Jeweled

I would stand in the shadow of the hallway leading out into the wide open space,
looking for you in the distance.
People would rush past, intent on not wasting any more time than it took for them to get there,
and I would linger, my eyes searching for you amidst the sea of bodies.

Alas, I would find your smiling eyes,
your laughter booming from where I stood and before then,
you would see me in the shadows and smile knowingly,
and I would make my way out to you,
myself beaming in mutual acknowledgment.
You would slide over to make room for me,
or demand that whoever blocked the way do the same,
as I was sitting nowhere except beside you.

In the evenings, we would sit on the couch in your living room,
our knees touching absentmindedly as you told me about your day,
of all the people you interacted with,
and I would listen, all smiles, and we would laugh over the stupid bits,
and then you would venture into your kitchen,
throw white rice onto a skillet, mix in kimchi and chili sauce,
and make the best bokkeumbap I would ever have,
and pack extra in foil for my mom as she loved it too.
You made food for me because you loved me,
and I loved you anyway, though the food was a bonus.

We would resume our positions on the couch after dinner,
our legs criss-crossing over each other,
there in our contented fullness,
high on life and on the daily presence of one another,
counting on each other to be there every other night,
to keep out the world and keep in this love,
a love that neither of us would acknowledge,
as we enjoyed the limbo we resided in far too much,
as we enjoyed a sisterhood that would always edge into something else,
as we went on with the outside world,
and the boyfriends we tried on like cheap shoes.

Everyone else was temporary, and we were permanent.
We protected each other like alphas
who could sense an external threat from miles away,
and no one crossed our path successfully unless permitted.

I think of you now, as I begin a new journey of transformation and progress.
As I attempt to navigate the waters of conventional accomplishment and fulfillment,
as I feign enthusiasm and earnestness for things I know nothing of,
things I may only partially believe in lest I am proven wrong.
I think of our shared wildness, our shared rebellion,
the ways in which we made each other feel insurmountable, indestructible.
Of our innate sense of what it meant to be young women
who demanded more than the world would offer us,
who demanded an entire universe and nothing less.
I think of the ways in which you were my sister, my friend.

I think of a love that remains forever gilded in a precious time long ago,
a time of ceaseless wonder and defying possibility.

As I inhabit this novel space of adult normativity,
I remain as wild and as rebellious as we ever were,
our spirit flowing through my veins like the air I breathe,
as I fight for the quintessential person I have always been.
The world I have crafted expands brightly before me,
and while I am filled with a deepening affection to move forward,
I will think of you in time, in the things I do,
in the moments when I have strayed from that old path,
the path of wildflowers and moonlight.

Hauntings

You make me better than I was yesterday,
than I have been all these passing years,
darker and deeper than the shell I have inhabited,
down in the cloisters of regret and heartbreak.

Alas, I have been living as a ghost of my former life,
uninhabitable and restrictive of my former generosity,
of all the things I have since renounced whether by choice or coercion.

I am ashamed that I let all that love go to waste,
let my soul break away and drift aimlessly.

It is refreshing to be in this body again,
to see anew with these old eyes,
to behold the sun in her dazzling glory,
to admire the moon in her glowing beauty.

It all means infinitely more,
this new heart that beats in its gilded cage,
all thanks to you,
to a friend.

Discomfort

These familiar faces surround me, they have returned from places far away, come back home for this festive stretch of time, to half celebrate the end of one year and the start of a new one, the closing of strange chapters, they tell me things I have no desire to heed, they remind me of the role I fulfill in their dark souls, they have made me feel more alone than ever, here at the end of the year.

I think of the water washing up at level with the bank in the cold evenings as I stare at the twinkling lights across the river. My stomach rumbles as I think of the fulfilling prospect of hot food. I am happiest when I follow my friends back toward the restaurant.

I hope to begin anew again soon.

Conundrum

Specks of sadness dance in her dark eyes as she tells me of her life on the road, always moving, always unstable. Her next deployment is across the sea and over the mountains, thousands of miles away from here, from home. He wanted to be with her, she said, but then she received news of the assignment and so he stopped asking to be with her once the reality set in. She has one more year of service before she is free to be herself again, to reclaim her freedom. She said she would dye her hair green when she returned home.

This weekend I will try the new coffee roastery by my place and go for a walk afterwards, under the cool and brightening Los Angeles sky. She will head back to base and make preparations to set off for one year. She will leave everything behind and venture into unknown territory, to the other side. The point is that she will be so far from home, from her family. It will be one year before I see my friend again. It matters not what side I stand on, because I love her more than all the politik combined. I admire and appreciate her courage, and I am reminded of the value of my freedom. Freedom to choose, freedom to be. Let me never forget. I will miss her dearly.

Lament

We found our paths to each other
by way of fate and convenience
at a point in our lives when it made most sense.
Years of near loving and living
are drowned out by facts of undiluted truth,
the reality that we consciously failed to see for a time.
Here you and I stand at a crossroads,
looking into each other’s unfailing eyes
and I realize how hard I’ve tried to love you.
It didn’t happen a decade ago
and it’s not going to happen now,
our fate is long overdue, past its expiration.
I gain bits and pieces of clarity
with each new day that I live
truthfully and without pretense.
Another mountain range
and I’m headed south again
where I end up in the vale beyond.
I can’t go on forcing myself to love
someone who cannot see what I see,
I can’t give away so much in return for so little.
But the sadness of the fallout,
the trail of misery left behind in the wake of all this,
there is where we have to face each other.