*sitting on the same damn hill, overlooking shitty YMCA*

 

I feel him before I see him. Either his Vans sneakers are quiet in the soft spring dirt or my mind’s too noisy to hear his footsteps approach, but suddenly I can sense him behind me.

“Hey, you okay?” he says softly. “You’ve been up here a while.”

I nod in the affirmative but my throat is clogged and I’m waterlogged.

“You’re crying.”

I laugh a little and turn my head to look back at him, as if to say, “You think?”

“Oh, man,” he says, looking at my face, and then gestures to the ground. “Sit?”

I nod.

He plops on the ground, sitting closer to me than the boy in the wrecked jeans. He’s loose-limbed in an effortless, lazy way and he threads his leg through mine, almost hooking me in place.

He holds out his hand. It takes me a minute to figure out that it’s a question.

I shake my head and turn my palms up, showing him hands covered in tears and snot and spring dirt and every kind of grossness.

We look at them and both kind of laugh.

“Those are some nasty hands, girl.”

He takes the worst of the hands anyway, and shoots me a sideways grin. “Didn’t figure you for a dirty girl.”

I crack up, but it’s snotcrylaugh and I try to hide my face in my shoulder. He’s always been able to make me lighter somehow.

He also has always been able to cut straight through my bullshit.

“He hurt your feelings,” he says.

“Shut up, asshole,” I say, face still in my shoulder.

“He hurt your feelings,” he repeats.

“I said, shut up asshole.”

“He hurt your feelings.”

I can’t say anything, just shake my head.

“Hey, I’m serious,” he says. “Look at me.”

He is so stupid earnest, this skater boy who looks like a little street punk, all blond spiky hair and checkered Vans.

So I do look at him, but I’m feeling mean about it. I also know that I’ve been crying so hard that my face looks like a jigsaw puzzle, and it’s humiliating.

“What?” I snarl. And of course, I can only look him in the eye for a millisecond before turning it to down to the grass.

He squeezes my dirt-crusted hand.

“Okay,” he says. “I can wait you out. I’m just going to sit here with you. But you’re talking to me. At some point.”

He bumps my knee with his. “I’m not scared of you, you know.”

Suddenly, all of the juice just runs out of me. All of the mean and the let’s keep this fence up and the very brave girl. It just all falls into the ground.

I collapse into myself and then into him. I bend and I break.

Just when you think you don’t have any tears left, you drench a boy’s gray t-shirt and gasp into the curve of his neck and shoulder.

He holds you longer and closer than you deserve.

He holds you, one hand around your waist and one cradling your neck, until you can breathe again. Until you can feel your own pulse under his fingers.

Until the sun starts to sink down, pink and all the shades of orange.

Until you think you might be able to talk this through, but you don’t. Because it’s too nice sitting here, remembering how to breathe again.

If only, you think.

If only this was the boy that you loved.

 

{ 4 comments }

The Black

May 10, 2018

I could tell you it comes without warning, but I’d be a liar.

I mean, it’s not obvious enough that I can mark a day on the calendar with “You are just gonna be fucked for a while, so get your affairs in order,” but I do know in certain ways that it’s coming. I usually don’t listen right away, though.

Because you don’t want to listen about that, do you?

Things I do know:

~The Black strikes every four to five years. I can’t predict the season but the year? Certainty.

~The Black tastes metallic. That’s how I know it’s coming. At first I think it’s a little funny, because I think of all the Paltrows and the Garners throwing kale and apples into their Vitamix in the morning, but for me? Let’s throw in seven handfuls of pennies, grind then up and then make you suck on them for a couple of days. What kind of strange alchemy is at work here, that you can taste impending suckery? But I can. Pennies in my mouth. And then I know.

~When I try to describe what I’m feeling, when I finally admit I’m there, I instinctively reach back behind myself and grab my shoulders, and then claw my way up. It’s a creeper, The Black. This is something that I will never understand, because normally I feel things deep in the gut, but The Black starts in my spine, then settles in my shoulders, and then in a day or so, it’s in my brain.

~Then comes the worst part. You have to wave the flag. It will inconvenience the people who depend on you, who think you are the steady. The given. The car that’s always at pickup. Sorry, upended. Nothing feels good about that, but then again, nothing feels good.

~”Do you need to go somewhere?”

~Sleep for two days. Or three. Or maybe you go somewhere.

****

THE WHEEL OF FUCKERY

****

It is kind of a joke, but not really.

The Wheel of Fuckery goes from 1-10. When you start to dig your way out of the dark, you rate yourself on the fuck-o-meter.

By now, my husband knows enough just to pull me close and say, “Today?”

I try to exhale. “I’m a six, buddy.”

I’ll take a six.

{ 7 comments }

April Blues

April 30, 2018

 

 

 

You know what, just screw April. I’m glad we only have hours until it’s over.

We are still deep in the thick of Teenage Wrenching Things over here, and while I am trying to be patient, calm and sympathetic, I am, to put it mildly, so damn over it. Could my child just pick a mood and stay there for, I dunno, 15 minutes?

Apparently not.

I realize that sophomore year of high school sucks, I do. When I was a high school teacher, nobody wanted to teach sophomores. I ended up teaching a lot of them, because I was fresh and green (new teachers get the bottom of the barrel, class-wise) and all of the veteran teachers delighted in regaling me with horror stories of hormonal and surly sophomores.

“Sophomores hate everything and everyone. They will especially hate you, your class, and everything you ask them to do.”

“Plus, they stink. I mean, for real. There is some special kind of reek that blows off sophomores. Keep the windows cracked.”

“There’s good reason why Catcher in the Rye, The Chocolate War, Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies are all suggested sophomore reading. It’s life for them.”

It’s a little more complicated than that over here. While there’s no issue with friends/girlfriends per se, D. has a friend group of people with divergent interests and memberships in different clubs, and as they get older, the activities demand more time. Just being smart, nice, nerdy kids isn’t enough to glue them together anymore. In short, my square peg is having a hard time figuring where she fits in this changing landscape.

“I feel like I ought to know who I am by now,” she said tearfully this weekend. “And I don’t. I feel weird in my body. I feel like I’m getting left behind.”

I can point out how crazy ridiculous it is to feel like you ought to have the world figured out at 16 years of age. I can point out that it’s not something she needs to shoulder yet. I can point out that she’s not a joiner, but maybe stretching her wings and trying some new activities on for size might be a good idea. I can point out that her friends still love her and they get along and hang out plenty at school; she’s really not alone. I can tell her how lost I felt at that age, too. I can tell her how my perspective at that age was way off: others saw a brainy, funny, theatre-clubby, smiling girl but I felt like none of those things.

I can point out those things.

I have pointed out those things.

But when your kid is in a dark place inside, are they in a position to hear the words out of your mouth?

***

April also brings the 2 year anniversary of losing my mother, and the emotional sludge grabs me by the gullet and squeezes. Yet. I honestly feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of dealing with the loss of her. I don’t feel I’ve grown, or accepted things, or put anything of significance behind me. I don’t feel I’ve learned one damn useful thing about myself or my life from the experience.

Two years later, shouldn’t I have made some progress?

I’ve spent all month trying to write about her, but my mind’s clouded and chaotic and not capable of stringing a sentence together. I have about fifteen drafts of things that I’ve had to pull the ripcord on. I just can’t talk about her–or my life without her–yet.

Turns out, my daughter isn’t the only one who’s stuck.

***

So maybe I should be/some kind of laundry line

Hang their things on me/and I’ll swing them dry

-Spring Awakening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{ 6 comments }

Snap Peas with Feta Dressing

April 4, 2018

Storms

March 21, 2018