the tears.

It isn’t fair, she knows it. She has made promises that she knew she would break one day. She had just thought that when that day eventually came, Gerald would feel the same way. Of course, that was a stupid thing to think. Gerald, sweet, loyal Gerald, would never feel any differently about her. She could never decide whether that was his greatest quality or his biggest weakness. Perhaps a little of both.

“I know there’s nothing I can say to make you stay,” Gerald says. “What time do you need me to drive you to the airport tomorrow?”

“Gerald, I can take a taxi, I don’t want you to do that.”

“Fuck, Claire! After thirteen years, how is it that I still can’t tell want you want?”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have spent thirteen years thinking about what I want, maybe you should have been thinking about what you want.”

“That’s cruel, Claire. You know that all I want is you.”

“Bullshit. You want the me that you’ve imagined. You don’t want the real me.”

“Claire, what do you think happens when we die?”

She is taken aback by this question, a memory comes to her from so many years ago.

They were twenty-two and newly in love. It was autumn and they were driving home from a pumpkin patch. They’d spent the entire day there, eating donuts and choosing their perfect pumpkins, getting lost in the maze and kissing behind bales of hay. Then Gerald had asked her a question amid the yellow-and-orange ride home through the curving hills of country roads.

“Claire, what do you think happens when we die?”

“That’s quite the question for a girl who just unbuttoned her pants to make room for the six donuts she ate.”

Gerald laughed and looked sideways at her, his eyes flickering between her sunlit face and the empty road.

“I know I’m in love with you,” He said, returning his attention to his driving.

Claire said nothing, but smiled and took his hand.

“I could see myself falling in love with you, too,” She had said.

Once, they were young and twenty-two but now they are sad and forty-three. Gerald asks the question again.

“What do you think happens when we die?”

“I – I don’t know, how could I know?”

“I didn’t ask what you know, I asked what you think.”

“I think we fucking die and then there’s nothing else.”

“I asked you that before.”

“I remember.”

“And you didn’t answer.”

“I remember.”

“But I looked at you and I realized that what I thought about life and death didn’t matter because I knew that I loved you.”

“I don’t know what to say, Gerald.”

“You could say it back.”

“No,” She says. “I can’t. I’m through with lying. I have to pack, I have an early flight tomorrow.”

She uncrosses her legs and goes upstairs to the bedroom. Gerald sits in their living room and looks around at the vestiges of thirteen years of marriage that surrounds him: A Christmas tree with a decade of shared decoration, two framed pictures of their wedding day hang on the wall, a small pile of presents lay under the tree, the TV is recording the SNL Christmas Special.

He gets up and follows his wife upstairs to the bedroom.

 

2/52

Prompt: When was the last time you cried?

“You sure you want to do this, man?” The grizzled government employee looked at me uncertainly. I knew why: I was young, agile, fit, attractive, had a PhD and a great job. I was not the kind of person that they were used to trading in so much time.

“I’ve been planning this for a year,” I said. “I’m sure.”

“Alri-ight,” He said, again hesitant, hanging onto the i as though I might change my mind mid-word. He pressed the spot just above the crook of my elbow with a sterile white scanner, heard the sharp beep, saw the balance on the screen and whistled his disbelief. He gave me another you’re sure? look before hitting a couple of buttons, his eyes darting to and fro on the screen, and printing out my receipt.

“Have fun,” The man wished me as I plucked the receipt from his hand and quickly turned away.

“Thanks,” I said over my shoulder when I was already ten feet away, knowing that he wouldn’t hear me.

I sat in my car, staring at the small black number on the white slip: $1,000,000. I’d thought about doing it for so long, I hadn’t actually thought about what I’d do next. Suddenly, I was crying. I wish I could say that I didn’t know why, but of course I did. I was thinking about her. Lucy. The love of my life. My wife, my best friend.

When she died last year, I drove to the Time Bank and sat outside for hours, thinking about trading it all in. Instead I went inside and handed in her ID and traded in the details of my wife’s life in exchange for a small white piece of paper with small black numbers on it. She was healthy and young and had died in a tragic accident, which meant a larger sum. She also went to graduate school and was working as a university professor, which meant another large sum at the end.

I drove home and tried to keep hope for six months, I tried so hard to see past the grey that had enveloped my life. But every day when I woke up without her beside me, I lost a piece of myself. Eventually, I became sick, someone my friends didn’t want to be around anymore. I tried to go to therapy, but that bastard couldn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about myself. I knew why I was acting that way that I was, I just didn’t care enough to change it. And how can you counsel someone to care when their whole life was taken from them?

I looked at my receipt again. A million dollars. It would have been more if I didn’t go to therapy. But beggars can’t be chosers.

“Amount withdrawn: a million dollars,” I read aloud, mostly to make myself believe it. Then the second line caught my eye. I knew that I would have to confront that part, but to see it so starkly printed made it somehow more harrowing, more real. I read that aloud, as well.

“Remaining balance: one year.”

1/52

Prompt: What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

“What’s your favourite way to spend a lazy day?”

The message dinged into his inbox and he opened it eagerly, looking at the attractive woman’s face framed by a small circle beside the user name iprobablyhateyou.

His attention lingered on the u in favourite and he found himself already imagining her speaking in a cute English accent – or maybe an Australian one or Scottish. Then that familiar voice in his head reminded him that she could just be Canadian. Still, when she’d say sorry it would sound cute, he reasoned.

He went to her profile and scrolled through her pictures: she was on a beach, at the Eiffel Tower, on top of a mountain. In every picture she was alone, but sometimes he could see the shadow of a companion making its way into view.

Suddenly, he got jealous. Who was she with? Was she on a date? Could he compete with the shadowy man taking pictures of her on the summit of a snowy mountain?

He didn’t even read through her profile before sending her the message: “Who took that picture on top of the mountain?”

He waited for thirty minutes before checking if she’d replied.

She had read it but hadn’t responded.

He waited for thirty more minutes before sending another message: “What? Did I do something wrong?”

Again, silence.

For the next week, he messaged her three times a day and received no reply.

“Ok fine,” He typed out on the seventh day. “My favorite thing to do on a lazy day is to imagine where I will be in five, ten, fifty years. Will I still be alive? Will you? Will the person that I sat next to on the subway? I sit by myself in my mind and I wonder if I’m a good person, or what even constitutes a good person. Then I wonder if it’s even worth it to think about because we’ll never know and we can never know and even if we did know, it would all be relative. Then I think, is ignorance bliss? Then I say definitely not angrily to myself. Then I worry about my rent and my bank account and if I remembered to zip the zipper on my pants up after I went to the bathroom. Then I get angry at myself for worrying about such menial things. Then I tell myself that it’s not menial at all, it’s how I am able to maintain the type of lifestyle that allows me to entertain these sort of thoughts. Then I get stressed and bored and confused and usually order pizza and watch Game of Thrones.”

“I love Game of Thrones!” She responded.

5 Biggest Festival Trends (And How To Rock Them)

Strap up your Tevas, kids, because we’ve been to hell and back and we’re ready to dish (Coachella counts as hell, right?). Kicked off every April, music junkies, people who still think it’s okay to wear headdresses, bandwagon fans and Instaglammers set their differences aside for a series of four-day weekends to come together in dusty campgrounds around the country and pay homage to the best that the year’s music scene has to offer. Along with the drool-worthy lineups and overpriced merch stores come another highly anticipated arrival to look out for: festival fashion fads. This year was no exception, with celebrities and festival-goers alike bringing their personalized styles directly to our Instagram feeds.

Read the rest on CheapOair’s Miles Away blog.

Hip Hop and Modern Fiction

The beats are rhythmic in my ear:

bom-bom-bop-buh-bom-bom-bop

The words are comedic to my eyes:

“You wanted to hear the alcoholic Indian father jukebox.”

 

I read a book that won the Faulkner Award for Fiction

As I listen to music that I first heard while sitting on dead grass at midnight.

 

Maybe I’ve been watching too many Hamilton interviews

But the two things pair well together

Like red wine and bread —

Or white wine and summertime.

 

Maybe because they’re both saying the same thing:

“The next day, the first Jesuits walked into a Coeur d’Alene Indian fishing camp.”

Says the book.

“I ain’t never ran from nothin’ but the police.”

Says the song.

 

Or maybe I’ve just been watching too many Hamilton interviews.