A single sound shoots through the summer night. It’s loud and fast and gone before I can comprehend what is happening. There are no rippling sounds that fade into the darkness. No colors flying across the sky. No screams for help. As I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon, I’ve only heard this sound twice, at different times the last two nights. My only response to hearing such a jarring noise is looking out the window, texting a friend who is sleeping in the room across from mine, and locking the door. I don’t have time to be concerned about what I do not know. My mind is too busy to be distracted by external worries at this present moment.
I was in a McDonald’s bathroom somewhere in Iowa.
I was exhausted from a weekend full of family time and walking
around the Minnesota State Fair.
My dad and I had left a few hours before dawn and began the long drive back home.
As soon as we got on the road, I instantly fell back asleep,
holding the old stuffed animal dog I got as a Christmas gift when I was 8.
We had stopped at McDonald’s to get breakfast and pee.
I was washing my hands when I noticed how glaringly puffy my eyes were.
What is going on?
I thought as I poked the puffy skin around my eyes, taking in this unfamiliar sight.
I walked away from the mirror to leave,
only to return seconds later to stare at this unusual occurrence once more.
I chalked it up to not enough sleep and too much driving and walking
within a short period of time (something I’m not known to do).
This conclusion reassured me enough to leave the restroom without panicking.
I can’t remember if I asked my dad if he noticed anything different.
If I did, he probably just told me the same thing I told myself: it’s nothing.
We got back in the car and continued our long journey home.
As we were merging back onto the highway, I checked my puffy eyes
once again through the camera app on my phone.
In natural light, they were still puffy.
It’s fine. It’s fine. I just need more sleep.
Oh, the stories we tell ourselves in the moment so we don’t obsessively wonder
what bad things could be happening.
I’m older than I was but I still feel quite young.
Birthdays aren’t as celebratory the older I get.
It’s just another age that takes a whole year
To adjust to saying, only to have to change it
When my birthday comes along again.
There’s nothing special about turning 26
Except for health insurance and my license expires.
As a kid, I thought I would have everything
Figured out by this age. Turns out, there’s no trick
To being an adult, everyone’s just winging it
And processing things in the moment.
So cheers to another year of figuring things out
As they happen and learn not to stress about
Things that haven’t happened yet.
If you take to me some place new,
then tell me to find my way back
without using a map or phone,
I can do it.
I could not be paying attention,
distracted by the screen in my hand
or the music I'm listening to,
and I'd still be able to find the street
I've only been on once before.
I can go to places I don't go to often,
the desert of my childhood,
the busy city that never sleeps,
the quiet down by coast
where my mother was born
and instantly know where I'm heading.
I can hear your name five times
and recognize your face
before I remember your name.
I could be paying close attention,
listening to what you're saying,
nodding with every detail,
and walk away remembering your story
with no idea of what your name is.
If you tell me your name,
I will forget it five seconds
after I hear it.
The open screen door lets the cool morning air into the kitchen. Water is heating in a pot that’s on a circle plugged into the wall sitting on the counter. I open my computer and do a New York Times’ crossword puzzle as I wait for the boiling point. When I hear the circle turn off from a click on the top of the pot, I grab a mug, pour the water, add a tea bag, and return to the crossword. The more I do crossword puzzles, the easier they become. My double vision comes and goes depending on what angle my eyes are facing. I grab a sweater to warm the goosebumps on my arm. My day usually begins this way. Some details may shift just slightly but it’s more or less like this.
I look out to the west to see
the mountains have vanished
underneath a blanket of heavy
rain clouds. For hours, I wait for
the rain to fall. Sometimes, it comes
and passes within minutes. Other times,
like today, it lingers for hours, teasing
its arrival while never actually
making its way to the plains.
There’s a split in my reality
every morning and night.
When what I see doubles
into this hallucination like state,
my brain is confused. My eyes
don’t work together for longer than
twelve hours a day. Individually,
they’re fine. Left is down
and right is up. If I cover one,
my vision is single and up
or single and down.
Whatever I’m looking at
will move to a different space
without me moving my head.
I try my best to fight it until
my eyes are no longer cooperating
and I’m forced to go to bed.