In the Dark Brightly

​When I was a kid, the snowmachines would plow the roads in my neighborhood and leave the snow in a large pile in the middle of a cul-de-sac. The neighborhood boys would go out and mess with it and turn it into half a fortress and half a King of the Hill battleground.
The winters in Alaska are long and deep and often clear, and I was lucky in that my grandmother would often give me a little more time to spend outside after the street lights came on.
I’d find myself out on that snow hill alone a lot. In my snow pants and my snow jacket and my gloves and thick hat, I would lay down on top and stare up at the pearls that sat atop a clean black silk blanket. I must have been ten, twelve years old.
I didn’t think about love then, or at least not in the same way I do now. I didn’t think about death, or success, or what it meant to be happy. I was a troubled kid. I grew up in a healthy household but parental addiction and strife were always in the periphery and I was bullied a lot.  So a lot of who I am now was there then. Maybe even the purest, most enduring part: I just wanted to be. I wanted to… I don’t know, experience. Something. Anything of value. I was a kid staring into the cosmos, for a brief moment away from my loving but sometimes overbearing grandparents, away from my dad smelling like sweat and cheap beer, away from my mom asking me for cab money on my birthday. I didn’t know what happy was supposed to be, or sad, or normal. I was just a kid looking out into a deepness I couldn’t quantify and wanting to step out from where I was into somewhere autumn, somewhere with street musicians, somewhere paupers got to share a short conversation with princesses.
I read a lot then, as I’ve written about, in order to escape. And with a mind full of stories and an open sky above me, a quiet night holding me and with the straw colored glow haunting the snow around me… it was still. It was all so still. My wild mind could find a moment of peace to just hope for something different down the line. I didn’t know what I wanted then, and what I’ve actually wanted has changed over the years, but I knew I wasn’t fulfilled. Something in the night sky, this unfathomable depth beyond the stars, spoke to me of fulfillment. That it would be there somewhere.
I’m much older now. I view the same sky with more critical eyes, and more tired ones, and eyes more prone to tearing up for no reason. But that stillness still steps beside me. That calm still takes the coat from my shoulders and the hat from my head. I see the same stars I ever did, and they still tell me that they’re waiting for me to join them out on the patio with a decent beer, but not a fancy one. That high-end, blue-collar shit.
Nearly two decades later, I’m still that kid on the hill. A little more bruised. A little more scared. As home as ever in the dark brightly.

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Communication

My notes and a bottle of strong rum cover a battered, dark brown desk with a shallow center drawer that I purchased for ten dollars from a friend who no longer speaks to me.

I sit in an old chair from work, broken backed but cushioned, that I rescued from a journey to the trash compactor. There are wheels on the bottom, but they go nowhere, much like myself in a job that no longer speaks to me.

I’m at home, tucked into a quiet corner in a small, cluttered living room, opting to stay out of a bar before 2AM for the first time in months. The isolation and the dim lights and the stillness and the clock that is also a book, constructed by a friend, grant a peace now where once there was claustrophobia. I miss less and less the cacophonous bar scene that no longer speaks to me.

Instead, I find myself looking out at the light from the street lamps glittering off the few patches of ice still remaining on the road and sidewalks. The stars flicker above the quiet homes across from me and the whirring, crunching noises of solitary travelers driving hither and thither provide a removed ambiance. The night speaks to me.

And my hands pick up a simple plastic tool, gluttonous with ink, that I must have slipped away from work or borrowed and forgotten to return. My thumb and forefinger hold it like a lover and it in turn nestles into a worn and weathered callous where the first and second digits of my middle finger meet. The pen speaks to me.

The notebook lays open without shame before me. It is expressionless, trusting in me to see the value in it, to see the story whispering between its lines, to coax that story out and nurture it into a raw but honest love. It is the bound remnants of a former life begging softly to be given new purpose. The paper speaks to me.

I touch the metal tip of my arm’s (possibly stolen) extension to a softer material and begin dragging it in familiar patterns.

I speak back.