My grandma died a couple of weeks ago. My sister broke the news, calling me in the middle of the day. “Are you at work?” she asked. “Sorry to call you at work. You know what happened.” I did know. A year ago my aunt—my grandma’s only daughter—died. “Are you at work?” my sister had asked then.

Last Friday while passing my neighbors on the doorstep, I tell them what happened. “Ella murió de dolor de corazón,” one murmurs. She died of heartbreak.

A discarded product of my parents’ divorce—too naïve to raise two daughters unaccompanied, too angry to raise them as a pair—I lived with my aunt and grandma. 

My grandma hand-washed our socks, scrubbing until they looked brand new. My aunt hummed to herself in the car. They both took us to Disneyland. They prodded and pestered us, edging us toward womanhood until our parents decided they were ready. And then they stepped back—accepting this independence, proceeded with their own lives, all of us becoming mired in our histories, all of us becoming islands.

When my aunt died the enormous weight of her own echoing fear and anger at her failing physical form bore down on me.

My grandma’s death yields confusion. I find myself untethered without knowing exactly what I was tethered to in the first place.

I do know my grandma and aunt were proud of me in a way that will never be replicated, a pride born from a place I will not be able to rebuild. A place with blueprints half-plotted, a language to which I am illiterate, this unremarkable skillset wholly untaught.

I scrub my own socks now, as my grandmother did, but despite the bleach I use, despite the temperature, despite the rawness of my hands and the embedded lines on my knees from kneeling on the tile in front of my bathtub, they still look gray. 

I was raised on british techno, japanese horror movies, and caffeine. Who I am is not a mystery in that context. 

Last week I took a very quick trip to New York and as soon as I landed I wanted to go back ‘home.’ The selfishness and anger that hangs like a cloud over the city that I once saw as a novelty—a toughness I should aspire to—seemed unnecessary. I’m typically afraid of flying, and despite a three hour delay and a take off during a thunderstorm, I felt so happy to be on that plane pointed west. 

Someone I’m very close to died Tuesday, and I don’t think I’ve fully absorbed it. It seems to come in waves. I will be fine and thinking clearly and working and accepting the fate of the universe, and then suddenly I feel that a void is steadily drawing me into the earth and I have no choice but to surrender to the emptiness—unmoving—for as long as my soul allows.

I am tired, and each day I wonder how I will handle this new information.  Each hour that answer is different. I wonder how long these new sensations will last—though, I am hesitant to broach that subject—as I am not sure if they have even begun

Last night I had a dream I was going into space, or maybe I had to make the decision of whether or not I would. The idea of the distance seemed too daunting or the void of space seemed to vast or the lack of gravity seemed too uncontrollable and what I mainly remember is feeling like change was imminent. Like leaving the earth would somehow separate me forever from a tribe I never really felt part of in the first place.

Like that time in third grade that I stayed home from school because I was sick and when I came back our teacher kept saying the punchline to a joke from the day I was gone and maybe I never got over that.


Ah, that word. Tomorrow I start something new. But today, yesterday, the month before, last Christmas, I also had to start a few new things. ‘Had to’ and ‘few’ being mild interpretations. It involved much arm twisting. Is ‘new’ the new familiar? The mind reels.

Above is (sure ok, you guessed it) a new friend—Little Bear. One that looks over his shoulder to make sure you’re still following, then goofily trips over a hole and falls on his face in the process.

I’m getting tired of new. Unbeknownst to me I had a limit on these things. Recently, for reasons too close to home, I’ve been thinking about dying, why we fear moving on. The answer—obviously—being that no one has come back and told us what it’s like. “Ah, I’m just going to step outside the universe to grab a pack of cigarettes.” is not a phrase one is used to hearing. But that’s a tangent for another time.

Perhaps new is too loaded of a word. Not with possibility, but ripe with fault. Like your brand new car, pristine. Ah, the responsibility of avoiding a pothole, other cars, giving yourself space when parallel parking. The frantic check for dents. But what is really happening? Are you just waiting for that dent to occur, those bumps and bruises, so you can get on with it? Maybe I should think of it as novel, ultra modern. Free of the pressure and responsibility. Forward moving, downhill.

So now as I step into personally uncharted territory. But I will be looking over my shoulder to make sure you’re still there. And hopefully if I don’t fall on my face I’ll come back and describe it to you.