On Being an Enigma

imagesI am comfortable in the fact that people do not fully know or understand me.  There are those who like to believe they do, well-meaning friends who like to say, “Come on, I know you better than that” when they think they can detect my mood and wish to draw me out and comfort me or force me into banter when I wish to remain silent.

I know myself better and will recover in my own time.

I realize that most people mean well.

Still, the most interesting of all is the stalker who continues to harangue, harass, and darken my life pretending like she knows what I mean whenever I write something when she knows nothing about my life, has never actually spoken to me, and knows zero about my life.  Her constant threats, emails, and illegal behavior of breaking into my online accounts and calling places pretending to be me is laughable and only goes to prove how small her life is.

The very fact that she is so consumed with what I am doing all the while I think very seldom of her goes to prove that I am an enigma to her and she is a transparent manipulative crazy nut just like she appears to be.

Interesting.  Disturbing.  Funny.  But, at the same time, not even a microscopic piece of dust in the cobwebs in the furthermost corner of my mind.

No, when people say, “Come on, I know you better than that,” they truly do not.  They have no idea what I intended.

The Fork in the Road

fork in the roadTypically, I am not given in to whimsy, but the other day I was walking to Starbuck’s to work and I saw a fork in the road.  Literally.  Well, it was off to the side, but it was actually a fork.  I smiled to myself as I thought about the meaning of seeing a fork in the road at this juncture of my life, a time when things are so chaotic and messy.

I am not one to snap endless pictures, probably another one of my “flat” features, so I walked by the fork that day; although I was still thinking about it the next day.

Seeing it still in the same place when I walked to get my daily chai tea, I decided to take a picture.

The forgotten fork sitting amongst the dirt and pebbles with little tufts of grass struggling to grow in the harsh Nevada weather, trying to figure out if it is winter or spring, has caused me to consider my path.

Do I go left, or do I go right?  Or is there another path somewhere down the middle?

I Have Been Ungrateful

The Box

The Box

Yesterday while I was unpacking, I found a box I had not seen in quite some time, in fact, I had all but forgotten about it.  Not quite, I had thought about it a while ago, but I did forget about the contents of the box.

The box is made of wood more than 100 years old, handcrafted with love and care, and it plays “I will Always Love You”.  I remember when it was made for me by the stepfather of my other; he made it was because he liked me instantly and had always had a strong disdain for the previous wife of my other.  The box was a symbolic welcome to the family.

I know it took him hours to construct; the hardware alone took him time to find exactly what he wanted.

While I was sorting through boxes I had not seen in almost 15 months (some years longer than that), I came across my little box; I recognized it instantly. I smiled when I remembered how much I had been thought of at the time when it was made for me.  However, as soon as I opened the box, my heart dropped; the contents of the box flooded my mind and my heart with a pain I was not prepared to endure.

There were only three things in the box: my other’s class ring, a diamond necklace he had given me, and a breast cancer pin.

It seems silly to be my age and to have a class ring hold so much significance; however, it means so much to him so it means so much to me.  The fact that he once loved me so much that he entrusted me to have a ring that he has had since the early 1980s, when the most important things in life were Lettermen’s jackets, class rings, cool cars, and prom dates… at least in his world.

The diamond necklace was one of so many gifts he gave me I do not even know where to begin, other than the fact that when it was given to me, I was ungrateful because I am certain I would have preferred more diamonds.  It was in the box because the chain was broken.  I was that way with every gift he gave me. Ungrateful.

As for the breast cancer pin, it is a complete conundrum; I do not know where it came from, or why it is in the box.  The strangest coincidence about the three items represented in the box is that, his mother has breast cancer.  I would have not known that when I put those items in there, as I have not seen that box for at least five years…

I spent the rest of my evening thinking about how ungrateful I had been with his generosity over the years: when he gave me a $300 portable DVD player for my birthday, I had wanted a new laptop; when I got a Fanch Ledan for my office, I wanted the Fabien Perez; when I got a new Tiffany necklace, I had wanted a $30,000 diamond engagement ring… it never ended.

As I continued unpacking, I threw away boxes of ruined Bath & Body Works lotion, body spray, and body wash because it went rancid from being in storage.  I thought about the monthly trips where we would spend no less than $150 a month so I could buy whatever I wanted to smell good and have soft skin.  I threw away bags of countless dollars of skin care products purchased at high-end makeup counters because they were outdated and sour.

There was no end to his generosity and my spoiled behavior.  I always said “Thank you”.  I felt it.

But I think it fell flat.

I look at that class ring now; I feel it in my fingers, imagine him wearing it, think of him giving it to me, imagine him loving me… and remember.

***

As an aside, I had not always been so bratty and spoiled; in fact, I had never been treated this way before, never had anybody buy me things, love me, or want to do anything for me.  I truly did not know how to behave.

Fanch Ledan "Interior With Max" hanging in my apartment

Fanch Ledan “Interior With Max” hanging in my apartment

I Lied to a Vagrant

homelessYesterday, as I was walking the mile and a half to the downtown post office to buy three stamps, I was approached by a vagrant.  He had scruffy hair, was unshaven, and looked as if he had not showered in some time.  As soon as he moved towards me, I knew what he was going to do.

“Ma’am,” he asked, with his hand outstretched towards me, “Do you have twenty-five cents to spare?”

I shook my head no, saying, “I’m sorry, I don’t carry any cash on me.”

My eyes welled with tears behind my Coach sunglasses as I walked away.  I did have twenty-five cents. I clutched my Louis Vuitton bag as I thought of the $43.83 cash and $49.50 in my checking account.

However, that is all of the money I have.

With no income, I honestly could not spare the twenty-five cents.

The further I walked away from the young man, the lower I felt.  I know, dressed the way I was, and dressed the way he was, I probably looked like I had it “more together” than he.  Nevertheless, I felt more ashamed for saying no than he probably did for asking.

I thought back to the days where I would have given him the $40 I had, then turned to my other with my hand out and asked for more all without blinking an eye.  It was not that long ago.

Actually, truth be told, I am not different from that young man, with my hand out, waiting for somebody else to pay my way…

I am just sitting in a nice cozy apartment while I do it.  (So as not to be misunderstood, I am being supported… so, no “government assistance”, no actual income…)

I should have given him the quarter.

“You can’t go Home Again”

Vincent Van Gogh's "Bedroom at Arles"

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Bedroom at Arles”

They say “You can’t go home again”, and I think they are right (well, whomever this proverbial “they” might be).  However, I think you can reinvent what home can be defined as.

Whenever people are making small talk, the inevitable question arises, “Where are you from?” I always answer the same, “I am not really from anywhere.  My family moved all over when I was a kid and I lived in 53 places and attended 15 different schools before I was 15.  I lived in Arizona, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, and Nevada as a child.”  Granted, it was probably more information than they were looking for; it was, essentially, small talk.  Nevertheless, I would ignore the bored look on their faces and continue, “As an adult I have also lived in Washington, Texas, California, and Oregon, and then back to Texas.”

Having no idea why they would engage me further, most would ask me, “So, where do you consider ‘home’?”

Often I would pause before answering, “I guess that would be Reno, Nevada.  I lived there longer than I lived anywhere else, and it was the last place I went to school.”

Returning “home” is not as one would imagine where you visit the familiar and are welcomed by family and friends and visit your childhood home.

The Biggest Little City in the World is entirely different from when I was a teenager here; the days of me cruising up and down Virginia Street in my beloved ’57 Chevy are over, I am no longer a teen with a classic car, and they have outlawed cruising entirely.  Downtown looks old and depressing with locals dragging the sidewalks like zombies amongst the dilapidated and empty buildings; the economic downturn hit the area hard.

I have no friends from high school, having had few to begin with, and not keeping in touch with (or falling out with) the few I had.  My family is mostly here, but is so dysfunctional I might as well be here alone.

There is no childhood home, as we rented a duplex for the few years I lived here with my family.  Eventually, my parents bought a home they owned for 20 years or so, but we sold it to pay for my mother’s attorney when she killed my father.

Other than my evening of “emotional cutting”, I am reluctant to return to my regular haunts of years past; there are too many memories, good and bad.  I have a tendency to get mired down in the pain, but if it is not in front of me constantly, I can suppress it and pretend it never existed.

Time to Reinvent

I have reconnected with a friend I worked with during my second “homecoming” (this is my third).  We have reinvented a friendship that exists in the present; we are the only two involved and there is nobody from our past to stir up trouble and create a triangle wherein they create drama.

For the first time, I am living alone; granted, the apartment is not ideal.  It is smaller than most hotel rooms I have ever stayed in, and the neighborhood is less than upscale.  Very much less.  Nevertheless, I am alone and I can write to my heart’s content; the goal of this exercise.

My days are filled with working out, going to Starbuck’s for an internet connection, interviewing people to write about, and learning about life by myself.

So, while you cannot go home again, I have decided to reinvent what home is to me… it is wherever I happen to be at the time.  For now, it is here, at Starbuck’s on a lonely corner downtown.

Come Fly with Me

airplane

It is that time again… time for another plane trip and another bout of paranoia.

Do I have anything left to confess?  Oh, my closet is full of so many skeletons I could charge admission during Halloween… but for the simple stuff…

For those of you that do not know, each time I travel by air, I am certain I am going to die and I want to purge myself of little bits about myself so I can be remembered.

***

I do not get mean girls.  If you do not like somebody, simply move on.  Is it that you do not have anywhere else to focus your energy, so you beat up on people you see as weaker?  Or is it just low self-esteem?  Either way, get a hobby.  Honestly.  The mean girl card is so overplayed it is time to leave it behind.  If you are a mean girl, you know who I am talking to; if you are being affected by one, hold your head high and walk on by… they do not get it.

***

Even though I am a super picky eater, when I find something I like to eat, I can eat it day after day and I truly do not mind at all.  I have eaten spaghetti for dinner four nights in a row, and it has not bothered me in the least.

***

I do not think food and sex is erotic are provocative in the least.  In fact, quite the opposite; as soon as I am finished eating, I feel the need to wash my hands and douse myself with body spray so I do not smell like food or have any food smells near me whatsoever.

While I love food, cooking, and eating… mostly; I do not think it belongs in the bedroom or in an erotic setting.

Not judging… just confessing.

***

I drink far too much, especially coming from a long history of alcoholics.  I cannot recall the last time I was drunk, but I drink every day.

***

I feel like I have been a better friend to the people in my life than they have been to me, and it hurts.  I try to let it go, but it is hard.  I feel selfish and small when I dwell on it.

***

I am going to be back in the area where most of my family lives (mother, sister, brother, children) for at least four days, but I will not be seeing any of them.  While my children will not know because they could care less, the rest of my family does.  Still, I will not be seeing any of them.  Knowing that I do not know when I will be back in the area, it does not feel good that nobody has the time to see me; but, I have to “suck it up”.

***

So goes another trip out of town.  I will be returning soon…

Met My Old Lover in the Record Store

imagesRemember the song about the man who saw his high school girlfriend in a grocery store and he waxed poetic about their relationship.  The song has been remade hundreds of times; no, not literally, but figuratively.  Everyone looks back at their past during troubled points in their life and yearns for a simpler time, or thinks about a lost love and wonders “what if”.

Those are precisely the reasons I have never joined any social networking sites; I have not wanted to be found by anybody wanting to reconnect with me, nor I them.  I have never been curious about anybody from my past.  I have lived a very cyclical lifestyle; aside from family that I am bound to by DNA, there is nobody in my life that was here 10 years ago; three people that were here 5 years ago, and only one that I speak to or see regularly.

If I had any desire to know people from my past, or they me, I am assuming we would have continued (or even started) a friendship while we were in high school, which is where I assume most of the connections on these sites begin.

However, due to a very recent career move, I was required to join several of these dreaded sites; I reluctantly agreed, but made no move to advertise my presence.  I simply signed up and existed.  All was well until approximately a month ago when I received a “chat” message from somebody:

“Wow, I loved your work on that piece.” Him

“Thank you.  I appreciate you following.” Me

Mindless banter regarding my work.

“So, do you still have that ’57 Chevy you used to drive?” Him

A few minutes of stone silence on my end.

“Uhmmmm…” Me

“Are you still there?” Him

“Yes, I’m still here.” Me

“Don’t you remember me?”  Him

“No, not really.  I apologize.” Me, completely clueless as to who I am chatting with.

“We used to date, in high school.” Him

“Oh.  We did?  I am so sorry.  I guess I dated a lot.”  Me

“Lol” Him

“So…” Me

“You used to drive a ’57 Chevy BelAir.  You lived in the ghetto, remember?” Him

Yes, I am thinking, I know who I am, who are you?

“We dated for like three months, junior year.  I don’t remember why we broke up; but I remember making out like crazy, until my jaw was sore.”  Him

“Oh, yeah, now I remember you.” Me, still having no clue, but trying to be polite.

The banter continued for a few hours that night; he told me how he was unhappy in his marriage with his wife of 10 years, how he had lost his passion for life, how life was basically dragging him down.  He was nostalgic about our relationship and wondered about me all these years; he was happy to have finally found me and hoped I was doing well and was happy.

We ended our conversation that night wishing each other well; I told him that I hoped he would find peace in his marriage, but that I thought he deserved to be happy, I believe everyone does.  He thanked me for some advice I gave him and we said good night.

For the next few weeks, we said hello in passing, wishing each other a happy holiday but nothing more.

Then, a few nights ago, the inevitable happened; he said hello and we chatted for three hours.  He opined how unhappy he was with his wife, and asked when I would be in town again.  When I told him I would be there next week for work, he asked if we could go to lunch because he wanted to say some things he never had a chance to say in high school.

I asked how his wife would feel; he said he did not care anymore about how she would feel.  I told him I was in a committed relationship; he said it was all right with him, he still needed to say what was on his mind.  My heart ached for him.

He remembered why we broke up; he admitted that he had been a virgin when we were in high school and that he feels I wanted more.  I confessed that I was a bit “fast” in those days and gave myself away far too often and to too many people; like the tacky country music song lyricizes, “looking for love in too many places”.  However, it made me remember him.

As we ended our conversation again, I realized how dangerous these sites and this new genre of communication can be.  I longed to tell him that if he put those three hours of chat time into his marriage, imagine what he might get in return; but I did not want to judge or imply.

He is holding onto a memory of a girl that no longer lives; maybe she never did…  But each time somebody sits behind their keyboard and holds out hope searching for a lost love from high school from 25 years ago, they can only be looking for memories.  It is like pulling out a dusty old scrapbook and looking at photographs, the pictures are static, they cannot change; time has passed, things change, people change, but the photos are the same…