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April 1st

Woke up at six this morning. Stepped out of my bedroom at the same time Kat was walking out of hers. For the first time since we moved in, four roommates were awake and together before sunrise. We said good morning many times and drank coffee. The boys groaned at the unusual crowding of their morning space. Kat and I laughed, pleased at the unintentional.

We acted cordial like strangers since we’re never all together before work. It was like seeing someone who you only ever see stand up lay down instead. A new angle, a tilted view. My roommates and I have known each other for years, went through school together, and now rent a house in a beach town a few miles from where we grew up.

How sacred mornings can be, the minutes between waking and starting a day. We usually stagger these times individually, across hours, spent alone at the kitchen table, over oatmeal or worry, in this house we share.

It’s still early but now everyone is gone. The boys are at work, Kat’s at yoga, it’s grey outside. I’m alternating between reading and writing, with books balanced against my bare thigh, laying with knees bent higher than the rest of my body, on the couch. Outside the air is clean like linen, and damp. It’s spring now, but snow still piles in some corners. The window is open behind me. I stretch my right arm back to feel the chill closer.

Later I too will go to work, write more and what was that last thing? Now I forget. I’m so lazy-minded. Mentally lithe. Willowy. My knees drop to one side. A spinal twist. Also feel like eating pancakes made out of something heartier than white flour. Grains of some kind.

It’s a good thing I slept home last night because the boys teased me for my sleep outfit, which made me laugh genuinely, the kind I haven’t lately, when I haven’t been at home. The outfit included a shirt of a metal band I do not listen to and shorts that say RBC, a high school I did not attend. I bought the shorts at a flea market last week for a dollar and the shirt, oddly enough, was a gift from my mother.

The irony of it all has me smiling. We shook the melancholy out of an ordinary morning.

dan

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I Don’t Have All The Answers

 

It’s been a while. Stretching my limbs. Shaking out webs.

 

With your eye pushed against my breast bone
Am I cold like an apartment door?

One-way peephole, insides filtered fisheye
To rhythm my heart swells open and wide.

Knock softly, there may be a feeling
Just past the welcome mat, dormant inside.

Your vision, is it near sighted?
or far out- traffic lights or fields that roll?

Can you sense how far my arteries reach,
until this flower blooms? Can you see until spring?

Am I warm like a creature just born?
Opening wide, realizing time, tuning in to the touch…

A blank eye hangs loose on a string.
I curl like a doorknob as you peer in.

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Dátiles

We are camping Playa los Dátiles.

Dátiles is a small rocky beach where locals and ex-pats set up residencies. There are tents large enough for a family, picnic tables, clothes lines, and countertops with sinks just feet from the shore line.  A community on the sea. An open-air neighborhood.

In our few weekends here Wynn and I met friendly ex-pats who live on Dátiles. These searchers and seekers, friendly and open, wake up in a tent on the beach each morning when it’s just too cold to do graphic design or construction in Wisconsin or Minnesota.

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Wynn strings my hammock between two trees, knotting the ropes tight. I do not tell her that this my first time camping anywhere that isn’t a backyard in Wall Township, ten feet from a house. Tonight I will be sleeping in a hammock on a beach, without a tent, just my backpack on the earth beneath me. Wynn will be in her hammock a few feet away, between two other palms.

Even though Culebra has nearly no crime, and I do not have much cash, I tuck my wallet into my yoga pants, resting on my hipbone. I put my phone on my other hip, wrap my sheet around me and settle into my hammock, under woven tree branches, bright stars and a full moon.

The official campsite for visitors is Flamenco, one of New York Time’s 6 Carribean Beaches to See Before You Die. We spend our days on Flamenco. Flamenco is farther away from town and Dátiles is where the locals camp, so it’s safer than touristy Flamenco, probably.

We packed trail mix, apples, an avocado, sandwiches, and beer in our backpacks to sustain us for the weekend, and hammocks to sleep in. Ladies on an island on a budget. I brought Dharma Bums, feeling that Keroac would be an appropriate read. Eventually I put the paperback beneath my head as a pillow, and close my eyes in search of sleep.  I think of the most comfortable place I’ve ever slept… my bed in college. Topped with memory foam and covered in duvets, that bed was a cloud.

I always keep a poem taped to the wall next to my bed.

For a few years it was “Bridge, Moon, Professor, Shoes” by Dorothea Tanning…

“Slept dreams, they say, take just a few seconds
no matter how long they are. Or how far

I walked on that bridge of spider silk
with the moon beside me like a friend.

Her light trapped us in a radiance of bliss so
pure, hours weren’t hours, or minutes minutes

as we passed my old lecture hall, its professor
stopping in the middle of his question: “Can

someone here tell me — ?” to stare at us as we
floated along, my insouciance blurring a little

with a sense of guilt. Had I a right to this?
Could such joy be mine for free? If I had

a purpose — say, shoes. Find shoes. On earth
we don’t walk on air — not like this windless

void riding underfoot, its force backing me
into the immensities, their black nowhere.

Such bouncing’s tiresome. Where’s the bliss?
The moon reaches for my arm. I jerk away.

What a pie-face she is in her chalky pallor.
Why did that professor turn his back on me?

Oh, if I find shoes (size seven) they won’t be
on too soon to get me home, home    home.”

I read these lines each night before sleeping, and watched others follow the lines with their eyes and wondered what they thought. There is a certain mystique I admire about this poem, an essence I thought would energize my space well.

My reminiscence is interrupted when a stooped man holding a Medalla staggers up to me and slurs something in Spanish. Frozen I respond “I don’t know.” He walks away. I tuck my sheet beneath both sides of my body, all the way down my legs, and reach for my flash light, to shine at Wynn. She is a shadow sitting up in her hammock. “We’re okay!” She laughs, I laugh. We’re fine. I close my eyes again. A few tents down, one of our new friends explains to the stooped man that we’re alright, we’re friends of theirs. The man’s name is Chico. He lives here.

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I don’t sleep well in my hammock, but better than expected. At some point it begins to rain. In my mental mist between sleeping and waking, I calmly recognize that my only shelter is my sheet. I listen to the pattering drops, feel them settling through my sheet, through my sweatshirt, chilling my body. I pull the sheet taut, too tired to think about it. The pattering slows to a stop, and the rest of the night is dry.

I dream of sleeping through the sunrise.

The sky becomes light in an instant, as if the sun rising was the flipping of a page in a children’s book, illustrated. I wake up. My dying iPhone reads that it is too early.

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The sky is mauve. I step out of my hammock and into flip flops, feeling the residue of bug spray and sweat and salty dew that coats my skin. I walk a few steps to the shore line and lean back on a sea washed rock to watch the real and gradual sunrise.

Some time later I wake up Wynn so she can wake up Doug so he can drive us, in his golf cart, the short ride into town for coffee.IMG_1684

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Rooms To Live In

Weeks before moving out of my apartment in New Brunswick, my cousin suggested that I take a few photos. At the time, it seemed unlikely I would ever forget what it looked like. I took a few iPhone pictures anyway.

While studying in Spain for a semester, I lived in a student residence called Melon District. It was newly built and towering, with a lobby and scan cards rather than keys. A friend’s Spanish boyfriend described Melon as a fortress to protect all the American girls in Barcelona from Spanish men.

Before arriving, I imagined my Spanish dwelling a much different way.

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Dreamy street in Barcelona

I anticipated an apartment situated in the gorgeous decay of European city architecture, where hot water may be scarce but the terrace is romantic enough not to care.

Instead, home was a stark white room with fluorescent lights, and a window that only opened from the top.

It was my own single with a full sized bed, a desk, and a closet. For the first time in my life, I had a private bathroom all to myself. Naturally, I kept glasses and teacups of red wine in the sink.

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I never brought anyone into that room. My friends lived in adjacent identical rooms, or a few floors up and down. Almost nightly, we gathered in the common kitchen down the hall, on the rooftop terrace to watch the sun set behind Mt. Tibidabo, or out in the city. Then we all went back to our separate rooms, to shower, rest, and maybe Skype.

Alone, I ate an orange every morning before walking to class, building a pile of peels that covered the desk. A cleaning lady came on Fridays. She threw away the peels and lined my shoes along the wall.


Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 10.23.02 AMProof that I inhabited this room. Must have been a Thursday.

For four months that room was my own in an unfamiliar city.

But it was not a home, a place where living happens. I lived in Park Cituadella, at the Arc de Triomf,  at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, in cafes, on labyrinth streets, in the Areobus, on the Metro. I lived in the hostel in Amsterdam, my friend’s apartment in Lisbon, and the apartment my family rented in Born the week they visited.

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Arc

Unlike every other place I’ve called home, I barely remember how it felt to be there, in my Melon District room. Its essence lies just out of reach. Could that be blamed on an uninviting aesthetic, or the brevity of my stay, or the fact that I never shared the space with anyone?

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Stairs to my family’s apartment in Born

My other apartments are like frames of experience. Those homes have been cradles of conversation, growth, and change. Vessels that carried and contributed to lives.

My freshman dorm, where I covered the chilly cinder block wall with photos. My first kitchen at Rutgers the year I didn’t eat meat. The charming place on Central Street with a horrible landlord and a beautiful fireplace. The apartment on Easton Avenue, where from my window I watched the pulse of Hub City.

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And then there’s my room in Barcelona, white like a ghost. A shelter without sentiment, but scented by oranges.

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How To Spend The Morning Applying for Jobs

First, start up the laptop and place it on two pillows. Sit cross legged at the base of your bed facing the window. This is your make-shift corner office desk with a view.

Open Internet Explorer to greet the same window you’ve had up all week, with 10 tabs of job listings you’re interested in and half-completed applications.  Close a few tabs out. Keep the Conde Nast Traveler slideshow of Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities in the U.S. open. Remember what you really want to do this fall.

Poke around job boards for publications hiring writers and interns. Hope to find a few relevant to your interests and attainable considering your status as a recent graduate. You do not have a single year of experience. At least you think you don’t.

Assistant Editor of New Digital Magazine with a Focus on Yoga. Established Author Seeks Social Media Intern. Flight attendant with Delta: Paid Training. Save, save, save.

Make a playlist on Spotify to optimize creativity. Today feels like Cat Power and Feist.

To the tune of “My Moon My Man,” saunter around your bedroom on your tiptoes. Lift alternate shoulders on each beat. Pace the room and using your toes like a claw, pick up socks from the floor. Place them in the laundry shoot.

Study your face too closely in the mirror, notice residue of yesterday’s eye makeup beneath your bottom lashes. Walk across the hall to the bathroom. Wash it off. Splash water on your face and watch droplets running slowly down the drain, through blurred vision.

In an overindulgent, melodramatic moment, see yourself as one of those droplets, weak and powerless, slowly drowning out of sight, never to be heard from again. Then say out loud “You’re ridiculous.” Your post-college existential crisis is becoming too cliché even for you. Return to the bedroom. In the mirror again, pout your lips and raise your eyebrows. Wink at yourself and smile.

Lift up your shirt. Check out how flat your abs are in loose pajama pants. Then consider working out instead of applying for jobs.

Make coffee in your Rutgers mug for good luck and pour a glass of ice water.

Read the application requirements for that MFA program one more time. Reread that article by Anne LaMott you like. Feel good about never bothering to watch the evening news. Wonder why the majority of jobs you look at sound a lot like journalism. Minor panic sets in.

Check e-mail… nothing there. Next to your computer is the bright green cover of Sister Outsider. Skim “Uses of the Erotic,” again. Remember what that professor told you about searching.

Notice the August sun and decide to go outside. Sit under the tree with your dog for a bit. Text a friend to ask how they’re doing. When you realize an hour and a half has passed, feel like you might explode.

Count down the hours until your shift at the restaurant starts, exactly two. Count the money you made working a double shift yesterday, feel a little relieved.

Consider picking up a green juice at the vegan cafe. You have not been taking good care of yourself lately.

Look out the window and hear a sentence, a line, a word come to you like breath. Write it down and find yourself here.

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