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Club Scum

It’s a punk show in someone’s garage – no one I know. No one anyone knows, from what I can tell. We shimmy under the broken door, our backs almost scrapping the splintered wood.

There are two couches and fake flowers hanging from the ceiling. There’s a glitter skeleton grinning from the rafters, all shimmer and plastic. The walls are different colors, covered in posters or paint or an odd mix of the two. It is the kind of house that fascinates – that traps, that keeps. Not harmful, but purposeful. Almost like an old-world mother, whispering secrets in a dusty language no one else quite remembers. I catch pieces through the heat.

Have you ever been so in love that it hurt to breathe? Like your heart had started overwhelming your lungs because it beats so fast and so hard when you see him.

So I crawl into the house because my heart is in there, square in the palm of his hands, and he’s holding a bass guitar.

The house doesn’t creak. I think it moans, low and slow, underneath the booming music. I can feel it, the moaning and the music, but I can’t hear anything. Or I can hear everything and it’s a wall of noise, full-blown. No one’s lips are moving slow enough for me to read.

It’s nothing and it’s everything. I can’t explain it. Music is often just outside of my grasp – my ears don’t work well enough.

Sweaty kids line the garage in a C shape, sometimes crossing in front of me to dance. They pump their fists and scream words to songs that I don’t know, that I can’t hear. But I can watch and I can feel my boyfriend’s beat vibrating in my joints and I can write poetry in the space where music lives for everyone else.

The night ends. The house lets me go, gently, and I almost don’t believe it will be there if I try to find it again. It’s impermanent but eternal – more of an idea than a physical location. Dirt collects under my toes as we wander out.

I carry his bass. He carries everything else – the summer heat, the amp, my heart. The night is electric and I’ve never felt more alive.

clubscum

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A Brief Summary of Everywhere We’ve Been

Mani —

hey, honey.

When I found out that you had gone, I was so heartbroken that I made grief my permanent address. I changed the pronunciation of my name, shifting and stirring the letters just to hear your whisper underneath. My palms outward, I perched on the stoop of my sadness, a mailbox full of good intentions, and all I could do is watch the clouds for you.

Every sunrise is slightly bitter without you – like black coffee, but without the warmth. It still stings my throat when I breathe in too deeply.

This time last year I didn’t know. I had no idea. You sent me a poem the night before and I meant to read it. I promise I did read it. But I didn’t answer fast enough.

I cut six inches off my hair when I found out you had died. It was the only logical move at the time, the cleanest way to advertise my new address: heartbreaking, earth-ending sadness, the type that swallows entire families during hurricane season.

You said we were going to get better, and I believed you. But then you left me here and now I’m not sure better will ever come the way we intended – which is to say, there will never be a better that is good enough because we won’t get to share it.

Sometimes I mix your words with mine. I can’t remember which one of us said we could feel the other’s heart in those quiet moments. You told me I’d like the storms down in Durango, how the thunder ricochets off the stone-faced mountains – but I have grown too familiar with the emptiness of my chest, the way your name roars in its hollows.

Mah-nee. Mani. My little star child.

I’m going to commit you to my skin, fresh ink, your words a promise that I will never break. I will carry you into every success, every heartbreak, every fresh day. In that way, my love, you will breathe again.

Forever yours,

K

 

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A Letter to Fort Collins

In the end, I didn’t hate you – or, to paraphrase,

it is the end and I am amazed.

You almost swallowed me whole, you know. And I was so angry because of it, so inwardly vicious, so poisonous. How else do you kill a thing with teeth?

Anyway.

Fort Collins, I met you at seventeen, pursuing you with hazy determination. I had chosen you at eight years old, promised to find your soil beneath my feet, planted myself amongst the mountains and trees and waited to feel… something. And I did.

I lost my friends here. I was stalked and lied to and assaulted here, twice. I was shamed and humiliated here. I hurt so badly here.

For the longest time, it felt like you hated me. Imagine that – a little girl dreams of escaping to a bustling town for nine years, only to have the city spit in her face. Only to be ripped apart and rearranged, to be called a whore and a liar, to be turned inside out by those she considered friends.

But change is always painful.

So maybe you didn’t hate me. Maybe you loved me like I loved loose teeth as a child – I yanked the teeth from my mouth, swallowing the blood as my tongue traced its old permiter. You ripped at my edges until it ached, yeah, but there was something stronger underneath. Or maybe you didn’t think of me at all and this story is one more broken narrative I’ll have to revisit later.

Maybe.

Just to be safe: thank you for what you gave me. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to build myself time and time again. Thank you for teaching me every lesson, especially the ones that ended poorly. Thank you for letting me leave with my dignity, my humor, my words. Thank you for the professors who changed my life. Thank you for letting me live. Thank you for my beautiful, strong friends who found me here, who kept me here – thank you for housing the man I love, thank you for bringing us all together. Thank you for being the last place I knew Mani alive. We used to conpare our mountain towns and I think she would’ve found so many places to love here.

Fort Collins, this is the first thing I remember writing about you:

“Temporary girl in a temporary town –
someday I’ll run away and burn it all down.”

It’s almost funny to read that couplet now. Neither of us is running, you’re still standing, and I’ve never felt more permanent.

Thank you.

xoxox

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