on bonding over weird fish

It’s 10:30am on a cloudy Sunday morning. I’ve just been out to breakfast with an old college friend and her boyfriend, except all I ordered was a hot herbal tea which cost too much, in which I add too much honey. I say goodbye to my friends and it hits me that I’m hungry. It’s the kind of hunger that prevents you from wanting to do anything else, so the next thing I know I’m at the Seward Coop checking out with a box of brown rice california rolls. Perhaps it was that last night’s Lyft driver had also been a sushi chef, but waffles and eggs were not going to cut it for me this morning.

I find a near empty check out line, but at the last minute decide to swerve back to get a cup of coffee, even though, if there is one thing I’ve learned in my life, it’s that coffee makes me crazy or gives me a headache. Usually both. Back at the check out line, a middle-age man with Bose headphones is buying two boxes of oysters (natural of course at the coop). I feel a sense of affinity with this man. Perhaps it’s our similar tastes in what we want our Sunday brunch to look like, but I decide to ask him how he likes to eat his oysters. He says that he likes to get some bread, not Great Harvest but Breadsmith, pull out the soft middle and dip it in the oil.

“Oysters” he says “are love.” His mom used to feed them to him.

I ask him how often he eats them.

“These days once or twice a week” he says in a way that makes me think that, at one time, it could have been more frequently.

“Do you have anything like that for you?”

I think about that question for a moment. Food has meant lots of things to me besides just being food, but nothing quite comparable comes to mind. “I don’t think so.”

The man hands a paper bag back to the cashier. “Thanks for asking about it,” he says. He seems to genuinely mean it. “Thanks for sharing.” I feel a little buoyant.

The cashier has been quiet up until this point, but once the man walks a way, she says to me. “You know, sometimes I buy sardines and I chop them up, mix them into mashed potatoes with some raw egg, and make fishcakes. I had found a recipe for cod cakes, but this was easier.”

“That’s a great idea,” I tell her noticing her Pink Floyd t-shirt. “I like sardines but sometimes they’re a bit much.”

“Yeah, the mashed potato really helps.”

She offers me the same paper bag, but I decline it too, skipping out of the coop with sushi and coffee in hand.

“Thanks so much for asking.” The man’s voice reverberates in my head. The day seemed a bit brighter.
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glint

As long as the sun glints
Off the myriad shades of green
Grass, petals, leaves
Parked cars
Outside unlocked garage doors

As long as birds chirp
Airplanes are not too heavy for the sky
And wind rustles through trees

As long as my heart breathes
I will let its crust keep cracking
So I can release into unfolding
And never stop noticing the glinting.

thin ice

These days the world feels like thin ice

Cracking underneath

I try to stay steady

But keep slipping

Around me people are falling

What do we do?

What do we do?

What do we do?

I know we will keep grabbing elbows

Trying to hold each other up

Somehow.

 

thriving

We the children of boomers
Whose parents made believe in the American dream
Were raised to belief that
We would not just survive
We would not just thrive
We would be special, somehow
We would make a difference

We were taught that if we learned a lot
And retained just enough to spit it back quickly
And efficiently
We would get the grade
And if we got enough grades
We would get the degree
And if we got enough degrees
We could be worth something
Never mind that we owed 300 grand
Nothing could stop us
Certainly not our skin
As white as a snowflake
Which we took for granted
Because we certainly weren’t racist
Privilege isn’t something you see
When you swim in it, it’s like
Asking a fish to notice all the water

So there wasn’t too much to be grateful for
There was just more to strive for
If we got enough likes
Perhaps we could feign for moment
That we were making ripples
Knowing the waves were yet to come
Yet to come
Our necks permanently thrust forward
From all the planning, holding minds fit to bursting
With all the comparing
For all the things we had learned in school
No one had taught us how to notice
what was happening in there
But we noticed it all right when we couldn’t keep functioning
I’m not talking about getting more degrees
I’m talking about basic eating and sleeping
Making a living
It looks differently—
For some it’s thinking about dying
For others it’s self-mutilating
Others don’t want to do anything
And many of us can’t stop doing

We’re not thriving
We’re barely surviving
In reality we’re drowning
Not all of us are
For some, life was handed to them on a gorgeous platter
And there was never the need to step off
Never mind the debt
The jobs they’d get would pay it off
And in the mean time mom and dad would help
For some, their minds stayed steady
And their bodies stayed healthy
For some

But the rest of us need a new blueprint for living
But my god this is not a glorious undertaking
A lot of time it feels like choking
It’s hard to breath in a society
that doesn’t even value breathing
properly.

a new path

I would like to carve a new path through stone
Stone they haven’t blasted a tunnel through yet
I would like to carve a new path that wouldn’t be perfectly smooth
But there would be a sureness in the way forward
Not a slide but a slope
It would be too dark to look behind
Too dark to see the other side
But a solidity underneath, sand
no longer clinging
Bottoms of my feet flat against the red earth.

slinky

What would I be if I didn’t lose myself in you?
They say I’m supposed to start seeing myself through my own eyes.
You rub up against me and leave
Stains

It’s strange when I glimpse the being with my name
And recognize how much she’s aching, forget a pillow
I’ve given her gravel to sleep on and black mud to walk in
She doesn’t really know what it’s like not to
Slink

She’s been healing for so long and she’s also just begun.