forrest lane's prose

2

We Stood

Beneath the two big oak trees on the hill looking up at the beautiful gnarled mess wondering out loud about how many miles of roots we stood above.

Being an insomniac, I’ve spent my whole life being tired, but I’ve never felt more tired than when I was slipping between the fingers of others or trying my best not to fit the molds they formed with someone else. I hate the idea of becoming the sum of someone else’s parts so I often have to love the parts of me that have started to turn stale, hoping I haven’t let them sour me. I was thinking hard about all the unimportant first impressions I’ve ever had to make. How easily forgettable people can be, and how I, like everyone, find myself slipping between fingers too. Sometimes, I crave that feeling.

I’ve struggled awhile now with my own foundations. A long time ago, someone I loved told me that I was an old home with squeaky floors. When I was younger, I thought love was red bows around fingers or names carved in trees, but now I know that it’s tangled roots, knotted veins.

I’ll always remember you for the way your lips brushed up against my cheek when you whispered to me for the first time. When someone says your name, that’s the memory that’ll play in my head, but I also get to hold onto so much more: like the early breakfasts at sunrise with hands clasped or the hide and seek grass stains from the orchard or the long walks from the bar to your home breathing cold air or the night by the lake or the fire we shared. I cave at the thought of ever having to forget a single thing, so I replay these memories over in my head, hoping that these are the parts that people see of me.

Left to myself, I’d become stale –I know this– and that’s exactly why the best part of this tangled mess of memories is this: we’re not yet finished growing together.

–Forrest

rainstormshowerpourmistdownpoursoakpetrichor

ᴩᴀʀᴛ 2

I wont ever tell you this, but that day it rained and we shared an umbrella to see our best friend at work I cried so hard all the way home because I am a storm in disguise and I don’t want to ruin this.

I wont ever tell you this, but it rained all day today and it was cold and I shared it with you. I don’t know how today felt to you, so I’m hesitant to say this but when you looked back at me while we walked out of the theatre, and the lights from the projector made perfect stars in your eyes, all I could think about was seeing them open first thing each morning.

I wont ever tell you this, but when you wore a dress and met me I imagined that dress hanging next to my shirts in our closet.

I wont ever tell you this, but the night we kissed I could smell your hair and I imagined your shampoo bottle next to mine in our shower when you said “I enjoyed that more than I thought I would.”

I wont ever tell you this, but none of these things exist to me but in my dreams about you and lately I’ve been trying to sleep more because I know I’ll see you, but God, it rains so much these nights. 

--forrest lane

Dear you,

You still permeate my life. You’re osmosis in my brain. You steep my issues. Infiltrate my thoughts. Seep through my feelings. Charge me. I’m ingrained in you. My chest swells up like waves at the thought of you, and when they break on your shore, I’m left out at sea, staring back at you, sharing the same ocean, but too far out to be noticed by the lifeguard. You fell into my life like October leaves. One by one a little piece of you fell, until only a few leaves remained, and as we raked in all those pieces, getting warm and throwing off those ridiculous 90s sweatshirts, we found as much of each other as we could, but my glasses fell off as we rolled through piles of leaves, and you took my sight with you, and now I can’t see what lies ahead and I’m scared. The very thought of you still chills me like those cold nights walking into yogurt shops or loitering at gas stations, shushies in hand, or wandering the dead trails of state parks, hoping to find you.

You left in such a hurry, though for a few days, I watched you walk down the long hallway, slowly, silently, making your way for the front door where, through blurry glass, and silhouettes, I saw just why you were leaving. You made no apologies. Not real ones, but I did. It wasn’t my place to say sorry for making you leave, but I still did. You left with no regard for yourself or me, and I was sorry. I was sorry for ever meeting you, liking you, loving you, falling for you, killing parts of me for you. I was sorry I didn’t realize I was just another person to you, because you were the entire universe to me. I was sorry, but now, I’m just broken.

I wrote you letters so often that my hand hurts, longing to be entangled with your convalescent extremities once again, fingers like rope, your thumb hidden away so you could still feel safe. I drove to all ‘our’ stupid places, until my car made funny noises and ran out of fuel. I had a near death experience while thinking about you. The airbag brought wisdom, but it still made my head hurt, longing to be nestled agains yours in the dim light of a shitty dorm room, hoping the RA doesn’t visit. My breath fogged up the mirror in my bathroom and there wasn’t a cute message left for me, and I had no one to leave one for, and I remembered writing on your drivers side door cute messages that you probably never got. I use the toaster you got me for Christmas every day to burn a single piece of wheat-berry toast, wishing I had a reason to burn two.

There has to be a reason I still keep these memories of purple scarves and hot chocolate or memories of long drives from out of state just for a parfait or memories of bad horror movies and Moldy Peaches songs. I know there’s a reason, and I don’t know that reason, but I mostly just find myself wishing that you hold these memories too, holding, hoping one day to find the reason you hold these memories. That you’ll find those reasons in me, and I’ll find my reasons in you.

Sincerely,

Forrest

–Forrest Lane (4estabon)

12/19/13

I want to write today down in list form to remind myself of how to have a good day. I want to remember to skip breakfast sometimes and drink a giant coffee instead. I want to remember to sleep in and edit pictures after the suns already up. I want to remember to plan the day’s events while I’m in the shower, never before. I want to remember to search every inch of thrift stores, but leave some room to explore when visiting a new place. I want to remember to tell my friends how much I love them, and am so glad they’re here and they mean the world to me. I want to remember to take photos of everything and each moment of every adventure. I want to remember to remember days like this because it’s really easy to sometimes forget the unbelievable. I want to remember to keep memories like this forever.

A Photo Essay About Humans

by Forrest Lane

I think missing friends is a lot like being homesick and homeless, or maybe I’m wrong and it’s more like being a wanderer who’s seen it all, because sometimes at night I can’t really tell whether tomorrow will be the best day or the worst day, but I know that dreams seem unreachable so days will blend into weeks and I’ll lose track of words again.

Sometimes when I take a photograph, and I know I’ve got an amazing shot, I keep it for myself because I don’t want others to think I’m always that good. I often feel that my luck outweighs my skill or creativity in any endeavor, so I find myself keeping my terrible photographs for myself as well so I can hear them mock me each time my hard drive whurrs back to life.

When I look at a photograph, too often I find myself in the greys between the blacks and the whites. And so, when I look at the world I see only the grey.

I guess what I’m trying to say is sometimes, on the rare occasion that I do see the world in color, it can be beautiful.

Or it can be sad and beautiful.

And I think I’d rather know someone who understands that people are mostly sad and beautiful, because I think they are the most important type of person.

We are all just storms with skin stretched over our problems.

It rained here today, and I felt like a storm trapped in a storm and I’ve never been surrounded by more people and felt so alone. The sky shattered today, and from it fell tears of shattered glass and they bounced around and glistened prettily in the golden sunset light, but it got dark again just like it always does, and it got cold again just like it always does and I need you to both light my way and keep me warm but you’re a ghost. I got out your old journal today just to hold onto it while the storm threatened the integrity of my foundations. It rained. Oh my god did it rain. Not for any single thing in particular, but for the sake of the storm inside me, for the sake of release, for the sake of a careful moment trapped in my mind. It doesn’t rain often anymore, but when it does, it sure does flood.

I struggled for a long time with the thought of being a writer and someone else’s written word. Or how it was easier to take a photograph than it was to be in one. Or how I never minded being broken down to smaller pieces to make it easier for others to swallow. But it was raining on my birthday when I realized I was comfortable being your dried ink, because I was happiest with you as mine and that I want to take a million photographs of you but I want another million of us together and that I’m a better me as a whole me and I don’t have to amputate parts of myself to keep you in my arms.

–Forrest

Old Homes

I don’t often write about her, but she was a big part of my life. In the summer, my grandma would make suntea and we’d play dominos until my fingertips hurt and my teeth were yellow from all the tea we drank. At night, I’d sleep in the same bed her kids slept in, and in the cool mornings, I’d go see if there were any snakes in the little vegetable garden on the property line. She always went to bed before I did. She was always awake before I was.

What I remember most about her was how she loved people. She wasn’t the kind that loved everyone equally -or tried to, we all know it’s not possible- she was the kind that told you exactly how much she loved you whether you wanted to hear it or not. She loved a man until he died, and they loved each other for over fifty-five years. I’ll not understand that kind of love until I’ve loved someone that long.

When grandpa died, she changed. There’s that Theodore Roosevelt quote that’s like: “The light has gone out of my life,” but when I hugged her while we were all dressed in black she said, “He’s still beautiful.”

I struggled so long with those words. I often take my photographs and print them out, and I’ll flip through them like a hand of poker cards until I “get” them. I read these words over and over in my head, wrote them on anything that would let ink soak into it. Finally, I “got” it. Finally, it soaked into my pores.

There’s a level of beauty only attainable by love. It’s deathless, and unobtainable through any other energy. Our bodies will whither away, minds deteriorate, and eventually we all die, and the people we love will die too, but that doesn’t mean our love does. Their love, not a perfect love, but a lasting love will forever be something I long for. A love not touched by age, not by sickness, not by even death. The beauty of their love lives on in those who were witness to it.

She gave me relationship advice once while she was still in a hospital bed, and as I starred at the IVs, she told me, “Just never go to bed angry. That way, you’ll grow every day.” I guess that’s why I rarely sleep at night, and I guess that’s why I won’t sleep tonight.

I’ll never forget the day she died, and my friends didn’t know yet but they knew something was wrong, but they didn’t know that as beautiful as her love was, as much as it lives still in me, I still lost a mentor, a close friend -closer than my own parents-, but most of all, I lost my grandma that day. I cried on all the wrong shoulders, but it was necessary. My tears left wet spots on all the wrong blouses, but my need for a life spent with someone in the same love she had grew everyday.

I’m tired of writing books. Let’s build cities. Come find me. I’ll be catching garden snakes by the creek behind a little house in Scranton, Pennsylvania or walking the railroad tracks to my aunt’s old home. Come find me one-third of a bottle in because sometimes it doesn’t matter how beautiful someone’s energy is. It matters whether or not they are here, and I’m still getting used to her absence.

–Forrest Lane

Forgetful by Design

I find it gratifying that in ten days, I’ll have forgotten how you tasted.

In three weeks, all those times I breathed in your little breaths between kisses won’t matter anymore. My body will replace each cell that ever breathed you in until I have a new set of lungs. It’ll take a month, but my skin will have forgotten how you felt when my new shell is complete. In half a year, my liver will have forgotten all the expensive scotch I replaced you with.

Biology classes taught me so much about the human body— the sweet taste of knowledge knowing that parts of me are designed to forget you. But that taste is bittered by how these bones that I felt you in can’t forget you, or by how my heart never gets replaced and so sometimes I still find you tangled up in my veins.

Whether I believe it or not, in time, you’ll be absent from my heart one day, completely. The tissues that forget you will outweigh all the others that seem to still hold onto you, but one thing remains:

I will always have my mind— 

The very mind that thought galaxies of you, the very mind that you re-programmed. I get asked all the time why I take photographs, but I’ve never given someone my real reason.

So here it is:

I take photographs so I can go back. Even when it hurts, sometimes I go back just to feel like I’m loved again, if only for a minute. Because with a photograph, I can remember just the good parts, and over time the bad parts fall away.

Sometimes I find myself floating in those galaxies, and that’s the most dangerous place I’ve ever let myself go. I just wish that like my tastebuds or my lungs or my skin or my nails or my hair or my liver; that my brain was designed to forget you, because right now I can’t discern the good from the bad, and I simultaneously want to stargaze and stare at my feet.

–Forrest

Addiction

Your skin was cut from the finest Banarasi Silk, eyes of blood diamonds. Your hair was colorful fall leaves, floating in breezes of eyelashes made from butterflies. No one had clipped your wings yet, so I know you could still fly, but you spent your days with arms around my shoulders or hands clasped around mine, and your nights tangling yourself in my sheets or staying awake with me when I couldn’t sleep.

You weren’t the worlds definition of beautiful. You weren’t tanned, but you were blonde. Your eyes weren’t blue, but they still shimmered even in the dimmest light. When you walked, you didn’t float along above the ground gracefully, but where you tripped yourself up is where I found myself picking you up. The worlds definition of physical beauty paled every moment, just a little more, as I sank deep into your arms.

You made me laugh. They way only I could make you laugh. I read books about romance and love, and they all tell me it’s such an important thing that your partner makes you laugh. Those books must have it all wrong. I don’t think any amount of laughing could fix you, and honestly, I was still so naive and still learning what the world was really like that I wasn’t whole either. I’d apologize, but that’s what you liked about me.

Slowly, as you matured, I watched you molt your outer shell. As I grew bitter and tired of normalcy and redundant days spent wading through problems and issues from outside the places we called home, somehow your mind went with that shell. Hollow, empty, turning to addiction and cashing in your love for one last night spent with something comfortable, you were leaving since the moment I met you. 

That night, as I traced the tattoos on your back with the tips of my fingers, and your mind drifted further and further from the place we called home, I stopped for a moment to kiss the back of your neck, knowing it would be the last time. I took you by the hands and looked into your eyes because I knew it would be the last time. I studied your inked ribs, your painted thighs, scarred hips. In our last moments, my lips wandered the farthest reaches of earth and universe as they met yours, never convinced there’d be another chance.

With the taste of ends meeting, and soon goodbyes resting between the cracks of my chapped lips, I felt your heart one last time. Love is such a crazy thing. How one sided it can be, or how it can get confused for so many other things. To love is an addiction, and anything else isn’t love, simply. You loved your addiction more than me, and I couldn’t stop it from destroying you because I could never be your addiction.

While you search red light districts and sketch apartments, begging on calloused knees for that next high. I’ll do the same, never giving up the addiction, only looking for someone else to fill it. You were my addiction. And I was as black teeth, scabbed forearm, matted hair for you as any meth-manufacturing-crack-whore tweaker. You were a high. The highest of highs. You were a blood-boiling, arm-belted, bent-spoon high. But me, I was merely a faded portion of fatty cells in your head, a high weaker than the cheapest bud, a chaser for your addiction.

I could no longer watch you destroy yourself. I could no longer stop you from destroying yourself. I could no longer stop you from destroying me too. It’s hard to break an addiction, but you had no trouble breaking me.

–Forrest lane (4estabon)

That’s the thing about significant others. You are already significant before they even exist in your life, and yet, slowly over time, there becomes this internal struggle to figure out who is more significant, them or yourself. There’s this realization that the choices we make are insignificant, because what matters— what is really beautiful is that struggle itself, and if we’re really, very lucky, we struggle beautifully along with someone else for the rest of our lives.

I was always told that love was supposed to feel like the 62 degree angle of the driveway next to my childhood home, that feeling just before the red wheels of my bicycle spun faster than they’d ever spun and my heart raced faster than it ever raced before. But what I’ve learned is that love feels like my best friends hand against my cheek when I woke up on the ride to the hospital, that the same hands that held each other at 7 years old can hold each other at 20.

I was always told that it was like the color red, the color blue, like butterflies in bowels, like intense weather patterns, like really intricate and beautiful dances, like bleeding hearts, like pages from books, but all these things are consumable and momentary. What I’ve learned about love hasn’t been second hand. I didn’t just accept that love was red hearts or blue flames or insects or hurricanes. I accepted the love of the people I surrounded myself with, and what I learned is that love is infinite and conditionless. Anything else isn’t love. 

Those experiences have taught me more about love than any book or movie or preconceived idea that we’re all taught from a young age. If you’re looking for a resolution this year, I’d encourage you to try this: search out love in the people you care about. If someone is a part of your life and you’re honored and proud and blessed by that, remind them as often as you think about it. Remind those that you love that you do love them because it’s not a finite energy, it’s not indefinite. Love is interminable.

Love isn’t a hurricane. It’s the Seattle rain. 

—Forrest Lane

A Life, Outstretched

I spent too much time carving other’s names in rocks thinking I could create something permanent in my life. I remember the first night I fell asleep under the stars with nothing between me and them but an eternity. I remember what it’s like to wake up at 4am and drive eight hours to the World’s Largest Truck Stop because I wanted to. I spent too much time not doing and coming undone, instead of doing and living.

There are beautiful people living lives that outstretch even their own beauty. They are adventurers, explorers. They are doers. I spent too much time stuck in the mud to ever find myself stuck in it again. I planned three years to the brim with life experiences. I discovered all there was to discover in the Carolinas. I went to Vegas, back to Europe. I went fishing in Florida, and camped so many times on different beaches that I learned to love the feeling of tiny shores between my toes.

A while back, I started a new project. While I certainly had great memories in my hometown, I had some awful ones too. I started reclaiming my town. Each place that I, over time, had decided was too hard to go or too sad to be in, I started making new memories at. I took my camera, I brought a friend, and I started new. That project is never ending.

New, good memories aren’t created with just good intentions. If they were, there’d be no need for this personal project. Just as there will always be photographs that are too hard to look at, or songs that set my bones on fire and burn me from the inside out, there will always be places that are bad memories. There will always be a small chance that a good memory, will become a bad memory.

And it’s the really really good ones that turn out to be the worst ones sometimes. I really hate that.

Here’s to new memories; good or bad.

6/12/15 Long Drives and Soft Lips

It took me a long time but now it feels like forever has passed since I learned that summers weren’t just another season to let pass by. I learned that kisses are the best kind of secrets –the kind that mistake the lips for ears. I learned that the songs spilling out of car windows were much more than white noise, but rivers of sunburnt memories spilling from vehicles. I learned that a lot can happen in a little time but nothing feels like summer except summer.

I used to stress about the cloudy parts of my life until a summer storm rolled in during the sunset and the whole sky was purple and red and the whole world was alive. I don’t dread the clouds anymore; I welcome them because I believe in the innate perfection of the imperfect.

Today was the first day that felt like summer in a long time because to me, summer has always been dirty hands and sticking to the seats. It’s always been long drives and soft lips. It’s always been a dead phone battery and a warm heart. And tonight, you felt like summer and I found myself hoping one day I’ll be able to say “Summer, to me, has always been you because summer to me has always been us.”

–Forrest

MTNZ

I crave it now. The sleepy mornings, waking up next to mountains –finding flowers in your bed. Sure, I’ve spent my whole life up to now, never needing, and always wanting, but there’s a part of me that’d rather relive this same day over and over than accept the possibility of losing you. It was in a stain-glass fever dream when I first heard you sing to me. And maybe I don’t dream that much –I’ll admit it– but when I do, you’re always singing.

This morning, I woke to you stirring and all I could dwell on is how I can tell when you enter a room because I know ‘your sound’. And I know the way you talk. And I’ve spent enough time now tracing the curves of your back to know all the ways you carry yourself, but don’t take that as a way of saying “I’ve explored and I’m finished” because there’s more to you than any one man could possibly ever know. Truth is, I’m barely even that –hardly a man.

It was a whispery Friday night when you took me by the hand, and the storm clouds seemed close enough to touch, so we climbed onto the roof hoping just to get a little closer. The rain held the smoke in the air and it was heavy and my hands still shake when I think about that night. You’ve shifted my every thought, and for now, they dwell on you. I’m hardly a man, sure, but that just means I’m still growing and right now I can’t think of anyone better to grow along side of than you.

Forrest