Monday, 20 February 2017

A Trip to New York City

Around 12:15 a.m. on Friday, a plane ticket was booked for me. Destination: New York City, the very next day. With little to no warning about going, I haphazardly threw together some clothes, my laptop, my phone, and a Kindle. By 10 a.m. on Saturday, I was headed to the Big Apple.

I’ve been to New York City once before—a transient, fleeting stay. Six hours with a group touring service. It was a rushed visit to see the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, Times Square, and Columbia University. Hurried. No time to drink anything in, no time to form any sort of opinion. Besides, that time I had gone with my family and spent more time worrying about them than I did actually seeing any of New York. This time, I had about a weekend.

The reason for the visit was a business deal. My best friend James, a talented coder and tech guy, had been recommended to someone I was working in conjunction with for a small company. I was the go between, the liaison, for no reason other than that we were best buddies. It had actually taken quite a bit of convincing for James to even agree to come; he was busy and he wasn’t particularly fond of the guy he would be dealing with for the business meeting. But agreeing to the business meeting also meant seeing me, and we hadn’t seen each other in entirely too long. James also wants to live in New York City in the future, since he’s a New Yorker (though not from the city), born and bred. We’ve talked about living together before simply because we are close enough to have it work.

For convenience’s sake, the meeting took place at the airport and went about as well as a business meeting between two individuals who weren’t particularly fond of each other could go. It was only a few hours, and while the guy I was working for took a plane back the same evening, I was to stay through Sunday.

James and I hadn’t seen each other in a while. Despite being very close, we still lived a thousand miles apart, and even meeting was somewhat of a special occasion. This particular time, he had brought his girlfriend, Emma, with him to the city because she also wanted to spend the weekend with him.

New York is a big place—so say the tourism bureau, every website, the census, and pretty much everything else you can think of. But NYC certainly doesn’t feel big. It feels closed in and packed closely. with people and cars swarming in and out of the streets like rats. It is dingy buildings built stories high, blackened by pollution and pocked with constant construction. It is a skyline so far up that you have to tilt your head all the way back to even see the sky. The walkways are labyrinthine, built upon a basic grid system with pockets and shortcuts—in short, it reminds me uncannily of a dungeon in Path of Exile or perhaps World of Warcraft.

I’m not typically picky about where I am. But one thing I do love is the sky, and I walk with my eyes fixed on the horizon or the sky just above it. Not being able to easily see the sky in New York City makes me both claustrophobic and nervous. It feels like the city is closing in around me, like there is barely space between the buildings and streets for me to even breathe. But despite all this, the city is still beautiful and impressive; it is an ever-evolving beast of nature, growing and growing.

Now, I have a lot of friends in New York City. Of course, James is there. But so too are many people from my hometown, and among those people are a few that were my most beloved companions throughout my secondary education. Some of them were so dear to me that I have never sewed back the place in my heart where they used to be—right in the center, right where all the threads of my emotions tie together.

While I was in New York City, I found those pieces of my heart and put them back, one by one. I hadn’t felt so at peace in a long time. But even while I made those connections again, there was a still a dull ache—a reminder that things could never be as they once were, an undercurrent of nervousness because of the time we had spent apart. A sense of uncertainty because of our history, bitter and bloody and still so very precious, a history that we had not shared with all these people in this new place. I am their past and their reason for who they are today just as they are mine.

But even all that didn’t matter. As soon as we were back together again, things slotted together again. We still fitted into each other’s lives perfectly. They forced their way back into me, stretching and pulling and carving themselves even deeper into who I am. As if all this mess could still be fixed, if we put some needle and a thread to it and maybe some superglue.

And when I left them, I felt those pieces ripped back out, and it felt like I was alone again. I had just learned how to live without them, and now here I am, once again unsure of how to go on without them by my side again.

I love you, they once told me, and I will always love you. (as a friend, as a friend.) I will never forget you. I will always have time for you. You are important. You are loved.

I believed them then. Maybe I still do.

I cried on the flight home. New York City faded away below me as the plane rose, and the city from high up looked like stars gathering to dance in their own beautiful fantasy.

Look, the lights seemed to tell me, your sky also exists here on the ground.

And as I leave, I don’t know if New York City only signifies pain for me or if it is exactly what I need to put myself back together again.

Friday, 21 October 2016

a quick look back

     One of the best nights I ever had my freshman year was the night I was sexiled.

     To clarify, it wasn't the sexiling that was fun--it was 1 a.m. and my roommate texted me "hey bro, Mike is gonna stay the night!"
     Naturally, I had to GTFO. But where does one go at 1 a.m. when their roommate is a dickbag?

     Fortunately for me, I had a friend who also never slept. He was my band-assigned mentor and in the same competitive robotics team as me, and as such, we had grown to become very close friends very fast.

    So I went over, and for once, he wasn't doing ridiculous amounts of work; just settling down to watch 90210 for whatever ungodly reason and downing alcohol along with it.
And so I joined in. I sat with him in his bed and giggled as he drunkenly blathered on about the most random of topics in the most curious of ways, occasionally commenting on how hot he found various characters in the show. We gossiped on and hardly paid any attention to the show itself, which could not have been that much of a loss.

     That was what I loved. The intimacy. The trust we had in each other. The helpless fits of laughter. It was the comfort and easy fun that only comes with knowing someone else well enough for them to relax. That particular guy became the best friend I made at college, and in turn I became one of his.

     Another thing I loved was the way my dorm's fourth floor lounge was set up. Because the fourth floor lacked a kitchen (they shared with third floor), their lounge was twice as large as anyone else's. My dorm happened to be the science and math dorm with a helpful dollop of engineers added along as well. This meant, naturally, that everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) was a giant nerd. They all loved Dungeons and Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Super Smash Bros, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and basically any other game you can think of.

    So what did they do? They put everything in the lounge. DS4, PlayStation, Wii, Xbox--everyone's personal gaming console went in the lounge, as well as copies of most every game anyone would ever want to play. And they just left it there, so that anyone could play any game they wanted at any time on any console. We watched one of our friends play Assassin's Creed for hours. We watched the guys duke it out with Mortal Kombat X. Four of them loved playing Grand Theft Auto on the weekends. When Dark Souls III came out, we laughed uproariously as they tried and failed, time and time again. Sometimes at 4 am, there would just be one or two guys in the lounge, gaming and having a good time.

     But by far the two most popular games in our dorm were Super Smash Bros and League of Legends. And oh boy, did those games completely take over the dorm. There were so many weekends where over a dozen of us hunched over desks and couches at four a.m, screaming when we made a misplay on League, or died one time too many on Super Smash Bros. When the World Championships for League came around, the entire fourth floor lounge was commandeered to watch the games. There was a weekend-long tournament for title of Best Smash Player, and almost seventy people joined. It was insane.

My freshman year was a lot of unexpected camaraderie and many late nights with good laughs. There are many more stories to be told (some that should come with their own warning label!), but I want to put them here so that in a few years time, I can read back over this and giggle a little at how hopelessly stupid we all were.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Been a While

Definitely has been a while. And yes, I have about a hundred more Notebook of People poems stocked up; however, I'm not posting one today.

I'm restless. I always knew that, of course; I have this complete inability to do just one thing at a time because my brain reacts so fast to everything. But now? I have this constant ache in my chest, in my heart, like something in me just wants to get out. Because I want to do more, see more, and I'm so very aware that every day, every second, I'm losing time.

Society is so demanding sometimes, crowding you in, not letting you have any choices in what you want to do. I can't stay in one place. I'm too restless and I want too much. It's itchy, uncomfortable, driving, and sometimes I think if I stay one more day in this dull, listless place where everything is mapped and planned out, I'll go mad. The days are monotonous. The same. Boring. I don't think I'm meant for that. I'm always itching to go find something new, discover something exciting, be someone I never thought I could be.

Once upon a time, I scoffed at anything life had to give. Now, I want to scratch and dig and pull out anything it might have to offer by the roots. Except I can't. I'm limited by my age, by money, by my family, by a thousand circumstances that I can't change unless I completely uproot my whole life. Sometimes I think I'd do that. I think I'd throw everything away to start new just to feel different than I do.

I used to search for a meaning in life. Now I search for all of life. I've found my meaning, and I've learned all I can from this tiny town. I've always been restless. I've always wanted to see everything. I just didn't realize how much I wanted it.

I look at my parents, so sedate in their life. They go to work. They come home. They drive me to swim practice. It cycles, over and over. It never changes. I don't want to be that. I can't be that. I don't want to settle down and just exist until I'm so exhausted that I can't stand on my feet anymore. I need to be doing more. There has to be more. I have to find that more.

I've been everywhere but here, tried everything but this
Somehow I'm still far too scared to take the leap
As if I could somehow sprout wings and catch myself
Before I spiral too far down, down, and drown
Speak a truth I've always known but never heard
I could live like this, but I wouldn't survive
I'd die as I lived, live as I died
Set myself free, chain myself to cliffs
Twisting until the mountain crumbles to dust
And I turn to dust, become a mountain that I could never be
What could I be if I wasn't just me?

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Man With the Queen

He sat on the streets, chess board before him
Another player across, pieces scattered
The battle of wits at its peak
A fight that he was losing

A beer bottle sat by his side
A cigarette on his lips
A filthy coat hung over his shoulders
He pondered his next move

Pawn down, bishop there
Knight moves, rook stays
Flurry of moves, another loss
Moves the Queen--

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Boy Who Spoke French

"Ne t’inquiète pas," spoken softly
Soothing jarred nerves, wrung out hands
Hours like liquid, flowing around
Too much time, not quite enough

A quiet song, a quick laugh
A broad grin, a lengthy talk
A long afternoon, slowly dripping out
With us at the centre, watching it pass

"Ne t’inquiète pas," hand on shoulder
"Ne t’inquiète pas, dance with me."
"I don't dance." "But with me you can."
So music became the world

Physics never applied to us that day
Math had no hold on us
But a few words in another language
"Ne t’inquiète pas."

Monday, 30 June 2014

The Pirate Girl

She dozed off to visions of the sea
A sea in space, transcending time
She swooped in and saved me
A kindred soul looking for its kind

She was the Watson to my Holmes
A heroine armed with a teddy bear
We found our own world to roam
We saved each other there

She questioned herself for years
She found herself and fought
I pushed down all my fears
We found what we always sought

So her spirit, dazed and wild
Found mine, cold and hard
Fate on that day smiled
Then broke us from the start

Swim Meet

   If any of you were wondering why I haven't posted in the past few days, it's because I had a swim meet and I was too tired to do anything like write poems or post things. I'd tell you about the swim meet, except a lot of it is far too personal for me to want to share on here. Though, a few things of notice about my team:

1. The gay tendencies are freaking unreal. No one's actually gay, but looking at them...well, I won't go into it, but most of the people on my team can back it up. That's not just brotherly affection there, or, as my friend would put it: "The 'b' is falling off of 'bromance' there, guys." This little gem even happened:
Z: Hey, couldn't <K> and <T> be gay?
K: <looks up, looks at T> Yeah, probably.

2. We're exceptionally close as a team, especially as swimming is mostly an individual sport.

3. We have far too many pranksters or the equivalent thereof.

4. Our team is actually pretty talented. Especially considering we were going up college teams and 2 Olympians.

5. Apparently liking science and reading a textbook at a meet is Not Socially Acceptable and WILL result in your textbook being confiscated and read out loud. Except no one will understand and then your book will disappear into the annals of...somewhere.

6. Everyone is really touchy feely all the time. If I could have a dollar for every time someone used me as a pillow, chair, bed, footrest, etc., I'd have a grand by now.

7. Music tastes=awful.

8. Other teams have a bad habit of getting between our friendly fights. Do not ever get between our fights. Someone (or something) always ends up getting hurt.

9. If my glasses fall to the bottom of the diving well (that's 16 feet deep), I hold B solely responsible and he will fetch them for me.

10. There is no such thing as "too much".

I'll post a poem later today. For right now, though, I think this is it.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Magnet Boy

Not a scientist, not a musician
A pack rat, needing his hoard
His magnets alongside his trombone
His trombone alongside a binder

The salty sweet taste of effort
One he's hardly ever known
A note of music for his troubles
Blown away on winds he doesn't know

A magnet, polar ends, polar strengths
So we cautiously stand by each other
Attracting, repulsing, pushing, pulling
A trombone and flute breaching our defense

Monday, 23 June 2014

The Girl Who Lost Her Soul

She lost her will three years ago
When her muscles tore and bones tightened
She lost the thing she loved the most
She couldn't swim anymore.

She broke her heart two years ago
When she loved a boy with golden eyes
He never looked twice at her
She gave up on him.

She left her home one year ago
When she broke away from her parents
It was a choice she had to make
She missed her life.

Now she's held together by threads
Threads she weaves and strengthens
She's lost herself this time around
But she'll find the light again.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Boy With the Golden Eyes

The easiest way to describe him: gold
Eyes like the rising sun, curls like grape vines
Laughter, smiles, jokes on his lips
Smirk and a grin, waving away

Jumping, twisting, splashing in water
Diving, swimming, kicking away
Tackles and hugs, running around
Just a chant and a hand signal off

The lazy grins when he says hello
Boundless energy, fooling around
Laughs at life, warmth and pride
Right inside his golden eyes