there are so many of us doing things and so many great things being done and so much competition for better things. can anyone ever be an expert anymore? can anyone ever be the best? no. there are simply millions of others who can do it better, and that thought in itself is slightly disheartening. that perhaps, every small and large thing you do will be bested. and you must be okay with being an unknown contributor. and you must love what you do because it makes you happy. and you must wake up every morning loving small things and not the things people believe about you. you must be made happy by your painting, you must shoot the world the way you long to see it, you must run as fast as you can, write because it helps you breathe, dance because you know you need to. you must do these things to add one small ounce of happiness back into the world. and though this happiness may never be traced all the way back to you, i will feel it, and others too, and i thank you for being unknown and alive and joyful.
drowning. the icy blue is calm and lonely and hurts my heart. they say it’s the most peaceful way to die and i believe it. it is silence and sound all at once. every memory dances to me across the salty sea and i am visited by friends. gold creatures hug my legs and pull me down, down, down. your voice whispers to me and i decide that if i could have anything fill my lungs over and over again, it would be you. and i pretend the water is you. and i drink you. i feel you. i hear you. you hold my hand as i dance with the waves. you kiss me through ripples and currents. down into the depths and all i see is quiet. and then you whisper to me. your invisible mouth brushes my lips and asks me to choose. choose between the floods of peace and the chaos of you. i choose you. i choose you. i choose you. the water tempts me back to the grave of pirate ships and worlds of sunken nations, mermaids long forgotten, but i cannot go, not if i never hear your heart beat again. and so i fight. i choose chaos and not peace, and i know it’s right. my feet kick the sleepy tentacles of water and my hands search for you. you guide them upwards. and then the lonely peace breaks. the expanse of blue serenity ends and my hands feel cold air. they feel pain and hurt and tears and the noise of life is deafening. my stomach doubles over with shock. my lungs seize up and panic. strong hands pull me into a fisherman’s boat. i am lost. i am found. i found peace. but i chose you. i ride toward the shore and i choose you. again. and again. and again. and again.
when i was 5, i felt something deep inside of me when i stepped into the woods surrounding my little yellow house. the feeling of smallness. of bigness. of depth, color, meaning.
when i was 7, i felt moisture in my eyes when i read about rings and short people and battles led by a great king.
when i was 8, i knew something was present as we ran through the sprinkler and the drops of water collected in our hair, reflecting pink fourth of july light.
when i was 11, i found it in coffees, in bookstores, in novels, in explorations, in travel and culture. i learned to write about it. to pen words that tried to capture the essence of my unspeakable joy. the joy that makes no sense, that has no reason, that mysteriously lingers around moments like forest walks, ink blotted pages, crescendoing music, summer days.
at 16, i found the joy in another person. as i looked into eyes like the sea, i found something else. it was part of him, but it was not him. it was bigger and stronger and bled into my heart like a river whose evaporating drops fall and saturate every inch of river bed.
at 19, i traveled the world. i stood in the colosseum, in sleepy homes in Israel, on mountain tops in the middle east, on poor islands scattered through out the world. my heart transformed as i saw newness and oldness. my world expanded as saw people the way they were and things the way they should never be.
these little bits of joy were shards of glass that cut into the sleep of my world and awoke me to the source. the ocean. the mysterious sea. the pieces were in the forest. in the words. in the music. in the dewy water drops. in his laugh and the way his brown, worn hands interlock with my fragile ones. but it was never just that. that was never the joy. they were just the pieces.
the joy was you. my ocean. your heart bleeds out on my short, beautiful life. and everything your blood touches turns to joy.
the way you looked at me the first day and i knew that from that point on, life would be so much harder… but so much fuller too. it was worth it. the way that everyone cheered loudly on my graduation and blacks and yellows ran together in stoles, in bouquets, in the finality of a chapter closing. it's like when someone throws you a party full of celebration and love, filled with people that know your history. but at the end of the day you are alone at your own party. the guests have left, the balloons have fallen to the ground. your hair is rumpled and the food needs to be put away. but you smile with the memories of the spirit of love that still inhabits the air. bitter when you shut the door of the car that last time. you watch the figures wave to you as you ride away, away to find who you are meant to be. sweet because that shutting of the door will one day allow you to open it again, open it and find home. i’ll come back one day.
are we so different from the ancients, sitting atop our thrones of leather and plush the way the kings of old sat in their cracked stone box seats, watching violent escapades in a blood lust of death. are we so different than the Roman crowds screaming for death by lions as we watch a screen that shows horrors unspeakable?
The morning reveals that bruises are easily covered. I think I am hiding the marks with thick scarves and brown stockings printed with polka dots and lonely animals. The truth is, I have the same marks as you, but it’s my pride I am protecting. My marks are deep scars from those that gave us embraces with razor blades. They were Judas in Gethsemane, well placed kisses but daggers meant to sink into the soul.
The day is December, biting with cold. The white turns the day absent and icy, we’re walking around with wounded glances and frozen glares. I am starting to see the broken pieces we are, like pottery smashed into bits. The potter made us masterpieces, but we jumped from the kiln, purposefully searching for freedom, only to find the ache of cement and the cracks it contains.
Honesty is riveting when you finally discover the power it has. I arrive at your home, that building of brick and empty. You let me in and we sit. The kitchen table is empty and the clock tick is my only reminder of flesh and being.
Far away words are exchanged and I decide it’s enough. Authenticity is a quality I’ve never had, but today I found that piece of me behind the potter’s chair. It was broken and smashed, but it fit right in my side, like a mold that was never supposed to be missing.
I stand and unwrap my scarf for you. Eyes wide and gasping, you glare at my wounded skin angrily. I have violated an unspoken rule of silence. Standing, you are ready to flee. I grab your covered hands, wrapped in mittens. I feel your broken fingers underneath and I slowly take your gloves off. Your hands are bloody and mangled and true. You have frozen in a fit of panic, your eyes show the fear of a hunted animal. I have revealed your weakness, I have uncovered your oozing wound. You await my rejection and disgust. Instead, I kneel next to you and kiss your new wounds, along with the scars that show proof of past hurt. Blood is on my hands now, blood is on my lips, but blood is truth and it is saving us.
Hope floods your eyes as our blood shows us as one in the same. Unconditionally loved we both are. Tears of salt stain our dark clothes and our broken beauty is shining through the muddy scarves and coats.
We walk, bloody hand in bloody hand, staining the white snow with our wounds as we walk. We smile at each lonely being we pass and their eyes speak fear, but also of relief and hope. Freedom has a price and requires the sacrifice of pride. We are wounded, and we are together in that. Yet as we walk, we fail to notice that the dripping of our blood is slowing. The holes are closing and the bruises fading and by the time we walk past the hill on Calvary Street, our skin is as white as snow.
Before Ever After - By: Samantha Sotto
On a rainy day in a bookstore I picked up this book and finished it in that very same day. This book, constructed out of the beautiful intricacies of life, left me stunned. It dealt with deep issues in a light hearted manner, and by the end of the book I was ready to run away to Venice, France, or England - selling all my possessions to get there.
Before Ever After captured the normalcies of a Sunday morning breakfast and spun magic. After all my years of searching for new favorite books among old book shelves, I can finally say I have settled on another favorite. This book did not teach me something new, it merely revealed to me what was already there, showing me the beauty of history, of romance and of the little tales of life that most tend forget.
Before Ever After has a whimsical, bittersweet and courageous quality that I strive to embody in everything that I do. I will be purchasing this book to reread again on those days that I may forget who I want to be and how precious life truly is.
This book is definitely unique, and not everyone will like the sweet simplicity it is written with. But I thought it was a gorgeous book, and it is now in my top ten books to reread!
Romance painted the morning cottage shades of complex sunrises. The ceiling was a soft threading of old wood, speaking of centuries that were well past. The smell of crepes waft through the room where I sit. I look out of the windows you must have opened when you awoke. The sound of the old world whispers like melodies, carts creaking, dogs barking, roosters crowing, children playing. A village of history frozen outside, and you are inside creating warmth with your presence, the only movement in a world that has stopped for us. I awaken and slip on my white robe. The kitchen floors are cold and I giggle as I run out to the room where you await me. You stand with your back to me, singing softly as yellow sunbeams hit your thick mussed hair. You turn in mid-note, laughing with arms outstretched. You are golden and perfect, and flour fills our embrace from the cooking you did this morning. I think, as all of this comes about, how perfect to be sitting in an old home filled with rich history, how perfect to have woken up to a time that has frozen still just for us, time ticking backwards for this chosen moment. How beautiful to wake up to your face singing in the kitchen, sun stroked with the light of day, incandescent and young again. How perfect that we are here in Anghiari, making history in the Tuscan countryside with our decadent silly crepes on a day that was made just for us
There is something about escalators. As soon as you step on them, you are confronted with a choice. There are some people that will walk down the escalator with hurried smirks on their faces, tripping whoever is in their path. I like to watch these people and laugh, for their rushed steps are their own downfall. When I step on an escalator, no matter how short on time I am, I cannot help but to feel the clock tick slow. The colors around me blur and I am plunged into a moment that is mine. A moment where I don’t have to walk, run, step, try. I merely sit and remember, while I let time do it’s own trick and usher me to the next. Why rush an end that is already coming?
The eggs from that morning, dusted with the paprika and pepper the way I like. The melting cookie I chose, in a moment of weakness, to savor before leaving the store. The warm kiss I shared this morning and the smell of herbal tea as you prepared for the day. I am caught in a whirlwind of a freeze frame that allows me to remember my moments and have perspective on others, as they move on so oblivious within the store. In that moment, I can grasp the naivety and innocence of those around me, trapped in moments that keep them caged in a past or a future, but never a now. The escalator brings me outside of their world, and for just a moment I feel deep pity. They shall never know anything but the ticking of time, the heat of the deadline, the next meeting, the rush of a life passing before them. They will shatter into ash as I still wait, savoring time as golden and endless, filled with sun-soaked mornings with you and breakfasts of scrambled eggs in foreign cities that we knew not the name of until we awoke. There shall be many more escalators for me, I think.
She just decided to drift away one day. After being wounded and scarred, her little fragile soul could not take the weight of those people who lived in a box. You see, the box scared her, confused her. Those in it put on happy faces filled with superficial lies built on houses of sand, and the little girl knew it. She saw right through and it terrified her. If they weren’t real, who was real? She knew there was truth, but how could someone as small as her find it? She couldn’t traverse the rocky path to find truth alone, and she could find no one who would step into reality and walk with her. And so she drifted away, silently and inconspicuously, her mind numbed and her life becoming just like those around her. Her soul slowly slid back into the box, like sand in an hourglass. She woke up one day, twenty years later and went on with her life, never even knowing her mind was a cage, trapped by the expectations of an age gone wrong.
Hey, friend! I'm Chelsie!
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