Monday, July 20, 2009

It wasn't a whiteboard

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.

I waited.


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