"I think so much about growing up these days, and I am trying my hardest to throw away tired metaphors of blooming, of being a tree, of finding my roots, of stretching out towards the sky. People call me a poet, and I know my place when I say that metaphors won’t do it this time.
‘When I grow up’ was an essay I wrote in baby talk in front of a class that didn’t care. At four years old, I wanted to be a dermatologist, and help the people who experienced the welts and rashes that manifested on their skin like poison ivy - like mine. Most were just impressed that I could spell ‘dermatologist’, and people that weren’t were wowed by a concrete life plan to rival those of teenagers everywhere.
Here’s the thing, though: I just started skipping in the street again. I jumped a puddle and I grinned quietly to myself when the edge of it splashed my foot. Ten minutes ago I got home and washed my underwear in the sink. I spun around in the kitchen and it reminded me that I am so happy to be alive.
And then I think: maybe this is what growing up is. Maybe growing up is learning to be happy to be alive. Maybe it’s making things easier for myself, trimming the fat from my phone contacts, discovering things I enjoy. Maybe it’s to have good sex and buy good underwear and read good books and surround myself with good people.
Maybe growing is doing the best you can with what you have, or learning to be happy with your own company, or being comforted by the idea that no one has a fucking clue what they’re really doing and that makes it okay that you don’t know how to balance your books or put your bedsheets on straight because really, what is a tax return?
Maybe growing up is thinking about growing up enough to realise that everything is growing, from the hairs on my head to the hunger in my heart.
Maybe growing up is getting tired earlier in the evening some days, or understanding that it is okay to get tired.
The more I think about growing up, the clearer it becomes that I am where I was as a child - talking to people that are too focused on their own futures to busy themselves with mine.
And we are all inching, inching, inching our winding ways towards the ceiling."
"But love is what we want, not freedom. Who then is the unluckier man? The beloved, who is given his heart’s desire and must for ever after fear its loss, or the free man, with his unlooked-for liberty, naked and alone between the captive armies of the earth?"
"Summoned by conscious recollection, she
would be smiling, they might be in a kitchen talking,
before or after dinner. But they are in this other room,
the window has many small panes, and they are on a couch
embracing. He holds her tightly
as he can, she buries herself in his body.
Morning, maybe it is evening, light
is flowing through the room. Outside,
the day is slowly succeeded by night,
succeeded by day. The process wobbles wildly
and accelerates: weeks, months, years. The light in the room
does not change, so it is plain what is happening.
They are trying to become one creature,
and something will not have it. They are tender
with each other, afraid
their brief, sharp cries will reconcile them to the moment
when they fall away again. So they rub against each other,
their mouths dry, then wet, then dry.
They feel themselves at the center of a powerful
and baffled will. They feel
they are an almost animal,
washed up on the shore of a world—
or huddled against the gate of a garden—
to which they can’t admit they can never be admitted."
"Am I to bless the lost you,
sitting here with my clumsy soul?"
"The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?"
— Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
"There are trees and they are on fire. There are hummingbirds and they are on fire. There are graves and they are on fire and the things coming out of the graves are on fire. The house you grew up in is on fire. There is a gigantic trebuchet on fire on the edge of a crater and the crater is on fire. There is a complex system of tunnels deep underneath the surface with only one entrance and one exit and the entire system is filled with fire. There is a wooden cage we’re trapped in, too large to see, and it is on fire. There are jaguars on fire. Wolves. Spiders. Wolf-spiders on fire. If there were people. If our fathers were alive. If we had a daughter. Fire to the edges. Fire in the river beds. Fire between the mattresses of the bed you were born in. Fire in your mother’s belly. There is a little boy wearing a fire shirt holding a baby lamb. There is a little girl in a fire skirt asking if she can ride the baby lamb like a horse. There is you on top of me with thighs of fire while a hot red fog hovers in your hair. There is me on top of you wearing a fire shirt and then pulling the fire shirt over my head and tossing it like a fireball through the fog at a new kind of dinosaur. There are meteorites disintegrating in the atmosphere just a few thousand feet above us and tiny fireballs are falling down around us, pooling around us, forming a kind of fire lake which then forms a kind of fire cloud. There is this feeling I get when I am with you. There is our future house burning like a star on the hill. There is our dark flickering shadow. There is my hand on fire in your hand on fire, my body on fire above your body on fire, our tongues made of ash. We are rocks on a distant and uninhabitable planet. We have our whole life ahead of us."
"A boy told me
if he roller-skated fast enough
his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,
the best reason I ever heard
for trying to be a champion.
What I wonder tonight
pedaling hard down King William Street
is if it translates to bicycles.
A victory! To leave your loneliness
panting behind you on some street corner
while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,
pink petals that have never felt loneliness,
no matter how slowly they fell."