Posts in journal
Make this feel like home
hampstead

Last night I had a conversation about identity and belonging, about the meaning of Home, and I found myself thinking about it a lot today. About how I've always felt split between cities and countries and languages and cultures and people, and how I've anchored myself to the places I call Home in hopes they start feeling like it, too. Places and songs and books and memories and foods: anything can feel like Home when you don't really have one. A few come and go, and some linger and shine just a little brighter, just a little longer, as if to say 'you picked us but we picked you, too, baby' -which is exactly what I imagine Home would say if she was an old lady with a kind smile wandering the streets of Hampstead. You picked us but we picked you too, baby. You picked us but we picked you too.

 

They say home is where the heart is, but that’s only half the story. 

 

Home is the cake my mother made for Christmas when I was twelve and my father’s favorite songs, walls painted red and dogs barking in the distance. The weekend trips we used to take out to the lake, red boots filled with snow, books stacked near the fireplace and camera rolling in the background. 

 

It's my heart split between three countries. A fake, a joke, a mix I say I never wanted but spent my whole life secretly running after. My soul a patchwork of cultures, languages and airports, suitcase packed at the end of the bed, rewind, repeat, start all over again.

 

It's sunlight through the windows and Van Morrison playing through the speakers, green hills and red trees and that one spot of the Heath that I know better than I know myself. 

 

Home is the friends I know will pick up the phone no matter the hour, a really good book, the bench on top of Primrose Hill at sunrise, dancing on Millennium Bridge at sunset, walking my best friend home, my ex-boyfriend’s favorite poem, waking up to snow covering the streets outside my window,that one dress that makes me feel like I could conquer the world, free brownies because the waiter’s in a good mood, the Alanis Morissette album that’s lived in my mother’s car since we were kids, rain in the summer, a friend showing me around their hometown, the buzz of a third cocktail, warm rays on my skin, that time Jackie and I slept on a roof in Paris, the smell of real Italian coffee in the morning, that one paragraph in A Little Life, my grandmother’s perfume, my grandfather’s favorite dish that his mother used to make, swans on the lake in May, running after my brother in the garden in Clusone, the second verse of Sweet Disposition, my flatmate knocking on my door at 2AM when I come home crying and drunk, knowing my best friend of 22 years' phone number by heart, hot soup on a cold evening, my favorite corner of my favorite bookshop, the building painted green that was my heaven and haven for the better part of my childhood, that one video set to Feel This by Enation I still can't watch without breaking down in tears, the first house I lived in when I moved to London, the 214 bus, the last bridge in Gravity by John Mayer, the ice cream place in the square near my parents' house, the nook by the steps of the Griffith Observatory, the chinese restaurant on the way to my high school, my best friend and I filling our bags of candy up to the top before going to the movies, my mother making us tea and Gocciole, being the last person out of their seat at the cinema, unexpected kindness, a tuscan sunset, takeaway pizza on the beach in Sestri Levante, seeing the sea for the first time in Pescara, the chorus to Ruby Tuesday, my family making fun of me for Leviosa, not LeviosàNic welcoming me back with homemade limoncello, walking along the beach in Santa Monica, a helping hand when you need it most, the buzz of the radio while my dad has breakfast before work, crying at least once when I go to any concert, my mother’s favorite cocktail, the lights on the patio at the pub near my flat, my favorite Bukowski poetry collection, the chocolate birthday cake I've had every year since I was 9, the hallways of my high school, the parties I snuck into and had a terrible time at, the Rothko room at the Tate Modern, the boy I was desperately in love with for the better part of a decade throwing me into a pool, the last line of the last Harry Potter book, my first imaginary boyfriend, my brother burning incense by the fireplace, that year I spoke in a bad british accent, moments of fleeting bravery and reckless abandon, the photo my best friend gave me when I moved away and the one on my parents’ wall where I look exactly like my mom but have my dad’s smile.

 

Home is a crowd of 6000 girls singing my favorite song back to me, dancing till their legs give out, screaming, kissing, living, so fucking ALIVE

 

It’s that one line of that one song that makes my heart crumple up every single time.

 

It’s the language I taught myself at ten years old because I'm as stubborn as they come but also because part of me somehow must have always known, the first time I watched an english movie without subtitles, the purple notebook I used to write all those poorly translated Avril Lavigne lyrics in, the surname I chose for myself.

 

Not out of spite, but out of love for this home I’m building. 

 

Dear Damsels Get Together
Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 19.59.29.png

Abby & Bridie created Dear Damsels in January ‘16 to champion creative women, give them a voice and the best platform they could wish for. Six months later I submitted my very first piece This Is How You Start Over and last night we celebrated their second birthday (!!) with the most incredible & supportive community, women I admire and am endlessly inspired by.

It does not go unnoticed, how incredible it feels to be surrounded by brilliant, fierce, brave, talented creative women coming together to find their voices. Entering a space where you know you could fall flat on your face stepping offstage and still all you'd feel is love and support. Saying hi to familiar faces and meeting new ones by opening with 'I read your piece last month, it was amazing', and meaning every word. 

It's rare, and precious, and powerful.

 

41C0277E-D923-48A7-8BB4-E06C220174BD.jpg

 

Maria Ilona Moore read her piece A Personal History of Remembering and Forgetting, Sinéad Gordon read Ash (A Love Story) with Ash present to hear it (my heart!!!) Tutku Barbaros read her poem Coconut, Molly Alexandra Cooper read An Extra Grating of Parmesan, Hattie Clark A Window of One's Own, and Jen Burrows Your Call.

Bride Wilkinson read a piece she wrote for The Riff Raff called Women, we must find out voices, and we all cried (I cried three times, but oh well). 

Abbie & Bridie, together with all the other damsels, championed me & my #feels like no one else, I’m forever thankful and can’t wait to see what else they get up to. Big plans coming! 💁🏻‍

Check them out!

Submit your work to Dear Damsels!

Buy the annual here (you definitely, definitely should it's so good)!

Cry with me! Let's always cry together!

the joy of pretending
IMG_3630.jpg

She says we should go out because it’s my last night and warm outside. There’s an underground bar by the park where we used to hang around as kids, between the house where I had a very bad kiss on the back of a ratty red couch and the stretch of road where she fell off her bike and called me screaming because she thought she had a concussion, but she promises it’s not gonna be as depressing as it sounds and I believe her.

 

I pretend not to see them when I do, blame it on the wine or the dark or the fact that I haven’t seen their faces in almost six years; but I have, and I do, and soon they’re the ones approaching me. 

 

I’m suddenly hyper-aware of the fact that I’m wearing a bright yellow coat, big glasses and no makeup -which, retrospectively, might not have been my greatest idea, not tonight. I feel small, insignificant. Ugly. Sixteen. 

 

There’s only one person I would have wanted to see and I know he’s not here, which should ease my tension a little but doesn’t -because if this is how I react to them, how am I ever gonna survive that?

I say stupid things, make myself even smaller. 

They ask about work and I downplay it to the point where it sounds like I’m just hanging around doing nothing, which couldn’t be farther from the truth but makes me mad because why, why would I do that, what’s the point in pretending? 

 

I’ve spent the last four years pretending for a living, but the last two getting closer to the truth and the last six months being so unabashedly honest I could hardly believe the words coming out of my mouth sometimes. And for tonight, none of that matters. 

 

For tonight, I can only smile and nod and try my best to conceal the fact that I’m jumping out of my skin. The smell of smoke in the air is making me nauseous, and the mulled wine they’re cooking in the corner won’t be ready for another thirty fucking minutes, and the jazz music coming from the other room is slowly fading which means the concert is almost over. Applause roars over our heads and a new stream of people walk in, all in various stages of inebriation and probably, definitely, intoxication.

 

I don’t belong, not with my big glasses and bright yellow coat and all the guilt and remorse and fear of not fitting in, still after all this time. I don’t belong, but for tonight I can pretend.

 

I pretend I don’t remember the things they used to call me, all the different ways they had of making it hurt. I pretend I don’t have a home and people who love me somewhere thousands of miles away. I let my gaze linger a minute too long on the tall guy with the long hair whose name I desperately wish I could remember, and let myself wish for the kind of life I never wanted. 

 

I could still live down the road, come down to the bar for a smoke and a chat, gossip about the one who’s become a model and the one who left for Australia and the one who can’t be named. I could still run into their mothers at the Thursday market and spend balmy summer nights by the water and the castle, laughing at nothing and crying at everything.

 

I’d still be in school, probably, and I wouldn’t know what it feels like to break and heal and be reborn the way I did in the last four years. She sounds sweet, this different me. I wish I could envy her.

 

Maybe I do, for only a moment -if only because the room is dark and the smell is intoxicating and it’s always, always easier to pretend we could have been different. 

 

She asks if I want to get out of there, and I say we should wait for the mulled wine at least. She gives me a look, and we walk out hand in hand minutes later. My flight home is in less than ten hours. I’m done pretending.

 

journalAnna Myershome life
new york, from me to me
IMG_3060 (1).jpg

 

the pink umbrella diaries: got caught in a snow storm in brooklyn, celebrated a kid's party in greenwich, got lost in tribeca, saw a lot of art, ate the best tacos of my life (sorry Nic ily), got approached by four different girls who winked and started a conversation over my 'treat people with kindness' bag, which greatly confused my dad but made me the very, very happiest, thought I could ice skate for a brief second then realized I really shouldn't, wore a lot of yellow, was very very cold, found broome and greene and cried a little, talked to a lot of strangers and cried some more, saved dad from a killer squirrel, met a dog named maisie, met a boy named connor --

made peace with new york

 

 

I used to wonder how things would be different, had I ended up in NY as planned instead of London. I used to think I'd be a different person, perhaps happier, perhaps less lost -because however bad things got, I still had shiny new york as an ideal image of how life could have been. Because… that's the kind of thought an eighteen year old girl has, I guess. 

And god, do I kinda wish I could still believe that.

In the end, it wasn't the dream that died nor me who killed it --it just twisted on itself one too many times and fizzled out without a sound. Without me noticing, really, until I walked the same streets I did all those years ago and struggled to recognize them. I struggled not to compare them to the ones I found across the ocean -the ones I made my home, broken bones and all. 

 

 

I found a way to bury the dream and only keep the memories I wanted to keep. 

The smell of coffee as I walked into a gallery on 26th and 10th, the spot I cried all those tears at when I was fourteen, the bagels by the bookshop. The square where I sat for 20 minutes trying to gather myself before going into the building because I was so nervous, road signs making me laugh, brooklyn in the clouds. The people, the volume, the glitter, the gold. 

Myself at fourteen, and seventeen, and nineteen. At twenty-three, saying goodbye to a few things but also saying thank you

Until next time.

On Enthusiasm
51c168c6251826d36d7c17404e4d132a--emotion-courage.jpg

I’m a big believer in sharing feelings. As an actress, it is quite literally my job description to share feelings with the world on the daily. As a human person alive on Earth, I think it's nice to do so regardless of whether I’m getting paid for it or just chatting to a friend.
 

I’ve always been an open book, and a very enthusiastic one, too: I was my High School friends' laughing stock, and have been labeled crazy by more than one ex-boyfriend because of my… eagerness, shall we say. And while at seventeen, of course, it did feel like the worst thing in the world to be different and weird and too much, what the last five years gave me, besides a lot of UTIs and a chance to truly perfect my karaoke rendition of every single one of Celine Dion's songs, is perspective.
 

And now? I fucking love it.
 

I LOVE being an open book. I love getting excited about things, getting so excited that I start crying in the middle of London or jump around my room at 3AM (come on, doesn’t everyone do that?).

 

Loving something so much that your heart starts racing and your stomach jumps up to your throat, your brain short-circuits and you just want to JUMP UP AND DOWN LIKE A FOOL? It’s the best feeling. Be it a book, a song, a film, a boy, a girl, a new friend, a puppy, an upcoming trip -anything works, as long as it makes you feel alive.


It’s a feeling I wish on everyone I love -but lately, I’ve been feeling like maybe some people I love don’t wish it on me. Not in a mean way, necessarily, just in a ‘I don't really get what you're saying nor am I interested in learning more about this thing that makes you happy' way. Which, while not mean spirited, still hurts like a bitch. 

 

I thought I’d left the "you’re so weird, Anna" years behind, which is why I didn’t really know how to react when, over the past couple of months, I started feeling like the odd one out again. Again. Five years on, still the weirdo with the big hair who gets too attached and cares too much, feels too much, laughs too hard. And I’m sick of it.


I don’t understand it, and I don’t want anything to do with it. Maybe it’s a British thing (nothing against Britain, obviously, which I love -just a note on stereotypically British reticence), which is why I’ve always felt at home in crazy-sister America, where no one will spare a second glance if they spot you jumping up and down the street in excitement -or even better, they might join you. And look, I know, America has a lot of faults. So do I, for that matter. But at least we’re trying. We might fail while we're at it but at least we're trying. And we’ll be the weird ones, we’ll be the odd ones out, but fuck it, who the hell cares.

 

Seventeen-year-old me? She would have cried a lot and obsessively studied the cool-girl’s moves to try and change herself, try to be quieter, more complacent, more appealing. But here’s the funny thing: twenty-three-year-old me couldn’t care less.

 

Twenty-three-year-old me is going to be as loud as she wants, and as enthusiastic as she feels like being. She’s going to talk about the books she’s reading, and the songs she can’t stop singing, and the films that have changed her life. She’s going to keep gushing about cute boybanders and that one cute puppy she saw on her way to work, all the while dramatically singing along to Celine Dion.

 

She’s done trying to appease you. She’s done trying to change you and your cold, cold ways. Wondering if she’s being too much if she should stay quiet, if she should bite her tongue, if she should pretend this song doesn’t make her want to dance when it really, really does.

 

So many songs make me wanna dance, and I want to dance to all of them. I want to talk about what inspires you, what infuriates you, what makes you FEEL something, anything. I want to spend time getting to know you and loving every minute of it, not waking up one day and realizing I never knew you at all. 


Thing is, our time is limited. And how we spend it matters. For every bad date I leave wishing I'd stayed home watching Friends re-runs, and for every coffee date with people I haven't seen in years, whom I have nothing in common with anymore, I could have been doing creative work, playing with a puppy, or eating the best pizza of my life.

 

For every conversation I have that leaves me wondering if the person I'm talking to cares at all about what I'm saying -or worse, leaves me feeling belittled, patronized and uninspired- I could instead talk to someone who ENCOURAGES, MOTIVATES and EMPOWERS me.

 

Someone who might not necessarily like the same stuff I like, but will love that I'm excited about said stuff. And in return, I'll listen to them telling me about what they love, because isn't that what we're here to do? 

 

To love people and things and places and puppies (but especially puppies), as much and as hard as we can. To cry at movies that touch our hearts and be the last ones to leave the theatre. To laugh really loudly and jump up and down and dance in the street and share these experiences with as many likeminded people as we can. Because that's when the magic happens. 


When we share feelings, instead of simply feeling them, we contribute to creating more art and inspiring more people than we would just going, 'uh, I kinda like this' alone in our bedrooms.

 

Fangirls are the ultimate proof of the power of enthusiasm and LOVING STUFF SO MUCH YOU WANT TO TELL THE WORLD ABOUT IT. Yes, they get a bad rep (wonder why, uh? Funny how it's all good and dandy when it's men caring about football, but as soon as a teenage girl likes a boy with a floppy haircut it's the end of the fucking world as we know it) but they are the prime and sometimes sole driving force behind multi-million dollar industries, providing just as many jobs. And their voices are loud, so loud you can't ignore them: which is why you all know about Justin Bieber and that guy from Twilight but nobody knows anything about sports unless they're really into sports.

 

That doesn't mean you have to like Justin Bieber, just like I don't have to like sports. What it does mean is that if your twitter bio reads 'A bit of madness is key' but you make fun of people for being too much, and make them feel guilty and apologetic about their enthusiasm, then you might not be that #mad (UGH) at all. Really, you're just an asshole.

journalAnna Myers
In repair
IMG_0189.JPG

So, the last couple of months have been tough.

Can't get out of bed tough, like, ignoring calls and texts and deadlines and meals tough. And while I love escaping from my problems as much as anyone, this time I'm very aware that they're just gonna be waiting for me at Heathrow with open arms, looming and cruel and snarky. Oh and it's probably gonna be raining, too. 

 

But.

 

But, there's something about big skies and shimmering lights, or are those stars, or are they your eyes, something about walking for miles every day and crying whenever you damn feel like it and drinking sangria at a table for one and meeting strangers in taxis and singing along to your favorite songs together with 6000 people on a hill under the stars swaying and swaying and swaying 'til you gotta hold each other lest you all go down. 

 

And go down I did. 

 

I spent July pretending I was fine, skipping lunch and dinner in favor of an entire box of chocolate cookies at one in the morning. Every morning.

I went home and kissed my parents and brother and dogs a lot, and thought maybe, the worst was over.

At the end of the month, I dialed a number I’d been avoiding for longer than I care to admit, and thought fuck, the worst hasn’t even begun.

 

I spent August working working working pretending pretending pretending dodging questions invites emails worried looks and frantic phone calls from my mother. I took down pictures from my bedroom walls and bought a lot of plants in an effort to feel like an adult, but they died within two weeks because life just, doesn’t work like that. 

 

I cried in a tiny pharmacy in Kentish Town and a convenience store in Dalston and on Embankment bridge and at Waterloo station at rush hour where a woman asked if I wanted a hug, which only made me cry harder but in retrospect might have been the nicest thing a Londoner has ever said to me. 

 

I went home again because my parents’ ultimatum was “either you do or we’re getting the first plane to you” and because twenty-three might not be that young but it might just be young enough for parents to still know best. I locked my phone in a drawer for ten days and read a lot of books, ate more pizza than anybody with a dairy intolerance ever should, and smiled in pictures for the first time in a while. 

 

At some point I turned my phone back on and asked for help. I asked anyone who would have me, and I tried my damn hardest to actually listen, for once in my life, to accept the help I so desperately needed. 

 

One friend suggested I dive back in the madness, one that I go back to university, one that I move home, and one offered me a job. 

 

I got on a plane to California instead.

 

Before I left, my mother said to look for signs wherever I could find them, so I did. I looked for one in Silver Lake and Malibu, on Wilshire and on top of the Hollywood Hills, on boys’ lips and in songs and in friends’ warm hugs, in a sketchy vintage store where I found a Mick Jagger vinyl I’d wanted for months and in overspilling American portions of what could be described as “comfort” but definitely not food.

 

I watched the sun set in a blur of blue orange purple fireworks and cried a little, fell down the Griffith Observatory stairs, twice, got lost more times than I can count, walked out of a couple of pilates classes, sang, well, screamed every word to What Makes You Beautiful surrounded by teenage girls having the time of their lives, cried some more, mumbled something unintelligible anytime I got asked “what do you do?”, and decided that I like making signs up as I go along more than I do looking for them. 

 

It’s an Aquarius thing. 

 

It’s also a stubbornness thing -the stubbornness I’ve inherited from my father and two out of four grandparents, how we just can’t accept that sometimes you try and you try and you plan and it’s all for nothing, because when you think you’ve finally got it down life shuffles all the cards and finds a way to bring you right back to start. 

 

So from that start you’re gonna have to come up with a new plan, and fail at that too, and fall on your ass so many times that you’re never gonna want to get up again. Until you do.

 

And like I said, go down I did. 

 

But I'm also luckier than most, surrounded by so much love it makes my heart burst, and looking down at the city of angels with supernovas in my eyes as my plane takes off towards rainy Heathrow, right and wrong turns, real life. 

 

It sings back to me, you're in repair. Not together, but you're getting there.

 

On success, and choosing a life for ourselves
Lara Angelil Portrait

The first time someone told me “You’re going to be very successful”, I was eight years old. All big hair and pink velvet trousers, I was a loud, chatty and sometimes bratty overachiever with a heart of gold and a lot of plans for her future: from princess to teacher to queen of the world, and occasionally, President. Of course.

 

I wasn’t shy nor silent about my plans, either, which is why adults would always take a shine to me. They’d give me a big smile together with a pat on the back and repeat, “You’ll go far, kid”. I would smile back and store the moment in my ‘happy thoughts’ mental folder, where one after the other they’d start accumulating. But the more people told me how great my life was going to be, the less it began to feel like a friendly auspice, and the more it did a weight on my shoulders. By the time I graduated High School I’d lost myself under a pile of responsibilities and too-high expectations I was terrified I wouldn’t be able to meet, and I loved but simultaneously hated the idea of success.

 

Success no longer felt like a shiny gold thing to strive for, but instead a burden weighing me down. Suddenly I was no longer sure I even wanted to be successful, but I had no clue what else I could be since all I’d been told for the better part of a decade was that I was going to “make it” -whatever that meant. I tried to sabotage myself and my scholastic career, then when that didn’t work, tried the opposite strategy: aimed higher than everyone else, higher than I realistically should have, higher than anyone I know. And while I don’t consider myself by any means a failure of a (young) woman, I am just not as successful as everyone thought I would be.

 

Which prompts the question: who knows better? Is it the people looking in from the outside, the ones who will never know my feelings, struggles or path? Is it them, with their futile advice and uninspired opinions?

 

Or maybe, maybe I do. Am I not the only one who can decide what success should look like to me?

 

Whether I want to be the CEO of my own company by the time I’m 30, or move to Spain to grow tomatoes, is my own choice. I am the only one who knows what will make me happier -and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a CEO, we need to start asking ourselves whether that’s something we actually want, or if we’ve just been conditioned to believe we do.

 

Having been born and raised in the western world in a post-capitalist society, I do not know what it feels like to grow up without hearing every single day of my  life that ‘if you want something badly enough, and work hard for it, you will get it’ -which is a great idea in theory but works to my disadvantage if maybe, just maybe, I don’t happen to want what everybody else wants.

 

My grandfather is still convinced that simply graduating from University -any University- is enough to qualify for a great number of the highest-paying and most competitive jobs in the country: not out of naivety nor stupidity, but because when he was my age, that was in fact the way things worked. Of course, that’s not the case anymore. We all want more, we want better, we need to have it all. We have raised the bar so high that landing a nice, secure job is now practically considered the bottom of the ladder, a starting point from which to start climbing up to the top. Higher, always higher.

 

Sleep deprivation, impostor syndrome and stress-induced illnesses are rampant, while less and less of us consider themselves truly happy -and no one even really knows where we’re going with any of it! What happens when we’re all multi-millionaire CEOs with the perfect Instagram feed, but overworked to the point of needing hospitalization?

 

We need to stop idolizing successful but possibly miserable millionaires (American politics, I’m looking at you), and instead start looking at the great number of happy people doing perhaps small but beautiful, important work. We need to ask ourselves what it is that we truly want to dedicate our lives to, and dig deep into the why behind that. What that why is, and where it comes from.

 

Because hey, if it turns out you do really want to be CEO of a company, all the better. But if you should find that what your heart desires is to grow tomatoes in Spain, please, allow yourself to start accepting that, too. And maybe book that flight. 

essays, journalAnna Myerssuccess
To the ends of the earth
IMG_6639.JPG

I’d been eighteen for less than three days when I first said it out loud. I’d been thinking it for a long time, but eighteen is when it came to a head and I was forced to lay my cards out on the open. Saying this is it, this is why, can’t you see? This is why I’m leaving. Why I can’t stay.

 

I think it must have always been at the back of my mind, a voice I never managed to shut up completely -half for lack of trying and half because eighteen is when the voices get louder, not weaker. 

 

I couldn’t tell you when it started -maybe when a High School teacher suggested I pick up Chinese as it would have been ‘a terrific advantage to my introduction to the job market’, and I had to push my nails deep into my thighs to stop myself from screaming. Could have been earlier, when I sang louder and moved faster and laughed harder than all the other kids at my school recital because I’ve always wanted to make an impression. Maybe somewhere in between, when my name was on all the boys’ lips even though I wasn’t the prettiest or the smartest or even the one who’d let them win at class games but because I was loud, loud, loud, and they had no choice but to remember me. 

 

Somewhere along the line, recognition turned to validation and I wanted more, more, I wanted it all. I was powerful because I was the most, and I fed off it, I thrived off it, clutched to it like a lifeline and forgot how to live without it. Then I said it out loud. 

 

Three days into it, eighteen was bad until it got worse. Eighteen was slammed doors and skipped meals and loud headphones and heartache like I'd never known before. It was a single phrase, uttered between gritted teeth then repeated louder just to see my mother cry. “I’d rather die than be like you. Do you hear that? I’d rather die than be ordinary, live a wasted life”. In the words of Avril Lavigne, anything but ordinary please -and say what you want but if there’s one thing Avril Lavigne knows how to do, that’s teenage angst. 

 

Teenage angst, which is in great part what my outburst was about. But also: fear of being anonymous, being forgotten, being one of many. Interchangeable. If not her, a hundred others just like her. Fear of everything and nothing, of not leaving a mark, of empty days and drunken weekends and the monotony of tick tick tick, blink and you’ve missed it. My heart shrunk and twisted on itself, screaming not if I get a say in this. Not on my watch.

 

So I did. I left and I tried and I lived by that, anything but ordinary please. 

 

Then I had a change of heart. 

 

Last week, I read an essay by Zosia Mamet about success, in which she says: ‘We are so obsessed with "making it" these days we've lost sight of what it means to be successful on our own terms. Having a cup of coffee, reading the paper, and heading to work isn't enough—that's settling, that's giving in, that's letting them win. You have to wake up, have a cup of coffee, conquer France, bake a perfect cake, take a boxing class, and figure out how you are going to get that corner office or become district supervisor, while also looking damn sexy—but not too sexy, because cleavage is degrading—all before lunchtime.’

 

Safe to say it resonated. Deep, deep within, it struck a chord.

 

Then I went to Brighton, where rhythms are slower and smiles kinder, warm like the sun rays I soaked up sitting alone by the beach one afternoon. And I went to Italy, where rhythms are even slower and whatever had been worrying me in London suddenly seemed so insignificant, as small and artificial as all city life troubles do when examined from a solitary bench overlooking a lake in the north of Italy, swans and dogs making small noises in the water while German tourists take pictures of their gelatos. 

 

Suddenly I was hit with a thought: what happens if I get there and nothing’s the way I dreamed it up? What happens then, when I’ve used up all my cards and every trick up my sleeve, but the promised land just won’t turn to gold. When there’s no promised land at all. 

 

A change of heart, maybe in plans. Maybe.

 

This is how we slip away
IMG_3321.jpg

First, it’s a missed phone call. You’re distracted, on your way somewhere, it’s rush hour and raining and it’s only a missed phone call. But you stare at the screen until it stops ringing, and only then look away. You will call back. 

 

You forget. 

 

Nothing’s wrong, is the thing. You have a lot on your mind, it wasn’t intentional. Why would it be?

 

You’re busy. 

 

Next, you reschedule a coffee date because something came up, but the truth is you woke up in a foul mood and just want to stay in bed and cry a lot. It’s not her, it’s not, it’s just -life. 

 

Raincheck? you ask. Sure, she says. 

 

But you don’t set a date, and neither does she, and it doesn’t happen.

 

Nothing’s wrong. 

 

You leave town for a day, then for a week, and send a picture of a sunset because you think she’d like that. She replies with a smiley face, and it’s fine. It is.

 

You start saying things like, I think she went to some party last weekend, and, I guess she has a new boyfriend. You’ve deleted Instagram but check her profile on the web version every day, which is something you wish they’d have warned you you’d start doing because, wow. 

 

You wince when you see new pictures with new friends in new places laughing at new jokes but maybe that’s the whole point of Instagram, really, so you let it slide. It doesn’t mean anything anyway.

 

You get mean and jealous and stroppy, and it’s ugly. You hate the words coming out of your mouth but it’s too loud in your head to stay silent. You repeat it doesn’t hurt enough times that people start believing you.

 

You hear about her big promotion and wish you could text but it’s been so long you wouldn’t know what to say. You hear about her breakup and wish you could call but you still hang up after the first ring. 

 

Nothing’s wrong but everything’s on fire.

 

Someone asks you about her weeks later and you catch yourself in time, but it’s a close call. You smile a good smile and say she’s doing fine, and it’s believable, really, it is. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you didn’t miss her at all. 

 

You find a note she wrote on a napkin months ago, tucked between the pages of a book you haven’t picked up in a while, and it falls out as soon as you open it but your breath doesn’t hitch, it doesn’t. You’re just surprised, that’s all.

 

You’re my best friend and I love you a lot, the note says.

 

Your breath doesn’t hitch. It doesn’t.

November Love
IMG_6639.JPG

It started as a fantasy, like all the best stories do. It started with a promise, long nights conversations / summer breeze sweeping us up in temptation.

I had a dream we’d move away, before my chest started aching / before your song started fainting / and your hands lost their touch while you played and I laughed ‘cause I was young but I wasn’t stupid.

It ended when it came to be the realest thing I’ve ever felt, because I’ve moved two cities and lived five lives but I think loving you was still the bravest thing I’ve ever done. 

There was a red light blinking in the distance and there was me playing a different song, counting mistakes / but when the tide washed up you hadn’t changed much anyway. Much like I couldn’t tear my eyes away, while you were looking over, much like I dreamed of a different life. What’s a little pain, anyway, what’s ripping your soul out, anyway. 

I got in the tub filled with lukewarm water and thought back on bike rides and goodbyes, not forever, but for a night / how you held my hand under the table, and asked to be excused ‘cause we were being so obvious. 

You picked me up and I laughed like a kid, I laughed in their faces, ‘cause more than anything I wanted them to see. The way your fingers digged into my naked thighs, the way your brother cheered as we ran through the crowd, freezing and soaked and young and so in love we couldn’t breathe right.

You gave me your sweater because I was shaking, one you’d found in a forgotten drawer / and I say I’ve forgotten but still I hide in the bathroom, sit on the floor, and think about the fabric on my skin, your lips on my skin, that knock on the door when you were gonna ask me to stay / and I smile like the actress I told you I’d be, I grit my teeth and I think, the sun can’t touch me here.

//

I have a different name, now, one you haven’t heard of. I move to different rhythms, move to foreign cities, find myself pretending. Sometimes for a living, sometimes for the hell of it. 

There’s arms ‘round my shoulders and fingers in my hair. There’s eyes on me now, there’s an ache in my chest / persistent, like it wants me to listen. 

He takes my hand and drags me through the crowd, through the mass of bodies stuck together by sweat, and music, and the fact that we’re all out here looking for something, staying for nothing, crying for everything. 

It's hurried, and frenzied, and there’s nothing romantic / about it. But it’s real and it’s happening and it’s better than the three before him.  

I’ve changed my tune, too, you wouldn’t believe. 

I breathe in and out a couple of times, and I start shivering because my legs are cold and my face exposed. One, two, three buttons. Let’s make it all up, pretend we were out there all along, there in the lights where the magic happens. 

“Are you staying?” He beams, bright and hopeful.

“I’m going.” I say, before I can regret it.

“Let me walk you out. Strange city, wouldn’t want you to get lost.” 

I tell him, “You don’t sound like you’re from here yourself.”

“Seattle, moved a few years ago.” A pause. Then, “It’s the place to be, isn’t it?”

Four, five, six buttons. This is where the magic happens.

“I guess it is. Maybe next time I’ll see you on the big screen.”

Something flashes across his eyes, and I almost ask about it. Almost. 

“When was the last time you had an epiphany?”, you asked all those years ago.

I think I knew all along. Even though it hurt, even though I couldn’t see, even though she was staring right at me / while you kissed the side of my face and I prayed for closure when all I wanted was another day.

You felt like butterflies in my veins. And home, you felt like home.