This week has been awful. I hated this week for wide, diverse, numerous reasons — some of which have been plastered all over the news, others of which have been kept private. It has been a week of held breaths, quiet corners, and the waiting game.
My heart hurts.
It’s hard to keep anything up when so much seems at odds or unaffected by how or when you fight.
All the events that transpired this week have made me acutely aware of how not calm I am. I would make a really awful Jedi. And I should practice yoga (I know, bro, I’m getting there.).
I’ve wanted to add my voice to the growing chorus of the #BlackLivesMatter movement for a long time now, and I know I should and will. But I have to confess — there are questions and thoughts that I am still working through which I would prefer to keep to myself, in the space of my own head, on pieces of paper that only I will see.
For those who are curious about what I’m considering, please read this. Even if you’re not curious, you should read it. Especially if you’re Asian American. (P.S. That’s an open invite to anyone who wants to talk about this with me.)
But in the time it takes me to work through my own mind, please know that I stand and march with you.
To all my Berkeley/Oakland/San Francisco friends — please stick together and stay safe.
In the moments this week when I wasn’t sitting on news sites, I’ve been trying to find solace, as always, in words and emotions and stories.
One of my friends tweeted this on Friday, and frankly, I have to agree.
Maybe it’s not healthy to hide in the fantasy lands of Pokemon and Harry Potter, but the real world is a terrifying and ugly place so bye.
— Jocelyn (@becausenylecoj) July 8, 2016
Ever since I was five, I’ve found immense comfort in fiction. This week, more so than any week for over four years now, has made me want nothing more than to disappear into these other worlds again.
And because there was so much I felt helpless about, I decided to let myself.
If you keep your eyes closed, you can feel her breathing beside you. It’s not the way her hair tickles your bare arm after a long pause. Nor is it the soft warmth of her every exhale dusting your skin. Because you can’t feel either of those.
But you know that, as you lie there, legs tangled through the same thin comforter that traces the gentle slopes of her body, you know that you are breathing in time with her.
You treasure moments like these. The ones where you’re awake and she’s asleep. She sleeps less than you — goes to bed later, gets up earlier; a symptom of college days long past — so you hardly ever see her like this.
She would never admit it.
The sheet got twisted in the night, but she managed to fold it — at least, the part you didn’t tangle away from her in your sleep — under her left arm. The edge wrinkles at her chest, follows the line of her hair down her collarbone, leaves half of her bare.
You like the way her breathing rises and falls against her curled fists. You like how her hair strews across the pillowcase and traces her chin, tucked into her chest. One strand rests on the backs of both hands. A hand grasps at the sheet, the other clings to nothing.
You whisper her name, cracked through sleep-heavy lips.
She continues to breathe evenly, at that same tempo you started counting minutes, hours, days, months, years ago.
You seem to watch your hand cross the blankets. The pad of a finger lands on her curled knuckle. A butterfly kiss, you think, unreal, almost, in how slight it is. It’s the thought that’s tangible.
You want to guide your finger to the bend in her pinky, coax her hand out. But you stop halfway. She’s not a child to whom you’d offer a finger because her hand is too small to hold yours.
She’s not vulnerable.
Her skin is smooth. You trace the outline of her finger back to her wrist, her arm, her shoulder. Her collarbone cuts sharp relief against her curves, reveals the hollows within her sleep-warmth.
But she is.
Your lips press to a bare shoulder blade. She stirs when you pass them along the heat nestled between her neck and her collar. You catch her hand as she turns and you pause at the tip of her ring finger.
She doesn’t speak, just looks at you with sleep-soft eyes. The sheet slips. You ghost a hand down her side, bite your lip as fingers pass over her belly and rest just beneath the hollow of her chest.
Her breathing is quicker than it was just a few moments ago. There’s a pause, then in a sleep-sweet tone, your name as a question.
There’s something about that image that makes it linger in your mind. It’s there on the mornings you found the wool socks she’d gone to sleep with but discarded on winter nights, the mornings you felt the fresh memory of her slick glossed lips pressed to yours before she slipped off to work, the mornings when you wake up in a bed knowing that once, one of those mornings, was the last.
You can still see how her hair frames her face. Her eyes as they search you. Feel the way her skin makes the sheets feel rough. And hands that don’t question.
She always waited for you to move.
Because she is vulnerable and she is not.
You can feel your heartbeat against your chest.
You want to kiss her.
But your eyes open instead.