Are you only attracted to something sturdy because you’re rachet? If I’m your last resting place, who was your first?
It’s always the same. Cheap white plastic drooling at the corners. I see you straggle in. You tell stories about parties while I hear who used you. Friends, you say. They’ll never see you again. You smell like flavored apple cigars, but the good kind.
How could you know the difference?
Empty boxes of cigarettes with the foil left shining almost look like chocolate. It’s a special treat., you claim. Every time it opens up, the packaging is still inside.
Or maybe it’s me. I like to be the protector: the white night in the morning. I love the way you shine even when you’re empty. Don’t tell me you haven’t felt the way I hold on.
I know you hate everything, but you know you love me.
Thank God we’re over the past. It was an ugly time for anyone, but especially hard on us. There were times when it seemed you would never get here, but I knew you were stuck in time.
I know you think I was running from you, but really, who wouldn’t? You were so creepy with your insistence on everything now. Images of bad 90s workout videos to songs like Pump Up The Jam were a constant threat to my reality. Would anyone want to listen to that when Jane Fonda seemed so much better?
Everything looks better in Sepia. Even those bowl haircuts that boys used to have. Now they’re almost cute. Now that they aren’t around anymore. What is it that goes on now that will look better in the future? I know. I know. It doesn’t matter, it’s not happening. Future and past don’t exist.
But let me ask you one thing, before we figure it out. Did you ever say to someone “Live in the moment” only to laugh at yourself? Just for a minute. Disregarding the idea that you truly believe what you say, did the humor ever reach you, when you truly wished it wouldn’t?
Which moment, is what I want to know, did you decide you weren’t my future?
I enjoy what we’ve got going on right now and I’m not trying to give you grief. But please, let me know: if you want to go further, I can always take you back.
You were there when I was broke. You looked like something out of a postage store with your nondescript packaging. It was before the idea of dainty handles made from braided paper. Fitting in was out of style.
There’s a certain dignity to being plain when you know you’re a necessity. Frills are for those without substance. Your no nonsense attitude was perfect for packed lunches on the job. I put the beer at the bottom.
So why did you change? Did you feel the need to compete with shoulder bags? Were you trying to attract someone else? Someone who had places to go? Someone who wanted to be seen?
I miss giving you notes.
Don’t worry about a thing – he probably didn’t even notice they caught fire. Remember to act stupid and I’ll see you at home.
I miss giving you everything I could find. Mints stolen from the Chinese food store down the street. Sandwiches with three different kinds of meat. You were open to everything.
I saw you, or the latest version of you, at the grocery store last week and couldn’t bring myself to walk over. Sitting in the same aisle as organic wrapping paper and blank cards featuring vaguely artistic photographs, you weren’t in the right place.
I know how you feel, and yes, you’ve come to the right place. I can tell the kind of person you are because of the way you feel. Your wandering energy seems listless, but I know you’re searching. You want things to make sense. You’re tired of the prison your life has become. I understand. I know.
You may be wearing the same clothes as everyone else, but the colors and textures of your mind betray you. You’re different. You’re beautiful in a way that is so unique, no one else could understand the complexities of your life. You doubt yourself. You doubt your future. You don’t doubt the transition forward.
You see me hanging in a Chinatown shop on your way to somewhere else. Thousands of gold painted coins with symbols you can’t understand sit in the bowl below me. Every one of them is one in the same. You want something else.
When you first picked me up, I felt the fingertips of a person who has experienced more. You’ve seen things no one else can describe. Your emotions run deeper. Your expression flows wider.
You need me because just like you, we are both the same. We are special. Like everyone else, we know.
There comes a time in everyone’s life where the past seems better than the present. You get old, you get tired, you don’t feel like driving twenty minutes to work every single day and you start to think, remember that time when I was seventeen?
No. You don’t remember that time when you were seventeen. You don’t remember when your best friend’s mom screamed at you for feeding her son pot out of a hollowed out apple. You don’t remember how your stomach bulged out of the neon green spandex that you had to buy because Stacy Q. was beyond amazing. You don’t remember the first time you went to a night club and danced until you accidentally elbowed the shy guy in the eye.
You remember Sublime. You remember sitting stretched out in the back of your friend’s 1980’s Honda Accord while you dangled your arm out the window. You remember the rainbow-colored beanie that you could have sworn were the colors of the Jamaican flag. You remember that guy with the dreads who said you didn’t ever need to shampoo again just as long as you had Bees Wax. You remember thinking you could keep riding in that car forever.
But thank God, you got out. You no longer had to stay on your mom’s couch eating pizza Pringles and watching reruns of bad sitcoms. You made it past abstinence-only education, dodgeball, and pregnant cheerleaders.
Now you just have to change the CD.
It was never Sublime. It will never have been Sublime. It’s been over 20 years and you hate pop reggae.
I see you. I see you checking out my shelf, pretending like you’re cool enough to hang out. You come waltzing in here, half used up, expecting to be picked up again. But you’re not going anywhere. You’re going to sit around with all the other half empty Diet Coke bottles and pity yourself. Just like you always do.
Rise up! What are you doing so close to the bottom? If you would just rise to the occasion and make yourself full again – you wouldn’t have to be stuck in the back, waiting for someone else to choose your destiny.
It’s unnatural. You’re unnatural. Look at that other bottle of half empty Diet Coke. Not that one. The one sitting next to you. That one’s been here for close to three weeks now and there’s no mold. It’s almost like it’s not alive.
The half empty bottle of lemonade doesn’t do that. The CranApple doesn’t do that. But you, you are an enigma. You are dark and yet shallow. You used to be bubbly, but now you’re mysteriously quiet. You have absolutely no smell. And your exterior is always a hard shell of clear plastic. You are kind of bizarre. You are kind of refreshing.
I recognize that I might not have the stark, conservative look that you’re going for this year. I am not a red globe ornament or a string of white lights. I am however, just as bright as the rest and arguably more festive than any other decoration you have chosen to display.
I started off hanging from a telephone wire in the Hispanic section of town. For several nights out of the year I would glow different colors to symbolize the comfort of home. People loved me. I brought cheer to the poorest of neighborhoods until one day someone said I was a fire hazard. Reluctantly I watched as my place on the block slowly unraveled. Rest assured, my personality would never spark a conversation about destruction. Although I am unique, loved by many, and talked about by all, I do not have a fiery disposition.
My resume includes functions such as: Mardi Gras. Halloween. New Years. And even a few nightclubs. I have experience with all types of people.
While your white and red tree looks quite tasteful in the dining room of our town’s beloved country club, I think it could use a variety of color. I hope you will consider what I have to offer useful.
I hope this doesn’t come across in the wrong way. You are a beautiful dish in your own right and I admire your sturdiness. It is clear that you’re a very accommodating plate and will always hold as much as you can. However, I’ve been talking it over with the group and we’re not sure if you would make the right impression for our annual family dinner.
Your resume is quite impressive and it’s not that we don’t appreciate your thrift store past, it’s just that we find you might have a difficult time relating to the others. This place setting is reserved for someone with more experience in the fine dining atmosphere.
Your hard edge must have served a good purpose for you in previous jobs, but we feel that the chip on your side can not easily be mended. I understand your last dinner party overlooked this aspect, but unfortunately this is a more formal setting.
In addition to the manners in which our table uphold, you also seem unfit in the looks department. While you were once, I’m sure, a beautiful, bright blue, you appear to have faded throughout the years. The decorative design that tattoos your whole body is a bit much for our usual look and to be quite frank, your complexion is not what should necessarily be showcased for this particular event.
For this years dinner we would really prefer all of our table to be matching. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience, but we will not be needing your services at this time. If you are still looking for a place come June, perhaps a summer picnic outside would better fit your needs.
You weren’t so desperate when we first met. Your body was pregnant with the possibility of adventure. All I had to do was think and you came to life. So eager were you to expose the markings of my ink that I turned red. Now when I try, everything comes out stale. You ruined it. You made me your everything just so you could stare blankly into space while I tried. And I tried so hard.