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.

Emotional Cutting

Emotional CuttingI am an emotional cutter.

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.

I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane…

imagesSo, it’s that time again; I am flying tomorrow, so with my normal paranoia of dying in a fiery plane crash, I want to share a few little-known secrets about me.

***

My whole life, my family has always thought of me as a narcissist who has wanted to get away from the family as soon as I could; they view me as a stuck-up snob who is ashamed of my roots.  I disagree, but I tire of constantly defending myself in a losing battle.

When I was in the 5th grade, I had listened for months about the family money problems; as a kid I knew far too much about the financial woes of my parents.  There was constant talk of not wasting milk, bread, or eggs; but, as kids, we always noticed there was never a shortage of beer.

As Christmas approached, I started to shoplift small items from the local stores; every time we went shopping I began to pilfer anything I could that would go unnoticed by my mom and store staff.  As soon as we got home I would shove the items under my bed in a little pile; soon, I had the cache I was hoping for.

A few days before Christmas Eve, I crept out of my bedroom late one night and filled all of the stockings with the small items I had collected; I didn’t have as much as I thought, with four kids I had barely filled them half-way.  I had to include items for myself so nobody would suspect me, even though I didn’t want anything; I had wanted my brother and sisters to have something.

I left a few things for my parents; I don’t remember what I stole for anybody, except my mom, I left mascara for her on the ledge by the stockings as well as some other junk and stuff for my dad.

The next morning, everybody was surprised that Santa had come early; my mom was convinced that our landlord had come into the house and left the gifts.  She told my dad he must not have been such a bad guy; knowing how they were struggling with the rent, he must have known Christmas was going to be difficult.

I threw my “gifts” away; I felt too guilty to do anything else with them.

***

I cried yesterday when I was out shopping because I saw that dog in Hallmark, the talking one.  We bought it last year for my grandson right after Christmas to save and give to him this year when he was old enough; but since my daughter is not speaking to me, it is just packed away in storage.

I had to bite my lip, take a deep breath and try my best to forget about his little face and the few months I spent every day waking up with him.

***

When I was 6, I wanted a snake more than anything; I loved the song Sneaky Snake, by Tom T Hall.  I thought a snake was going to be like that; drinking root beer, wiggling and dancing, everything he did.  My dad picked up a snake from the middle of the road one day and brought him home for me.

The snake lived in an ice chest in my bedroom; it was nothing at all like Sneaky Snake.  He was not a good pet for a 6 year-old; I was terrified of it.  Finally, my dad let him go.

A snake is not a good pet.

***

I used to have a nightgown when I was 11 that was blue terry-cloth with white trim; down the front were the words Definitely, Delightful, Delicious, Delovely.  For some reason, that hideous thing was my favorite; perhaps because it was not a hand-me-down.

One day, I was wearing it in the early evening; my dad called my brother and me outside to the backyard because he had a surprise for us.  I went out back to find him with a stack of bottle rockets.  He was challenging us to light them and hold them in our hands but there was a certain timing to letting them go; if you let them go too soon, they would just fizzle out on the ground, too late and they could explode in your hand.

I could not get the timing down correctly; mine exploded flames out the back and shot fire all over the front of my gown resulting in black holes all down the front.

I still wore the gown with the holes in it for years.

***

I’m terribly afraid of the dark.

***

I want to volunteer at a senior home and chronicle the stories of the elderly; I want to help them preserve their memories, I think so many of them would like to have their stories saved, but they did not grow up journaling or writing.  I feel small and selfish for never going through with it, for never finding the time.

***

There are a million more things I could say, but that is enough for now.  I am not leaving anything behind this time, some fingerprints, I suppose; the Eeyore blanket is coming with me.  I will not be returning.

(I am hoping to have a connection to continue… the last I recollect there was only a dial-up connection.  Challenging when you rely on the Internet.)

 

My Paranoia – Back Safely

So, I didn’t die in a fiery plane crash…

Here are a few pictures from the air to prove it.

Snowy Mountains

Snowy Mountains

I have lived another day to regale you with stories of my sordid past.

On the way to LAX

On the way to LAX

My Paranoia

imagesWhenever I travel by air, I always have this insecure moment where I just know it will be my last flight ever.  Usually, I have somebody in whom I confide a few secrets; always revealing a bit more of myself he or she previously never knew about me, secretly wanting to preserve a bit more of myself should I happen to perish.

Additionally, I leave them with valuable information as to what they should do with certain belongings or something I meant to tell people in my life.  Typically, said person finds my ritual to be prosaic if not a bit morbid and they usually lose interest, as indicated by their sighs and/or glares.

As circumstances would have it, I had some rather good news, and I am taking a flight on Thursday with a return trip on Friday.  Since I have had a rather helter skelter year in terms of my interpersonal relationships, there is nobody to listen to my paranoid speech about how I may not live to see the weekend.  So, I thought I would write about a few things that move me, entertain me, make me smile, and are important to me.

I have to preface this by saying I do not believe I possess some special psychic powers to see into the future where I see a plane plunging to the earth; this is simply something I do every time I take an airplane trip.  It can become quite ludicrous at times, as I love to travel, and there have been some years where I have flown quite often; still, it’s me, so I have learned to accept it, flaws and all.

***

As much as I have written about how my children do not speak to me, I love them with all my heart; if I could give them a different mother wrapped up in a big red ribbon for Christmas, I would give her to them.  They would surely deserve her.  I don’t suppose they have done anything spectacular or out of the ordinary; in fact, at times they have been quite rude to me.  Though, as has been pointed out to me many times, they didn’t ask to be born.  I love them and they deserve the best; if there is a mom out there willing to give it to them, they should have her.

***

Speaking of love, I dearly love the rest of the family; regardless of their current ability to reach out and communicate with me.  It is what it is with our family; no further explanation in a family where we were taught to keep secrets, where somebody was always “out” or nobody was “in”.

***

I have a blue Eeyore blanket that I have taken with me on every flight, to every surgery (15 of them) for the last 12 years or so; I sleep with it every night.  It is a plush baby blanket with suede like material on one side and a furry type material on the other side; the Disney Store had it for $75 and one year I bought it for myself for Christmas on clearance for $30.  It still looks almost new even though it has been washed countless times; once, during a pre-op needle stick, the nurse stuck me in the wrong place and blood soaked the blanket.  A little peroxide and it came out perfectly clean.

I am leaving the blanket behind this time, for some reason it just feels like the right thing to do.  I am travelling alone and it is a business trip, too much stuff to carry, I suppose.  It will be the first time.

***

There is a little song I knew when I was in grade school, I used to sing it to my girls, and it goes like this:

“I’m an acorn small and round lying on the cold, cold ground,

I’m a nut (click click click), I’m a nut (click click click);

Called myself on the phone just to see if I was home,

I’m a nut (click click click), I’m a nut (click click click);

Asked myself for a date, picked me up at half past eight,

I’m a nut (click click click), I’m a nut (click click click);

Took myself to a show, sat down in the very back row,

I’m a nut (click click click), I’m a nut (click click click);

Put my arms around my waist, got so fresh I smacked my face,

I’m a nut (click click click), I’m a nut (click click click).”

When you see the “clicks”, that is the clicking of your tongue, you don’t actually say “click”.

***

Many people who know me think I am flat; they have rarely seen me smile, and have never seen me laugh.  It is all a façade; I feel everything, I love deeply, I have been scarred and scared.  I put up the thickest shield I could so as to be impervious to any further pain; it doesn’t work.  I am hurt daily, but nobody knows.

***

There is a man I love more than I have ever allowed myself to ever love; it took me eight years to let him in; I almost lost him because my heart was locked.  I have not seen him since April, but I’m going home in less than two weeks.  I have left him a journal on a memory stick in the room I have been staying in, it is on an Eeyore keychain; I would want him to have it, and my Eeyore blanket.

***

I miss my dad; I didn’t have a good relationship with him and he didn’t really like me, but there are times I would like to see him, to talk to him.  I would like him to be proud of me.

***

I love the song, “For Crying Out Loud” by Meatloaf.  The words bring me to tears every time I listen to it; even though it always feels like the end of a love story to me, like a tragedy, I love to hear it.  Maybe that’s why, I need it when I need or want to cry.  It feels like an aged love; I feel as if it is about finding love when you need it most.

***

I could go on, but I only wanted to open an envelope in my Pandora’s Box, not empty the entire contents tonight.