Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Charity Starts at Home

This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge #WYAOApril. Today's prompt: Heal.

Sunday morning comes cloaked in silence. Inside, the bedroom is still, remnants of last night strewn about haphazardly. Outside, there is not a bird chirping or a truck roaring by. It feels like someone pressed pause on the whole world. 

And isn't that what we've tried to do these last few days?

I roll over, half lying on his back, pressing my bare breasts against his exposed back, kissing his shoulders and tracing the script of Invictus etched into the skin.

I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul 

My fingertips pay special attention to my favorite part.

He stirs slightly underneath me, mumbling something into the pillow, and reaching behind him to touch my bare skin. We lay that way for awhile, afraid to move and break the spell, and knowing that we must. 

He moves first, rocking me off his back, turning, and pulling me into his chest in one movement. He rests my jaw in his hands and leans his forehead into mine.

"This is it, you know."

It's not a question and I don't have to answer because whether he's talking to me or himself, we both know.

We both know.

He lifts himself over me, kissing my eyes still fluttering with sleep, and the bow of my lips and the curve of my neck. He trails nibbles and licks down my torso before throwing my legs across his back. He's painting lines of art across my flesh and I am purring.

He takes me slowly, quietly, methodically. He's learned our melody and he's playing it perfectly. He stops to kiss me, to look at me, to kiss the freckles on my face. He's studying me, as I am him, so he can take this with him when he leaves.

We stay in bed for hours, tangled around each other, whispering and moaning, drifting off to sleep. 

Late, way too late, in the afternoon we stumble into the kitchen, famished and exhausted. We share cold Thai from cardboard boxes without bothering to turn on the lights. We fall back into bed, back into each other, back to sleep.

When we wake up, it's time.

He gathers his things in silence, while I sit cross legged on the middle of the bed watching. He does it the way he does everything, deliberately, precisely, moving at the intersection of grace and masculinity. When he's done, when every trace of him is packed in his leather duffle, he leans against my dresser and looks at me. Wordlessly he holds out his hand to me, meeting me at the foot of the bed. He hugs me, resting his head on top of mine and I can hear him sigh through the bare skin of his chest.

"I think it's time for me to go."

We dress quietly, handing each other things across the distance. When we're done, we reconvene at the foot of the bed. He kisses my lips, my nose, my forehead.

"Let's do this," he says.

We jump in the car and head south towards the airport, with me shuffling through music with one hand while absentmindedly tracing his fingers with the other. A song shuffles on that he turned me on to the first time we tried to do This.

"You know I haven't listened to this whole album since the fight in San Antonio?"
"Oh, Jesus. That was a bad one. But you shouldn't give up the album tho. This shit is classic."
"It is. It's one of my favorites. But I... I just couldn't."
"Music holds your memories."
"All the fucking time."

No pretending
Baby, I'm sending 
Sending all my love to you 

We listen in silence for awhile, both of us no doubt drifting back to when this song was new for us, when we were then who can't manage to be now. He grabs my hand. I stare out the window because I've cried enough. I'm tired. 

"I don't know if I'll ever understand why we don't work."
"You do. You just don't want to."
"Is that a bad thing? Not wanting to give up?"
"You don't wanna give up because you hate to lose, not because of us."
"Is there a difference? Does it matter?"
"You don't get it. If I have to choose between the peace and the passion- and I don't think I do- I'm gonna choose the peace. Every time. And you've never been able to bring me any type of peace."

He says nothing, and I hope I wasn't harsher than I meant to be. I'm just so ready to be done. We retreat to our corners, riding the rest of the way in the cool of the silence that has drawn itself between us. It's ironic considering we once thought we'd never run out of things to talk about. 

At the curb, he hoists bag up on his shoulder.
"Well..." he says and he trails off, never really sure how to end things because he's never the one that wants to.
"You're fumbling for words because there's nothing else to say, baby."
"Yeah. Yeah."

He drops his bag and wraps me up in an embrace so tight that my back pops in three places. 
"You know," he says into my hair, "I wouldn't be mad if you called me if you changed your mind."

And I don't know how to explain to him how this time is different. How, more than I am sad or scared or lonely, I am tired. Tired of ending up right back here. With him. With everyone. Tired of this particular brokenness. I am resigned. And for him, that may be worse than my fury or my weakness. Because that means I really am gone.

So I say nothing, because it seems kinder.

We stand that way for awhile, swaying back and forth before he abruptly lets me go, scoops his bag and heads towards the sliding doors separating us from security. I find that I have nothing left to say to his back.

I slide into the driver side he just vacated and drive north, numb and unaware, until the sun setting over my favorite view of the skyline catches my attention. The music has been playing on without me listening and as usual, the universe is talking to me and hoping I'm listening. 

Break bread with your fellow man
Show him love but look out for your heart
And always take care of home
Because home is where charity starts
Home is where charity starts...

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Silence

This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge #WYAOApril. Today's prompt: Spill.

I don’t remember what happened. It was inconsequential, the kind of thing that no one noticed but me. But it was hilarious. And I knew it was the kind of thing you’d appreciate. I was halfway through the text before I remembered I couldn’t send it.

This part is The Silence. And it’s the part I hate. 

When the world feels like it’s been carved open wide, a chasm running between you and someone you used to know. The unlearning of including them in your day even though it feels second nature. Finding distraction when you feel the need to say things you may as well shout into the wind. When the rhythm of your whole day feels off because it’s not punctuated by hearing from them and you have to manage to find your footing somehow. When they may as well have been flung to the moon, they feel so far from whatever it was you used to inhabit.

You live in The Silence now. In here, there’s only distance.

Like most temporary things, it gets better, of course. To be clear, The Silence is most often forever, but it eventually becomes a dull ache from the sharp break it started as. And eventually, you won’t feel it at all. It will just become What Is.

But you have to get there. You have to inhale every minute of every sleepless night and swallow them down on top of the words you don’t get to say until you feel you might burst. You have to sort through the thoughts that bubble up when you aren’t expecting them, even when you have nowhere to put them. And you have to arrive out the other side, somehow healed and whole though something you once thought was tattooed on your life has been washed away. 

If you’re me, the only way to get through The Silence is to smother it. To counteract every what if with a reminder that it ain’t. I delete all the pictures and the texts. Eventually the contact info altogether. I find something else to do with the time I took such great effort to carve out for you to exist in. I set about the work of forgetting the inside jokes and the places we’ve been and the intimacies I wish I’d kept to myself. I mentally open the box where I store All The Little Things About You, and dump them at the curb, letting the elements and time do to memory what I cannot force. You are a specter looming in my days, and I smother it until dies.

I work to forget you, and eventually I will. It is the kind of thing I have grown good at. Forgetting the details, forgetting the feelings, until they are so gone it’s almost like I never knew them at all. I will get there.

But now, I am in The Silence. And so are you. But I’m here alone. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Happy New Year

This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge #WYAOApril. Today's prompt: Ascend.

Today looks nothing like I thought it would.

That's my first thought when my eyes snap open. 

I lay there with it for a minute, turning the words over and over in my head until they sound like gibberish even to me. 

Today looks nothing like I thought it would.

That's the truth. But isn't it always?

Each birthday brings with it a roux of excitement and anxiety and reflection. Each birthday, I am somehow caught off guard by where I am in my life, good or bad or ugly. I had plans, good plans, plans that made sense for what my life looked like when I dared hope them. Life wasn't really here for my plans, as usual. 

I burrito up in my comfy sheets and take stock:

There is no obvious way for me to advance at work.
My love life has imploded.
Three of the people I'm closest to in this city have moved, and for the first time in the last few years, I don't get to celebrate my birthday with them.
It's a Tuesday. Birthdays on a Tuesday kinda blow.

Surprisingly though, I'm okay.

Somewhere along the line I realized that this is what life is; a series of good years and bad years and meh years. And to be fair to my life, I'm never going to be "where I wanna be." Because I am impossible with myself. Because all I want is everything.

So, I keep my birthday rituals. I play Don't You Worry Bout a Thing at ignorant levels over and over. I make my list of 32 things I'm thankful for (one for every year I've been alive) and I say a prayer of gratitude that I never have to struggle to come up with something. I talk to my grandmother out loud as though she were in the room and tell her I hope she's proud of me. I'm doing the best I can. 

I spend the day with my best friend and her fresh baby and have dinner with my mama. We tell the stories we've told a million times before and laugh like they're new. All day I field calls and texts and FaceTime and WhatsApp messages from people literally all over the world who take a minute out of their busy days to wish me well. By the time I fall into bed I am so full I could burst.

Today looks nothing like I thought it would, but it is exactly as it's supposed to be.

I remind myself that this is the living: the trying and failing. The restarts and stalls and starting over. That implosion and ruins mean I can construct a life more beautiful than the last. And that I'm built for the building.

Every year, good or bad, is a clean slate. 
So, happy new year to me. 

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Magic Number

This post is part of Write Your Ass Off April, a Twenties Unscripted 10-Day Writing Challenge #WYAOApril. Today's prompt: Demolish.

Here is how you go from We to Me.

First, you have The Conversation. 
This is no mere mortal conversation. This is The Conversation. The one you can’t come back from. This is the conversation where you say The Things. The things that have been looming. That have been lurking in the shadows, growing, sucking all of the oxygen from the room as you slowly suffocate. These things are the dragons you have to slay before they kill you.

Because they will.

Our conversation happened at 3:27am, on one of many a string of nights I couldn’t sleep. 

“We’re not going to make it, are we?”

The Conversation usually starts with The Question. The one that one or the both of you has been choking on, trying to swallow down because most of you knows the answer and it’s not the one you want.

“No. We’re not.”

You talk it out. You fight it out. You say the right things and the mean things and the true things. You say things that, were this a thing that should work out, might draw the other closer to you. But because this is the drawdown from We to Me, it only inches them further away. There’s a last grasp, the Hail Mary, the last thing you say when you’re ready to go for broke. And that’s when you realize that The Things have pulled them just beyond the reach of your fingertips.

That’s when The Resignation comes. It’s usually easy to spot. It’s everything that comes after The Sigh. The Thing has been vanquished. It’s let all the air back into the room. And it frigid and still. You have to settle into it as though it were comfortable, but it’s not that it’s cozy, it’s that it’s permanent. The Resignation comes when you know you have to let go.

“I hate this.”
“I know. Me too.”
“I really thought-“
“I know. Me too.”

You lapse into quiet. The words running out isn’t because you have nothing left to say, it’s because everything you have to say is futile. There is no coming back from The Conversation. 

“I’m coming home in a few weeks. I need your undivided attention for the weekend. I’m not asking.”

You want to say no, because you should. It’s wiser.

But The Conversation leaves you raw and exposed in a way that you’d never choose to be. And every no feels like being stabbed with a hot, salted knife.

“I’ll make that happen.”

Then there’s The Goodbye. Which- even as it’s awkward and uncomfortable and hurtful- isn’t even the hard part.

Because the next part is The Silence.
And that’s what will kill you.