Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gone

Sometimes I watch the news from back home late at night. 
I wade through random snippets of videos and articles about a weave robbery and a soldier coming home, searching

Sometimes I'll walk by a TV and a headline will catch my eye and I'll stop and watch and won't even realize I'm holding my breath until I finally let it out, dizzy at the effort and weak with relief that this story, this headline does not belong to me. Not today. 

A body is found, abandoned. And I think that I'll call the news station, and that if I do I'll be crying before whatever beleaguered, coffee addled produced I finally get to picks up the phone. And I imagine I tell him I'll give him a statement, an exclusive, if he'll just tell me if it's him or not. 

In my saner moments, I remind myself that I can't do this. I can't live like this. 

He's gone, I tell myself, always wincing at it no matter how many times I've had the conversation with me. He's gone

Gone is a funny word. It's one of those words that's been co-opted to use elsewhere, the thing someone says when you've terminally lost someone, because somehow gone is a softer blow than dead, though they both mean the same. You've lost them.

But my gone means left. 
Disappeared.
On purpose.

The dream is always the same. We're on the roof and we're kids. We're sitting on the scratchy, gray tiles talking about absolutely nothing. The sky has gone pastel and the air around us is sticky and sweet as though you could carve it. Without warning he slips and tumbles down the roof, screaming my name as he goes. I scramble on my hands and knees until they bleed, grabbing at the last pieces of him I can see. He goes over the side. I make it to the edge and peer over, only to find a vast blackness where the ground should be. He's fallen into it. He's gone. 

My little brother is gone.
My gone means left.
Disappeared.
The only thing I can't forgive. 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Mausoleum

Coming back to New Orleans is like walking the graveyard of all the women I used to be. 

Who I was when I was young and dumb and deliriously in love. When I was chasing my food with laxatives. When I was broke and struggling at a dead end job. Before the dark years. Before the girl. Before I lost my aunt.

I try not to focus on that as I powerwalk down Bourbon.

I purposefully don't give my eyes to the balcony where I once kissed the person I thought was the love of my life and promised him forever. I cross the street when we get to the restaurant where my aunt taught me the proper way to shell a crawfish.

I'm working. I'm busy. I can't.

I'm on both phones, maneuvering people and beer cups and beads. I lend space in my head to the tasks at hand, to the unique musical roar of the Quarter. I'm killing it at work.

I'm sitting at the office when I hear the trumpets and I can feel my heart seize in my chest. In my mind, clear as day, I can see the second line, my aunt joyfully waving her white handkerchief in the air. It hits me that this is the first time I've ever been to this city without her and I can barely lurch out of the room before I start to cry.

I call my best friend, choking on the words as though they're fingers around my throat. 
"Everything just reminds me that she isn't here and I still don't know why." 

Why is futile, of course, but I still want to know.

I go back to work. I'm busy. I can't. 

I'm killing it at work. I spend 16 hours on my feet, then 12. I unravel every impossible knot my work gets tangled into. I'm exhausted and sore and content. I fall into bed and starfish across it's king size, scissoring  my legs through the moonlight coming through the big window and making the shadows dance. 

At once I am back to another time I'd done the same in this city, only this time tangled around my most favorite human in the universe. 
"We should do this every year."
"We do do this every year. You're always welcome to come."
"I mean, even if your family doesn't, we should. We should keep doing it even after we have kids."
"Okay. It can be our annual no kids trip."
"And we should always stay in this hotel. In this room. So we can keep coming back and remembering when we decided it was gonna be me and you."

I curl up in a ball, suddenly cold and stiff. I'm too tired to get up and work until distraction. But I want to. Instead I fall asleep.

I've been so many different women. And for the most part I'm glad to not be them anymore. But sometimes I'm reminded of who I buried while I was becoming. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Here

"Make a living or have a life, guess that I gotta choose..."


We're doing the part I usually hate, but is actually going pretty well... kinda; trying to make future plans.

After "hey, you're in my city!" drinks turned into dinner, turned into more drinks, turned into cannolis, we're sitting in a tiny dive bar, oversized chairs pulled close, each with two phones spread across our laps.

"What about brunch next Saturday?" he asks me. 
"I'm working. Can you do dinner?" He checks phone number 1.
"Have a dinner already. You can meet me for drinks after."
"Come to the city at some undetermined time whenever it is you finish dinner? Nah. What about Thursday?"
"I leave for London Wednesday night."

We go back and forth awhile, checking calendars and projects and before we know it, we've made it to February.

"I don't mean to be presumptuous, but, Valentine's Day?"
"I'm on the road. What about the week after?"
"Can you do Tuesday? I have a late meeting but should be done by 6."
"I've got a 5:30. I could maybe come after that."

We stop and look at each other a moment and burst into laughter.
"This is fucking ridiculous. I just wanna buy you dinner," he says shaking his head. I giggle at his incredulousness but deep down I know this is The Moment.

I'd been wondering if, when, it might come. It's been waiting in the wings, listening for its cue, patiently hanging around backstage through Act 1 at Job That Was International and 24/7/365 and all the crazy up and downs therein. There was a brief reprieve at intermission, at Regular Job With Regular Workload on a Regular U.S. Schedule Doing Regular Shit. 

But now I'm in Act 2. And Act 2 is Crazy Rare Dream Job You Landed Against all Odds Where You Get to Do All the Things. This is when shit really gets real. Where most days are a 10 hour or more day and I only unplug to sleep and I'm on the road for weeks at a time. 

And I love it.

But it brings me Here. Here is where I always wondered if I'd end up. When I was young and arrogant and stupid, Here was something I just knew I'd manage perfectly, finding a way to Do it All™ and make it look easily. When I got older and less stupid (still stupid, just less so), I wondered if I'd have to choose between my Everest professional ambitions and my personal life.

And Here I am. I can't even manage to schedule a fucking date. 

The irony of course is that I'm finally, actually trying. After purposefully not dating for 6 months (which turned into 7 because it got REALLY GOOD) I am finally being intentional and deliberate about how I spend my time and with whom I spend it. I'm being open. I'm putting myself out there. I'm fucking trying

What has it gotten me? 

A string of amazing dates 5 weeks before I picked up my whole life and moved it 800 miles away. One guy I stopped talking to because it was clear he was going to be trash in bed. And this, needing to schedule dinner 6 weeks in advance just so we'll both, you know, be there.

We find a random Saturday at the end of February that works for us. He'll make the plans. And because I am trying, I will try not to become so consumed with my work that I don't match his effort to away connected in the meantime or become uninterested. 

But the truth is, I don't think I'm at a place where I want to prioritize my love life over my professional one. Here, landing my dream job and standing on the precipice of everything great I've ever fucking wanted, I don't know that I'm prepared to take any energy away from that pursuit. I'm already so far behind.

"I look forward to it," I tell him with my most endearing La smile, and while that's true, everything in my body is telling me we'll never make it to date #2.

Because sometimes no matter how hard you try, the game is the game.

I'm driving home later, winding through the city, back over the bridge, and thinking about Here. Here is where I've always wanted to be. And lord knows I've worked so hard and suffered so much just to get here. And so much of this next chapter of my life is blank pages; I never knew to write this far because I don't know that I ever actually believed I'd make it. This is the only part of my life I've ever thrown myself into without a plan. 

And it feels like Here is a choice; I can be all in or all out, but I can't straddle the fence of something truly big and amazing and more than I ever imagined and wondering if I should have settled for easy, quieter, more secure.

I'm all in, I decide somewhere halfway over the bridge. I'm all in for me, for this job I've been circling and working towards for ten years, for being twice as good to get half as far.

 I've made my choice. I just have no idea what that looks like.
But maybe that's the whole point. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

What do the Lonely do at Christmas?

This is the loneliest Christmas I've had in a long time.

It's not foreign to me of course, having spent a significant number of years in exile from home, first self-imposed and then because the universe willed it for far longer than I preferred. I shrug off the familiarity of it, determined not to sink into the comfort of the loneliness I know.

I clean my place. I watch videos and scroll through countless pictures of the people I love with the people they love, laughing at giddy children and exhausted parents. I watch the food network and get ideas for elaborate meals I want to cook in my new kitchen. I send texts wishing people merry Christmas that are more happy than I feel.

And then I just can't anymore.

I crawl into bed exhausted, wondering why I so often find myself here; on the brink of something great but standing at the precipice alone.

I miss my grandmother and my aunt, their absences cold, dark, empty places I feel like I can reach into myself and touch. The day passing without the punctuation of talking to them, seeing them, feels so overwhelming that I feel like I'm drowning. I'm torn between being glad I'm alone with this melancholy and wishing I weren't, all while knowing that everyone I know is preoccupied with their own lives at the moment. So I just surrender to it all. 

Perhaps the last three years lulled me into a false sense of security that the lonely years of my life were over, only to catapult me into more isolation than before. 

What a fucking curse.

I fall asleep, suspended in the purgatory of twilight sleep, my body going through the motions of being asleep, but the constant echo chamber of my anxieties on surround sound in my mind. I jerk awake time and time again, fleeing from something in my subconscious, feeling like I'm suffocating in my waking body. 

I should lean into it, I suppose, the perpetual loneliness that follows me around like a stray. It certainly seems intend on hanging around. Maybe I've wasted too much energy fighting the inevitable.  

Later, after traffic and an awful flight, I'm in a cold hotel room, sprawled on my back, tears marching furiously into my hair. It's quiet and dark and I'm alone, a stranger in my own land. I curl into a tiny ball and make myself stop crying like I used to when I was a child, because this is life and I'll be fine just like I've always been, I tell me. I stop crying but I don't believe me.