Emotions as Flags

Her spoon clinked on the sides of her mug as she poured the sugar into her seeping cup of tea. She was warming up after her wet ride to the coffee shop in NW Portland.

“How was the show last night?” she asked the writer, wrapper her fingers around the warm mug.

“So good!” he smiled. “There was a really good folk band there. They played some song and I was completely mesmerized.”

“Oh, what song?”

“I think it was an original, but the banjo is what really got me.”

“Banjos,” she laughs. “We need more of them.”

“Yeah. I met the musician afterwards,” he said, scratching his chin. “Interesting guy.”

“Aren’t all musicians?” she jokes.

“I guess you could say that, but he was more of an intellect than one would expect. An artist at the same time. He had a piece there last night, but he wouldn’t tell me what it meant. ‘Just feel it,’ he’d say.”

“Sounds like quite the guy. He makes some sense though,” she responded, putting her mug down after taking a sip.

“What do you mean?” asks the writer with a tinge of confusion.

“Our emotions make up a powerful force of what makes us who we are. They direct us in a way to help us find our passions, our desires. It’s our emotions that are a flag, telling us what’s important. You remember Riley? That guy I met back home in Orange County,” resting her arms on the table and leaning in.

The writer leaning back responds, “Yeah, I always tell you you’re an idiot for talking to him still. You only saw each other for a month before you came back to Portland State.”

“Yeah, well, last night I told him that we’re gonna stop talking,” she says, taking a moment to think of her explanation. “I’d rather not hear about the girls he meets in LA. I know we were never official or anything, but that sort of thing hurts, to think that you’re not enough. We practically were together. Now, he tells me that these girls are just his friends, but hey, that’s what he called me all the time. I know what that can entail. So now I’m done with saying, ‘we’re friends.’ I want to make it something or have it be nothing at all. Ambiguity is only fun for so long.”

“To be honest, I don’t understand why you held on to each other for so long. I feel people just hold onto something like that simply for self-fulfillment. They just want to feel better themselves. It’s not about the good of the other person. It’s just about how they make you feel. I got in a conversation with Paul about this last night in the car on the way to the concert. Everyone calls it love, but to me, that’s not real.”

Tightening her forehead, “Ouch, well, I definitely wouldn’t have called it love, but regardless, there was some level of affection there.”

“I’d say that if someone misses someone else, they probably just miss a feeling that the other person gives them. Why not replace them with someone else? It’s just another means to use someone to make oneself feel better.”

“Boy, have you gotten negative. Well, I just think that feelings compose a road map for what you truly want. My feelings, as foolish as they were in the first place, told me that it’s important I don’t talk with him anymore. Each time he and I talk, the gloom of uncertainty creeps in and reminds me of what could have been. It leaves me more sad than when I was simply missing him before,” she frowns.

The writer cracks a grin of sympathy.

“Have you read Perks of Being a Wallflower?” she asks.

“Yes and I know exactly what you’re going to say, ‘we accept the love we think we deserve.’” he retorts.

Showing a sorrow-filled smile, “Yeah, and I don’t want to accept that love that isn’t dedicated to me simply because I’m gone. I want more of that. So I’m not going to bend myself backwards to try to make if work.”

“Eh, enough of this love talk,” he whines. “I appreciate what you have to say though, mostly your take on feelings. That painting from last night shook me up a little bit. It gave me some feeling, but I have no idea how to feel about the way it made me feel.”

“Find it,” she says with near frustration of his insensitivity.

The writer moves his gaze to something outside the window, and the two get quiet. She finishes her last sip of tea and says her parting words: “I have to go to class. I don’t want to be late like the last time I missed the street car.”

“So long,” the writer says. “I hope you don’t get too soggy in that rain out there.”

“But really,” she chuckles, putting on her backpack and walking away.

After watching her ride away on her bicycle, the writer pulls out his journal and begins to write.

Raindrops pound against the window, and I’m washed away. My grip wasn’t strong enough, and I go sliding down the glass, plummeting faster as I collect each droplet along the way.

Coming to an abrupt stop at the ground, I take some rest. Latching to the faintest amount of stability, I recompose myself, but the continuing drops nudge me down the sidewalk. I watch my city as I roll over the lumps in the sidewalk and between the feet of the rushing people. Just as I’m about to fix my eyes on a familiar building, the currents launch me over the curb, and I go flying.

I open my eyes and find myself lying in a boat, water surrounding me and towering hills on each side. I don’t know what happened to the rain, but the clouds are breaking and the sun is slipping through.

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