I'm a black nomad, and I follow a lot of black nomads on social media, because fuck. I like to see y'all out there! I was told explicitly as a child that travel was just not something “people” did, that it was out of reach, impossible. And fuck, half the time people don't even want black people traveling. Even as a teenager at my “diverse” (read: bullshit, racist, classist, unacademic, take your pick) private high school, at which many international school trips were offered throughout the year, I wasn't even given the trip prospectus for a single one even though I asked for every one. Not once. In three years. The administration didn't even think my wish to travel was worth the paper the explanation was printed on. But back then, every time I put my name on a list for info on some trip I thought, “maybe I can figure it out, get another job, save up and go next year.” I was so desperate I may have done it had they ever bothered to let me try.

Well, I'm in Bangkok right now, so they can miss me with that shit these days. Fuck, I've been in Asia for weeks. And I've been all over the goddamned place.

But even as adults it can seem that way for some: unquestioningly impossible. Even Ta-Nehisi Coates mused in his book Between the World and Me that travel wasn't even something he had considered as an option until he was already in his thirties, and I know a lot of black people that have had the exact same experience.

So yeah. I love seeing y'all out there. I love your blogs, your Facebooks, your Instagrams; I fill my feeds with black nomads—particularly women—because it inspires me to remember that I am allowed to do what I love to do. But. I've noticed a surprising...trend, if you will, particularly of black female nomads on Instagram.

They seem to only populate the worlds beaches, adorned in a envy-inducing bikinis with flawless hair, and bodies so perfect you think they might be photoshopped. Now, to be clear, I have an somewhat instagram-worthy bikini myself; it's a gold lamé retro-looking strapless number with a sweetheart cut top, and a black high-waisted bottom, and just recently I've perched myself on beaches in Myanmar and Thailand in that bikini. I love the beach! But my pushing-forty-body bears no resemblance to the women I see on the internet, and, quite frankly, I like other stuff too that isn't a spa in Bali or seemingly every infinity pool in the entire world (why are black nomads on Instagram obsessed with infinity pools?)

The other day I went to a water fall in south Thailand with my friend Taiko. We met up in Khao Lak on the Andaman Sea after she had spent a few days on a diving trip, and on our last day, she offered to rent a motorbike, which I am terrified to drive. In Thailand, she told me, they even have a nickname for the scrapes people get when they lay down their rented bikes: it's called “tourist rash”, and it's the last thing I want.

There are temples around,” she told me, “and a national park,” and so, swaying to her two years experience of motorbiking on the left side of the road from her time spent living in Chiang Mai, I relented, and soon we were climbing into the forested mountains above Phang Nga.

We arrived at a trailhead, and pay the small fee for the hiking trail, and once down it found ourselves at a narrow clearing, and a rushing, white waterfall tumbling over a slanted rock
face. It was beautiful! And when I had calmed from being awestruck enough to follow Taiko over to the foot of the waterfall, I saw she had already removed her clothes and was perched in the cascade in her green and white floral halter bikini. And she looked so beautiful sitting there! So, as I oft do, I took out my iPhone and snapped her photo, making sure to get a few so I'd end up with one that was just right. She knew me back in high school, though she went to a public school across town. Back then we didn't know how we were going to get out, but we were determined, and I spent a lot of time in Khao Lak thinking about us as teenagers, our rain-soaked bellbottoms, our Trager backpacks, and our non-white faces and bodies and minds that refused to believe that we'd be relegated to our hometown forever.

When we had left that morning, my suit was still damp from beaching it the day before, so beneath my shorts and t-shirt I wore my standard fare of black cotton panties and a black bra, but I took off my clothes anyway, and sat beneath the waterfall, too.

Taiko rushed over to the bank yelling back that she was going to get my picture on my phone, and asking what the password was. I told her, she snapped a few photos, and soon I too returned to the bank to dry off.

Later that night, with my phone back on WiFi, I scrolled through all the photos we took that day, but when I got to the ones she took of me at Tonprai Waterfall I...took pause.

My idea was to post both of our waterfall pictures on Instagram, cobbled into one frame, but when I looked at the photos of me I couldn't imagine them being on the internet. Why? Because my hair is wet and limp, and you can see the rolls in my stomach when my knees are pulled up, and my hands look too big, and I don't have some perfect bikini on, in fact, I'm not wearing a bikini at all. “Who wants to see all of this?” I thought, and then, I realized exactly who wants to see that.

I do.

I want to see all of you black nomads. I want to see all of your rolls when you're standing in a waterfall. I want to see you with your hair all frizzy from wearing a helmet for hours riding on a motorbike through a forest in Thailand. I want to see you in jeans and t-shirts. I want to see you when your skin is all broken out because you ran out of the face wash you brought from home and the only ones you can find all have whitening agents in them (and I want to see you refuse to lighten your skin for anyone.) I want to see all your weird tan lines and mosquito bites and your heels all crusty from climbing mountains. I want to see the crazy faces you make when you see something amazing, maybe something you never thought you'd see. I want to see you with food on your face and dirt on your clothes, I want to see you sweaty and tired from carrying your travelpack miles from the train station, I want to see you jet-lagged and hungry and travel weary and I want to see that look of disappointment we all get on our faces when our flight is cancelled on yours. And you know what? I want to see you in your Instagramable bikini's too—because y'all look like y'all are living your best lives, and don't we all want that?

If you would have told me when I was 17 that I would go to Thailand one day I would have cried, yet here I am, very much in Thailand, and I was hanging out with Taiko no less, and there I was spending that time, even if it was only a minute, worrying about how I look on the internet?

So. I posted that picture on Instagram.

And, not that anyone is listening, but I encourage all of you to post “that” picture on Instagram, because we are fucking out here, and I for one am not going away. I plan to walk this goddamned earth until the day I die, swollen ankles and all, regardless of what they told me, and I want to see you do it, too.

No matter what it looks like.




But this one goes to eleven.

Okay: story time.

So when I got the current iPhone I have now, I kept my old one. The screen was spiderwebbed across the bottom rendering it unsaleable, and I thought it could be useful on long-haul flights for music, extra storage, or basically any situation wherein two phones might come in handy. 

Specifically while traveling.

At the very tail end of last November, I had that phone in my tote bag when I got mugged in Miami Beach, and it, along with everything else in my bag, was gone forever. Thankfully, I had my current phone (and my lighter) in my hand as I was, quite irresponsibly I should add, busy texting this Argentine that I should have never dated because he was a fucking horrible person. But date him I did, and the irony has always been, like, shit. Dating that asshole may have spared me my very expensive tiny computer that I call my phone. So I consider the whole situation with that dude a wash.

Anyway, have you ever lost your iPhone? There's a Find My iPhone App that you can use to track it down. That old-ass iPhone is still registered in my name, and I'm still able to track it as long as it's turned on and someone hasn't somehow learned my password to turn off my gps or location services or whatever the fuck device allows that to work. I checked that night while the police were taking a statement, and I guess they had already found my phone in my bag and turned it off to make sure I couldn't find them, because it was untraceable and wasn't online.

BUT--in the event that you can't track your phone, there's this handy little button you can select that will notify you via email if it ever comes online again. Almost a year later, I got that email. 

There are a few stories here:

1) I didn't see the email for several hours, so by the time I tried to remotely find my old 4s via my 6, it had reverted to the same little black dot that it had been the night I got mugged and every day since then. That I've checked, anyway. And now we're a-few-days-off-from email, so I've checked many times. MANY. And unfortunately I've had no luck. 

Not that I have much interest in retrieving that phone, but I've always been so curious what these dudes did with all of my meager nomad possessions: A small notebook I used to jot addresses and notes and bus schedules. A collapsable water bottle I bought for a dollar or so in Denmark, as well as a cool Danish mechanical pencil (also a dollar). A five kroner bill from Norway. A multitude of used bus and train and plane tickets. My Chapstick. An apple, I think? Oh fuck--I had a pair of shorts in there that I loved, but even them I had bought at a thrift store in Austin for three or four dollars. Even the cash I had on me amounted to no more than $2.50. 

Arguably, the most valuable thing in that bag was my passport, which I'm guessing can be sold to someone who looks like me for quite the premium. I have had three passports in my life, and two of them were stolen in Miami. The first one was stolen in 2003 out of my parked car behind my apartment--and I shit you not about this part--that was three blocks from where I got mugged last November.

Obviously I'm not prone to learning lessons the first time even when it's the hard way.

2) When I was trying to figure out how this was possible--as in, why would someone keep my broken phone for so long when the lack-of-knowing-the-password renders it essentially a brick and totally unusable (especially when it was already undesirable?)--I realized how easy it would be to guess my password.


What: is it...three? You get three tries and your phone locks you out from trying to open it for a day? I honestly don't remember exactly how many or long it is (and don't think it's quite that long), and keep in mind this is also depending on exactly what metric you use, but: if so inclined to just try EVERY possible four-number password in a methodical fashion, you could guess my password in as few as four days (eleven guesses. ELEVEN!)

So I'm realizing that it may have been possible that someone actually got into that phone? Thank god there are no naked pictures of me on it. 

If you're wondering then no: this realization has not yet made me actively think about changing the password on my current phone. I do, however, know that I prolly should.

3) If someone does turn on that phone again and connects it to wifi, I could TEXT MY OLD PHONE. I have an old VoIP app on there that likely still works that I rarely used but never deleted, and sending a text to that number would send a push notification as long as it was on and connected to the Internet. 

But here's what's weird about that: whenever I think about texting my old phone, it doesn't feel like I'd texting the thief who stole it but rather, like, I'd be somehow texting myself in the past. Like, I could say hey to 2012 Miranda who bought that phone in Bushwick on Knickerboker with 38 twenty dollar bills to take with her to Australia. Or 2013 Miranda who flew to Panama on a whim. Or 2014 Miranda who decided to move to Austin from her perch in Budapest.

This story is about how if I could, there's so much I would tell her. And when I was done explaining every mistake ahead of her, every heartbreak to come, every hangover that could have been prevented, I would want to ask her: now that you know what happens, are you going to do things differently? 

Some things, yes. She would have to! Like: I would have probably not gotten mugged in Miami, that's for sure. But even the Paris kidnapping led to a free hotel room, so she'd probably leave that one in, but instead rob him of every Euro he had before she kicked his ass out (as it did not occur to me to do that night.)

Paris kidnapping is such a good example of this. That story is far too good to give up out of fear! And there are just so many things that I've done in these years between Bought-New-Phone-On-Knickerbocker day and today that were horrible, but fuck. 

Sometimes you just can't not. Some stories are just too good to let go.

Even when they hurt.



Sweetness 2.0

[A few months ago, though I had long said I never, ever would, I deleted two pieces from my blog. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time but I have regretted it so, so much. While one of them is gone forever, one of them isn't completely lost to the ether: it was a piece from New Years CD 2005, and honestly, though posting it sent my life on an odd and fateful trajectory, it wasn't that good. It should have sounded something like this. Enjoy.]

I nearly didn’t recognize him; I took a step or two right past him while busy tracing the lines of his face in my failing memory. But then he said hi and I turned to meet his eyes, took a step back, tried to transpose my memories of him of twelve years ago onto the very real man before me to see where they fit, and before I could remember all of the reasons I didn’t want to wrap my arms about his neck I had already done exactly that. And then there we were, us on a dark sidewalk, only hugging because that’s what you’re supposed to do, our eight years of radio silence was suddenly punctuated by his palm on my back and my cheek near the softest parts of his naked neck that still smell like irresponsibly long, dark nights and late, drunken phone calls placed from my fire escape recline. 

We fell back in fearlessly, in that way that is so assuredly going to expire. We laughed at possibility because there was seemingly none, but then the what-ifs began to climb about us and the indefinites bloomed beautifully but probably poisonous; fear had crept to us so slowly that we hadn’t noticed it until it was all that was left, and we were alone with it. Together. 

A few years before I met him, I was shy and only twenty, and I lived in a breezy Portland flat with hardwood floors and a walk in closet. And there, just a few weeks before I fucked off to some Roman suburb I let a slight blonde into my bed whom I thought would be inconsequential, though it would be years before I couldn’t quite remember the placement of a rich, brown mole on her left breast or the smell of her collarbone. 

Within a year I had followed her to Florida. I flew across the country and landed at MIA with a messenger bag and a huge rolling suitcase and took a cab to her tiny canal-adjacent studio in the very northern echelons of South Beach. I knocked on her door, flung my arms about her shoulders, smelled her salt and sweat. But her collarbone, once enticing, only smelled like a time that had long passed even though she had come so recently.

I quickly found an apartment. Got a job at the type of Miami nightclub you never see on television because they’re past their primes. That girl moved to New York. I stayed in Miami a few years traipsing about South Beach in flip-flops and sometimes, even, climbing into the bed of another slight blonde--a strawberry blonde--who kissed me like she was blooming beneath my lips. She smelled like violets and lowered her eyes from mine when she smiled; her skin was so fair that my thumbs left brief pink ovals near her hipbones. I’d carefully untie her orange bikini and toss it next to my white one on her terrazzo floor, and I’d twine my fingers inside her hair while her mouth parted, her eyes grew wide, her legs split gently. 

I wish I didn’t remember never telling her that I loved our dawn-break talks at least as much as I loved tasting her from tip to tail, at least as much as I loved her heat-damp body curled next to mine. But I didn’t, tell her I mean, and she took my silence as disinterest or possibly as a brazen rebuff, and soon she was dancing all night with a brassy Argentinian girl who wore heels and painted her mouth in a flourish. 

I left Miami and returned to my hometown where it was cold when it rained, and I missed the steam that rose from the pavement when the storm clouds cleared and I missed my white bikini that I had worn like a uniform. But then I met a man who missed something intangible just as much as I missed Miami, and he whispered to me in the long dark and tasted every inch of me like I might a slight blonde. He’d twine his fingers inside my hair and kiss me like he was desperate, like he had to have all of me at once; he’d bury his face into the softest parts of my naked neck, nipping them with his teeth. And then he’d shuffle me home in the mornings with the same reserve with which I was only too familiar. And so, to punctuate that, one morning he stood with me on a sunny sidewalk, he smiled and bore through me with his shiny blue eyes, and he told me that he would never love me.  

And I smiled back because I knew it was more than I deserved.

I never told her that I would never love her, but I may as well have. She knew it just as sure as I knew how easily I actually could. And I get it. I would tie my bikini back around my ribcage and leave her place coolly, never letting myself fall asleep in her bed, I’d wait until I’d rounded the corner to let my mouth break into a wide smile; I’d save my words of her for my friends at the pub rather than her own heart-shaped face. And when she dropped me I assumed for years that it was the very same rejection that I had so rightly anticipated, and not, as it was, the self-fulfilling prophesy of my own design.

In our new iteration, he and I spent most nights with our limbs intertwined, his teeth again known to bear gently on my neck, and it all seemed so funny when he would whisper to me in our new long dark wherein that was possible: "I love you, I love you. I love you."

But we couldn't seem to remove ourselves from them, the before-us that swore so vehemently and so silently that our charm would be stripped if riddled with responsibility; we compared each other to versions of ourselves that are long gone and were disappointed with who we'd become. We wondered why it all felt so hard. 

“Yes, please,” he said when I curled next to him beneath my sheets, placed my head on his shoulder, felt his arm snake around me. Brought my face to his neck, closed my eyes, inhaled. 

“Mark, you smell exactly the same. I mean. Like twelve years ago.” And he did. He smelled like all of those nights when nothing mattered, when I feared losing nothing save some vague idea of self. Yet I clutched him like I didn’t know what I would do if I couldn’t, like I’d snatch it all back and do it over if I could, like I could reinvent that sunny street corner and put new words inside of that carefully choreographed smile that I wore. 

He laughed and reminded me that he doesn’t have a sense of smell.

There’s that thing when you’re showering with lavender soap and you remember bath time as a child. When you are reminded of the city library by an old book brought before you, it’s spine held in your palm, when you’ve drawn a hand to split it gently.

I wondered how this can be when I spent so much time within his effluvia and unable to disconnect myself from the ensuing flood of memory; I couldn't imagine how I would feel if saltwater didn’t leave me nostalgic or violets regretful. There are things that I remember of him back then—him jaywalking across the highway to the bar, him snorting a line of cocaine from the cover of a volume of erotica, and even him, as I first laid eyes on him, some five stories down in an orange vest—but the times that I feel like I felt with him back then are when I realize that he smells the same. 

No matter what we’ll still have those first few years when we never thought to say much out loud, we’ll still have those eight where we didn’t speak at all. And suddenly we were left with all the sidewalks of my fair hometown on which to stand and try to never say never, on which to resist transposing all of those extinct versions of us onto each other, because we couldn't do it over, we couldn't erase it. And we couldn't have any of it back. 

By the time I was not quite twenty-four I had tired of being shy, and it was late enough in the year that it was just starting to get cold, and my best friend and I, from our perch on a fifth story balcony, saw a group of people approach the front door of the building.

“Him,” I told her, pointing out one of them, “by dawn. I promise you.”

And it’s so funny to me now how someone I thought would be so inconsequential ended up capturing so much of me; funny how many years have passed and I've never been able to not be moved by the smell of his collarbone.

The temperature was starting to drop in Seattle, and I was restless in a way I couldn't explain to him. I felt defeated and small when I shivered in the wind and when he asked me what's wrong my best answer was "it's cold here."

I hate the cold, but I've suffered winters in New York and Berlin; I can dig in. Get through it. But inside "it's cold here" was everything I'd be giving up to spend the long dark winter in my rainy hometown; the days were getting shorter and he increasingly withdrew. I was increasingly resentful of what I was missing: the heat, the humidity, all of the balmy cities of America that I could be braving the winter from within. And the benefits, those of being within his effluvia, were decreasing by the day: he was more reserved, less affectionate, wary. And then one cold, damp night mid a long talk he told me "I can't do this," and I stopped him there, noting that we were done talking.

Mark went to work in the morning. I lounged about his living room in my underwear and bought a plane ticket. When he returned home I could see so plainly on his face that he would do it all over if he could, but we couldn't do it over, we couldn't erase it. And we couldn't have any of it back.

The day before I caught my plane, I hung a black puffy jacket in his coat closet as it wouldn't be accompanying me to the balmy south, and hung there when I opened the door was that orange down vest, that very same one he was wearing the day we met twelve years earlier. It's a bit dirtier now, less colorful. More worn, maybe like he now: his hair is overtaken with grey, a few more creases around his eyes.

"Miranda," he told me, "I'm in love with you, but there are limits," and I told him, Mark, that's a fucked up thing to say to someone. I said, Mark, why do you have to qualify me. I asked him, Mark, is this forever? "No," he told me, "No. That's impossible." 

"I'm leaving," I told him, "and this. This is what seems impossible."

I wonder what that will be like when some indeterminate amount of months pass, when I'm again pounding down some urban sidewalk to meet him, anxious and angry. When he says hi, when my eyes meet his, when I fling my arms around him. Whether this radio silence will be worth it and how deeply my knees will buckle when he places his palm in the small of my back. I wonder how fast these months down south will fall away when my cheek is near the softest parts of his naked neck; what might flood back when I inhale. 


Exes in the Inbox: Part 12


Once, in New York, I was dating a British filmmaker who was several years my senior named Tristan. We went out a few times, then once, the day-of, he cancelled a date we had citing he was seeing someone else with whom things had gotten more serious more quickly, and that he wasn't one to date two people at a time. I was infuriated--not because he was seeing someone else (so was I, another filmmaker in fact that later spurned my single worst EVER Pink Week Breakup Bender)--but rather because my time was limited, And I had put aside time for him, and he had disrespected that. 

And that is exactly what I told you about how I felt about you sleeping with other people. That I'm here for a limited time, and if everything that you tell me is true, then you should want to spend it with me. And I made it clear that I require nothing short of that.

So that dude, Tristan, texted me a few weeks later and asked me out again. 

"Is this a joke?" I remember asking. 
"No, not a joke. I just thought it would be nice to see you."
"For whom, exactly?!"
"For both of us."

That part of the exchange I remember precisely. The rest I'll have to paraphrase, although the last five words are burned into my brain forever.

"Tristan: no woman, in the history of the world, actively likes being someone's second choice. Specifically me. It might work on someone else in the future, but it will never work on anyone good. So that's from me to you. And that one's for free."

And by that rationale, Mark, no woman, ever, wants to be someone's third choice either. Specifically me.

I told you from the very beginning, as you noted, that while I actively knew I could date someone else that I had no plans to. My exact words were: "Im not your wife. You can't distract me with another man." And the fact that you would even bring this up to me--as if it was something you "dropped", as if it was open for discussion, is fucking disgusting to me. You are not, nor will you ever be the arbiter of who I do and do not date. It's not and has ever been up to you. And there is only one scenario in which it would. 

So I should tell you about that, because you don't seem to be hearing me. 

I am not asking you to get a divorce. That's not what this is. I am TELLING YOU, that based on your behavior, there is no relationship we can have that suits me while you are married. And the reasons why you elucidated yourself in your letter.

You can't not compartmentalize your life with me and your life with your wife, and I can't not have all of you. And I told you that. And I told you many, many times that the absolute one thing I would not tolerate, at all, is that Laura's ever-changing demands and general wishes not dictate what our relationship looks like. I said that REPEATEDLY--we almost broke up about it earlier--and yet that is EXACTLY what you did. And I have no interest in being in a relationship with your wife, and you know that, and furthermore--you knew exactly what you were doing before you did it and probably never planned on telling me.

That night, that you fucked Bryn, you stopped messaging me around 11. I've seen how many times you touch your phone; I know you knew I sent it. But looking, even so much as acknowledging that I'd sent it, in that moment, would have fucked up the last thread you were clinging to of the already tenuous morality that you'd instantly built for yourself and repeated to yourself that allowed you to do it. 

And you had no plans whatsoever to tell me that it had happened. Don't kid yourself. If you wanted to come clean, then you would have just cancelled hoops and asked to see me just like the other handful of Tuesdays that you've done exactly that.

And in that entire night--that entire drunken Thursday you never ONCE mentioned to me that you'd fucking slept with two other people. 


And the fucked up part about this? That if you had been HONEST with your wife, like all the times I asked you to be; if you had told her how you felt about me and what I require from our relationship, then it may not have even gone down like that. But you didn't, and it didn't, and you have been dishonest with everyone in your life and I can't know you like this.

I asked you to be careful with me. I asked you to be gentle with me. I told you that the ONE THING I absolutely require is hyper-honesty and you said you understood --but as it's come to pass, you can't do that when you are "compartmentalizing" your life between your wife and I.

I know how remarkable I am. You don't need to tell me. I am nothing shy of incredible. I have walked from more than most have ever even done in the first place just to go do a new thing. And I know how fucking magical this seems to some--BUT I AM A FUCKING PERSON. And while my life obviously seems just enough like bullshit to you for you to shit all over, it is very real for me and occurs exactly how I, sometimes rashly, design.

Honestly, from reading this shit you sent me, it sounds like you don't want to be with me at all. You malign my choices and disparage the fact that you fell in love with me in the first place, so it's hard for me to read this and think you ever even want to see me again anyway. 


If you do, I have been very clear in what capacity that can happen. Because we both know it can't happen like this.

See how this letter went? This is, as you should know, how I write. I start with a small story, let it flower, speak around it, introduce new elements, then close with a point that I surmised in the very beginning. Every thing I've ever written of value follows this exact same pattern. 

I wish I could tell you, like you once did in such a similar letter all those years ago, that there are so many bar napkins out there with different versions of this in fits and starts; I wish I could tell you that I thought so carefully about everything I was going to say here.

But I didn't.

I just went out and got drunk again and then came home and wrote this half-way to wasted. 

But Mark, that's how obvious this is to me.

And that one's for free.

p.s.: I will NEVER delete this.


Sex Laws: Part Two.


This empty page feels like a nightmare, and there are so many reasons why.

Chief among them, that I've spent too, too many months letting men steal my voice, be it actively or passively, and I've let this feeling prevail midst all of my passions, save one.

And that one is getting on an airplane.

I spoke of this, to exactly you, some time ago. Too long ago.

I've been missing you for so long. And that's crazy because I just saw you, when all those months passed that I lived with you and we worked together in our old goddamned neighborhood. And fuck me, our old neighborhood, Lower Haight; it looks exactly the fucking same and yet somehow completely fucking different. And fuck me hard if that doesn't describe everything that's happened since the last time that I wrote to you.

I used to use these letters as a device; these letters 'back home'; and yeah, I know I've spoke of this before, but damned if I don't need to revisit it. These letters meant so much to me on the road, but now I'm here, in my hometown again, and fuck if it doesn't feel so good this time, and yet also just like all the same old stuff: so stagnant, so complacent, so goddamned familiar in the worst way. And it kills me because not a day passes that I don't wish you were here with me in this hellhole. And that might just be the worst thing a girlfriend could wish for another.

We walk, Mindy.

You walked to New Orleans and I walked to my goddamned hometown. And fuck if I didn't find something that was waiting here for me for all these years.  And you went to New Orleans and found nothing, and I wish I could trade places with you because at least, in nothing, there is something new than things that are familiar, and in the new is something yet to be found and yet to be reviled. Because fuck. I fucking hate this. I  fucking hate everything that has come before because goddamnit it has led me to this.

But of course that is defeatist, and of course I'm being hyperbolic, because of course there are things here that I love fiercely. I love walking these streets and knowing where I'm going, and I fucking love my goddamned girlfriends here, and of course I fucking love this intrinsic feeling of belonging; especially when no one even fucking belongs in this city anymore save us select few who were actually, literally born here. And yes, I delight in that, because this is the only place I have that.


That's not actually something that I value. That's just something that feels good.

We both have that, I know. Because San Francisco is one of those places for both of us. San Francisco is the place that makes me call this my hometown and it home, because I've spent the most years of my adult life there. Even combined. It feels like home when I'm there, when I walk it's narrow streets, when I turn and go crosstown, when I climb her fucking hills and goddamn it I miss it already. But I'm resigned to this because I can't not. And honestly, San Francisco feels like that too--it just has the added cred of being difficult, and so it's a city you can live in and write home about. If you will.

The weird part is that I have so many nomad friends around the world that would fucking kill to go to San Francisco or Seattle--they delight in my stories of both and are intensely jealous of my stature in them. And I'm unwavering in my entitlement to either but am also somehow stoic in my commitment to neither.

Because we fucking walk.

Goddamnit we walk! We walk all over the fucking world looking for something we may never find.

But Mindy, what do you do when you come so goddamned close to finding it but it's not quite right? what do you do when something seems just a bit off--it's just a bit too cold and just a bit too weird and maybe just a bit too familiar that you're too reticent to accept it? What the fuck are we supposed to do when things feel so fucking right and you know, you know that they're absolutely fucking wrong?

I once mused, the last time I wrote to you, that we were Manic Pixie Nightmares. And today I'm more convinced that we are than the day that I once joked that we were. Fuck us Mins--we are! What is it about us that men see as some passing curiosity rather than holistic women that are deserving of the things that we require? And yeah, I get it. This is the part where I'm supposed to make allowances for that, where I'm supposed to see this perfect photo of us in the rear view and say, decidedly, where we should go now. But, fuck. The only thing I'm sure of is that I am, despite the evidence, still deserving of all of those things that I last posed. And for no other reason than that we're here.

He told me, and I quote: "I FUCKING CARE ABOUT YOU, MIRANDA. I love you. The thought of saying goodbye to you in these scant months sucks the air out of me," and it's so fucked, because I want to believe this and I can't at all, yet I feel these exact sentiment for you, and for Sally, and for all of our other girlfriends spread across this vast goddamned small world. He's literally positing all of those things I once said we deserved, and yet I'm left with this feeling of inadequacy and I can't even accept these words as any kind of truth for me save what I feel for y'all.

And maybe it's because I love my voice the most when I'm speaking to you.

And maybe I'll never love my voice when I'm speaking to anyone who's unlike you.

Or maybe I just know what we're capable of, and maybe I know when to stick, and when to fucking walk. Maybe I do know when to fucking board a plane and when to return, and maybe I know when to change my plans completely. But dude, maybe I don't.

Tell me to walk, Mins. Because otherwise, I'm not sure what I'll do, just as I'm not sure what I'll accomplish. But fuck if I don't still know exactly what we deserve.

We may be nightmares, but we are the sort that I welcome. We are the ilk that are scary but poignant, that people wake from and never forget. And that, Mindy. That's what I really, truly value.

I love you.


Sex Laws.

We are expected to date. Like, real dates, where some man buys us dinner and we sit and eat it prettily. And on these dates we are expected to wear eyeliner and dresses and heels because these things apparently make us seem sexually attractive. We are supposed to behave charmingly and not at all aggressive, and so for women like us this often means that we are to clip our tongues and refrain from revealing all the things that individuate us from the general masses of women. We're to fashion these new identities and wear them like straight jackets while perched on some bar stool sipping some jewel-toned cocktail, all the while relating some truncated, vanilla version of our lives to some man we barely know.

But wait! There's more! After all of this work reinventing ourselves as soulless sexual creatures, we must then actively withhold sex from these men lest we, get this, want only to be seen as a sexual conquest. This would detract from our ultimate life goal of marriage, because there's apparently no possible way that any man, ever, would want to marry some woman he slept with on the first date. So we give kisses on cheeks and hold hands on our way to the train where we will invariably go our separate ways, and then we will wait a predetermined number of days before calling them again, or, even more appropriately, we will refrain from calling them entirely preferring to wait with great anticipation for these men to call us.

So we, meaning you and I, trend pretty far from this. What do they call us? Scrappy, brassy, punk. And all of these words that are ascribed to us connote more than their literal meaning, at least they seem to because people seem to decide awfully readily who we are and are not. We have walls. Right? We never let anyone in because we can fucking take care of ourselves. We're that Manic Pixie Nightmare that no man can tame. We catch airplanes like buses and drive haughtily into sunsets populated with barbed wire strewn bald eagles with electric guitars gripped in their talons. We have, hands down, the coolest girlfriends ever; the kind that make us look like we're living in a movie about what roller derby girls do in their spare time. And above all, Mindy, we never have boyfriends. Not real ones, right? I mean, there are boys, but it all must be some kind of joke. How can we--we who behave in this manner approximating the opposite of what is expected--possibly ally ourselves with anyone? Because really. Fuck boyfriends, am I right?

Do they ask you too? How you do it? How can you just drop everything and tour with a band through Mexico or find a job in Costa Rica; but the subtext of this question has nothing to do with how we do it, but is rather about how they themselves might acquire this skill. This question means I want to do what you do, and I usually answer in some vague manner, saying something like: "it's about priorities". That's not untrue; people generally fall into the lifestyles that they have because they've prioritized their lives as such, but there's so much this flippant answer is removing from the reality which is that most people value security and cannot capably handle the fear that ensues when it is removed. They see our stories as a series of postcards in their minds eye and they want their own, but they generally have no idea what we've endured to achieve them and probably don't want to. Last time you were asked this, was it by someone who could feasibly walk the mean streets of Managua penniless, alone, and in the dark? Could they spend a night sleeping on a subway train or on the beach? How do you really think they'd manage locked inside a Shanghainese tea house with six swiftly speaking Chinese girls? They want us to tell them a trick, something to make it both possible and easy, and I can rarely bring myself to break the news that for them it is likely impossible because it is not easy. Try sleeping on the floor of Union Station in DC in January, I want to say. Then we can talk.

Don't get me wrong, I want it all, too. I want to be four or five different versions of me all at once. If I could have all of that traditional security that most people have--like a house and a car and a job with health insurance--and some haphazard, nomadic existence, then, I mean, yeah. I would just take both! Why not? Except that our lives have been shaped by--maybe defined by--the removal of these exact securities. And I'm not saying that we've never had them, all of these comforts, but rather am saying that we can behave the way we do because we have, via necessity, honed the ability to not need them.

We walk, Mindy. We walk the earth and we pound the pavement and we are accustomed to doing this because we have done it before. Remember years ago in San Francisco, when you and Antonio stayed with me? You remarked on my good fortune; I had my own, beautiful apartment and a pretty cush job that afforded me that lifestyle. I even had health insuranceBut I remember looking around at my flat, then back at your face, and seeing your nod and look of recognition when I told you: "yeah, but this is all temporary." It's that first time; you know what I mean! When you walk from everything you know? After you've come out on the other side, after you've survived, it's that much easier to face starting over again and again. I've contemplated the idea that it's all perpetrated by some deep seated dissatisfaction with everything in the whole world that makes me do it, but at the end of the day I s'pose it doesn't matter much why I repeatedly decide that the unknown is preferable to life I've been leading as of late. And where it gets dangerous is when this starts to reset every few days or few weeks as it has for me in the last year or so. I should clarify: this is not dangerous to us. We can shave weeks and months from the calendar without hanging our hats anywhere and be, generally, just fine. But by definition this lifestyle affords us the limited ability to hone the kind of long-term, in person relationships that we see everybody else enjoying; and I'm not saying that I participate in traditional loneliness, because I usually don't. I enjoy being alone. But unlike what most people assume of me, of us, I am more than willing to let someone in, many people in fact. And when I have spent days on the road I have been known to pine for them like a long lost friend. Like I might pine for you, and often do.

It's these words, Mindy. Independent, clever, sarcastic. These words may very well describe some huge facets of our lives, but does it hold true for every part of us? We can walk from a lot, but we always tend to circle back for those things that aren't things. 

We love, Mindy. We love often and fiercely because we do many things fiercely. And to me it seems strange that so many people think we're incapable of this because we treat so many things in this all-or-nothing respect. Do we date? like, traditional dates? No, maybe not. Or not often anyway, and maybe that's because we're so used to participating in life on our own terms. But we love hard, and we risk a lot by doing this, but we've also felt the pangs of the alternative; when we are left wondering what might have been had we just fucking tried. And correct me if I'm wrong, but we don't tend to trade in this type of regret.

So I guess there are a few things that are difficult for us to walk from.

You saw me, Mindy. You saw me just days after flying from SeaTac to SFO, and I was already struggling with what I walked from and drowning this feeling in alcohol at many of Lower Haight's fine drinking establishments. And it felt crazy walking our old block like old times; we drank cheap beers and noted how vanilla Molotov's had become, and we made the trek down to Church and Market from Haight and Steiner that I could probably do blindfolded, but maybe not drunk and blindfolded. But that night in Lower Haight, I only needed a few sentences to explain to you how the last few days had been, and again I saw that nod, that understanding in your eyes: I left someone there, Mindy. Someone in my hometown.

I'm in Seattle. I mean, you know I'm here. And you know that I got here and didn't want to walk anymore because I spent three seemingly endless months pining for someone I had left behind and thought I could never have. And it's crazy because I tried to give up. I thought I had decided, in those three months away, that this time would be the time that I'd let go of even attempting to gain that kind of fierce fucking love that ensues when you are so goddamned sure that you want someone. And it's odd because the thing that made me decide this was that very same fear that I am so used to associating with everyone but us.

So, fuck boyfriends? Fuck declaratives. That was never something we didn't want, and just as we go big in every other realm we go big here, too. We go huge when we are given the opportunity to stand back and remark at our good fortune. We delight in walking in circles when the alternatives all involve losing that which we've newly prioritized to be that thing that drives us to stay. We refuse to sit prettily, and rather we tread our well known pave with purpose and drive, and we never wait for them to call us.

What I'm telling you Mindy, is that these things do not usually end as quaintly. We both know that. And everyday here, in Seattle, I wake in wonder as to how this could have possibly gone how I had spent hours on airplanes and busses wishing that it would, and I pine, as I often pine for you, for the day when I realize that not only is this something that I deserve but also possibly something that I earned.

Remember when you worked with me in San Francisco? At my seemingly cush job that afforded me that once fantastic lifestyle? We worked with all kinds of girls of all different ages and colors and origin, but I remember that the vast majority of them saw but one way to attract the perfect man. It was all about nail polish and scales and dresses, and it belied this notion that that's all that they thought they were: merely a collection of physical attributes that could (and should) be manipulated to attract just the right person. They were, as we all are, often left with sub-par results.

"If you would spend as much time worrying about how much you weigh," I'd always tell them, "on being an awesome person, you'd attract all those people you've always wished you could."

So cheers, Mindy. Cheers to us today. Because although we too have spent far too much time trying to live up to others expectations, we have also vehemently refused to be anyone but us.

And I've written you today to extoll on the rewards.

I love you.



Exes in the inbox: Part 11

I've read it all back like a hundred times now, and I still don't know exactly what to think. But I know that this isn't fair. It's not okay for you to pop in and out of my inbox at your leisure without ever making time to listen to me.

I get that you're trying to apologize, and I also assume that you were probably drunk and this was all probably spurned by some tangible event that you haven't told me about, and something came to a head, and then you finally sat down in front of your keyboard. I get it. But if you were really sorry, if you really wanted what's best for me or for me to feel better, or wanted anything for me at all, you'd just leave me alone.

You have to see it from my side: regardless of whatever was actually going on with you, you have to remember that you never really told me about it. From my perspective, you are the guy who told me that you wanted nothing else than to see me again and that you wanted to be with me and that you loved me, and then just basically stopped talking to me for what seemed, to me, to be no reason. And all of this immediately followed two months in which you were my whole world, and then six weeks of me trying to figure out if you even wanted to hear from me because you never had the balls to tell me yourself that you didn't. So this is who you are to me, and now you've written me out of the blue, saying you're so sorry, and trying to explain everything that happened to you, but I have no idea how the fuck you've decided that you--you who behaved the way you did--get to be the one to unload all of this shit on me when I'm the one who should actually have the right to say anything.

Right now I'm sitting on the couch, in the living room, in New Orleans, and I'm sitting exactly where I was sitting last February when I told you that I could fly there, soon, within a couple of weeks, and you said to me that you "dont want [me] to come out here expecting things to be the same as they were." Have you ever thought about that? About how ridiculous you should have felt saying that to me? Your relative silence was the only clue I might have had to what I should and should not expect. The last time we had really spoken you told me "Fuck, dude, all I want is for you to be here. I miss your lips. I miss you. I'll message you when I wake up, like always." And then for weeks you apologized that you were so busy, but you assured me, repeatedly, that that was the only reason we weren't talking so much. No! Everything is fine! I miss you! I've joined a new band, and I'm at work, and I have bronchitis and something came up and something always came up. And I took you at your word, and it felt weird and wrong but I did it anyway. Tell me again about what I should have expected. Go ahead.

I get it. I see how easy all of this would be to rationalize when you weren't here to see me, because you missed seeing me cry for days in this very same New Orleanian living room, and you missed seeing me leaving on a long overland trek to Austin trying to figure out how I was going to try and forget you, and you missed the part where I bought a ticket to Panama hoping that it would work. And it did, it worked, and by the time I had made it up north to Costa Rica and got a job, I had managed to put you behind me. For the most part, anyway.

You messaged me once while I was in Seattle, "hey," you said, and it seemed so foreign and weird that the only reason I could think that you might be messaging me was that something was wrong, and so I asked you as much. You said you were fine, and we traded a few sentences, and then you went silent again. And I assume that you went off and did whatever the fuck it is that you do, but you should know that you left me in a heap on Jenna's couch wondering why you would do this to me, why, after all this time, you'd message me so casually like nothing had happened. I stayed on that couch for most of that day, and sometime that evening I texted my longtime-friend-turned-recent-lover and asked to borrow his car. In the morning, I went to Oregon.

This has always worked like a charm for me. Something goes wrong? Get on a plane. Some boy upsets me? Drive, drive, drive until you forget. But I'm here in NOLA until next month, and I just got back from Austin, and damned if I didn't already scan around for flights out of here--to anywhere--just to get away, for a few days, from this living room in which you keep breaking my heart from afar.

I just can't do this. You can apparently turn me on and off like a light switch, but I have a much harder time. I need you gone. I need you to never, ever contact me again with all of these candy coated apologies and thinly veiled attempts at letting you know you're still interested in me. You can't tell me those things! What do you think? That we're going to date or something? Oh, right. We're going to date each other; except that that's impossible. We're never going to be able to date each other, unless, of course, we go back in time to February when I could have come there. I could have come and stayed for months, and we could have figured out who we were together, but you declined, and that one shot is gone, and now we will never know because I can barely manage to talk to you let alone see you without falling apart all over again just knowing that we're not together. And we're two different nationalities, so let's just say, for shits and giggles, that we can--we can go back in time and date furiously and responsibly--then what? Where the fuck do you think this was headed when our passports bear the insignia of two different nations?

You don't get to have it back. Your great memories of me are gone? It's your own fault, and you don't deserve them, anyway. You fucked up, and you know it, and now you know that it was even worse for me than you thought, but regardless, you don't get to come back into my life and fucking ruin me just because you feel guilty. You don't get to change your memories of us because you acted like a goddamned child; you have to fucking live with it, and you don't get to decide when you're done with me. Make no mistake: you are done with me, because I can't continue on with my life and have it any other way. I can't have you in and out at your discretion; I need you to be one or the other, and nothing in between is ever going to work. At least, not any time near now.

Do you remember me speaking of Vanessa? She was my friend and floormate at The Disco, and she messaged me a bit ago wondering when I was coming back. I told her the end of spring, In November, maybe, just like last year. That's when I'd like to come. And it was easy, then, to think of returning because I had already divorced you from your hometown, but now you've resurfaced in my inbox with all of your lengthy misspelled bullshit and suddenly I don't want to come anywhere near there. And it sucks, because I love it there. And that. That is what you have ruined for me. And I don't know if I can ever forgive someone who made me not want to get on an airplane, let alone one to my favorite continent on earth.

You said, again, that you just wanted us both to be able to look on our time together positively, and I told you that "I meant everything I said and I always gave you the benefit of the doubt. I did everything right, and I feel fine. You don't because you didn't."

I should clarify.

I feel fine that we were together. Were. You in my past tense is just fine with me.

It's everything else I can't handle.

I just can't. I can't, I can't, I can't.

Not that you care about any of this, because you don't. Your reaching out, your shady apologies and your stupid stories were never about me anyway. This has all been about you, and what you've now decided that you need, and I'm just a little part of that. But you'll have to excuse me because the truth is that there's nothing you can say to me to make me believe that you don't deserve to feel every single pang that has crossed your heart of late, and honestly, right now, I don't really give a fuck how you feel.



Exes in the Inbox: Part 10.


When I left your house I sat in the car and we made the short drive from Beacon to SeaTac, but it seemed to take forever, and about halfway there I realized what was happening.

Why does this keep happening to me.

It's weird, Jenna, because if you would have asked me the day I arrived who would be dropping me off at the airport, I would not have answered correctly; I couldn't have even told you what day I'd be leaving. When I got to Seattle I assumed that the same person who picked me up, Woody, would be dropping me off; largely because I have spent years feeling entitled to his favor, years in which I've clipped my tongue around him to retain this favor. But then suddenly his bed didn't have the same allure it once had, and I realized that I no longer needed the security of knowing that somewhere, usually far away, he was always there and in love with me. I say this like I came to some kind of peace, like I had grown enough as an individual to not need this to validate myself, but I think we both know the truth, Jenna. I had just replaced him.

I know were not supposed to need this, I know. We're perfectly fine just the way we are. We're single and happy and thankfully now extricated from our former roles as some violent man's girlfriend, and that's supposed to be enough. So why, when it comes down to it, do we keep some boy just barely out of reach, but just close enough to be able to feel how desperately they want us?

And Jesus, Jenna. Look at me. I do this all over the world, and when relating stories of them I barely even bother to call them by name but rather call them by the city they live in. Brooklyn. Austin. Melbourne. Chicago. And of course I always have to have keep the mother of all back-burners in my fair hometown, and I call him Seattle. For years this was Woody. But you saw, Jenna. You know what happened. And it's crazy because I'm pretty sure Woody thinks that I broke it off with him for good because of the baby, but that's no big deal to me. Accidentally have a baby with some other woman in my absence? This isn't a deal breaker for me. Really, it doesn't even really enter into my decision making process at all in these matters. His consistent disrespect for my body and my opinions? This is what I simply don't have the patience to tolerate anymore. For years I haven't really noticed; it's fairly mild and somewhat infrequent, and coupled with the few days a year we spend together it was never too much to relinquish his adoration of me for. But after a week or so, when his missteps had already piled too high for me to ignore, I knew it was time to put and end to something I should have capped years and years ago.

You also know, Jenna, that this isn't to say that I never wanted him. Them.

I wanted Seattle. Maybe not for a lifetime, but I wanted him. And I took this title from Wood and re-granted it to him and I had him, and you saw it. And you saw how within a month I was so quick to let go of him for a single offense, and you watched while he went from my new favorite diversion to my new favorite ex. I just got back to New Orleans this morning from Texas, and it happened there, too! Austin said but a few cross words to me and it just stopped. The feeling--that fun, careless, whimsical feeling that I've always garnered from these boys--was gone. When I first arrived in my hometown I thought it was just Wood, but apparently I can't tolerate it from anyone anymore.

Seattle, New Seattle, messaged me about a week ago. I was asleep when he sent it, but I woke to find it, right there, my ex in my inbox saying: "Hey Miranda. I miss you." And it seemed so sweet and filled with longing that I wondered whether or not he was okay, and I asked him as much several times until he finally woke and related to me that he was just fine. But I asked because that's what I do; when I am feeling rejected or alone I reach out to one of these boys in one of these cities, and when they reply I hold this as proof of what I could have should I ever want it. Most days I don't want it. Without question. But some days Jenna, I wish I wanted it. So much so that I come very close sometimes to convincing myself that I do. But of course I would do this; it's just so much easier to mildly entertain someone you know you shouldn't want than to push aside feelings for someone you know you can't have, and since I left my hometown grappling with both I just chose to focus on the former. The latter is just too hard.

And I knew it was going to be. Halfway to the airport.

"Are you okay?" he asked me, and I think it might have been a few seconds since I had last taken a breath, and we were still only a few miles from your house, and we were just barely still inside Seattle city limits, and I turned to face him to say yes, yes I'm fine. And I looked at his profile framed by the drivers side window and the overcast sky outside, and I remembered laying in his bed just a couple of nights before, and, with his arm around me, he very simply and plainly told me: "This is nice." He meant it, Jenna, I know that. But I also know that I've said this to people while they reclined in my bed, and I know that I've said this when I think that I'm supposed to want them but don't; I've said it when I'm grasping at straws trying to make it work for me. And I'm not saying that this is how he feels, but it might be, and regardless of this he is too perfect for one of my boxes or nicknames, and these days, out on the road, I can't offer much more than that.

He dropped me off at United arrivals and I retrieved my backpack from his trunk. He hugged me goodbye and when we parted I walked through the automatic doors only to immediately realize that I had left my wallet in his car. My first thought was "oh my god, I'm going to miss my plane to San Francisco" and this thought was immediately followed by "well, if he doesn't come back I'll just go back to Jenna's house and book a new flight." I had just left your house but already missed you so much that this didn't seem entirely unreasonable, and without my phone, any money or any identification, I didn't have much choice anyway. But within a half hour or so I heard my name called behind me, and I turned to see his smiling face and my wallet in his hand, and then I had my second realization of the day: this is the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. And it was. The very most. And I was oh my god, thankful, and wow, I thought I was going to miss my flight, and he was apparently all the way home before he saw my wallet in the front seat of his car. And then I ruined it, Jenna. If this had been a movie it would have been a sign, and I would have taken his hand and walked right back out the automatic doors, and the chill in the air and my own spontaneity would have rushed to my cheeks in a blush, and my fingers would have curled more tightly around his as we neared his car, and I might have even raised my opposite hand and placed it atop the one of his that I held. But instead, like all the nomads before me, I smiled and gripped his arm one last time, and then I turned and ran to check in for my flight to California.

And he hasn't really spoken to me since.

But then there's Seattle, whom I still talk to most days.

I finally admitted this fact to you a couple of days ago when I was in Texas and we spoke, and you told me you already knew.

"Did someone tell you, or did you figure it out like usual?" I asked, thinking that only about half of this question was a joke.

"You can call it a guess if it makes you more comfortable," you told me, "but you two are like magnets.   You're a love story. You just can't handle that you're not the deciders in love."

"We're not in love," I said, and you noted how quickly I had replied.

It seems like an important story, though: two nomads whom, after nearly ten years of friendship, find each other in the same city where they first met when they are both on their way somewhere else. I get it, I do. And if this were a movie then he would have begged for my forgiveness with some huge gesture, and I would have swooned and relented, and then we would have driven off into the sunset together. But no, Jenna. This isn't a movie, and instead we made up just enough to still be speaking, and then we both went our separate ways.

Why does this keep happening to me.

Don't worry Jenna, I can already hear you. Right now you are laughing that iconic laugh of yours and shaking your head to and fro, and when you have composed yourself you will repeat that question out loud, to yourself, but laden with sarcasm.

You know, and even I know, why this keeps happening to me. Good or bad, we are the results of our choices, and right now the choices that I've made recently have left me ideal for the boy I shouldn't want and anathema to the boy I can't have. I know this Jenna, but I'm not ready to change right now. And I wish I was.

But in these times, the meantimes, I will sit still in the south and I will miss you desperately, and I will continue to take my solace in some string of boys that I wish mattered, and you will continue to giggle at me from your perch on Beacon Hill.

That is, of course, until August when you can giggle at me in person, and I may just be forced to sort this all out.

I love and miss you.



Rumors Part Two: Eight Years.

When I lived in San Francisco I flew up the coast, as I often did, for a few days. I was staying in Georgetown, and the morning after I flew into Seattle I woke early and showered and drove my rental car downtown in enough time to arrive promptly at the correct counter on the correct floor in the correct building by 9:00 am. When it was my turn in line I presented all the correct forms that were correctly filled out, three forms of ID, and $135. It was all quickly collected, copied, and returned to me minus the money. I was given a slip of paper that directed me to return at 3:00.

That afternoon, after having lunch with my then very favorite ex, Mark Huntsman, I returned to the very same floor of the very same building. There were others there for the same reason as I, and we were shuffled into a room in the back where I sat for a long while. When my name was called I stood, answered "no" to a simple question, and was handed a couple of forms. I went back to the counter I had arrived at in the morning, presented these new forms to the clerk, signed my name three times, and was given three official copies of the order that I had requested bearing the official seal of King County. I turned to leave and checked my phone: It was 5:00.

It had taken me eight hours to change my name.

That night I met some of my North Seattle crew at The Duck. Jeremiah was working, and my little brother's ex-fiance was there with my ex-boyfriends' ex-girlfriend, and Peter Smith and Jen and maybe Rice was there or something, I don't exactly remember. But it's all so weird to me because I thought I remembered everything: I remember where I had lunch that day and what I ate, I remember the color and make of my rental car, the temperature outside, what I wore, the price of the tattoo I had placed on my right middle finger that evening and my tattoo artists name. But then it is just shy of five years later and we, us two, are passing the rainy night in bed under a heap of blankets and punctuating the dark with our whispers, and you tell me that you remember the night I changed my name, because we spoke that night at the bar, because you were there. And I have no recollection of you being there at all.

My hometown always does that to me; it seems enchanting when I visit, and I only ever specifically remember the things that contribute to it feeling fantastic and all the other ancillary stuff seems to evade me after I leave. Is that why you keep going back, too? I mean, I don't even exactly remember the first time I met you, but I remember already knowing you when I was there in '04 and '05, and I don't even remember exactly how it happened but I remember living on Beacon and having this crew up north and somehow it just all came together. We all came together. Or, at least, that's how I chose to remember it, I guess. But I've been thinking about us all lately, and dude, were any of us ever really friends? I mean, now, with so many lines drawn and people falling out and moving away and moving back and all of this in-fighting, it's just so hard to believe that we ever were.

Back then Jeremiah was infamous for being the most divisive of us. Remember? He'd kick people out of the bar and slept with everyone's girlfriends and always had some rotating absentee roommate that he loved and another one that hung around that he always talked shit about behind their back. We all saw this and thought that we were exempt, or maybe we were targeted, but it all seemed largely inconsequential and I remember that none of us ever really behaved like we really cared. I, for one, didn't care at all.

I'm not sure, but I think we were all like that: drunk and selfish and short-sighted, and I don't think that we were fucking monsters but I think that we tolerated each other because we all behaved similarly. Don't you think?

Remember John? Jake's bandmate? I dated him for an entire month while my girlfriends vociferously disapproved. They hated when he came over to the house and they hated when he showed up at the bar and, quite frankly, they just fucking hated that guy. I didn't care so I didn't listen, which isn't that strange, I suppose. But it is strange, I think, that the reason I didn't listen is because I knew, the entire time I was dating him, that he didn't mean shit to me. And when I was finally bored with him I let one of our little squabbles escalate to the point where I could rationalize never seeing him again. And I didn't. See him again, I mean. But I'm not really like that anymore.

That's not to say that my old lifestyle, maybe our old lifestyle, isn't still very fucking seductive.

It's so easy not to give a shit, to fuck some string of boys and drop them as easily as you found them, to oh-so-conveniently not be available when they call and never have to say goodbye. It's so easy to have a huge, fun circle of friends that you never feel the need to hold accountable when they act deplorably. It's just so fucking easy to be twenty four and in love with no one but yourself and have your whole little life rotate around one little bar, and I wish I didn't miss us all from then but I do, and I guess I feel so reckless these days that I needed just a bit of that back.

That first night I saw you at The Duck, when I arrived with my niece on her 21st birthday and I followed you to Jeremiah's new house while they ate next door, that night it was just so easy to forget everything that I know has happened in my absence between then and now. And I sat on Jeremiah's sofa and drank a canned beer, and all of your goddamned faces just made me want it all back, all of it, all of us. But as soon as I was headed back down 38th to Fremont I realized that I live with Jeremiah's ex-girlfriend, Jenna, and I dated his brother, Ben, and they're all only barely speaking again, and I was friends with your ex-wife but maybe no longer, and I would still love to see Jeff but I've heard that somebody or another hates him now and I can't even remember who, and Shannon will probably never, ever speak to me ever again even now that I hear that she's married and has a kid or something, and Jake's wife keeps him extricated from everyone or at least that's what people say, and Gavin has moved to California and Mike is in Japan and everyone left here is fighting and everything I knew of us, for me, is so absolutely gone. It's gone because we have all changed, yes, but mostly it's because I have changed. I just can't tolerate some of the things that I used to.

I moved to San Francisco from Seattle on my niece's 13th birthday, so though it may have taken only eight short hours to change my name, it would appear that changing myself has taken eight long years.

"The beginning is the easy part," you told me, and had this been eight years ago I would have agreed with you, "that's the part where you are getting to know each other. When you're falling in love."

I always enjoyed our late night pillow talks, probably more than I ever mentioned, and when you said this I remember being so struck by your strict earnestness that all I could muster as a reply was a "hmm". I was so struck, you see, because in our now disjointed circuit of friends, rumors abound of your dishonesty. But you already know that, and you probably know why.

The beginning? Easy? If you give a shit then the beginning, for me, is just as hard as the end. There's all of this uncertainty and there's no plan at all, and the best you can hope for is that your feelings don't get away from you; that you can still explain to yourself how to feel and your body and heart will respond in kind. Does that ever really happen? If you're me then it doesn't, and you get too caught up to be rational, and you might get stuck between some boy and your girlfriends who are warning you against him, and then he finally does everything Jenna said he would do with such perfect accuracy that it's as if he's following a script she wrote for him, and you're left pining for those days when you could just stop answering his phone calls and smile politely when you see him at the bar and pretend that nothing ever happened until one day it seems like it didn't. Of course you're not me, and this isn't eight years ago, and now after all these years of our acquaintance you have become privy to new me: the one who shows up at your house in the middle of the night and wraps her arms around you and tries to explain to you, as sweetly as she can, why she can't see you anymore.

"I will miss you for days," I remember telling you, "until one day I won't."

I know you think I handed you the shit end of the stick that night, even if you were relieved, but it should make you feel at least a bit better knowing that I had just enough time left in Seattle to have this happen to me, too.

"No, I'm glad you're leaving. It's good you're going," you said to me one night, your cheek resting on the same pillow as mine, and I could just barely make out your eyes in the dark, "it's best that we part on a high note. When everything is still good."

"No, that's insane," I replied, "haven't you done this before? All of this sex and airplanes; it's best if something bad happens, that way you're not left at the airport with all of these 'what ifs'. Wondering what could have happened if you weren't leaving."

I was right, wasn't I? We seem to have parted perfectly, because I'm all the way down in New Orleans and we just spoke yesterday, and I asked you what you thought all this means; all of these cities and relentless traveling and our restless hearts. You told me that something, someday, might make me stay somewhere; but if you had seen me, at Sea-Tac the day I left--had you seen what I walked from--you might think differently, and now, like a script that I wrote for myself, I'm left with virtually no plan at all and a whole chorus of what ifs and I'm constantly wondering what I do and do not deserve.

But this isn't really about him, Blaine. This is about you, and about me, and about something that divides us from everyone. It's about all the dirty cities of the world in which people like you and I maintain different circles of friends, and it's about this whole odd scenario where all these separate worlds rarely cross. If you're anything like me, and you are, then you take some pride in this; in picking up and leaving and being comfortable on the road, but where you and I diverge is that I don't want to love this, and that I have learned how to say goodbye.

Goodbyes hurt, Blaine. They do. But we're older now, we've changed, and one day I want to want to settle down somewhere, but in the meantime I have come to grips with saying goodbye. And you should too, don't you think? I mean, it wasn't so bad when you said goodbye to me, was it? That very last night before my flight, you handed me my box and hugged me and said you hoped to see me soon.

"You'll see me," I said, "I don't know where, but you'll see me."

I don't remember the day we met, and I don't remember you specifically ever being around although I remember you around all the time, but the first time I remember seeing you, really seeing you, was that day I drove by in my ex boyfriend's car, the little blue one, and I saw you squatted in front of a drug store in Wallingford. I remember everything about you that day: what you were wearing and how long your hair was, and I remember the way your face looked and how your mouth wrapped into an "oh" as you realized who was calling your name from the drivers seat of a moving car and how you raised a tentative palm in my direction. The whole thing must have lasted, what...a second? And yet we both remember this day, I know because we whispered of it mid one of those long, long nights only a few weeks ago.

Now would normally come of couple of paragraphs were I would leave you some advice; this is the part where I would be explaining to you how and why you should be saying your goodbyes and not breaking ties on a whim and coming to grips with being hurt sometimes. But you hate advice and wont listen, and I know you just well enough to know how goddamned stubborn you can be sometimes. I could write a book about all the things I don't know, but this; I am right about this. We may forget, every single time we leave, why we are never satisfied being there and this may always bring us back, but now isn't the time to speak of this. In August, when I have left New Orleans and driven up through the middle of the country and flown back out west from Chicago, maybe then we can sit down together, maybe during the day or over beers, and we can speak then of the weight of all of our miles and the value of goodbyes.

That is, of course, if you haven't left already.

And in that case, then I implore you to please, pretty please, don't leave that place again without saying your goodbyes, because if you're anything like me, and you are, then you'll be back sooner than you think.