on adopting a puppy in India

on adopting a puppy in India

Everything is temporarily magical, until it starts to become real.

I overstayed my welcome by adopting a puppy here. I crossed the unseen bounds; I took one of theirs and she became mine. We walk up and down the beach and the other dogs growl and chase us off their respective territories. We have no territory; all we have is each other.

If you take a dog off the streets, best to leave quickly, before anyone has a chance to notice. Get on the first flight puppy is old enough to travel on, or ask the vet to lie on her records. Return as swiftly as possible to wherever you came from. Because the staying, that’s the hard part.

I serve an unintentional, visual representation of potentiality. Look at how her coat gleams, how her teeth sparkle, from just a little love. People pass and say, “Special breed?” The children ask, “How many rupees?” Most likely because their parents have told them they can’t have one of their own. Too expensive. I respond with a standard answer of, yes, she’s very special, now choosing to leave the rest unsaid. That there are countless others available where she came from. I’ve learned the painfully hard way, I’m in over my head.

She came free of charge, save for an investment of a lifetime. The return on which has served a lifeline.

She was found on the corner, crying in the rain after her mother rejected her, unable to produce enough milk for the litter. The small, weak ones become food for the desperates.

I don’t know that she’ll ever think of herself as strong. She’s still kind of a wimp. Last night she cried for ten minutes after tripping over a table while playing with her friend Charlie. I thought from the way she yelped that Charlie had bitten her or that her leg was surely broken. Turns out she’d only stubbed her toe.

But this small, weak one has a magic all her own. You can see it in her eyes. Her soul and mine are intertwined, I have no doubt in my mind. We belonged together before we met.

Right now I can’t stop listening to the Sylvan Esso song, “Die Young,” which goes like this:

I was gonna die young

(I had it all planned out before you met me)

Now I gotta wait for you, hun

(I had a plan, you ruined it completely)

I’ve always been a lyric girl. I listen to the same song(s) on repeat for a time and I usually don’t think about why or what they mean, I just know they speak to my soul. And then months later, I’ll listen to the same song again, when I’m in a new place and have moved onto a different stream, and it won’t have the same effect. Sometimes certain songs carry me back to times, states, or seasons. I hear a beat and suddenly I’m traversing a formerly glittering road. I remember the break of when he left. I start to feel stronger on my own.

I very rarely understand what the lyrics mean, exactly. Some things are too deep, too complex, too connected to be put into words. Like art. And movement. And lyrics.

Yesterday, while writing in my journal, I felt the rare strike of tangibility, why these particular words feel like they’re a part of me. She’s my you.

And we all deserve something or one that keeps us here.

It’s become exhausting. I place buds in each ear as a flimsy defence against the line of questioning. I know I stand out, with my clean puppy on a leash, her pink-heart name tag reflecting the sun. I remind myself, every day, that many are just curious.

Everyone wants to know, which country? Foreign dog? What will I do with her, when I go back?

People fling curiosities, judgments, and unsolicited advice at me like the stones some have thrown at her uncontrollably wagging tail in the park. She may be afraid of other dogs, but she hasn’t yet learnt to be wary of people. She loves us too much.

Out of the hundreds of questions and projections I’ve encountered, only one or two have told me I did a good thing. One person, in particular, emailed me, “You have saved a life.” Every time I read these words, I tear up. Everyone sees without seeing. Everyone sees the filter of what they wish to perceive.

I wrote back telling her thank you, that her words came at the exact moment when I needed it most.

Yet again, the most important piece, I left unsaid. Because social norm says you don’t always tell the whole truth over email.

She saved mine.

the lost boys: seeing our own solitary reflection

“You can see it in his eyes,” she told me. I’d asked her how she knew he was lost.

I witnessed a recurring theme, continuing to meet a similar type of person that summer, but really it had gone on for lifetimes. My friend explained to me, each of them fell into the category of “lost boy.”

I guess it’s a current trend in society: The quit-everything-and-travel, let’s all find ourselves because underneath it all we have no damn idea what we’re doing and we’re tired of “faking it till we make it,” there must be something more. Everyone I know complains about “Peter Pan Syndrome” like it’s a lost cause we can do nothing about. Time to move on to the next one; he’ll never grow up.

But then I had a revelation, oh, say, about yesterday, that maybe it’s not so much about them. Maybe I’m seeing a reflection in the people that come into my life. I keep meeting lost people even as I say I have no home and I’m lost myself.

Mainly in a playful tone, but when you move around so frequently, you sometimes get caught in the cycle, the churn becomes you, and then eventually you wake up and realize you’ve forgotten your way out. The exit door you can see so clearly becomes completely unmanageable.

And this is when we become aware that we’re lost.

But I don’t think this makes me so different. My lostness is just tangible; it’s on the outside. Inside, I’m as connected as ever. Except for in the moments when I’m not. I bare my heart wide open for the world to see, and then ask myself, Why? What’s the point?

So we feel less alone — okay, standard cookie-cutter response, but then what? Because at the end of the day each of us is alone, and in order for me to stop attracting lost boys I would need to stop acting so lost myself. And that involves action, most of which I’m unwilling to take.

I would need to stop cooking the most elaborate meals for myself some nights, while on others eating lettuce with a side of three dates for dinner. Because we all know cooking for one is simultaneously simple and complex.

I would need to stop wandering about and moving on whims driven by feeling rather than tangible, logical sense like job opportunities and the ability to support myself.

I would need to stop doing things like adopting puppies while overseas and then making myself out to be the victim of all the vagueness of the bureaucratic country I happen to be staying in, but don’t understand one bit.

I would need to stop creating my own mess and then refusing to sit in it. Already on to the next place, person, thing. Whatever drama will temporarily distract me until I run out of distractions and one day have to face myself.

I would need to stop deep-down wanting to be saved.

This is why a relationship between two lost people will never work.

We play imaginary games of hard-to-get, not realizing that when no one else is aware that any such thing is happening, it becomes not so much a game as a fantasy with which we’ve entangled our minds. Losing ourselves even deeper in the process.

We end the relationship before it’s begun.

We stay with the person we know is wrong for us because the alternative is far too difficult.

We chase after stories, living in a world of romantic idealization, because the complexity of our spirits craves impossibilities even as we know deep down none of it is real. We ignore the here and now because the future looks far more beautiful.

We run away from the truth.

But then the opposite, the found person, comes strolling into my life, and this will never work either. Because in order for us to be together, I would need to start living between the highs and the lows, so you could understand. And I did that once before and it numbed me. Past the point of no return, I was frozen in time. I could feel nothing at all.

My present self cries for that former shell of a person as I drive along roads filled with potholes that just about break me, lining crystal waters of the perfect temperature for swimming no matter the time of day. The velvety fur of the love of my life lies perched on my lap. Tears fall and my heart weeps for the girl who was made to believe her feelings were too large or unmanageable for anyone, even for herself.

As I write all of this, I believe none of it. Because there are a million ways to define a person and not one of them fits. And lost or found or otherwise, I believe in something deeper still, and that’s feeling.

And when you know, you know.


This piece was published on Rebelle Society.

peeling pomegranates: why we’ll never be together

peeling pomegranates: why we’ll never be together

Pomegranates remind me of you.

You bought a pomegranate and they seemed so foreign to both of us. I asked how you would eat it and you said you didn’t know. So then you found a video. Learning, step by step, how to peel them open.

They’ve seemed foreign to me ever since. I’ve eaten their seeds dozens of times but only when someone has cut them for me. Now I find myself living in a land where they grow readily and yesterday I finally bought one for myself.

This morning I stabbed into the shell without thinking about it at all. And this is why we’ll never be together.

I watch the way you deliberately move and it’s as foreign to me as pomegranates once were.

I don’t think; I breathe. I don’t stop; I dance.

And so I go fidgeting and feeling my way through a society constructed by thinkers.

I’ve scorched too many pans and I know it drives you crazy.

If you had it your way I wouldn’t cook at all.

I glance down, knee deep in words that mean nothing and everything, and realize my white shirt is splattered with blood.

I can hear their voices now:

Be careful.

Watch where you are going.

Cover yourself.

Stop crying.

Stay in control.

Get a hold of your emotions.






We get hurt once, or twice, and we become so careful.

Tiptoeing across a broken-glass floor.

I cannot control how I move and breathe my way through this world and I refuse to stifle how I feel.

Within the pomegranate’s honeycombed pockets, I peel away red, juicy pearls, bit by bit.

You broke my heart that day and a knife stabbed into my back. Between the shoulder blades. It stayed stuck there a moment, before it twisted and turned.

I went to my acupuncturist afterward and she said the place directly behind my heart was inflamed.

Perhaps no one will ever comprehend the extremity of my felt sense, but the physicality of heartbreak cannot be ignored.

I told you, years ago, that I had started writing, and your eyes lit up. In your quiet way that drew me in, a murmur of soft excitement, you said that I “should do that.” I don’t think either of us knew in totality what you meant.

That windowed flicker initiated my fall. I wanted, so desperately, to be seen. But now that sentiment has changed. Eyes are overrated. And all I’ve ever really wanted is to be felt.


please don’t call me when you’re lonely.

The water feels perfect this time of year. There’s hardly anyone at the beach, and you know that’s the way I like it.

Why is it that for some of us, it feels like therapy getting tossed around by waves, yet when we’re tossed around by humans in curiously mountain-shaped cities, it takes us weeks upon years to recover?

Why is it that some of us would rather travel alone than have to explain to others how we feel inside when real-life things happen and we go on living anyway? How we feel in the still, silent aftermath of the storm, when we thought you might, but then you didn’t, call? How the feelings continue to come and go like waves, yet some settle longer than others, a froth of messy bubbles over dirty sand.

Please don’t call me when you’re lonely. Please don’t use me as yet another distraction, a drug to numb the pain. You say you feel better when you’re with me, and I with you, and at the end of the day, we all need rejuvenation, but sometimes that word means different things to different people.

I deserve more. I deserve someone who feels as happy as I do in a solo dance among the waves, free of company barring a crew of seagulls, with one of whom I play an enchanting game of I see you, bird between wave and bag and back again. Food’s all gone, and you can’t have my words. Birds are smarter than they look, you know. They used to say that about me.

So you know that dream, the one you’ve been telling me about for years? Please fly away and go do it already. Because nobody else will ask you to, and the only person waiting is yourself.

And when you do it, I hope it shakes and stirs you like the balloon I rescued from the ocean today, on a journey of questionable length, time, and distance, but still holding air.

When you make it back to shore, I can’t tell you I’ll still be around, but I promise I’ll always listen.

Most of all, I hope the dream unmasks you. Down to the bone. Because I woke up one day and realized that we’re only friends when you’re homesick, and in the moment I didn’t think I’d make it, I was gasping for air while grasping hands with a ghost.

Thank you for unknowingly creating this moment, because in it you shone a light on the one thing I needed most to know — that I can write whatever the f*ck I want to. Even the curse words that make me cringe, in their raw staleness of sheer too-much-feeling.

We’re taught how to be happy on the exterior, but we aren’t taught what to do with our anger. We aren’t taught how to channel it into a wave-ridden dance or the safe space of words. We’re taught to suppress it deep in a lockbox hidden within our chest before we throw the key out to sea. For which I’ve been swimming for centuries, uncertain I’ll ever find it.

Regardless, my alien story has value, as do my hopes and my dreams. So, for you, I hope that you find what you’re looking for. And for me, I dream of something more. Because I deserve someone who does not merely tolerate my rawness, but loves it.

Someone who holds his palm outstretched with the hopes of carrying my dripping heart. Who understands anger without need for words. Who understands how the anger dissipates from the tops of the waves, and that the more time I spend alone with the ocean, the closer I get to perhaps recovering the key to the locked box inside my heart.

I deserve someone who wants to walk alongside my wave-shattered body, together in our mutually respective aloneness.

The space you gave me, all those years ago, when you didn’t call, wasn’t out of love or respect or even friendship; it was for yourself. I do believe love is created from space and deep breaths of air, but I’m discovering the difference between air I want to breathe and that which my lungs can do without.

It may have something to do with mountain-shaped cities, and beaches without humans and with only the underrated intelligence of birds.



This piece was published on Rebelle Society.