touch is a vital sense, and i want to touch everything. it's an extension of my desire, too, to feel everything.
i want to touch you.
i want to feel everything there is to feel about you.
THE TEXTURE OF VEGETATION
moss is springy to the touch, rough but pleasant. it reminds me of carpet, but in a nice way, which maybe sounds contradictory because i hate carpet — like, i hate carpet. especially in spaces where people wear shoes on carpet because i just don't understand that, tracking all that dust and street muck willfully and intentionally around on carpet.
i shudder just to think of it.
i learn that the middle cousin hates the feel of grass under his feet, that the eldest used to tease him when he was a baby by lowering him so his bare feet touched the grass.
i think that i kind of like the feeling of cool grass underneath my feet, find it interesting how grass imparts the feeling of wetness before you start really feeling the physical dampness of it. i like the grass in iceland; it grows tall and falls over on itself; and walking through it is like walking on giant cushions. you have to be careful, though, because it's easy to misstep or to step into a pit in the ground, hidden by grass, or to be like me, to step wrong and twist your ankle.
i have weak ankles. it doesn't stop me from traipsing around half the time in converse.
would you yell at me for this? would you laugh-scold me like my cousins do, telling me to wear my proper hiking shoes? would you roll your eyes at me, bundle up towels at night and tell me to elevate my leg, bring me ice to reduce the swelling?
or would i be the one fussing over you, telling you to be more careful, get away from that cliff edge, the ground is unstable, can you please not plummet to your death, please? would you make me worry, even as we go scrambling up rock faces together? would you slip and fall by a waterfall, come back up laughing, dusting the mud off your hands, off your jacket?
would you hate the feeling of grass under your bare feet?
or would you go be the one to take your shoes off and go running off with the grass between your toes, laughing at the way it tickles and shouting, you should do this, too?! as you go rolling down a hill?
THE TEXTURE OF STONES
in iceland, we talk about how the island was formed through volcanic activity, how these incredible formations we see have been created over time, through erosion, through natural occurrence. it makes me think about the past, but it also makes me think about the future, about my future, about this crossroads i find myself at and the directions i should be taking.
i think about applying to grad school, about conquering my irrational fears that i'm not smart enough, not focused enough, not creative enough to get accepted anywhere. i think about my book, about the work that still needs to be done, about querying and submitting and dealing with rejections. i think about what i want to do with my life, where i want to go, who i want to be.
i think about you.
my brother recently got married, and he's younger than i am, so it raises extra questions of when i'll get married. i think my parents are waiting for this, for me to meet the “right” person, for that wedding, for that future, for grandchildren, but that future of seeming domestic bliss has always registered in my brain as the worst possible nightmare. i may have struggled with figuring out what i want from my life and for my life, but i've always known clearly what i don't want, and it's exactly that — the requisite husband, the children, the suburban home and minivan and 9-to-6.
and that, to me, is the beauty of choice. i have friends who are very happily wedded with multiple children, and i thrill for them. i have friends who homeschool, who give up their careers to be stay-at-home parents, who live their lives making sacrifices for their children. i thrill for all of them because that is what they want — it's what they've chosen.
it is not something i choose.
when i think about you, when i think about the kind of life we might have together, i think about this. i think about open roads and different countries and new experiences. i think about the freedom to be, to exist when and where we want. i think about stamps in passports, all kinds of cuisines, languages and cultures and peoples.
i think about venturing into countries where we don't speak the language, about jumping out of planes and off bridges and into bodies of water, about losing our way in strange cities but being okay — we're together, and, together, we'll be okay.
i think about looking over at you and saying, hey, let's go here, hey, i want to go there, and i think about you saying, yeah, let's do it, and making it happen, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
i think about all that possibility out there in the world, waiting to be known, to be discovered together.
i think about you.
THE TEXTURE OF WATER
water shape-shifts, becomes a different thing in different forms. as water, it can be still and calm, reflective of the world around it, or it can be a living, furious, raging thing. as steam, it can be hot, scalding upon contact, smoothing out wrinkles and opening up pores. as ice, it can be freezing and slippery, a hazard upon which to venture.
i think about people and moods because i can be moody, can be temperamental. it’s one of the character flaws i know most about myself, something i struggle against constantly, a battle i lose sometimes and do better with at other times.
before i fly out to iceland, i’m afraid that my moodiness will assert itself and put a damper on the trip. i worry that i’ll fatigue of being attached to people at all times a day, non-stop for two weeks. i worry that i’ll retreat into myself, become silent and sullen, and i worry that i’ll lose my temper.
the two weeks go by smoothly without incident, though, and i credit a great part of that to my cousins, to their personalities and their brightness. i think about myself, too, wonder if i’ve changed, if i’ve gone back to who i am at core, though what that means, i’m still not sure. i wonder about who i “actually” am under all the “issues,” under the depression and the anxiety and the panic attacks. i’ve been in such difficult headspace for so long that it’s become habit to question who i am underneath all that, what the purpose of medication and therapy is, if there’s even a fix for all the darkness. it’s become habit to question if this depression is who i am, this despair and hopelessness, if it isn’t a futile thing to try to get better because this is all there is. this is all i am.
because the thing is that i’ve always been someone who laughs a lot, who laughs at everything, and i’ve been told all my life that i’m a bright person, a kind person, and, yet, that feels so contradictory to the damage i feel has broken me.
and one consequence of that is that i doubt constantly if i’m someone who can be loved. i get scared that my moodiness will scare you away, if my temperament will turn you off, and i get scared that i’m too broken to be loved by you. i get scared that i’m too broken to love you.
i’m learning to quell such fears, though, because they’re as unfounded as the fears that keep me from applying to grad school, from pursuing the things i want. we work at love, and we put ourselves out there, and we risk being hurt, being disappointed, just like we risk inflicting that same hurt and disappointment. it’s the only way we can thrive, though, running that risk, and it’s why i have no patience for people who are risk-averse. the best things in life require risk, and, if risking the best parts of me is necessary to find you, to have you, to love you and be loved by you, then it’s something i’ll learn to do.