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I could say it was complicated, and it was, there was so much heroin and death.

We made schoolyard games of choking each other out. I smuggled oregano out my mom’s herb cabinet in hopes it’d get me high. I sniffed spray paint in the mountains of North Carolina, man, I tried it all.

My dad and his friends threw knives at each other’s toes in hopes of getting close. None of us knew what we were getting to, just that "close" felt like setting your intestines on fire, letting the pain sweat you inside out. If getting close didn't feeling like dying, you were doing it all wrong.

Moments I felt close – standing on a parking garage where a woman jumped a week later, sneaking out to stalk a crush who I loved for his gender, sleeping near a friend so I’d smell like her all weekend long – I got to feel far away from myself, from who I was running from.

My dad threw knives, pointed guns, stood tall as he could in a one stoplight town. He doesn’t have to explain. I speak the language of his youth – it’s the same language of mine. It’s silence.