Thank you for p…

My knight in shining armor. <3

Thank you for helping me get over of one of the worst things I’ve ever been through.

Thank you for listening to me talk about it, and putting up with the countless stories of what he did to me, and for being patient with me whenever I get depressed over it.

Thank you for always knowing the right thing to say, when I’m upset or doubtful or just in general. You’re my hero. You really are.

You’ve saved me in so many ways. You’re my knight in shining armor, picking me up and carrying me over every puddle I come to without my even having to ask you to. (Even when I protest that I’m too heavy and I’m going to crush you.)

Thank you for loving me, and making me believe that love is real.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful, making me laugh, and making me dinner, even after you’ve spent hours and hours slaving in a kitchen at work.

I’m so excited about all the places we might go together– Portland, Savannah, the beach (any beach. all the beaches.)…

And even though I’m a nomadic soul, full of wanderlust and curiosity about what lies beyond any given horizon, I know that the real reason I’m excited about going to these places is that I’ve finally found the perfect travel companion.

And all this is just my sappy, hallmark-y way of telling you that I love you, and I’m so thankful for everything you do for me, and I’m glad you’re coming with me.

I could never ask for or find anyone better.

The question is…

The question is:

Am I a photographer who also happens to like making things,

or am I a designer who also happens to like photography?

The difference seems so little,

but it is so huge.

It is a question I ask myself daily, fretting over art school applications, portfolios–

the madness of constantly asking myself “Who am I?”–

the answer to which, will define my life.

It would seem simple:

What do I like more?

Oh God, that’s the worst of it.

Some days I decide, taking up my knitting or my fabric to escape the world, that nothing makes me happier than the satisfaction of finished objects made with my own two hands, the various textures of cloth and strings–

and on those days, I am a designer.

But others– like today–

the world outside calls me into its lush green kingdom–

and I run to it, hair untied, slinging my camera strap over my head as the door snaps closed behind me,

and moments wait, flowers and bees and raindrops wait,

perfect, still, and beautiful,

for me to creep up on them

and capture their portraits,

wordlessly.

 

I wish I could just do everything.

I just had the …

I just had the strangest dream

that you still loved me

but didn’t–

Down in Georgia–

I watched all of our dreams come true

but–

with you and someone else.

So many puppies in cages–

I unlocked one and it loved me instantly…

you said that I could have it, and shrugged,

and I was apprehensively joyous,

holding a soft black and white puppy who wriggled and licked me,

nuzzling my face with the sounds of uncomplicated joy.

You didn’t care about the puppy at all, and that sickened me.

You kept them locked up on the fire escape, so they wouldn’t get in the way.

I wanted to save it from you, take it with me everywhere–

selflessly, selfishly.

but then I realized–

it loved everyone.

And it was more their puppy than mine.

I walked through our home, and it had grown into a mansion…

our castle at the top of the world

had grown even larger,

full of new people I’d never met,

with grand oak stairs up to a second story

that never existed– while I was there…

And everyone was happy and festive, and gallant…

They buzzed around each other like happy bees in a warm, dark, hive–

they buzzed around each other like they were all members of a huge,

close,

loving

family.

My new love was there with me, or at least I think he was–

he was barely visible, barely audible.

Maybe even nonexistent.

I kept turning to him to remark on things, to express something–

joy or heart-gripping sorrow, or something–

but he wasn’t really there, and it was as though

I was trying to talk to my imaginary friend

in a crowded house

full of people who loved each other

and didn’t know

I existed.

And so–

I left.

I walked through the crepuscular streets, familiar and imagined.

I walked through Savannah and Atlanta all at once–

they became one strange, imaginary city–

cobblestones and street names I remember–

The feeling of another time: oil lamps and thick, black, sooty shadows

thrown against old walls–

I was going to meet someone I’d met before.

A woman who looked like Cher and had what I needed.

A beautiful woman with twisted black hair,

in a house that looked like a friend’s house,

with a summer party in the back.

Circus tents and floating lanterns,

and cloths lines draped with beautiful bohemian garments

like huge, docile moths.

Walking there, I didn’t know if I had the money to buy what I needed,

but I needed it, so I went.

As she floated through her party, I kept pulling 100 dollar bills out of hidden pockets in my wallet

that even I didn’t know I had.

I hid them, lest she see them and make me overpay.

She acted as though she remembered me, but wasn’t sure from where.

Wasn’t sure if she could trust me.

She said: “Okay- but you have to pick a chevron first. You will wear it everywhere and it will keep you warm.”

On the cloths line were chevron sweaters, afghans, sparkling scarfs, and the most beautiful skirts I had ever seen.

None of the sweaters looked like they would look good on me, and I was transfixed by the skirts.

“Oooo! This skirt!” I exclaimed, giddy as Christmas morning.

She smiled somewhat wryly and said “Yes, this skirt. It will be yours.”

And she went inside, to get what I’d come for.

When she came back out, she was carrying an elegant paper shopping bag,

like the kind you’d get after shopping in a boutique, or at a florist’s shop.

Inside was a beautiful wreath made of delicate buds,

decorated with ribbons in all the colors of springtime.

She handed me a bottle of mist.

She said “Now, don’t spray this on the wreath, like some people do. Use it in rooms, or on yourself.”

She misted me liberally with it, and I smelled like something otherworldly–

almost like pine trees, almost like jelly beans.

“And so,” she said, rolling her eyes skyward and smiling ironically, “I’ll give you the skirt, and this, for five dollars.”

I felt impossibly lucky, but with a catch that I couldn’t quite figure out yet.

I smiled and gave her a five dollar bill that felt almost too real,

rolled up the skirt and put it in my purse, and walked off into the approaching morning,

feeling violas playing in my blood, giddy yet somber.

The streets were strange at that hour–

people were partying in pubs and restaurants, and other people were walking stiffly to work,

avoiding eye contact with the people who shouted happily and kept drinking,

walking the lilting walk of people who have had “too much” to drink–

when “too much” is exactly the right amount to have had,

and life feels worth celebrating.

The bag with the wreath fluttered on every passing breeze, floating behind me as though it would disappear if my fingers slipped,

floating back to another world, where it belonged.

I walked over cobblestones and through strange parties,

a costume party in the federal reserve where everyone was dressed up like

colonials and ancient Greeks,

and the stairs turned to rubber under my feet as I left, and I slid, undaunted, to the street.

I didn’t make it further than the corner of Tenth and Peachtree when I woke up,

almost there.

And then it occurred to me: “There” doesn’t mean what it used to.

There is no one waiting for me “There”…

and I don’t even know

if my key

would still open

the door.

____________

I had fallen asleep with a picture of you up on my laptop–

a picture I took in your car, after the show you played in North Carolina.

When I woke up, on the screen was a picture of me,

21,

wearing a plaid shirt and looking mellowly down at my guitar as I played it.

I looked exactly like you.

Same shirt, same expression, same haircut.

What does it mean?

The streets exh…

The streets exhale with the smell of fertilizer, hot, and damp.

I am flying, screaming over the pavement, 70

miles per hour.

Windows down on a stolen rental car.

The night rolls out around me in hot, plush

velvet blues.

Nobody else I know

really knows

how to live.