“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.

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.

How Did I Become the Flat Girl?

English: "Biggest Little City in the Worl...

English: “Biggest Little City in the World” arch on Virginia Street in Downtown Reno, Nevada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In my quest for peace in my life, I have started to consider what could have happened in my life to make me so flat in my relationships with people.  Working backwards, the most significant event that has happened that changed my personality in a very profound way was the death of my father in July of 2004.

Actually, “death” may be too tame of a word, it was not as if he quietly passed from a lengthy illness, he did not die of old age, and it was not as if he even died in a violent car crash that somehow took our family by surprise.  No, he died at the hand of my mother in what would be one of only 9 murders in Reno in 2004.

When I look back on the day that I found out about the day of the homicide, I remember it as if it was yesterday.  I was at work when my younger sister called to tell me.  I called my then husband to ask him to come pick me up, but then I continued working, as I was in the middle of an important journal entry and could not stop.  The co-workers around my cubicle had heard me on the phone and came to offer me comfort, but I did not allow myself to be comforted, I just continued working.  When it was time to leave, I knocked on the conference room door where my boss was in a meeting with the plant manager and some corporate officers, poked my head in, he responded gruffly, as I had interrupted… I stated, “My mother just shot my father and I have to go.”  Then I left for the day.

Over the next several days, I was with my family as necessary, but worked when I needed to as well, never breaking down once.

The next several months were hectic, my brother, sisters and I, along with our families all spent our evenings and weekends remodeling our parents’ home so we could raise money for bail to get our mother out of jail and to put on a proper defense.  Additionally, I had just started back to school, so was attending every Saturday.

The following spring (April 2005) the murder trial began, and things were more hectic.  I worked full time, took nine credits at school, and attended the trial 40 hours a week (working at night to complete my work and projects).  Meanwhile, my marriage was falling to pieces and my children thought I was a horrible mother, but that is another story altogether.  Still, I handled everything with professionalism, never breaking down, and managing to earn A’s in school.

When the trial was over, the sentencing complete, and my marriage in chaos, I felt more mature, more weathered, more grown up.  However, I do not think I felt all that different that I ever had before in my interpersonal relationships.  So, in my quest to determine where my affect for being flat with people began – if I am ever able to delineate that exact moment – I do not think it was that event.

Although, that was a crucial period in my life, defining other traits I still hold onto.