Maybe What We’re Looking For Has Been Inside Us All Along

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Blonde woman with camera contemplating her next photo op, sitting on a rock
Leo Hidalgo

I wonder if anyone out there is looking out the window and watching the rain hit the asphalt, feeling as much and as little as me.

The truth is I have more in common with each raindrop than I do with most people. We both fall like this, surrounded by others, but inherently alone. Sometimes slowly, sometimes violently, with or without grace. With no idea where we’ll land. What’s always certain is that when we do it’s with a crash.

I sometimes wish I could be more like water. How much peace must there be in being swallowed by something other than your own being, by the ocean, to be soaked up by the earth, evaporated from the ground. What a beautiful disappearing act. One second you’re lost and the other you become a part of something much bigger. You blend in. One second you’re here and the next you cease to be, leaving nothing behind but the faintest of memories lingering in the wind.

I’ve been thinking too much about disappearing lately. Not just in the most final and definite of ways. No, I think about disappearing in every way I could.

I think about what would happen if I became another statistic, snatched, gone from broad daylight, a face on a missing flyer, never to be seen again.

I take a bath and wonder how easy it would be to sink to the bottom of the ocean and be drowned in its silence.

I sometimes imagine myself cutting my long hair and bleaching it, I don’t know, maybe that’s a stretch, maybe I’d dye it red. I’d go to my parents, unlock the door I have so many times before, grab my passport and leave a goodbye letter on the granite island where they make dinner every evening. My mother’s heart would be broken, but at least I wouldn’t be leaving a suicide note. I’d tell her I’m sorry for everything and that despite everything, anytime I cry I’ll be wishing for her arms. I’ll write that she’s only ever wanted me to be happy, and that I’m doing this to try, that all I know is I can’t be by staying in the same place I’ve always been.

I’d get lost and blend my new self in a new city where I haven’t tasted heartbreak. Somewhere I haven’t looked for a star in the midnight sky, gripping on to a death wish. A place where I haven’t fallen in love. Somewhere no one has yet to know my name. I’d use a short variant of mine, call myself Talia maybe, or change it completely. I’d do something like bartending or waiting tables to pay the bills. I don’t know how good I’d be, I’ve never done either, but needing something new I’d give it a try.

I’d still write, that’s something I could never leave behind. I’d keep doing it. Maybe I’d finally finish my ongoing poetry collections. I’d sell some custom poetry on the side. Maybe I’d start putting more of my words out there, and finally start getting paid to do the only thing I love.

Maybe I’ll meet people I can relate to more than in my old life.

Maybe my writing will take on a different tone, maybe it’ll feel warmer, or maybe it’ll stay as dark. Either way I would be trying, either way, I would be looking forward, either way, I wouldn’t feel as if my feet were being held captive in a cement block.

The new me adds splashes of colors to her all black closet. She doesn’t bite her nails and she gets manicures on the reg. She no longer digs into her cuticle bed. She trims her hair often, too, she has no more patience for split ends. She takes up cycling and kickboxing. She drinks a little less during the weekdays and actually gets to meal prepping the groceries she shopped for Sunday evening.

She takes bubble baths and never thinks about what it would feel like to stay below water or if there’d be any peace in not coming back up for air.

The new me smiles and when she does she means it. She goes out and dances and doesn’t stop to think, what about tomorrow when the feeling is gone?

She doesn’t just accept free drinks from cute strangers, she winks at them from across the bar and offers them what she’s having. She goes on dates. When she’s kissed and she feels hands on her skin, she doesn’t think about how good it feels to have someone cover up every place he ever touched.

She never runs. She opens up.

She has once again found her belief in love. And when she falls, she falls for only the most deserving of hearts. She finds that the most deserving has always been, and always will be, the very one she carries within her ribcage.

I think of her and wonder if she, too, would imagine disappearing. I think not. And I think that maybe I can be like her. Maybe I can be like water here. Crash, and flow, and crash, and flow again.

Maybe I can ride these waves until I’ve found what has only been inside me all along. TC mark

Natalia Vela

poet and bruja. still checking books out from your local library.

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You look back and you just feel stupid.
You can’t forgive yourself for falling
or believing all the lies.
You reread every text.
You relive every memory.
And it all starts making sense —
he never wanted love.
He only wanted attention.
He only wanted validation.

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