moving on or settling down

i’ve been pretty scared of showing my face lately

if “lately” could still substitute for a year and a half

i’m not scared of seeing you anymore

i know you won’t yell or scream or kick or pull

what terrifies me the most 

is knowing you will look at me

 and see nothing

feel nothing

and i know that’s true because you’ve moved on

but i really wouldn’t like to be reminded 

and you know what really keeps me up at night

is worrying i’ll never be able to love anyone again after you

lately i’m not feeling so scared anymore 

i’m not sure if it’s because you look so fucking similar 

or if it could be something more 

number one

I remember my first delusion. My first “during the day dream.” It was warm and mosquito season, and the sun stayed out longer. So I got to stay out longer, too. I was nine years old, sitting on a neighborhood kid’s stoop. I’d never sat on that stoop before, even though I walked or drove or biked past it quite often. The wooden stairs were old and warped and pointed at a slightly diagonal angle, towards the junkyard house on the corner. They sold old broken cars on their front lawn, which my parents thought was just plain tacky. But they had a well-kept garden by their front door, and the bright yellow tulips looked so lovely in the setting sun.

In between those two tulips was a black cat, with bright yellow stripes. Just like the flowers. He was sitting calmly between the two, with his bright eyes focused just on me. I remember turning around, to see whom else he could be staring at other than me. His paw was going up and down, like a Maneki-neko.

As I write this, I have a hard time believing what I’m saying. Let alone trusting a complete stranger to think I’m anything other than insane.

Even as a nine year old, I knew I was being crazy. I shook my eyes and thought to myself, “How absurd! That’s not possibly real, my eyes are playing a trick on me.” And then I decided my eyes had super powers; I could bend light with my eyes and control what I saw.

Until this day, nearly thirteen years later, I just chalked it up to some weird over-active imagination outburst. They started happening more often after this, and I just started to acknowledge that they happen, and then they go away. Once I tried to explain light-bending super power to my mom, but she didn’t understand.

For the past few weeks, I have been spending the majority of my time exploring different mental illnesses that may be related to delusions: manic depression, psychosis, schizophrenia; the usual suspects. I’ve crammed a lot of knowledge into my head in a short amount of time on a relatively serious topic, and I should’ve known—or at least braced myself—for the onslaught of emotional revelations about to come my way. And although it’s depressing and kind of pathetic, it’s also really validating. As in one of those, “So that’s why I’ve got this irrational fear,” moments of clarity. I think the word is self-acceptance, but I don’t want to jinx it.

Some friends were at my apartment when I got home this evening. They were reminiscing on old softball cheers. I started thinking about how much I fucking hated softball, and how awful the mosquitos were. My thoughts wandered to that old, broken stoop. I starting thinking about a conversation that I had earlier today with a kind man who had previously suffered from psychosis. He spoke very honestly about very personal things, and he was very brave. He scared me a bit, though: I felt as though he was reading my diary. And what is scarier than being honest with yourself?

He explained to me that trauma makes your brain do funny things. And when your brain does funny things, it’s to protect your insides from getting burned or broken from whatever not-so-funny things are going on in the real world. I nodded my head, feeling completely enlightened. A real Marquise moment for me.

For the record, I can still shake my eyeballs and dilate and un-dilate my pupils. It’s a pretty good party trick.

hindsight 

my roommate has a hard time understanding why I crave you still 

she used to call the cops and hang up after the first dial

it took you that long to take her seriously

but she didn’t want to be serious 

serious is scary

you scared me, you scared her 

you scared me back into the shell of the person you once pried me out of 

only to watch how far you could kick me back in 

but I crave your foot on my jaw 

your knuckles wrapped around my wrists

dropping me onto the cold tile floor before flinging yourself rid of me, the parasite leeching off love   

but I crave you because you know my secrets

they were so painful to tell that I don’t think I can ever tell another soul again 

it took too much out of us when I burdened you with the weight of my insanity 

but I can’t carry it without you 

please

I thought I could

but I’m so much weaker than I ever knew

I never knew I would crave your abuse over mine 

back + forth 

my heart was getting pounded in every night by a very small man with a very large hammer

little cracks started to form like a tree uprooting sidewalk

except backwards, I guess

and you slipped in between the broken pieces and filled up the cracks, like nothing ever happened

but your love was like tar instead of cement

hot and sticky and incredibly painful to scrape your knees on

I’m sorry I kissed him the day after I said goodbye

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you I was using you to fill in the cracks

I’m sorry you found out I’m cold

I’m sorry you found out

I’m sorry I accused you of stealing my grandmothers memorial card

I think the other asshole took it now

an attempt to slam (to be continued)

your marble eyes caramelized my insides

but i remind you of a clandestine

english major with a trust fund

a snail sitting on the trigger of a shot gun

even after everything you put me through

in a sea of people my eyes still scan for you

suffocating in a crowded room

waiting but where the fuck were you

pwb

the way people talk about you to me is something treasured

a presumed stranger to your scandalous bed post

looking more like hungry tomcats scratching board

than somewhere to dream

they tell me your secrets

some that would hurt you

intended to hurt you

but they only cut me

they tell me your secrets

that I so desperately want to cut you with

but that’ll just lead to more scandals, more secrets

and what’s the fun in that?

so I bottle them up like an old sand castle I made at a town fair

the ones with layering colors and obnoxious glass shapes

but the sand is spilling out and turning into a terrible shade of brown

it’s uncanny how so it reminds me of your eyes

ella, darling

I miss your mom, I miss your dog

I guess it’s your mom’s dog, isn’t it?

I miss the way your breath smells like dog shit

I don’t really miss it, but I miss hating it

I miss fighting with you about carrying mints

such a simple fix but you’d never admit

I miss sweating in your bedroom on hot summer nights

I miss sticking together and peeling apart

our bodies were made for each other

like two puzzle pieces waiting to mesh into one

I miss drinking shitty beer that I actually really still hate

I can’t drink PBR without thinking of you

I hope you can’t drink something expensive and bottled without thinking of me, too

I miss combing your hair in the shower

you’re such a little sensitive scalp

bitching and moaning about pulling your knots

but you wouldn’t flinch to rip my hair right from the root

its almost your birthday

I know you can’t see me, but I’ve been searching for you

I scan the streets the seas the subways

always for you

My computer remembers your passwords and taunts me with your happiness

I’m just so curious, baby, you’ve always know that

I get a little tickle in my belly I can’t stop giggling

Maybe I’m a masochist for loving you

Oh god, it hurts when I think of you

It starts in my stomach

A rotten peach pit of loneliness

Craving your once sweet juice and fleshy skin

It travels up to my elbows

They get heavy and lock up against my growing sides

I’ve been eating too much

I’m still cooking for two

It crawls up my esophagus tickling like a thousand legger

You know the ones you used to squish for me when they scuttled around the tile

But a big fat roach pries my jaw open

And it’s too big for you to kill

There’s a big sneeze trapped in my brain

A plethora of never sent “I miss you baby” 3am text messages

And jokes I wanted to tell you about beluga whales

One day I’ll look at the light and let it explode

But only when you’re in my bed and

Old friends still ask how we’re doing

I can’t bear to tell them we’re not we

That I’m just me

You’re not just you, but with someone new

I’d rather lie than cry

Oh god, it hurts when I think of you

But I can’t think straight without you

And tell me baby

Just indulge me

Don’t you miss me too?

It’s almost your birthday

But will she sing to you?

The First Time I Realized I Was White

When I was a little girl, I wanted to grow up and become a geisha. They were beautiful and graceful and I thought they were just more prestigious ballerinas. As I grew older, I knew I couldn’t really become a geisha, because I wasn’t apart of that culture. I didn’t realize until I was twelve, however, that I was white, and I would always be white, no matter how much I didn’t want to be.

I grew up in South New Jersey and was very close to Camden and Philadelphia, two cities that are predominantly African American, according to the U.S. Census Data of 2010. My classmates, neighbors, friends and family members were people of color, and it was never discussed nor indicative of the way we treated one another. It was just an aspect of life that is out of our control, so why let it control us.

I’ve always been attracted to other cultures. In third grade, my school got a grant from the government to teach us Mandarin. We had three foreign exchange students, sisters from China who spoke very little English. I absolutely adored them. I took the sisters under my wing. We would play in silence; they were quite shy and I was horrible at the language. We watched classic American movies like Cinderella and jumped on my trampoline together. Sometimes we would do homework at their parent’s restaurant, and I would watch the chefs cook and curse and once we ate a fish with its head still attached. I knew we were different, but I didn’t know how or why.

Whenever there was a new student in my school district, I always found myself inviting them to sit with me at lunch. My biggest nightmare was getting to the cafeteria, tray in hand, with nowhere to go. When I was in 6th grade, I invited Justice to join my friends and I.

It’s hard to remember the details, but I do know this: I did not think Justice was any different than I. We became fast friends, and eventually sat with our desks parallel.

“You’re lucky,” Justice said to me one afternoon. Her eyes were scanning my outfit, which was probably something bright and new from Limited Too.

“What do you mean?” I said.

“Because you’re white.”

Her eyes locked with mine and I felt my stomach turn, attempting to process this information. I had never heard anything like this before in my life. Not on television, not in books, and definitely not aloud. It was one of the rare moments in time where I was truly baffled; there was no previous experience or knowledge to give me any indication of what this statement meant.

“What?” I said. It was all that I could muster.

“I cry myself to sleep every night because I’m not.”

I wish that I had said something, anything, to let her know that it pained me to know that she wasn’t happy with whom she was. I don’t think I said anything.

I had spent such a large portion of my childhood wishing to be someone else. Through out the years I had wanted to be Hispanic, African American, Asian, and Arabic. I read viciously about these different cultures and lifestyles and desperately wanted to be apart of them. As a little girl, I genuinely thought I could be whoever and whatever I wanted to be. I didn’t get it; I didn’t know what race and ethnicity was and that you couldn’t just decide one day to be Japanese and that’s that. When Justice told me I was lucky for being white, it made my brain hurt trying to understand what that meant.

I was ashamed. Horrified that my ancestors treated a group of people who didn’t look exactly like they did as their cargo. I was so ashamed to be apart of this race and so outrageously mortified that my new friend, Justice, knew more about it than I did, and felt bad about herself. If anyone should have felt bad, it should’ve been me! I was apart of the reason she felt bad! The reason she wasn’t granted the same privileges as I! I felt sick. I threw up my pretzels from lunch in the bathroom and went home later that day.

Justice and I lost touch in high school. She found a group of girls who understood her better than I ever could. The Chinese sisters moved to a different school district and we also lost touch. But every time I go to their restaurant, their mother gives us a few extra fortune cookies.