Stephanie Chow Martin

Curator. Writer. Coffee Addict. Whiskey Lover. Human.

Neon.

We are all cynics waiting to come undone.

I think of the nights we stayed up talking, losing sleep with conversations about the universe that flowed higher and higher, night after night. I liked being restless with you, and I liked being the unguarded version of myself that only ever appeared when the moon glowed outside of your window. What is it about the stars, and how do they pull the soft words from my heart? Whatever it is, let it never stop. Let it lift me higher from the leagues of the world underneath. Let it hide the terrifying creatures that live in the ocean below. Let it anchor me to the delicate moments of the night with you. Never let it stop.
I liked your accountability with words, and how they became the only thing left with me when the night turned into day. We ignored the warning signs on the radar and charged with full speed, gathering momentum with every kiss and laugh from the debris of our words. We left bruises on each other, but never scars; for all we needed was a temporary reminder of the fragments we were giving to each other. I found beauty in the blues and purples, rather than the heated red that only lovers know of. Almost lovers have no need for devotion, for we were soaring high from the nicotine rush that flooded through our veins.

I wanted you to fill my ears up with neon, rather than the monotonous pastels that I was so use to digesting from repeated conversations with other boys. But that was too much to ask for, you said. Too much for a lonely boy to give to a lonely girl who was still figuring herself out. Winter souls only need each other to get through the night, and we both had thick coats to keep us warm during the days. 
You were my last thought that evening when I fell asleep next to you, breathing in your cologne and letting your gentle whispers weave into my mind. And tonight, I will let you haunt my dreams with the great perhaps. 

I promise, I will only come back to reality if I have to.
Some wonderful #Graffiti in #HongKong to brighten your day. (at Dim Sum Square 聚點坊)
Statue of Liberty, New York, February 2014 

This Is How We Will Say Goodbye

This is how we will leave each other.

You will leave at 10:13 on platform 12, seven minutes before you have to catch your train back home. I will have knots in my hair and will be wearing the same clothes from last night, because we would have ran out of time in the morning to shower or tidy ourselves up.

I will try to tell you all the things I have kept inside of me, but my aptitude for words will be falling short. Instead, we will talk about the weather and how you hope the train won’t be filled with people on their morning commute. The unlucky vowels that I had chained together during our car ride will stay tucked away under my tongue, and will be washed down with the strongest coffee that the barista had to offer at the petrol station. I will jokingly ask him if coffee can wash down the shame of being cheated on, and he will reply that tequila works best for that.

I will leave you with the brightest smile that I can craft, parting you with the illusion that my heart isn’t breaking into a thousand pieces. I will think how the fragile pieces shine like the reflective glass in the concrete mixture on the floor. I will keep looking at them while you go through the checklist of things you need to bring. I will note how I am not on it and feel the cracks under my ribs escalate with every beating pulse. I have every right to be angry, you will say. It is as if validation can only be granted with your signed approval and charming smile. I will focus on counting the glittering particles and wait for acceptance to wash over me. I will pray that it’s on the next train coming in so that I can leave with more than what I came with.

I will leave you with the heartbreak that has folded itself inwardly with unforgiving heaviness. I will feel tiredness in every limb that begins from the chest and escalates to my toes. Even my words will seem dull and dry, and I will not know how to make them sound exciting or beautiful like they use to. Maybe that’s what you thought of when you kissed her; how her words shined so brightly in that dark bar and how her voice coated every syllable with an enthralling allure.

Looking at my words hurt my eyes, because they now exist with so much madness and disappointment that I feel like they are judging me for being such a poor host to them. All that is pouring out of my fingertips are harsh arrangements like ‘fuck’, ‘shit’, ‘betrayal’ and a couple of ‘what the fuck’ with too many ‘why the hell did you do that, you asshole’. Those are just a few examples of the words that I want to throw at you.

The ability to write delicate pretty words will be put on the back burner, because I have lost the ability to string together flowing lines on how much I loved you. I wanted to remind the world that I had never seen such bright and promising eyes like yours, but the world no longer needs to hear them. So I will follow the barista’s suggestion and begin my search for too much tequila with my roommate.

I will learn to live and let live, just like how you once whispered into my ears as we danced at your sister’s wedding in October. I will remember that it is your loss and that you are missing out on the fullness that only I can offer you.

I will leave you with open palms and my head held high to the summer sky. I will leave with grace and integrity that you lack in both virtues and morals. But most of all, I will leave you with the certainty that I will one day feel love in my ribs for another boy who will think that I am more than enough. I will leave you because I deserve better than anything you can offer, and the two other chances I gave you were twice too many.

*As Seen On Thought Catalog

I Know How It Feels.

I know how it feels to have a tinder heart and a paper body. To feel so soft against the world that seems too harsh, and think that a spark could turn you straight into ash.

I know how it feels to tread through air and startle the phantoms that haunt the silent corners, and to want to freeze the moments where you felt so alive in a time capsule for safekeeping. I know how coating your thoughts with nostalgia makes breathing easier, because living in the past doesn’t seem so terrible when you’ve lost the map to the future, right?

I know how it feels to run your hands through pages and pages of letters scattered on your bedroom floor. They wrote you beautiful words that now make you feel as hollow as the bottles you drink. You try to find the messages left inside each of them, and you let yourself become weaker than how you aspire to be.

I know how it feels to remember promises that now shine like empty words with their tattered edges. They were real, they say to you. They were here. Empty thoughts can set such carless fires to the soul, but you and I both know that, don’t we? We can trace the source from the trail of ashes that have been left behind from its spark.

I know how it feels to measure moments in the heartbeats you skip, and how a palm can feel like salvation with such grace and poise. You remember the way their hand felt against your cheek and on the curve of your back. You remember how they held you with so much strength and devotion on those cool summer nights. You thought to yourself: This is it. This is the only magic that the universe needs to know of.

I know how it feels to know the shadows behind the shades in your living room, and to know that the bare floorboards hold the secrets to your heart. They saw you both dancing to Bruce Springsteen in the summer, and watched you fall in love when the first snowflake fell from the December sky. They were there when they got down on one knee and asked you the simplest question. They saw you say yes to the ring that holds onto you because it fits – not because it is fastened or stretched by false pretenses.

I know how it feels to wrestle with emptiness, and to want to undo the not-doing with one final gesture. I know how it feels when the weight of darkness crashes down onto your chest in the middle of the night, and how you wish things would stop spinning because the axis seems tilted now. I know, love, I know.

I know how it feels to be lost, left, and forgotten.

But I also know how it feels to breathe through the pain and create something beautiful out of its residue. I know that there is strength within you to put one foot in front of the other and sprint with momentum. I know that your humble hands are capable of creating beauty in brush strokes and in inked penmanship. I know that the city lights will guide you towards the better, and that you are never too broken to be beyond repaired.

I know how it feels being lost within infinite moments and memories, but I also know that you are not alone. I know that there is strength in you to right the new wrongs. I can see it in your dilated eyes as you search for the answer for your fragile heart. I know that you will create beauty in the neglected and plaster yourself together with every fresh exhale.

I know how it feels, and I know that you will make it through all of this.

*as seen on Thought Catalog 

Snow, New York City 2014
New York, 2014

this is honesty for the boy who is leaving.

You are leaving, and I don’t have a reason to ask you to say. I don’t have a heart-moving speech prepared to say to you as you wave goodbye at the gate; nor do I have a grand gesture to show you how much I care about you. All I have are these words that try to shine with sincerity, and I hope that they are enough.

I saw the sunset tonight, and I thought of you. For once, I didn’t feel the waves of grief wash over me with their favorite flavor of bitterness and anger. I just thought you would like this small piece of oblivion, and would enjoy the way the city looked with a tainted hue. You would have taken out your camera to commemorate the moment; you would have wanted something to remember this city with.

I remember the time we sat on the train together, and you told me about the final moments of a sunset. You said the final moments weren’t beautiful shades of red or orange, but rather a flash of green that sparkled in the sky. When the conditions were right, a green flash would sparkle above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. One moment, then it would be lost to the night sky.

I don’t know why I suddenly remembered this, but I think that’s how I think of you now - in small moments and instances that I have stored inside my ribcage. A blink of an eye, and these memories of you would be gone.

I remember you when I hear John Mayer on the radio, or when the man sat next to me on the bus smells a little bit like your cologne. I remember you when I see stunning buildings that you would like, and when I see your company car parked outside my office. I remember you when someone on the street wears a T-shirt that I got for you years ago, and I remember you when I open boxes from Liverpool. I remember you in small moments, and then I make myself forget because I shouldn’t remember.

I’m sorry I missed your call, but I don’t think I could have said these things to you. I don’t think I could have listened to your voice telling me of your goodbye. And truthfully, I don’t know what I would say in return. You know I would wish you the best of luck with your career and for your family, and I would hope that you have a good flight. But if I could, I would have liked to tell you other things.

I would have liked to say that a perfect goodbye would be a day spent under twisted covers and stained sheets. That I would have wanted to stain my skin with the scent of yours and laugh until my stomach hurts. I would have wanted to taste your cooking, even though I always make fun of it being inadequate. I would have wanted to have one beautiful memory of you before you left me. But we both lost that privilege months ago; we lost it when I stormed out of the life I had and when I realized how little I meant to you.

I’m sorry for the daggers of frustration and stings of disagreements. I’m sorry that the trapped memories of you now exist in your living room and in quiet whispers at a loud party. I’m sorry for the way I act when I drink too much. I’m sorry for never saying sorry. I’m sorry that I have never written about you with beautiful words and for never telling you that I miss your outline every time I leave your apartment. I’m sorry for saying too many goodbyes over the years, and for never following through with any of them. I’m sorry that no one knows the taste of nostalgia that coats your complexion. I’m sorry that I can’t share my kindness with you because you remind me of a broken heart. I’m sorry that my laughter can’t fill your ears anymore. I’m sorry for missing you when I shouldn’t. I’m sorry that I sometimes don’t miss you at all. I’m sorry for so many things; I’m sorry for being sorry.

I am aware that I will be gone when you return here. I am aware that you don’t need me most nights and I don’t need you either. I am aware that sometimes I am just a girl you use to feel the intimacy that skin on skin offers. I am aware that I only have you in small moments – when you come to me at night and I pretend that it means nothing. I am aware that you didn’t wish me happy birthday and I didn’t tell you that I remember you leave today. I am aware of why you are leaving and I have kept that reason to myself. I am aware that you will never beg me to stay, not that night, or the nights before. I am aware that you never needed me as much as I wanted you to. I am aware that this is the place we have reached, and I am aware that this is where we will stay.

All I can do is wish you well, and hope that I don’t just become a name to you, because you will always be more than that to me.

You will always be the boy who stole my heart. But you will always be the one who broke it, too.

Because of that, I sincerely say this honest and final goodbye.

High Line, New York Feb 2014
Moma New York, Feb 2014