2019

I don’t know if I’m alone in this–but I still get surprised when I glance down at the clock on my computer. You know that feeling you get in the new year, when you have to write down the date for the first time, and there are just a couple seconds where you’re like, there’s no way that’s right. It feels so clunky, and futuristic… and then you move on with your life. After a month, you get over it.

I don’t think I ever stopped doing that when 2020 rolled around.

I remember in middle school, I was writing this book series set in 2024, the year I’ll eighteen. I wrote out all my worst fears for what that year would be like as a way to process them. It was a dystopia, but the end of the world was only happening in the protagonists’ peripheral vision, as she built a life with someone she loved. And in theory it would have been awesome. But I could never figure out how to execute it, even after years of trying. I’d grown with that project, and not in a good way; everywhere I looked, all I could see was smudges of old ideas long since outgrown, that I couldn’t extricate from the narrative no matter how I tried. I can’t say I’ll never revisit the premise, ‘cause it was a pretty good one. But giving myself permission to scrap it was a very good decision. Anyway; I couldn’t fathom the idea that I would ever live to see the 2020s. I knew, logically, I’d be in the protagonists’ shoes one day, but that doesn’t mean it ever quite clicked in my brain.

But here we are. It’s 2021, and I feel like I was celebrating New Year’s Eve last week; the memory fresh and bright, and ridiculously optimistic. I know it’s been more than a year since that night, but I don’t even care, because in my mind, I am playing Monopoly with my friends and counting down ’til midnight. I am happy, and scared, and alive, the whole world spread out before me. I wonder, sometimes, what might have happened for me, should the pandemic not have happened. Would I be a happier person in the long term? Would I have been more or less successful? Sometimes, I wonder. Even though that kind of reasoning feels really self-centred and pointless, like my hypothetical success was the real loss here, which it most definitely was not. So then, I do my best to shut down that train of thought.

But every time I see that fucking date on my phone, I can’t help but feel like I should be doing more than I am. I should be some kind of international success by now, I should be preparing to publish my first novel, I should be raking in views by the thousands. At the very least, I should have a concrete plan for my future. But I don’t.

I feel like as soon as lockdown happened, I went into survival mode. I doubt I’m alone in that. Honestly, as it goes, I was really lucky; three months of isolation and that was it. But those three months were some of the worst in my life. It’s been a long time since I’ve plummeted into depression that deep, if ever. It took all my energy not to fall apart–and I went into denial. I told myself things I knew were lies, and drilled them into my head–that this was going to last forever, that my friends were good as dead. I know that sounds counterproductive, but I needed to grieve, and it’s pretty hard to grieve someone who’s technically a twenty minute drive away. I needed to rush through the stages, all the way to acceptance, and go on with my life as best I could. It was the only thing that was holding me together.

I never got closure on that year. There was no end-of-year assembly, no milestone to cross in this new, strange world turned upside down. In my mind, I am fourteen, and about to graduate ninth grade–planning to do another open mic, or maybe put on my own event that summer. I’ve just done WE Day, and I’m so proud of myself. I think everything is going to be better now.

But in reality, I’m going into grade eleven next year, which means I’m pretty close to being done with high school. And I have a job. And everyone is asking me what I want to do with my life, and I don’t know how to answer. And sometimes, I feel like I may as well be a grown-up already. But other days, I feel like I was born yesterday. I have so much to learn, so many different interests and skills to develop, and the idea of being an adult in a couple of years makes me want to hide under the covers and never come out. I’m gonna be learning to drive pretty soon! And then I’m gonna move out, maybe I’ll get a job or start a business (side note: something I’ve been considering a lot of late), and I’ll share an apartment with a friend or something, and… I can’t even fathom past that. Wow.

Ever since the New Year’s Eve of 2020, it feels like time is slipping through my fingers like sand onto the floor, and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I feel faded, like a cheap knockoff of who I used to be. Is this just how my life is gonna be now?

Oh god, am I about to become one of those people who peaked in high school? I really hope not. That’s gonna be my goal now, I think. Do not peak in ninth grade. Like, I did some cool shit that year, but oh dear lord, if anyone catches me bragging about that when I’m a fully grown adult, please pull me aside and very lovingly tell me to get a life.

Lots of love,

Lorna

missing

it’s been a year now, hasn’t it?

or maybe it’s been two

because time is weird these days, and sometimes

i think about you

your fearless desperation

and your clandestine hope

and i wouldn’t go back for all the money in the world

but sometimes, on long nights, i let myself miss you

lie to my face in the mirror

that the old days were good

say i am a washed-out version of the person i used to be

slowly melting down

which makes it better, somehow

paint the past a rose-tinted shade

and let the aching knowledge

that i have never felt this before

wash away with the waves

and now i think i understand

why people cling to tradition

stick to the same routine

wear it rusty and jagged

sleep in old t-shirts

’til there are holes in the sleeves

and paint myself innocent

pretend i don’t have a clue

when you say the past few years

have changed me

made me cynical, and guarded

but stronger, too

replaced manic desperation with sharpened teeth

bite-marks and warning signs

’cause these days, i step slowly

these days i wear winter coats

and hold my keys like a knife

but i refuse to be afraid

of the passage of time

and the lines on my palm

like old wood, telling stories

of all the places i’ve been

i refuse to cower in the corner

and sing myself to sleep

lingering in a false history

like warm sheets

so i will bury your t-shirts

and your headphones i can’t bring myself to throw away

in a box in my closet

’cause some day, i’m gonna see you in the mirror

and i’ll kneel down on the carpet

stroke your cheek, as i tape your pieces back together

sob story (1)

when i was six, i cut my hair

in the bathroom mirror, with red safety scissors

right before the school bus arrived

because i couldn’t wash the soap from my hair

no matter how hard i tried

and i remember the chill in my bones when i realized

my body’s sovereign state was mine and mine alone

so i tucked the lock of hair behind my ear

and googled how to make it grow back as soon as i got home

i tried your snake oil and your wishful thinking

with my best open mind

ignored my mom, when she rolled her eyes

and you lied to me, google! you fucking lied!

so welcome to my sob story

in which i am tired of being the protagonist

because i never wanted to be famous

i just didn’t want to die alone

and i guess that wikihow told me

if i had pretty hair, or the perfect body

then maybe i’d finally feel at home

in the skin and bone you stole from me

but it doesn’t work

it never does

because the silver bullet you promised would fix me

was a plastic necklace from the dollar store

but if you call that empowerment

i’ll buy it every fucking time

and tell myself that i’m the problem

while i chip the paint off the beads

and watch them roll onto the floor

i will bang my head against the brick wall

and dig into the floor with a plastic spoon

rather than taking the door, which is… open

because the thing about this prison

is that most days, i don’t even want to leave anymore


Ok, I have this vague idea for a poetry book called Sob Stories–tell me you can’t see that. Idk, I’ve been thinking about trying to write a poetry chapbook a lot of late.

boil

i was shaped

by scalding fingertips

call it god, call it trauma

i will answer your call with only sandpaper indifference

.

and sharpen my nails on the dining table

digging in the grooves deeper

and deeper

‘cause there’s no turning back now

.

the summer air

slides like soup down my throat

it chokes out the weeds

it cooks my bones to marrow

and casts a mirage down the highway

.

cause i can’t see what’s happening any more than you

so maybe this is a good time to try and

boil my memories into bitter stew

lobotomize myself

until there is nothing left of you

.

and if fucked up is state of mind

i was born in its capitol

and maybe it’s killing me, but it’s still

my home, and like it or not

i’m going down with this city

.

so i scrub the floor clean

and turn the tap hot enough to burn

laugh myself dizzy

and by the time i stop it is 10pm

and i am a puzzle box

with all the pieces on the floor

.

but i don’t know how to learn

if i’m not being punished

so i’ll sear it into my arm like a promise

i will not make myself sick for entertainment

.

but it’s just empty words

’cause after a while, you don’t feel it anymore

things they don’t tell you about living through history

i can taste the blood / coursing through the page / and feel its pulse twitching in my veins / watch the letters stamp themselves out across my skin / it sickens m / but there’s not much i can do / ‘cept for sit / and wait / and wonder if this is what it felt like, to watch the fall of rome / but cry into a pillow, and wonder how they’ll tell this story / and thank god, or whoever’s up there that i’m not the main character / because i don’t know what to do / so how ’bout i burn quietly / among the trees / laugh to myself through tears, as i flip a coin for the fate of humanity / i’ll be careful what i wish for / i’ll try my best / and pray for normalcy / i’ll romanticize the little things / like never having to worry about turning on my phone, and having it all taken away from me / i’ll pretend it was perfect / ’cause nostalgia promises she’ll save me / butter me up and coat me in the pretty paper roses / but in the end, she’ll leave me wrapped in red velvet / as the blizzard starts to bury me / but if there’s anyone listening / i’ll do what you say / i will dote after your holy texts / i will give my life away / for another moment of denial / a glass of gasoline / oh darling, for what it’s worth / i’m sorry