Where All the Veins Meet

This morning, I smiled at my reflection in the mirror, noticing a crop of new freckles and some peeling skin on my nose. It’s finally warm in Burlington. It may not last, but for the next ten days we are north of 50 degrees, which is all I can ask for. I smudged generous amounts of grapefruit essential oil on my wrists and neck and mixed it in with a few drops of the fragrance I’ve come to associate with my soul itself; Beach by Bobbi Brown. Together this combination reminds me of summer mornings at home cutting up a grapefruit, wearing a free people dress and going on a bike ride to the beach.

I am so happy here and don’t want to leave Vermont, because it’s so fun and beautiful, but I miss home so much. I don’t know how it’s possible to feel both. I can’t wait to jump feet first into the ocean, but I’m going to miss climbing up mountains and stumbling down to the waterfront with a picnic blanket, beer, and a sandwich. I guess my life is filled with so much beauty and the fact that I can’t have both places I love at once makes me sad.

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Yesterday I led a hike, my first real hike, up a mountain that was coated in thick untrustworthy layers of snowfall. By the time I left my socks were soaked through with snow and mud and my leggings were adhered to my ass from the times I fell and let myself slide. We sang along to Vermont radio stations on the way home and I was so tired and happy. A lot of the girls had never gone hiking before, and some were annoyed at how slow they were, but it just reminded me of a cliche, that we all get down the mountain somehow, no matter how unprepared or how likely to stumble we are. Even the best hikers on that trip had to sled down some parts, their packs soaked through with snowpack. It’s maybe a metaphor for this semester. Yeah, going uphill is hard, and you don’t know where to put your feet sometimes and your leg can fall through really easily, but the view at the top is great. On the flipside of that, the way down can be quicker and easy, but slushy, unreliable, and filled with challenges.

With that metaphor in mind, I know I’m just stumbling through the slush and mud in the final throes of spring semester. But I’m choosing to love it, rather than how much I hated it last semester. If there’s anything I wish I’d done differently, it would have been to talk to people. To wear the clothing I wore in high school. To try not to change so fast just because my surroundings did. To sing to Hozier in the shower on Monday mornings, to color in your journal on the quad, and to text that girl you met at a leadership conference to make popcorn and have a picnic. Follow the girl in your spanish class on instagram when you come across it. Talk to the boy in your environmental science class, ask him about Minnesota, go to a party and ask for a hit of his joint and be his friend. College can be just as socially smooth as high school was for you, Maina, if you just treat it that way.

My advice to future college freshman: buy the expensive fruit at the farmer’s markets, hang out with the kids you met in your orientation group, laugh for hours over breakfast instead of getting up after twenty minutes to study. Trust everyone and be content, like the wholesome meme says. People notice what you’ve got going on in your head, regardless of what the 2012 tumblr depression blogs say, so just choose to enjoy the challenges and people will enjoy them with you. I can’t believe I took all of this from a hike, but I guess the weather getting warm reminds me of who I really am. I do believe that people take after certain seasons and I know mine is summer so I am doing my best to reflect how I feel right now onto others.

I can’t really end this on a note that will tie this information together up neatly like most of my posts do. I feel like there is so much I’m going to live over this last month and two days of my freshman year. I cannot believe it’s almost over. So I’m just going to leave a poem that reminds me of this time in my life, so when I feel this way all over again it will make sense.

“As I write
the coffee shop is getting crowded
My back is to the line and counter
but I hear as people enter and exit
the creak of the door
I feel the cool draft 
the outside air gushing in eagerly
while it is able
Overhead is Bono’s voice
replacing Chris Martin’s
“I have run
I have crawled
I have scaled these city walls”
My left bicep starts to throb
I rub my eyes
“But I still haven’t found
what I’m looking for”
“But I still haven’t found
what I’m looking for”
The throbbing stops
and I inhale deeply
resting my head on the concrete wall beside me
painted white
although not fresh and fragrant” (x)
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Siesta Key, Florida

“Do you remember when we ate summer like watermelon until it turned our cheeks pink? The ocean tangled its fingers through our hair and the sun painted our shoulders with brushstrokes of honey. At the end of the day, our skin smelled thick, like salt and sweat and home…” (x)

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I spent a week in Florida with my cousin and uncle, right on the beach. The second I got off the highway and onto the thin little island I jumped in the ocean, splashing around. Anyone who knows me well enough knows I love the ocean more than anything else on this planet. Siesta Key is on the Gulf Coast, and I had never swam in the Gulf. I saw sand dollars and dolphins and sharks and pelicans. I ate donuts and ice cream and everything smelled like real-life Bobbi Brown Beach perfume (which is my favorite). I don’t think I could ever live in Florida because the urban sprawl is horrendous and they act like they don’t care about their land at all with how much they develop it. Besides the ocean it is strip malls and university parks and hotels and resorts. It actually gave me a new appreciation for Vermont and, as always, made me love Connecticut even more.

Below is some writing I did when I was there and on the plane, and a playlist that I think encompasses the feeling of sunset more than anything else I have ever made.

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January 10, 2017 |

I don’t know how to write about sex. I don’t like writing about sex. I am still in the mindset that it’s dirty and shameful. I don’t know how to write about a female’s body. I don’t like writing about female bodies. I feel like I am objectifying myself on the brink of pointlessness because there are legions of other things to write about. Laying out half naked with nothing to do, burning layers of my skin so I can go home bronzed. Looking in the mirror when I get home, about to take a shower, my entire body tender except the stark white parts. It’s funny. What we keep quiet, what we hide from the world is so darkly contrasted from what we let the world see. You start to question if all of the guys who have seen the parts that don’t become sunburnt matter, and you start to question if other people think about this too. I thought about all the times I wanted to cry to my mom but I couldn’t because I don’t want to know what the look on her face would be if I told her. I thought about laying alone in my dark dorm room, Polina fast asleep, in my big t-shirts and dirty hair and messy thoughts. I wanted to cry to my mom, to anyone, to someone. I am so alone in this body, I am trapped beneath flaps of skin and courses of blood and I am not sure who I am. I think about the time my father called Jenny from Forrest Gump damaged goods. I don’t know how to write about sex. I don’t like writing about sex. But sometimes I can’t believe it.

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January 12, 2017 |

I love planes because you have no choice but to think about your destination. The plane takes off and a few words rush into your head, either “home” or “the beach” or “school” and certain emotions fill your heart. A sense of relief, terror, heartbreak, or just the opposite. As you listen to your liftoff songs and look at the moon, everything seems renewed and you leave behind who you were where you were and have the opportunity to become something completely different… I don’t know if I’m ever going to feel truly comfortable anywhere besides the northeast.

Impression

Summer Heart – I Wanna Go

Baby Bash – Suga Suga (Soysauce Remix)

Henry Green – Electric Feel (Gespleu Downcast Edit)

Ben Phipps – I Don’t Think So

ODESZA – White Lies feat. Jenni Potts (Filip Flip)

Meltycanon – Happy End

Jovani Occomy x Olmos – Electric Feel & Gooey

Arcade Fire x Flatbush Zombies – PalmTreesInTheSuburbs

Washed Out – It All Feels Right

Marvin Gaye – Sexual Healing (Kygo Remix)

Libby Knowlton – Florida Kilos x Stay High