1:25 am

it is not your fault,
Shining One.
I am sorry they shut you out.
I am thankful for your heart,
like a door ajar.
You are worthy of
quick,
persistent,
urgent,
hello’s.
You are not an afterthought,
a late night phone call;
you are my first thought
in every sense.

fig tree (April, 2018)

I bought a potted plant and it sits next to windows streaked with melted adhesive. It’s a home improvement project gone wrong- my brother thought duct tape would work on the windows for a blackout effect. The Totality in his bedroom!
Just looking at the plant makes me smile. It significantly improves my quality of life to see something alive in this room – bright green, petals a coral shade to compliment the colour palette I am choosing for my new room (white, greys, peaches). I have not felt excited nor motivated about any kind of project in a while. I even made a Pinterest board for it.

I am reminded of my younger self, rearranging paper furniture as the self-designated architect for the room downstairs. I can spend hours placing pillows on and off the bed, in an array of cover combinations, to see what works best. I’m definitely a more experiment-whilst-I’m-at-it kind of person. A visual learner. But I also want to make the right choice at all times. The most efficient choice, because time is my most valuable resource, as they say. So, I fret and wait for the right thing to make itself apparent, as time’s a-wastin’…

I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.
– Sylvia Plath

New York, New York

It is a crazy feeling to find yourself in The Place to which you have been attached by a fizzle of excitement for months. The tinseled mirage in your mind materializes around you and it is not at all what you had imagined, for it is impossible to conjure up the weight of all-encompassing stimulation. The aroma of halal, spice and biryani, hot dogs and mustard, croissants and butter. Mixed and mingling, competing for nostril space. The monstrous towers, the florid gothic architecture, the industrial brick and dainty fire escapes, all competing for visual attention (I think my third eye must have opened). The only thing that remains exact is the excitement, now amplified, screaming (fever pitch). You knew it would be worth seeing- you willed it into existence!

***

I took as many photos as I could on my way from Penn station to a Prêt-à-Manger twenty-five minutes away, in true tourist fashion. I rolled my suitcase past a million Prêts- they seemed to appear more frequently than 7/11, Coffee Bean and Starbucks combined.

I paused, as a normal person would, at a red light, entranced by the smoking potholes. As if lifted straight from a movie, I watched as a man in red tweed and a knitted beanie jay-walked across the street, escaping a Taxi cab collision within an inch of his life. I wonder what music was playing through his earphones, the soundtrack that made him feel like he could walk on water. How bold and daring these New Yorkers must be to so stylishly flirt with death.

***

At one junction, I am the ONLY one waiting for the green light.

***

I took photos of the pedestrians, the yellow cabs, the double decker buses and all sorts of peculiarities. As I whipped out my phone for a picture of the Empire State poking through buildings, I caught a man’s eye. He gave me a knowing smile, as if we were in agreement over his favourite city or as if I reminded him of how it felt to be new.

***

People rule the city (totalling 8.6 million, apparently). The hoards are the main attraction, a World Wonder, rushing over the streets like a force of nature. So many humans had earphones plugged into their heads, each walking at their own pace to their own beat. Yet, they were united in motion, a flurry of boots and coats in the fall.

***

SIGHTINGS

I swear I saw R. Kelly’s twin.

I saw a cop in blue uniform eating a doughnut, no joke.

I could not tear my eyes away from this tall, slender man with platinum blond hair, sharp features, and killer cheekbones as he threw some rubbish away with a flick of his wrist. He strutted off, as Vogue as ever.

I looked up into a conference room on the third floor, where a man stood, hands on his hips, surveying his imaginary executive board.

I watched a man shift in his loose trousers, fiddling with his belt at the crosswalk.

***

“We have nature, we have Central Park!”
Surrounded by concrete, our modern forts, the golden foliage is like honey to the soul.

***

Construction work is here, there, and everywhere. I fell asleep to the sound of a jackhammer and woke up to sounds of engines, beeps, and honks. It felt right, waking up in the bundle of heavy hotel sheets. I gazed down into the streets often and looked into the windows across from me, half expecting to see a naked person (as per the movies).

***

Where is your respite? There is no place to be idle – only shade between buildings. I missed seeing the sky, my glorious Californian sunsets.

***

On the Subway carriage: a man snoring loudly beside me, a woman with her eyes closed, standing upright. Another against the wall, sleeping.
I went on a date with an investment banker who averaged three hours of sleep a night.
“Why on earth are you here with me?!” I asked him.
“Don’t worry, I’m used to it.”
He said he was trying to make it as an actor, trying to “catch up to people who do this full time.”
Passion, security, sleep- can’t have it all, can we?
I might just prefer sleepy Southern California.

Becoming

When I grow up, I want to be a morning person. I want to drink coffee at reasonable hours, and write when I can and not only when I feel like it. I want to be the kind of person who never pops pimples, because this person is kind, patient, dare I say courageous, and profound (deeply secure). I want to tend to a nursery of plants, my sapling children, and be the kind of mother who consigns old treasures to the trash (hoarding is whoredom). Most of all, I want to be the kind of person who holds where I am and where I want to be with a gentle grip: happy to be.

THE 2ND TIME

The stench of sweaty pits,
my stained black shirt in exchange
for spoilt grey sheets.
Liquid feelings,
I left unsatisfied,
a little bewildered, and
a little inspired by brief flashes
of pleasure –
born of your ardent devotion
to the impossible challenge.
Tit for tat,
make up for the first time
when I wanted it to stop and he didn’t.
Your perfect teeth remind of the first
set that grazed my nipples.
You are a do-over of a night
of unresolved tensions,
uncannily familiar, unspooling.
My body refused what my heart confuses:
an entangled love with thrashing legs,
it knew, it knew.
I could’ve taken the couch instead
but I wanted you to ask me to [stay]
come to bed.