Monthly Archives: September 2009

Goodbye, Old Friend

It seems hard to believe that we’ve been together over twenty years now. It seems like only yesterday that we were introduced. I knew my friends liked you, but I had no idea how quickly you and I would hit it off. I feel like our bond was almost immediate. You were there for me so many times. You calmed me down when I was stressed. You settled me when I was angry. You were there for me when I was simply bored. Hell, you even helped me lose weight! And then I think about all those times that life just seemed to get in the way, when things got complicated and I pushed you away. Like when I was pregnant and there just didn’t seem to be room for you in my life. I just tossed you aside without a second thought. But you were still there waiting for me when I was ready to come back to you. It was as if no time had passed at all and we just picked up right where we had left off. It’s been a long time. Our relationship has lasted longer than many of my others. You’ve been there for me on all those lonely nights when I couldn’t sleep. When my marriage was falling apart, when my grandfather was dying, when I, myself, was sick – you where available any time for me; day or night. You were there. But now I find myself looking ahead to my future. I think of my children. They are of the age that the relationships I have are a part of their lives. They know the company I keep. They watch and learn and base their decisions on my example. As much as it pains me to admit it, our relationship simply isn’t a healthy one. I’ve been using you as a crutch. I’ve pretended that you mean more to me that you really do. I’ve been with you because it was easy. But the easy way and the right way are often not one and the same. It’s time for me to start living on my own. I have to tell you good bye. And this time, I’m afraid it needs to be forever. I can’t keep running back to you when I feel scared or stressed or alone. I have to make it on my own now. I wish there was another way, but there isn’t. I’m sure you’ll find another. It will probably even be someone I know. I’m sure I’ll see you with them and want to let you back in to my life, but as hard as it will be, I just can’t. I’m sorry. I’m going to miss you, Cigarettes, but it’s over. Good bye, old friend. I’ll miss you.

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The First Chapter in Another Book I’ll Never Write

She lifted the lid from the small box and carelessly tossed it on the unmade bed beside her. As she unwrapped the candle the scent of pomegranate citrus filled her nostrils. She had been saving this candle for something special, although exactly what she was not sure. Tonight perhaps she thought the combination of pomegranate citrus and Riesling would inspire her to begin her daunting task.

She noticed that the wick was unusually short and somewhat buried beneath the fresh wax. She held the flame from the lighter to the wick allowing some of the wax to melt around it, hoping it would ignite. It caught fire briefly and snuffed itself out. She tried again to light it, but to no avail. The third time she held the flame steady until the metal of the lighter began to get hot and became uncomfortable beneath her fingers. Using the other end of the plastic lighter, she began to dig a little moat around the wick. The fourth try resulted in success and she took a sip of wine to celebrate, holding it in her mouth an extra moment to experience the first taste.

She had opened the bottle a few days ago and the liquid’s life was almost gone. It was a sweet drink still, but it had begun to lack the kick that the first sip usually provided. She glanced at the candle. The damn wick was about to go out again. She stared at the flame, mentally willing it to burn. Her chair creaked beneath her. It was quite possibly the world’s most uncomfortable chair. Her grandmother had caned the chair and given it to her as a gift. It wasn’t so much sentimental, as nothing really seemed to provide her with sentiment, but she had placed the chair in front of the small desk next to her bed because it was little and didn’t take up much space.

She had sat in that chair, squirming to get comfortable for hours on end over the previous months; downloading music, e-mailing friends, aimlessly browsing the internet. With the smallest of crackles, the wick finally took off; a full size flame now dancing above the yellowish wax. She took another sip of wine; more like a gulp. It was time to get to the matter at hand: a book.

For years people had told her she should be a writer. It always pissed her off when these statements were made. She already considered herself a writer. She had published poems and written articles for magazines, but it appeared that she would never really be considered a real writer until she wrote a book. She wasn’t opposed to the idea. In fact, it was one she had toyed with on numerous occasions. But she had always decided against it because she didn’t know what to write about.

She had heard it said that one should write about what they know. She wasn’t sure, however what she actually knew anything about. She sure as hell wasn’t going to write a self help book, or a cook book. She damn sure wasn’t going to write a childrens book; which was what her mother always told her she should write. She honestly found it hard to believe that anyone would find what she had to say interesting enough to read. And after all, isn’t that why people write books? So that other people will read them? Perhaps they write them to be cathartic. Now there was a novel idea – self appreciation and relief through spilling your guts on paper.

The one thing she knew most about was loneliness, and she doubted that anyone would want to read about that. She was a classic example of a dumbass. She was a woman who had spent decades trying to fill a void within her by making poor choices. The candle had gone out. Perhaps it was an omen.

She lit it again and continued typing. She was just over a page into her first rough draft. Her whole life seemed like a rough draft. She had just thrown things out there and amended them as needed to fit the scope of whatever her goals were at the time. Hell, the goal was really always the same. To find someone who would love her. To find someone who would even like her. She longed for someone who would accept all of her flaws and insecurities and would want to be with her in spite of all her shortcomings. She had found several candidates, but no one had ever stuck.

She leaned back in the chair and stretched her back a bit. She reached down and gave the roll of fat just above her waistband a little squeeze. After thirty-seven years, two kids and countless chicken fingers, her stomach area was a little bit out of control. Fine, it was a lot out of control. She smirked as she thought about how many times she had made herself throw up, or taken diet pills so that she could go days without eating. All the pounds she had lost and gained and lost again were too many to keep track of.

The tower of her computer was making its usual annoying humming sound so she gave it a little kick. Kicking a computer is probably not what the manufacturer would recommend, but that is what typically made it stop making the terrible noise. Also, she had never really been much for doing what was recommended. In fact, as a rule she did quite the opposite. It almost surprised her that she hadn’t screwed her life up more that she had. The candle was out again. This time she decided to pour the hot wax out of the glass container and into the now empty box.

She picked up the box from the bed and gave the candle a quick tilt, dumping the wax into the bottom of the box. It started to harden immediately upon contact with the cold cardboard. She lit the candle again and then stared at the wax that was coagulating in the bottom of the box. It reminded her of her last relationship. It had taken a similar course. Everything seemed to be in order for them to have a good run, but like the candle, it just didn’t work out.

They had been friends as children. She had kept up with him through the years through his mother, who was good friends with her “second parents.” He had contacted her via Facebook after years apart and one thing led to another. Before she knew it, they had decided to see each other in person. Being with him again was comforting. There was a familiarity to their relationship that was immediate. Perhaps it was because they had been friends once before, so many years ago, or maybe it was because they were both lonely and desperate and in no real position to truly give or receive love.

This wound was still fresh. She had poured her heart out to him earlier that evening, and much like the hot wax, things began to harden as soon as she had spilled it all. She interpreted his inability to nurture their relationship as failure on her part. Certainly it was because there was something wrong with her. After all, history was repeating itself and it wouldn’t be statistically feasible for every man who had ever left her to be the one that had the problem. It must be her. Logic would dictate that to be the case. Or maybe the only part that was her fault was the fact that she seemed to choose emotionally unavailable men.

She stood up and walked to the front door, grabbing her cigarettes off the small antique table on the way out. She gave her folding chair a kick to make sure no roaches were on it and plopped down. Between long drags and yawns she listened to the crickets and realized how tired she was. The three hour drive from his house to hers had been unusually long tonight. Every song on her iPod had seemed sad. Every text she had gotten from friends as she drove seemed hollow. Except for the joke she had gotten from her friend from back home. That one had actually made her smile. But that bright moment was gone now.

She put out the cigarette and let herself back in the house. She locked the bolt and began turning out lights as she went through the quiet house. She grabbed the half eaten bag of popcorn from the kitchen table. Maybe she would eat a handful or two before bed. She opened the refrigerator and took out the second to the last Fresca. It was unfortunate that there was only one glass of wine left in the bottle.

She returned to her room and squeezed the can of soda into a koozie. She took the last gulp of wine then blew out the candle. She watched as the skinny stream of smoke drifted up and into the air. She knew she would eat the whole bag of popcorn. It was time for bed. The book would have to wait until tomorrow. She wondered if she would actually continue it, or if it would be one more unfinished project on a long list.

And So I Cried

And so the years slip away into a blur of memories. Laughter long forgotten; tears evaporated into time. I sit six feet above my best friend and listen to the Glenn Miller Orchestra as we did so many times before. There is no need for words. We share our silent understanding as only we can. The horns blend the melody of In the Mood. Almost five years now have passed since our fingers have been laced together. As I remain with a content heart, I am surprised as the first tears for him finally flow. I’ve come to him so many times since the morning he lost his voice, each time quietly hoping that I would be able to weep for my loss and feel the peace that sometimes only tears can bring. Today, I come to tell him that my stage of repair is a good one. Suddenly from nowhere, tears finally come. They are subtle in size but tremendous in significance. Each salty drop that rolls down my face and lands on my paper with a thump refreshes me. I dare not wipe them away, but allow them to take their own course and travel from my soul, across my cheeks, onto my words and slowly disappear with each passing thought. So I smile at the thought of him, the one who knew me so well and chose to love me anyway. I’ve often wondered what he would think of the woman I have become. I know in this very moment that he would love me and accept me now just as he ever did. A breeze blows the pages of my journal. A second gust blows a wisp of hair across my face and the final tear falls from my skin. The past remains precious to me. I cradle our memories in my heart. We’ve come so far; adjusting and changing and adapting with each new bend in the road. He was always one to keep up with the times. It’s time to shift from the melody of reminiscing. I want to play him a current song that makes my soul sing now. It’s time to tell him about the terrain of the road I’m traveling. My voice finally breaks the silence, “Allow me to re-introduce you to your granddaughter, she’s been far since you saw her last. I think the tales of her latest journeys will make you smile.” So I lit a cigarette, turned up my iPod and began to cry with a freedom like I haven’t been able to in the longest time, and I thought all the words I wanted to say that wouldn’t be able to be heard by him even if I yelled them.

Opposable Thumbs

Me: “Dozier, please pick that up. Not with your foot, with your hands. That’s why God gave you hands, son.”

Dozier: “Actually, that’s why He gave me opposable thumbs.”

Corey (really big sigh): “Just pick it up.”

You Are Here

You give your life, your love, your all to someone; a union of your hopes and dreams; expecting the person to whom you have devoted yourself, to cradle your heart in their hands and they simply place it to the side, almost forgetting it is there yet expecting it to remain where they left it when they decide it is needed. You find yourself cast aside for other priorities, waking to find the course you have taken one filled with emptiness. At the moment you realize that your world is not as you had built, you also find the necessity to continue as if it were for the sake of your legacy, the tiny souls that are looking to you to show them the way. Minds that view you as the answer, watch your every move; mimicking your acts and thoughts and deeds. There is not time for grief or understanding, only a need to continue, to cope to deal. And you maintain as if all things are normal for the sake of others. Your peers relish in your strength, never understanding the weakness that lies beneath. There is no time for tears or longing, only the need to persist. When you speak humbly and honestly, the players smile and make nice, they congratulate you on your vulnerability and move on as if you are indeed fine. You point out that they are not hearing the words that you are blatantly screaming and in return they nod and give you the answers; answers that are not your own, solutions that will never work, phrases of false encouragement. You are strong for the sake of your future. Little eyes are always upon you; learning the ways of life. And in stolen moments of solitude you slowly heal yourself; finding the person you really are is not exactly as you thought yourself to be, nor the image you portray. But in the stillness of the night, in those brief moments of clarity, you understand that you are in repair. It is slow progress, but progress nonetheless. To be dissatisfied with the present is not cause for despair, merely a sign that you have not yet been mended. You are a progression of learning. You are a collaboration of your experience and desire. You are smarter and more determined, yet guarded. The happy medium is not the goal; it is but where you currently reside. Those that envelope you as true companions may cushion the blows, but only you can absorb the brunt of the force of life. The hardest part isn’t moving forward or beyond, it is accepting where you are, and more than sheer acceptance, being content with your place; knowing that the road ahead is long, but the end is obtainable.