March 29th, 2021

By Bella Cole-Preciado, art by Skylar Kaster

Togetherness within separation.

1. Manic Baking on Nights that I’m Lonely


 I could show you the sourdough loaf, the half-baked croissants, the cherry tart, the morning glories or I could say I miss the me I used to be, yet breathe a sigh of relief when I think of who I am becoming. In the kitchen pantry, a single strand of uncooked fettuccine. Sometimes my loneliness is cool as a cucumber and I’m a refrigerated lonely—a lo-fi guitar lick. Other days I’m a Dutch Oven baked-lonely, burnt on the bottom and steamy at the core. Today I am a red curry-lonely, poured over others with Sriracha squeezed into my eyes. 


2. Summer 2020 


Remember the wildfires? I saw through hell in smoke. Heavy downpour became my morning medicine. Mist my afternoon cleanse. Storms dampening daylight were the evening delight. Rainfall releases the toxins in my body: whole again. I tip my head like a tea kettle and pour, pour, pour till the knowledge comes out. A godsend is a rainstorm after we set ourselves aflame. Scorching hot acidic asphalt burning my toes and crippling my core. Blinded by smoke. The ritual of fire must be relearned. I feel my body ill with toxins million-dollar masks refuse to see. The rain may look sad, but to me it offers new life. 


3. The Importance of Meditation 


Meditation is my rhythm. My rhythm is my mantra to solitude. Satin sheets and coconut oil. When I cannot fall asleep at night, rhythm sits in my ears and teaches me to fight like a Noname track on repeat in my earbuds giving me life. I felt rhythm that first night I discovered I had feelings for you. It was a sleepless night, I was a heart throbbing bore to anyone, a mess internally.






5. Comforting Others and Comforting Yourself | Loss


Our house is humming, while bodies lie awake. It is nearly time for bed, but we have burst into tears. Sitting beside you, watching the cat fiddle around with his toy mouse, how nice it must be. I will hold you for as long as it takes. I will sink into your sorrows and absorb the loss you have carried. You hold me when life becomes too much. This too shall pass you whisper into my ear, but I know this is the side effect of being alive. I remember the way she cared for me, the only family I have ever lost but not the only loss I have borne. Listening to the evening tea kettle. You were the rock of our family. Slipping into pajamas and sipping gin. I hope that they will let me have your recipe books. In a moment I will be able to rest my eyes. Turning out the lights and escaping downstairs. I never stop thinking of you, warm like your southern pecan pies and prickly as agave americana. 


6. The New Norm


The deepest corners of my mind have been explored once. Delicate teachings in my youth led to mindfulness, which led to depression, which led to anxiety. Something we all are bound to in a pandemic. Togetherness within separation. Let us try to explore these deep and dark cervices of our minds with a shovel for digging and a pair of scissors for trimming. My mother taught me never to rely on others, so I am practicing this now. I miss the sound of her footsteps. There is no other sound so sweet, like nectarine juice sticking to my youth. She wears high heels and bangles that chime with every step. When I hear her walking towards me I smell her hair, her perfume, her maternal warmth. It has been one year since I have seen my family, scattered across the states and sprinkled over a Texan sunrise. I think of them on nights when insomnia peels my orange globe eyelids back. The zest squeezed into my pupils because loneliness stings.

Bella Cole-Preciado is a 22-year-old writer and student receiving a BA at Western Washington University. She currently explores the creativity that can be nurtured to life on days of isolation and boredom through forms of writing, baking, and music.  


Skylar Kaster is an illustrator and animator based in Bellingham. Her work focuses on line and color, and draws from a playful dynamic that is essential for creativity. Follow her at @skylark_arts for more!