Broken

I can’t go anywhere right now as I am confined to four walls. My only view is this monitor screen. But this is part of growing up, right? Clock in, clock out, clock in, clock out. Day after day. “Yes, ma’am.” “Absolutely, sir.” I’m not used to these things. I used to live only for today and spoiled myself in every way. Maybe that’s why my family has called me selfish. Maybe that’s what my friend meant when he said, “You’re a grown woman and it’s time to get serious if you really want to make a life for yourself.” So now I travel in my mind. Quiet, cool April evenings on the streets of Kyoto walking under cherry blossom trees near streetlamps like orbs and seeing lanterns swinging gently from shop windows. An old friend and I entered a traditional tea room and bowed. We were not familiar with the customs of this place and did not know that people make reservations three months in advance. ‘Next time,’ I thought to myself as we left because I knew someday I would return. We weren’t disappointed; we were simply trying to experience as much as we could. The streets were peaceful, clean and orderly – everything and every moment was perfect. Even the manhole covers for the sewers were silver, polished and glistening like their 50 piece coin with the hole cut out of the middle and flowers on the back. Another night, another city. My best friend and I shared a joint and laughed as we traveled arm-in-arm through a tunnel where the wall was completely plastered with gum and graffiti. ‘Did you bring your phone?’ she asked. Regretfully, neither of us had brought a phone but it would have been nice to take a picture. ‘We’ll come back to Seattle someday and this wall will still be here,’ I said. We had to get back to the hotel and change our clothes before my dad’s show. His band was playing at a pub a few blocks away. I wore a black Bailey hat and a short black dress. The band called me on stage and handed me a tambourine so I could jam along to some T. Rex with them. Fast forward to a day when I drove my car right onto the sand. It was a sedan and not meant for things like this, but at the time I didn’t really care. The clouds looked like painted scoops of raspberry and vanilla sherbet and the ocean was like smooth abalone shell.  There were three of us that day and we laughed and laughed as the waves licked my tires. I moved my car back so we could enjoy the sunset and I walked straight out into the water and let it rise up to my waist. I looked behind me and the other two were locked in a happy embrace, holding each other and kissing. ‘Leave them to it and disappear,’ I thought to myself. Twelve years ago I walked the streets of Sydney alone and unafraid. Every morning I bought star fruit, fresh mangos, berries and lychee from a petite, elderly Japanese woman outside my hotel. The cute bellhop gave me a John Grisham book to borrow and I would read or go on walks during the day. I was only 18 but able to buy wine legally for the first time. Wind whipped my hair across my face as I drove through the countryside from Oklahoma to Kansas. The fields were so yellow, like gold. I drove past abandoned buildings and farmhouses, wondering idly what these people’s lives were like and what it must feel like to live in a small town. The sun was so hot that my phone started overheating as it rested on my leg. I had to shut it off. Fast forward to the day when I met someone I had been talking to for seven months. We were both nervous yet perfectly comfortable, it seemed. I finally understood that I didn’t have to have it all figured out and that it was okay to fumble; it was okay if every movement wasn’t fluid or flawless. We swam under a clear blue sky and I kissed every scar I could find and all the freckles on his shoulders. I finally understood that it was okay to be quiet and that aimless chatter didn’t always need to fill the air. As I sat in the hot tub, I realized that I had found someone I respect and saw myself in every place I had ever been and ever wanted to go. I saw myself with him. I remembered someone else who once told me I would be broken by a man because my heart was so big but I never knew I could be broken like this. The cursor blinks on my monitor. My phone lays silently on my desk. I never knew I could be broken so badly by something that never had a chance to exist.

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