Blacktop Magic

You don’t believe in magic?

Close your eyes.

Put yourself on a road, the middle of the night, in a beat up car, full of people you can’t imagine living without. Roll down the windows. Put some music on, it doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t even matter where you’re going.

It’s that moment, that second where you can’t help but smile as you pass your hand through the wind, watching the trees fly by.

Breathe deeply, and believe.

There is magic in the chill of the wind, in the glare of the stars, in the warmth of the night.

There is magic in music, in friendship, in laughter.

If you don’t believe after a moment like that, what are you even living for?


Running Out of Air

“Can’t we just cry until we can’t breathe?” The movie plays, answered by the scattered laughter.

I sit in silence, struck once again with the horrible realization that no one understands.

No one understands the feeling of having so many emotions battle in your head that you can’t function until you reach the point of total exhaustion.

That feeling and I are close friends, we’ve battled over my mind on many different scenarios.

It usually won.

Which left me, folded into the corner, the cool plaster of my wall on either side, the lights off and a blanket firmly around my shaking shoulders.

Tears would roll down my face, soaking the shirt fabric encasing the elbow where I burrowed to hide my sobs.

I would run out of air before I ran out of tears.

Blackness would hint at the edges of my vision as I gasped for the shocking relief of more air.

The fire that ran through my chest was welcome at that point.

Anything to remind me that I was really there, that I was still alive and could feel anything at all.

I guess knowing that no one else feels this way just makes my mind that much more fucked up.

Because it is not just anxiety.

It isn’t just being worried about getting a good GPA so you can keep a scholarship.

It’s so much more.

It’s a crawling feeling under your skin when you are around people too much.

It’s being unable to be comfortable in someone else’s area because one it’s not yours, and two you know how draining it is to have someone in your space and you don’t want to do that to another person, whether or not they actually have that issue.

It’s always second guessing if people actually want to be around you, or if they only invited you along because you were there and they felt bad.

It’s constantly thinking about why you weren’t asked to do something as simple as watch a movie with other people only a few doors down the hall.

It’s wanting so badly to go hang out with people but knowing in your mind that you are too tired for human interaction and then you feel terrible because you missed out on the memories and you could have been there if only your mind didn’t hate itself and need a day to itself.

It’s wondering if your teacher secretly hates you because you talk too much, or too little, and never knowing if what you are doing is good enough for those you respect.

It’s knowing that if you told anyone that your anxiety was acting up, the first question they would ask is “what’s wrong” when the whole point about anxiety issues is that it isn’t about one specific thing, it’s about life in general and they don’t know that so why even tell them.

It’s not being able to voice your opinion because you are so scared that you are going to ruin friendships that you believe are at risk of ending anyways. And when you do speak up, because you can’t sit there in silence when people are unable to be decent human beings, you spend the next four hours worrying that your friends think differently of you.

It’s having to stop doing something because you made just a few small errors, nothing that couldn’t be fixed, but for some reason even typing a letter wrong just makes you slam the computer closed and crawl back into bed.

It’s becoming so frustrated over the tiniest things, like someone reminding you something, or your room not being clean, or some random pain in your wrist or head that won’t go away, or not being able to hit the right notes in a song, or even the fact that you are crying over something… Being so stonewalled by everything that you can’t even move, and you are so tired that you don’t even want to.

It’s wanting to drown yourself in vodka or tequila but being so scared that something, anything could go wrong that you can’t help but stop drinking after you get the tiniest bit tipsy, because you can’t handle letting something else other than anxiety take over your life, take over your head, even if it’s just for a few hours. So you don’t have more than a few drinks, and you never get drunk enough to actually let go.

It’s knowing that you could be on medication for the way you are feeling but you are so scared about having to spend your parent’s money that you don’t even go to the clinic when you’re sick just in case you have to go to an actual doctor. And worrying over the fact that your family may not be able to keep sending you back to the place you call home.

It’s about being scared to tell your family how bad your anxiety actually is because you know your mother has it too and if she starts worrying about you then you are going to feel like a shitty kid and oh wait you already do because you can’t help but to disagree with them about practically everything and you want to be better for them but you can’t, that’s not how it works, and your anxiety gets worse because your mother is worrying and then she worries more and it could set off a chain that would never fucking end.

It’s needing a physical shoulder to cry on but knowing the only people who will understand, who won’t make it about themselves or try to tell you that they’ve had it worse or that you can just get over it… knowing those people are unreachable the way you need them and that you just have to fight for yourself.

It’s worrying that you will never find a group of people that make that loneliness in your chest settle, needing a family to give you the strength and joy to get up in the morning but realizing you may never find it.

It’s sitting alone in a dark room, wrapped up in your favorite blanket, drowning yourself in silence, the attempt for warmth, and the night, and suddenly breaking down for no reason. Because sometimes, it just hits you, everything that is wrong with your life just weighs down on your mind in such a short span of time that you split in half, shuddering as a chill envelops your entire body until the tears begin to leak from your eyes, taking you down a well-worn path into sobbing silently into the sweet bliss of dreamless sleep.

It’s being way too good at hiding the fact you were just crying.

Who I Am (Who My Friends Made Me Be)

I am 100% completely and totally myself.

But what I define myself as is a series of quirks and traits that I have picked up from those I surround myself with. Even those who are thousands of miles away are still with me every day through the smallest impacts on my life. The moments we shared together compacted to create the very fiber of my being, and each time I repeat something from that memory, I am flooded with the warmth of those who gave me so much joy during a time I didn’t know who I was.

I am made of squeals that sounded on nights we surrounded a computer watching music videos. I am made of terrible puns that I attempted to resist but ultimately had to laugh at as they infiltrated my very being. I am made of thinking that staying up late is perfectly fine because we did it for years and we never had any major problems. I am made of impromptu jam sessions because we could never resist singing loudly, even if some of us couldn’t hold a tune. I am made of craving touch, because two years of using each other as pillows made me realize how humanizing it is to simply feel the warmth of someone next to you. I am made of loving rainbow flags because I was lucky enough to find people who helped me find and accept myself, and I can’t help but love those who are proud and strong enough to show the same sentiment. I am made of believing that all people have the same fundamental rights, no matter what race, sex, religion, or orientation they identified as, resulting from so many conversations on the floor of cold hallways, growing to love the people who broadened my worldview. I am made of keeping the smallest random mementos of memories that cover every inch of my wall and stand on every shelf above my desk because, like myself, each and every thing in my room has a story that makes me remember why I have become the person I see in the mirror.

I am made of knowing that who I am is an ongoing process, that so many parts of me are fluid and everchanging, that each person that is crucial at any point in my life will leave some imprint on my mind. And every trait they leave with me will add up to be the only person I would ever wish to be.

Before The End

I swear that we’re fine.

He’s great. He is kind, and he gives his entire heart to everything that he does. He doesn’t hesitate to do the right thing in any situation. I’m pretty sure that he would literally take the shirt off of his own back if someone was in need of it. He makes me laugh. And when he hears me laugh, he gets this goofy (and quite adorable) grin.

But it doesn’t quite make his eyes crinkle like yours-and it is missing that quirky little gap between your two front teeth that you can only see if you look for it.

When we say goodbye, I can see the hesitation in his eyes as he kisses my cheek. But when he finally turns away, there is no lingering along the sidewalk outside of my apartment. Every time I see his back cross the street, I close my door.

With you, it took longer for me to let go of your hand than it did for me to fall asleep without you after that first night. You couldn’t get more than a few steps down the street without turning back, your eyes wide and playful as you walked backwards, away from our memories. And I was always leaning outside my apartment door, smiling back.

He makes me happy. There is no denying that. The moments we share are a little brighter than those surrounding it.

But you filled the space from breath to breath.

When I see his name flash across my phone screen, there is a pause before I press the accept button. Sometimes, I don’t press any button, just letting the crude sounds of the phone ringing scrape against my ears.

With you, I couldn’t get to the phone fast enough. Even today, after everything that has happened between us, I would still answer your call without thinking twice.

He brightens up my day a bit, like a flashlight showing the path of my journey through the world.

You were the sun, lighting up not only my path, but the beauty of the world around it.

He never lets me walk away angry. He pulls me back and makes me talk. Our arguments are quiet and civil, like we are negotiating our happiness. But underneath that smile I gave him, a grudge would build.

After some of our fights, I was hoarse from screaming at you. We would go hours without looking at each other. But all it took was a light touch, a tentative smile, and a scared look in your eyes, and I would melt, all anger flooding out of me. The idea that you would be scared of losing me cut me to the core.

But I guess you grew out of that.

Because you’re not here.

It was such a fucking cliche.

It was such a fucking cliché.

He was the solemn boy who tried a little too hard to stop the pain once and for all, and spent six weeks in a rehab for teens with suicidal tendencies last summer.

She was the bright girl, who leaked sunlight with every step, from her eyes, her smile, her laugh; the stars of the night merged and made her-a being of light.

Everyone was so careful around him, scared to say the wrong thing, scared to get close in case he tried again. The scars on his arms were nothing compared to the scars visible in his eyes, this boy who saw so much he thought there was nothing more worth seeing.

She was never alone, and her days were filled with laughter and constant companionship, because she was a magnet, attracting everyone to her innocence. She had a way about her that could make anyone’s life a little bit better.

What happened next was so predictable.

Boy met girl.

Girl met boy.

At first, it was a vague awareness between them. There was no initial spark, no love-at-first-sight bullshit that usually comes with a story like this.

No, instead, she saw him in the far corner of a classroom, and was curious. She did her research, and it didn’t take long to find out his story.

She didn’t approach him for a few weeks.

They had a group assignment (doesn’t it always seem to be something like that?), and she walked boldly up to him, called him by name, and told him she wanted to be his partner for the project.

He didn’t bother looking up, telling her that she obviously needed to see to her head wound.

She laughed loudly, as she always seemed to do, and that brought his eyes up from the dark and childish doodles in the margins of his textbook. He narrowed his eyes, confused by the being of color standing determinedly in front of him.

And she sat down at the desk next to his.

The love didn’t come until much later.

At first, it was awkward conversation, her trying to thaw the inches of ice that surrounded his entire soul. He was overly cautious, mirroring the way he had been treated ever since the news of his summer plans broke out. In the beginning, the end of every conversation had her walking away and him with a burrowed brow, still confused as to why this was happening to him.

The people around them thought she was taking pity on him, being the wonderful person they all knew her to be.

He overheard, as he somehow, cruelly, always did. He asked her one day, between research topics and her wide smiles.

Her grin fell abruptly, the first time she had ever looked anything than happy. Only he was privileged to the look of anger on her face. She quickly assured him that pity had nothing to do with their situation.

He asked her why again. Why she wasted an entire semester tied to the storm cloud of the school, the dark stain on the prestige of the hallowed halls.

She looked him in the eyes-bright blue meeting the tired hazel-and told him honestly that she was simply curious.

His narrowed eyes and tilted head questioned her answer.

She continued by explaining that she wanted to see the world from the view of someone who didn’t see the beauty in life anymore.

He shook his head, and told her that it wasn’t that the beauty was gone, it was that the darkness had hidden it, and there was nothing to bring it back.

The silence between them was deafening, until she replied that maybe he just needed to embrace the darkness.

He looked at her strangely-how else could one respond to something as bizarre as what she had said?

She looked over at him, and whispered “come to the dark side”.

His eyes grew comically wide, and held her gaze for a moment, until her smile began to hint at the edges of her mouth, unable to hide away.

It grew even wider when his deep laughter lit the room ablaze, strong, but rusty, having been locked away for so long.

The room was silent when the echoes of his laugh died, everyone looking at a smile they had given up hope of seeing again, not that many of them cared to see it at all.

The ice had begun to melt, and although the smile was still rare, his eyes began to shine a little brighter.

When he finally kicked himself into making what he thought was a terrible decision, three months until summer, six months after they had met, she said yes to a date right away. He continued to be surprised every time she willingly spent any time with him. She still had to work to get a smile, or laugh out of him.

Others doubted she truly cared, but they didn’t see how bright her eyes were after she was able to coax a light smile out of him for the first time since she broke through. All it took was a gently-placed kiss on his cheek, which, to her fond surprise, brought a hint of red to both of his cheeks.

People whispered, as they walked together in the hallway, that maybe she, of all people, could fix the boy broken by life. He heard, of course, and stopped in his tracks. He turned to hide, preparing to run anywhere to get away from the whispers.

This time, however, she heard, too.

She ran away with him, all two floors and three hallways, to an empty classroom where he tended to spend his free periods. She was hesitant to hold him, but after a cautious hand on his arm was met with an automatic lean into her touch, she intertwined their fingers, and leaned her head on his shoulder. She told him that she didn’t want to fix him-because there was nothing to be fixed.

He laughed darkly, using their joint hands to pull back the sleeve of his free arm, baring his scars for her to see.

She whispered that cracks in the surface just let more light in.

He shook his head, asking what light could creep into his life.

She straightened, and told him that she would be his light, as long as he would be the shadow that no one expected her to have.

The earnest look in her eyes, not wavering as he looked into the crystal blue, made him tug their hands behind him, bringing her into a hard hug. Whether this was just to hold her, or so he could hide a smile in the crook of her shoulder… Well, even he didn’t know.

By the time they stood in black and white (which was pointed out to them, that their personalities were perfectly portrayed by their outfits), in front of friends and family, the dark colors had bled out of his hair, she had seen the world and had grown a touch darker because of it, and the scars on his arms had been kissed, caressed, and loved so often that they were no longer battle scars, but old friends that reminded him-them-just how lucky they were.

He still dealt with depression.

She still light up a room.

But now he had a hand to hold and someone he knew would be devastated without him there.

And she had someone to bring her down, to remind her that the world isn’t such a perfect place.

She was the day, he was the night.

They were opposite souls.

But they couldn’t imagine a world without the other in it.

It was such a fucking cliché.