no longer nineteen
by ashley d. escobar & kia heryadi
i. twenty-one doesn’t seem like a big deal. not at all. being nineteen in berlin was exhilarating. it was watching the sunrise, crossing elsenbrücke bridge, after a long night out––everything still fuzzy and incompressible, but i could still make out the corners, the shapes. it was hiding my hands in my oversized black hoodie to keep from freezing at 3 am at ostkreuz station, watching trains rumble past. i’m still coming of age & all i know for certain is that the sounds of sarah records are infinitely tied to the insides of my suitcase. wherever i go, wherever i am, their bands follow me in all their jangle pop glory.
ii. last summer comes to mind whenever “emma’s house” by the field mice comes on. a blissful time of early morning walks by the harbor and watching various sunsets float by my window. i befriended the seagulls and watched their every move. i waited every day until “five to six” for a letter from my dear pen pal, because that's the time where the field mice’s beloved emma now exists. perpetually on the edge of greyness––i’d wait and wait. i used to be hopeful that maybe one day emma would show up, that at least an apparition would appear. an unsent letter she left behind. anything that left a trace. i refused to believe her house was empty. but bobby’s right, it’s empty. i still want to call it emma’s house. my mailbox is now just as empty.
iii. it’s been months since you came to mind. another sunny day describes the ups and downs perfectly in “horseriding”: “'cause today I felt so good / because I didn't think of you for almost an hour.” sometimes bits and pieces of words you told me, plans we made warm me up before i realize how far away you are. how long ago you spoke of them. how you hoped for patience, and in the midst of my waiting, you cut it all off. “well, I know they're not you problems / but if you could help me solve them / then I'd be so very grateful.” i would. i won’t sit around waiting. i have plans to make, libraries to assist, poems to write, stories to tell, bands to create, and cities to visit. despite being in the same continent, i don’t know why i never went to the uk. i had the time but i didn’t use it. i want to use it now. coming of age on there and back again lane. now that’s a homecoming, and i’ll be there soon. my world will be brighter. if not, heavenly.
I can be bitter, even sour in love. Bite into a cherry and your teeth will scratch the pit; how can cherry flesh be perfectly sweet yet sometimes so tart the tang nearly stings your tongue? Between you and me, cherries give me a stomachache. When I eat too much, at least, but I eat too much basically every time I eat cherries. I was never very good at controlling myself.
“Because when you were nineteen, didn’t YOU ever want to create something beautiful and pure just so one day you could set it on fire and then watch the city light up as it burned?” We’ve self-destructed so many times; I tell my friends, “isn’t that what being young and in love is all about?” I spent my entire nineteenth year in love. The third time we kissed was to Northern Picture Library. He’s not into twee, not as much as me. But he’s into me and I love twee. He picked out the song, “Lucky,” off of Alaska. He told me the song makes him feel like he’s in a dream. Is he the lucky one, or is it me?
Well, Sarah said it best. I set it on fire and maybe it was on purpose. Maybe it’s what I wanted: I’ll never tell. I’ll let Sarah do the talking. But I can still write, I can still cry. I can lay in my bed, blankets and pillows and teddy bears strewn about, headphones trapping me in. My secret world.
The cherries are sour now, but I can’t stop eating them––in love, I never learn. I’m getting off soon, my stop is right after Anorak City. Here we go again: “I’m in love with a girl who doesn’t know I exist.”