It is the same race everyday; to get it all as far away as possible. The itch to take off my day starts on the drive home. Keys. Door. Shoes. Stairs. Jeans. Shirt. Tank top. Hair up. It’s like I can feel the pieces of my day, my life, clinging to me as it goes on. Receipts and bouquet ribbon on my hands. The phone ringing in my hair. Traffic wrinkling my clothes. Customers under my fingernails. Construction wrapped around my rings, my belt. I come home and in 30 seconds flat my day is strewn across the upstairs hallway. Running down the drain as I wash my hands. Rake my hair out of my face. Finally, looking in the mirror it is nothing but bra straps, lace, and me. Just as I always have been.
Ryan once told me that he was infatuated with people’s dark sides; followed by numerous ideas of incest, death, regret and heartbreak. I can understand that. But it wasn’t until he put it that way that I could finally put into words what I’ve been intrigued by for so long: people’s light sides.
Not the sides that we put in the spotlight, but the genuine light. The sentiment that never seems to harden inside of us. Measured in goosebumps. Maybe that’s why I long to make movies. As unrealistic as it is to believe in meet cutes and magic, those plots keep getting written because we want them- we want to believe. We don’t watch them to see real people, we watch them to see, hear, and feel the things that we are hungry for. Maybe we love Superheroes because we like that they were created by a human heart who also wanted to see strength, honor, and loyalty. Romantic comedies by and for people who want to taste the extremes of love, infatuation, and vibrating heart strings. Dramas about justice, parents who do anything for their children, strangers who risk their everything for our something. Happy endings. People who wait for us. Who stand for something. It is the fact that these ideas, time after time, continue to be created. That theaters continue to fill with people who also pine for this ethereal and intangible intention.
And when it comes down to it, I think that that alone is the greatest expression of human light.
I don’t know about tomorrow, but today I love my body. And not just my body, but what I embody. I love my singing voice and I’m so grateful for my hair, and skin, and freckles. My eyelashes. How I’m symmetrical and soft. That I can walk, speak and am comfortable. If my mom could use a mirror like in “Beauty and the Beast” and see me in my life, how kindly I treat people, how I sing while walking around in my underwear, how I’m happiest on my warm drive home- I’d want her to know that I learned how to do all of that without her. That I have created myself, and that other people helped pick me up. And that I am braver than her. I am stronger than her.
And I am sympathetic towards her, because the only reason she isn’t great is because she decided not to be.
Thunder just rolled over the house, and I sang a beautiful melody, while writing about this place, and she is out there somewhere. I just called her- not sure if I did it as a test or out of desperation.
What if she dies? What if two guys who hate their jobs clean out her apartment and throw away her art? What if they get rid of the pieces of her life that she’s carried around tirelessly? I write about her as if she’s already gone; yet she is out there, Breathing somewhere. Exhaling as I write this. Mom, what do we do now? Just like my childhood, “cutting her off” was just words. But this is so real. She is blood, and heat, and pulse, and she fed me as a baby. Sang me to sleep. Smoothed my hair. I can see her packing lunches so clearly in my head. I can see her, weeks ago, painting until three a.m. Teasing her hair. Putting on her lipstick. Her Chanel no. 5 perfume. Mom, what happened?
"Your string of lights is still bright to me. Who you are is not where you’ve been. You’re still an innocent." And I just don’t know how anyone deals with this, and how they decide who to keep.
She didn’t answer when I called, and her voicemail has one of those automatic women who pauses long enough for my mom to say “Karen Jaseck” and I wonder if it’s the last time I’ll hear her voice; and how it’s funny that even now, the last words I heard her speak were about her. Like it always has been.
Over a month since I’ve written. I wish I could hold this up to my heart and have it speak for itself. Using my words to depict the intricate tangle of feelings and nuances makes it seem like something other than it is. Because it’s not like I’m sad. And Heartbroken. Optimistic. Ecstatic, or even mellow. The words stretch what is happening. But I am tired. I feel like that game “Break the Ice” where the plastic ice cubes are held up by each other. By tension. Everything inside me is shaking and holding something else up. The buddy system. The lackluster in my heart trying to meet the cracking voice in my head saying “let’s try for a little longer.” Because we have all grown tired; soul, conscience, pulse. We have scraped knees, messy hair, shallow breaths, and a strong silence. As if we don’t look at each other we can’t agree to quit. And that only sums up what’s been happening inside of me.
I drive with the air conditioning pointed at me, and when the drive is over, I put my hand on my chest. Warm pulse on chilled heartbeat. It dawns on me then that I cannot determine which sensation I like more. The soft hand warming the cold heart, or the cold chest cooling the tired palm.
Jets passed over the house and we saw them before hearing them and I’m reminded of how things don’t always line up. Even planes lose pieces of themselves, leaving their sound behind them.
I can feel it all coming down, now. I can feel it creeping back. It’s the way that getting hungry is terrifying. Because then I have to make a choice. I have to keep living. It brings me face to face with all the bad decisions my mind thinks I’ve already made. The way my old clothes don’t fit, and maybe I tried them on today because I knew they wouldn’t. Because today I’ve decided to cut ties with her. Because today I talked about how horrible it was to grow up with her.
I stood in front of the mirror for five minutes today. Pouring kind words out, staring into my eyes. Holding onto my stomach. Grabbing my arms.
There is so much flesh. More and more everyday, it seems. At least it is soft. At least I have eyelashes. At least my smile makes up for it. If I choose to.
The two still don’t seem completely synonymous to me. My birth mother and my compulsion seem like worlds apart. How many times will I leave a session thinking about her, only to find myself in the pantry. Saying “no, no, no” and saying “fuck it” and thinking “I want it” and wanting to be different. How long until I realize she has everything to do with how I crash down on myself?
And all at once it crashed. Fuck you for dragging me into this and spinning webs around me and making me smile. I didn’t want this. This mess. I told you from the beginning that I didn’t want to. That these things always end in pain. Especially when we can see the end of the tracks.
I just want to know how guys do it. How they dance and don’t get dizzy. How they move on without stumbling a little, the world still spinning.
All over again I can’t sleep. All I want is sleep. All I want is backing away and laying face down. Face down.
I guess I just have a hard time believing that someone can come into your life so swiftly, attach so effortlessly, then be gone for good. It just can’t happen that way. I won’t believe it.
I was so careful. Because I knew what would happen. I knew he was leaving in September.
I didn’t know shit.
Maybe the thing that I didn’t realize is that just because you aren’t saying it, and denying it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Just because I didn’t tell him I was thinking about him didn’t mean I wasn’t. And just because I kept my external cool didn’t mean that I wasn’t soapy bathwater inside.
We can be as careful as we want, as guarded as we want, but our hearts leak out. They don’t need our permission to hear and feel and attach.
Which is probably why the idea of locking Princesses in towers doesn’t happen.
Our electricity leaves our hearts and always finds a way. Like the sky attaching to the ground by lightening.
I just want you to know that I’ve always wanted someone like you. I didn’t want you so soon, though. So really, I’m a little relieved that you’re leaving. I got my out. I’m always looking for an out. If I were to be honest with you then I would tell you that yes, I’m confident in who I am, just like I told you, but that doesn’t mean I always know what to do with my hands. I still get nervous and my stomach unravels around new people. I would tell you that I was scared to move forward with you because I’ve only had sex with one person, and I cried. And I tried so hard not to but I couldn’t help it. I don’t know how to have rough sex, or walk fearlessly in my underwear. I’m confident but I don’t know how to be fearless. I cannot plunge like you want me to. I say a lot of strong things and stand, unwavering, in my shoes. I act naturally and to most people they see the strong thick skin, the charm and the sarcasm.
That’s not who I am when I’m naked.
When I take off my sense of humor, spanx, and manners I become a puddle; delicate and sensitive. When I speak while fully dressed in banter I use gestures and rich words. I can be pleasantly abrasive and surprisingly memorable. But without my barriers and defense mechanisms I am gentle and make small movements. I am unsure of how to move and how open my mouth should be.
That’s the thing about you. You undress me the second you’re around. While my clothes stay on you slowly take down my distance. You take off my cool. Strip my comfort zone. And I’m left standing there, like brand new.
And just like any other time, waking up is the worst. I dreamed about him and all over again I don’t know how to get dressed. I don’t know how other mornings happened. Thank god we didn’t go for the full summer. Thank god I didn’t get to hear him say one more nerve tickling thing, because every second of his wrapping around me would be another sting. Another “try and forget.”
I can’t help but think about the list that I made and buried. The list of my what I want in another person. And how he matched all of it except the “we will meet at the right time.” Maybe we did, though. Maybe we were supposed to meet so that we knew the other one was out there. So that I can go on with school and making life happen, he can follow his path and not worry if someone is out there for him. We got sneak previews. Maybe he’ll come back for me. Maybe Gabe got exactly what we wanted all along, the ultimate tension builder.
It will be years before I know for sure either way. But in those years I can focus, I can continue to build myself.
And maybe, as he braves the front lines of the war, I will have given him something to live for.
I turned Gabe down. We made dinner. We kissed. We ate dinner. We kissed a little more. I stopped him. I told him from the beginning that I wasn’t that girl. I didn’t tease. He didn’t push. I knew that I wasn’t that girl in his eyes, either. He leaves for basic training in two months and I can’t help but wonder, all over again, why this shit happens. Why the timing is so wrong. I knew I was in trouble from the first time he talked to me. I knew it would happen. And when he told me about the Army, I knew it would end. I am split. I’ve been split. Part of me stayed distant, something that stepped away from him while physical me was kissing him. Something that didn’t let me let go of my gut, completely. Then there is the part of me that is so human. Because as humans we walk towards flames. And why wouldn’t we? It is beautiful ,and intense, and so, so warm. But both of me hurts when it stops. Even the part of me that stepped away and was tapping their foot, staring at the clock yelling “stop!” is sad, too. Michele says every single relationship we have hurts at some point- and yet I’m still shocked when it does.
I like the middle part. The part where you tell other people about them and tell each other how much you think about them. How much you like their laugh. Then it changes, and I don’t want to. It intensifies. Becomes real. I like him in my head. I like thinking about laying next to him because I control him there. Because in my head, laying there is enough for him, too. I run from the in-betweens. The moment of getting from the kitchen to the couch. The kissing to the groping. The “I’m fine without you” to the “I miss you when you’re not around.” Because I don’t know how to do those transitions. I don’t know when they happen and what I’m supposed to do with my hands.
I wanted to turn him down, but I didn’t want to let him go. Because I never want to let go. I just want to stand still. However, I am not left with nothing. I still have my dreams- and not the dreams that stay translucent and distant. The dreams that are actually just your future coming towards you. I still have myself. And actually, that is very exciting. Gabe is wonderful, truly, captivating and considerate; kind hearted, but I am, too. And I will keep sky rocketing forward.
Because I can feel it. I can feel that it is only time before I explode into this world. It is happening now.
A year ago today I quit dieting. The compulsion. Putting myself on hold. Content at my 172 lbs (but still secretly hating myself and wishing to lose more) I let go of all of it. Armed with my Geneen Roth books, I let go of calories. Scarfing bowls of cereal while standing in the kitchen, hiding. I remember the feeling of that day, feeling like everything in the world was good. Like the two year old no longer confined to the play pen. Today I don’t even know what I weigh, and I’m closer to myself than I’ve ever been. My hands run over the curves of my body, the warmth of my skin and I am at peace. Food no longer beckoning me away from pain, from bad memories, from risky situations.
It wasn’t until tonight, staring at sparking gunpowder streaming over my head that I even realized it’s been a year. A year seems much too small to hold all of the knowledge I’ve gathered and much too dauntingly long; simultaneously. I am so proud, and so alive. There is a strength in me, in my character that I was unaware could exist. A self respect that I’ve only envied while watching beautiful thin movie stars shine on the big screen. I sit now, in my neatly made bed, in my neatly kept room, with clean teeth and smooth skin, semi-organized schedule, and a willing and aware mindset. I know now, in this moment, that every second of the last year, even the moments of insanity, the moments of pure bitter confusion, the moments of triumph, have led to this. Just this. Me sitting in my room, proud. I change my world a little everyday. I create and share and shine.
I sat down to write about Gabe. To mention him for future’s sake- But it is the third, My July third, and so he will have to wait. Because I am first.
I stood directly under a firework tonight, and I knew it was significant- me standing so close to beautiful sparks, loud exploding shards of light; closer than ever before. And I just knew that that was the point; I am closer than ever.