Moments to Remember While Losing Hope: Part I

20h13 – Six Hours Into Gathering  

I get up, unsure of what to do with myself. My palms are sweaty, my head hurts and my mind racks. I feel very selfish. I should be happy to be surrounded by talkative, enthusiastic friends, but instead I worry about being in the background. About the impression this freak out gives them. I excuse myself for the fourth time in the last half hour, sighing as my mumbling is only acknowledged by one person.

In the next room over, I lean on the wall, closing my eyes to calm my thoughts and my breathing. Panting, I run my hands through my hair. I don’t need this. My battery may be drained, and I may feel invisible, but I have to ride it out for the next hour or so. After my breathing regulates a bit, and the tears have dried, I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water and some yogurt.  

When I come back into the muggy space, my eyes dart from person to person. On one couch, Lily, Ryan and Colin sit, playing video games and trash-talking each other over what appears to be the sound-effects of the game, though it only sounds like vibrations to me. On the other side, Ellen, Rose and Dean sit. Rose and Ellen take the entire couch and Dean eyes me from his seat on top of Ellen. I avert my eyes, sitting on the edge of the couch beside Colin. As I look down, twiddling my fingers and fiddling with the hem of my shirt, Ellen squirms loudly enough that the ground shakes and I know it’s Dean’s way of getting my attention. I try to resist his determination to get me to follow his gaze, but am awarded a huge grin when my eyes meet his.

He waves me over, and I take a seat on the edge of the couch as I had before. Ellen glances my way with a concerned frown, but I shake my head, smiling reassuringly. She nods, turning back to Rose. They continue to read and laugh at stuff on Rose’s phone, and Dean looks at me, smiling and making funny faces in an attempt to make me smile.  

Eventually, I offer a shy quirk of the lips. He laughs, taking my hands in his. I shift to face him completely, and his smile widens. I watch him as he brings my hands to his face, kissing my knuckles briefly. I chuckle as my fingers run against his jaw and his hold on my hands loosens even more. Dean smiles as I bring one hand to his neck, running my fingers through the hair there. My other hand stays at his face, brushing his sideburns as we watch each other.

He gets up and I follow, shifting with him as he brings us to a stance that suggests we dance to the background vibrations that are music coming from the stereo. I scoff, smiling slightly as he starts to sway. I hug him, hand coming to his neck again and he laughs, squeezing me to him. Used to to his closeness and crushing hug, I only shake my head and chuckle as he sways more widely. The music is not slow dancing music, or music either of us particularly enjoy, not that I can make out many of the vibrations, but I move with him either way. Dean laughs when he feels my fingers draw a pattern on his neck. Force of habit. The swaying stops a bit as we stare at each other. He pulls a face as my eyes narrow and he chuckles.

I sigh as my confidence is brought back slowly. He notices the freed tension and rubs my back, squeezing my shoulders. I laugh as he abruptly turns, and we dance some more. I twirl as he watches me, and he laughs as my elbow pops loudly when my arm extends. I wince, smiling when he gets concerned. I hum quietly and he sways and twirls as our roles are reversed. I laugh as Dean almost slides and trips because of his socks, and he pretends to wrestle me back into a dancing stance. He raises an eyebrow as my expression falters a bit, and I sigh. He nods to himself, rubbing my back again. My eyes shift under his gaze, and he sighs. Our eyes meet again as he hugs me closer, and I chuckle. Dean bites his lip as my smile falters again. He rests his forehead on mine, swaying wide and quick until a laugh bubbles its way up and I grin at him. He smirks in his satisfaction and I rest my forehead on his, sighing as he laughs quietly.

Dean stays at my side for the rest of time, holding my hand and sharing his food as I watch the video games from my comfy stop on his lap, and my thoughts stay on the memory of his smile as his forehead touches mine.


What Now, Fear?

In the car after a conversation I’d been dreading all summer, I stared out the window in an attempt to calm myself. Papa cleared his throat, staring into the road quietly as if to give me time for myself.

Papa’s attempt at casual conversation had ensured that all my worries regarding school came to the surface. School was something I worried about, and the future was something I tired ignoring with near success. University was not something I wanted to talk about, certainly not when I still had at least two years left.

In my vulnerability, my worries about this school year flooded my mind. Left with only a sense of panic, I tried to calm down as quietly as possible. Papa was still focused on the road, and I hoped I would be able to clear my head without making things worse.

My eyes watered as my frustration got the best of me. Clenching my jaw, I let some of the worries surface, keeping a steady hold on my emotions. I figured I could get past these thoughts if I processed them a bit, hoping my irritation wouldn’t make it harder. I fished through the pile of unanswered questions in my head, sighing as I attempted to focus. I was worried that even with the added experience of working for a mark, my Maths grade would plummet. I was worried that I’d be too stressed to do anything other than schoolwork. That path would only lead to more stress and isolation, and I didn’t need that either. I was worried my father wouldn’t trust me to do my work, even if he’d seen my potential last year. I was worried I would have the same time of anxiety every weekend as I had the last two years.

These things – scholar anxiety, isolation, stress – didn’t help me much, but there was something worse. Worse than stress and isolation, you ask? Yes. Fear of boredom, fear of feeling alone. Every weekend, I get up, and I feel like I have nothing useful to do. I sit around, stuck on how useless I feel. Being bored only makes the thoughts in my head grow louder, makes the anxiety get the best of me. Boredom comes if I don’t feel useful, or if I can’t seem to stimulate myself. It’s a cycle of sorts I’ve been attempting to avoid for a long time now.

Every summer, I become panicked over the simple idea of having two months off. It’s like one big, giant, horrible weekend. I have to find something to do, or else the anxiety will creep up, control me. At the beginning of the summer, I’m too busy wondering what the hell I’ll do with myself to worry about anything else. Most of the time, the only other ay these thoughts are introduced is if the summer’s ending. Then it’s no longer summer I have to worry about; it’s every weekend from then on.

I think about how vulnerable I get, and one simple sentence explains it all. It’s sad really. Sad that I’d rather be tired and drained and unsocial because of school, than have nothing to do around family. It’s sad that I cower behind school and books and TV shows to cover the fact that I can’t handle boredom and mystery.

Yes, this – all this crap – came flowing through because of casual discussion about the future, but that was the thing; the future is never a casual thing.  I had no reason to be angry with Papa; it wasn’t like he would have known. I could only be thankful for the fact that when I tuned back into reality, he was still staring ahead. For once, instead of wondering – making me more anxious and embarrassed – he pretended not to notice, trusted I could handle it. Took a leap of faith to hope that someone so scared could indeed console themselves.

A Messy Graph About Us

Every time your name is mentioned, my stomach does a flip. This is mostly because I don’t know if we’re still friends. Everything about you has been in the dark for a while now.

I stopped trying, to see if you would respond by initiating conversation on your own. And since you haven’t, it shows you really didn’t put much effort to it in the first place. My effort seems useless now. I feel as though all that time was just me making a fool of myself. My constant anxiety about whether everything was okay only ended in the abrupt halt in our – apparently false – connection.

On a bad day, I might blame myself a little while I cuss at you under my breath. On any other day, I recognize that both sides are at fault, but you certainly did nothing to change the path that things followed. At first, I was focused almost more on how to change things than anything else, but that only seemed to drive you away more, for some reason. Apparently, my attempt at rebuilding something I felt was lost only meant the loss was more deserved. I was at fault because I was naive enough to want to preserve and protect something that had been lost a long time ago.

Whenever I think about you, one of two things happen; I become bitter, and I play the blame game. Even though I’ve established that there isn’t a point to putting blame, my mind still seems to think it is a necessary component on how to settle things. The bitterness is obviously accompanied by remorse and anger, with a touch of frustration, whereas the blaming is only assisted by confusion and irritation.

If my point in settling this was to avoid confusion and pain, I’m having issues with why I still feel something. I suppose in my denial, I refuse to accept that as human, I must feel at least something. And that denial says I don’t have to settle what I’m feeling, but the logic in me always does it in a torturous process that includes pissing myself off.

Either way, I can assume that we will not be talking unless we are in a room full of other people, and it will be tense on my part, and you might be a little oblivious about my internal debate because I hate conflict, so I will have neglected to mention the fact that I have officially cut ties with you without your consent.


Things We Often Don’t Say

Why must you be this way
Must we fight
Must we insult each other as protection
Against each other
Must I feel like a ticking time bomb

Must you whine
Must I whine about your whining
Why must our perspectives clash so
Why won’t you accept me
I try to accept you
I may resent you but,
I try
Where is your effort?

Must you show your disappointment so obviously?
Must you have the need to be
Curley honest
Must we be crude

I’m not a disappointment
I tell myself you opinion doesn’t matter,
But when we are together
I suppose it must

Let go of the past.
You make it harder for me to do so
You tell me things I don’t need to know,
Things I will remember for ever

Everything must be your way
I am okay with this
Unless your way insults me
Unless it means you can yell and make me
Do the things you could be doing

You hurt me
Insult me
Call me ridiculous when I tell you so
I fight back
You get hurt
So much remorse

Our time goes well under moderation
Instead, we binge our time and
Bicker, get hurt

Why must you insist on blaming everyone but yourself
Why must I
Why must you blame the people who care for me
Rather than those who lied about caring for you
I love you
I hate you
Help me change, I will do the same for you
You hate me
You adore me

Black Amongst the Auburn Shades

On the train, Rob and I sit across two boys whose other siblings sit in the other aisle. While Rob and I talk, I notice the boy across from Rob fidgeting, trying not to stare. We’re on the way to Constanta, from Ploiesti. The Romanian sky is beautiful, and the weather is pretty consistent. Beside him, his brother reads, quietly tapping to the music coming from his headphones. For the first couple hours, the boy across from me barely lifts his head, eyes always on his book. The siblings from the other aisle are less quiet, making conversation in what sounds like Bulgarian.

Come dinnertime, there is more movement. The boy across from Rob gets up to distribute sandwiches amongst the siblings. While they eat, the boy across from me returns to his book. Beside him, his brother is on his cell phone. Out of the four of them, the boy across from me looks like the youngest, and is the only one with black hair. His siblings all have shades of auburn and brown.

While Rob and I struggle to find something to eat since we were both asleep when the trolley came by, the brothers seem to have short conversation. The boy at the window mumbles something, and it is answered with soft movement of the lips and some huffing sound effects. At the window, his brother nods, and they are back to doing their own thing. A few minutes pass before the boy at the window looks up again, watching me. He mumbles something, but I can’t hear it over the train’s rattling. Once he has my full attention, he mumbles more loudly in what sounds more like Romanian, ‘’We have tons of food, if you would both like some.’’

I decline the offer, not wanting to be a pain, ‘’No, thank you. We’ll figure it out.’’

He smiles at me, ‘’Feel free to ask for some later, if you change your mind.’’ He says. In front of me, the boy stops reading to watch the conversation. His eyes move back in forth between the both of us as we exchange words. Deaf?

Curious by the way he suddenly changed languages I ask, ‘’Why are you all going to Constanta?”

‘’To visit our mother. We were visiting my father’s family last week,’’ he explains.

‘’We’re visiting my family as well,’’ I reply with a smile. ‘’I’m Kristina.’’

‘’Darko.’’ He replies as we shake hands. ‘’This is Iliya,’’ he adds as his brother waves. Mute?

‘’This is Roberto,’’ I say, pointing to the sleeping form in front of Darko.

By this time, the other siblings turn their attention to me as well. ‘’Zora,’’ The girl says, also shaking my hand. Yan is the last of brothers. ‘’It’s nice to meet you.’’

‘’Is Bulgarian your first language? Were you all born there?’’ I ask curiously, wondering whether the questions are too personal.

I get a chorus of yes, along with a nod from Iliya. ‘’We have also lived in Macedonia,’’ Zora says after a moment. ‘’How long were you in Ploiesti?’’

‘’Just a few days visiting the city,’’ I reply. Conversation goes on, and Iliya is quiet, following with his eyes. Every once in a while, he fiddles with his book as if wanting to get back to it. He also nods or makes huffing sounds every now and then when I ask questions. I inform them that I’m studying civil work in northern Romania.

Zora smiles, and tells me she studies environmental sciences just outside of where they live. ‘’We haven’t visiting our mum as much since I started university,’’ She adds with a sigh. ‘’I’m nineteen.’’ She clarified, which encouraged the others to tell me about themselves. She was the eldest, two years older than Yan. He and Darko were a year apart. Iliya was the youngest at fourteen. Zora, Darko and Iliya have glasses. Iliya and Zora have rectangular frames, but Darko’s are wider and rounded. Rob wakes up and properly introduces himself, they exchange a short conversation in Bulgarian, and Rob acts much like Iliya in his quiet manner. Eventually, he goes back to sleep.

The rest of the trip goes relatively well, I make short conversation with Darko and Zora every so often, and Rob remains asleep. Yan pulls out his own book, though his phone stays close. Iliya’s attention goes back to his book, but twenty minutes before the train is due to stop, he starts to fiddle and lifts his head often. He sighs and stares out the window as an attempt to get his concentration back. He smiles as he watches the sunset. Tapping Darko’s shoulder every now and then, they watch the sky together.

When we are to get off, Rob has just reawoken. He bids then a good trip in Bulgarian, and Iliya forgets his book in the chair. I rush up to him, but he doesn’t turn. Following Darko’s example from earlier, I tap his shoulder lightly to get his attention. He looks apologetic as he points to his ear, and nods his thanks.

We walk behind them, and wave as they stand near the parking lot. Rob and I wait for a taxi at the curb. I look back to the family, smiling to myself. The blur of auburn makes it harder to distinguish one sibling from the other, but they all look to be having fun. Darko and Yan fool around with their luggage, spin it it until it threatens to fall. Zora watches Iliya’s hands move, but unlike his earlier fidgets, they move with purpose. ‘’He’s signing,’’ Rob says, following my gaze.

‘’Is he deaf?’’ I ask, wondering whether that’s what he’d been talking about with Darko.

Rob shakes his head. ‘’He’s hard of hearing. Notice how he fiddled with his left ear a lot?’’ I nod. ‘’He was playing with his hearing aid. Darko told me in noisy places, he often hears background noise better than the rest.’’ Darko is now sitting on the luggage, and Yan reads beside him. Zora and Iliya are still talking, but the conversation falters as I watch.

‘’Is that why he wasn’t talking? I saw him talk to Yan, though.’’ I question. Earlier in the train ride, they had been talking but, the longer it went on, the louder Iliya’s voice was.

‘’He’s also mute, but sometimes he talks to his siblings. That’s why he mouths a lot. It was also harder for him to sign in public ‘cause he’s shy.’’ Rob explains. ‘’Darko told me he’s usually okay with it all, but gets overwhelmed by crowds. It makes him quieter.’’

A taxi arrives ten minutes later, and the family isn’t gone yet. Zora and Yan are talking now, and Darko dances around as Iliya plays with the luggage. The taxi pulls away, and my attention is drawn back to the cab. Rob sits quietly, and reaches over to rub my knee affectionately. My family better behave while I’m there.