Rewind

There are some things you just always know. For example, I knew the first time I got Slurpies at the local 711 with the girl down the street that I could do nothing with this person and never get bored. As middle school aged girls, I would walk the half mile to her house and we would go to the swing set at the local park just do daydream. Often times we wouldn’t say anything at all.

As we grew, we moved from swing sets to long car rides, getting coffee and driving for hours along the coastline. As the years passed, and time dragged us in seemingly different directions, the routes would change, and the song on the radio would change, but the feeling would stay the same. My best friend to me feels like the first sip of coffee in the morning. She’s rolling down the windows by the water even when it’s 20 degrees outside because I hadn’t seen the ocean in almost a year. My best friend is the inappropriate joke I keep to myself in most other companies, but not hers.

So when her correspondences started coming with more of an urgency, I knew there was something wrong. Historically, I’ve been the accident. I’ve been the mistake that keeps getting made over all. To people without knowledge of our history or character, one could easily see my rough edges as frays that interfere with her otherwise flawless seam. Little do they know that while she dresses for the dinner, and I for the party, we are both equally down for both. The beauty of our compliments to each other is that when things get a little messy on her end, she knows just who to go to.

It’s as simple as pressing “rewind” on a playlist of our favorite songs. It’s as natural as waking up an hour early accidentally only to have her call come through my phone seconds later. It’s the confidence in knowing that where I lack, she will be, and where she lacks, I will be.

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Ghost House

Sarah texted me, confessing that she was in her old town and drove by her ex’s house.

“Is that weird?” She asked me.

“Not even a little bit.” I replied.

 

After all, are we all at least a little obsessed with our own ghosts? They haunt us for a reason, and it’s not because we’re over them.

I sat there for a second thinking of a specific moment where I gave in to one such ghoul. It was late spring of 2013. I was preparing to move to Chicago. You were preparing to move back to New England from Asia. We were to overlap for a second, but I didn’t know that yet. I had found myself in your old neighborhood, and I thought very innocently, that it might be good for my closure if I walked by your house. So I did.

I walked the old bike path, enjoying the hot sun beating on the back of my dress. I moved slowly, as to not wake the dead or a sleeping baby. I treaded lightly as to not give up my cover.

When I arrived and stared into the old window that I used to crack open to get fresh air. It had been a year since you left, but when I looked in the window I tried to see you.

Instead I saw me, a lost little twenty something that either didn’t know the lines of affection or who was really good at lying to herself. Looking back, I think it was a profoundly toxic combination of both. While that wasn’t entirely your fault, you didn’t help it. That middle gray was a safe place for you, and for me, having not yet realized any alternative was better.

I walked away wanting more, but understanding that I needed it much less than I originally hand imagined. Abandoned places where other people now live are strange like that. They remind you that your friends, and your home, and your city do not stop once you leave it. It regenerates. Other people see a house where you see a skeleton. Other people see an adventure in the exact same location you feel restless.

On one hand, you want those places to always belong to you, but on the other hand, they should be allowed to find a way to be happy again. You should find away to be happy again, and if you try hard enough, you do.

You know, I try to go back there every now in then, at least in my head. I try to remember what it was like to wake up next to you and to drive you to work in the morning. I try to remember what that half feeling was like, the feeling of close but not quite. I cut to months later when I found that half might have been a quarter, with you giving yourself to someone else part of the time we were together. I cut to me finding out you actually had the capacity to love another, and you were, just not me.

And I wanted to be mad at you, but I was too greatful. Finally, the hallelujah. Finally, after thousands of miles, months of anxiety, and several suitors that tried getting close during that time, I was able to move on.

So I love you, in shared play lists and sent presents. I love you in who you are to me now, the once lover, turned heartache, turned brother-in-arms. I love knowing you as a confidant, and as a friend.

But I’m not in love with you anymore, and while I’m thankful for the girl that was, I love being the woman that could never be. So if you ever find yourself at your old place, you won’t see either of us there.

 

Public Crying and the Piccolo Girl

Sundays I like to spend most of my morning clicking around on Buzzfeed. It’s a solid way to start the day, especially if I’m procrastinating work related things like I am today.

In today’s aimless clicking, I stumbled across this article, (if that’s what you call this profound example of sports journalism) about a Villanova piccolo player who started crying, likely because her  team got kicked out of March Madness, and then was promptly turned into a meme.

This pisses me off for multiple reasons:

1. It’s hard enough being a female sports fan anyway.

I’ve written about this a couple of times, but mainly as a guest post on Day’s of Y’Orr. We as female sports fans have to constantly justify our knowledge around men, we are frequently accused of only being into a game because of a dude, and on top of that, we have to put in quite an effort to find team apparel that’s not pink and/or without glitter. I credit any person, never mind woman, that get’s so into their team, that they get emotional over a loss. That’s dedication. Seriously, go with your bad self, Piccolo Girl.

Also, I’m not even going to get into how I have to say “female sports fan,” as a distinction, like those two things are mutually exclusive.

2. They’re making fun of her crying.

So if I don’t express my feelings, I’m seen as cold. If I express anger, I am a bitch. If I express sadness publicly I am considered weak and am subject to ridicule. She could have been crying because overall she had a rough day. Maybe her cat died. Maybe her significant other was being a jerk, maybe she was just simply really bummed out about the loss. Bottom line, it is never okay to make fun of anyone for crying. Ever. Furthermore, making fun of her to the point where you feel the need to make a meme of it? Fuck you. I hope that level of empathy and understanding leads you to a really healthy relationship some day because clearly you would have the capability to have something like that.

3. She’s likely humiliated into not expressing her feelings openly.

Long term damage people. That kind of humiliation has the capacity to mess up someone’s psyche, especially someone that young. When you’re in college, you’re just starting to build the kind of confidence that will allow you to brush things off as you enter further into adulthood. The majority of college kids don’t possess those those skills yet. Being made as a joke online would embarrass even the toughest adult. Imagine what it does to a college age girl.

I think what’s more embarrassing though, is that people think that’s okay. It’s not. It’s really not.

4. She literally nothing wrong. 

Ok so she cried because her team lost. I cry over sad commercials and when my estrogen levels are off balance. Even if you think she cried over something you consider stupid, I’m sure you’ve cried over something she would consider stupid too.

Can you just let people live without sitting there waiting for the chance to be an asshole?

So Villanova Piccolo Girl, if you read this, and I hope you do, there are more people in this world who understand your feelings than people who are jerks. Do not see this stupid thing as an insult to you, or your character. I think it’s wonderful how passionate you are about your team. Any team should be lucky enough to have fans like that.

And if it counts for anything, I cry over my team’s losses too sometimes.

He grew up in the burbs and says that the only thing he doesn’t like about the city, is that you can’t see the stars. On the emerald plains where he was raised, he says at midnight you see galaxies. The air there smells like freshly cut grass year round. Plaid was not a fashion trend.

But my galaxies lately have been neon beer signs. My north star is atop the Handcock. In the thousand miles between where I grew up and where I live, there is no place I would miss if I never saw it again. I saw stars when I traveled those miles, but they were the stagnant kind you see on aging astrological maps and nothing close to aurora borealis. Those roads laid someone else’s prom king, and first kiss, but not mine.

Those country roads might feed your soul, but to me they’re rest stops on the highway.

My soul is satisfied by cities you call deserts. And I am well fed.

I grew up in a suburb of Boston, but I can still see the stars. I see them in the smudged black ink of the newspaper. I hear them in the crunch of gravel underneath bike tires.

I feel them in the laughter of new found friends that make the vast concrete landscape say, “Welcome home.”

Baselines

I can hear the soft click of my shoes against the cold concrete, walking away from Nina’s car. The air is crisp but calming. My breath hangs slightly in the sky above my head. Our friend Elise is in tow, cracking a joke as she walks just behind us.

We enter Schuba’s and are immediately greeted by people we all know, spending our first minutes at the bar giving hugs before ordering our drinks. Ian is on stage preparing for the show. He looks pensive, like he usually does before he begins a set. The night I met him, he looked just liked that.

***

Lex is dressed up like she’s ready for a wild night, but we’re just going to see her ex’s band. She wants to look hot to give him a taste of what he’s missing. I’m there for moral support but am not necessarily on board with the reason that we’re going. I like the point of past. I like having the capacity to leave things there if you want to. I like wanting to, but Lex doesn’t. She’s like a baby with feces or an ocean with with pollution. She wants to regurgitate her waste to make it useful but she doesn’t recognize that shit is toxic.

Even still, I watch her get dolled up, and give her pointers on her outfit. When we arrive at the venue, we scan the screen looking for potential paramours of his, sipping our PBRs, judging the scene much more harshly than we should. Out of the corner, a long figure in dark skinny jeans approaches us. He and Lex politely hug. He reaches his hand out to me and offers a firm shake.

“Hi, I’m Ian.”

***

We hug now. I can feel his jitters underneath his leather jacket. Being surrounded mostly by friends is making him more nervous I think.

“Thank you for coming out kid,” he says to me. He knows that with a 10PM start time, his show is will go past my bedtime on a work night. “Don’t rage too hard after okay?”

Behind us, the crowd gathers waiting for things to start. Once he’s back on stage, we all follow in. Elise, Nina, and myself gather at the front.  I turn around and look at all the people here to see Ian play- most of which I consider friends. People who I met through Ian-Ian who I met through Lex.

***

When I was looking for sublets after I arrived to Chicago in the summer of 2013, one of the ads I responded to was Lex. We hit it off instantly. She asked me to be her roommate while I was on my way back to the place I was staying. She helped me move in two weeks later. While I found her initially intimidating, I was almost entranced by the way her energy colored the room. She sparked like cubics zirconia. She loved the debonair. In many ways she was ahead of her time, but in many others she was behind.

That fall, she introduced me to Ian, and strictly for loyalty’s sake, I denied his innocent advances to develop a friendship. Gradually over the next few months, I learned the depths of her addictions. The month of her birthday the following spring, I realized that her kind of illness was a permanent guest I couldn’t live with. I moved out shortly after. Ian and I remained in touch, enough to consider each other teammates, but hardly enough to drop the gloves.

Almost a year after I met Ian, two days before his birthday, Lex died in her sleep of a rumored overdose. The next week we were hurricanes of booze and sleepless nights, spiraling soundlessly, low to the earth but just beneath the stars- the impending November biting our throats like we owed it something.

But it owed us something. Those days took one of our people away from us, and we lashed out accordingly. While we weren’t in close contact with her at the time of her death, she was still someone we cared deeply about. Because of her, we had someone to hold on to when she left.

****

Ian’s base is dark and raspy. His voice is cleanly honest. When I see him, I see our first day and all the days that followed. I see the long phone calls talking about our art. I see his trash bin filled with beer cans. I see a stranger who time made me a brother. I see all the people he introduced me to, people who I grew to love.

His music crashes over the crowd and I’m floating with the sound. Out of the corner of my eye, an empty space forms slowly behind me. I picture Lex pushing her way there, a vodka something in hand, making her entrance more noticeable than the act on stage. I picture her signature red lipstick blot on the rim of the glass, looking ultra violet from the spot light.

The past forms in my lower eyelids, and smudges my makeup. I wipe it with the sleeve of my leather jacket. The present sips from my can of beer. The future, like baselines, rumbles in my heart.