Personal

An Analog Hopeless Romantic

My mother told me I had a tell. Something she used to ascertain whether I liked person who was on the other end of the phone call. Mind you, I was a teenager when she told me this.

“You cover your face with a pillow,” she told me.

“Mom,” I said, rolling my eyes, “I cover my face with a pillow all the time.”

At least I thought I did.

Then I noticed, I didn’t always cover my face. Speaking on the phone with my friends differed vastly from speaking to whoever I happened to be crushing on at the moment (I went through a lot of crushes, mind you. I was a bit of a crush-slut). With someone like Binx of Doll, I spoke out in the open. In the living room while doing my homework. Or in my bedroom with the door open. Or sprawled in the hallway (our phone line was really long). But with someone I liked, I took it as private as I could. Covering my face to mask all the smiles and starry-eyed looks were, possibly, my last ditch attempt to hide what made me human.

I can’t pinpoint when this stopped, but it was during my relationship with Jeanna. Two reasons I know this: 1. Jeanna is the last relationship I had and, 2. The way I communicate changed significantly. While Jeanna and I still continued talking on the phone, the amount of time lessened. It only made sense. We went from being two teenagers in love to being two twenty-something-year-olds in love to being college graduates in love. No one told us that our last young love relationships would also be our first trial at an adult relationship.

The women that followed didn’t linger for too long. But while they were around, we communicated mostly through text. We had a phone call at night, but nothing too long. Half the time, I couldn’t think of a single thing to talk about anyway. So I’d just ramble on until it was time to say good night or something. (If there’s something I excel at, it’s talking about absolutely nothing for hours.) With the exception of Katie, because we always found something to talk about (mostly complaining with a few jokes sewn in for good measure).

“The only thing I truly miss from the 90s is the lack of cellphones,” I admitted via text one day.

“Why?” she responded.

“Because, I dunno, I guess it’s because there’s no romance in the way we communicate today. I miss phone calls.”

I guess it’s all analog. Kids these days won’t know the hardships of waiting by the radio to hear the song you want to hear. Or: Kids these days won’t know the hardships of having to fast forward through previews before watching a movie. But, for me, it’s more like Kids these days won’t have the pleasure of hiding their face underneath a pillow while talking to their crush, studying their every word and cadence. They won’t know the twirling of phone cords. Or they won’t know the uncertainty of leaving the house and worrying their missing a “very important phone call.” I dunno. I guess I’m just a hopeless romantic in that sense.

Doldrums

“I don’t know what compels me to do the very thing that fells me” *

Never been the spoken wordsmith. These things take time, I suppose. There was a plan, and the plan didn’t pan out. Not like I could say anything before the trip, and after it just felt too cliche. It’s a practice, getting the right words down. As a child, I practiced every syllable in the mirror. As a teen, the smart remarks came to me late. Day later, actually. Plagued with zingers and one-liners after the fact.

Each word carefully selected for the presentation, but the day came and I stood frozen before the class. Words blurted out in the moment always felt wrong. Out of place. Misused. Uncertainty rules my decisions, which is that I’m usually not making them.

How many times have I backspaced on this sentence? Or this one? Or this one? How do I used pauses to create some sort of false symphony of sound? Each word is important. Each placement proper. There are beats in my writing, right? A cadence, at least? Maybe. But who knows?

I just want to say the right thing. Find the perfect words. Because all these silences are becoming too unbearable.

*I know “Bad Ideas” by Tessa Violet has already been used, but it’s a damn catchy song by a damn catchy artist, ok?

Doldrums

“Think I could love you, but I’m not sure”

We reach an age, I’m sure, where we look back on our life and ponder the things we could have done differently. There’s probably an appropriate age to do this, but I’ve been doing this my whole life. It’s the curse of this anxiety ridden body. Wondering if missed opportunities may have paid out better in the long run than the comfortable path I chose. Course, there are things I wouldn’t change, because they led to something amazing in my life. (I’m talking about Shaun, of course.)

Of course, there are the paths that could have been taken and I opted not to. Not to the comfortable path, but because there was no positive payoff at the end of them. Of course, I came to realize these decisions as the focal point in what I called my Nietzsche stories. I mention these stories from time to time. And I visit that world quite often, while the stories haven’t grown since I last wrote “Gravediggers.” This morning, though, I woke up to the memory of a car speeding down Juniper Avenue as Iggy Pop played on the radio. In the backseat, a twenty-something version of me lay convulsing.

Of course it’s not me me. I’ve never once OD’d on anything. And I never hallucinated a conversation with Iggy Pop.

Revisiting Boroughs, Texas for the first time years, awoke some voices that I haven’t heard in a while. So I grabbed my copy of Ecce Homo and thumbed through the pages. In part because the Nietzsche stories derived from a character’s love for the philosopher. I sewed in paraphrases from Nietzsche’s work in the stories, often in the narrator’s voice. Because, I’m sure, had I not gone to college, I might have been a pretentious junkie of some sort.

A lot has changed since I penned the first eight or so stories, most of them being combined into one single story. And it’s strange how the Jeanna character morphed into a new beast all together as our relationship drifted and ended and rekindled into something less than but more.

I knew that the narrator and Amie never stayed together. Amie died by accident then by suicide. On stage and as an afterthought. But I wonder where the road would have taken them if they had tried a little harder. Wonder if he would, at some point, in his thirties, happen upon a cute, blonde librarian with an affinity for Star Wars, Doctor Who, and all things nerd.

And I wonder, if at any point, he’d read more than just Ecce Homo. Guess there’s only one way to find out.

Stream of Consciousness

“for a heart that’s whole”

Fake ID, all access party. The bouncer at the door didn’t give her a second glance. Though, everyone could tell he wanted to. She admired men who stuck to their guns. Placed their responsibilities above their animalistic desires. She dressed to the nines, nightclub royalty. Short skirt, blood red stilettos. Men old enough to be her father bought her drinks, ran their mouths dry with flirtatious tongues. She imagined going home with one of them. Wondered if their were the fathers of her classmates. Imagine fucking them in the living room and having someone like Stacey Hansen walk in. Imagined the rumors floating through the school. She’d add them to the list of teachers she fucked to keep her grades up. No matter the hours she spent studying, breaking her back to get the good grades, college recommendation letters. So what if she let loose once a week. It’s not as if she really sold her tight little pink pussy to these men. Those were just words spilled by girls too jealous of her success.

A split second is all it takes. The drugs are quick. She stumbles out of club, her legs giving up on her just a block later. She slumps down against the brick wall. The man who helps her up seems familiar. She knows his face, but can’t place it to a location. Maybe in passing, she thinks. The storm clouds gather above. Another wet night, she thinks before the darkness takes over.

She wondered, as a child, how it would be to die in her sleep. Her father recited the prayer with her each night. Before he left, that is. She hadn’t given much thought in her teenage years. Her only plan included leaving the small Texas town behind. Go to an out-of-state college, create a new identity. He had other plans, however.

He needed to send a message and chose her body to be his media. Like her, he often wondered what it would be like to sleep and never wake up. Would the dreams tell her that her life was slipping away. He wondered if pain would factor in. Wondered what lay behind the eternal darkness.

He needed him to know that he knew the truth. That he became interested in his history the moment he came into town. And the only way to get his attention was to drain her of all life. Because secrets like his weren’t meant to be kept forever. Something had to give.

“I know your sins,” he whispered to himself. “I know what you did. Who you are. And by the end of this, we’ll either be the best of friends or the greatest of enemies.”

Personal

“You are my heaven tonight”

She meets me halfway as she hurries off to her break. I’m coming downstairs from a meeting during which I could hardly keep my eyes open. She’s pulling something from her Bag of Holding and hands it to me, “Happy belated birthday present. It’s to feed your addiction.” A Barnes & Noble gift card. I hadn’t expected a gift from her, especially one so late. But then, I’m hardly expecting any gifts for my birthday, belated or not. Her birthday, coincidentally enough, is the day after mine.

Last year, I purchased her a porg stuffie and Shaun made her a card he later opted to give to her. It was just as well, I didn’t know where we were headed, and still lack that particular road map. Better play it safe, right? This year, I gave her Queen’s Shadow. If you’re seeing a theme of my gift giving, you’re not wrong. She knows more about Star Wars (most things nerd, actually) than anyone I’ve known prior.

Friday marked Shaun’s 7th birthday, if you can believe it. My little one is becoming less and less a little one by the day. He’s grown a personality and he’s cultivating his own existence through strange childhood philosophies. More on that later. Maybe. We had his birthday party Saturday.

My grief clouded most of Friday and I figured it was best I didn’t go to work that day (I requested vacation months ago). It would be the first birthday without them and the absence on my birthday still weighed heavily. But I treated Shaun to froyo and bought him a copy of The Gruffalo for his birthday.

I asked her if she’d be interested in attending Shaun’s birthday party. Still not sure of anything. What’s with the uncertainty? She said yes. On Thursday, as we closed for the day, I asked if she was going to attend after all. Because, you know, uncertainty. Also because when I asked the first time, we didn’t know she’d be working most of Friday.

She arrived and I greeted her at the door. Shaun’s reaction was his usual over-the-top display of surprise and glee. Not sure where he gets that sort of melodrama from. There were moments of nervousness during the party. She’s met my family before. She’s spent time with me and Shaun. What she hasn’t done before was be exposed to the other side of me. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’m sure you understand it.

She stayed for all of the party and started wrapping up with us. She decided it was time to head home so I walked her to her car where we hugged and I asked her to text me when she got back to her apartment because, you know, uncertainty. As I turned to leave, she said, “We probably can’t start watching Sabrina next Saturday because I don’t know how crazy the day will be because I’m going to TLA. But we maybe the weekend after?” And shit, if I was’t more certain at that exact moment.