Anywhere but here

Mountains
photograph taken by Phelinne Levi

Last Friday night I found myself driving around until I ended up at this little hole in the wall. I walked in and the bartender asked me if I was okay? I looked at her angrily and asked why she assumed something was wrong. She apologized and stated that I had a worried blank expression. She went on to tell me that I looked lost on account she didn’t take me as the kind of girl that would go to a bar by myself -let alone her place of business. I shook my head and apologized for being rude and that I was fine; I just wanted to go somewhere and have a beer without running into someone I knew. She smiled and asked me my order.

I grabbed my Michelob ultra and I walked to the outside patio where I sat down at a circular, black iron table. There was a short breeze but it was humid from the summer rain fall that happened earlier that day. I was alone. Exactly what I wanted. It was quiet; so quiet outside that I could hear the buzzing from the power lines high in the sky. I took in a deep sigh of relief and I started to drink my beer. Two hours later my pack of Marlboro’s was empty and there were 5 emptied bottles before my eyes. I was intoxicated but still upset. I sat there for a moment debating on whether or not I should get another beer. I got rid of that idea rather quickly because I hadn’t a clue who I’d call to come pick me up. I surely wouldn’t be capable of driving myself home if I drink another beer.

“Home?” I remember thinking. Where am I even going? Anywhere but here. That’s when I got the idea. I’ve always wanted to drive until the road dead ends. So I remember asking myself whats holding me back and I couldn’t come up with one solid answer. So I went to the bar, paid my tab, drank a glass of water , went to the restroom, and next thing I knew I started to drive. I was happy. I was being spontaneous. I didn’t have a suitcase or a toothbrush but I had a full tank of gas. I glanced at my clock to see it was 11:00 p.m. prior to me leaving the parking lot.

I started to gaze over the shadow of my knuckles that lie along the steering wheel out towards the open road. I began to think. I’ve got a new job starting up in two weeks which means my daily routine will be interrupted and what if my first day goes horribly? I felt so lonely because my brothers and sisters live in another state and I feel that my siblings and myself aren’t close like those who live together. My mother is always a call away but she’s 365 miles away if I’m ever in need of a hug. I missed my deceased grandmother because she was always the person I could talk to about anything without being judged or reprimanded. I got kicked out of my own home by a man I loved all because I told him I wanted to marry but I also wanted to work for myself and not his company. After a 6 year search I finally found my biological father last week but unsure if I should reach out to him. He lives in a 9.8 million mansion in Bel Air with three kids ages 17, 19, and  21. I’m some mixed country girl that could cause his family some serious havoc. I’m also not 100% Indonesian so my biological grandparents would disown me if Yudson and I developed a relationship.

My mind and heart was so consumed with thought and emotion, I had no clue where I was but the road stopped. It was 12:42 a.m. and I came to a dead end at a little country store in North Georgia. I don’t know why, but I began to cry, I cried so hard my chest felt heavy and I couldn’t catch my breath. I grabbed my phone with the attempt to call my mother but I put her first. I didn’t want to wake her with my hysterical cries on the other end of the phone. So I sat there until my uncontrollable crying subsided. I noticed a reflection in my peripheral and when I turned to look I saw a sign pointing to the direction of Burnt Mountain. I wiped my face and began to drive. Another hour went by before the winding roads and sight of deer began to cease. I pulled my car over in what looked like a vacant lot. I got out of the car and the air was cool to my skin and refreshing. The stars were beautiful. I never knew there were so many. I smiled and my mind felt at ease. I crawled into the back seat of my car and went to sleep.

My windows were cracked and I could hear the early chirping of birds awakening one another. I opened my eyes just in time to catch the sunrise. I took in a deep breath with some sort of satisfaction. I did it. I actually did it. I got in the car and just drove and this is where the wind took me. I sat on the roof of my vehicle for a few hours listening to the wildlife that surrounded me while gazing upon the beautiful blue sky with cumulus clouds that met the tops of  the mountain’s trees. I looked around at the Earth, “What shall I do on this lovely Saturday?” I asked aloud.

-Phelinne Levi

Open your mouth

owls
Photograph taken by Phelinne Levi

Open your eyes

uncover your mouth

love is within you

time to let it out

Let it be known

from the deepest valleys

to the highest mountains

these feelings you possess

Don’t hide it anymore

for the person before your eyes

may not continue to wait

and alone you’ll be left

So open your eyes

uncover your mouth

no need to be scared

just let it out

-Phelinne Levi

My thoughts on Social Media

I deleted my Facebook a little over a week ago because I was tired. Tired of seeing hatred in my news feed. Tired of seeing idiotic posts or dumb comments. I cannot tolerate stupidity. I just can’t. I was tired of seeing politics. Tired of seeing news about terror attacks and individuals losing their lives. Most of all tired of posting things up for people of the web to see, knowing its all a lie.

What has our world come too? We’ve literally replaced people with our cell phones. One of my biggest pet peeves is a phone at the dinner table. It happens to me no matter how much of a fuss I make. I’ve noticed that it too happens to others. It’s sad when you’re at the dinner table and you’re too busy scrolling through Social Media to talk to the person directly in front of you, who is then left to stare seamlessly into space because when they speak you don’t hear them. We’ve replaced board games around the kitchen table with family and friends with candy crush, (I’ve never once subjected myself to that treachery) or other apps that allows a person to play a game in solitary.

People are too busy wrapping themselves in other peoples lives that they can’t focus on theirs. Facebook paints a picture of how individuals lifestyle should be, leaving others blind to what’s directly in front of them. I myself am a victim of the abuse. I’ve posted photos of outings hoping that others would like it, but not everybody knows the story behind each picture or post. The arguments, the tears, the lack of effort, the strength, or the courage that lie underneath the surface.

I was tired of waking up in the morning; addicted to checking my news feed and notifications while relieving my bladder instead of saying my morning prayers to God for letting me see yet another day. For the past few weeks I’ve seen nothing but negativity on my social media to the point of frustration and stress filled my mind. Literally stress me out to where It was difficult to enjoy my yoga or focus on reading a single chapter from a book. I started to use my app less and less and the more happy I became.

I realized that this social media is an addiction. An addiction that is hurtful to myself and to others. People want to be liked, don’t get me wrong, that’s human nature. However to sit there and post things to show your life is better than everyone else’s when the truth is you’re actually hurting and hiding your sadness. Somehow thinking that when the notifications of likes and loves make its way to your cellphone you’ll become happy. Ha, silly people.

Violence, racism, bigotry, and hatred has been on this earth for thousands of years. The sadness and hatred consumes me and I don’t like being sad or having hate in my heart. I understand one should not be ignorant to what’s going on around the World but I’d like it better if I didn’t have to see or hear it every hour of each day. I started to unfriend people or unfollow their posts so we could at least stay Facebook friends and then I thought, “for what?” I have almost 200 friends on Facebook but talk to about 8 or 9 of them. Think about it! The reason most people have a Facebook is to be nosy and to see how that kid from middle or high school, whom is now an adult, is doing with their lives. Are they rich, poor, ignorant, educated, successful, a selfie fanatic, lover of politics, did they move away from their home town, are they married? Why does it matter? Why can’t we just focus on what and who we have already?

I pray for people to change. I pray that people will wake up. I constantly pray that my brothers and sisters will pick up a book instead of their cell phone. Memorize famous poem stanzas instead of lyrics to a rap song. Learn a new language instead of thinking it’s a waste of time. My mother does a great job so far but the world is rapidly changing around us and it’s very easy to get sucked into this “millennial” society.

I’m not saying that one day I won’t reactivate my social media on account I have family in Brazil, Europe, California, Michigan, and Alabama that I’d like to see. Again what is this world coming too where families don’t have reunions or make appoint to see each other for a holiday? However if and when I return to social media the amount of friends I have on my personal page will decrease drastically. The amount of Facebook posts about my personal life will not be shared unless I think it’s something seriously worth sharing. Addiction? Yeah it’s real! I’m already talking about reactivating my account and it’s only been 10 days.

Though I will not and shall not return to it until I feel ready and not reliant.

Phelinne Levi

Happy? Sonnet

Happy or comfortable is the theme

Every couple should ponder this query

Love should be able to conquer and gleam

Asking this question can make you weary

If you feel stuck in a constant routine

Then maybe that person is not for you

If their smiles make you feel like a teen

Keep them close and each other stay true

Don’t be afraid to leave your usual

For if you stay -unhappy you will be

If the love you two share is beautiful

One should not think twice to rest on a knee

I’m not saying love should be effortless

But questioning it often is something to address

-Phelinne levi

Cancer didn’t win

My grandmother had a very foul tongue, or so the phrase goes, she had the mouth of a sailor. Not what you’d typically expect when you hear “my grandmother”. She had pale skin in the winter which would turn into an unimaginable golden tone in the summer. Her strawberry blonde hair and green to hazel eyes came from her Irish mother and her olive skin and high cheekbones came from her Native American father. She was the definition of beautiful; inside and out. Just like all grandmothers to their grandchildren she was very special to me and I to her. Though it was never stated aloud, out of her sixteen grandchildren, I was her favorite and we all knew. She was always there to pick me up when I was down and help lift me up when I deserved praise. She wiped almost every tear of mine completely away with the laughter she instilled in me. She was a true comedian at heart and could turn every negative situation into a funny pointless one. She even offered an ear for all of my daily venting from frustrating work days or arguments with the boy I was dating at the time. I remember she would call me in the mornings to ask If I ate breakfast; if I hadn’t she would have me stop by only to meet me in the driveway and hand me a warm egg sandwich. That sandwich made my commute to work less agonizing and my belly full.

My how I miss her. A beautiful, kind, and fierce woman who didn’t take shit from anyone except for cancer. I remember when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and her body scan showed that her bones had holes in them like a sponge, it was as if she was deaf when the Cancer Specialist spoke about her results. We left the doctors office and she carried on as if it were any other day. I remember contemplating to myself that maybe she was in denial or she just didn’t care. Come to find out it was the ladder of the two. When we went to her second visit after a week of being diagnosed, she found out that she had about eight months to live, but still refused chemotherapy. She even told Dr. W. to stick the chemo up her ass. The Doctor was extremely calm and patient as if she was already expecting my grandma to lay down the law on what she would and would not do. I remember my mouth gaping when I saw the Doctors facial expression towards my grandmother. When she turned around to wash her hands I chuckled softly because little did Dr. W. know that my grandmother curses at everyone, including strangers. I always found my grandmothers rants quite amusing. I apologized to her and then turned to my grandmother to let her know that was uncalled for. My grandmother looked at me with a childish, guilty face and shrugged her shoulders. The Doctor turned back around and uttered that it was okay and asked my Grandmother to come back in if she changed her mine. I respected Doctor W. ever since that day and how she handled the situation of an irate cancer patient. When we got to the car my grandmother made me swear not to tell a single soul about the length of time Doctor W. put on her life. I remember receiving chills down my spine, goosebumps across my arms, and knots in my stomach, but I swallowed the spit that accumulated in my mouth and whispered okay.

My mom and her two sisters had a conniption when they heard from me that their own mother refused the medication that could possibly make her cancer free. There were weeks of continuous arguments between my grandmother and her 3 daughters but little did they know that they were just wasting their time. All the while I remained quiet wondering why she chose to let cancer win. Not my grandma. How could she not put up a fight? How could she just give up? Finally after a month my questions were answered when she called everyone to her house on a Sunday afternoon. She sat everyone down and talked as gently but firm as she could. I remember watching her as she spoke and she didn’t look terrified, angry, weak, or hurt. She looked like the strong grandmother I always knew. She informed us that she was given eight months to live and before my grandmother could speak another word the living room filled with painful cries and moans. I looked around the living room at my mom, aunts, cousins, second cousins, brothers and sisters and then back to my grandmother. My eyes began to well up with tears but when I looked at my grandmother she pierced at me with those hazel eyes of hers and shook her head slightly. I knew that meant not to let a single tear fall down my face. Next thing I knew I grit my teeth, inhaled a few deep breaths and stud up.

“Shut the hell up! Everyone! Don’t y’all know you’re just making things worse by acting like it’s the end of the damn world? Do any of you know how hard this is for a single person to stand up and face a room full of loved ones, to talk about their current health condition all the while maintaining a calm composure?” I paused to catch my breath and the suddenly the sound of moaning and screeching cries were replaced with nose blowing and sniffles. All eyes were on me, “Just listen to her goddammit before it’s too late!” I slammed myself back into my seat, my eyes were filled with tears of anger and my heart felt as though it was beating 200 beats a minute. I looked at my grandmother and she smiled at me causing the trembling in my hands to cease.

“When Dr. Weakland told me I only had eight months to live it made me think. I’ve seen people go through the chemotherapy treatments, including my dear friend Wanda, y’all are familiar with her. Well what you don’t know besides seeing her hairless and frail bodied is that she would vomit multiple times a day to the point where she didn’t want to eat anymore. She was miserable with migraines, vertigo, and the constant probing of needles. She told me, ‘Phyllis don’t you ever do this shit if you get cancer- I made a huge mistake.’ So I thought about my last months or days on this Earth and I want to eat and drink whatever the hell I want without worrying about how to keep it down. I want to style my hair and do my makeup instead of letting chemotherapy take my hair and my strength. I don’t want a new wardrobe once I lose weight from medication. I want to be able to drive myself to the store, laundry mat, or the gas station without having blurry vision from the headaches and dizziness. Lastly I don’t want you, my family, to remember me in the same state as Wanda before her passing. I want you to remember me as your mom, your grandmother, or your great aunt that didn’t take shit from anyone! Cancer may be a cocksucker and kill me but I refuse to subject myself to the side effects of treatment. I’ll go when it’s my time to go and I, nor you, nor the doctors can do anything to prevent that. So I am asking all of you to respect my decision and don’t treat me any differently then you did before we found out I had this health issue. Okay dammit?”

I remember smiling after hearing what my grandmother had to say. I looked around the living room of her small house and saw that my family members were smiling too. Some less than others but there was peace that day. It brings me back to how my grandmother was always able to make the best out of a sour situation. I felt bad for ever doubting my grandmother’s strength and thinking that she was letting cancer win. What I learned from her is that you have to face your fears with a straight face. Maintain your composure, maintain your attitude, and always know your self worth, because if you don’t do those things it’ll change who you are. What’s the point of living if your scared all the time? There’s no fun in life walking on eggshells constantly. I understand cancer may have taken her life from us and this Earth but cancer never changed who my grandmother was. She was diagnosed at the age of 56 and her 8 month battle with cancer was stretched out over the course of 8 years. So needless to say my grandmother went out with a fight.

-phelinne levi 

 

Indescribable

Tonight I walked into my house after a long day at work; bypassed the kitchen to the bedroom where I slipped out of my work clothes into something more comfortable. I walked over to the bar grabbed a bottle of Plymouth Gin and concocted myself a nice beverage. As I took a sip of my Aviation cocktail I stood there contemplating whether or not I should make dinner. I shrugged my shoulders and walked right over to my laptop. I put Iron & Wine on the Pandora station and before I knew it my Word application was open and my fingers began typing away. My mind was repressed and then I realized I had three pages filled with words and my cocktail was no more.

What brought me back to reality were the aches I felt in my stomach. It was almost as if I was punched in the gut and and the sensation traveled to my anus. My mouth became dry and it felt as though a sock was stuffed down my throat. My chest became heavy and I noticed that every inhale through my nostrils was cold as if I was standing outside on a frigid January night. I stared at the blinking cursor on my screen while I tried to pull it all together. I couldn’t depict if I was nervous, hurt, or longing for something or someone. It is an indescribable feeling, which is very odd you see, because I am all too familiar with this feeling. In fact I experience these symptoms almost every time I write. So you would think I could better describe what it is or where it comes from.

It drives me to make another cocktail in hopes that it would suppress my emotions, but no, the feelings stay and I continue typing away.

-Phelinne Levi

Her

I took in a few deep breaths before removing my keys from the ignition as if I were about to submerge myself under water for more than two minutes. There it was. It never fails. This butterfly sensation in the pit of my stomach every time I turn my Volvo off to go inside this cafe. The sensation reminds me of my first kiss with Sara back in the 9th grade; however this butterfly sensation includes a slight twisting feeling of my intestines. As I got out of the car my palms and fingers suddenly began to sweat profusely. While closing the door to my vehicle I wiped my hands off one by one on my black slacks and started towards the door. Though drying my hands of their clammy substance didn’t seem to resolve the issues of my drenched armpits or that my legs feel like they’re about to give out from underneath me. Lord please let my sweat not show through this blue Oxford of mine -how embarrassing?  I sure hope she’s on the other side of this door today.

I walk inside the boisterous cafe and to my excitement there she is right behind the counter. The line is long and she seems to be occupied with her Barista filled duties brewing up lattes and cappuccinos for those weary of having to conquer yet another Monday. I don’t mind when the cafe is busy or the long lines for that matter because it gives me more time to admire her beauty. She’s tall and thin with olive skin and her dusty brown, wavy hair matches her tones perfectly. Her eyes are round and brown and filled with life when she looks at you. Her jaw is defined nicely enhancing her dimples and her perfect kissable lips. Oh how that smile makes my heart melt leaving me mesmerized for a few hours after leaving this cafe.

I will never forget the first time I met her. It was after Memorial Day and I had just got back from the beach and my face was starting to peel. I excused my appearance and she told me not to worry because she too was peeling. We somehow sparked up a conversation that lasted for almost an hour. Luckily she was in a position where work wasn’t overwhelming and I was able to receive her undivided attention. Ha, I remember she told me two jokes that day. I’ve never had anyone tell me a joke other than when I was a child so I was in complete awe. It was bar humor of course -one about a duck walking into a bar and for the other, Ha, she put on the cutest Irish accent and continued on about a gentleman requesting 3 Guinness stouts from the bartender. I laughed and smiled so much throughout our hour of small talk that my cheeks were sore and I didn’t realize how late I was for work.

From that moment on I couldn’t stop thinking about her. Our personalities meshed so well and we had so many things in common from scotch spirits all the way to the shared love of literature. I knew once I left that cafe I had just met my soulmate and I had to see her again. I couldn’t stop daydreaming about her. Though my daydreaming always brought a smile to my face and still does to this day. I began to think this must be lust because how can one yearn for another being this strongly after just meeting them.

My thoughts faded away as I notice her looking up at me from her espresso machine with those bright eyes, “Hey there! How are you doing on this lovely Monday morning? Oh -did you happen to catch the World Cup last night?” I smiled back and nodded my head, “I’m well and yourself? I only watched the last half but I’m stoked to see that USA is still in the game.” I finally make my way to the counter and order my hazelnut cappuccino from the cashier and to my surprise I look over at the barista station where my order has already been prepared. As she handed me my drink to go I thanked her and told her she should make one for herself on account the morning rush of coffee drinkers has only just begun. She smiled and told me how she enjoyed herself a cup of joe with a long drag outback of the cafe enjoying the first half of the sunrise. I smiled and envied her for a moment. A drag? I thought. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of those. As I walked out I told her to enjoy the rest of her day and that I’d hope to see her tomorrow.

“Ugh! Why did I say that?” I yelled aloud as I kicked a penny that had lied along the sidewalk. Why do I do this to myself? Why must I torture myself? Why must I walk in to this forsaken place multiple times a week just to see her and nothing else? During the battle with myself I watched the penny travel on the asphalt towards my tire as I drew closer. I’ve got to learn to stay away! Maybe go to another cafe because I can’t handle this sick puppy feeling I get in the pit of my stomach every time I leave out that damn door. The feeling of knowing we could be nothing more than just a customer and his barista. Come on Scott! You have a girlfriend in your life who loves you and you love her too. I stopped a moment before getting into my vehicle and mumbled under my breath, “but not like I love her.” Once I got into my vehicle I slammed my door shut and rested the back of my head on the car seat. Eyes closed with a few breaths I ask aloud to whoever is listening, “Why did I ever have to meet her at this cafe?”

 

-Phelinne Levi

 

I am Shakespeare

As he looked up at the clouds in the sky,

Overwhelmed became he and started to cry.

He then looked down and buried his face,

holding on to their last embrace.

He drew her in and softly whispered in her ear,

“O’ my beloved please remember me -for I am Shakespeare.”

-Phelinne Levi

 

 

A Ballad about Autumn

Autumn has always been my favorite season;

it never fails to paint a beautiful portrait here on earth.

Boots, hats,and bonfires with fall being the reason;

Humans in awe when Asters of many colors begin to unearth.

Autumn means the changing and withering of leaves

that can be mounded ever so high for children to jump into.

The front brings in a cool yet calming to the skin breeze

which has mothers everywhere brewing up hot stews.

Autumn is often associated with the aroma of pumpkin.

Lattes, pies, cakes, soups, and fragrances bloom.

Families together sing along with the munchkins

while The Wizard of Oz plays in the living room.

Having someone who you love is what truly makes Autumn complete;

when the two of you watch the sunset and the withering leaves dance across the street.

– Phelinne Levi

I Want

“I want a Victorian style house on the boisterous streets somewhere in Louisiana. The one with a wraparound porch and shutters, oh and beautiful dark hardwoods and antique molding inside of course!

I want two gardens! The one in the front to be filled with colorful flowers and plants that attract beautiful butterflies. Maybe hang a few hummingbird feeders you know?! The one in the back will be filled with vibrant colored fruits and vegetables that will have that fresh crunch every time you bite in. A few weeping willows would look great! I’ve always found weeping willows to be the most exquisite tree on earth you see.

I want to open up a Café on Bourbon Street. You know serve up tasty yet potent espressos, cappuccinos, lattes, or just the simplest house brew. Actually come to think of it… I like the sound of a bar slash café. Yeah, mix up a few handcrafted cocktails and offer a few cordials on the menu. Wow! Could you imagine the type of business that place would receive?

I want to meet a man who will sweep me off of my feet with poetry, occasional compliments, and sweet kisses. Someone to hold my hand as we walk the busy streets at night and fall into a deeper love every single day. Someone who would sit on the couch while listening to vinyl and let our conversations and laughter, maybe even tears, lull us to sleep in each other’s arms.

I want to go on adventures and make thousands of memories. I want to travel and visit the clearest oceans and the whitest sand beaches that you only see in postcards. I want to go to Dublin Ireland and Paris France, maybe Barcelona but definitely Greece. We could eat foods from all over the world and visit museums for their paintings, statues, and history.

I then want a family to put in that big Victorian style house. I never thought of just having one kid. Two is a great number because the other child will never get lonely. However three sounds like a positive number considering it is a negative. I’ve always felt it would balance things out! Though that may be quite a stretch considering I’m almost thirty.

Anyways I want a-“

“Enough already! Look all I keep hearing is I want this, I want that, blah blah blah. Well you know what? Frankly I’m tired of hearing what you want because you haven’t nor do you plan on taking the initiative to get your wants. So either you do something about it or shut up because I can’t take your babbling much longer!”

-Phelinne Levi

Think Of You

Whenever I drive, no matter what song is seeping its way through the stereo or scenic route I decide to take, all I seem to think about is you.

You are my greatest inspiration whether it’s ink on paper or oil on a canvas.

I don’t know how but you release the creativity held within me every time I think of you.

Now you are barely a memory in the back of my mind.

Sometimes the image of you begins to fade away but I grasp it and hold on tight because I could never bear the moment if one day I can’t think of you.

    -Phelinne Levi