Inquietud.

Are you ever overcome by moments of restlessness? The word for it in Spanish is inquietud. This feeling of restlessness, it hits me especially hard while traveling. I don’t become melancholy as the plane takes off and I watch dreary Warwick get smaller and smaller (I mostly beg the universe for no turbulence but does she ever listen?). You don’t notice how dull home can be until you’re descending into Rionegro, D.C., or Oakland and your destination reveals itself in all of its busy, lit, and endless splendor. Oh my god, the bright lights and see-through waters are beautiful. You can’t help but be a little nervous, for who knows what you’ll find?

I sometimes have to be reminded to get in touch with everyone back home (unless you have Whatsapp or can text, you’ve left me with no choice!). A little sadness starts to kick in on the second to last night of my trip and I think about losing my ID so I can’t travel. Traveling means I will inevitably have to say “see ya later, I’ll be back!” to people I love, my maleta stuffed with new crystals and leather shoes, and that adds to the little puff of sadness in my chest. It’s not that I don’t want to go back home; I love my cozy ass home with silly nephews and I dare anyone to say that a New England autumn isn’t breathtaking. It’s just that I don’t want to leave this new place. Know what I mean?

Other than my huge and amazing family/friends, there’s nothing in Rhode Island for me. Nothing tethers or binds me here, only loyalty and fear of the unknown. It kinda lost its shine once I realized that the world was so much bigger than one square mile. Yesterday, as I shared my recent D.C adventures, I had a slip of the tongue and said to my coworker, “Nothing here excites me anymore.” For the rest of the day, I wondered: is it sad that I feel that way?

The more I think about it, the more I decide that NO, it’s not sad to be bored of the place you’ve lived in for over three decades. It’s human nature to want to shake things up every now and again. It’s okay to acknowledge that things have gotten staler than an old caesar salad and that you have an itching to discover new things. I know I am not the only one that feels like there’s a place out in the world just waiting for me to claim it. I can feel it.

My cousin once advised me to “just jump.” JUST jump? ‘Ta loca, I thought. But that conversation always manages to worm its way into my psyche because it proves that there is, in fact, a very easy fix to inquietud. You just have to jump.

Pain, a follow up.

I wrote this post (I invite you to read it for context) nearly three years ago, but I can picture the day clearly, as if no time has passed at all. My sadness was so strong I did what I hardly ever do – I sought time just for myself so that I could feel what I wanted to feel unabashedly and without spectators. It was a culmination of exhaustion, resignation, and some stark realizations. I psychoanalyzed the shit out of myself and the decisions that had led me to that moment and it hurt.

To be clear, however – though that pain is sharply vivid, I hardly feel the pain of that day in my everyday life now. It may flare up on occasion, but it’s so much easier to acknowledge it, talk through it, and put it back to a state of rest. It’s like an out-of-body experience, where I can see it but can’t relate to it. I can only watch. I do wish I could interject and offer Jax-of-then some comfort and reassurance.

Someone recently told me they considered me to be strong, and they couldn’t wait to get to this point in my emotional stability. I had to clarify – it has taken a lot of time, ugly cries, temper tantrums and therapy copays to get here. I sometimes don’t feel strong at all and wouldn’t think twice at hiding under my bed for a quick time out.

But I go back to that post and realize that it hasn’t been the time, nor any distance, nor the bottomless sangria that got me through. At the end of the day, when I cried like a baby in the Barnes & Noble parking lot and then ruined my chanclas as I walked through a muddy Slater Park, I made a promise: I would never feel like that again. I would never allow it. I refuse.

May I be sentenced to damnation for 1000 years before I do.

Learning Objectives.

I’ve given it some thought and there can only be one answer: you had not a damn clue. Cause there’s no way you would leave me out here:

  • making emo playlists like a teenager and listening to them during work meetings;
  • putting on a suit of armor before I walk out the door in an attempt to be impenetrable, lest someone pierce through and finish shattering me once and for all;
  • marred by feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt at the thought that the one person I thought most highly of could disregard me so easily;
  • thinking back to the day I watched your skin darken under the sun and realized I carried the burden of loving you in my past lives, the present, and thus would be the fate of my future selves;
  • exhausted and embarrassed in this game of wack ass Clue, connecting dots that were never really there;
  • with a sadness which has inevitably forged itself into an icendiary rage which underlies everything I do, ready to punch and scream in a desperate attempt to transfer this onto someone else. It propels me and you’re smart to not look me in the eye cause I’d Cyclops your ass.

There’s no way you knew how much I loved you. You just mustn’t have. Impossible. Because the alternative – that you always knew yet used it against me and willingly left me naufraga – is too much to bear.

*Here’s a playlist for those initiated into the heartbreak hotel. I love Shawn Mendes and Sam Smith but who hurt them?! It ain’t right.*

Valentine.

I would be a liar if I said I wasn’t a little bummed that I wouldn’t be waking up to an omelet in bed wearing my finest lingerie, a dozen red roses, chocolates and a date to a new and yummy restaurant in town. Last time I had an actual Valentine I was in elementary and, while the gift my boy Orlando gave me was super thoughtful, like all other men in my life, he isn’t anywhere to be found. So, while not down in the dumps, I was feeling a little lackluster about the “holiday” (is it cynical and shady of me to say we all know it’s a ruse to get people to spend their money on stupid shit rather than showing their partner(s) they love them in other, more meaningful ways on random times of the year? Like, faithfulness or transparency or remembering a person’s favorite treat when they feel blue? I’ll stop, since I’m sure you’re thinking “damn, Jax is saltier than a Saltine”).

When thinking of ways to treat myself today, I called the bank and finished paying off my car loan. Two years early. And I topped it off with a text message to my babies JV and Ceej: “WHO NEEDS CHOCOLATES FROM A WACK ASS DUDE WHEN I GOT ME PAYING MY BILLS!!?!?!!?” If I have to pick between making sound financial decisions and Valentine’s day, I WIN every time!

LOL @ me forgetting who the fuck I am!

-Signed, Salty & Debt-Free Jacky

Sueños.

It could have been during Mrs. O’Neill’s English class, I can’t remember exactly. But I do recall flipping open the pages of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and being met with the following:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore–
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over–
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

LANGSTON HUGHES

I read it over and over, in awe of its brief poignancy. While short, so short it only took up a single page, it felt heavy to me in a way I couldn’t explain. That could never be me. Not live my dreams? Ha! But something else was gnawing at me, as teenaged Jax was beginning to pick up on the fact that life doesn’t always allow us to bring our dreams to fruition. Would my dreams be just that – dreams? And not only that, but would they be put on pause, in sight but always out of reach? Would it shrivel and shrink and be left unattended? Nah, no way. I was gonna be who I wanted to be, I decided.

Doubt seems to strike in the most inconvenient of times and this past Tuesday was one of those days. I started to wonder what all this struggle has been for. Is this my dream? I don’t think so. If not, then when would I have time to work towards that dream? Have I been settling for smaller, more attainable dreams, resigning myself to the “realities” of life? Will that dream just stay like a word on the tip of my tongue, there but unable to be articulated? A star of Jerusalem I can always see but won’t ever be able to stand under? Will a little bit of me diminish within every time I say “I like to write but I haven’t in a while?” Is my dream of one day walking into Barnes and Noble and seeing my book on a shelf laughable? What do I do with my dream to buy a home (or witch’s cottage, however you wanna view it) with a beautiful office and walls lined with books? What about the dreams that I envisioned for others in my life that have yet to come true? In the middle of phone calls and emails, I took a few minutes to lose my shit.

Through sniffles, I collected my shit and kept it moving. About an hour later, I returned someone’s call and wished her a happy new year. Her response? “Feliz año nuevo, Jackie. Que todos tus sueños se hagan realidad.”

Happy new year, Jackie. May all of your dreams come true.

Couldn’t make it up even if I tried. Sounds to me like the universe wanted me to know everything will turn out just fine.

Crisp.

It could be because I spent most of Fall of 2020 trapped in a hazmat suit and refusing to leave my house due to the plague. It could be that the optics in the simulation have been upped a bit to detract from the highest inflation rates in three decades. Or perhaps my meds have finally started to work. Whatever the case, this season is looking and feeling all types of crisp. Yesterday afternoon was absolutely stunning and if it weren’t for my refusal to wear a coat, I would have stayed in the leaf whirlpool I found myself in when picking up lunch.

I have always loved the fall. I have a sense of kinship with it, as it’s right around my birth day that you start to get the pricklies on your arm and the feeling that summer is coming to a close (P.S. next time you see the Sun, give that girl some love. She worked hard to stock us up with Vitamin D for the hibernation to come). The color scheme that comes with autumn is top tier and the endless supply of pumpkin and cider is just *chef’s kiss.* Yeah I’m basic. Bitch, so what.

I stood on our stoop and inhaled that scent of just-fallen-and-slightly-damp leaves. When do leaves start to get that leafy smell? Is it as their lush greens turn to crunchy orange, or when they softly land and find themselves stuck in a windshield wiper? You’ve seen it: a tree will strip itself entirely of its adornments and look bleak and vulnerable as hell, then get so droopy with snow you think it’ll never recover, only to be reborn again and proudly stand guard for the lively new family that’s nestled in its branches. Trees are so magnificent they communicate with one another (again, let’s take a moment to show appreciation to the dedication to beauty and impeccable attention to detail. Nature is most certainly a Virgo).

Fall is the smell of new notebooks and sharpened pencils. It’s the quieting of the relentless bird outside your window at 3:00AM (you little fucker!) and the shortening of our days. It’s finding a thick layer of frost on your windshield when you’re already running late. It’s a reminder of continuity and cyclicity and that the show must go on. It’s an ode to the incredible work that’s being done by our Earth as it shifts on its axis, playing a will-they-or-won’t-they dance with the Sun.

It is beautiful, and we are blessed with the gift of being spectators.

Solved.

I cracked the code. Finally figured it out. If I was getting paid for this revelation, I’d be a rich bitch packing my shit to Asia. Adieu! Until a few moments ago you remained a riddle to me – mysterious and always out of reach. I ruminated about it even in my sleep. It was like giving college calculus problems to a goofy kid who can’t find his way to first period algebra on the first day of school. For the life of me, I could not figure out what the fuck was wrong with you. Like, why are you like that? But then, it hit me like a stop sign hitting Kanye in the forehead. It was an epiphany, truly. Remember what those closest to you would say and you insisted it wasn’t true? You refused to believe it. I knew nothing hurt you more than being called a disappoinment.

Turns out, you proved everyone right.

Disbelief.

It’s almost unbelievable that I had a place within your space

Until I didn’t.

I imagine being there like a time lapse in a movie,

Flashes of movement all over,

Never still in one place and finally gone.

Is my energy still there, like a phantom?

Had I known,

I would have taken better note

Of how perfectly our bodies fit together on your couch on Sundays,

Would have memorized the exact green of your eyes when they’d go wide with surprise,

And would have appreciated the stillness of the early morning air

As I, exhausted, heard you walk through the motions of getting ready:

Shower. Perfectly ironed work clothes. Belt. Boots with a thud. Feed the cat. “Stay as long as you’d like” with a kiss goodbye.

The smell of my perfume that you liked so much must be

Long gone from your favorite sheets and

I wonder if you’re still finding my hair everywhere,

Curly reminders of what we used be.

A Deeper Understanding.

I recited my friend Charmaine’s poem, titled “A Deeper Understanding,” for the Mixed Magic Theatre’s monthly poetry show. Char also curated the show, and it was interesting to get a behind-the-scenes look at how shows like this are put together. I hesitated to share the video, because I immediately began scrutinizing the way I wasn’t sucking in my gut and way my mouth moves and how my hair is parted in the wrong place and blah blah blah but decided that I should, because I was a little part in a big piece of magic and it’s a magic that should be shared. Despite the pandemic, despite the odds, the MMT team was able to put together a show that included many different forms of art. Sharing the video is also a way to showcase Char’s art, which I am so honored to have been chosen to read aloud. I agreed to participate because I knew the poem would be beautifully done, but it’s brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I just hope I did it justice.

You can watch my YouTube debut here, on the presentation of Rise to Black: Onward, here: https://youtu.be/-I35ne0jGQg. I hope you enjoy the show and leave the MMT a like and subscribe!