I 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.
Typically, 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?
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.
Yesterday, 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…)
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.
I spent yesterday haunting the places we used to love; feeling his spirit, sensing his smile, knowing his warmth, and missing him more than ever.
At first, when I went into The Silver Peak, I felt a vague sense of familiarity; we had been there so many times before. We would sit on the patio and laugh across the table over plates of hummus, pita bread, olive tapenade (although, truth be told, he hated the olive tapenade), and endless glasses of white wine. We hosted co-workers through crises, drunken spiels about their love lives, and the odd quirkiness of their personalities. The Silver Peak was our place.
However, last night was entirely different; it was cold and crisp. The tables that usually graced the sidewalk were packed away and completely out of sight; I sat at the bar alone and ordered the chicken tacos, not the Greek Sampler. I ordered a Malibu Press, my current signature drink, instead of “our” bottle of white. The crowd was entirely different, too; it was younger, hipper, or was I just feeling so damn old that I they appeared young.
I passed the time talking to the bartender and two young men at the end of the bar; they confirmed the crowd was altered. Years before, the establishment was filled with lawyers and professionals from the downtown office buildings; now, artists, beatniks, and tourists filled the restaurant and crowded the bar. Nevertheless, it did not matter, it was not my place anymore, I was infringing on a memory, and I was a ghost.
My quest to torture myself did not end with one slice across my flesh; I walked up the street and meandered through the smiling vacationers, sinking into my memories. I paused in front of Rum Bullions, picturing him sitting with my daughter on her 21st birthday, smiling, laughing, and socializing. The overhead music was Nickelback, some sentimental song that always makes me think of him; I stood frozen in front of the giant mining structure in the middle of The Silver Legacy. Would the pain ever end?
Apparently, not anytime soon; I walked into the last place I should have been, Bistro Roxy. I sat at the bar and ordered one of the 102 martinis they have on the menu; it was all I could do to choke back my tears as I sat swirling the sweet liqueurs mixing in my glass as I listened to the piano thinking of him. The crowd was fun and lively, but it was too old, it was not our crowd. The drink was the same, too sweet, too sticky, too expensive; he would have known which one to order for me… he always got it just right. But the rest of it was all wrong; the people were too old, the bartender was too dull, my mood was too dark, and he was not there.
I should not have gone there, to our places; but returning to a town where we fell in love, there is not one place without his fingerprints, his smile, his smell, him.
The cutting continues today as I listen to Pandora… Michael Buble, Nickelback, James Blunt, even Trans-Siberian Orchestra (in February?) all so diverse, but each one of them is us, is him.