Reason to Hate

I hate you. I will never forgive you for what you have done to this family. You ruined us all. Your selfishness and immaturity is the reason I am sitting here now. And the worst part is that nobody saw it but me, and that makes it look like I created this mess, like I am the villain. Your actions and ultimatums, your accusations and innuendos- that’s why I had to do it. You were so very crafty, gaslighting me with surgical precision over 2 decades. I almost completely lost myself.But I digress. This isn’t about me; it’s about her.

And so here I sit. Alone except for the awkward and occasional stranger who thinks this is where they will be waiting, too. My tears and snot and anger and muttering and growling soon sends them to safer, saner areas of the floor. The waiting room chairs were bought to match the wallpaper and the light fixtures, not for comfort. Every time I change position, the fabric is stiff and itchy, and the cushions slide. I imagine they looked really nice in the artist’s rendition: soothing earth tones, ample seating, inviting layout. It doesn’t work though. Instead I am just made that much more uncomfortable, irritated and irrational. The lighting is harsh, despite the fancy recessed bulbs. This makes me squint, but I doubt anyone could tell since my face feels swollen and puckered from crying.

My daughter is somewhere behind the heavy, industrial, cherry-wood doors opposite the room I am in. They glide open on hydraulics when someone with a plastic badge hurries past the waiting room doorway. I’m guessing a pocket door for this room might be hidden so people like me could be shut in and away from the public, or more likely kept away from the regular families, the ones who know how to contain their emotions during a crisis. But fuck that! Somewhere in that brightly lit maze of white washed walls, hard tile floors, fluorescent humming and indistinct murmurs is my little girl, with bandages wrapping her arms and legs, an IV dripping into her veins and her cold body piled under warmed blankets. And it’s your fault, and I will never forgive you. Good thing you aren’t here, or you would be back there in your own bed all bandaged and bruised, bleeding and possibly breathing only with assistance.

She said the pain inside is too much. She misses you but you never call or text, not even on holidays. She hates me and my new boyfriend who I had no right to bring into the FAMILY’S house. I went to her room to say hello. She was in the bathtub. There were broken razors and blood and a half empty bottle of FireBall Whiskey… She’s only 16. She was crying, but mostly tired. Now she’s sleeping. And hopefully when she wakes up, I’ll be able to shoulder the responsibility, to find the starting knot in all her tangled emotions and confusion, and will be able to unravel her threads of anger, hate, self doubt, pressure, and pain. This is why I hate you. And I will never forgive you.

(Author’s note: the image is not my own. I found it on another blog about cutters. I tried to find the initial source but have been unsuccessful. The story is a dramatization of actual events.) 

Disjointed by Death 

My mother died. I’m supposed to say it more gently; I’m supposed to say she’s passed or passed away, or something less offensive to the senses. I’m supposed to be more considerate, compassionate. I’ve never really been very good at doing what I’m supposed to do. 

Don’t take me to a car show or museum; all the “please don’t touch” signs encourage me to leave fingerprints under fenders and on marble statues. Tell me not to watch a movie because it’s terrible and it’s the next one I see. Ban a book and I put it on hold. Forbid a fruit and I make fruit salad. 

I’m also supposed to go easy on myself. I wasn’t there when she “went.” I was 1300 miles away, putting off packing to get on the plane to be there when she “passed.” Not a big fan of the dead and dying.  Not a funeral goer. Don’t go to memorials or celebrations of life. 

Now that I think about it, it’s not the dead I’m uncomfortable around, it’s their living. All that….that….that… grief. So condensed and inescapable. So dramatic. So inconsolable. And I have no idea how to respond to so much emotion in so small of a space. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say besides “Thank you” when someone says “I’m sorry to hear about your mother.” 

I probably should have asked her before she left… 

The Wheels on the Bus

I’m waiting for the bus. Not the Greyhound, the city metro. It’s running late. Almost 10 minutes late now. One guy at the stop already got pissed, spit on the sidewalk and walked off muttering about missed connections. I had hoped his tantrum would trigger Murphy’s Law but apparently it is not uniformly enforced.

The lady sitting on the bench next to me is trying to sell 3 transfers for $2. She’d have better luck if they weren’t rumpled and worn. I’d take the losing bet if I hadn’t swiped my bus fare from petty cash at the office. I feel slightly guilty about my debt. I owe the petty cash box a little over a hundred and fifty dollars. All those bus rides, diet cokes, fivers to keep the cable check from bouncing, and odd dollars for lunch from The Tamale Lady are adding up.

The bus is pulling up and I can see why it’s running late. Two girls are in the stairwell, gesturing widely, their heads swiveling while their mouths yawp like fish out of water. The doors swing open. It sounds like the school gymnasium during recess on a rain day. The girls shout about respect and keeping one’s hands to one’s self. I think they are the aggressors. I don’t tell them that. 

They tumble out of the bus, still yelling and waving, then walk off in the same direction as Missed Connection. Maybe they’ll meet up and have a cathartic conversation about respect, injustice and persecution. Damn the man! 

I get on the bus and the driver signals me past, waiving the fare. Inexplicably, I feel swindled. Some of these riders won’t have to pay at all, but I have 2 transfers before I get within walking distance of home. I harrumph to myself and shuffle down the aisle.

As I sit down, I realize I have become one of them. A bus person. One of those people who are dressed half a step out if season, my hoodie nobby on the inside, the sleeves stretched out like cotton funnels. I’m carrying a reusable grocery bag full of odds and ends, mail, and library books. My hair hasn’t  been properly cut in months and the grey is overtaking the cheap dye. And now I’m muttering to myself. Soon I’ll be trying to pawn off my transfers to pay down my petty cash debt….

Coffee Couture

I am sitting in Starbucks, drinking overpriced coffee, using their wifi because mine is disconnected at home. Does this make me BoHo because I’m wearing clogs and a peasant blouse and ordered the trendy Flat White? Or, because I’m middle aged and not wearing make up, am I pathetic and infringing on the territory of the upwardly mobile & credit card rich? At least I’m not at one of the “coffee houses” where they have open mic nights, and tables painted like chess boards, and regulars, who wave each other over every time the door opens & have their own ironic mugs on an antique book case.

The Starbucks wall is painted with a world map outlining coffee growing regions. I have decided I am not sufficiently pretentious enough to appreciate this, mainly because the descriptions of the coffees are like reading the meringue flavors at a pricey gourmet shop. “Sparkling with citrus and bright acidity….” Hunh? I have never noticed the citrus flavor in my latte. “Elegant and refined with layers of unfolding flavor-lemon, chocolate and soft spice” Fuck, my wedding cake wasn’t even described as well. (Then again, my wedding wasn’t very fancy; it involved a keg and my grandfather in a bathing suit at the reception. It also ended more truck stop coffee than Frappacino- finished the cup, realized it wasn’t that great, put a dollar on the counter, and waved goodbye, drawling “kiss my grits” on the way out.)

Ok, ok, ok… I fess up. I like Starbucks coffe. And besides I had a gift card leftover from Chrismas….

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Not Where I Was Supposed to Be When I Got Here

I had big plans- I got accepted to New School so I was going to move to NYC. Write the next Great American Novel. Buy a old warehouse and convert it into my shabby, chic junque, oh-so-very-retro-modern home with a farmhouse sink, claw foot tub, recessed lighting, stripper pole, and round bed with a mirror over it for shits and giggles… I would be invited to art house openings, MTV unplugged, wine tastings, and exclusive book readings. I’d show up wearing a gauzy peasant dress, combat boots, messy hair and a pierced lip (which was pretty wild in the early 90’s.) And I’d have cats, lots of floppy, aloof, well-mannered cats.

Ya, that didn’t exactly go as planned. Robert Frost can kiss my ass, “Not on the left, not on the right, but right down the middle!” Road less traveled, is there such a thing? It’s all on Google Maps now anyways…

So much for being some mysterious , enigmatic female version of Californication. Now I’m just middle: middle class, middle weight, middle America, middle aged… Lost in the aisles of walmart, hunched over my cart, contemplating solid or gel deodorants, doing coupon math. One of those pathetic cliches who lays in bed at night, hoping the mortgage check doesn’t bounce, wondering how to manage to pay for all the teenage paraphernalia and rights of passage, and wondering where & when I left that gutsy, punky, fuck you bitch I was the summer of ’89…

But I do have 4 cats….