i don’t think i qualified for the it-girl residency this year; my application got denied because i’ve never been off the east coast, & now i can’t stand the sound of california in everyone’s mouths -- i don’t need to stand on the production-lot of a hollywood blockbuster to know of nepotism, to know that good art & good candidates are rarely seen. i think i typed “da innernet” instead of “The Internet” because i thought that the job was here for “diversity” maybe i didn’t qualify because they thought i couldn’t swim & would drown in the valley of LA traffic. but i told them that east coast traffic is just as bad too if you’re driving through virginia during the holidays. i imagine i’ll be twentysomething living in the city at a corporate job & my cute corporate coworker turned work-husband will smile at me & i’ll smile at him but eye contact is hard when your contacts are drying at the center of your irises, so i keep blinking, trying to alleviate the dryness & now he thinks i'm strange because i can’t blink correctly but blinking is involuntary like blushing or breathing & maybe he thinks i’m a cool girl for my rare & niche hobby of bodily autonomy. & i’ll tell him about the endeavors of bathroom conversations — not a conversation held in a bathroom but a conversation about bathrooms & how for a long time i missed standing barefoot in a shower & not worrying about the girls talking shit about my type-4 curls clogging the drains or sticking to the shower curtain. but i want him to know that i’m a cool girl outside the cubicle so i tell him about my vinyl record collection & how i was a dancer in a past life & think maybe he’ll want me a little more. but even between all the cubicle conversations, we all want an inner circle, but i just want to feel like the center of a circle: alive & calm in the eye of a storm, even if it’s out of reach, even when the world’s ending around us, even when i don’t say the words “violence” or “systematic” or “bondage” because apparently, those words retired from the mouths of millions so long ago. but how when they’re the reason why i’m here in the first place: disjointed & carrying myself on the train where the silence of strangers is the most peaceful part of my day & after getting lost in the beauty of the way the old man holds his own hands over his belly, & i’ll think maybe i didn’t dream big enough, maybe the dream could’ve been held in my hands, but maybe i thought all the days would be endless, & i would learn to love a broken thing like the printer or the scanner & maybe i’ll find the reason, find the malfunction or the paper jam of all my past heartaches telling me why i’ve spent my whole life trying to be the center of someone's world.
Kailah Figueroa is a writer, editor, and an enthusiast of photography, coffee, and kindness. She is the founding editor of Mid-Heaven Magazine, a zine centered around weird and sad girl art & writing. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @KailahFigueroa.