To Tell A Stranger | Teen Ink

To Tell A Stranger

May 11, 2016
By Chala SILVER, Sonora, California
Chala SILVER, Sonora, California
8 articles 0 photos 13 comments

Favorite Quote:
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."-The Great Gatsby
"All the world's a stage."-Hamlet

hello darkness my old friend

Or so a song once said
but songs are intended for audiences, right?
So who’s the darkness here?
My dear, explain.

I mean, not as though you care.
You’re not Paul. You don’t know Paul.
But what was I supposed to say? Like, what was the question again?
Sorry, my train of thought derailed a little bit.
It tends to do that when I don’t pay attention.
You just want me to . . . talk to you about myself? That’s all?
Umm . . . okay. Okay.







Once, there was a way to get back homeward
Or so a song once said
Not sure if that way is still around nowadays.
Hasn’t been for
Good lord . . .
A year to this very day?
A year ago to the day when this began
what a process it’s been of learning who I am
And it all began one
incredibly long
impossibly short
Year ago

A year that I spent
neck-deep in self-hatred

I stood beneath the tree
That one
in front of the office that everyone knows about
I stood there
and that poor lonely girl explained to me
why she felt
how she knew
that her brain
her soul
her existence
was in the wrong physique
and she told me
how she felt
why she knew that she was
trapped in the wrong body

How long did I spend in denial over that?
Must’ve been until he finally came out
When he finally told everyone that he’d be beginning his life as a boy
how long did I spend
being the only one who knew?
hello darkness my old friend

How obligated did I feel to keep so many things secret?
Like that first night
Before my parents were even savvy to such information
that boy who was trapped
in a girl’s body


I got invited over to see a movie and stay over until the next morning
and she
was my best
and only friend

countless hours it seemed we spent searching for a name to go by that evening
at the movie theatre and researching how to pass as a boy in public
and the lies we fed to his mother that she could most likely see right through
but how clever we were plotting things and becoming who we were without anyone’s consent and who else even knew the word for people like that

because we were cool we were exclusive
we wanted to be martyrs
but we wanted everyone to think we were stronger than all that
even though our facades were so weak that even the slightest provocation brought them tumbling down around our ears

but did any of that matter

the next morning in the thrift store when we were buying pants for him and being so clever in not showing off any of the clothes that got purchased because we were aware of how life works and we were smart enough to know what was happening

but really
it was just a way for me to ignore how much i hated myself
my whole life was at that point
i’d descend into a heart of darkness

my own heart
and it’d become this beautiful mix of pain and joy but mostly pain, yet still all the colors were brighter than they were in reality. i liked that. i liked how bright the colors were that lit up my darkness into something wonderful and i still hated myself but did that really matter if i pretended like i didn’t care how other people saw me
because i did i know i did
and so did everyone else
but i was clever, dammit
hello darkness my old friend

and i’d go down into a pit of despair where the colors were all i could see and life was wonderful enough in my sadness because i was a martyr and i knew it but pretended not to care
i was so oppressed

funny thing, now, I see about martyrs
the oppressed are often the biggest oppressors

i loathed myself and the life i was living
but did it really matter
when i had someone in my reaches of co-reliance at any given moment
like that first night
that I’d later look back on and see it as the source from which anxiety sprang in abundance
like a fever it spread
but he’d hold me
he’d talk to me about life
because we were best friends
and that’s just what best friends do
except for the cuddling whenever possible

I’ll be honest
i didn’t always want it to happen
on that first night
a year ago today
life was entirely too real
too harsh
and i was content with just spending time
helping a friend

but sleeping came around and took ahold of us
he took hold of me
just around my waist nothing major
but i wasn’t ready
it made me so uncomfortable but at the same time it soothed me because even though i hated myself he didn’t hate me, so maybe things would be alright

maybe things will be alright
but nothing ever was, really.

old bigotry carries over, as i learned when my parents found out about the wonder that is the word “transgender”
but why did i feel like it was my job to come to his defense when he knew what he was getting himself into by admitting this part of himself as reality?
was it because of the physical contact that i never was ready for
was it due to my self-hatred that i valued him so highly above my own self
was it because i felt the need to justify, me not standing up for myself in those moments of slightly-too-physical hugs . . . i accepted it all as normality.
But I don’t know why.

That friendship broke me. every other minute, it’d be him running off
sliding down the face of a mountain after another passing fancy
leaving me so he could go rescue someone from their problems
then returning to ask me to patch up his wounds
and i did
for a long time
a year ago today!

until eventually it came to pass that
i just didn’t understand anymore
evidently, i was not enough
so he’d leave me
not in pursuit of lovers
but of those like him
yet still i had such heavy obligations that inexplicably weighed on me
to keep things between us
like all those experiences
a year ago today
hello darkness my old friend
that evening at the movie theatre

that night
his arm on my waist
every experience an inexplicable secret

sharing headphones between the two of us
one song--one place in my mind--that is forever
. . . . . . .
what’s the word

the word is
look it up

a few landscapes of memory storage in my mind
tainted with the year that brought me so much anxiety
so many scars on my body
my soul

i questioned myself not a few times during those dark days
“am i like him? am i in the wrong body?”
day after day
perhaps i just felt like i'd be ditched
i wanted nothing more than to be loved

i hated myself
--anything was better than that--
even if there was no consent for the physicality

that relationship was toxic

it ruined many things for me
even when i was the passing fancy
i was left behind time and time again
but never did i have the voice to tell him not to touch me

how lucky that all things must come to an end

i hand-wrote a letter chasing conceptuals and allegories in circles (handwritten letters to each other--they were our specialty) and i mailed it off, dreading the moment when he would open it
but looking back
I’m free now
the obligation of secret-keeping is gone
or else I wouldn’t be telling you this

yet there is still a season
it begins every year at about this time
where the weather becomes cold
for me, that’s the place where my soul meets darkness at the door
(except this time
I know that I’ll live to see the other side.
This time I want to live to see the other side)
and that season remains forever ambivalent
part of me died when i sent that letter

hello darkness my old friend
I won’t let you to what you did before
hello darkness my old friend

and about that old friend of mine that I’ve been telling you about?

don’t hate him
Nobody deserves hate. I didn’t know that for a long time, but I understand life now.
The bad has no shortcuts through the middle and the good has no method of being prolonged.
So love yourself

you don’t want that,
where you feel that the only way to validate yourself is the touch of someone else’s hand or the harm of your own because you are worth so much more than that. I’ll miss those times. but I don’t miss who i was when i didn’t even have enough of a voice to say how i felt in the most awkward moments

I just want everyone to love themselves
that’s all I want

only one question remains after sending that letter:
Who's the darkness here?

I’ve looked at life from both sides now
(there are no shortcuts)

once there was a way to get back homeward
(I’m sure it’s still out there somewhere)

A year ago today . . .

Hello, darkness, my old friend.
Who are you today?
Do you love yourself today?
a year ago today

letting go of the darkness
possibly the hardest thing I've ever done

Yet I've found a way homeward.
Goodbye darkness my old friend

a new song begins

The author's comments:

I reference 3 songs in this. Can you spot them all?

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