Summer Days When You Loved Me

Untitled design

While waiting at the fast food restaurant drive through there was a young couple in the car behind me and this came to mind:

There were summer days, the car windows down and the smell of that old ’71 Bonneville–aging flecks of fabric and a thousand layers of Armor All, dancing around in the wind. A bored Saturday at a fast food restaurant and then the mall to look at and touch things we wouldn’t be able to afford for another ten years. Back in the car a hair band ballad swayed us and we would both smile. You said you loved me then. You took it back later. Much later. But sun-drenched summer days don’t lie and no matter what followed, in those moments you were a liar or you loved me.

What It Isn’t and Is

I want to preface this free-thought exercise by saying I’m totally fine. I’m not actually upset or struggling at the moment. I just channeled a lot of thoughts I’ve had over the past several years for different reasons – this isn’t about any one specific person or situation, it’s a composite of struggles and processes. It’s all of the good and “the upside down” (for you fellow Stranger Things fans!) that comes with just being human and forming (and trying to form), and unmaking, bonds with people. What those bonds are, and what they aren’t. Peace!

Minolta DSC

Loki (he’s been gone a few years now) and my old art studio, which I could no longer keep.

It isn’t a beginning.

It is an end.

It isn’t a big house.

It isn’t a favorite book.

It isn’t tenderness and validation.

When you have to move on, it can be grueling. It can feel like ash and stone flying through the atmosphere. Why is it like that, no matter how bad it gets?

I look back at what it was. What it wasn’t. What it is now. What it isn’t today.

It is the absence of respect.

It is the presence of resentment.

It is an angry woman who reads her husband’s emails and lashes out because she is insecure – because of the way she got her husband to begin with. It isn’t a woman who accepts blame.

It is loss that is far more good than the subtraction of love, but the addition of self-respect.

It isn’t caring what you destroy until you’ve already crushed it to bits.

Looking down. Dust on your boots. Blood. Ash. And you wonder why people don’t want to have a happy chat.

It’s creepy little threats.

It’s a smell you can’t forget.

It is blame, not in the mirror, but outwards – for your very own flaws.

It is a bad review out of spite to manifest your petty anger.

It is accusing people of the very things you are guilty of.

It is shedding your own skin like  a reptile, if you ever had your own skin to begin with.

And it is assuming the identity of a Stepford Wife. “Whatever you like, I now like.” As if you are hollow inside.

It is long distance.

It is cold hearted.

It is selfish beyond selfish, but ultimately the best thing ever.

It is banana bread and canned peaches.

It is lilacs and gold roses.

It is forgetting as the memories scatter into darker corners with each passing week…month…year.

It isn’t the acceptance of the role you play, because you are perfect. Remember? You never do anything wrong.

It’s the fault of people who you believe take advantage of you, not your falseness that made them believe that they were not trespassers. It is the people who didn’t know you were lying who are to blame, not the person who lied.

“Why don’t you trust me?” HA! THAT IS HILARIOUS! Oh, the resentment when I showed skepticism was rich!

It is rape of my trust. It is sliding into a booth and planting a kiss on me without my permission. It is the everlasting overlapping of lies and truth that made a nice veneer. Thin and brittle, but it looked so shiny, rich, solid on the face. Fake. False. Fake. False.

It is the hot resentment on the back of your neck when you walk by because you took what you wanted and I still rose up from the ash. Poorer and richer. Depends on how you look at wealth, I suppose.

It is vulnerability.

It is feeling like a failure.

It isn’t closure.

When you want closure, when it is never going to be given to you (can it actually be given, anyway?) you have to keep working to find it.

Closure doesn’t come suddenly one day and BAM! You’re all better.

No – closure is a process. It is a place you first must find the path towards. Then walk the path. Then knock on the door. Sometimes nobody opens the door because they don’t give a fuck about you. Sometimes you have to open the goddam door yourself. And once that door is open, you have to keep going there for school, you keep having to learn your way to it. It doesn’t just wash over you. You don’t get out of it that easy.

It isn’t anointing.

It isn’t wound-less.

It is bleeding. Then dressing. Then scars.

It’s a lack of understanding.

It’s bad bad communication.

It isn’t perfection.

It isn’t absolution.

It is new walls with each assault.

It is stronger bricks.

It is a higher wall.

It is letters never sent.

It is apologies never received.

It is lies that burn my flesh.

It is hurt that tears at my heart.

Or tore. Or burned. It’s all of them at once.

It is fire and water and metal and earth.

It is humanness.

It is forgivable.

It isn’t forgettable.

The forgiveness is for yourself, not for them.

 

 

 

 

The Corner of Fifteen

bcbvbva

It’s hard to imagine now just how small the world was to me then. He lived next door and worked for his dad’s contractor business. He fixed stuff. At least that’s what I thought. He broke stuff, too. My illusions of love, for example. My innocence of how lovers worked, and what power imbalance was. The belief that if you became pregnant, he would stay, because that’s what men are supposed to do. The reality that in the end, I might not want him to stay. And that people don’t always do what they are “supposed” to do.

I lost a lot of things that year, but I gained some things I would never trade. To say I am happy to have had a beautiful child come from that union may sound cliche, but I wouldn’t change it if I could. It set me on a path to self-improvement and an unfortunate spate of cynicism about men, I’m glad I’ve left behind (for the most part), but made me see feminism in a different light. Those bad experiences with a bad person set the cornerstone of the person I am today.

That house–my family’s, and his next door, are so foreign to me now. It’s like looking at a photo album from some movie I watched. I can conjure up the memories like they were last month, but I feel as though I am viewing them through a sheet of plastic.

I can’t remember the taste of him, or how he kissed. I can remember some of his cheesy lines and hurtful comments. I can remember him throwing pennies at me from his bedroom window. I can remember he smoked Marlboro reds and wore Stetson cologne. I would smell that combination into the mid-1990s sometimes, but thankfully Stetson has lost its appeal. Whichever men who might have stockpiled it, stuck in the 1980s, have probably run out by now.

My heart was broken. It was two years before I would date again. I wasn’t done making mistakes I wouldn’t fix, though. But that’s a story for another time.

 

Late Night Driving

Went on a late night drive with Will. He was restless and happy when he came home from rehearsal. Hair mussed up from his moon roof, chilled-neck hug and then a pat on my backside. “Let’s go on a drive,” he said.  “I want to take you out somewhere.  I don’t know if anything is open, but the night is amazing and I want to take you out.  Maybe we can just drive and find a little place.  Soft-serve maybe.  Maybe pie.”

I said I didn’t think we’d find any soft-serve, but maybe we could find a diner and some pie.  “Yes, let’s go.  I’d love to take a ride with you.”

Cool and humid night air.  Windows down. Talking about stuff we did when we were kids and why we’re always trying to capture that wonder you feel when you discovered something new. The roads were empty and nothing was open. Missed the I-Hop by ten minutes. We’d pass clumps of trees filled with singing insects, then buildings covered in windows, lights on, but no life inside. End of the world, but not.  Empty parking lots. Parts of Route 1 smooth as butter all black and shiny, other parts pocked and shaking the car. We were holding hands and saying I love you, too many times (if there is a such thing, when you mean it, and we did).

Hardly anybody was driving like a jerk and mostly we had the road. It reminded me of being on the road with my family – military, back and forth – California then Virginia, then California, then Virginia, then Texas and Virginia again.  Many hours on the road, watching the streetlights go by.  There was no portable DVD player, just the games my mom and dad made up.  Dad would say, “Hey, there’s a rub-broka,” and we were supposed to figure out what it meant. Mom would toss out “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” questions and my sister and I would play “Paddidle.”  When games grew old it turned to sisters annoying each other.

“Mom, she’s touching me!”

“Stop touching your sister!”

“Mom she’s not on her side!”

“Stay on your side!”

Stopping at I-Hops and Shoney’s and Denny’s on whatever route my dad decided for this trip. There’s something exciting about eating in a nearly empty diner after midnight. That’s still true for me.  A middle-of-night visit to Silver Diner excites some part of me that’s still wild and still seven.  You’re not supposed to eat in the middle of the night.  You’re not supposed to especially eat in the middle of the night at a restaurant.  Always – silver dollar pancakes and “dippy eggs” – usually with milk, or hot chocolate (with whipped cream) if I could convince my parents. There is something decadent about a spherical scoop of whipped butter that spreads neatly over the hotcakes. Mom would eye my syrup portion – I always overdid it, even for a runty beanpole of a kid, she didn’t like my sugar addiction. Grape Nehi, grape-jelly donuts (powdered please), grape Now & Laters, grape Pixie Sticks, grape Tootsie Pops.  I might have had a thing about grape.  I ate a lot and burned it hard and fast, running, climbing, skating, swinging, flipping, jumping – nonstop.

Will and I talked about camping and fishing and he kept laughing and telling me how cute I am, and I held it.  He told me his family went on a lot of camping trips and I tried to count mine.  Not a lot, but enough, I thought.  And for some reason paddle-boats were amazing to me.

He’d rub my thigh with his palm.  We’d talk about the empty buildings.  The lights.

“Does that one look open?”

“I think it closes at midnight.”

“Phone says there’s a Tastee Diner nearby that’s 24 hours.”

“That one’s dinky and really a greasy spoon, you sure you wanna try it?”  He knows more about these things than I do.  He knows these roads.  He knows what everything used to be.

“Maybe not.  I’m fine just driving.  Sorry we can’t find any pie for ya.”  He loves pie.

“It’s ok, I’m fine, too.”

We listened to a podcast we recorded together that had just been posted.  We got home before it was over and we sat in the car, windows down, leaning into each other, listening to us telling the story of how we met.

Now we’re both back in the house, distracted by pixels and electronic machines.  But I’m going to end this now and go climb into bed with the love of my life.

Good night.

Leting Go – Mostly