She leaned her head against the window again and closed her eyes. She felt the cold sharp metal of the window frame with each bump of the bus. She readjusted trying to allow her mind to wander into sleep. “Less than 48 hours ago I was home,” Tara thought to herself with a smile.

The bus rattled to a stop. Squished on a bench with two others sleeping against her, she gently nudged the sleeping boy next to her.

“Why are we stopping?” She asked. He looked around drearily.

“Bathroom break,” he said in broken English.

She had been on the bus for about four hours now, and had drank more than her fair share of water. She felt the squeeze in her stomach and wished that she didn’t. She had read the horror stories of people disappearing in foreign countries, and here she was. It was 3 AM and she was not only the only foreigner on the bus, but the only girl at all. India was full of wonder and color, but you can’t see much color in the darkness. She didn’t have much of a choice, there was at least another 4 hours of the bus ride, and this was the only stop.

She reached down and in the small space, tried finagling her shoes on. “I’ll be right back.” She promised under her breath, and slid past the boy and a sleeping man. Eyes locked on her from all directions. Sitting far over under the lamp she caught a group of men stop eating as they watched her. Despite meeting their eye contact, they held her gaze. She was unmistakably out of her element, yet she was fully in it.

Alive, awake, and alert, she ventured into the darkness towards a flickering building. She walked towards the light in the dark. She had no idea where she was. There was nothing around but road and this one shop. The smell of fried bread, fresh at this surprising hour, filled the air until it was wafted away by the bathroom stench.

In the dim lighting she could see a cement bathroom structure with two walk ways and dividing stalls, each without a door, and a hole on the ground. Tara cringed at the smell and lowered her gaze to avoid eye contact as she moved down the walkway in the search of a free stall.

Pulling down her pants, she used her wilderness training of quick pees and no toilet paper, squatting on her heels. She thought about the darkness and what would happen if the bus left without her. She worried about her bag back on the bus being stolen, and finally let the pee go.

She stood back up and ran back to the bus. She felt her hands touching the metal of the entrance, and was convinced that she made it, and it was all going to be okay. Her bag was still there, and the boy smiled at her. Her bladder was happy, and she was finally able to close my eyes and rest.

Not Okay

It’s not okay to be the person that causes harm. It always ends up being to the ones that love me, that I destroy. (Name changed for privacy reasons) Nyle McLin was the sweetest man I knew. I say was, not because he is gone, but because something has happened to him.

His home, his mind, his state of peace are all different because of me. I came in to his life innocently, a light hearted girl. He fell deeply in love with me, or so as he defined love.

I’m not one to wear my heart on my sleeve. Or if I do, it’s not to last.

The thing about relationships is that they aren’t defined by monogamy or by the standards that society places on us. I’m tired of people demonizing me just for not knowing what I want. I am sorry, Nyle, that I caused your home to go from being full of music and people and laughter to an empty and messy place. I am sorry you made the mistake of loving me, even though I asked you not to. I am sorry that I spent the night so many times at your house, but not in your room.

I am sorry that I might love your (now old) best friend. But I cannot say that I am bad because of it. All I can say is if you really loved me, and him, you would not hold on so tightly.

I am a destroyer, possibly. I admit that may be a truth. I don’t think everyone sees me that way, or that I have had that impact on everyone’s life.

(name changed for privacy purposes) William didn’t hold on to me. He showed me his world, just like you did, and he saw me run in it and love it. He let me go when I asked without reason. He loves me. That is love. Love is encouraging people to feel however they feel and to trust that they honor you and are not trying to use you or harm you. William allowing me that, has allowed me to feel an enormous amount of respect and love for him.

I understand that it’s difficult to cope with. I think you are right. I think a lot has been done wrong. I think wrong is subjective. I think this whole life is arbitrary. I don’t think I should matter so much to you, to make you question who you are as an individual. I am not trying to harm you, but my pursuing of my own heart has.

Am I responsible?

(name changed for privacy reasons) Dane probably has seen the most of this chaos and tried the most to help me through it. He has been put on the line many times, but I also have chosen him above Nyle and above my beloved William. I am still terribly conflicted about this decision and Dane can see it in my hesitation at times.

I am too exhausted of relationships to put energy into deciphering how I feel further. This is a mess, and I am tired of hurting people. I am tired of demands to be exclusive and monogamous, when all that feels like to me is ownership. I want to love Dane, I want to respect his needs, but I am never going to be owned.

Nyle treated me like I was important, but desperately wanted me to be his. Acts of kindness do not mean you are ever entitled to someone else. I am tired of people not caring about my voice! I am tired of being responsible for feeling that are not my own.  I am tired of being demonized and thought of as in genuine when this is all just as confusing to me.

It’s only confusing because I am allowing myself to be riddled with guilt and heaviness from the expectations and definitions of good I have learned in this society. I am going to be controlled by the definition of a “good girl”. I’d rather have voice, thoughts, and power, and be bad, than to be docile and good.

I am not well behaved. I am not yours. I am not responsible for how you fucking feel about me, nor do you have a right to demonize me.

Nyle, I am sorry your home has changed. I am sorry that your best friend is pursuing me. You warned him not to, as I would too. But I also resent you. I resent that you feel so much ownership over me as to be mad at him for talking to me. It’s grown and grown since then, and you and I have grown and grown apart. I can’t be around you. I can’t be around someone who pretends to act like my friend, but is angry and possessive about me when I am not around.

I do not want your energy to be on my back anymore. I want you to let me go, and to not be angry anymore. I want you to realize I have nothing to do with you. We are so separate, and you are powerful in your own voice. The only thing I did wrong was to have different wants than you.

The way you are acting now shows me that you never loved me. This darkness is not love. It is not the response of a heartbreak either. It is possessive and a illusion of love by wanting ownership and not being able to have it. And I can promise at least this, I would run from anyone who tried to dictate ownership over me like you did.

Dry Lagoon

White and black
Looking closer
finely grained stones
stick to my palms
a point accented by the waves
mist is approaching over the mountains
feel the texture change under my boots
yellow stains the sand
Victorian gem spies on us
from between the branches
dying in masses
blue and clear ameobas
following the shape of the tide
and dead
do you want to go the the top?
if its possible, I’m down
swirls of orange cut by the rigid texture of wood
but my fingertips see the cool touch of stone
Independently entertained
Hunting for treasure
stones engulphed in the white foam
My favorite people are those I can be silent with
Funny thing to be able to choose
I haven’t replied yet.
A reminder of the world
soft breeze through my sweater
the tide plays on the shore
a little different each time