The following is a contribution by one of our Community Members to the Our Stories project.
I Wrote About Us
While Kingdom Hearts loomed over us
We tried to seek that innocence.
“Fight or flight, right?”
“Never flight,” he said.
And I asked him to take the guilt away
He said, “just be kind and appreciate.”
And I told him sometimes I wished I
Could sleep more and be awake
And he took a pull from his cigarette and
He said, “that solves nothing.”
I shivered in the cold and we took
One more photo together
And “don’t worry,” he said.
“We’ve accomplished so much.”
“What’s your favorite color?” He asked.
I said green and yellow, I can’t choose.
He asked why and I said
“Well, yellow is so bright and happy
And green, well, I mean, look at this.
Nature’s greens are so earthy and beautiful and come in many different shades.
And what about you?” I asked.
He said blue,
And when I asked why he said
“Well, look at the sky.
Because the sky and the ocean.”
He said: “you take the land and I’ll take the sea.”
Fall is the best season.
“Look at all these colors,” I said.
I picked up a leaf and put it in my book.
“Let’s smoke and talk,” he said.
And we sat and breathed in an unfamiliar air and he assured me that he would come back.
“I can do my Master’s here,” he said.
And I said, “you can go anywhere.”
He took some photos and asked me if one looked nice
But then he said,
“Well you like all my photos anyway.”
I felt as if I was doing something wrong
And I told him
That I was afraid
And what if my parents never forgive me?
And what if they hate me?
He said “no, they will always love you.”
He said, “like my parents will always love me.”
Unless they know about us, I can’t say for sure.
The moon was illuminating
Like a hole in the sky leading to heaven.
There was no other light
And the sky looked beautiful from here
And there was no other sound than the beating of our hearts.
Some stillness we couldn’t really grasp.
That the mania in our minds couldn’t sync to.
And I know it’s been four years
But I can’t get over the fact that they live halfway across the world.
“Fast asleep,” he said.
Sure, we ran away.
But how could we have stayed?
They didn’t know about us.
We couldn’t be ourselves
We couldn’t be happy.
And if we were, it was always forced and temporary.
Okay, so how can we go back?
We threw ourselves into the most un-noticing city
And he ached for peace of mind
And I ached for self-acceptance
But while our bodies walked or ran or fell or rotted here
Our hearts were half-way across the world
But we can be ourselves here, right?
He can speak his opinionated mind and not get thrown into jail
He can kiss a boy and not get threatened to die
I can smoke my cigarettes and drink my beer without being shunned in society
I can kiss a girl and not get threatened to die
And here we can breathe
And explore ourselves unapologetically
And this feels so right
But our heads never did get peace
In this city, we might have lost it even more
And our lungs never did stop smoking
And even in this place and not in that
We still feel incomplete
We still feel out of place
And what more can we do
For this to be okay?
For 2.75 I can commute from Harlem to Flatbush
But how much do I need to pay to commute from here and home?
How much money am I spending/wasting
By living here
And our time here
The 40 year old Yemini man at my bodega
(Who I always speak to in Arabic)
(Who I always talk to about back home)
Said his friend told him that he saw me kiss a girl once and asked me if it was true
And I panicked because
I never learned how to come out
In my native tongue
Coming Out Day
We were waiting
The bus was 20 minutes late.
When I came out, he didn’t tell me
I told him I wished he had come out to me
Right there and then
Because at least someone could share my suffering
He said how could he?
And I thought nobody understood me
While we both
September 27th, 2016
He said that was a day he’ll always remember.
But nothing special happened
Nothing magical or unique or significant came to him
But after months of wasting away mornings
His roommate came into the apartment at 5 AM and woke him up
He said he could not even remember the last time he woke up that early
He said “yeah, sure, I was mad but I said ‘fuck it’”
And he stepped out into his balcony at dawn
He lit a cigarette and watched the sunrise
And he used to love to watch the sunrise.
He said that day was perfect.
He had his morning to himself
He went to class right on time
And then he came to see me.
He said it was perfect.
And maybe it’s unrelated or maybe it is
That that day, exactly a year ago,
He came out to his brother.
Even being in a room full of Arabs
All chanting to the same song
And did you know the lead singer of that band is gay?
“Yeah he’s cute,” he said.
You think any of these people are gay?
Do you think any of these people understand?
That the smallest thing gives us an explosion of hope
Like QueerAbs on Tumblr
Or Tarab from Pride
And that could be us someday.
We can make that change
And we will rid ourselves
Of 18 years of oppression and denial and silence
And maybe someday we can yell it or scream it
But for now
This is okay.
I see him across the platform
His head down to his phone
Catching the downtown 1 while I wait
For the uptown 1.
I see him.
“The One Who’s Full of Life”
He’s full of poetry, I think.
While he feels messy
5 Hours Left
He gives me songs to listen to
While we charge for the ride ahead
And every time he laughs
He tells me why
And he said that when people go, they are gone
And how could it just be over like that?
That sometimes he wants whoever leaves
To come back
To fix it.
And we smoked our cigarettes and breathed fire
And I said,
“Look at us.
We had gone.
And we came back for each other.”
And he said: and it’s so much…
“So much more genuine”
And who knew
That we’d fit together like this.
We still don’t know for sure
Where home is.
“I love that poem,” he said
And I told him that I had mentioned him in something I wrote
He said he wanted to see
And I never sent it to him
But he knew, I think
Before I had to tell him
That one day
When I was ready
I was going to write about him.
I was going to write about us.