Chronic

Journal

Can you feel it? Seeping in through your pores? Crawling up your spine as an ache? Disguised as the creaking of your joints, it settles in.

You cannot escape it.

Sitting up, your back ceases. You cannot move. The bags under your eyes have gained weight. Your temples begin to pulse.

Dehydration. Chronic exhaustion. Your body needs rest, water, food.

Life does not permit. There are bills to be paid, groceries to be bought, work to be done, chores that go neglected, school work that sits on the desk though the week.

Once you get home, though the intention was there to do these things, you fall into bed and cannot rise.

There is no time. It has been stolen from you, your life, these precious hours have been plucked like daisies of last year. You had no choice.

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fa·tigue

Journal

I never have a day off- bags under my eyes grow into an old expression on my face. Something more permanent, harder to dispose of with a cup of coffee or one good nights rest.

I’m happier in my free time, however.

Laying in bed to take a nap, it has become the most luxurious commodity I can imagine.

Always smelling like espresso grounds and dish sanitizer. Can’t get the smell out of my pants.

And when the thought lurks into my mind to slow down and take a day off, I remember why I’m working so hard right now. One day I want to be able to sleep in until 10 everyday. One day I want to be driving a car with heated leather seats and unnecessary lights everywhere. One day I want to go shopping at Sephora and Whole Foods without having to check the prices on everything I pick up.

So that means San Francisco. That means University. That means putting myself through school. Long months. Long hours. Minutes of insanity. Long walks late at night after twelve hour days, five hours of lectures and an entire workday all in one- can’t sleep anymore. not even when i’m exhausted.

not even with a glass of wine.

or a hot shower.

or sex.

Exhaustion weeps from my pores.

slight·ly

Journal

Now that I’m about a month into living in San Francisco, I’ve begun to realize the things I’ve been doing that aren’t sustainable. My job, for instance. Waking up at 4am every other day and on the weekends, it’s not working. I’m exhausted, sick, and never have time to study.

My education, I’m realizing, is my ticket out of having to live like this. Granted I don’t accumulate student debt, I will be able to do so much more with my life. Sacrificing my education over a minimum wage, high stress job isn’t worth it in the end.

I’ve also noticed some fundamental differences between Travis and I – they aren’t necessarily bad, but these differences are posing questions for myself. Of course, all these questions are hypothetical and I can’t actually answer any of them..

He was raised in a community where houses average 1.5 million dollars in cost, where they might not seem incredibly ‘nice’, but their location makes them desirable. He goes to a private school that costs more than what I make in a year for tuition. We come from very different social classes- I’ve always have to work for what I wanted. Always had to sweat and grind for the things that I needed. My life isn’t cushiony or soft, it’s not positive unless I put the effort in for it to be. And he’s got an espresso machine in his kitchen. His own room, with a sofa and TV in it.

Yesterday I got to talking about some issues I have with my mom, and he mentioned knowing it was selfish, but said he got overwhelmed when I talked to him about my issues. He was doing homework and helping some friends out, but I’m wondering if he doesn’t have the emotional maturity for the kind of relationship I’d like.

Of course, he is a young guy, so maybe he’ll mature into that kid of person.. but I can’t expect that. If this is who he is, can I make it work? Is it a relationship that is right for me to cultivate? He’s very loving, and remembers just about everything I say. But he’s also a little bit power hungry.

But he gives me emotional satisfaction when we’re together. He’s easy going for the most part. But something feels off sometimes. The sex isn’t mind blowing, but it’s decent. Best sex I’ve had in awhile. He’s not afraid of taking things slowly every once in awhile.. but still something seems off, I can’t get away from it.

eu·pho·ri·a

Journal

Travis – he’s a normal guy. Listens to mildly angsty music, doesn’t seem too troubled, he’s got friends and a social life. However, unlike other normal guys I’ve talked to, he seems to have another dimension to himself. Ya know, a personality.

He’s kind of insecure, but it’s not distracting and it doesn’t seem self-destructive. He’s observant. He remembers things. He is self aware. He’s mildly afraid of intimacy, but I think he wants it.

Me? Perhaps there was some projection there. I like him, but I’m pushing him away. I don’t know what to do with intimacy – it terrifies me. I’ve learned that it’s not the other person, it really is me. It always has been. I’m the one who pushes people away and won’t let anyone in.

I want to learn how to let him in. I want to let him connect with me and put my facade away for a moment. This girl I’ve created on the outside, she isn’t friendly. I want to show him I can be friendly, supportive, interested in more than physical pleasures, but I’m so used to playing hard to get and using mildly degrading actions to seem disinterested.

It’s just a habit now. A habit I want to break- if I don’t push him away first. But I can already feel a dissonance – that there is a disconnect I created. It wasn’t there at first. It started when I became insecure about whether or not he was seeing other people. I told him I wasn’t, and he smiled but didn’t say it back. It’s an irrational fear because I have spent eight of nine days with him. But he talks about girls he saw in the past, almost like he’s trying to prove something to me.

It just makes me less likely to trust him. It makes me insecure. Jealous. I know he sees it, he always asks if he said something wrong. I don’t want things to be like that. I don’t want him to feel like he has to monitor his words, I wish I didn’t get jealous and could just trust him.

The first time we hung out everything was so effortless. The wind on our faces and the waves crashing into the rocks, and we just talked. And the time after that when we took a walk on the beach at night- effortless. Honestly it feels like that still, until I feel insecure about something. I need to wave that insecurity away because it’s not productive. It hasn’t helped anything. If I want this thing between Travis and I to work, I have to learn to overcome my own insecurity.

I think we make each other happy.

har·mo·ni·ous

Journal

I write about the cavernous pain I feel inside as if it is the only truth the world holds- but I realized there is a lighter truth that is equally as true.

They exist in the world, contradicting and yet somehow both right in their own way.

Pain exists, the truth of ugly and paralyzing agony. But so does happiness. Happiness exists too. It comes in the form of lighthearted laughter and falling in love- happiness comes in the form of sunshine and chocolate and family, and it is just as true as the pain.

I always knew happiness was real, but to hold it to the same standard as pain was a new thought. What if they were equals? Happiness as powerful as pain?

Since moving, I’ve been forced to evaluate who I am and the values I put out into the world everyday. Meeting new people who exhibit their own values and showing the world how they exist.

I’ve met happy people, bitter people, generous people, anxious people, and I’m learning what kind of person I am. Learning what kind of person I am not, the kind of person I do not want to be.

I met this guy, he brings out my better parts and I still feel like my rebellious self. I don’t feel like I have to hide any aspects of who I am. It makes communicating so easy, spending time together effortless. We spent so much time together this last week and I haven’t gotten tired of him. I don’t know that I could.

Last night when we were studying together, I finished my homework before him. So I did what I naturally just do and I started tidying his room; made his bed, picked up the miscellaneous bags he had on the floor, the papers that had gathered under the coffee table, and afterward he looked me in my eyes and asked if I was ready to define things.

Of course I don’t know him entirely, it has only been a week. But today I looked at this guy at my university who looks kinda like Travis and it reminded me of him, and the words that went through my head were “that looks like my boyfriend”-

But last night I told him I wasn’t sure yet, because we hadn’t known each other that long.

I’m very cautious now. I’m not trusting. I don’t want to get hurt and this.. this could end up hurting me. This happiness has the ability to turn into unimaginable pain, and for as resilient as I am, I am also very fragile.

com·pe·tence

Journal

It’s been eleven days since I’ve seen a familiar face-

My voice shakes when I talk now. My arms hesitate when grabbing something. Unsure of every action I take.

I’m hungry all of the time. I am scared of the world around me. I am afraid of the future.

I have never been this way before.

At night when I need to cry, I can’t. I want everyone around me to like me, my roommate most importantly. I don’t want to annoy anyone.

Even when they eat my food and use my things, I keep quiet. I know they’re using me. I just want somewhere I belong.

Aside from the community garden below my building, I have no where that is my own. Temporarily the elevator is, until the doors slide open and another set of legs walk into my space. And then I must attach the face, and straighten the spine, and god forbid, smile.

I do not feel like smiling. I feel like locking myself in a room and eating. Eating. Eating. Eating. That uncontrollable urge to shove as much food into my face as I can until I choke, hoping I get fat, hoping I lose this feeling, hoping I feel full and content and happy.

But I won’t. I never do.

I’ll continue feeling out of place, a puzzle piece in the wrong box. 6/7 days of the week, I wish I were back making popcorn and doing what I knew. I was good. I was capable.

I am not capable here.

Instead, I pour coffee before it’s done brewing. I drop croissants. I can’t understand my French roommate. I can’t figure out where the hell my assignments are posted online. I don’t have enough money. I couldn’t fill FAFSA out properly. I can’t stay in contact with the people I love.

Everything is falling down around me, because of me.

Resilience

Journal

I need something more to show for my effort in life. I also need to be less passionate about the people I have feelings for. Right? That poses a moral dilemma for me, though. I should allow myself to wholly be myself. But I also like people, and I know I came off too strong with Leo and not strong enough with Tristan- because I was worried about seeming clingy. Now, Jacob has me all mixed up, I don’t know how to act around him- so I was awkward and mixed my words around like a fucking blender. I’m frustrated. This whole situation is frustrating. So he’s gone for a month- to Nevada and then somewhere else (I think Europe..?).

He intimidates me, only 20 and already has a legitimate career because he’s got this incredible brain. He didn’t even have to go to college or anything. That’s a quality I hold in high regard, it’s something that I respect. However, it also means he’s never had a minimum wage job and one can only have so much life expirience without that. That makes him less genuine to me. He’s got this socially awkward thing going on, but gets away with it because he’s attractive and has a sense of style.

Weird thing happened though, after sex he almost cried. He didn’t, but I could see it in his eyes. Maybe he was holding back a sneeze? And he kissed my forehead during sex– which I’m not used to having any sort of emotional connection or attachment and it caught me off guard. But he also hasn’t talked to me for two days straight and he’s supposedly back home packing to move to San Francisco, but I’m not sure I trust him. I don’t know that I believe he’ll see me once he comes back. Maybe I was too cold?? Too harsh? I know I can be. Maybe he just doesn’t like me.

Our interactions made me insecure- I didn’t feel like I was enough. And it didn’t help that I was rude to him. I use it as a defense mechanism when I feel threatened…

When we first started talking two years ago, I felt this same way and it trigger the biggest personality change in me. I grew a thicker skin and overall became resilient. But how am I supposed to know he won’t hurt me like that again and ghost me? I know he mentioned thinking I was less awkward and more attractive than him, but he did it once before.

I would be an idiot to think he wouldn’t.

I learned to put less value on guys perception of me. It would hurt to have him ignore me again. I need validation and hate to ask for it. I wish I was stronger.

be·lov·ed

Journal

I fell in love with a boy in this small town. I didn’t believe in love at first sight before him- but I can still tell you the first time I looked in his eyes. It felt like some monumental moment had happened, something that would change the course of history.

Today I said goodbye to him, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

I got to meet his dog and play on his piano and listen to him play. I got to look out on the hills and valleys with him and the wind tossed my hair. We ate ice cream and listened to our music. We hugged. We said goodbye.

I don’t know if he was sober enough to remember holding me while we watched Eighth Grade, but he held my hand the entire time. And kept his arm around my shoulder.

I remember showing up after his shift with his favorite coffee. Stargazing underneath the posters outside the theatre, by his bike. It was chilly. We went to the grocery store together. He blew vape into my face in the dark parking lot; I could spend every day with him and not get bored.

And the time I wrote him that letter I wasn’t sure I’d give him- I stuffed it behind the cover of “All The Light We Cannot See”, the book I was reading at the time. He pulled it from my hands and I took it as a sign from Fate herself, and told him to open the cover. The letter I had written him, his name on the outside and all, fell into his hands.

The time he came to my apartment and we nearly had sex, but he stopped it from happening. That was good, things would have been too complicated between us.

If all this means nothing, then I’ve been played.

It’s time to let go of the pipe dream that was Leonardo – accept that I will be living far from him. I love him. I might always love him.

But I have to grow now.

Leonardo

Journal

The things I feel around you, I can’t describe. I could have been stressing about the world ending, but suddenly when I’m with you none of that matters. The moment we are sharing is the only thing that exists and it is beyond beautiful. It is beauty. It is the embodiment of perfection.

I hope I always remember the way you smelled when my head was on your shoulder tonight. I hope I always remember how right it felt for you to be holding my hand. I hope I always remember melting into your shoulder as you run your fingers through my hair. Your laughter made me laugh. Your happiness is my happiness.

And yet the time we have left has already been bought and sold like an animal headed to the slaughter house. It’s death is eminent. The rendezvous we had today is only a taste of the happiness I could have felt everyday.

What is most torturous is knowing how unlikely it is that I will feel this way again with someone else. And you only desired it when you knew how the days were numbered and stacked against your favor.

It will be a loss for you, to not have a girl at work who is insane for you. Not the way that I was.

The way I feel for you doesn’t happen often. What most people call love, that’s just a cheap imitation of my feelings for you.

Every second I spend in this town without you, I remember the agony you placed on me by standing me up.

Which is proof enough that whatever you feel for me, however fond you feel toward me, it won’t ever compare to the reality of you in my mind.

After the movie was over and done with, and you were in the restroom, I heard people talking about how annoying “the guy laughing in the back” was – and all it did was make my heart glow because I knew that guy. I knew him, and I had been the one laughing with him. There was pride in it, and I smiled to myself as they walked by.

That annoying laugh, I got to hear for a year at work. I got to roll my eyes at it. I got to smile to myself when I heard it reverberate through the halls of Galaxy.

I got to roll my eyes at the voice singing and take let it take my breath away. Not because it was abnormally beautiful, but because I was absolutely head over heels with that guy. That loud, selfish, unobservant guy.

Our time is up, and the argument could be made that nothing ever became of us, but to me- this was the greatest love story of all time, with a heart wrenching and gut twisting ending.

Maybe I’ll write a book about you one day, Leo. You better be prepared.

/brēf/

Journal

My life is on the verge of starting a new chapter – but it’s honestly more dramatic than that. I know what new chapters feel like, this is like the beginning of a second book. I know myself better than ever, about to move out alone for the first time. No more Riley to hold my hand through life – I’ll be alone. In San Francisco. No partner, no family, nothing.

I’ve got an apartment, roommates, a new job, enrolled in a university. I have no idea what life is going to be like, but I’m hopeful. Before yesterday I was just a ball of stress, I didn’t think my family supported my decision, but I got a card from my Grandma. It had a check for $1,000 and it was a game changer. I deposited it directly into my savings and that shit is not going to be touched. It’s my emergency fund. I had saved more than that, but it was gone within a week after I had to pay rent for two places, deposits.

I was terrified of moving, and then this happened. It was dramatic enough to make me, a staunch atheist, wonder if a higher power existed. I had no money, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy groceries and had been eating free popcorn and chips from work. For a week.

Overnight I had my savings back, that I had been working on for a year, saving every penny I could. I’m going to continue doing that, but this is such a boost.

I’m ready to get out of this damn town, I’m ready to fucking fly. Get away from my goddamn demons. All the dumb guys I’ve seen or loved or whatever, I swear I won’t even think about them once I’m gone. I don’t have the headspace for that bullshit anymore.

It’s about survival, thriving in school and at work, molding myself into a person I am proud to be. I’ll get there, I swear to fucking god I will.

I’m ready to prove to everyone who has told me that I can’t, or who gave disapproving looks when mentioned my plans after high school.

Even if I’m living off an EBT card, even if I have to get a student loan and work forty hours a week while in school full-time, I’m going to do it.