From Leila’s List

   “I am Leila, and I say no

   to summers that burn too hot and last too long; winters that contain no ice and snow; the lack of cold against my skin, the lack of warmth inside the cold; boyfriends who are thirty and still haven’t earned a single penny; lovers who spend every night denying every feeling; stupid songs that become inordinately popular; adults at play with collections of wind-up toys amassed in adulthood; hiding real feelings while calling those who don’t ‘too open’; labels that stick and truths that fall away; drudgery claiming my time while the leaves turn colors and an autumn afternoon beckons; calling supersensitivity a negative personality trait; jokes made at someone else’s expense by people who claim they are friends; eating potato chips and sour patch kids while waiting for a plate of red panang curry; white cabinets under a leaking coffee pot; flat shoes and short hair; sexy, rude fuchsia paint being chipped away to expose polite floral wallpaper; being only in the middle of a list of things to say no to…

   But more than that, I am Leila, and I say yes

   to the ticklish brush of a child’s breath on my neck; the soft, red, invisible scars that remind me of the knowledge I have and the ways I have gained it; the complexity of pomegranates and the Otherness of Meyer lemons; the rosemary plant that, in dying, leaves behind a full bag of fragrant needles for my Saturday cooking; and, if we are to speak of needles, and of dying, to the porcupine who left behind, in strange, radiating patterns, every kind of quill he had for me to work into my jewelry; and more needles: the stick of the acupuncture and the elatedness of the afternoon that follows; the voice of a friend on the phone for however long we wish to speak, my love of telephones, of texts and email messages; of dirt; being dirty, and then clean, and then dirty again, and needing both but not simultaneously; some guy I haven’t met; melancholy music enjoyed alone, while crying; ecstatic music enjoyed accompanied, while dancing or driving; the things only my children and I know; strange objects from faraway places and the faraway places themselves; two cups of coffee; the hidden knowledge of the village idiot and the foolish lessons the village sage has yet to learn; a daily swim at the confluence of awkwardness and grace; and the chance to wake up in effervescent newness each actual, breathing and longingly-expanding morning.”

–  Nina Adel