i feel like a sometimes-poet. this day happens to to be one of those cloudy ones where all you want to do is roll up your sleeves and mindlessly scroll through your instagram, deleting photos of those moments where you were distinctly unhappy but posted smiles anyway.
i’m on a deleting spree and i accidentally erase one of the lake – when i click “delete,” i justify that i had tons more like it – and feel a slight pang of regret. that one was taken on a walk during a lunch break, with a new friend, and new laughter, fresh connection. a friendship in infancy.
i quickly scroll down, down, down, past the photo i posted of my grandmother the day after she passed, past my fresh new haircut that i desperately wanted people to talk about instead of telling me how sorry they were for my loss. down, down, breezing by a photo of a coffee with little flecks in it that my ex made me one morning, then i go back up and erase it, because coffee makes me feel sick these days and thinking of him makes my mind go numb.
down, down, to a series of photos when i thought i was happy but my idiot brain didn’t know the difference between happiness and a desperate cling to avoid being alone. i keep going until i can see where my photo editing skills sucked and i didn’t know how to coordinate color schemes, passing by that moment during a “photoshoot” when i climbed out onto a slippery rock near the water, the lakefront seemingly safe, yet one big knock from the wind could’ve sent me sprawling.
i smiled that windy morning, and i was cold, but i smiled. my friend made me smile a lot those days [were those true smiles?], we bonded over slight racism and inappropriate jokes, reveling in being out of high school and no longer strictly regimented by our school system. i delete a video where we pretend to be cashiers from 7-11, and cringe.
i smiled back then, with my teeth, not the slight smirk i’ve learned from selfies.
i keep scrolling, past the autumn leaves with the contrast up too high, almost bringing up the sharp coffee smells of the cafe i went to with my childhood best friend, and i think [maybe i should call her?] but i text her instead.
my fingers and memory are sore from scrolling down, and i accidentally click the wrong button and i’m back to the top. 1,000 photos. witty captions, emoji placement, painstakingly arranged angles.
i truly feel like a sometimes-poet. right now, i sit in front of my computer screen and wonder how the hell i dare call myself a writer? my family and i were enjoying a holiday meal together, and we made jokes, we knew the exact words to say to get a laugh out of my mother, or a disapproving look. i almost forgot for a moment that we hadn’t sat down together like this in years. then, suddenly, i remembered, my hand shook and i spilled tea on myself – i told my mother that i had a shiver, but it was 80 degrees out. my father brought up politics and my brother gamely joined in [likely to forget about the awkward toast that he just made] and my mind wandered. i watched a leaf float in my cup, and thought [i’m a writer] but i wasn’t convincing anyone except maybe the bug crawling across the tablecloth, he looked like he believed me.
i open instagram again, for the fifth time this hour, just to see if anyone new checked out my latest photo with the delicately chosen excerpt by my favorite author. my heart jumps as i see a new “like,” and it’s exactly the person i’d hoped would see the post. why didn’t i just send him the caption instead of posting it to the world?
sometimes-poet, but words on a line aren’t poetry [are they?] and my friends are amazing writers
[but am i?]
[do people even connect to my writing?]
[are they humoring me because they love me, but secretly think my writing is shit?]
[and would they ever tell me, if so?]
[what on earth would i do, if i didn’t write?]
that last thought fills me with panic. what would i do? writing helps me breathe. it soothes me, calms my anger and sadness, brings me fulfillment. if it’s shit and no one likes it, what do i do? am i doing this for others? what is writing if not to bring other people to feel?
sometimes-poet. i feel clever for thinking of it.
i throw my glasses on to soothe my headache and suddenly i’m bored of myself completely – my writing, this writing, it has no life! there is no emotion! when i was sad and angry and anxious, i could write for hours, days, and be proud of what i created. is this what happiness is? a fucking abyss? where no writing at all comes out, and when it does it’s stupid musings? why can’t i evoke any shred of emotion, it’s making me angry that i’m not angry. i sleep well at night, i smile in the mornings, i feel loved and happy and fulfilled in my job, i’ve met wonderful friends and my writing is shit.
i spoke to another friend the other day and told her that my writing sucks now. i told her that my best work came during that time of my life when i couldn’t see through my eyelashes, since they trapped my tears in this 5 mm wall of murky mascara-film, separating my iris from the world. perpetually. when my heart was in my throat, that’s when my poetry flowed. constant drip, the broken sink that my landlord finally fixed. all i had to do was put a pen to paper. nature inspired me, music inspired me, and now, as i sit here with my healthy body and mind, i am angrier at myself than i’ve ever been.
sometimes-poet. sometimes not.