Category Archives: travel

abstract measurements

Abstract

People, like continents, have different time zones — learning, failing, succeeding, loving at their own pace.

Time is imperfectly measured, not by infinite numbers, but by myriads of memories. 


Berlin, Germany 

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ecstasy

Swarm

The sun was setting overhead, and I could feel it, the vibrations. The trickle of momentum started at my feet, rupturing my locked knees, I swayed from side to side smashed between the bodies of my two best friends. The background bass overpowered our voices, and all I could hear was my own heart enthusiastically pounding against my eardrums. Each pulsation reverberated throughout my body, growing energetically with enthusiasm… and also impatience.

We were having fun, no doubt. But we wanted to get inside the festival grounds. We had been standing in line for over an hour and a half already, and the high from anticipation was slowly transforming into annoyance. The security was obviously overwhelmed with the exuberant crowd lined up in zigzags outside the gates. Angelica suddenly grabbed my hand, and in response I took hold of Ramon’s. She forced her way to the front, dragging us along with her. A twinge of guilt abruptly struck my conscience when I looked back to see all the people we had moved in front of… and then I heard Ramon call my name, pulling me out of my own senseless thoughts. Turning my attention back to my two friends, I saw him raise his phone for a selfie, and I genuinely smiled. It surprised even me — how effortless happiness could be.

After being patted down, very intimately I might add, by the entrance guards, we finally got in. Angelica had a few friends from her university meeting us, and she particularly wanted to introduce me to a certain someone. We had talked about it a lot in the weeks leading up to the music festival. I wanted a new experience, and I think Angelica wanted to give me that — as my parting gift, before I moved to Berlin.

Remembering this, I suddenly got nervous. I didn’t know what expectations I was supposed to have — or supposed to fulfill. Thank god, we had all pregamed before coming. The bottles of flavored vodka had been a good call to buy, it reminded me fondly of high school, and drinking with my best friend in our hotel room was something I’ll always hold close to my heart.

Although, it isn’t about the alcohol — it never is. It’s about the memory being made with someone, the time you can’t ever get back, the pure euphoria of new experiences with a soul your soul recognizes; this everlasting infinity we call the present.

I stayed close to Ramon, while Angelica and her friend Andre, led us around the different music stages searching for the meeting spot. Night had settled already, and the only blinding light came from behind DJ sets, and from the small stands selling beer and food. I was lost in my own mental musings when I finally noticed we had come to a halt near one of the water stations. I stood a few feet away from them watching one of the bands play, while they huddled around in a circle.

“Nice, let me record her.” I heard Ramon say.

“Fine, but don’t be obvious, I don’t want her freaking out,” answered Angelica.

Their voices pulled me out of my drunken isolation of thought, and I rolled my eyes impatiently, realizing they were talking about me. I tried moving myself between their shielding bodies to say something cheeky, when Angelica once again, grabbed my wrist and pulled me forward in the middle of the circle they had created — she held my palm upward toward the sky, and then her hand dropped from mine at the same time as someone else’s hand took hold.

I looked from Angelica to this new person that had gone unnoticed until now. She had this look in her eyes, like when someone knows something more than you do. It made me uncomfortable, so I withdrew my hand from hers. It was a peculiar way to meet a stranger for the first time.

“Trinh, this is my friend, Grace,” Angelica said coolly, a twinge of excitement hidden behind her voice.

I mustered up a nervous smile in response and held out my hand again towards the girl in front of me. I was trying to be relaxed, and not let my anxiousness override my laidback drunkenness. Instead she gave me a hug for a greeting, and this I appreciated. I hate shaking hands; it’s too formal for me.

My enthusiasm for the sudden friendliness erased my initial anxiety, and I embraced her back. I heard Angelica laugh sardonically, and suddenly there was a spotlight in my face. Ramon was shining his iPhone directly against my dilated pupils, and also pointing his gopro in my direction, “Okay go!”

And then I felt it, the irreparable impact of her lips against mine — the collision of chemistry commencing.

At first, came the endorphins. Alleviating my uneasiness, setting each follicle hair on my arms ablaze — unleashing a hungry desire for the person pressing her tongue against mine.

Soon followed by oxytocin. It had to be. How else could I be physically intimate with someone so suddenly? My hands gripped her waist, and she pressed her body into mine, like old lovers do, with no time to waste.

And finally — the injection of dopamine. My neuron synapses were forging and firing off new paths to my remapped brain. Or perhaps, it was serotonin. I mix up my neurotransmitting chemicals. But what I felt was elated joy, my heart pounding sporadically against my rib cage, causing a warm and calm feeling between my ears. My body was comfortably on fire.

The quartet of happiness — the chemistry of ecstasy. 

I thought to myself, as I stepped back and pulled away from the touch of Grace.

It was unlike any kiss I’ve ever experienced before. Powerful, and intoxicating, and unexpected… I found myself simultaneously craving more, but being extremely overwhelmed by euphoria. 

My mental capacity for logic fled my body, and my vision increased in magnitude.

Time no longer felt like a restraint on my dimensional body — its influence disappeared. The speed of light changed for me… perhaps bent is a better word. Light fragments reflected deeper and faster colors. In any direction I looked, everything seemed to be magnified. I felt the world spin beneath me, one axis degree at a time.

I put my hand in front of Ramon’s camera, and gulped a large amount of fresh air to catch my breath. He patted me on my back, congratulatory. Before I could turn back to Grace and ask what the hell just happened, I felt Angelica’s hand slip into mine again, pulling me forward through the swarm of bodies towards the main stage, the others following behind.

The Chainsmokers were set to play in an hour, and people were already gathering in mass around the area. Honestly, I don’t really much care for them. It’s Halsey I was there for, if even just for her voice. Her music had saved me once upon a time, when I promised myself I wouldn’t let anyone complete me.

Yet here I found myself unguarded with every sense of feeling heightened, my Walls of Jericho surrounded by souldiers of light. I realized in this moment I had been wrong, to not want to let people complete my heart — to complete my human experience, and like I’ve said, I’m addicted to experience.

Grace’s kiss had given me clarity I didn’t know I needed — for the tantalizing significance of being alive, in basking in the infinite, of the sacredness of friendship.

The Universe’s little reminder, “You can’t keep Love out of your house, even if you tried.”

Cheers to friendship, I really am surrounded by the most beautiful souls. 

Sun City Music Festival — El Paso, TX 

reminder 

Don’t miss out on life by desensitizing yourself. 

People are often scared to say too much, to feel too deeply. 

Caring is not synonymous with weak. 

Yes, expressing yourself will make you vulnerable, and will make your heart a target for harsh criticism. Not everyone will like your honesty. There’s no denying that. 

But please remember, there’s absolutely no shame in it. 

Do not let self-doubt steal your softness. 

Do not let another soul take your tenderness. 

There is breathtaking magic in being honest, in allowing yourself to strip down and be emotionally exposed and naked. 

Express, express, express. Open yourself up, do not harden yourself to the world, and be bold in who, and how you love. 

That is courage. That is love. That is life. 


Berlin, Germany

Star Stuff

We are vessels — the universe is in us
The pulse of story, the soft hums of labor and love
Free from the shackles of space and time

But science works on the frontier of knowledge and ignorance
Some claim evolution is just a theory
It’s also a soaring spiritual experience
And the cosmos reveal that all life on Earth is one

So what can natural selection do operating over billions of years?
What is the life expectancy of a civilization?
Are there any mementos from when the Earth was born?
Or is it possible that life came to Earth as a hitchhiker?

There seems to be a mysterious force in the universe
We call it “dark energy”
But age and size of the cosmos are written in light
And the design in the stars, is the same in our hearts —
Holy

I know this sounds crazy, but —
this story is about you… me… your dog
Written in the a language that all life can read
the ancient scripture of our genetic code
All of it cooked in the fiery hearts of long-vanished stars

And yet — the Universe is under no obligation to make sense to us.


Berlin, Germany 

lavender

Clean

It was well past 2am, and we were delightfully drunk deep within the darkness of the night struggling to open the front door of the building. Once inside, I followed you up the only flight of stairs to our apartment. I say “our” because you had just given me my own set of keys earlier that day.

I was simultaneously shocked and overwhelmingly happy.

You did it so… simple. That’s how you always were with the big moments in our relationship, leaving the grandiose gestures of love to me. We had woken up that morning, both in a rush to get to class. I had more time than you, so I rummaged through your closet and smirked, while grabbing your baby pink towel. It was funny; I knew how much it’d annoy you to see me use your favorite towel. I set the water temperature to my liking, and jumped into your shower. Your vanilla scented shampoo clinged to the dampness of my hair, my fingers moving furiously against my scalp. I was going to be late, so I took my time. Why was I always late?

I heard you enter the restroom, the sound of toothbrush bristles against teeth.

Before I’d forget, I peaked my head behind the shower curtain to look at her, “Hey babe, leave your keys for me so I can lock up before I go to class and I’ll leave them at you parent’s house so you can pick them up after you finish work.”

Her mom lived a block down the street, it was a routine we did often, and afforded me the comfort of many a mornings’ homemade breakfast.

She gargled some water in her throat before answering me, steadily keeping her eyes on her reflection in the mirror hoisted above the sink, “I’m in a hurry my love, I left your keys on my bed…” In the small silence following, she sneaked a playful glance at me and more words fumbled rapidly from her mouth, “My mom still expects you for breakfast. See you tonight.” Before I could register her words, she closed the bathroom door.

I finished my shower, wrapping the towel around my body, and reopening the momentarily closed door, “Babe?” There was no answer, she had left already.

The tips of my fingers ran through the front of my hair, pushing my bangs away from my face. I walked into her room and scanned the sheets on her bed. Right on the edge sat a purle butterfly keychain, attached were four keys; the two to her apartment, and the two to mine. “Ahhh” I breathed, realization finally setting in — my own set. I sat beside the keys and looked at them without touching. I stared at them for a long while, before the sound of my phone pulled me out of my confused trance.

This specific notification alert meant a text message. I pressed the home button on my iphone to open it.

You feel like home.

It buzzed again.

I love you so much, can’t wait to wake up to your eyes all the time now.

Infectiously, the entirety of my body felt so light and clean. I smiled like a fool at my phone and responded carefully, craftily:

You assume this means I’m staying. I just thought it meant I didn’t have to borrow your keys anymore.

 

I imagined what she’d look like upon reading this. She’d have rolled her eyes, a smirk pulling at the corners of her lips. Her response came quickly, effectively:

It means I finally decided to stop seeing all my other boyfriends.

 

“Bitch,” I said out loud automatically… with the utmost affection, of course.

Thank god, I’m a girl then. I guess I made the cut, yeah?

 

I held my phone in my hand, waiting her text. I grinned stupidly at the screen, all initial hesitation and confusion disappearing from my mind. I looked around the room, letting it sink in. She had decorated one wall with my graffiti photography, I beamed proudly. The other wall the bed fell against, was filled with pictures of friends, family, and us in white frames, captured moments of happiness… another buzz.

My favourite girl. 🙂

 

So… is that a yes then?

 

My fingers punched the keyboard, then the send button.

Yes.

 

—————————–
Your hand was on the knob, ready to push our door open, but I stopped you. I felt you turn around to face me, and immediately both of my hands found your face in the dark and I pulled you into my kiss. I felt your hands on my waist, the intimacy between our lips becoming increasingly fervent. You pulled me against you forcefully, which caused you to take a few clumsy steps backwards, enclosing the space between your back and the door; every part of our bodies collided, touching.

At the sound of another door opening, I jumped back away from you instinctively.

Your aunt lived right beside you, and the outline of her furious figure in her doorway was enough to make us both kneel over in laugher, “What are you two doing making so much noise out here at this time of night, go inside and sleep!”

You calmed her down in your native tongue, your words slurring from the alcohol, while I grabbed my keys and opened the door for us. Once inside, you wrapped your arms around my neck, my hands finding the small of your back and pressing you to me.

We stumbled stupidly in love across the livingroom and into our bedroom.

You took your make-up and heels off and got ready for sleep, while I changed the sheets to the bed. Once done, I sat on top the fresh linen in pajamas, and watched you perform your nightly routine. Finally you switched the lights off and lay beside me. We nestled under the covers together, you face pressed up delicately against my neck, your body in my arms. You had this way of making me feel safe.

I was wide-awake; tracing patterns against your bare back, the effect of liquor finally wearing off. But I could hear your breath, slowing and becoming deeper. You’d be asleep soon, and then I’d be able to fall asleep after.

Suddenly and without warning, you made a small movement, pulling the sheets over our head and trapping us beneath. I laughed, and playfully tried pulling them back, “What are you doing?”

You shushed me like a child and told me to stay still. I obliged curiously; you sucked in great amounts of air, the warmth of your slow exhaling breath against my neck made me hot, but I didn’t shift away for comfort. On the contrary, I wanted to stay like this for a long time, in our bed, in our apartment… in our home.

Before you finally succumbed to slumber, with great effort, you whispered in your sleepy voice against my skin, “I love the smell of clean sheets. It reminds me of you.”