Remnants

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A cereal bowl, drying coffee inside a french press, a blackberry on the floor, a discarded melon colored shirt on the couch.  A lucid image of changing attitudes.

A reflection in the window told me, ‘staying awake for the dream never works out the way you hope it will, you’ll eventually need to sleep’.

Bruises on my skin, left from miscalculations, misinterpretations.  Boarding passes from trips taken, memories fading.  Receipts from a life being purchased, a life being lived.  Chipped wine colored nail polish – once shiny, new, perfect, it only deteriorates.

A Kelly green suitcase left open, shirts, socks, pieces of a trip ready to be washed and worn once more.  A pile of mail left unopened; why bother when everything is electronic anyway?

I sat cross-legged on the couch, sideways and typed typed typed on my laptop. The time on the clock click click clicked forward without telling me. Before I knew it, another four hour conversation had floated my evening. I hit enter and watched the cursor blink.  The time popped up,  1:49 a.m. Another night, fading away.  I yawned, I closed my eyes.  Go to sleep…..go to sleep.

Familiar Poses, Familiar Voices

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I walked through the front door with purpose: I wanted to be home.  I made a beeline to my bedroom, removing my scarf and coat as I walked.  Light on, ipod into stereo, clothes off, and soon I was half-dressed and crawling onto my bed.

I laid there on my right side and my body fell into a position it knows so well. The song Jailer by Asa came on and her raspy voice sang, “I’m in chains, you’re in chains too, I wear uniforms, you wear uniforms too.  I’m a prisoner, you’re a prisoner too, Mr. Jailer….”

Knees up, and my left foot fell into the familiar hollow of the arch on my right.

I have fears, you have fears too.  Life is beautiful, don’t you think so too, Mr. Jailer?  I’m talking to you, Jailer! Stop callin’ me a prisoner….”

Right arm wrapped around my ribcage, my left arm straight out.  My head turned to the left, shoulder dropped, chin on shoulder.  This is my comfort, this is my place, and I’m sure it’s second only to the comfort felt from months zero to nine.  Eyes closed.

The bass kept beat, percussion punctuating the air, a jazzy, syncopated beat.

I’m talking to you Jailer, stop calling me a prisoner. Let he who is without sin be the first to cast the stone, Mr. Jailer….”

My mind’s eye saw the six-year-old me run through that door, excited to play with her friends.  My mind’s eye saw my mother walk through that door with a load of laundry in her hands.  It was a bright sunny Buffalo day.  My mind’s eye saw You walk through that door; a You I’ve never met, but You nonetheless.  You were walking through, tip of the tongue ready to tell me something.  It was a bright sunny Queens day.

Jailer, Jailer oh, be good oh be good oh be good o…..”

These visions came and went like hospital visitors when you’re asleep.  You can’t seem them, but they’re felt, they’re imprinted, you feel their love.

I faded, faded, faded into sleep.  Wrapped legs, wrapped arms, cradled head, a sweet, sweet space.  Visited by ghosts, visited by promises.

Muted

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I could feel myself slipping.   A white picket fence, fenced around my moat, fenced around my wall.   I thought I was safe, I thought I was secure.  Each room, each compartment, defined – specific.

Here in this room is my sanity.

Here is in this room is my logic.

Here in this room is my fear.

Here in this room is my desire.

I keep them separate like the nuns kept the boys and girls apart.  It’s black and white, white and black.  I must not introduce gray.

I wish I could photograph with my eyes so you can see what I see, feel what I feel.  My arm is outstretched, its sinews and bones, its skin and bleu, blue, bleu bleeding veins.

My white picket house, in the eye of the storm.  It’s seemingly silent, seemingly calm.  The storm is circling, the floods are coming.  My moat may not be deep enough for what’s to come.  My wall not high enough to withstand this wind.

You’re a storm, you’re a force and I’m not sure I’ll still be standing when you blow on past.

2009

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January: a moving day.  Father. Brother. Boxes.  46th to 48th.  New beginnings.  Fourth roommate, fourth year.

A cold walk on a sunny Boston day.  Jealousy in a hotel hallway.  I walked to the end, called a familiar voice and cried.  A train to Connecticut; a casino and an inappropriate comment. Cigarette ash on his trouser pants, a Buffalo connection, his hand around my ribcage and a kiss good-night in that casino elevator.

It was my birthday in a bar named for a familiar hometown location.  I saw him walk through the door; I was surprised to see him.  Mood changed from happy surprise to a confusing letdown in an instant.  My determination and patience is tested and proved. Friends that disappointed, friends that came through.  A photo booth picture.  French martini’s.  Pink and delicious; dangerous and indulgent – they appropriately taste like birthday cake.

Trips. Travel. Miles. Mileage. New Orleans.  The tan lines the sun and the Mississippi River gave me.  Chicory coffee and the sweet, sticky mess that is Cafe du Monde.  Dinner with newly discovered family and wine to go.  We drank until the wee hours, I put in my time flirting.  Back to the hotel I bid him good night at the door.  Time stood still for a moment, for the teeniest, tiniest moment while I looked into his blue eyes.  Good night…

Another business trip; trips down, more to go.  “Why are you always leaving me?”, he said.  He meant it.  He didn’t.  I don’t know.  I can’t be sure.

The trolley cars in San Fransisco. Up and down, up and down those hills. Those hills.   New friends, old friends.  Sea lions and bad juju.  “So much bad juju”, I kept saying.  A chill that crept my arms.  I cannot believe they raised children here.  A Ghirardelli chocolate ice cream cone relished with a favorite friend in the California sun, in the Californian warmth, in Californian freedom.

San Diego. The water. The hotel. Just the hotel.  I approached the group of men and they fell silent.  “Were your ears ringing”, he asked.

“No?”, I answered.

“We were just talking about you”.

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah.  Are you part First American?”

I replied with a blank look until I realized what he was asking.

“It’s just that…..your eyes….they’re amazing”.

The blonde one looked on in silence.  Tall, fair of skin, a surprise.

“How soon do you think you might move to LA?” he asked.  Sooner than I was originally thinking, I mused.

Los Angeles.  It’s concrete, its cars, it’s sunshine, it’s warmth.  So much sunshine, I almost don’t know what to do with myself.  Turn my face to the sun and drink it in. Drink, drink, drink it in to my Buffalo skin.  I put on that red swim suit and I wore it.  It did not wear me.

New Orleans a visite deux.  Kisses, vows, white, an outdoor love affair.  We stood on that New Orleans balcony with its wrought iron banister and talked.  I saw her walking down the street before he did.  I kept that moment close, until it slipped from my fingers, slowly, slowly.  A fragrant flower that dips and sways as the inevitable pulls it down; he gravitated towards her.

“TNS, this is Emily”.  I was going to be an aunt, said the voice on the other end of the line. Salty, sweet tears found their way down my cheeks.  A joy unchecked, a moment to be reveled in.  Love for a being I had yet to meet.

I turned on my computer and google alerted me of my new emails.  His name flashed in my inbox.  I sat. I stared. I was seeing things.  It couldn’t be, this ghost from the past.  He told me of how good things were.  With his fiance.  I told him we had nothing in common any more.  He disagreed.  I wanted to tell him to spend his time with his future wife instead of telling me he wanted to visit me on his honeymoon.  I didn’t.  I responded with silence until he friend requested me on facebook.  Some stories never die, they only fade.

A kiss in Grand Central.  I was that girl.  Holy crap, I was THAT girl. I had to get out of there. Out of that.  But not before I let it continue for nearly two months.  Sometimes, chemistry just isn’t what you want it to be.  No matter how much you want to want what you should want.  I looked longingly to my right instead and felt my phone vibrate.

Chicago.  It wasn’t windy. It made me dream of an escape from this big apple city of mine.  My adventures with my friend were coming to a close….he was soon to leave me.

I was tired of pretending it wasn’t what I wanted.  I was not as drunk as it may have seemed.  I was sober enough to be bluntly honest.   I was told it’d be a conversation for another day.  Another day, another week, another month, another life.

I saw Oprah Live! In Central Park!  To her appearance, I reacted like a five year old girl that was just gifted a pony for her birthday.  I didn’t I know I had it in me.

Pickles.

New York to San Diego.  Part of my life left.  A time difference but no shift in importance.

Fall foliage.  Bucket lists.  Maine!  I stood in two places at once and talked.  We talked and talked, as only old friends can truly do.  She was a mirror to the parts of myself I did not want to address.  An encourager.  There’s a novel waiting to be birthed here.

Family. How I missed my family.  No need to explain why you feel the way you do or are reacting the way you are.  A quiet, peaceful space.  Siblings as friends, one of life’s greatest blessings.

I danced and allowed myself to have a good time, all the time he watched and drank it in.  I didn’t notice.  I didn’t think it wasn’t okay.  He came to me, over and over and over and over and over again.  I pushed back, talked back. Secrets shared, secrets never to be told.  “I can’t get you out of my mind”, he whispered into the nape of my neck.

Harmless compliments from younger men.  Boys like brothers.  I’m surrounded by men.  Always men.  So many boys.  I often wonder why I blend in so seamlessly.

“Second highest texting offender in the company”.  I’m still waiting for a plaque.

Texts, texts, so many texts.  Chats, chats, so many chats.  If you logged them together and printed them out, they’d be sure to reach Saskatchewan.

A bathtub, the bubbles that flowed over the top.  Baked goods for friends. Discovering that it’s my release, it’s my moment, it’s my zen, it’s my sanity, it’s my escape, it’s my…….world.

The purse night.   Thank the Lord I was alone in that cab!

My phone vibrated on Christmas.  I responded. It was work.  This marks the beginning of my malcontent.

And so it ended.  It ended on a balcony on 43rd and Broadway, 30 short feet from ‘the ball’ itself.  St. Germaine and ice.  Friends. Excitement.  I tripped and fell forward – tucked, and rolled.  I have falling talents.  I tried to flirt with him, his sister flirted with me. “You’re my girl!”, she kept saying.

Falling, falling, always falling but I’m sure I’m climbing up. Moving forward. Learning more, loving more, hurting more, caring more. More, more, more. Onward, onward, onward.  This life of mine; it keeps marching onward.

Out Out

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I stood on that New York City subway platform while the New York City wind lashed at my face. I left that New York City moment and found my New York City space.

Surrounded by people, I had a moment of my own. Acoustic sounds filled my ears; catered to my mood.  Snippets, snap shots, the brief, brief, briefest of moments.  Happiness.  Lightness.  Consolidation.

I knew it wouldn’t linger, I knew it wouldn’t last.

I stood on that New York City platform, I stood in that New York City space.  I took a New York City breath, and in a New York City second, the sweetness of that moment; it had passed.

Captain, My Captain

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I’m coming home.

Home.

Home is the place where I am solitary, where I am alone.

No melancholy, only resolve.

I’m centering myself.

I’m walling the chaos that pulled me like a heavy river current.

It is separate from me.

It is not me any longer.

I’m not fighting it’s pull, I’m climbing out from its sweet tempting swirls.

Again and again I took a deep breath and submerged my head, diving deep, caressed by the sweet, soft waters, but always eventually needing to come up for air.

Air is reality, and it always jarred me to come in contact with it.

I’ve broken the surface and I’m climbing out.

I’m climbing out and leaving the waters behind.

Next time I climb in, I’ll be the captain of my own ship.

I’ll be Captain and I’ll steer my own way.

I’ll steer my own way and never get lost in the deep waters again.