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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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

A Poem for Strangers

 

Do you know how many times I thought of you

between breakfast and lunch?

27

times 10.

 

Are you right where I left you

filled with hope and self doubt?

I know about your nightmares.

I know about pain

and being so so scared,

so scared all the time.

I know you can’t sleep with your back to the door.

I know you sleep better with your hand

on my stomach.

 

Do you still exist

when I walk out your door?

I need to know if I imagined

all of the love

I’ve ever felt.

The whole world is empty.

My whole world is empty,

but no

it’s not.

Surely you are real

just as my mother is real

just as every person on this train is real.

And God loves you,

that’s real.

Do you ever think about that?

About the heat radiating from the black city streets

seeping into our skin?

I think God’s love is like that.

 

I don’t really know you

but I think you are filled

with love and hate

and darkness and light.

Do you make pictures out of the black dust

that’s settled at the bottom of your lungs?

Do you paint black on your porcelain heart,

portraits of children

whose hands you’ve held,

whose mothers you’ve watched die?

 

I am not as good as you,

for all my rings

and purity

and church services.

What do you think of cathedrals?

I think your heart is a cathedral.

I want to walk through the ornate doors

and pray

and ask for forgiveness

for lying to you

for letting you believe I was good.

My religion does not make me good,

your love does.

 

Do you know how many times a day

I think about holding your face in my hands

and saying I’m sorry?

I’m sorry.

Will you still remember me

If I knock on your door?

Will you let me in?

Will you be kind to me,

or will you be unforgiving?

Will you expect things from me?

Heavy things I cannot give?

Or will you simply lie with me

with your hand on my stomach

and let me be someone

who needs only to exist.

 

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A Brief Note on Grief

I don’t do grief well. Today I started crying in a coffee shop. The trigger? I couldn’t find the articles I needed to read for a class. And suddenly it is everything in the whole world that just feels so so hard, and the thought of never again getting a hug from one my dearest mentors and friends. Libby died on Tuesday and the funeral was Saturday and today is Sunday, September 11, which is significant but not significant, and I am in New York City trying to do my homework. I was told once that if I feel like crying but am in a place where I really should not be crying that I should focus on concrete facts. Fact: I am drinking black coffee. Fact: 2,996 people died on September 11. Fact: she gave the best hugs.

Have you ever had the experience where something bad happens but you can’t deal with it at the moment so you shove it down down down with the knowledge that it will inevitably catch up to you? And then here I am crying in a public place. Fact: my dress is grey. Fact: I live in Manhattan. Fact: she was someone who was impossible to keep secrets from.

I cant stop thinking about being seventeen. I was so dramatic and optimistic and hopeless and driven. I am still all of those things. I’m thinking about the way the living room carpet felt. I’m thinking about gingerbread houses. I’m thinking about that time I dreamed of my house burning down. I’m thinking about Wednesday nights and wishing it was Wednesday night eight years ago or Wednesday night eight years from now. There are too many memories, too many memories, and I miss everything. Fact: I’m crying again. Fact: people die. Fact: she called out all of the best things in me.

Grief feels so vague but so specific. There are no words except for every single word that races through my mind all at one time. Sometime soon I’ll have real words to put down and I’ll write some beautiful essay that says everything I want to say. But right now I don’t know what I want to say except, why? except, because. Right now I can’t write in the past tense. Right now I am so tired. Fact: I’ll find the articles I need to read for class. Fact: the weather is good in New York today. Fact: she loves us so much.

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Three Cities and a Poem

 

I recently went traveling through three cities in Eastern Europe and it was magic. Here are some photos and adjectives and a poem I wrote on a train.

 

Bratislava, Slovakia

Alleyways and early mornings

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Vienna, Austria

Palaces and colored lights

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Budapest, Hungary

Glittery views and sunshine

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I walk through cities you have never seen

and may never see.

Palaces are my living room.

 

I make my bed

out of a window sill

and a city skyline.

 

Do you envy me?

Do you wish you saw

everything through my eyes?

 

When I wander

through back alleys made of stones

You are so far from my mind.

 

It is only when I stop moving

that I think it would be nice

if you were here

 

What if you saw

everything through my eyes?

Would you understand then?

 

Instead of beautiful winding roads

I see a maze of bones

and strangers voices whispering through the cracks

 

I walk into my palace living room

and the prison door slams behind me

nothing can get in, I hope

 

I make my bed

in a room full of people who don’t care

I listen to emptiness drip from the ceiling.

 

When I am still

and floating in the sky

I feel the phantom of you in the space next to me

 

If you look through my eyes

you will see yourself

forever walking away down a city street

 

If you see through my eyes

you will see through the ache

and it makes everything more beautiful.

 

A Poem About Breaking

On my Instagram page (@elizabeth_ee), I’ve been doing this thing that I call Tiny Poem Sunday. It’s pretty self-explanatory, but every Sunday I post a short 4 stanza poem. My first few posts were based off of a poem I wrote while sitting on the floor of the Tate Modern on my last day in London. By breaking it up into small individual poems that could stand alone, it turned into something much better than the original. I’ve now pieced it back together, and I thought I would post it here. I hope you enjoy it. Here is a broken puzzle of a poem about breaking.

 

Your hands are stronger

than they look.

You touch my cheek

and it cracks

sending flowering vines across my face

in place of your fingerprints,

Because I am fragile.

I always have been.

My glass fingertips

shatter a little bit

every time I hold a book of poems

or your hand.

 

I am a holding pen for beauty

and I will soon understand

that I have been seeing myself

through your small eyes.

Now begin to glimpse the truth of my reflection

in the pieces of glass that fall from my skin,

Because I am so much weaker

than a mountain or a word.

I am the delicate, crumbling parts of them.

But the truth is, I would rather be a thousand pieces

breaking away in your hands

than leave no proof that we ever touched.

 

I was here for so long,

But now I’m beginning to feel

like building a palace out of my body

and going home to it.

I will thank you for the flowering cracks

you left in my windows

And you will let me go.

I will be left standing,

amazed at the strength of my own legs.

Watch me as I walk away.

You’ll see the back of my head as a mountain, resolute.

Only I’ll know the lovely truth of my cracking porcelain bones.

 

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