running low

We have nothing left for each other. This
comes to us cold and hard on a Thursday morning,
our empty rumbling hearts waking us 
before the sound of the alarm we had carefully 
set the night before. I am lying in bed with
eyes wide open, and so are you, and in better days
one of us might have gotten up to forage for
sustenance, selfless and noble so that the other
would be fed, and nourished, and full
of the warmth that can only come from living
a life that goes above and beyond enough. But today 
is not one of the better days; it is not even
a good day, and so we press our backs
against a mattress as unyielding as the brick wall
we once spray-painted with grafitti promises:
you and me together, you and me forever.

We tried to beg
for a brand-new shot at happiness,
but the man at the store only had secondhand
joy to spare, diluted by great expectations
and half-hearted forgiveness, and even as beggars 
we didn't want to be unable to choose.

We tried to borrow
time, and bargain with the world to wait
until our ducks were lined up
in a neat little row, ready and willing and able. 
But we missed deadlines and chances, gave up
eventually on trying to keep up.

We tried to steal
kisses on street corners,
light from passing vehicles,
heat from fires we had not built ourselves. 
Neither of us believed we would ever get caught
in the milky tangled threads of our own untruth.

We have nothing left for each other, and it is 
so easy to leave, when this is all 
we are leaving behind. Our hunger
roars like thunder now, eager
for an easy free taste of 
something other than empty.

adolescent angst

Lucas Blue told me a secret: He hated it, this place that should always feel like home but no longer did. He hated its stifling small-town chatter, the dismal lack of art and adventure and critical thinking, the straitlaced boys who didn't watch porn or smoke pot, the good girls who thought they would go to heaven if they got shiny straight As and didn't let any boy touch their breasts. He hated the crying babies in church, the violent heat that clawed at your skin, leaving it red and raw. He hated the leering priests, foaming at the mouth with their platitudes and self-righteousness, Padre Damaso anachronisms in a time where the pope had a Twitter account. He hated, and this was one hatred that filled him with remorse, the hunched old ladies with their shawls and prayer books, clutching their worn rosary beads as if meaning to squeeze some life out of them, smelling like aged paper and candle wax and imminent death. Fuck this, he thought at some point every day, resentment shooting out of his limbs in sharp bursts, a dark cloud of defiance trailing him everywhere he went.

moving out

On a drizzly Thursday afternoon Renee dutifully helped me pack my things into big brown boxes, starting with the closet, then the bookshelf, then the desk littered with loose paper and pens that no longer wrote, gum wrappers, magazine clippings, odds and ends. On my nightstand there were novels I hadn’t read yet, and a bronze jewelry box with my parents’ wedding rings, and a hairbrush already painstakingly cleaned of stray strands. Renee said very little; all week she’d been kind to me, tiptoeing around my feelings, sensitive and maternal. Her compassion suffocated me. I had always thought it would strengthen me.
“Do you remember when I threw a raw egg in your face?” I asked, attempting to turn the somber mood into something else, something that didn’t resemble a funeral or the aftermath of a catastrophe. “Remember?” I asked again. She probably did, because it wasn’t that long ago. It was in the middle of a Monopoly game, and she had been asking for it, trash-talking and cheating all afternoon. The egg was for a science class experiment—an infant dummy. We had to feed it, bathe it, watch over it, change its diaper, rock it to sleep. We had to make sure it didn’t break, didn’t get lost. We had to keep it safe. The point was to eventually reach the conclusion that we weren’t ready for babies of our own yet, which most of us already knew anyway. We were twelve; it wasn’t like any of us seriously considered otherwise. When the yolk ran down Renee’s neck and arms like slime oozing out of a monster’s skin, she was the first to laugh. I followed suit. I remembered how nice it felt to know that we were both forgiven.
We filled the boxes quickly with my things. In the corner of the room there was a black garbage bag overflowing with everything I no longer wanted or needed, everything my life could no longer accommodate. Every few minutes Renee tossed something in wordlessly. I liked that she didn’t have to ask me whether or not something was rubbish. She knew me well enough. Her hair hung down her back in a haphazard braid as she stacked my sweaters systematically, folding the arms inward first, then outward, then halving the body horizontally. She arranged them by color, and at some point I wanted to ask when and why a privileged girl like her learned how to do anything remotely domesticated. When she was done with the sweaters, she took my dresses off their hangers one by one, their soft fabric gliding over her small, smooth hands. In the empty closet the bare hangers looked forlorn, as if they had suddenly been stripped of value, as if they were waiting for someone that would never come. When we were almost finished, I looked around the room. With nothing in place save for the furniture, it seemed unfamiliar to me; already it was beginning to feel like it wasn’t mine. Soon it would be reduced to a place in my mind I would explore only when nostalgia hits, lumped in with stories of my childhood. There was an awful lot of space, space everywhere—underneath the bed, behind the door, beside the window, inside the drawers, next to the bed. I wondered why I ever required that much.

if love feels strange on your tongue

Say "like" first. Always say "like" first. Like is easy, fluid. You can float
on it, your joints light, face tilted to the sun like a marigold blossom.
Say "You make me happy," and if that's too much, sandpaper its edges
down to "You made me happy today/this week/this month." Happiness
isn't love, not necessarily, and anyway you can always choose to take
that happiness and make it your own, so that nobody else will have to
give it to you, if that's how you want it. Only if that's how you want it.
Say "I want to meet all your friends. I want to meet your family, see
the place saved for you at the dining table, listen to the chairs scrape
the floor as the seats are filled by people who know what you look
like in your pajamas, barefoot, bathed in the glow of the refrigerator
at two in the morning." You will want to say this in one swift breath—
anything too slow might be mistaken for tenderness, and anything too
tender might be mistaken for love. Do not whisper anything just yet.
Say "There is nobody else like you," in a firm, clear voice, even though
you're not sure if this is true; maybe you just haven't scoured the city
enough for boys with maple syrup smiles and hands that feel like knots.
Say "You can come to me when you're tired. You can come to me when
you're sad. We can eat soup from a can and watch Japanese game shows
until you are laughing again, and here is a blanket to drape over your
knees and a tall glass of warm milk." Say "Home is wherever you are."
Say "Let's see the world together. Let's see as much of it before we die."
Do not falter. Try hard not to blink. Say "Let's go. Right now. Let's go."

100th post + BBS*


Dearest dearest readers,

I can't thank you enough for sharing 100 thoughtful, sad, happy, hopeful, colorful, quiet, lost, grateful, golden Sunday mornings with me. You are absolutely wonderful, each and and every one of you, and while 100 weeks may not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, I have grown and learned so much since my first post in 2012. I know you have grown and learned with me, and we will always have that.

For now, there are full, crucial days ahead, and I want to give each of those days my undivided attention. I am writing for a solo collection and a group project, putting together a couple of workshops, and considering going back to teaching. Of course I am still editing books and my favorite magazine in the world. And I have family and friends and the best boyfriend I will never stop wanting to be generous with and present for.

I will *be back soon, this time for one Sunday every month, and I hope you continue growing and learning with me until there are no more words left.

Keep going, keep loving, keep dreaming.

xx,
Marla

All text original work by Marla Miniano. Powered by Blogger.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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I write books and edit a teen magazine for a living. I also: take photos, attempt poetry, make travel plans, snore, do the dishes, daydream on the treadmill, and dress like a loose grandma. For feedback, questions, and invitations, email me at marlaminiano@gmail.com.

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