Posts tagged “life

Accidental Mindfulness

Posted on 13 April 2017

How many hours have slid by as I peered out of a window, strange lands passing along beside me? Of those times, how many have I disembarked from a train, bus, plane, shouldering my pack, unsure of where I was going next, where I would sleep? Enough to almost fully know that fluttering panic won’t help. Enough to often suppress the urge. Enough to observe what comes and go along with it, nearly sans distress. A shaky stillness came to me unconsciously, over time. This isn’t my natural state: it took plenty of those trains, buses, and planes to reach a place where—had you told me this before, I would have laughed at you, askance—I don’t think too hard and instead calmly move along.…

Glimpses of Slaughter and Silence

Posted on 20 November 2016

There was a wall before me. I ran my hands along it. I peered over it. I spent months perched on top, dangling my feet over the edge, observing. I scraped my elbows and palms, gathering glimpses at foreboding pasts and awful alternative presents, collecting calluses. The wall is cracking beneath my palms. Genocide seems far away. Even when standing on its grounds, an inexperienced mind, sans memories, isn’t elastic enough to fully accept this truth. When I was there, I tried, I really did. I looked at everyone my age and older: Which side were you on? What memories do you hold in your body? Around me, motortaxis zipped by. Rwanda truly felt safe to me. Reconciling pleasant Kigali with what I knew…

Don’t Let Go

Posted on 1 October 2016

Journey back to my erstwhile home, journey back over a decade. Emily jogs toward me grinning, my hand is outstretched. Her hand slaps mine, she moves on. As we run around, the darkness lowers upon us, the stadium lights flicker on. We regard each other, smirking in our minimal underarmour despite the cold, bumping and slapping into each other with camaraderie and a ferocity. Often, she would leap at me from behind, grabbing my shoulders in a tough hug, her smile never quite overflowing into a laugh. The sports roughhousing was comfortable, but life is not. She was killed slowly by forces I recognize but only weathered in small part. And her story is not mine to tell. Her story doesn’t lie interred, however,…

Truths

Posted on 3 May 2016

Death fluttered beside me. After heavily wading through waves, I climbed up onto the rocks. Routine walking was encumbered by annoyance. Smiles couldn’t penetrate me; no, I deflected them by turning away and retreating into my sullenness. The little, supposedly cheery banalities echoed around the cliffs like bullets. I backed into a cave and barricaded the entrance. Death cast its shadow. It was only right to sit within it. After her death, the days stretched out long and grey. I wanted to return to Ohio again and again and again. I had been there to see her, and I had been there to bury her. It felt wrong to be separated from this place. And from the people! We had held each other, reaching,…

For Truth of Yes and No

Posted on 23 January 2016

We enter our dark Seattle apartment after a day of flying across the world. We mildly half unpack, we look at the internet, we go to sleep. The next morning, I wake up. The next morning is a week away from the beginning of a cascade of horrible news. This morning is a week away from the memorial. This morning is five mornings away from flying much of the way across the country, for reasons I wish I could obliterate. The anxiety rustling in my chest, in my throat, on the series of planes to Mandalay was not the usual travel apprehension. It was the bristles of a real fear: what if it happens when I am here? When I am all the way…

Kto Znayet, Who Knows

Posted on 12 October 2015

I used to walk the streets of Saint Petersburg, propelling myself forward at a strident pace. Sometimes, passerby would stop me and ask me for directions. I told them I didn’t know where I was, where I was going. I’ve seen people travel to Russia with an image in their mind. A romantic image: a dark but gorgeous, majestic place, literary geniuses winding their way through the lamp lit streets, symphony notes hovering in the air, poetry in the wind. A harsh image: never ending Soviet apartment blocks, grey sky, grey streets, grey faces, a hush all around, a terror gripping you, reaching out from every pulled-aside curtain in the window. A chaotic image: mafia men roaming the streets, lawlessness abound, money exchanges on…

What’s Mine and Isn’t

Posted on 8 February 2015

I don’t know why, exactly. From 2006 on, there has always been a tug. It can get severe. In 2007, on the departing train, I cried for an hour, by myself, heavily. I was leaving a place that wasn’t wholly mine, but felt like it should be. I was leaving a place that felt more like mine than anywhere I’d been before. Always the question: what if I were Finnish? What if I could stay? And when I am gone, well, there floats a weight of absence somewhere in my chest. It dimmed somewhat when I knew that I’d be back, just like the year before. Until I wasn’t. Until I sat at my computer, doing my graduate school work but really half examining…

Exposed Means Open

Posted on 1 January 2015

I got off the bus in Sigulda and began wandering in what I thought was the direction of the sites based on my previous glances at maps. Castles, palaces, forest—I’d see what I’d see. Only shouldering my little backpack (my large one sat in storage at the Riga bus station), armed with water and not really any snacks, I had the day to spare before taking an evening bus from Riga to Tartu, Estonia. I found the Gauja River after hopping down a muddy batch of stairs and walked across the bridge alongside the cars passing by. To my upper right I saw the tower of Turaida Castle peeking out from above the trees. Aha, I’ll go there, I thought. After examining my options, I…

2014, Mountains of Everything

Posted on 28 December 2014

Dividing the year by months perhaps isn’t the easiest thing to do. This year, more than many others, stretched and shrank; some days did not end and some weeks flew by, for better and worse, all blurry and already past. My brain was not a reliable instrument. Some things it refuses to remember clearly. What happened to me in January, in February? It is hard to say. And then, what in August, in September, in October? Too much to say. Nonetheless, I split the year into twelve parts, simply because I like lists. January. The year turned over grey. February. I couldn’t hide. Everything was bleak was seemingly endless. That’s all I’ll say. March. It began with headaches, but gradually that passed. And I…