Death of a Village
2013 marks the 5th year villagers have passively resisted a hostile land grab from real estate developers. Xian cun sits as the last remaining thousand year old village to be demolished, replaced by a shopping mall. The remaining three hundred villagers have endured their livelihoods being disrupted, their neighborhoods demolished and their friends and family under constant harassment as they try to keep their village from becoming just another statistic in China’s Real Estate boom.
© Steve Bromberg/National Geographic Photo Contest
I’m in love with you. Yeah, it’s that bad. You’re so beautiful to me. Shut up, let me tell you, let me. Every time I look at your face, or even remember it, it wrecks me. And the way you are with me, and you’re just fun and you shit all over me and you make fun of me and you’re real. I don’t have enough time in any day, to think about you enough. I feel like I’m gonna live a thousand years cause that’s how long it’s gonna take me to have one thought about you, which is that I’m crazy about you. I don’t wanna be with anybody else. I don’t. I really don’t. I don’t think about women anymore. I think about you. I had a dream the other night that you and I were on a train. We were on this train and you were holding my hand. That’s the whole dream, you were holding my hand and I felt you holding my hand. I woke up and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t real. I’m sick in love with you. It’s like a condition, it’s like polio. I feel like I’m gonna die if i can’t be with you and I can’t be with you, so I’m gonna die and I don’t care cause I was brought into existence to know you, and that’s enough. The idea that you would want me back? It’s like, greedy.
There are three things I want you to learn how to say.
“I love you”
and don’t just say it as an empty phrase,
say it with feeling,
say it to every person who comes to mind when you think of those three little words.
I know it’s scary,
I know it’s difficult,
but open yourself up
and shout it.
don’t say it under your breath,
when you love someone,
whether platonically or romantically,
it deserves to be shouted from every rooftop.
There will be some people in your life
that come in and just wreck everything,
they mess up your plans,
they hurt you,
and make you feel less than what you are,
so please learn how to say goodbye to them.
But I also want you to learn how to say goodbye
to even the people you want to stay.
not everyone stays,
and saying goodbye is like setting someone free,
and it won’t always come easy,
and it won’t always come without heartbreak,
but not everyone stays,
and it will do you a world of good to learn how to tell them
“I am worth it.”
there will be waves of sorrow in your life,
and you will feel as if you were the sand that the tide carries away,
you will feel as if it carries away your worth
it will feel like you are the left over rubble of a building
that had been burned down,
and you will feel less,
but please learn to say these words.
say them in the mirror when you have just woken up,
say them when your lover turns their back on you,
say them when you are opening up the refrigerator
and please, believe them.
You are more than sand that can just be washed away,
and you are more than just a few pieces of broken cement,
you are worth it.
Yesterday, I spent 60 dollars on groceries,
took the bus home,
carried both bags with two good arms back to my studio apartment
and cooked myself dinner.
You and I may have different definitions of a good day.
This week, I paid my rent and my credit card bill,
worked 60 hours between my two jobs,
only saw the sun on my cigarette breaks
and slept like a rock.
Flossed in the morning,
locked my door,
and remembered to buy eggs.
My mother is proud of me.
It is not the kind of pride she brags about at the golf course.
She doesn’t combat topics like, ”My daughter got into Yale”
with, ”Oh yeah, my daughter remembered to buy eggs”
But she is proud.
See, she remembers what came before this.
The weeks where I forgot how to use my muscles,
how I would stay as silent as a thick fog for weeks.
She thought each phone call from an unknown number was the notice of my suicide.
These were the bad days.
My life was a gift that I wanted to return.
My head was a house of leaking faucets and burnt-out lightbulbs.
Depression, is a good lover.
So attentive; has this innate way of making everything about you.
And it is easy to forget that your bedroom is not the world,
That the dark shadows your pain casts is not mood-lighting.
It is easier to stay in this abusive relationship than fix the problems it has created.
Today, I slept in until 10,
cleaned every dish I own,
fought with the bank,
took care of paperwork.
You and I might have different definitions of adulthood.
I don’t work for salary, I didn’t graduate from college,
but I don’t speak for others anymore,
and I don’t regret anything I can’t genuinely apologize for.
And my mother is proud of me.
I burned down a house of depression,
I painted over murals of greyscale,
and it was hard to rewrite my life into one I wanted to live
But today, I want to live.
I didn’t salivate over sharp knives,
or envy the boy who tossed himself off the Brooklyn bridge.
I just cleaned my bathroom,
did the laundry,
called my brother.
Told him, “it was a good day.
I am not the first person you loved.
You are not the first person I looked at
with a mouthful of forevers. We
have both known loss like the sharp edges
of a knife. We have both lived with lips
more scar tissue than skin. Our love came
unannounced in the middle of the night.
Our love came when we’d given up
on asking love to come. I think
that has to be part
of its miracle.
This is how we heal.
I will kiss you like forgiveness. You
will hold me like I’m hope. Our arms
will bandage and we will press promises
between us like flowers in a book.
I will write sonnets to the salt of sweat
on your skin. I will write novels to the scar
of your nose. I will write a dictionary
of all the words I have used trying
to describe the way it feels to have finally,
finally found you.
And I will not be afraid
of your scars.
I know sometimes
it’s still hard to let me see you
in all your cracked perfection,
but please know:
whether it’s the days you burn
more brilliant than the sun
or the nights you collapse into my lap
your body broken into a thousand questions,
you are the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I will love you when you are a still day.
I will love you when you are a hurricane.