2009 seems to be the year I write about the past. Perhaps my future is more cloudy than it has ever been, maybe the past is just clearer. As for fiction, it comes and goes and it feels stopped up behind a bottleneck of memories. Best to just let them out I suppose. I wasn't going to go here today even though it was a Strong thought in my head all weekend, but then I read a quote from Frank McCourt who passed yesterday:
"I dealt with my past, and my future and my present by writing about it. And it's really, it's a gift. I wish everybody had it, because it eases all kinds of distress,"
On Sunday I saw a play, it was a one woman show, she talked about her failures in love. She tended to be the other woman. She described in great detail her anxiety when waiting for her lover to walk through the door next. In that instant a memory came to mind. That is sincerely my only reason for wanting to write it, it just appeared out of nowhere. It involved one lousy night, and graffiti.
We were living in a tiny one bedroom apartment on the fifth floor of an inconvenient and forgettable building. It was one of many buildings that made up an area we referred to as "Legos." A stack of bricks that no one could call interesting.
The kitchen was an eight foot enamel built-in on one wall. It had a small fridge, little stove and sink all encompassed in a 1950s era picture. I would have kept it. I really loved it, I scrubbed out all of the cabinets and had it always shining. I doubted before us it had been used much at all. But, with me there, it was used daily and even beyond its limits. The cabinets were white enamel with black trim. The floor was black and white check.
It was after I found out about her. In a slew of emotion I was trying to make it work. I even, at times, was sure I could live with it. I didn't think there was any other way but to keep yelling "fire" in front of the line-up of sights pointed at my heart. You don't think clearly in shock.
One night dinner was cold and I was alone in a huge abandoned building staring at his phone, wallet, watch, and keys.
He left quick, hours and hours ago, before I came home and cooked his dinner. I ran to my car and drove around empty parking lots, I drove in circles. I ran back to the apartment in case he came in as I was gone. Nothing. I had nothing else. I left a message for my shrink. While waiting for her to call me back I stared at our little kitchen from the couch. I stood, took a black whiteboard marker from the desk and started on the far top cabinet of the kitchen.
From left to right I wrote and wrote and wrote. Paragraphs in black and white, at every level, going on and on. Inside of twenty-minutes the cabinets were full from the ceiling to the floor. No enamel was spared my scrawl.
The top set read what I used to worry about when he never showed, the car accidents, the emergencies, the heart wrenching worry I had grown numb from over the years. He never called to say he was late, never in years. Some of it was comical, it was how I truly felt before.
The bottom cabinets I wrote what I worried about now. I worried about this woman taking revenge, I worried about him hurting himself, I worried about him still with absolute loss. After seven years he couldn't call to ease anything, he could walk away and let me suffer. Not even a rushed note.
I could be mad with a note, I could pack, I could go home, I could disconnect.
Without anything I was incapacitated, forced to wait to make sure he was fine.
A couple days ago, as I wrote, I was not feeling super. There was no reason for that. I just received a few bits of information from my father that put my selfish little life in perspective. There simply isn't anytime for ridiculous self pity when people I care about with every bit of my heart are in pain. There isn't anything I can do. I just love them, even from a distance.
My cousin and his beautiful wife are trying to have a baby. For the last nineteen glorious weeks they were on their way. She miscarried, still birth, a beautiful inanimate child. She held it, she saw it, my Aunt and Uncle sat with the baby in their arms. The child will rest at St. Mary's with our family. The world is not fair. I love my family, I want nothing but happiness and love for every single part of it. I know what kind of parents they would have been. The world just lost something truly beautiful. All I have is tears.
My Father sounded the same on the phone. His voice just cracking as it does now with emotion. He was on his way up to the hospital to see his best friend. Mr. Bernie Kraft has always been a character in my life like a bionic man. The man who had heart surgery before my father and put his arm around me while Dad had his quintuple bypass. Bernie and my father would play poker with pennies under a cloud of smoke at Cherry Rd. They spent hours and hours together on the golf course and I spent hours in Bernie's pool. My Dad is saying good-bye to Bernie. He just told me he is loosing his closest friend. All I want to do right now is hug my Dad, he may not need it but I really do.
There are days. Like today. When I feel, and can't help it Like my used, old, and worn handbag. Like I'll make it through the day. Like I'll serve my purpose. But, I'm falling apart, I'm tattered, I'm not put together well, I'm not pretty, I could be replaced. I could be forgotten. I'm hanging in a thrift store and I'm gonna be there a while. I'm not in style and I'm being used.
Beau was a mutt. A wonderfully dear and old mutt. He was the black Lassie. A mix of collie and black lab. His was coverred in soft black fur with a patch of white on his chest and a long fluffy tail.
As a baby they would lean me up against him and he didn't mind. Beau was easily my best friend. I used to climb the fence to the park just to see him do the same. He would chase me everywhere for little more than my interest in playing.
He was proud and never wanted me to know he had arthritis. He would act like a puppy when I had him outside, I think he was embarassed by his greying chin. He could catch any fly and was an expert at burying treasure. Mom always said he was a perfect gentleman. He wouldn't eat if he was being watched.
Everyday at hearing my bus from down the street he'd wait for me at the top of the stairs with his fluffy tail hitting the cupboard as it wagged. He never let me down. I knew he was ancient, but I knew him my whole life. I knew what pissed him off and what gave him absolute joy. Loyalty is your dog painfully walking over to you when all you did was look at him, love is when you hate yourself for putting him through the agony.
His last day Mom had to tell me and it hurt her, distraught I told her I hated her. She expected that, didn't even flinch. Looking back I can think of instances she could have lied to spare my feelings but told me the truth anyway. The day she had to put Beau down was one of them. She knew it would kill me, knew I would blame her, knew I would be inconsolable. She looked at me as I got to the top of the stairs where Beau should have been and with red eyes and a trembling voice she told me she had to. I never imagined I would ever forgive her even though I knew it wasn't her fault.
I still cry when I think of that dog but I sob when I think of how awful that day was for her. These are just shadows of my best friends when I was twelve.
Nothing is more of a comfort to me than Twizzlers, at least foodwise. The smell alone relaxes me. I am a simple human. A bag of Twizzlers and a huge fountain Diet Pepsi, I can endure anything with those drugs.
Anything, and have.
From May to September 2008 the only thing I could stomach was Twizzlers and Diet Pepsi. I never got sick of them and it was all I could eat regularly. I once created a camp on my bed with a 3600 page epic fantasy novel series, Twizzlers and a fridge full of cans of DP. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you survive depression.
The soda, pop, whatever has to be diet... preferably fountain. I can handle brands other than DP as long as its fountain. However a can of diet coke is not going to cut it. If its not fountain it needs to be Pepsico.
The licorice needs to be red... I tend to prefer Twizzlers, but I have a love for the shoestring stuff too.
If I have a long car trip, I need fountain diet soda and licorice more than the car needs gas. Last summer my DP dependency was so bad the following situations happened:
1. Without asking Jason would get me a new can of DP every time he went into the kitchen.
2. My nephew and his friend were playing in the garage by the "beverage" fridge. His friend goes for one of the DP cans and my four year old nephew says "You can't have that my Aunt Mary needs it to live."
3. I was home alone and half alive. I went to go get a soda from the fridge. It was the last DP. So I opened it, grabbed a suitcase, packed ten t-shirts and moved out. By the time the can was gone I was on the highway from Rochester to Washington DC, cause Jason and LeAnn told me they had a fridge full of DP in Alexandria, VA. I wish this wasn't as true as it is.
Maybe the Twizzlers form a compound in my blood that stitches my heart back together. Maybe the acid in DP is enough to kill the pain and calm my fiercest anxiety. Whatever, its my brand of heroine. Not that I haven't had to cut this dynamic duo with more powerfully prescribed chemistry, I have.
You do what you have to in order to survive even when you aren't sure you want to.