She sat by herself at the familiar coffee shop downtown, gazing out the window, sipping an iced caramel latte. Her favorite part was the drizzle of caramel that swirled over the top. The sun occasionally peaked through the clouds and made it’s way to her tattooed skin. Her dark, wavy hair, with tints of red, glistened in the light. She had an array of sticker-filled Apple products she couldn’t really afford spilled out on the table in front of her and a to-do list a mile long; but she couldn’t steal her gaze from the world outside. Nothing in particularly interesting was happening, but she found herself wondering about the passerby. Where were they going? Were they happy? Do you think they struggle with mental illness too? Are they stressed, worried, or anxious? Are they in love? Are they a genuine, kind person? A young lady passing by with a well-loved and curious mutt made her shyly smile. She sighed, thought of all the things that needed to be done, and checked her phone to see how much of the day had escaped her. 3:26pm. A text on the screen read, “I love you and hope you’re having a good day. What are you doing?” She was doing a million things and also nothing. She was restless and wanted to go. She didn’t know where she was going, but she was bound and determined to get there.
Sometime before she fully reached adulthood, she traded in her Dr. Pepper for a whiskey and Coke and sweet tea for a shot of whatever was being offered. She was lost in a whirlwind of emotions and the alcohol made her feel numb- a pleasant state of laughter and what she thought was happiness. The happiness later turned into numerous one night stands (well, sometimes she would go back to the same person), drunk driving, and breakdowns in bathrooms where she vomited and cried by the bathtub of a stranger. None of her questions about life were answered the way she wanted, so she drank more and more until she eventually did not know who she was. She went through the motions, either drunk, hungover, or trying to get through work until she could start the cycle all over again. The panic attacks were getting worse and more frequent, and she could say the same about her depression. The alcohol numbed these and the numerous boys made her feel wanted and beautiful. She felt whole. The problem was that when she woke at 4:36am, she was naked, dehydrated, had a migraine, and was next to someone that did not care about her deeper than what he saw- anxiety and negative emotions flooded her as she gathered her things, got in her car still a little drunk, and drove away.
Some days, like today, I feel like the world is caving in around me. All of my progress seems to run away and I’m left empty and tired. Sleeping never helps, although it can be a good escape. It’s a good escape if my dreams stray from turning into nightmares that wake me in a cold, abrupt, sweat. Tears wash my mascara onto my acne-prone cheeks as I sit, in the fetal position, in my bathroom floor. I don’t know why, but that’s always seemed like the best place to cry, especially on a pile of dirty towels I’ve let accumulate over the week. Sometimes, I can hear his voice in my head so perfectly that it’s like he’s whispering in my ear; some days, like today, I have to strain to hear, “I love you too, sweetheart.” That’s my only comfort.. that, and remembering his smile. Some days, like today, I feel like he should still be here; I yearn to put my head on his left shoulder and smell his comforting and familiar scent. He’d wrap his arms around me and I’d tell him how much I love him; he’d tell me the same in return. I’d give anything for one more hug, although I know one more would never be enough. Some days, unlike today, I feel like he’s been gone an eternity. Those days are a little easier, though not much. Even on those days, it’s usually easy to hear his voice in my head. Today, I’m sad, empty, broken, and lost. Tomorrow, who knows. I’ll end my day missing you, only to wake up the same; maybe tomorrow will be an easier kind of pain.
I look for you in everyone I meet. I search for pieces of you every place I go. You are a puzzle that has been undone, spending your life scattered across numerous floors. Certain pieces of you hold the beauty of a thousand suns, while others are nothing but a beige blur. I am unable to find the parts of you that I seek the most; maybe the wind knows, and blows you away from me. I spend my life searching for you; you are always just out of my reach. I look for you in every corner, as I stumble to my knees. I spend my whole life searching only to end up empty.
The sun was shining, so she closed her blinds as she swept her bangs from over her eyes; the brightness and glow was too much for her damaged soul to bear. An old and tattered floral chair, like the ones you see abandoned beside dumpsters, called itself home in the dimly lit corner of her room; she saw much beauty and history in things others only wanted out of their way. She also possessed a beauty that was often overlooked. By the chair sat a small table passed down from generations of people she would never know; old, dirty, and abused, the table beautifully held a caramel latte and an antique sea-foam green book. She adored things that others didn’t. In her over-sized sweater, her nervous hands picked at the threads as she imagined the outside world. Bright and happy, she thought, they just won’t understand; as always, she smiled shyly to herself, swept her silky hair behind her ear, and made that old chair home. Quietly sipping her coffee and taking in the dusty smell of her favorite book, she knew that things aren’t so bad after all.
“Smile. You’re so much prettier when you smile.” Her hair as dark as the devil’s soul and her sad, blue, eyes as bright and watery as a shallow lagoon. She was always rather content in her misery, seeing as it’s all she has ever known. “Why do you always look so sad?” they would ask. She didn’t know. A pure smile or a spontaneous laugh felt like sunshine to her soul, but most days, the weather was dreary. She looked forward to a beautiful sunrise, but was comforted by the sound of rain pecking on the window. Happiness always felt too expensive a thing to have; the lucky, usually thoughtless, ones were rich enough for such a pleasure, but not her. She wasn’t poor by any means, just rich in unconventional ways; her complex mind experienced this cruel world much deeper than most would consider normal. Everything means something, always. A glance over one’s shoulder, a deep sigh in a quiet room, reading a magazine backwards, or even a prolonged smile to another-means something, so very intimate and important, to everyone around. Simply put, life is all that we do intertwined into a single essence. Her mind was a whirlwind of thoughts and emotions as her eyes began to close. “Blue..” she thought, “Why is it so bad to be blue? Such a vast and beautiful color seems like an extravagant thing to be.”
One windy afternoon, as the clouds were swirling above, you walked by; my eyes caught a glimpse of your red sweater just before they caught a glimpse of your soul. Looking ahead, carelessly checking your phone, I wasn’t a part of your reality. I, a stranger, just a blur on the street corner, no different than anyone else around us. To me, in that moment, time stood still; the way your cheeks scrunched up when you smiled at your phone, the way you brushed your hand through your golden hair, and how each step you made seemed so flawlessly planned out. I found myself longing to know you, all while you lived unknowing of my existence. Weeks later, drinking a coffee, I found myself thinking of you, wondering of your well-being, hoping that one day we would cross paths again. Until that fortunate day, I will quietly smile as I think of you, a beautiful stranger with an electric soul. Sadly, I am no where in your mind, let alone your heart. In your life, my love that I would so gladly share with you, doesn’t exist.