8th

One wakes up at 5:30 in the morning, looks outside the window, and begins to contemplate the life he thinks he chooses for himself. His cat is by his side. Then he looks at his right thigh and asks whether the beauty of his newest tattoo is worth all the pain he had to go through and is going through to have it. The question is moot.

I’ll remember 2019 as one of the most trying, dramatic, worst years of my life. I spent most of the year merely getting by, hurting people, getting singed in return, finding out that I made other people’s lives hell, breaking up, getting back together, finally ending it. To have survived 2019 but still remain intact was, to me, a miracle.

I’d go to work like a zombie, not knowing what day it was and crashing. So to celebrate the year that’s about to end, I decided to get a set of three tattoos that will, hopefully, remind me to still feel grateful. The first of the set is this skull tattoo of a Native American chieftain.

The feather headdress is majestic. The skull is there as a constant reminder that death is lurking in the corner, and what better way to welcome it than to make sure I get the most out of life so when the day of death arrives I can proudly show it my enormous middle finger.

Break

This Christmas break, I plan to just stay home with Tumi, visit my three other cats who live with my ex, play three high-stakes games of Scrabble, paint, and lift heavy at the gym.

Sometimes, when something ends, I tell myself I will not make it, but I laugh inside knowing how many times I told myself this.

I feel better now, unburdened, calm. I’ve always wanted to feel this secure and not always drowned in anxiety. That part of my life is behind me now.

I’d remember 2019 as one of the worst years of my life, but I’m lucky to be saying good bye to it still intact, at peace and will welcome the new year happy and not alone.

Old photograph

This photograph was taken during our last brigade tactical inspection when I was in high school. I found it in between the pages of a book I read eight years ago but have decided to read again because the memories of Coetzee’s prose reminded me of conversations with someone I met recently.

I was sixteen years old turning seventeen when this picture was taken. That time I knew the world was going to be my oyster, that I wouldn’t be spending the next four years of my life at home but somewhere far. I haven’t been home since except for Christmas or the death of my maternal grandmother.

It was a funny pose; I thought I was the snappiest brigade commander in all the high schools in the area. Lying on my bed right now, looking at this old photograph, I can’t help but laugh at my ignorance and youthful naïveté. I was bony and looked like I was suffering from an extreme case of kwashiorkor and conceit.