Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Contact

Imagine your phone rings at your desk at work. After a quick glance at the caller ID, you decide not to answer right that second because you are up to the tip of your nose in a project you have to get out by 6pm. A few seconds later, your cell phone lights up and vibrates. The caller ID tells you it is the same caller. You try to mentally decide on a stopping place you can get to in your work so that you can return the call, but before you can figure that out, the little red light on top of your blackberry indicates you have a voicemail. You clear the screen so the blinking light doesn’t distract you, but before you can put the phone down again, you get a text message. Same sender. You roll your eyes but try to focus again on work. Your desk phone rings again and the people in the cubicle around you chuckle a bit. “Two calls back to back? We know who that is,” they all say, smirking. You pretend you aren’t mortified as you stalk out of your office to return said call. But not before a mutual acquaintance calls or texts to tell you that your electronic stalker is trying to get in touch with you.

It’s kind of annoying, isn’t it? To not even have the chance to answer a message before another is left. To feel your electronic leash yanked on at someone else’s leisure. And it makes you somewhat indignant, right? All, I-pay-this-bill-and-I-will-answer-messages-whenever-I-damn-well-please thankyouverymuch.

Now if this were a man, you all would be telling me to get a restraining order, right? Because really, who needs to call someone that much? Habitually enough that co-workers notice a pattern, even. It's absurd. Is there any need for this kinda behavior? Especially when history has proven that it is NOT in fact an emergency OF ANY KIND? At some point it kinda veers from mildly annoying to rather creepy.

Now imagine that this person is your MOTHER.


This is a common argument my mom and I have. She calls me. I don’t answer for whatever reason. Before I can call back/answer a text/check a voicemail, she has called me again. And again. And sent a text. And had her boyfriend send a text.

What in all the fuck?


It is never an emergency. Ever. Nor is it usually all that pressing, other than the fact that she would desire to talk to me RIGHT NOW, despite whatever I might be doing.

Like, oh, I dunno, napping for example.

If you were a 26 year old living, breathing embodiment of quarter life crisis who works two jobs 6-7 days a week, shouldering a decade long battle with insomnia and depression and an unnatural level of stress who didn’t drift off to fitful sleep until 4am despite being completely zombie-walking tired the night before, and STILL waking up at your customary 9am, you might decide to take a nap around noon, when you finally get so bone tired that you are sick to your stomach. Luckily, knowing that your beloved black.berry, while convenient, is also the center of all things ratchet from your friends, as well as the source of the occasional the psycho dial from your family, you have the foresight to put your phone on silent.

And then you wake up to double digit missed calls, multiple texts, a few voicemails, the last of which is a breathless declaration that your mom is on her way across town to your apartment RIGHT NOW.

All because you took a three hour nap.


This happened in real life. Hand on the Bible. Of course there were tears and accusations of me being mean and those mother proclamations we all get when we are being guilt tripped about simply wishing to be treated like an adult. But honestly, I don’t find calling her on her unreasonable paranoia and invasive contacting reason to be branded the enemy.

Really, could you imagine if she had gone to the police?

Mom: I started trying to contact my 26 year old daughter three hours ago and have not heard from her.
Officer: Three days?
Mom: No. THREE HOURS. We had tentative, vague plans and she hasn’t said anything…
Officer: Three hours?
Mom: Yes.
Officer: Ma’am this coffee has been sitting on my desk longer than that.
Lawd.


I’ve never been a mom. So I don’t know what it’s like to worry for your children’s well being, no matter where they are. Or to imagine all the kinds of crazy could befall them when they are out in the world. But honestly, if motherhood pulls you down into this sort of wild panic after your kid who is damn near 30 going radio silent for 3 hours to take a nap on a Sunday afternoon, please put me on the do not contact list.

I love my mom but she has no boundaries. None. Not with me. I try very hard to tolerate her and to try to see things from her point of view. But she is not the type of person who responds well to setting boundaries. She is not the person that can hear you saying, “This is unacceptable for me,” without skewing it into, “This is a personal attack on you.” Which, as far as I’m concerned, are her issues to work out.

But I ask that there be respect for my time and my preferences. I ask that if I repeatedly ask her nicely not to call me back to back like she is some crazy, jealous ex-boyfriend, that wish will be honored. Or at the very least, she not try to make me the bad guy for no longer asking nicely after she has ignored my calm requests.

There are certainly other, deeper issues at play here that I don’t wish to delve into. But I am I out of my mind here? Seriously, mom readers, do you do this to your children?



Either way, I need to move.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Thriller

I fancy myself something of an emotional gravedigger for my past relationships.


I am appropriately reverent of the life that used to be, preparing to return it to dust. I grieve respectfully and I am fairly faithful to the ceremonies of death. Admittedly, sometimes I get caught up in the ceremony for far longer than I should, but for the most part, once I put them in the ground, I am done. Like any good caretaker, I stroll the grounds every once in awhile to make sure that no lingering issues have arisen from the dirt, that no bodies have made their way to the surface to haunt my waking life. But for the most part, I throw in the last shovelful of dirt, close the gate to the relationship cemetery and go on about life.

But death is funny that way. It so seldom is about the ritual as much as it is about the after. And bodies not properly buried resurface at the most unexpected times in the most unexpected ways.



Like, on the Twitter, for instance.



Imagine my surprise, expert gravedigger that I am, when without warning my best friend texts me to let me know, “You know your fuck ass ex is on twitter, right?”

Me being pretty, but not so smart at the relationships, I recognize that, well; this could be any number of fuck ass exes that I’ve left in my wake. I assumed it was my first love, who we shared much of childhood with and now a mild hatred of.

First Love?”

“No, La. The Great Houdini.”



Once, when I was in college, I got utterly drunk in the boy’s dorm across campus during a blizzard. Having not appropriately planned neither my Hypnotiq and Cuervo intake nor the choice to wear high heeled boots, while on my way to my dorm all the way across campus, I fell face first into a small mountain of snow on The Yard. I don’t remember falling or how I fell. I just remember the sensation of the ground giving way beneath me, my stomach hurtling to my ankles, and my face suddenly being cold.

Finding out the love of your life who unceremoniously abandoned you and disappeared feels a lot like that.

“Well,” I say with more venom that I probably should have, “he could have at least had the decency to be dead like I assumed he was.”

I don’t mean that, of course. There might have been a time when I was so heartbroken, so enormously devastated that I could make myself believe I meant that. But now, this side of mostly better and many years removed from that emotional murder, I can admit to myself (silently and only in my head) that I have always at least hoped he was well.

And maybe that is what I am feeling in that moment; a bit of bittersweet resentment at the fact that despite it all, I wanted him to at least be well, if certainly not whole.

I loved him that much.



I am also that incredibly nosy, so immediately I find the offending tweet in her timeline (a RT of a college friend she knows through me) and unabashedly (hide in the bathroom while I) go through his entire timeline. Being at least a little less crazy than I was in my younger years, I don’t bother reading into any of the cryptic ass subtweets that don’t seem to make sense. Because I am wise enough to know I probably don’t want to know. But he is alive and ok in at least some semblance of the word, and that is enough.



Until of course, after making my timeline private, I get a follow request from him late one Friday night. I jump straight up off my couch, like the post-Sex and the City cliché that I am, mildly panicked. “Omg! He’s online! Can he see me?!”

After a somewhat neurotic text to my QQ (who, channeling me, was ever so levelheaded), I accept. Because I realize, I can either be the girl who is terrified of letting her ex read her random 140 characters of fuckery, or I can embrace the fact that it really doesn’t matter all that much.

I choose the latter.


And, like any great illusionist, he reappeared as though nothing had happened.


Sending me lighthearted ribbing about football (he is a diehard Dolphins fan. I should have recognized then that his decision making was flawed). Responding to my frustrated tweets about the state of sideline hoes today. Calling me ridiculous for requesting a twitter boyfriend to come put lotion on my back.

Leading up to, of course, a DM with his B.lackberry pin.



I would be lying if I said it didn’t feel both uncomfortable and comforted; that him addressing me with the nickname he gave me made me smile sadly for a second, before really feeling the full weight of this intrusion on my life.

It was easier when he was just buried.


But, like the masochist I am, I added his pin, my heart thumping a like an HBCU drumline the entire time. It’s funny; even after all the time and pain that had passed, I could still hear his voice in my head saying the words he was typing on the screen.

That, my dear readers, is some emotional bullshit.


To his credit, he didn't try to pretend nothing transpired between us, that we were
just old college friends who drifted apart and who were now getting back in touch via a little blue bird and a fail whale. Which, if I am honest, took a lot of the wind out of my sails. I had been all ready to be defensive and angry, but I hadn’t prepared myself to deal with his contrition.



Shit.



Over the course of a week, we talked, sometimes about nothing, sometimes about our own relationship implosion, with me (mostly) keeping that tiny bit of resentment I admittedly still hold on to when it comes to him in check. As I asked all the questions I always wanted answers, got sometimes even the answers I didn’t want to hear, it occurred to me that everyone was right all those moons ago when I was caught up in the anger and the sadness and the grieving of burying us; the answers didn’t matter as much mattering enough to have a person stand before you and validate your need to know them.

How very self help book of me.

Around the 3rd day, our conversations growing easier, less strained and finally getting to the crux of what had happened to us, he finally admitted what he had been thinking that when he snuck out of my life while I was sleeping. And finally I was able to say the one thing I had always wanted to say, that I recognized made me maybe a bit weak and vulnerable but was the truth nonetheless;



I never would have left you.



And I wouldn’t have. Not for anything. That was the truth.



There was a weight lifted from my heart then, something I had been shouldering with no place to set down for three years. After that, I no longer felt heavy or angry or even anxious about his rising from the dead.


And God, how I had been craving that feeling.