Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What No One Ever Told Me

Here's something no one ever tells you, or maybe everyone knows it except me; perhaps I missed that day of school. But what it is that I think is missing is this: that when you break off emotional contact with someone special (I hate to use the word "Love", but perhaps that's what it is), you end up hurting. Right? Can everyone agree with me? And sometimes it will have been a long-time thing, or even just a day, or perhaps you talked to this person once. The length of time doesn't really matter. The thing that matters is the connection, and then that connection being severed, in one way or another.
Sometimes, not all the time, but for me, most of the time, I end up feeling bruised. Heart-heavy. Sore. Damaged.
I'm not talking about heart ache, or getting over someone. It's more personal, and less easily tied to the other person. It's deeper, more of a disappointment in yourself than anything else, and normally you can twist that feeling into "gained wisdom", but it's still got a negative element running under it.

Anyways, the thing no one ever tells you is that that deep, deeper than the heart level ache, it never goes away. You go from relationship to relationship feeling more and more damaged and broken in little ways. Sure, you become older, more mature, more careful, but you carry the scars. Years and years and years can pass, and you can have forgiven the person, moved on, sincerely wish them the best, and yet- and yet.  HOW COME NO ONE EVER TOLD ME THIS??? That at the end of something you can't just wipe the slate clean and carry on, having completely hoped to escape any negative effects? WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT IT? Why does no one say "be careful, you can't leave behind your experiences, they shape who you are, for BETTER and for WORSE". The damage done on this deepest of levels is permanent, and the best you can do is to try and carry on anyways, being more cautious that it won't happen again.

Maybe they did talk about it. Maybe I just wasn't listening. Maybe it had to be that I find this out for myself; maybe I wouldn't have believed it if anyone else said it.

I am just recently discovering this. I think most people must have figured it out in junior high, but then, I was always a late bloomer.

What is running through my head these past couple of weeks:
(Tall Trees in Georgia)

The sweetest love I ever had 
I left aside 
Because I did not want 
To be any mans bride 
But now I'm older 
And married I would be 
I found my sweetheart 
But he would not marry me 

When I was younger 
The boys all came around 
But now I'm older 
And they've all settled down 
Control your mind my girl 
And give your heart to one 
For if you love all men 
You'll be surely left with none 

Tall trees in Georgia, 
They grow so high 
They shade me so 
And sadly walking 
Through the thicket I go

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Very Boring Encounter

Dani and I sat in the tiny airport lounge a few metres away from our father, and plopped down our backpacks, wiped the sweat off our foreheads. It was warm, not hot; springtime in Crete was mild and pleasant but when you've been running with heavy bags you sweat anyways. We sort of laughed at one another, because we had thought we would miss our plane and here we were with all these calm and collected Greeks around us, and we had bright red faces and overly-loud laughs. Our father pulled out his lap-top almost instantly to continue working on his lectures using the airport's free Wi-Fi, but Dani and I just sat there and looked around us. People watching was one of our favourite things to do. That's when I spotted him, a tall, well dressed boy who looked my age or a bit older, standing with what could be his parents. He was gorgeous, so of course I elbowed my sister very subtly and hissed at her Hey, isn't he cute? And she whispered back I know! I just saw him too! And together we stared at him until it was kind of awkward since he never even once looked in our direction, and really, could you blame him? So we took out our books and tried to look as cool as the people around us, and not interested in anything or anyone, you know, very aloof and distant and European. Since we had just spent the last 3 months in school in Italy and then the previous two weeks lying on the beach in southern Turkey, the two of us had almost perfected the European air, and I like to think we could pull it off, when we really wanted to of course. 
Soon it was time to board, and we got in line behind Hot Boy and his parents (?), had our passports and tickets ready to go like the pro's we are, and said "Eph-er-EASE-toe" to the airline stewardesses. We slowly moved through the line-up, giggling and nudging one another and shooting glances at the boy, and looking back we must have seemed a little silly and obvious to the people around us. Once we were through the line, Dani whispered to me, Hey, wouldn't it be awesome if we got to sit beside Him? And I laughed because that was JUST what I had been thinking, and it was weird because sometimes Dani's and mine thoughts were so synchronized that it scared me when she voiced something that had just floated through my head. 
We boarded the plane, and moved towards our seats. I saw the boy sit down in a row by himself, and my armpits started sweating and I felt a prickling heat flash across my forehead and down my spine and that's when I KNEW that it must be my seat beside him. We kept moving slowly through the plane, stopping and waiting for the people in front of us to shove their luggage in the overhead bins and clamber over each other's legs to their seats, but finally we got to the row on my ticket and I was right, it WAS beside the boy. I double checked though, and then very very very self consciously I shoved my backpack into the bin and clumsily collapsed into the seat beside him, face burning up. Never before had I noticed just how extremely close and tight airplane seating was. He had the window seat and he took up both armrests. Then Dani sat down on the other side of me, a huge smirk on her face. Doing alright there, sis? She asked. I sort of mumbled something then laughed manically. The presence of this stranger, this creature with blood and bones and muscles and emotions and history, just like me, reduced me to a bumbling idiot.  So I tried to gather my wits. I pulled my book out of my purse, an extremely boring Herman Melville novel I had stolen from a youth hostel, or maybe I had replaced it with something equally terrible? Anyways, it was set on a wheel-boat I think they are called, in America, like Mark Twain. And I pulled it right up in front of my face, in order to a) look intelligent, and b) hide my red face from the Adonis beside me. 
The whole 2 hour plane ride to Cyprus I kept the book in front of my face, though once in a while I would sneak a peak at what he was reading. I think it was Spanish. But then he slept through the snack, and the drink cart, and I was in agony wondering if I should wake him up or not, maybe start a conversation. Where I thought this conversation would lead to I had no idea. Or if we even could hold a conversation, language-wise. I think I wanted it to be like Before Sunrise, except set on a plane instead of a train, and minus his parents and my sister and father. I love that movie. It has to be in my top 5 favourite movies of all time. 
But then we landed, and he woke up, pulled out a cell-phone, made a call. And I was sad for many reasons; because I didn't have a cell phone and couldn't call anyone even if I did because I didn't know anyone, and because it probably meant he was checking in with his girlfriend, and because I had maybe missed a great opportunity to talk to a fascinating person, and because life wasn't like a book or a movie and people aren't like characters that were created to interact with me. Dani, though, was killing herself laughing, mimicking me holding this awful falling apart novel in front of my face for two hours straight. And I guess that was kind of funny. 
So this isn't a story where two strangers meet and interact very much, have a connection, change one another's lives.  This is a story of cowardice, and slim regrets, and "what could have been's". I'm not quite sure why it has stuck with me for so long. I can't even remember what the boy looked like; I just have this vague impression of greatness. I do have some stories that could rival Before Sunrise, but this isn't one of them. Maybe sometime I'll tell you of them. But for now, this is the memory I needed to share. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine's Day

Yes, Valentine's Day is horridly commercial, and I should be shunning it all, having an Anti-Valentine's Day party, etc. But how can you not love a day that reminds us to tell our loved ones that they ARE loved? It's not responsible to buy someone flowers every day, nor is it healthy to eat at an expensive restaurant every night. But one day a year, it is nice to be celebrating LOVE, regardless of religious or political or social background.
And yes, it is nice to get flowers, whether they be from a romantic partner, a friend, or even my grandfather. It makes me feel special.
Those are my feelings on Valentine's Day. People should stop hating it and feeling sorry for themselves, and if they think that no one will give them a gift, maybe they should go out there and buy a gift for one of their own loved ones. Seeing the reaction on their face is one of the best gifts around.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Stumbled through the morning in a fog, as usual these days. For some reason I woke up around dawn absolutely drenched in sweat, dying under my layers of flannel sheets and feather duvets. But as soon as I threw off the covers I was instantly chilled, frozen, and it seemed wrong- hot and cold, damp yet static-y. And then my nose started gushing blood while I was washing my face, at first just a drop or two of water coming off my face was pink, and I hardly noticed, but then I looked in the mirror and it was bright red streaming out of my nose, over my mouth, off my chin.
I've gotten nosebleeds my whole life, but they became worse and more often when we moved to dry and cold Alberta. It still shocks me sometimes, seeing that red like paint liquid splash everywhere, overflow over my fingers as I bolt to the bathroom, drip onto the floor, the sink, my desk, my clothes. And the taste of iron at the back of my throat, and the way it stains. There is no colour in the world as chilling as your own blood. So dense, so potent and deep, it makes my heart stutter in a bad way, yet it is familiar. It resonates as mine, belonging to me, and it is amazing that my body produces something so beautiful and necessary.

It was colder today than it has been, and the trees and bushes and parks where covered in sheets of frost. With the sun and my new toque on it was glorious. But again, I couldn't touch it, feel it in the same way I normally do. It just sort of floated down, settled in to my brain and senses, and I thought abstractly of how poetic it all was.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Saturday Mornings

This Saturday it was the eggs- the runny yolk staining the plates, the fragments of shell crunching on the floor, and the wibbly wobbly white bits under the heating lamp- I had a wave of dizziness and bolted for the back door, not meeting any of the kitchen people's eyes. The fresh air was like waking up from a bad dream- beautiful, refreshing, safe, but still tainted by the terror dimly remembered. I sat on a yellow upturned milk crate behind the trailer stacked 15 feet high with flattened cardboard boxes, facing the sun, and stared at the ground. Strange for E-town, but it was above zero, and the sky was a hard blue, and the sun had a tangible warmth that reminded me of spring. Breathe in, breathe out. Count the pieces of gravel by my worn out black shoes. Feel the heat of the sun, the crisp breeze.
What was wrong with me? I wasn't feeling ill, just off. Not hearing voices, but definitely wouldn't blink an eye if I did. My limbs were all working, for now, but for some reason I had no faith in them and if I was overcome with a paralyzing sense of apathy I truly believed that they would collapse under me or even fall off.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Dear God in High Heaven, thank you for the warm sun on my winter skin.
I couldn't move. I had tables waiting for me, food getting cold, people wanting my help, my service, people whose day I could ruin if I was rude or mixed up their order or simply didn't show up to help them eat. Did they ever think about how many people could ruin my day, if I let them? You certainly grow a thick skin soon enough, or drown in the despair and slights and comments heaped upon you. Like learning to swim, or how I taught my sister to snowboard- just pushed her down a little hill, said you can do it, meet you at the bottom.
I can be such an asshole.

Jessie came slamming out the back door, and stared at me in surprise.
What's up? she said, pulling a cigarette out of her purse and putting it in her mouth, You feeling alright?
Yeah... I said... Well, no. The eggs are making me feel sick.
She stared at me with her small blue eyes, almost lost in her freckled face. You don't like eggs?
Nah. Sort of. Not really. The yolk is gross. And the white part- ugh.
She readjusted her ball cap on her head, and I remembered that she was the head chef, and maybe she was taking offence.
Like, the ones we serve are good, I mean... I trailed off, then added: But the smell. It makes me feel sick.
She nodded. Jess was a good person, a young single mom of 26, not much older than me, and over the summer we had partied together a few times, and even gone streaking through the city one night. But she was tough as nails, and definitely took no bullshit.
I was sick last week, she said. Just for a day. I was taking Darius home and it just hit me, like no warning, nothing. I was out flat for 24 hours, thought I would die in the bathroom with a bowl under my head.
But the next morning I was fine. Just slept for like 18 hours, though.
I winced in sympathy. Maybe that's what I have, I told her, knowing full well that my problem wasn't physical.
Yeah, maybe she said, exhaling a cloud of thin smoke that dissipated almost instantly on the wind.
I stood up. My legs behaved just fine.
Well, see ya in there, I said and walked to the door, pulling it open and disappearing into the dark hallway, the main canal from which a million streams fed off. The instant it slammed shut behind me, cutting off the sweet warm air, and the sun, and the sense of space that I had been missing, yes, that's it, I had been missing having a sky overhead instead of a ceiling, complicated long distance views sideways instead of painted walls, the instant that was closed off from me I shuddered and walked back into the greasy kitchen full of people running around, and I tried to breathe through my mouth not my nose to avoid the cloying sticky eggy smell, and I was in some sort of hell once more.