I live in the future

Cambodia and Thailand are 11 hours ahead of home. I live the whole day before the people I love have even woken up. So I wrote this poem about the way I feel here in the future.

I live in the future
And in the future
I lean out of windows
Gazing into the heat
Letting my hair cascade into the past
For my friends to use
As a ladder into my mind

In the future
I go fast
Kicking up the dust in my lungs
And the tuk tuk drivers
Make me feel safer
Than my last love ever could

In the future
My heart is steady
It doesn’t get dressed
Or put on makeup
It simply is fully loved as herself
Warm and beating
Basking in the sun

 

In the future
I am so free
And the whole wide world
Will watch the sunrise alongside me
And the sunrise
For all her heat and struggle
Will let me through the clouds of doubt
And she will hold me close
Letting me love her
In my broken way

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Reconciliation to self.

My sister wrote this poem and sent it to me the other day, and it was so exactly right, so exactly how I am feeling. I haven’t had the will or the strength to come up with my own words lately, but hers have filled my heart and spoken for me. I am learning how to hold the good and the bad, the light and the dark, because as long as we are in this world we will have both. We will live through both. Life is learning how to live in the tension. Learning how to choose good, to choose the light, and learning to forgive ourselves when we don’t. Learning to forgive the people we love when they don’t. And learning through all of it to remain rooted and grounded in love.

 

I promise to go away

I promise we will travel and see all the places we said we would

And we won’t wait, we’ll do it now.

I’m sorry we failed, I’m sorry we feel

Like it is not enough

To just lie on the couch and think about life

Because life doesn’t look like something we planned on

We will drink more cups of tea and less alcohol

We will hug more friends

And less boys who say they like to be with us

I like to be with us

I like to be at home

All alone,

Because I never feel lonely when I am at peace with what I choose to be.

I am sorry to my stomach for treating it like steel and

Sorry to my heart for pretending it was immune from feeling

And I’m sorry to my friends for the lies I’ve told them about where I’ve been

It is so isolating to hurt on the inside

Without being able to get the true words out from inside my mouth.

In my head I am trapped

But it will not be forever

I believe there is forgiveness and a bridge to walk over

To a field where there is peace

And freedom for the past

I have a friend there

He doesn’t need me to speak

He knows

And he felt the ache in my stomach

And the cold bathroom floor

I can feel he is with me

And I will meet him there

 

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It’s going to be alright

For young love that’s not so young anymore.

And for my 26th birthday.

We used to write 7 poems a day about falling in love. Now we can hardly form the thought. Our words used to spill out of us flooded, overflowing. Now we have grown comfortable with silence and when we speak it comes with a sob or two. We used to revel in the loneliness of the empty space next to us. Now we can’t remember what it felt like to not know how it felt.

We really don’t know what we’re doing anymore. But did we ever? I think some of us did. Some us found what we wanted or what we thought we wanted and then settled down with it just like we were taught to do. But even those of us whose lives came together are still waiting for our lives to come together.

And so here we are in our late-twenties, late for everything, late for our own lives. Or at least late for the lives we planned for ourselves at 16. Because even if it looks just like we dreamed it would, it doesn’t feel that way. No, it feels raw. It feels too realistic. It feels terrifying and boring and too much and not enough.

We waited so long for what, we don’t know. We waited for anything at all, for anyone who would listen. We waited for the timing to be right. We waited for a sign. But the timing is never right. Not really. And signs are not for us. Signs are for those who believe in fate and we know better than that. So we pick up and move trusting our own feet to do the work for us.

We are so tired, but there is so much more to do on this earth. So look back, but just for a moment. Look at all those adventures, flip through the snapshots of pain, reflect on the goodbyes and the change they brought. And then look forward. Remember that your earth shattering heartbreak and your sweetest love have the same name. Trust in your heart. Trust in your hands.

We are not as young, but we are still young. We know less now than we did, but that makes us so much more open to learning from the world. We love more carefully than before, but that makes our love all the more precious. Our lives are built from a scattered collection of things we picked up along the way. But we have built lives that are worth living, and isn’t that it? Isn’t that so much more than enough? We are enough. Look at all the good we’ve done. Look at all we still can do.

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A Moment

My life is quite full at the moment, but here is part of poem from Thich Nhat Hanh that spoke to me this morning. Take a moment to breathe and be and meditate on love and compassion.

 

The only thing worthy of you is compassion-

invincible, limitless, unconditional.

Hatred will never let you face

the beast in man.

 

One day, when you face this beast alone,

with your courage intact,

your eyes kind,

untroubled

(even as no one sees them)

out of your smile

will bloom a flower.

And those who love you

will behold you

across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.

 

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2016

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I can’t remember what words I’m supposed to use to talk about the past. I can’t remember words about my heart. I can’t remember words about how I feel when I go somewhere new. But let’s try for a moment to remember. This year was more than I ever thought a year could be. I didn’t know I could fit so many different moments inside my body. I live in New York now, but really I could be anywhere. I feel like I am everywhere. Because this year I went everywhere, always always always waiting to come home, and that’s when I found home in my own skin.

The first day of the year started in London with old magic that was wearing out, but the second day I went to Paris for the first time where I found new magic and I moved forward. For real this time. And the year went on like that tired and awake and always moving forward.

I turned 25 and my 25th country was a mountain

I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I told no one

I got angry in the most righteous way

I burned bridges in the way I do, smiling and praying and filled with peace

I ended a whole life, an entire version of myself ceased to exist

I was brave in the exact way I wanted to be and it broke my heart

I fell in love with the sweetest regret

I didn’t regret it, not a single thing

I moved so many times, carrying everything on my back

I ended up in a city I never wanted to be in but it is exactly where I want to be

I lost people to the wind and I breathe them in every second of every day

I fell to pieces on the bathroom floor on Monday and picked myself up again on Tuesday

I carried on that way for several weeks

I blew over the last cardboard walls of false belief

I turned into love, more and more I turned into love

I held more secrets than usual

I opened my heart more than usual

I was brave and broken and brave again

I am in awe of my heart. How much it let in. How much it let go. How much it changed. This year was hard, ok? And next year will be hard. But it will also be good.

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Photos by my magic friend, Crystal Anne

Write about nothing

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Suhareke, Kosovo

I have so much to say and nothing to say and I don’t know what my life is. But I’m 25 and isn’t that exactly right? I like to write on here because I like to write, and because I like to think that maybe there’s someone who reads this who feels just like me. And so this is a post about nothing really amazing except for a few feelings (except that I think feelings are amazing). But just to sum up: for the last few months, I haven’t really felt like writing. I think that’s because I’ve had too many things to write about and just thinking about it feels overwhelming.

Here is a list of the things I have done since I last wrote:

-traveled to Turkey

-visited a refugee camp on the Macedonian/Serbian border

-hosted my mom and sister in Kosovo

-helped run a summer camp with my NGO

-packed up my entire apartment/life in Kosovo

-said goodbye to a million places and people and things

-traveled to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and Italy with my sister, brother, and sis-in-law

-traveled to Jordan

-returned to America

-said hello to all my friends and family

-unpacked all my stuff

-watched my best friend get married

-packed all my stuff

-moved to New York City

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Ajloun, Jordan
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Atlanta, GA

 

Yeah. I’m not really sure how to sum all that up in words. I have so many feelings about everything that’s happened in the last few months and all those unspoken moments in between. There’s a fullness and an emptiness. It’s heartbreaking and wonderful. I feel simultaneously loved and alone. I’ve been curled up in the fetal position on the floor of my childhood bedroom and I’ve been dancing with my favorite people at my best friend’s wedding. There’s so much room inside the human heart.

All of that leaves me pretty unsure. Unsure about how I feel, unsure about my life, unsure about what to write in this moment at this coffee shop in NYC. I could write about what it’s like to pack up my life in a few suitcases. I could write about returning to places I’ve loved deeply. I could write about the new places I’ve been. I could write about falling in love with people, places, moments and watching my friends fall in love with people, places, moments. I could write about how excited I am about my life. I could write about how scared I am about my life. I could write about sitting on my windowsill in my new home in my new life in New York City. But I don’t think I’ve really leaned into any of that yet. I’m not quite ready to feel the whole weight of it. So for now I’m just going to say that I’m here, feeling what I feel, letting myself be blown by every breeze that passes through. My feet will touch the ground soon, I think. And then I will sit down and write something that makes sense. But until then I will just take deep breaths and go on walks in Central Park and try to remember all the good things that have come and let that heal me from all the bad. There’s so much room inside the human heart.

 

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NYC

These Days

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This past fall was the one year marker of my time here in Kosovo. A whole year. That seems tiny and huge at the same time. “What is my life?” I say this at least three times a day and it’s not always said with excitement or hope.

Living in Europe can be really exciting, and I’m grateful for the experiences I’ve been able to have because of living here. But as with anything in life, the novelty eventually wears off and the dust settles and what is left is the simplicity (and monotony) of the day to day. I knew that when this time came, I would need simple rhythms that gave me space, community, and boundaries so that I could be creative and inspired and empowered.

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For me personally, this has looked like creating time to write at all costs, even if I have to say no to other things on occasion. I’ve committed and invested my time in beautiful and encouraging people both here in Kosovo and back home. I focus a lot of my attention on being mindful and present as I go through my day by meditating, setting reminders on my phone, and stopping to simply take a deep breath every once and a while. These are just the tangible things, but they have proved to be so crucial to my well-being.

Why am I telling you this? Well I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is that makes up a life. What is at the root of it? Experiences, emotions, people, places, careers, the snapshots we share and the stories we tell, all of those things are part of it for sure. But what is so obvious to me now is that what life is made of are those really simple rhythms that we create within ourselves and our communities. It’s the moment in the morning where I sit with my cup of coffee and read a couple of stories out of a flash fiction anthology. It’s sitting in the office waiting for a student to show up and searching the internet for scholarships for Kosovar exchange students. It’s calling my sister right before she has to go to work or excitedly emailing with my best friend about a creative collaboration we are working on. Listening to podcasts while I do the dishes, spending at least an hour everyday writing, planning adventures for my spring break, making tacos simply because it’s Tuesday. That’s my life. Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, and a lot of times I’m totally indifferent towards it. And I’m guessing you feel all of that about your life too.

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I live in Europe and someone might live on a mountain top in Nepal or in the center of New York City or in a redbrick house in suburban Georgia, but I really doubt that is at the root of what any of our lives are. A trip that I take to Slovakia or Italy or Florida is not what makes up my life. Whether or not I get a Master’s degree or published in the New Yorker is not what will give my life substance. What makes my life completely worth living is the space I create for inspiration and community. It’s the creativity and curiosity I cultivate within myself and the world around me. It’s the everyday reminders of what it means to be alive.

I think I write all of this because in my life here in this tiny Eastern European country, I often feel totally weird and isolated and out of place both with the people here and the people back home. But that’s part of the deal you make when you decide to step out into unknown territory. I guess I am just needing to remind myself, by reminding you, that at the end of the day, each one of us is left with the rhythms we’ve made and the space we’ve created. I hope that it’s a beautiful space. I hope those rhythms match the beat of your heart. I hope that even with all the moments that leave you feeling broken or the ones that simply slip by unnoticed, that there are also moments that inspire you and leave you in awe of the world and your life in it. It’s nice to remember that we aren’t so different. We all feel weird and crazy and curious and invincible and fragile, and we are all here, today. Sometimes (often times) I just need to remember that.

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