Do you still read these posts? Keeping track of a life lived on display? There are nights when I lay staring up at the darkened ceiling, wondering if some part of you still think about me like I do you. There are moments in my life, stories that unravel with the passage of time, and I find myself wishing there was some way to let you know.Continue reading ““And if you’re ever around…””
“Shaun thinks she’s your girlfriend,” she said. “Just something to think about.”
In the parking lot of some fast food joint—maybe it’s Dairy Queen or Whataburger, but the details are foggy; this was nearly five years earlier—I walk out with a girl and her son. As she puts him in his car seat, I stand off to the side. The chill nips at my skin. My ears, despite the beanie, are cold. Don’t get me started on the ruby red skin tone my nose had taken.
She closes the door and heads around the car and pauses when I approach her. Without so much of a thought passing through my mind, I touch her face, lean in, and kiss her. It’s our first kiss. Cemented in memory.
She tries to form words, but nothing comes out. I’m as surprised as she. Because we both agreed that this wouldn’t happen. And the three words escape from my lips, punctuated by her name. Jenny.
Jenny. The girl from New Mexico. Jenny, the wife.
“So there’s never been any moments when you guys have hung out? I don’t know, if I was hanging out with some guy every single weekend…”
“Some times I want to be the little spoon, you know? There’s so much expected of me…a single moment of vulnerability and we’re perceived weak. So yeah, in the bedroom, after a long day of bullshit, I want whoever I’m with to accept me for all my strengths and vulnerabilities.”
“You can be the little spoon once in a while.”
And the words slip from my lips. Punctuated by her name. Selina. The girl from nearby. Selina, the wife.
“What if I’m a bad kisser, Sam? Or that I’ve forgotten how to hold someone’s hand and mean it? What if something as simple as a date night becomes a complex labyrinth of small talks and questions about the weather? What happens then, Sam?”
Her breath is bitter in my mouth. She’s hungry. She needs the control and I give it up with ease. Isn’t that who I’ve always been? Exactly what other people needed. She holds me down. Ties me up. She takes mouthfuls of me.
“I want to taste you,” she whispers in my ear. “Let me taste you.”
Her. This woman. Someone else’s wife.
And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones.
‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.
Setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting names of the lovers that went wrong
The lovers that went wrong
I’m twentysomething, sitting in the waiting room at the university health service building. The weather outside is gloom and doom, creating the perfect atmosphere for the thoughts coursing through my head. In my hand is one of those waiting room pamphlets that decorate every clinic I’ve ever sat in.
“Do You Suffer From Depression?” it says on the top. Or some shit like that. I read through it. I tick off the boxes. I know there’s no use of lying. There’s a reason why this one called to me.
I don’t have suicidal thoughts, I think. Except when you do, the Voice says somewhere at the base of my skull.
Only four remain unticked. The suicidal is one of them. When the provider calls me in, she goes over all the tests. There’s nothing with me.
“I…uh…um…” I state meekly. “I saw this in the waiting room.” I hold up the pamphlet. “And I was thinking,” I began.
“I formally and happily resign from the person I was before. I formally and readily resign from depression. I’m ending the relationship I have with the Voice. I resign from the world of ugly that has polluted my thoughts, haunted my dreams. I vow to no longer hold onto the past. But acknowledge the demons that I must exorcise before I do so.”
“Shaun thinks she’s your girlfriend,” Jeanna tells me. We’re sitting in the waiting room while we await for our son to come out from the door. We’ve been talking about our lives and those who linger within them.
My silence speaks volumes.
“He was talking about the things you all did together or what she and he did together. And I asked him, ‘Shaun? Who’s Virginia?’ And he said, ‘Daddy’s girlfriend?’ but like he wasn’t too sure.”
“Oh,” I reply.
“Just something to think about.”
It’s Saturday night. Or maybe it’s Sunday morning. And I can’t remember what we were just talking about. But we’re both tired. She yawns and stretches and I can’t help but to smile. Admire her. And she blushes. Laughs. And the moment passes over us and evaporates with my inability to move. When she leaves, I hug her and have to force my arms to release her from my embrace.
Because if I don’t, I’m unsure if I’ll ever stop. Because I don’t fall in love; I plunge.
In the seventh grade, I fell in love with a cute blonde, nerdy girl. Can’t even remember her name; that’s just evidence of how fickle my heart was in adolescence. How fickle it remains today. Never spoke so much as a word to her during those days. Nothing that wasn’t classroom related. Science and English, if memory serves me. And it often doesn’t. Though, if I close my eyes I can picture her behind the lids. Plain, natural face. A gentle Jackson Pollock painting of freckles that starts at her nose and spreads out towards her cheeks. Her blonde hair, usually worn loose, falling just past her shoulders. A sense of style pulled out of a Pentecostal wardrobe, something akin to Mennonite-lite. Long, unflattering skirt of plain color. A shirt or blouse loose-fitting, also dull. Calf-high wool socks worn bunched at the ankles with worn-to-the-sole shoes that brought the outfit together.
This mental romance didn’t run deep in the cerebral cortex. Didn’t graze the forebrain. Doesn’t compare to the feeling pooling through me during sixth grade when I obsessed over the Little Redhead Girl. And looking back on my crush on her, she doesn’t fit the mold of girls I’ve fallen for since. It just existed in this lapse of space. Something for me to reminisce as an adult facing existential crises on the daily.
There were times, after seventh grade, I wondered what happened to the little blonde girl who smelled of essays and old books. It’s not as if she’s resigned to just memory. Her name available as I do own a middle school year book. Though, I wouldn’t want to learn how different our paths veered. Or worse: how similar they’d be.
There are reasons why she came to mind. Reasons I’m not going to divulge in at the moment. It’s just that on Saturday, I learn how two people who walked down different paths have managed to end up in the exact same place. How, despite our differences, we are near duplicates of each other. On this quest, I searched for someone—like Jeanna, like Jessica, like Mari, like Jenny, like Selina—who’s my equal but opposite, here I am spending my time texting and talking to a girl different yet exactly the same.
Go fucking figure.
or, I’m Over It & Done with Your Cowardice
Last time we spoke, we let the conversation stretch out that we found ourselves punctuating our sentences with the soft, shallow breaths of our sleep. I came to your image on the screen in which you slept & knew that I had offered up my vulnerability to you like a Christian prayer to a malevolent deity. Despite my best effort, I nursed on your sweet nothings, seeking nourishment in your venom. You pushed me off the road of self destruction into oncoming traffic, where you left me playing a one-man rendition of Frogger in which the motorist of each passing vehicle was you.
As a habit, I replay every single moment of our time together, dissecting them for some deeper meaning. Memories of you visiting me at work, where we sat on the floor between the shelves as you complained about your day while I pretended to work. Of the two us browsing through Walmart where you found a pair of sheep pajamas that you wanted, but didn’t buy—even though you went back to buy later in the night. Of our first kiss outside in a Dairy Queen parking lot, and just how quick I managed to steal your breath. How we chased a frog with your son in the park, the last night you were only a few streets away from me and not the thousand-mile divide you called home.
I searched for clues. Replayed the conversations that initially led to your nonexistent goodbye. Because like the cowardly bitch that you proved yourself to be, you’d rather vanish in thin air than face the confrontation of your casualties. Despite the miles you’ve dragged me through, I still don’t hate you. Nor can I pity you. You’ve given yourself the shovel and dug your own grave. Because I know people like you. Those who want love, but cannot give it. Those who live for the drama of their actions because it allows you to remain the victim of your circumstances without owning up to responsibility.
So here we are again. Estranged. And no matter how much I try to get through to you, no matter how much I demand some closure, the unhappily ever after ending to our story, you’ll never give it up. Because it gives you some false sense of having the upper hand over me. But this is my closure. This is how the story ends—me yelling at the top of my lungs to no one at all. But who the hell cares, right?
I can’t write. I don’t know understand the struggle. Yeah, there’s the whole not having written anything creative in ages, but it’s not like I haven’t been writing at all during this hiatus. There’s this blog. There’s work writing. There’s my journal. There’s writing my short intros during poetry readings at [redacted]. Yet, here I am tonight. Just rambling on this online journal after several failed attempts at something creative. Maybe it’s just the day? Maybe I can get something done tomorrow at work? Who knows. I doubt it, though. I have way too much on my plate this week, so there won’t be any me-time during my working hours. I’m just glad I finished my riddles Saturday.
I remember there was a time when writing came to me second nature. When I’d wake up in the middle of the night and rummage my nightstand for my notepad and just scribble thoughts down in the dark. That doesn’t happen anymore. I think the last thing I scrawled in my journal for creative purposes was a rough “sketch” of some dialogue shared with my boss. Well, she shared with me. (No, I’m not gonna indulge those details here. But if I should ever use it in a story, she’ll recognize it immediately.)
Even this post wasn’t meant for this subject. Originally, I was going to talk about Jenny, about the poetry reading, and my reading goals for the year (subject wise).
It’s strange. So much time has passed without so much as a thought of you. And yet, just a moment ago, I decided to Facebook search you. Why? What hold do you have on my conscience? Why must you continue to haunt my thoughts and memories? If there was a modicum of dignity left in me, I would have perished the thought of you.
I celebrated my thirty-second birthday today in a fit of memory. A dreading fear that I’ll die alone. I thought of all the relationships that crumbled. Crumbled either by my hand or my lack of trying. Jeanna pushes me to remain positive, but she’s on fool’s errand. Your presence stands in the darkest recesses of my mind. Your voice is my depression personified.
Every keystroke, I wonder if you will read these words. I wonder if you even care to. Do you still read my stories like you confess? Do you lurk the old tales?
Maybe it’s not you. Maybe you’re only a footnote in this issue. You weren’t my first thought of day. You’re just an epilogue to a bad day. The reason hang my head isn’t you. It isn’t Jeanna. Failure to understand that causes more misery. The fact that I may never seen Jenny again weighs so much on my shoulders. I do my best to accept the outcome. I made a similar mistake with you. Only difference is that you made the same mistake with others. I wasn’t the only person in your life. Not the only person you pulled along. Not by a string, no. Your cruelty required a noose. You dragged me through the muck and mire of your failure to remain faithful.
So who are you these days, Selina? What facade do you wear? Are you still in counseling? Do you continue to take part in an elaborate charade? Continuing to use the proverbial duct tape to mend a broken marriage? Are you still so much of a coward that you need to shatter the shattered?
I wonder what good is writing these letters to you. If you respond, you’ll just play the victim. If you don’t, then I’m an idiot still talking to walls.