30 October 2010

Someone Punch Me In The Subconscious

One year ago. One year ago, I was in Cusco. I won't go any further into depth because today I am fragile. One year and one month ago, I was the happiest I had ever been. Even now, I count those days as some of the most wonderful I've ever had. The whole world lit up around me. And it was beautiful. My heart was full and I was alive. There was nothing I could not do, could not face. I was wild, untamable, free. And yet, I belonged. Oh! what a marvelous feeling!

Everything I once held dear, I count it all as lost.

I like old things. Clothing, furniture, photographs. I like their history. For the same reason, I like people. Because we have history. I want to know, I want to understand. I have childlike wonder and curiosity. There is so much to know about this world! Old cameras, record players, typewriters, vintage posters, and black and white films. I love things that are made by hand, from scratch. I like to cook that way. I think that makes it better, gives it more of a history. Writing letters is one of my favorite past times, you know, with a pen and paper? I want the whole world to have that grainy vintage look from home videos in the 1970's. I want to feel that at home.

But what can I tell you?

I'm falling out of love on my own. It hurts and I wonder if this is all worth the while. Someone punch me in the subconscious. Every time I think I am making headway, I realize I've actually taken a step backwards. I want to be done with this, I want to be new and open to love again. But, I realize, I'm terrified. I use my ability to use awkwardness for humor as a shield against anything that even resembles more than friendship. I am shut off to the part of me I cherish the most. I love people unconditionally, but I can't seem to let them love me. I keep refusing that part of the equation and that isn't what I want. Isn't who I want to be. I'm afraid. I am afraid of falling in love alone again and, worse still, having to fall out of love on my own as well. A place where there is no closure, just you pulling a heavy door shut slowly despite your desperate urge to check if there is anyone on the other side every two minutes.

Please remember.

It's worth it, you know. I am scared, I am so terrified of being hung out to dry that I am possibly ten fold more awkward than normal [an impressive feat, I assure you]. But then I close my eyes and take a deep breath, asking myself if "playing it safe" ever got anyone anywhere. And demanding to whether or not I think I will somehow benefit from not experiencing the most wonderful thing there is, simply because of some fear? Sure, I'll never have a broken heart ever again. But I will also never be back at that place I was one year ago, never pass that place. I am afraid. But that is no excuse. I am slowly opening myself back up to the possibility that love is meant to abound within all that I am. It is ridiculously painful and utterly terrifying - and I am doing it anyway. Because even the smallest sliver of hope that says I might fall in love and be loved once again is worth it.

Here's lookin' at you, Kid.

I am commandeering. That is my heart and I'll take it back, thank you. I'm almost there. I believe in love and all it's possibilities. And I refuse to let something as simple as fear take that away from me. Here's hoping.

To all those who have forgotten to believe in the immensity of love.

28 October 2010

Now, You Must Understand

you must understand
i'm a creature of spontaneity
- once again -
my priorities shift to the left
have you ever been in love
ever feel that rush
it makes you hurt in places you didn't know felt
gives you joy in ways you never fathomed
oh! what lunacy!
oh! what wonderment!
oh! have you ever been in love
i have
and baby i'll break before i let it go
don't flatter yourself, gentlemen
i'm not talking about you
i know what i want
i just came here to take it
this might make me or break me
but i'll never know
if i don't give it my all
found : heart
best believe i'm keeping it this time
burst into bloom
i hope you're paying attention
i've given you everything you need
now what could create such a violent change
what does love have to offer me
that stability doesn't
i'll tell you
there's another world i long for
a world where there is always sand in your hair
where swimwear qualifies as undergarments
where surfboards are the prefered method of transportation
where you can taste the air
the ocean is warm
and the sunshine in never ceasing
where there are only rainbow worthy storms
where i have freckles year round
where there are cliffs you can jump off of everyday
and flowers with no english name
where the palm trees are inconvenient
where green and blue dominate the color palatte
where dance is speech
where tattoos are common bread
where there are no worries about what might have been
where i am meant to be
my name is malialani
and this is where i belong
it dances on the tip of my tongue
i live this life like i get paid to
not stopping for anything
read me and weep
baby this is it

26 October 2010

I'm Over Getting Older

Wednesday morning, three weeks ago: I wake up to the phone ringing - I hate that. Who calls the house phone at 6am? Really? I put it out of my mind and let my mind wander back to my dreams. It's 7:20 and the home phone is ringing, again. I can hear the shower running. There is no one else to answer the phone. This better be life or death because I am about to verbally break someone over the phone, I do not appreciate home phone wake up calls. My father tells me he bought a plane ticket. Gee, thats quaint - wtf for?! He then realizes who he is talking to. He tells me my younger brother is in the hospital, he's on the next flight to Chicago. I am dumbfounded. This is one of the few instances in my life where I am rendered speechless. My sarcastic wit and sharp tongue are stripped of their super powers and I am starring at our white cordless like it has leperosy. I'm sorry, what just happened? There are people running around me at a pace I can't understand because I can't seem to move. I wonder vaguely if they are speaking the same language as me, perhaps I should slip into a different one. My mother doesn't do crisis. She survives it well enough, but she doesn't live in it well. I take control of the situation. I think this is how cruise directors feel. I can't feel anything. Everyone is offering me food and I kind of want to hit them. Nothing is happening. With the major exception that my brother is coding somewhere 4 hours by fricken jet engine. I bury my heart beneath about three layers of old fashioned malia.

[Sidenote: In case you don't know, if you were to rewind the VHS that is my life to even a year ago - you would encounter a young woman who lived purely off adrenaline somewhere between joy and anger. During those years, I lived constantly under around ten layers of old fashioned malia. Now, to bury oneself under ever one level of old fashioned malia is to secure your well being from all forms of basic humiliation and human cruelty, from there it only increases exponentially. Two layers of old fashioned malia will protect you from most military weaponry, while three will protect you entirely from direct nuclear contact. With four levels you could very comfortably inhabit extreme climates, such as those Venus offers, and by the time you've hit five, you make Super Man look eggshell breakable. Any more than that? I'll leave you to the imagining.]

My brain whispers quietly, "This is the fallout. Prepare for the worst." By the time the dust settles, I am doing what I do best. Living under constant fire. I was built for extremes. Put me in an overstressful environment and I will thrive. My calm will shock and amaze the most qualified marine. I am never clearer than when the whole world has gone to hell. I am truly under the belief that when I am in crisis-mode, there is nothing I can't handle, so perhaps it is only my ego that is infallible. But, of course, all things come with a price. I am running at full sped keeping the rest of the world informed as to the nuclear fallout my family is experiencing and attempting to maintain normalcy. I don't even notice that layers of old fashioned malia are creeping in to tuck me goodnight, wraping me in the comfortable warmth and numbness they provide. We hit four layers - five. Then Friday, the second bombshell. My grandmother, my fathers mother, died. Ironically, about the same time my brother regained minor consciousness. Miracle? Sure, why not. I prefer the term "bitchslap" - but to each their own, right?

It's Friday one week later and I can taste the air. There is limitless sunshine and rainstorms that are the equivalent of luke warm showers. The colour palatte is blue and green with red dirt and coral sand. Those are the only colours I even bother to absorb. English is broken and no one will ever bother to fix it. I have freckles and my heart beat is in time with the tide. I can't sleep. I haven't slept in two and a half weeks. I close my eyes and lose track of the time, but it's not the same thing. My brother is headed back to Seattle with "extensive recovery" waiting for him. My grandmother is a pile of ashes that no one will make a decision about. I feel exactly two things: Joy and Anger. Laughter can pull me from my negativity, but it seems to be the only thing. I'm not sad, I'm not upset, I'm not broken, I'm just pissed off. The crisis stage is over and now the healing begins - or whatever. That just pisses me off even more. Why yes, there is something wrong with me. I have my grandmother's ashes and an attitude problem, swell.

I'd like to apologize in advance for my behaviour because I can go ahead and predict it. My sarcasm has returned with a vengence and my music selection says all you really need to know about me. I keep laughing out loud at myself and glaring at people who dont understand my dark humour. I don't think I've taken my headphones off for more than 45 minutes consecutively. I've done nothing all day. Nothing. My brain feels like it might explode at any moment and the weather is making me nauseous. What's worse? Is I can't even think of anything to do. I'm broke and can't seem to find a job to hang myself with, living at home which is okay but not okay [everyone over the age of 18 should know what I mean by this], and I have no friends. Now, I don't mean I'm friendless What I mean is there aren't people in this Suburban Hell to hangout with. No one to grab a beer, rent movies and throw popcorn at the television, go for hikes, or even just sit around and bs with. Maple Valley is the black hole of the Milky Way, people get sucked in and end up in an alternate universe - if they aren't destroyed completely.

[Second Sidenote: When people experience some kind of crisis? Don't offer them food. Odds are, they aren't hungry and are completely numb to everything that is going on around them. Plus, they don't need a refridgerator full of nonsense they won't eat until it goes bad and they have to throw it out and then try and remember to whom each set of tupperware goes! And then they have to remember to get it back to you! Offer them cash, to buy gasoline and their own damn groceries, or your company. That's what people in crisis really need. Everyone backs off so that people can have "space" and whatnot and leave those going through stuff alone to ponder their thoughts - jinkies, swell thought process. If they want you out of their house, they'll kick you out. Until that point, pester them.]

Nothing personal.

I can't check my email, it pisses me off. Why, you ask? I have no idea. It just does. So does facebook but that is attached directly to my ridiculous cell phone with it's genocide condoning technology - so I can't help but check it redundantly. There were women in the bathroom of the Maui airport discussing how men are pigs - these women happened to be wearing short shorts and shirts that cut so low, I'm pretty sure were meant to be lingerie. I had to laugh at them. Ladies, you don't deserve respect - you demand it. If you play into what a guy wants from you, you are going to be treated poorly. Demand respect and you'll get it, or he'll leave. It's that simple. Yes, men are pigs, but who are you to throw stones dressed like that? You all piss me off too.

While I'm laying the frosting on thick, why is it that there are Help Wanted signs all over Hawaii - aka paradise - and I can't find a mothertrucking job in the center of rainy version of the artic circle?! Seriously, someone buy me a plane ticket. I'll spend the rest of my life as a surf rat sleeping under palm trees on the beach and stealing pineapple, bananas, and mango off the plantations. Ha. Gracious, I'm funny. Better yet, anyone want to invest in purchasing Malia a sail boat? I'd have time, so I promise to actually write the book I've been teasing you all with and split the profit. Or maybe I should just start now, seeing as I have no life, and finance myself. Not that the book would have a plot - but, of course, neither does Tucker Max's and that fool made money off exploiting his own life as the pop culture equivalent of a man whore. Would publicizing my own life be as profitable? Hard to say...

Well now! I'm thrilled to say that this short episode of Malia ranting, brought to you by the accumulation of bull shit going on in my life currently, has short circuted my lifeless anger issues. That is exciting. Let's hope it lasts, shall we?

18 October 2010


and in this light i can see straight through
to the very center of who you are
there is no make up made to cover
what you wish it would
instead of trying to blurr your transparency
why not just make the inside
brighter than the out
so that people don't have to look,
you'll already be shining on through!
you are beautiful just the way you are
there could never be a more beautiful you.

It's early morning and I'm standing on the edge of this life. I'm looking down on the rest of the world from my cloud edge and what I miss most is companionship. The world twinkles from this high. And I see people pass one another by, not even touching. Each with their own agenda. Some are sleeping, others schooling, working, struggling to survive. Many are suffering, in one form or another. There are those in third world countries without homes or food. Some in Western society are broken and tormented. Others are starved for affection or attention. It breaks my heart in each way that I see an individual suffering and billions of little cracks spiderweb across my human heart. A single tear leaves my cheek to drop to the earth below. And where it hits the paved ground, a small bud bursts forth between the cracks of the busy sidewalk. The passerby's eye it cautiously, why is it there in the cement where it doesn't belong? A curious little plant. A second tear leaves from my lips and falls to the asphalt of some parking lot. A third tear falls to the sun baked earth and another onto the ice, a few fall into forests and some onto sand dunes. And where each tear fell there emerged a small bud. People around the world begin to crowd the strange little plants as they grow before their very eyes. Blossoming into tall thick trees that continue up into the sky to a point people can no longer see. Some ignore the plants, avoiding them at all costs and shaming those who do address their existence. Others try to tear the trees from the ground, they are inconvenient and don't belong. Most smile gently as they pass the trees to continue on with their lives. A few begin to care for the trees, watering them and placing fresh earth around the roots. Those people become a part of something bigger than themselves. Their suffering lessens as they grow in community and are there for one another in times of hardship. I lie down on my cloud and peer over the edge, watching my tears grow into beautiful beings all the way back up to where I am. I play in the branches and stroke the waxy leaves against my cheeks, happy that suffering can bring such wonderful joy. And as I peer down through the leaves, I can only hope that someone finds a branch with sure footing and then another and another, all the way up to where I am at the edge of this life. So that they might sit on the edges of clouds and play in the branches of joy with me. So many have started the climb only to turn around before ever making it to the top. I have a sad sort of wonder at them and my hope becomes a little smaller each time they decide to turn around. Yet, another day is setting and so I must find a cloud to tuck myself into, where I will wait for early morning to stand on the edge of this life. I build a small fire with the little hope I have left and dream sweet dreams of a day when someone will find their way up through the branches to where I am and my hope renews, growing into the grand thing it was before the day. It is early morning and I am standing on the edge of this life.

"It's like a revolution and I just want to be a part of it."

The world is changing. My world is changing. There aren't enough Thursdays in a week, that's a fact, pure and simple. I wish I could lead worship for Jr High Retreats all year round. I don't know what I'm doing here, all I know is that there is a revolution happening and I just want to be a part of it. I want to live in the right here for the rest of my life. Where there are amazing things happening each moment and change is catching like fire. This is how life was meant to be lived. This is where the front line is, and I want to be on it. I can't wait for someone else, it needs to be me. I can't wait for when they get around to it, it needs to be now. Autumn is here. Crisp cold air and I'm watching the leaves change from where I stand. Let's change the world by Christmas. Let's be a part of something so big that it blankets the rest of the world in awe. We are called to this. To create real and good change. I believe the best of other people, I think it is one of my key strengths - and flaws. And I believe we can change the world for the better.

I've had a couple people ask if I'm going to write about my week and a half of radio silence, about my brother. The answer is no. One of the privledges of hearing other peoples stories is hearing them from the person who experienced it all. The other is trust. So if you'd like to hear my brother's story, you are welcome to ask. But it is his story to tell. Perhaps if he someday asks me to write on the ordeal, I will consider it. Until then, consider yourself out of luck.

Here's lookin' at you, kids.

14 October 2010

One Thousand Miles

This is difficult for me to publish. Partially because the person that these letters were meant for will never read them, partially because it is humiliating to have them read by people who they were not meant for, but mostly because it forces me to admit that my love story does not end with happily ever after. I feel that posting this blog, or novel rather, brings this portion of my life to a close and that is hard for me. But I have the utmost faith that I will continue to live a life full of adventure, story, and most of all - love.

You always loved Casablanca and perhaps that is the way you fashioned us to be in your mind. I know it is the way I see us now. Here's lookin' at you, kid.

Backdate: Written between November 2009 and June 2010

Dearling, There is a book I love written by Sheldon Vanauken called A Severe Mercy. It is about his relationship to his wife and the great love they shared. As their relationship grows they identify the key destroyer of love as self. This leads them to share everything with one another so that neither is left out of an experience that the other has had. They listen to music and read childhood books, visit places from their youth and describe their past experiences in great detail so they might share everything, even their memories.
Somehow, in all our time, in all our adventures, in all our moments, you became the person I want to tell things. The person I think of when something makes me laugh. The person that comes to mind when something important happens. The person I want to share everything I have with. Good or bad, for better or for worse - you’re that person. I’m not big on possessions, but you know that. I have a few old notes, a few old sketches, a few old belongings. But really? Everything important I have is a memory. And I want to share everything I have with you. So, I am writing, sharing myself with you. Whether letters, memories, music, or books. Here are my memories, my secrets, my thoughts held secret and close to my heart. Some of them are nonsense. Others are the definitive moments of my life. But all are a part of who I was. Who I am. Who I am meant to become. So here it is. Everything I have.
And now it is all Yours,

My parents are both educators which meant I never went without as a child, but we never had much money either. They made up for the lack of material things by giving me a much better gift; imagination. They would read to me from before I was born and I grew up seeing the world around me much more interesting than I am sure it was. I played in empty lots that were still woods, except they weren't just woods. They were the Amazon Rainforest with colorful butterflies darting about and a pink poisonous dart frog sitting at the edge of a small rain water pond and there were beautiful bromilliads and quetzals up in the canopy! I just couldn't ever seem to climb very high on the trees that had them. Other days I would be in the lush of India, keeping a lookout for panthers and tigers while playing with baby elephants. By the time I was 6 my favorite animal was a pangolin, an animal that many adults don't know of, and I was an Arabian princess who lived in a white palace with slanted ceilings. I moved my bed right next to the walls so I could walk my feet up those slanted ceilings and cling like a sloth while eating an apple I stole from the bottom drawers of the refridgerator. The shower was el niƱo in Costa Rica and the bathtub was the canals of Venice. I liked when we didn't mow the lawn for a long time and the grass got long enough for me to press myself into and hunt antelope in the Sarangetti. I always saw myself as a princess, but never helpless or in distress and certainly never waited upon. I fashioned myself as Belle or Jasmine, fiery. Someone who doesn't need to be rescued, only loved. I couldn't comprehend needing anyone to save me, I was far too busy roaming the fields of Ireland or treking through the Himalayas. I was so attracted to the harsh fragility of it all. No running water, no electricity, no metal buildings, all of that was very attractive to me as a child. I wanted to get lost in the wild, to melt into it. I wanted to be wild too.

It's Wednesday December 16th 2009 5:40PM-ish on a chilly winter evening outside of Penn Station New York City, NY in front of Madison Square Garden on 7th Avenue. Specific enough memory? I'm bundled up in my blue wool winter coat, hand knitted scarf, and True Religion tuc kissing a tall, lanky, unshaven Australian young man with messy hair and sun kissed skin wrapped in his burnt orange goose down winter jacket and Peruvian alpaca tuc. That man? That man is you. I run my fingers through your hair and smile my sweetest smile but you still ask if I'm sad. I tell you “Of course,” but I'm still smiling, I have learned that this life is made up of moments and you really can't waste them on tears. I say "Ciao" one last time before turning around to walk up the steps when I hear you call "Hey!" I turn slowly. The truth is that I could melt into those caramel colored eyes of yours. All you'd have to do is ask and I'd follow you across continents. You raise a hand in a short wave as you pick up your last bag and smile at me, "Ciao,” you say. I run back to give you one last kiss and whisper, "Here's looking at you, kid." You nod and I leave you to walk down the steps and catch a train to JFK where some kind of Boeing aircraft, I'm sure, will take you far from me. To London streets. Not that you were mine to begin with. I tell myself not to turn around or watch you go. As strong and secure as I am, I have my fragile moments too. The truth is, I’m in love with you. It was all too easy to fall for you. I think it was that first night. There was just something about you that captured my heart. And I fell. And as you are not mine to fall for and it is very possible you never will be, turning around to watch you go is not the most conducive thing to do. Oh, why do you have to be so perfect? I can hear you laugh and claim anything but perfection while shaking your head at me and smiling, but I know it to be true. We have everything in common, share opinions and ideas about the world, you’re handsome, adventurous and silly - I couldn’t invent a more perfect man for me. In all honesty, I already know that we are meant for one another, we’ve proven that much. The question just remains whether we are meant to be with one another.

Sunday December 20th 2009 in Bethesda Maryland United States of America. I'm typing away in the lower level of my Great Aunt and Great Uncle's house, I'm living here temporarily. Most places I live are temporary though. There is about 2 1/2 feet of snow on the ground, but apparently that's not normal; my Aunt says it's because I'm here. I hope to be like her when I am her age, still so vibrant and full of life. She looks at the world like a little kid looks at the presents under the tree on Christmas Day, full of expectation and excitement. We tromped through the snow together and made snow angels. She lives in the same way I hope to still be living later in life; with everything still fresh and new even when it's not and something new around every corner! Never really knowing how things will end up. Just being in this house brings me a new sort of joy. I can see how much two people truly love each other, even after years of the same routine and lifestyle. They tease one another about silly things and already know what the other will have to say about something, but that makes it more exciting for them, not less. I hope to love someone even half as much as they love one another, I can see it in the way they move, touch, smile, and look at each other. Just as in love as the day they met. She is a fiery soul always looking on the bright side of things and enjoying life like a child while he is a grumpy, sarcastic, old man with a light and happy soul, there couldn't be two people less alike and yet they love one another with all that they are, from the center of their beings. It's heartwarming and sincere. Every breath, every step, every moment they share is a beautiful thing to witness. There just aren't people who love like that anymore, everything is a game or a test, everyone has alternative motives and are out for themselves and no one else. Our generation has lost so much with it's one night stands and no string flings, real love so rarely exists and is so often passed up for self indulgence. Living in the moment doesn't mean only living on momentary satisfaction and instant gratification, it means enjoying every moment and taking every opportunity and a lot of the time that will mean not getting instant gratification or any gratification at all. It will mean waiting and taking the time to enjoy the wait, or smiling in the most hopeless of situations, or carrying on when it's obvious the sky really is falling in chunks onto your head. Living the moment is not worrying about tomorrow, but never regretting yesterday either.

Saturday the 21st of April 2007 I am making my way quietly through the house up to my room. It's 1:00AM by this point, so I suppose it's actually the 22nd of April. I want nothing more than to disappear into the shadows of the hallway and never reappear. Dressed in scarlet red heels and a black halter top dress that hits me just above the knees, I look like the princess I grew up being called. As I lock my bedroom door, I slide to the floor pulling off the sash from around my waist and the glittering crown from my head. Tears hit the carpet almost before I do and I throw both worthless items at the wall. Prom Queen - this is supposed to be the best night of my life? My heart is tearing itself out of my chest and I strip as quickly as possible, needing to get those clothes, that life off of me. I kick my shoes off and make my way to my bathroom. I'm a senior in High School, about to graduate with near double the number of credits needed, on Leadership and Link Crew, Student Council member and President of the Drama Club, a lead in the Spring Musical, barely 18 years old, very recently crowned Prom Queen, and suicidal. I wash a few Excedrin Migraine down with a swig of Peppermint Schnapps, feel the burn. I take a good look at the medication bottle, it's just been opened with a solid 490 or so left - Costco sized for my convenience. I finish all 500 or so of the Excedrin and the bottle of Schnapps, my last one. My vision is blurred from tears, or maybe all the pills, and I can feel myself entering perpetual vertigo. There is a lightning storm of emotions happening in my head and I just want to make it stop. I'd do anything to distract myself from the rapid fire of emotional distraught racking my brain. I tear at my arms with a serrated kitchen knife, the kind I use to cut up grapefruit. It stings, more distracting than actual pain, so I run the blade across my arm again and again until I am going numb from the continuous motion - switch arms and repeat. There is a lot of blood at the point, but I know it's not going to kill me. I have crawled into my stand up shower by this point and lose control of my stomach and vomit, probably the pills, but nothing comes up except for bile. I'm all splotchy and red eyed with snot dripping from my nose - real crying leaves you a wreck. No Hollywood touch up tears here. I'm pressed up against the drain in the floor of the shower, sobbing in a puddle of blood, tears, and bile and I think to myself briefly, no amount of distraction will last long enough to make this nightmare disappear or even out. My head feels like it might burst from all the different emotions, so I pick up the blade once more and press it hard to my left wrist. My arms are already starting to swell from the number of cuts, but this time I'm running with the veins. The skin peels open, but we haven't hit the blood supply yet so I press harder in the same spot and watch as the blood pours from my wrist. I think for a moment maybe I should have just punctured the artery in my leg but the blood is moving quickly from my wrist and some combination of blood loss, overdosing, alcohol, and sheer exhaustion leaves me passed out in a miserable pile on the floor of my shower in my own body fluids. Whoever first guilded suicide to make it sound sexy and Hollywood has a serious wake up call in line. There is nothing romantic or artistic about it. It is messy and selfish. If you saw it before, during, after it was happening? You most certainly wouldn't want to film a fellow human being degraded to the lowest level of existence like that. You wouldn't even want to look. It's not a trainwreck or a car crash you can't seem to look away from, you want to run from suicide. As fast as humanly possible because it is an embarassing, horrifying action. Sometimes I think that night really was one of the most important in my life. Because I realized then what suicide really meant. Death is a part of life, it is natural, sweet in some ways - suicide is not. It is pain immortalized in a single action. It doesn't just kill one person, it kills everyone around that person. I say these things having known a suicide victim and the victims left behind by that act. I say these things as a survivor and knowing others who have survived. And my heart hurts for those who feel the way I felt that night.

We've got most of the lights off, partly because we're not supposed to be here and partly because it makes life more interesting. It's August 9th of 2004 in the small suburban city of Maple Valley, it's my best friends birthday and this is her party, except that she's not here because she couldn't manage to sneak out. So we are partying hard for her in a house I am house sitting for another good friend, doing all those things you pray your kids aren't doing. We're all a little tipsy. We are all playing Strip Twister, it's the game to play, and I am down to a pair of shorts, a bra, and one sock. Much better than a majority of the room, many of whom are down to their last article of undergarments. Finally someone loses all their clothes and we call it quits to run down to the lake and go skinny dipping. I drop my clothes and jump in first, the cold water feels like hot little needles on my skin and I feel my body shiver in confusion. The rest of the group follows suit and we all play naked chicken and splash around loudly until someone sees headlights up at the top of the hill above the park, at which point we all scurry out of the water as fast as possible and pull our clothes on. The slower people out of the water get their clothes jacked from the dock and chase after us bad children who took them. The walk back up to the house is several blocks long and someone wonders aloud why the hell we didn't bring towels, all of us laugh and agree that would have been much preferable to wandering around the neighborhood in soggy sneakers and chaffing jeans. Back at the house we are all running around and shrieking with laughter every 5 minutes or so. One person finds a porn film from the 1980's and we make the unanimous decision to watch it immediately. Snuggling up next to one of my favorite gay men, the two of us scream and laugh in absolute terror at the horrific display on the screen. The rest of the room agrees with our commentary and we are all more interested in whether the girl had put bread bowls where her breasts were meant to be than anything else. We mute the film at one point and play act the voices, which, I must say, is much better acting than anything they accomplished on screen. The night begins a slow end as people trickle out the door to crawl back through windows and sneak up stairs to their beds where they can pretend they slept soundly through the evening. I am sitting on a sofa next to a longtime ex boyfriend of mine and squirming and pretending to pout as he tickles me and pulls me closer. We kiss and he runs his fingers through my hair. Pulling me back, he gives me a slight smile and asks, "Are you happy now?" I give him a confused look and he just gives a little laugh, "This is what you wanted, right? It's why you invited me at all. And tomorrow we'll go back to our lives without each other." I realize at this moment that I don't like being manipulated or manipulating people. That I don't like being considered sexy or having a lot of sex appeal. I'd rather be the cute little sister friend than the beautiful, manipulative friend. That I would much prefer to date one person exclusively than casually date whoever. How much have people lost by playing into that idea of "casual dating?" How much has our generation suffered because we can't even address basic human emotions? Are we really better off not knowing what we could make of a relationship? I know I don't think so.

Thursday night 19th of November 2009 and I've been living in Cusco Peru for nearing 3 months now. I am standing next to the bar of my favorite club with two of my favorite men. Already far past intoxicated, we laugh as we snap photos of one another, the club, and the ceiling. We get another round of Fernet, Argentina's official drink, which is appropriate seeing as one of the handsome young men I am with is from Argentina. I look at the both of them and smile to myself, I'm a lucky woman to have these two charming handsome young stud muffins as flatmates. One shorter and adorkable with that wiry black Latin American hair, mocha colored skin, and deep chocolate eyes and the other tall and lean with that cliche Denmark look of white blonde hair and bright blue eyes. They are both sweet, kind, respectful, and the best roommates a girl could ask for. Always watching football or cooking me lunch or dinner and buying me drinks, we cheers and I take a long sip of the bittersweet drink I am getting so used to. The room is starting to blur and I'm feeling quite good and my Argentinian flatmate spins me around the dance floor once or twice, pretending to salsa before we decide on a change of scene. We walk down the street, all laughing and tripping over imaginary loose cobblestones, and then climb up the 3 flights of stairs it is to the next club. It's mostly empty, but it's off season for tourists and a Thursday night and we're really not all that worried about needing other people around to enjoy ourselves. I remember my flatmate commenting, "Wow, he's really tall." as some guy walks past us to the bar, which is saying something seeing as my flatmate is a whopping 6'4", I nod but I really don't think much of it. He wanders off, running into friends and such, but I am perfectly content to bop along with the reggaeton blaring from the speakers and sip the free drink my flatmate scored me. Two different guys approach me and I shoot them down, I am not that girl. Thank you, Kelly Clarkson, I do not hook up. I don't have one night stands or play with men's emotions. I am uninterested in "the game" or whatever it is that the kids call it these days. So you sit down next to me, instead of just asking to dance, and I sigh. The first words out of my mouth before you even get a chance to speak are, "I have a boyfriend." A lie, but typically it gets the creepers off my back. I'm not even looking at you, but I can hear the smile in your voice "That's cool, it's just nice to have a conversation with a pretty girl." I turn and really look at you for the first time. You're handsome, but not in a first glance kind of way. Your looks really come out with your personality, charming and sweet. There's nothing cliche or symmetrical, but you're animated and fetching anyway. I like the way you talk with your hands and the kinds of questions you ask me. I listen to you talk about all the things you care and are passionate about and it reminds me of the way I sound when I talk about the exact same things. We have everything in common, to the point where it actually gets a bit ridiculous and silly, but I like that. Eventually you ask me to dance, you hold up your hands in a non offensive manner and say "Just as friends, you know" I laugh and take your hand. Things start out a bit slow, but you're an excellent dancer and keep up with me pretty well for any guy, much less one who is a foot and some change taller than I am. Things heat up pretty fast, I'm too drunk to really hear the music, but the beat absolutely pulses through me. You lean down and kiss me, immediately pulling back and apologizing, but I just pull you closer and kiss you right back through your apology. This is the moment I decide you are worth breaking my rules. The moment I open my heart to you. I haven't fallen for you yet, but I decide in that moment that you were worth falling for.

It's Tuesday March 31st 2009 in my basement room in Maple Valley Washington and my cell phone is ringing. I know who it is immediately by the Lady Gaga tune blaring from the poor little speakers and rush to find it. I pick the phone up maybe halfway through the first ring and I can hear him singing along to Cascada, Bad Boy, it's one of our jams. "Amour!" I cry, "Ma cherie! J'ai une suprise pour toi!" He says, I can hear the Portuguese accent even in his French. He spent most of his childhood in the States, but lived in Portugal from age 14 to 18 and has the smoldering accent to prove it. I ask what the surprise is and he just and tells me to go out to my front porch. I ask him how he knows I'm at home and he laughs, "You're unemployed, remember?" "Oh yah..." I run up the stairs to the front door and pull it open. On the street in front of my house is a small sleek black limousine, or at least, it isn't a super stretch or Hummer limo, of which I am grateful. I watch a messy head of chestnut brown hair emerge from the sun roof of the limo, followed by a slender chest and torso covered in a green v neck t shirt. I can see his signature necklace and tags around his neck from my porch, he holds out his arms and motions for me to jump in, "Common! The world awaits, princesa." I grab a coat and a pair of Chuck's and run out the door. He very excitedly explains about how he now gets a car every time he goes some place for work, recruiting new talent and performing interviews for his University, and how it was only $4.00 a day more to have a limo so he decided to "splurge" on it, "But if anyone asks? You've applied to Uni for Spring 2010 and I drove out here to view a small local gallery featuring some of your work. Because this tiny little speck on the map is a bit out of the way from the greater Seattle area." We laugh and sing along with loud pop music in the back of the limo, reminiscing about camp days and Portuguese weekends. We talk about where we are off to next, we've been planning an intricate and detailed tour of Europe for awhile now, but he just got back from South America. He tells me I have to go to Cusco, it's like a second home, I'll absolutely love it. I tell him we'll go there first and Europe second, he smiles and shows me his already mapped out plan to stay there. We visit an old friend's grave, it's been just over 4 years since he took his life in the park down the hill from this very cemetery. We put a cherry blossom branch on the grave and my best friend leans down lies next to the headstone. He turns on his back and I lie down next to him. We look at the sky, it's streaked with the imposing grey clouds of Washington, but there is quite a bit of blue today. We do this every time we come here, see the view my friend sees from his headstone, watch the time and clouds pass us by. You have to take joy in the little things, experience the smallest moments, and just appreciate everything the way it is. My best friend wraps his arm around me and I cuddle into his chest, I can feel the dew from the grass beginning to seep into my jeans but I can't be bothered to move. He kisses me on the forehead and I look up at his firm jaw line and notice he looks a little thinner, a little weaker, a little paler, but I hold back my worries. He's sick, I know that. He won't tell me details. "Don't worry, minha estrela, you can't spend your life thinking about the things you have no control over."

I'm sleepy. It's early morning, good and well before the sun is up, and I'm being pushed into a car with my younger brother and driven to a good friends house. I curl up in bed next to him, a little confused as to why I'm there but happy for the warmth of another person. It's the 4th of January in 1994. I wake up next to my friend and wiggle my toes, it's nice and toasty under all those blankets and smells like breakfast not too far away. My once mocha hair has darkened with the winter to a deep truffle chocolate color and is sleep tousled, but my eyes are just as bright emerald green as ever. I've got my thumb in my mouth and a blanket in the other, blinking the sleep out from under my thick dark eyelashes, it's the classic Peanuts look. My younger brother is still sleeping on the sofa in the living room and there is snow on the ground outside. My friend comes up behind me and takes my hand, we're engaged to be married, you know. His older sister and my older brother decided so. We were called into the kitchen for breakfast and my friend's parents told me all about how my mommy went to the hospital to have another baby and that I now had another younger brother, the final member of the family. I squeezed my friend's hand and smiled, I like being a big sister. I like the responsibility of it all. I think it's important, you know? To have responsibility in your life. To know that someone looks up to you. Whether it's a baby brother or a kid down the street, it makes you rexamine yourself. That responsibility weighs on you

It's Valentines Day, Saturday February 14th 2004. We've liked each other for nearly a year and just finally started dating. He is everything I've ever wanted. Super model handsome with perfect silky black hair, sunkissed skin, and emerald eyes to match my own. He calls me his Princess, I call him Keebler. We've been dating officially for 12 days, yesterday he left gifts for me in each of my school classes, they were the first gifts I've ever received for Valentines Day. A little bear with 3 roses and a piece of a little note in first period, a bigger bear with 6 roses and another little piece of a note in second period, 12 roses with an even bigger bear in third period along with the end of the note, and then he stood there outside of school with the biggest teddy bear I have ever seen and 15 more roses. It is the first time we said "I love you" and I mean it with my whole heart. He's my first real love. And now it's actually Valentines Day and we are lying underneath my bed. It's a little secret, There are dresser drawers under my bed, but behind them there is enough space for blankets and pillows and the two of us to cuddle up close to one another. He holds me tight and whispers sweet nothings into my hair, calling me Princess and telling me how much he loves me, all the reasons we are meant to be together. He hums my song while carelessly playing with my hair, he dedicated it to me the Christmas before and I close my eyes and just listen. He claims he can't sing a note, but I know that's a dirty lie and ask him to sing the words, "Only for you" he says. We're not wearing much clothing, but it's nice and warm snugged down under blankets and pressed up against one another. I've never felt this way before, he kisses my forehead because he knows that's my favorite, and tells me to try and get some sleep. But I can't sleep, I'm far too happy for that, with butterflies flitting around my ribcage for days and my heart beating a beat and a half faster than it's meant to. There is nothing but him in my sights and I know right then that this is something special. I melt into his kiss and feel myself give myself and my heart up to this beautiful young man.

Summertime in the mountains July 24th 2000 just outside of Greenwater Washington at Buck Creek Camp and yet it's not really all that warm. So the world didn't end at Y2K, but there's always 2012. The whole camp is playing capture the flag, but I am not all that interested in flags or capturing so I'm just wandering out towards the limits of the game boundaries without any real purpose when I stumble on a handsome young boy with already set features and chestnut brown hair. He's got his signature necklace, although it has yet to acquire all the trinkets it will have later in his life, and the cliche v neck and Seven jeans. He's seated on a fat old log covered in moss not looking at me, he's more focused on the water bottle in his hands. I know him from around camp, he's a bit of an awkward case, obviously a bit shy and unsure of himself. He's already got the slight lisp going and I'm well aware, even if he's not quite sure yet, that this kid is a flamer. I also have a pretty good guess as to what's in the bottle so I casually come up to him from the side and lean in to ask for a drink. He gets the most startled look on his face and falls backwards off the log, trying to get away from me as fast as possible. At first I'm a bit put off, until I realize what he must have thought and I begin to laugh, can't help it. He gives me a sharp look and picks himself up from the ground, dusting himself off as he does. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," I say through giggles, putting my hands up in a non offensive manner, "did you think I was going to kiss you?" I ask. He begins to look uncomfortable and sits himself back onto the log, "Well... I... well, yah." His eyes shift to look around for any other random passerby's and I smile, "I was just going to ask for a drink, I get that you're gay, sweets." He looks a bit taken back, but I just sit down next to him and introduce myself. We spend the next hour and some change drinking vodka and cranberry juice getting to know each other and really falling in love with one another's personalities. We talk about not quite fitting in at a very wholesome Christian camp and how much we love real football, not the American brand. I laugh so hard that I fall off the log which makes him laugh so hard he does too, we lie next to each other with our legs still up over the log just laughing and looking up at the sky. He points out a dragon and a car muffler in the clouds and I show him a starfish and the castle from Mario. "It's so funny," he says, "people get so caught up in life, when all you really need is to remember to look at the sky and breathe." I nod vigorously which makes pine needles and dirt fly around and we both laugh some more. I know my life is changed forever just by meeting this boy.

It's the 15th of December 2009, our last full day together before you have to leave. I secretly wish I could kidnap you, or perhaps it's not such a secret. We mean to wake up early to go up Rockefeller, so I get up nice and early to grab us both coffee from Starbucks because I know you'll need it. Double tall cappuccino for you and a double tall non fat creme brulee latte for me, I take a window seat and pull out my sketchpad while I wait, although I have no intention of drawing anything this morning, I'm using the paper for an entirely different purpose. I scribble your name at the top of the page and then erase it - I do this twice more before actually starting to write anything of meaning. I have trouble starting, I know what I want to say but I can't really just start a letter with the serious stuff, I have to make at least one or two jokes at my expense before I get to the point, but you know that. Once I scribble a sketch of several flowers in the corner and write a solid paragraph about absolutely nothing, I'm satisfied with my failed small talk and start to write the real content of the letter. The barista behind the counter has to say my order four or five times before I realize it's mine and hop up to grab the coffees. I sign my name with a heart at the bottom and a PS and promptly deposit the letter into the trash. I grab the coffees and walk the block back to where you are sleeping soundly. I knock lightly, you let me in the room and pull me onto the bed with a groan, threatening me with kidnapping if I keep bringing you coffee every morning. I laugh and tease with an offhand comment about how I would be making you breakfast every morning if I had a kitchen and you groan again and up your threats to marriage proposals. I put the coffee on the floor before you really pull me down into the covers with you and we laugh. Carefree and young without any real worries because we both live in the moment and focus on the now instead of the tomorrow. You flip on the tele and I laugh about how you're becoming Americanized and need the TV on before you go to bed and as you wake up, you scoff with a smile and flip the channel to the news. Bad news, kids, the view from the Empire State Building is completely impeded by a low cloud cover that is dominating the sky, we both groan at that and you flip off the tele and tackle me back into bed, "Oh well," you say. We snuggle close and I can feel your heart beating against mine, I've never fit so perfectly in anyones arms. You brush the hair out of my face and kiss me on the forehead, I haven't even told you it's my favorite. You whisper sweetly and call me your Hawaiian Princess, I smile at that. It's funny, I genuinely believe every word that comes out of your mouth, which is more than I can say for most men. And I smile because I know what that means. The only men to call me Princess and mean it have fallen head over toes for me and me for them, they are the ones who have loved me unconditionally. My brothers, my father, my godfather, my older brothers father, my first true love, and my best friend. So when you call me yours, your Princess, I know that you mean it and that you're falling for me. Because I know I am falling for you. More and more, every moment we spend together. The last week has been one of the best in my life, every moment full of adventure and wonder, in the truest sense of the word. It's all the things I thought I lost or might never feel again. "Oh, why do you have to be so perfect?" I ask, and you just shake your head, "No, you're perfect." There is freedom there in your arms.

March 13th 2008 marks three years since he pulled the trigger. We were friends, danced and laughed in the rain. I have memories that can never be lost, but it doesn't mean they hurt any less with time. I stand there over his grave with a cherry blossom branch and tears stream down my lightly freckled cheeks. The ground is wet from rain, but I don't really care, I lie down next to the plaque and look up at the sky. There is a tree visible in the bottom left hand corner of my vision, it's still bare from winter but I can see a few buds trying to make their way through the cold and into the world. The sky is a flat grey, typical of Washington state, but I make out cloud pictures anyway. My best friend lies down next to me and we try to pick out images from the slight curves visible in the clouds, it's hopeless, in all honesty, but we do it anyway. He points out a smiley face in the depressions of one cloud, I let out a short laugh at the irony and let the tears stream down my face. "Why doesn't it hurt less?" I demand. "Because you don't love him less so it won't ever hurt less. But life is made up of moments, just moments, minha estrela, and you can't waste them on tears."

Our first time was September something, It wasn't special, it wasn't anything, and it should have been because it was truly both of our firsts. But it's not September any more, it's his birthday, December 29th 2004, and he's turning 16 - it's a big birthday. We've had our ups and downs, haven't even been together a full year, but I love him more and more all the time. He's the one, my soulmate, the person I want to grow old with, still perfect and beautiful as the day we met. He knows I wish our first time had been something more, it is something in my life I am growing to regret, a first for me. I tell some lie so that I can spend the whole day and night with him, my birthday present is me, just me, but he has something much better planned. The whole room is lit with candles, there's the chocolate cake I brought him with two forks sitting on a little table next to his bed, and him standing there with his hands tucked carefully behind his back. It's his birthday and I'm the one getting all the surprises, just goes to show you how perfect he is. "I know our first time wasn't all you wanted, so, I thought, maybe, we could rewind. Do it all over again as if this was the first, make it special." He hands me a small white teddy bear with a red bow tie and a red heart with a pouch in it's hands from behind his back. I smile and kiss those perfect lips, I don't deserve him. He laughs and pulls away, "Wait! There's more!" He points to the small red pouch and instructs me to open it, I can't possibly fathom there being more as I carefully open the pouch. I pull out several folded pieces of notebook paper all scribbled on in his awkward and precise handwriting, the first of which is a poem. I give him a quick kiss and turn back to the second piece of paper which is a list of all the reasons he loves me so much; my adorable laugh, how I am not afraid to tell him how I feel, I don't play games or pretend around him, my crazy adventurous personality, and on and on for a full page front and back with an "etc..." and short blurb at the end about how he could go on forever, but that would take too much paper. My heart feels so full I'm afraid it might burst as I reach into the pouch to pull out the last thing. I let out a small gasp and almost drop everything out of my lap, the last item in the pouch is a small gold ring with three tiny diamonds. It's obvious that at one point it had four but one is missing, he quickly explains that it's not much but it's the ring his father proposed to his mother with. It's a promise ring, he tells me, and that when he looks at his life, thinks about his future, I'm the one he wants by his side for always. I've got tears on my cheeks I'm so happy and I kiss him a thousand times, maybe more. He pulls away to brush the hair out of my face and kisses me softly with the promise of forever on his lips and the return of always on mine. Young love may be naive, but I also know it to be strong and true. Undiluted by the harsh realities of the world, honest by nature and effect, hopeful and optimistic in a way that is forgotten later in life.

By the time we all file off the plane, it's April 9th 2006 somewhere. 14 hours is the longest I've ever spent on a plane and I have already decided it's not my favorite thing, but then, I haven't yet experienced a night train. I can never seem to sleep on aircrafts, so an overnight flight for me and everyone around me is absolute hell. Lucky me my best girl friend, and designated trip buddy, has as much trouble as I do, unlucky for everyone else though. Our overly efficient and organized German AP European History Teacher is busy shouting orders and shuffling us all in the general direction of where the tour buses are meant to meet us. As we burst out of the airport doors, we are met with warm and humid Italian air. Two thousand plus year old stones create a wall between the very modern and new airport and a main airport highway and luscious waxy green plants are growing from any crack they can find. Rome not even visible, I am already falling in love with this place. We are all still a bit caught up in the simply leaving the controlled environment of airports for the first time in 20 something hours as our favorite German faculty member calls out "Group One on the red bus, Group Two on the blue - find your buddy everyone!" We are all over 16 year of age, the legal age of consent in Italy, but you might not think so listening to the instructions being barked at us. Clambering onto our respective buses, my best girl friend and I find seats near the front, so as to have a choice view of the ride and be as close to our very cute British accented tour guide as possible. Plus, we have long since learned that it is actually much easier to cause havoc at the front of the bus rather than the back, because they place chaperones back there especially for that reason. Our bus is lucky enough to have both our favorite German commandant and our High Schools own handsome and well reputed Filipino Spanish teacher, which means one less no-nothing parent chaperone. My best friend and I are glued to the window of the bus while the very knowledgeable British tour guide rambles off rules, schedules, and factoids about things we pass on our way to downtown Rome. That is, until the bus driver enters real Italian rush hour traffic, at that point, we panic. No one signals or even honks really and everyone is making abrupt lane changes, if you can call them that. There appear to be lines on the road, but these are apparently suggestions rather than actual law so while there are only four lanes painted on the road, there are six lanes of traffic in one direction with several cars trying to surpass the traffic by driving along the shoulder, kind of, as great number of motorcycles weave in and out of the maze of vehicles lining the road. My best friend is actually shrieking at this point from sheer terror of the traffic, which just makes me laugh so I hard I need to pee. Our bus driver gets us into Rome, past the aqueduct, the colosseum, and down the narrow cobblestone streets no problem and I must say - mad props to him. We wander around a large square and buy ourselves our first real taste ofgelato, far superior to ice cream, sherbet, and sorbet by any sort of standards. Our tour guide guides us through the streets to the Pantheon, possibly the most amazing architectural structure of all time, much less that I have seen in my lifetime. I stand in the center and just look up, content to feel small and apart of something larger than myself. I can see a pair of lips in the clouds above and I smile at them, I know that my best guy friend would love this. My buddy and I linger in this particular building, partially because I'm entrapped by it all and partially because she has found new eye candy to play with. A boy in Group Two, on the blue bus, I can already see this heading for trouble but I let myself get caught up in my awe and wonder with Rome and forget the rest of the world. Until our very persuasive German lady comes and persuades us, no, demands us to get a move on. We follow an old Roman road for a ways and I am completely lost in it all. History in every stone, a tale in each column, some of the oldest and richest culture in the world surrounding me with every step I take. It is almost too much to bare, really. The tour two guides consult for a moment and decide that we have just enough time to make an unscheduled stop, my best friend and I fake little gasps and receive very dirty looks for those little gulps of air. We are all pulled down several side streets and end up in front of an old, but nowhere near ancient, church made of dull grey stone rather than the dusty beige and white colors the Romans so picturesquely built with. We are all told to drop a quarter or so into the large collection bin outside the door and find ourselves being ushered into a door beside the main entrance of the church by very friendly monks. Or, at least, they were friendly after we dropped some change in the collection plate. My eyes take a minute to adjust to the low light and the cool damp air of the church. I can see that we are all in some kind of entryway. The main chapel is through a set of wooden double doors in front of us, but we are pushed through a smaller archway on the left into a small hallway of connecting rooms, almost like catacombs. Which they are, actually, quite similar to. An above ground crypt, but not just any crypt, in this crypt bones weren't just left as bones but were transformed into art. Pictures and models of the Virgin Mary and Christ made out of tibias and fibulas and femurs. Finger bones delicately placed to make borders and frames. And my absolute favorite, a butterfly made from hip bones. The greater reaction of the class is that of disgust, but I am actually very impressed. I think it's all beautiful in it's own way. They found a way to create even in death. When I die, I don't want to be put in the ground to rot away in some wicker casket with make up caked on my face and my body so pumped full of chemicals I couldn't give nourishment back to the earth even if it did seep into my coffin. I want to be cremated and sprinkled over the world, back into dust as I belong. Death is nothing to fear, it's nothing to avoid or try and put off, it's something to embrace. I step back outside into the humid sunshine and take a deep breath. To die would be the greatest adventure. But until my time comes, I am going to enjoy the adventures in life.

Today's Thanksgiving, Thursday the 26th of November 2009, but I'm the only American so it will be interesting to see how it all goes. The flat's doorbell rings and I practically sprint to pick up the phone to the front door. I already know that it's you, you're the only one who ever rings the bell, but it never hurts to check. I hear your voice on the other end and press the button to let you up. I jump over the sofa to check how I look in the mirror before you climb the four flights or so of stairs it takes to get up to my floor. I know it's girly and silly, but I don't really care. You knock slowly and I leap over more living room furniture to reach the door. I'm a little out of breath, but don't want to seem silly so I try to play it off like you caught me a bit off guard. What a joke, you just rang the bell and I buzzed you up. I've been baking for 3 days because our oven is too small to do everything in one day and I'm making Thanksgiving dinner all on my own for 6-10 people, I don't know yet. But you catch me on a short break before having to put the final things in the oven. Even if you hadn't, I'd probably take one just to spend some down time with you. You kiss me hello and give me that smile that I absolutely melt for. You ask if anything is wrong and give me a bit of an odd look. I shake my head and kiss you again, happy you actually showed up at my door once again, you never disappoint, do you? You kiss me back put in a nervous sort of fashion, "So, I mean, you didn't find someone else to date while I was away?" I laugh a little and realize that I have a male friend passed out in my bed which, when the curtain is a bit open, is visible from the front door. I explain he's just a friend who just recently got here from Japan and so I am letting him nap in my bed before we find him a hostal. You let out a bit of a sigh and kiss me, "Oh good, because I saw a guy in your bed and my heart dropped just a little." It makes me smile. You have nothing to worry about, I've already fallen in love with you. It was that moment in the cafe a whole week earlier. I sit next to you on our mustard colored sofa and listen to you tell me all about your adventures to Machu Picchu. You talk with your hands and get so excited when talking about something interesting that I can't help but keep rapt attention to everything you're saying. Typically I have a short attention span and just about anything will distract me, but you are the distraction and you have my full and undivided attention. You're so animated, it's like watching thespians overact on purpose but in a natural way. Everything matters and everything gets your full enthusiasm. You'll tell me later that the two most important things are courage and enthusiasm, I can already see both shining through in you. You tell me you don't want to distract me from baking as I start banging around in the kitchen once more and I tell you that you're no bother, I adore being distracted by you. But you insist and ask if I'd like some juice from the mercado. I laugh and agree to some juice, you ask what kind but I just tell you to surprise me. "I hope you know that you are so much more than a fling to me." you say before giving me another kiss and ducking out the door. I finish putting things in the oven and put my friend in the hostal across the plaza from my building when I realize you've been gone for quite some time. By the time you knock on the door, we're only a half hour or so from being ready for dinner. You hand me a bag of juice and I take a sip, absolutely delicious. I ask what it is and you just shrug, "A surprise." You are always making me laugh in the simplest of ways, I give you a sideways look, "You were gone an awful long time to be getting juice." I question you with a smile. You stammer out about how your belt broke so you went to the mercado I showed you, El Molino's and had someone fix it there. I kind of cock my head to the side, the story is obviously not the whole truth but not a lie either. "Anddd," you continue, "I picked up Casablanca. You said you've never seen it and you're such a film fan and a sop that I had to get it for you." I smile, it's a pretty big smile. "It's for me?" I ask, and you bob your head once or twice with that adorable grin on your face that I can't seem to get enough of. I kiss you and practically bounce into my room to put it with the rest of my things. Thanksgiving goes without a hitch and at the end of the evening, after sneaking away from the clubs and night scene, we sit down and watch Casablanca. We move the furniture around so that it's more convenient for snuggling and you quote along with the film as I absorb every bit of it, along with your quirky commentary. We head sleepily to bed and as I lie curled up in your arms you whisper softly into my ear, "Come to Bolivia with me." I turn to face you, giving you kisses along the way and explain why I can't. You kiss my forehead and brush my hair from my eyes, "Then come to New York." I smile up at you from the pillow and tell you I'll try. You kiss my forehead again and I melt into your arms. I know that these might be our last moments together and I want to make them count. Because regardless of whether we are just a fling or more, if we see each other again or not, if all we've had is a lie or a fairy tale beginning, you have changed my life. You've made me truly believe in all the possibilities love has to offer again. You've made me realize I can be happy on my own and with another person. And reminded and reaffirmed that I am worth it. Worth bouquets and epic love tales and forehead kisses. You have changed my life.

It's Monday September 27th 2008 and I stare at the text message on my cellular screen like it's in some language I can't read. We are childhood sweethearts, for lack of a better description. The affair of eachothers lives, but we can never seem to be more than that. Even when we are both single, we are constantly blowing one another off or giving half answers to questions, like we don't know how to go from being the "other person" to being the only person. "Well, I could meet you there - donde esta?" The text reads. I can't believe it. It's not an indefinite, yah sure, we'll hang out. Or even a casual, well what are you doing later, but an actual we are going to get together at this place at this time. I give him directions and attempt to drive home to my little cabin in the woods through my disbelief. His reply to my directions is that he'll be there as soon as possible. I am pretty sure I might actually faint from the sheer incredulousness of it all. My childhood sweetheart, it's a sweet notion and doesn't quite capture what we were to one another but I know of no better term to describe our relationship. I can hear his motorcycle pull into the driveway and feel butterflies lift from the bottom of my stomach and go absolutely kamikaze. It took him forever and day to find the place, but I live kind of in the middle of nowhere so I can forgive that. He knocks on the back door and smiles at me through the window as I make my way through the kitchen. I scrunch my face at him in return and he laughs. I never like situations where people know exactly what I'm thinking so I typically turn it into a "you're so cute and adorable!" situation instead. I've gotten pretty good at it as well. I open the door and let the motorcycle junkie in. He has his helmet in his left hand that matches his Fox jacket and pair of loose light wash jeans along with a black tee that has a picture of Jason on the front and says something witty that I don't get the reference to but understand the general meaning of. I don't really do horror, he knows that and makes a joke about how we are going to end up in a bad horror flick about crazed woodsmen with axes. He says I'll be the only one to survive because I'm the drop dead gorgeous leading lady. I laugh and blush as he gives me a butter melting smile. We exchange hellos and how are you's as I sip a lemon drop from a 99 cent sippy cup I got on sale for a quarter from Fred Meyer and make him one in a normal glass. He teases me, asking why he doesn't get a sippy cup too and I tell him he's just not cool enough. He fakes injury and I laugh at him staggering onto the sofa play acting mortal woundage. We finally get around to actually watching a film and decide on El Laberinto Del Fauno. I lie my head on his chest and he starts to play with my hair, I know right then that it's all over. We've got sparks like nothing I've ever known and he knows exactly what to do to make me fall in love with him all over again. He kisses my forehead and eskimo kisses my nose then nuzzles his face into my hair, holding one of my hands on my stomach and letting his other hand play ever so lightly over the bare skin on my shoulder. It's everything intimate you share with someone you love, someone you cherish. I can't get enough, I just want his arms around me, his breath on my neck, his lips on my skin and not just sexually. I want to melt into him, and that is my problem. I learned to believe in love again just this Spring, but real love has trust and I don't know if I can trust him. We've had too many almosts, had too many maybes, too many what ifs. I lean my head back to look up at him and he kisses my nose. Our lips touch so lightly, not that instant first kiss spark but better. More. There is so much loaded in that one kiss. He pulls just far enough back that our faces aren't touching, but only just. "You know, you're the only one to make me feel like this. It's always been you. I've always loved you." He whispers, I don't believe him but I decide I don't care. I want to believe him and I decide that has to be enough, you have to want to believe before you can find belief.

Dearling, You wote me a message today. I was surprised to it there. We haven't spoken in a long time. And yet, you were almost always in my thoughts, there in the back of my mind. I was a bit cautious upon reading, as it my eyes would give something away to the page. I closed the note and thought long about my response. I sent one and then sat here to write you a real one. India sounds amazing. I wish I could have been there with you and I am terribly glad that you had such an adventure! Tell me all about it, I want a novel's worth. It sounds like a fantastical place and I will have to get there someday. I will get there someday.
As for me? Well, I am amazing. After the East Coast I found myself in Brussels and shortly thereafter in Firenze. I found a job as an Au Pair taking care of 3 adorable triplet boys. One of whom is in my photo. I am just absolutely loving being ack in Tuscany! It's really like living in a painting. I see a lot of th countryside with the boys an on my own. Italy never ceases to amaze. Although I now know it is not the place I want to end up.
I am, however, still planning on attending Uni in Roma in Autumn. Double major in International Relations and communications with a double minor in Italian Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, I think. Intense, but a a joy. Especially the language classes. I am very excited, although not so much for the other students my age. Go figure. That reminds me, have you decided where you're going to school when you go back?
I'd still love for you to visit, if you're up for it. I miss you. I'm headed to Barcelona this next week~ Very exciting and made me think of you. I promise to see all the Gaudi I can possibly see. It looks like I will also be visiting Oxford soon.
Reading more and more on the Middle East, I think... or rather, I know I want to head there next. Walking. Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Tibet, China. No specific idea yet, I just know it's where I want to be next. I am thinking next Summer, maybe. Oh! the wonder that is travel!
I was just thinking earlier about how love works it's wonders in the world. Meeting in Cusco, then by accident in Lima, and again in New York. It's funny, the further I fall in love with you, the harder it is to admit. The more difficult it is to day. I wonder about that. If you ever think of me and our adventure. And I dearly wish I could say, write, will you the words. But they get lost somewhere. If only you could find them in me.
I accomplish all that I dream except the one thing that is most important in this life. Love. True and unconditional. You are everything I want, have ever wanted, but what good is that if I can't tell you? I wish you were here. To talk with. Laugh with. Share with. There is so much to say and not say. But mostly there is this: I love you, dearling, I love you.

My name is Malialani Elizabeth Carrell, but you know me as "Malia." I am daughter to Gerald and Patricia, sister to Zachary and Alexander, princess to many. I consider all my friends best and I'd do anything for them. I love unconditionally. My favorite book is Oh, The Places We'll Go. Because of you, my favorite film is Casablanca. I think Roman Holiday is a close second though. I like most films made before 1965. I love the color green, it means life. I could live forever in the sunshine, but I am partial to torrential rains. I'd be happier in a shack on the beach than a penthouse in New York City. Travel runs in my blood. My favorite season is Autumn. I've fallen in love romantically 3 times, you're one of those. I whole heartedly believe love lasts forever, even if it changes. Most of my friends are friends of my mum. My favorite thing to drink is a Shirley Temple or a  Hot Chocolate. Soccer is my all time favorite sport, followed by cross country, rugby, and surfing. For me, the most amazing place in this world is Cusco and Sacred Valley. I love being Hawaiian. I grew up between Washington and Hawaii, so I'm a citizen of both. Though, I'm not so fond of being American. I love languages, travel, nonprofit organizations, and youth ministry. I hope to combine all 4 to do something I love someday. I like letters sent in the mail, with hand written labels and stamps. Music makes my heart beat. My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving because it's is the only holiday where it's just about loving people close to you. Last year in Peru? Was by far the best Thanksgiving I've ever had. I enjoy cooking, cleaning, and making a home - which might make me a cliche female, but it's just what I enjoy. I love to read, books illuminate this world. And you already know all these things about me.

Ciao Caro, Hope you are well. I forgot to tell you, I cut my hair. Over two feet of hair, gone. It's a pixie cut, very cute. I love it, although I'm sure you'd tell me how much you loved my hair long. It'll grow back, that's the neat thing about hair, you know. I don't really know why I am writing again, you haven't responded to my first letter. Although, it is very soon. Perhaps you have just been on my mind since you wrote.
It's strange travelling alone. I am constantly surrounded by people and inundated by sights and sounds, yet isolated. I feel like I am finally getting used to it though. And I need to if I want to do my next trip walking across deserts. It will most likely be the most isolating trip I will ever take. But always an adventure. Life is always adventure.
I dreamt of Peru last night. I miss it. The cobblestone streets and old Spanish structures built from stones of a much more ancient peoples. Everything about Cusco was magic. From the snow caps in the distance to the amazon below. Oh! what a place. I will go back. Perhaps sooner than I imagine.
How are you, dearling? Where are you? You are often in my thoughts. I hope all your dreams and adventures are being realized. Stay true, live well.

Buenas Querido, I am in Barcelona sitting in my hostal absolutely sore from all the walking! I had a clove while in front of Sagrada Familia, wishing you could have shared it with me. Being here makes me miss Peru. The way the streets are alive. I passed an "Authentic Incan" store, oddly enough none of the things looked remotely Incan. I wonder how often we fall into that trap of "authenticity" when what people are selling is nothing of the sort. There is so much art here! The streets and people are simply dripping with it. I am glad to be here. Jesus will arrive on Friday, which means I should probably get a good nights rest tonight... but we'll see.
Last night, before my fliht, I was woken up at 2455 by lightning and thunder. It was so close it lit up my entire room and shook my bed. At first, I didn't understand what was going on. When I finally did, I had to laugh. This is the beginning of my new life. I am finally ready to take control of my life. Ready to really... I don't know. I found myself in Peru, I got myself back. And in New York I remember what love felt like. In Italy I refound my self worth. And coming to Spain, I think I found my courage again. The more I travel, the more pieces of myself I find. As if someone scattered them about the world. Sometimes I get lonely but then I feel the wonder that comes with travelling. That high. It's up there with falling in love, I think. The rush of a new culture, a foreign language. It's undeniable.
I miss you, think of you often, wish were weren't on opposite sides of this world...

Dearling, Jane Austen said once, "The mere habit of learning to love is the thing." I find that to be true. Falling love, loving - they are important to practice. We so often believe guarding our hearts is better than to be hurt by love and it's not true. It's not true.
I bought new slippers today ((or sandals as the rest of the world calls them)). Simple lether with lttle wodden beads by the toes. Practical and yet very cute. I moved into a new hostal, a cheaper one, and spent most of the day giving myself a walking tour. Barcelona is beautiful. There are so many side streets to get lost on. Jesus will be here tomorrow, I am excited to see him. It's been so long and I miss South America so very dearly.
There is something missing, I can feel it. Here, an empty spot. Empty cavity. I imagine it's Cusco most times, other times I think it might be you missing from my life. But I don't really know for sure. I know so well that falling head over heels with someone most often means that you will get hurt. Still, I'd like to believe that it is loving and being open that get people somewhere in the world. I'm almost sure on that count. You are missed.

Ku'uipo, Being alone can really put things into perspective. For instance, I was sitting alone this afternoon after spending a wonderful morning with a friend I've made here in Barcelona, just watching people. A funny man in a green suit and a fedora with a a grin. A young couple parting to go to work, play, or perhaps never to see eachother again. A tired waitress with too many tables and not enough tips. And I realized that I try very hard to avoid atching the "beautiful" people. The ones you could photograph for a magazine but have no depth. I always try to look at the ones with a story. the ones that might not usually be noticed. Like the man in the green suit. He was older but hardly worth a second glance, even with the brightly colored suit. He had a good smile, lines and weathered hands. A man who has seen work. He also had a gold band on his wedding finger, dark brown leather shoes, although nothing too expensive, and blue eyes under white eyebrows. A cute old man, not much taller than I am, but with a bounce in his step. Who notices these things? I very quickly imagined a sweet wife for him in a little dress that matched the color of his suit and a white apron. Short curle white hair and brown eyes, kind and sincere. I sometimes wonder if anyone imagines a life for me and if I am living up to it. When you saw me, that night in Peru, what was the life you pictured me with? What did you imagine I was like? Am I like that?
The second revelation was that I kind of wish I was a little old lady. At that point in my life where I have tried and seen it all and won't tolerate anything less than exactly what I want because I already know how I want it. I can cut my hair how I like wthout skepticism because everyone will assume I am old enough to know what I am doing. I can wear the clothes I find most comfortable and accomodating. No one will judge me by the way my body looks or doesn't look. Are all these different expectations because we've finally figured life out? Or because we've finally ocme to terms with the fact that it's not going to happen? And how do we know the difference? I'm tired. So tired. Of thoughts that just take me to new thoughts. I'm tired of feeling like there is more. I'm tired of being alone. I'm ready for more, for action. But even when you're free falling there is still time to think, is't there? Wish you were here. To feed me advice and wise words, I'm starving for them. To laugh with me and push my hair out of my face when I get flustered. I hope you are well, dear one. Write soon, write soon.

Querido Mio, You sent another message today, much sooner than I imagined you would. Have I been on your mind as you've been on mine? Barcelona continues to amaze. With every place I see, the more of myself I find. I was somehow scattered to the corners of this world so that I could find me. I'm happy, complete, full. The kind of contentment you can only find from truly living and loving the life you live. You told me about India, I cannot wait to see it all. How beautiful. I am so jealous you were able to see the eclipse! Phenomenal! And what an amazing story about the kids getting the opportunity to show you. What a trip! I hope my adventures are equally as wonderful as it sounds yours were.
I went to Park Guel with Jesus yesterday, it was unbelievable. I couldn't have imagined anything better or more perfect. We watched the sunset with beers in our hands and beauty surrounding us. Absolutely surreal. There is so much to tell you, too much really. I think it is my favorite part of Barcelona.
So, it appears due to the suffering economy, among other things, the school I wanted to attend no longer has the finances to offer me the aid I was promised. I can't afford what they need me to pay so it looks like I won't be attending Uni in the fall. Perhaps that is just a sign that I am meant for something different - better. I wanted my life to change and it is. Perhaps I was meant to learn about the world from the world. I don't pretend to know what's next. I think people who do are just setting themselves up for turmoil. I want more and insignificant drama just because things don't go my way. I want experience. Everything life has to offer and then some. I want to crumble beneath the wave of things this world has to offer. Fall into pieces before it's wonder and beauty. And I won't settle. I refuse to accept less than extraordinary. I am smiling to myself just thinking about it. Oh! life!
I miss you, you know. Your message gave me hope that I am almost afraid of. I keep waiting for a heart break I can't rebound from. The world teaches us that love doesn't conquer all and that there is no ever after, much less a happy one. But I can't help myself. It's what I want, what I want to believe in. And if I'm bein honest. You're the one I want it with. It's better to get hurt from being open rather than from being closed, I think. But who really has the answers? Certainly not me. My heart beats just a little faster when I write to you, when I think of you. Anything at all really. It's funny, I keep that matchbox from the Tao restaurant we went to in New York in my back pocket. I just finished with the matches, but I am keeping the box anyway. To find in my pocket when I don't expect it. To think of you and the wonderful adventures we had together. A reminder of what falling in love should be. Beautiful. Momentuous. Life changing. Even if not forever. I am glad to hear from you. Glad to see your words on the page. A little piece of you.

Caro Mio, I am writing this during my last moments in Barca, this most beautiful place. The kind of beauty that makes me want to never stop travelling. I think the best part was this morning. I have an early flight and had to take a bus to Girona. I woke around 0300 to shower and dress, then wandered into the streets around 0400. Still dark, everything just closed up for the night, it was so personal. Like the whole city was my own to wish goodbye. There were so few cars and no people. I walked between the heart of the city and the stars. I finally found myself beneath the Arc de Triomf alone with small twinkling stars and nothing else and I could feel the whole world stop for a moment. Just pause to bid me farwell. I wondered sadly whether my whole life would be silently wishing places and people goodbye. Will I always be just a passerby? Or will I stay in the hearts, minds, and places I visit? There is so much we only see in retrospect. I want to just to see, but to be a part to everything. I wonder if that's possible. I feel at home wherever I lie my head. I try to let the world in, but I don't know whether I am better or worse for it. I guess it's all up for interpretation.
There is something I like about airports. The big glass windows and the benches you lie on, regardless of the fact that they are hardly comfortable enough to sit upon. It makes the rest of the world seem bigger and yet more accessible. You have those brief encounters with other people who probably see you more for you who are than those who have known you all your life. You see glimpses of true love and the goodness of people.
The sun in rising in Spain. It's glancing off the mountains and giving the airport a softer, sweeter light. Sunshine is the illumination of the world. Not just in actuality. I could live forever in those rays. I miss the ocean. Salt in my hair, sand on my skin, humidity soaking into me. I will miss this place as I miss you.

Dearling, Sometimes human capacity absolutely astounds me. The amount of love or joy we are able to feel in even just a single moment is simply phenomenal. Truly. But how easily we give up. As if nthing was worth waiting for, worth trying for. Patience is virtually nonexistent. Think of all the times we settle for or miss out on because this ridiculous flaw in modern society. Love, relationships, marriage - rarely last and most often exist as a poor substitute of the real versions. A temporary fix. I think I am mostly writing this to remind myself to be patient. Rome wasn't built in a day, but only took a couple of hours to burn. It doesn't take much effort to destroy love, but building it takes more than we can bear. I am waiting. For you, in fact. I wish... but then again, I don't. Because if we actually end up together, after time and distance and a million other things? There will be no doubt. If it was easy, how boring. So I am waiting. Perhaps a little impatiently at times, but still waiting. You are everything I want. And to have less would be settling and unsatisfying. There is nothing wrong with those who settle as long as they are happy, but I wouldn't b. I'd always know that there was something better, something more. You. There would be you. Patience, Malia, patience.
I understand that what we had might have been all we'll ever have. I get that we are on opposite ends of the planet. I comprehend the unlikelihood that we will ever see eachother again, much less end up with one another. But I also have faith. I have hope. And I will hold onto that. I won't let loving you confine my life, rather I will live my life to the best of my ability. So that if we do ever meet again I will know I lived every moment and still found myself back with you. I love you, and that? Is enough.

Queridinho, I am exhausted. Not wanting to move. My life seems to be going at lightning speed in order to distract me, but nothing seems to work. I am learning to row which requires large amounts of the thing I am already low on, patience. Never really been my strong suit. But I refuse to give up, which is most certainly my niche. I hurt, from head to toes, but stopping was never an option. I'm running again, one of the best feelings in the world. And I, of course, have the three cutest triplet around to take care of. Yet, despite the sensory overload of stuff, I am thinking of you. Always somewhere on the tip of my thoughts, always sitting in the back of my mind waiting for the perfect moment to exhaust me emotionally on top of physically.
Today there was a boy on the lake with "Australia" written across his Tee. Another girl with a small yin yang on her ankle. Crawling into bed with my Bahasa intro. My bracelet. Always you, always there. This afternoon we were watching the last bit of a Formula One race and you will never guess who won. Australia. Fancy that. My life seems to be constantly shoving me in your direction. I am not protesting. I always wonder if life is handing us all blatent signs about what we are meant to do with our lives and we are missing them. Or whether we are putting too much stock in the little things. I mean, Oz is a fairly huge nation, continent rather, and I am sure that many people sport the clothing as well as support the Formula One racers... or something. I don't know, I don't suppose I'll ever know. I think we can only follow our hearts.

Current date: October 2010

It doesn't feel like October. Do you realize I met you less than a year ago? I fell in love with you within 24 hours. You were everything I'd never realized I wanted. And you fought for that spot. I was timid, you were so sure. So genuine. I still don't understand what happened. One minute I could call myself yours, next second we weren't even friends. And I miss my friend. You never gave reason or rhyme as to why, I was left on the other side of the world dangling with a confused look on my face. And the worst of it is, I can't let go. I can be as frustrated, sad, angry as I want at the situation or at you - but it doesn't change the fact that I never got the closure I needed. If you couldn't be even my friend, why didn't you just say so? I would have understood. What I don't understand is how you could portray this honest personality and then not even have the self respect to give me an explanation. For the first time in my life, I feel like just another girl who got played. I can't even consider when a guy asks for my number because he's not you. And I'm tired of that. It's been 5 months since I've heard from you, 10 months since I saw you. I sent you off on your plane out of Casablanca and it's time for me to walk away from that runway. I can't see where you land and that has to be okay. I have to let go on my own, because I can't wait for you to let go for me anymore. "Cause everything's so wrong and I don't belong living in your precious memory."
The most important thing I have to say to you is thank you. Thank you for opening my heart to love again. Thank you for showing me what I want from a relationship, for showing me where I should set the bar. You whirlwinded into my life and tore everything I thought I knew away. I was able to happily, joyously start from scratch, which I couldn't have done if it had happened any other way. Thank you for redefining what a healthy relationship is, even if it was temporary. Thank you for giving me courage and enthusiasm to live my life the way I want. Thank you for being as honest and genuine as you could be. Thank you for being all that you are and taking me as I was.
I'm not who I was when you knew me, though a lot of that is due to you. I'm more than I ever imagined I could be. Reaching for my potential and who I am meant to be in ways I never could have foreseen. I'm stronger, happier, healthier. More sure of who I am everyday of my life. I am finally standing sure in who I am and I grow more in that everyday. I will always love you, it's part of my make up. And I'm thankful for my Casablanca story, but now I'm ready for something more. I hope that your life will continue to be an amazing adventure and maybe we'll run into one another again someday. Until then,

Here's lookin' at you kid.