Frivolous Universe

WHAT’S HOLDING ME BACK

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When I lived in Washington D.C., back in ’07, I used to sit on my orange and white duvet in the steadily-being-gentrified neighborhood of Brookland and listen to Nada Surf’s song Always Love. Yes, the name betrays an unforgivable sentimentality, but the lyrics had a hook that I couldn’t get over:
“I’ve been held back by something.”

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I listened to the song so many times, that, today, as I listen to it at my desk, I am transported to the city that changed my mind. I smell the inside of my frozen nose in the brutal, wet winter. I hear the sleepy, monotone chants in the Catholic cathedral on the Sunday morning of my last church service ever.

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I’ve been held back by something. I laboriously copied it in the front cover of each Moleskine notebook I’ve filled with my thoughts over the last six years. I saw it every time hot tears gave way to blue ink and were mollified.

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I’m twenty-seven years old. Which, as it turns out, is not too old to start exploring the depth of my childhood fears of being rejected, of being alone – the fear that the real me isn’t worth loving.

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I have loved. At least, I think I have. The English language plays a tremendous trick on us, throwing out these insane generalities like “love” and “freedom” and “goodness” without qualifying them with specifics. What factors contribute to love? How can you tell when you’re in love, after all?

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Granted, I have never understood the burning blackness, the insanity that consumes the consciousness at first blush of true love. But I have always been a sensible person. It was no surprise that I would be immune to the romantic possession of the soul that dominates our popular mythology.

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Romance has always seemed “dramatic” to me.

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In my free time (and it’s all free time), I like to memorize Leonard Cohen poems over green tea at local coffee shops. One that I have clung to is called The Drunk is Gender-Free.

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I’m angry with the angel who pinched me on the thigh.
And made me fall in love with every woman passing by.

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I know they are your sisters. Your daughters mothers wives.
If I have left a woman out then I apologize.

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It’s fun to run to heaven when you’re off the beaten track.
The Lord is such a monkey when you’ve got him on your back.

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The Lord is such a monkey. He’s such a woman too.
Such a place of nothing. Such a face of you.

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The Lord is such a woman. And so am I. Whatever am I going to do with myself?

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I took all but one of these shots in New York City, Chicago, Eagle, and Boise, Idaho. Edited by me.

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