the person I tried to be


my to-do list
Nokyoung Xayasane

On my to-do list,
I’ve written down
about 15 things.
At the end of the day,
I crossed off one item
that perhaps
took me five minutes
to accomplish.
Tomorrow, I think
I won’t write
such a long list.
Maybe I won’t write a list
at all.
Maybe I’ll watch four episodes
of The Mind of a Chef
all in a row
without any feelings
of guilt or remorse.
Maybe I’ll read three books
while drinking a glass of wine
in the late afternoon
and fall asleep in my chair
like a grandfather.

There are days
when I feel
like lying in bed all day.
After a few hours
of listening to music
and writing in bed,
I get up
and I brush my teeth,
I make a cup of coffee,
I shower,
I put makeup on my face
even when I feel disgusting
and lonely
and unlovable.
I do these things
because Julianna Margulies
from The Good Wife
recommended it,
and I’ll listen to any ER nurse
who made out with George Clooney.

I’ll also get out of my robe,
put on some clothes,
walk downstairs
and get the mail,
take out the garbage,
the recycling,
and the green bin
like one YouTube vlogger
I’ll wash the dishes,
make my bed,
vacuum and mop the floor,
do my laundry,
all the activities
that help me
feel as if I’m
a productive member
of society.
Maybe not of society,
maybe just a productive person
in my rented apartment
that I share with a cat
and one roommate.

I’ll try not to feel sorry for myself
except when I do
almost every other day,
especially near the end of the month
when my rent is due
and one of my freelance clients
refuses to pay my whole invoice.
It must be a breeze for him
to feel so safe almost all the time
when I struggle every day
to make a life for myself
in a city that forgets
so easily
and takes and chips away
so ruthlessly.
But I know
even with all my complaining
and griping
and outbursts
and tears in the bathroom
and falling asleep on the kitchen floor
with a glass of water
my cat beside me
the pizza I bought at 1:30 in the morning
burning in my oven,
I know that at least
I’m living a life of my own choosing.
It’s something
not everyone gets a chance to do.

When I sit out on my balcony
in the morning
in the afternoon
and when I walk the streets of Toronto
in the evening
to clear my head
to have random conversations
with strangers trudging to work
in the late hours,
I know I’m living a life
that I have only dreamed of,
and so I sit on my balcony
and watch the world go by,
and I try to write a few lines
here and there
with the hope
that when I die
someone will remember me
as I am
and not as the person
I tried desperately
to be.

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