there is a version of me trapped in each memory like a snowglobe. me, thirteen, long hair in a ponytail, running across the beach where the water is just an inch deep because I love the way it splashes. me, eight, staring out the car window and thinking how strange it is I’ve only been on the earth for eight years and yet I feel like I have always been here. me, eleven, in New Mexico, on Christmas, staring at the luminarias lining the sidewalks. me, sixteen, listening to my writing instructor’s voice break. memory isn’t a continuous and chronological line, not even a line at all, and I don’t know if that’s what time is, either. my life is a room with no walls that holds a hundred thousand memories suspended in water. I jump from moment to moment out of order and everything else is just the space between.
I think of my grandparents as still alive. How could I think of them as anything else? How could they not be somewhere parallel to me? Where are they, that could be unreachable? Is this God’s plan for us? Live side by side until one timeline breaks and falls away to he-knows-where-but-I-do-not? Is Papa safe? Is Grandpa George safe? Does suicide take you to the seventh layer of hell? Does hell exist? I think there’s something very wrong about all of this. There is nobody to ask. There is nobody who has gone and come back. The only ones to ask are the unbroken. The dead know now what my body squirms daily to discover. I could have asked them in life but they did not know, not then. Only now. This is unfixable. Unknowable. Putrid, obscene ignorance that sticks in my flesh like shame. It feels like a sin, gathers together suddenly in waves of pure, destitute panic. It’s strange, the way the vulnerability in desperation can sometimes feel akin to an orgasm. My mind lurches to fill its empty spaces and finds no information with which to do so. Nature is infallible because she doesn’t pretend to be kind. God, however. God allows my suffering and still proclaims he is kind.
you want to envision the whole world
in the brief span of time that it gives you.
to be thrown from the heavens unfurled
cut away from indifference and seen through.
you are translucent illuminating pain
shot through to the hollow and aching
space between your temples. force the rain.
swallow whole every moment that time has taken
away from you. if others exist they are yours
they are yours because God granted you vision.
burn away death with feeling and fire and roar
up into the holy light from which you were risen.
you never asked for this but you’ll take it
whole and wanton and raw and never again
will you allow anything to cheat your spirit.
I thought you knew that God couldn’t be pinned down. You’ve said so many times that his nature is incomprehensible. Why do you tell me we can’t know the concrete truth, but then, with the same tongue and absolute certainty, tell me I’m wrong? There is no absolute truth. I know you think that’s a logical fallacy. But you ignore every logical fallacy I bring to your attention, and you know why, don’t you? You know it’s because there is no absolute reality. You know that, because even the color red changes from human to human. Even eyesight, depth perception, hearing. I’m deaf in my left ear. I can’t hear the birds chirping in the morning. My best friend is schizophrenic. She texted me the other night about the way the voices seemed different than they usually do — they were alarming when usually they’re calm. How come you hate vanilla ice cream when I love it? How come I care so much about hell when you don’t? How come I’m wrong when I say that truth is relative?
Vanilla ice cream is delicious. There is no absolute truth.
Everything about life is subjective. That is the nature of reality and the beauty of it, too. God will not damn me to hell because he did not reveal the same truth to me that he did to you. God is Abba, Father, Mother, Protector of his/her children in life and in death. He knows where our differences lie. He knows that fear will never be solid ground for my faith, even if it is for you. We aren’t the same.
You know that God is the God of second chances. You know the parable of the Farmer and his workers. He hired men to tend his vineyard, and they worked all day starting in the morning. When afternoon came, he found more men waiting for work, and when he asked them why they were waiting, they said nobody had hired them. So he hired them, and they worked until the end of the day. When the Farmer paid all of the workers the same, the ones who had worked from morning complained. “‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’ But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.'”
God is in control. He will save some of us now and some of us at the mouth of Death. We will never be penalized for waiting.
I’m waiting for God. All of the faithless are waiting. We cannot be cast into hell for the knowledge that is withheld from us.
The road to truth is dim and slippery and every human being is given a separate route.
I’ve found myself struggling to reach a sense of peace.
I haven’t been content since I was a Christian kid.
Dusk felt fresh and everlasting, and on cold nights
at summer camp I would sit by the fire with my
hands tucked into my sleeves. I thought about how
I would die, but I didn’t think about it the way I
do now. I was Christian, so I was guaranteed heaven
when most of the population wasn’t. And I was so
scared that my focus might shift and my worldview
might blend in with society’s until I became part
of the majority that was destined for hell.
Now that’s me, so I haven’t felt stillness for what
seems like a long time. There’s a restlessness
behind everything. Always waiting for peace to come
but no promise that it ever will, just fear and
the intrinsic knowledge that I’ll never really know
anything for certain. It seems melodramatic, but it
seeps into everything. That’s why it’s all I’ve been
able to write about. It’s all I’m able to feel.
I know the answer is waiting for me just out of reach.
It’s nestled comfortably on the tip of my tongue, sleeping restlessly.
The answer to what? I’m not sure I can tell you. Just the answer. The solution.
Whatever wind or breath of life that grants me insight has refused
to give me the final solution. The formula.
What beautiful aching I feel in every silence. What savage loss of hope
seizes hold of me when I look at a glorious sunset or sometimes
a perfectly-formed cloud, traced by the sun with rich yellow as if with
a freshly sharpened colored pencil.
Today I told my mom, it’s not that I’m ungrateful, or that I’m
rejecting what God has given me. Dad thinks so because Christianity
feels right to him. It doesn’t feel right to me. I feel, I know,
there’s something that I haven’t found.
I’m not ungrateful, but I’m impatient. I feel dread because
my time is always running out and I don’t know anything.
Life really feels like a test on the chapter of a book I haven’t read.
Can I be held accountable for that? For not knowing despite my
desperate and urgent search? I’m waiting for the answer, but
it hasn’t revealed itself to me. I guess that means I have to find it
by myself, dig through my thoughts until I find whatever it is
I’m even supposed to be looking for.
The present hurtles me forward
but when I close my eyes, I
and I can hear the past and
the future rush up behind me to
scream in my ear.
I can feel the simulation of my life
turning slowly toward reality.
Eternity never looks at me twice,
but I glance at it again and again,
obsessively, like I glance
at the clock during tests.
Is this why we’re mortal?
Because the disappearance of time
outlines us like a flash of double exposure?
Because being hurtled toward death
is what gives us the weightless sensation
like the last few seconds of Space Mountain?
I have chills, like time is
licking the back of my neck
in San Francisco wind.
I’m 18. I don’t want
to cast bets against my mind
over my remaining days,
but it’s what makes everything so
beautifully fragile. Without cold water
to wake me up, would peaceful sleep
feel so delicious?
And without eternal sleep,
would I fight so hard to stay awake?
I’m afraid this will get worse with age,
but I’m also afraid it’ll go away.