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.

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