On Nostalgia

beautifully written by my sister Eva Kalea.
be sure to check out her page at http://evakalea.tumblr.com/
I think nostalgia is a kind of sadness, a melancholy for things past. (And in this sadness we often find pleasure—a refuting of the idea that sadness is always negative.) I think nostalgia is an open door into a past life, experience, emotion. And just as a pianist more easily inhabits the emotional landscape of a piece once she has perfected its technicalities, so too do we become better at experiencing an emotion once we have practiced it, learned its nuances in our bodies, fine-tuned the production of its chemical concoction. Nostalgia is the re-experiencing of a known emotion: its power lies in the fact that it is an emotion with the undercurrent of the same emotion, the experience of which we have already practiced and perfected. This experience is textured with the sense of loss, the inescapable transience of all things.

And what of love? Do we go on loving something, someone simply because we already have—that is, out of inertia & nostalgia? Isn’t love just a nostalgic longing, a mourning for the moment we first fell in love—a moment when the sun, the moon, the stars chanced upon an alignment they will never find again?

(Okay, let me be sensical. Nostalgia may explain half of love. The other half is that the object of our love continues to inspire & amuse us. And yes, I am using logic and numbers to explain emotions. This is how I make sense of things.)

Which is more powerful: love, or loss of love? We cannot remember physical pain. But the memory of an emotion is the emotion itself: the blade of nostalgia cuts through time to produce an experience as exact as if it were re-happening. The sadness we have experienced in the past will always be the same sadness. The door of nostalgia will always be there, waiting for a scent, a word, a thought to open it and let experiences of the past come crashing through.


Virginia, the Departure

Some memories I will leave for later. In short, it was studying human dynamics that made Virginia tolerable. The Conor-Quinten dynamic. The apartment of hard-asses vs. high-schoolers. My daily trips to the bathroom with Kristen, window-shopping at the vending machine on the way back. It does smell mostly unpleasant in my spot here at the bus stop, cigarette smoke coming towards me– more than a romanticized gentle waft. Shoulders still slightly sore from wrestling. Muscles resting on glass behind me, glass that reflects my hoop hugging suitcase, bright Burton bag, bright shorts. It was the best way to go. Surrounded by light drinking. Card ninja shenanigans. Jamming with a newfound respect of Jacob’s rhythm. Percussion with glass bottles and Conor’s translucent blue plastic hamper. Patting, tapping, punching the inside. Shalika and Katie nestled under the counter, chatting. Quinten on the far side of the table, also joining in on this unreal mirth. Ron likely narrating the night, maybe less of a critic in our final moments. And Kevin and I are jamming away the departure. A night honed in on being. This company, this almost dreamlike stupor of reality, makes a fleeting moment of infinite happiness.

Tire Swing

as we near the end of summer, reminders of childhood kick in. or, summer is the time when we relive our childhoods.
Sun-dyed trees sun-kissed locks ruffled
birds, scooter on cement, drowned
cars and motorcycles,
glittery plastic sandals, pink on feet of small
girl, it smells like hot rubber I get dizzy fast
not a carsick dizzy but a thrilling
dizzy I can spin real fast
unbalanced– the elliptical arc is lopsided
sent into uneven orbit
sky gradiates from yellow to blue
sunlight settles at a golden shimmer.

cool solace.

The rim of the tub was cool as I looped my arms around it. Sometimes I would lie in the dry tub naked, sated by the contact of smooth porcelain with skin, inverted– I would press my bare back against its natural arch. Sometimes I let the water run, pounding between my feet, drowning out the noise of lunatics in my head as I studied the unperturbed white of the walls– a reflection of something I would never have. This was how I got to sleep. By lying in the bathtub enveloped by cold, imagining bones breaking and fragmenting. Collapsing like dominoes into a void of space, collapsing into neat stacks of imperfect shards, resilient like black steel.

Here come the waves.

Lungs leaden, legs motionless, my body fights to stay in place. The inertia of crashing water still manages to push me back from the gates of feigned happiness.


these days are not told often enough that they are beautiful.
I wish I could love you as you should be loved,
but I can’t walk alongside such perfection as you.
Even when teetering on stilettos and with face caked in paint,
your soft voice curls around my body as I wish
to curl around you.
Today I saw you checking the glass to fix your hair,
but I know you were really checking to see if you
were still there.
Wrapped up in a blanket on your bed,
your invisible opiate bruise stays nestled
in the hollow of your neck.
If only I could undo you
untangle the leash you spun yourself into
and kiss you blind–
Galvanizing bodies, sunrise burst
in fragments
we break through polluted flesh with full resonance
my hands slide
down carved shoulders, for you are beautiful,
and I, only a blunder in vented perfection.

beautiful chaos (in the making)

Making Chaos (Beautiful)

We often get criticized for not looking at the bigger picture, but in general, we live everyday in a bigger picture, not paying enough attention to details. There are times when you are reminded just how much can change over the span of one day, how beauty can bloom exponentially within the crevices of the mind. The resulting emotional roller coaster seems worth it– character-building the excuse, as always.

I waver between emotions that normal people have, that as a child I struggled to put a finger on. Emotions. The happy ones that used to be reserved only for the distant past: sandboxes, monkey bars, tire swings– the playground. But in the present, when you’re pretty happy with where you’re at, events like these force you to rethink your approach to the world. And it’s nice to know when you realize that you have a pretty solid foundation of happy.

We live in beautiful chaos. Like thrown bedsheets. Or storm clouds pulling away from each other like slow smoke. Some cast themselves to the hot ashes of its blind fire– passionate, scorching, and ablaze. Other find partners in exploring the hidden hollows of its being, finding beauty stunning enough to make them shudder.

Human Dynamics

I like to think that I do not live with the fear that history will repeat itself, because I know that we can overcome. But maybe I live with that fear in the back of my mind, so I have an example for what I do not want to be. I have encountered too many of those people, unhappy and tortured. I’m over the insensitive pricks– the condescending, selfish asses that will never give a damn.

We self-define. We shed ourselves and move on. For it is not brave to live a selfish life– when we do, we become all types of repulsive colors. We’re all just a spattering of paint on a canvas too light to hold our overlapping weight. Just as images are reversed in mirrors, we are a series of opposites attempting to span infinity. We exist with a history of unavoidable repetitions that seem to wind towards the one point where it ceases to exist, immortalizing our magical realities in written existences.

I’ve found that you can tell a lot about people by the way they walk, talk, carry themselves, and fight. I used to think that we lived with this blind belief that we are moving forward, while we are in fact still going in a circular fashion. And it seems especially inevitable when you live in a city of buildings and people stacked on top of each other. But with my tendencies to meander, an optimism has developed that we can in fact stop going around in circles.

We can remember to breathe again in a world too rushed to do so.


My best friend killed my pet hamster.
I asked her
She said

I told her we couldn’t be friends anymore.
She stroked the fragile
body, collected the bloody mass
and left.

Do you see?
The image of you resurfaces.

I give you an x-ray, uncover
a metallic spine, blue-black bones.
I run my fingers across your body and ask why

I deserved it.

You say I wouldn’t understand.

Yesterday I spent hours crumpling
newspapers. My hands were black
from tearing paper flesh. I expose

a silver skeleton, crinkled skin.
I finger the bony vertebrae and jumbled words spill
into my hands. Today

I am still slightly gray
with ink residue.
My floor is littered with paper

tattered and worn.

Writing itself is a love affair.

It starts off slowly, timorous, tumultuous, like an untested locomotive, but then it lurches forward and gradually picks up speed, becoming desperate and urgent in its desire to claim a morsel of the heart. Through the rise and fall, a solid middle ground is found, and a new work of writing is born. It is a laborious and painful birth, but there are no regrets when the new child is named.