It's been an up and down not quite right everything scattered everywhere kind of a month as usual I weave my way through the chaos not altogether gracefully tripping over this and a couple times that but I had a minute and chatted with an old friend and maybe it's because we travel in the same circles or perhaps because the universe saw fit to summon you back into my consciousness we spoke of you briefly and I said I wished we had never been together because I missed your friendship that was enough of that and I went about my measured sprinting in accomplishing all the things needing to be accomplished and then the cruel joke from humorless gods a song one I hadn't heard in almost a year picked perfectly its moment to reemergeturning the still embedded knife slow in my gut a reminder that it was beautiful for a minute but also knowing with the heaviness of its truth it was not so glorious that it was worth losing a friend.
"Don’t forget where you came from" I haven’t I won’t. Every time my boys cry I remember My little brother Not even 7 Quickly wiping away tears Because he was being called a faggot A sissy boy. A “little girl” Those last two words hurled with a sneer Because we all knew, having feelings was relegated to the card carrying vagina members And that was shameful Pathetic. Uncles and his own mother MY mother Drug addled and bitter Insults as poisonous darts Piercing my gentle younger sibling’s soul. No. I don’t forget where I came from When I call them to me My weeping children Upset Bothered Sad Angry Feelings are everything and sometimes can only be expressed through tears. I hold them close. I ask them to use their words. Sometimes I am just as frustrated as they are. But I’ll not shame them. Ever. "Don’t forget where you came from." I fucking remember. I learned how to swallow the torrents of pain which threatened to Break through the dam of my lids I’m tough I’m untouchable Crying is for the weak You’ll never break me. I am Stronger Than All Of You. When my mother called me a whore after I had been raped at 12. When my grandmother told me I “shouldn’t have been out that late” after being assaulted and almost gang raped at 16. When anyone I had ever put trust in proved to be unworthy of that privilege. Yes. I remember where I came from. I came from The Vicious Cycle. I came from the Women Who Accepted The Very Least And Counted It As The Best, I came from the Long Line of Toxic Masculinity Disguised As The Norm I came from the Over and Over and Over And Over AGAIN Because That’s JUST HOW IT IS. I remember where I came from. My great-grandmother doing her best to shield me from the Bad Touch Uncles. Failing. Begging me to not anger my grandmother because she could not stand to hear her beat me. Shamed because it was a mirror of her past behaviors. My grandmother crying in silence when she got the news her mother had passed. Becoming stoic in less than a second of being noticed. After all, she had to be “strong”. More guilt than grief for she hadn’t been kind to her ailing mother. My mother nursing wounds in private which occurred decades ago because trust wasn’t her strong suit. Self-medicating in the worst way; escapism was easier than the thorny shit reality left to face. Homeless, drug addict, write off. I remember where I came from. I came from a great great grandmother who was married to a 27 year old man at the age of 12. A woman who had her first living child of a dozen at the age of 14. A woman married to a man who liked his little girls a little too much, which did not exclude his own daughters. A woman who never knew an easy day the way we know easy days. I came from a great grandmother who took her 3 little girls, left her husband and the boxcar they were living in to search for something better. A woman who started fresh in Chicago, working several jobs, never taking a husband until her girls had married on their own for fear of what they would suffer at the hands of a strange man. A woman who worked hard her entire life to leave something of substance for her girls. A woman who failed at being kind to her daughters, whose love and desire to protect became unyielding suffocation and unnecessarily harsh discipline. I came from a grandmother dedicated to never being as cruel in punishment as her own mother was, yet failing because she unfortunately had her mother's temper. A woman who decided that after all the heartbreak, she would rather spend the rest of her days alone. No one could hurt her if she didn't allow them into her life. A woman who raised her grandchildren in hopes to fix the past mistakes she made with her own. A woman who was sorry, but had not any inkling on how to apologize. I came from a mother with a heart so huge and compassionate, you’d never see it past her stony exterior. A woman with enough demons to stock a second hell. A woman who has not yet forgiven herself for things everyone else has already forgotten. A woman who could have been a good mother, had anyone ever given her the chance and belief. "Don’t Forget Where You Came From." People toss that around like it means money. Stature. Material Bullshit. I remember where I came from. A long line of women Who could have been EVERYTHING. Were they not women. Women Who were weak when they should have been strong, mistaking what it was to be either. Women Who loved and were never loved back Women Who woke up every day… wondering… Is This Fucking It. Women who tried. Who stopped trying because it just didn't seem worth it. Women fierce and soft kind and cruel quiet and loud Women who have taught me albeit inadvertently just how important it is to live life with compassion and forgiveness. How important it is to know my worth. I carry a piece of each In random memories of their grimaces, frown lines creasing foreheads. Black & white photos of forced smiles. Candid polaroids of true joy. Spontaneous thoughts and ideas of how to be better. Song lyrics out of the blue which they would hum during the few moments when they were happy (a character trait of which I am happy has been passed down through the generations) I'll never forget. I am well aware of Who I am. Where I came from.
should have known better
fruit is always the sweetest
right before it rots
there’s a lot of people who come through the corner bar. the neighborhood middle class regulars needing a break from the kids. labor guys covered in dirt and dust, always ordering domestic. the ones who NEED the drink, hands jittery, searching for the crumpled up twenty borrowed from a friend.
and then there’s the one offs.
the ones who stop in and you never see again.
the random passers-by who had a good day, a bad day, need to pass some time for an hour or so – i am always amicable and of service, but reticent. it’s my nature.
such is the way of the local watering hole…
i think as i clock in for my shift.
another slow night. more of the same banal small talk, random chit chat with the same people, repeating the same stories, retelling the same jokes.
he walks in. a one off. older, 60’s maybe, quiet at first. kind eyes. i can always see the truest intent of someone in their eyes. i am comfortably friendly.
the night goes on.
he likes to talk, he explains to me that he’s a first generation italian and an extrovert. i respond that i am neither.
“well, that’s a shame aaaand you’re in the wrong business, hon.”
don’t i know it.
i am tired.
the constant conversations with the crowd are draining me.
even the one off.
though we’re keeping it to a basic back and forth.
nothing too personal.
hobbies, dislikes, pet peeves…
and now the bar is emptying.
he asks to close out.
i hand him his check, he signs the slip, but before he goes – he grabs my hand.
“listen. i’m an empath.”
i am visibly cynical. there is no hiding the defenses going up.
“oh you.” he pats my hand with the other not holding it.
“listen, i’m an empath and i’m not telling you this for any other reason that i’ve known this about myself since i was a kid. and i can feel your hesitancy right now, but hear me out. as an empath, we can always tell when there’s another one of us. you, my dear, are an empath.”
i begin to disagree, but i am cut short.
“you can call it highly intuitive if you want. i get the feeling you don’t like labels. but i bet you probably know what someone is feeling before THEY even do.”
i am silent. he’s not wrong.
“the only reason i’m bringing any of this up is because i can tell you been through some things yet still remain a KIND soul. you have a good heart. and i just want to say that i think it’s wonderful that you haven’t let those things make you hard. your kindness, your goodness – are beautiful qualities to have. and to have kept them this long… *pause*… just be careful. there are people who will take advantage of that. know when to walk away.”
i think i mumbled thank you. i was a bit taken aback.
he stood up, fit his winter hat about his head, gave the smallest smile tinged with the tiniest speck of rue, and left.
were it not for the credit card slip, i’d say he wasn’t even real.
he was. and his words landed.
lately, i’ve been second guessing decisions i’ve made… this was a needed jolt to the senses.
and i know i don’t always listen to the Universe. 90% never.
okay, love. i hear you. loud and clear.
*paying attention… paying attention to the Universe when it is talking to me.*
It hit especially hard this morning.
It’s been a a good long while since it has happened. The weight of the past crushing me while I sat in my car waiting for the light to change to green. All because I took a minute to examine my surroundings. The neighborhood hit with gentrification. All the old replaced with new.
The burger place was now a bank. The corner pharmacy now empty, a For Lease sign clinging to the storefront, dusty and tattered. I knew this area once. Long ago, another life, a homeless teen sharing a basket of fries with the other delinquents. Lifting bags of chips and hygiene products from across the street.
I drove past the alley I slept in.
Before I learned that my body was a commodity that could be exchanged for a night out of the cold.
All the independent coffee shops with the bottomless cups keeping me/us warm during the long days…gone.
I felt my eyes welling.
I tried to shake the shadows off.
I kept driving. Taking deep breaths. Fighting against the rising tide of panicked sadness. And then I saw the greasy spoon I took my first child to when he was still in diapers. Yet another version of myself that I couldn’t bear to be reminded of. A young mother who knew nothing of receiving unconditional love but poured herself into loving a child she could barely care for and knowing it. Letting him reside with his father because she didn’t have her shit together enough to provide for him the way he deserved.
Drinking until the guilt faded into the next sick hungover morning.
The guilt turning into feelings of being unworthy.
Being unworthy turning to multiple attempts of suicide.
I always failed.
Because at my core, I was a coward. I didn’t want to live. But I was afraid of dying.
The pall was enveloping me quick.
My cheeks were wet with tears. This city, which I had tried to run from before, was bombarding me with all the things I had tucked away so neatly. Or so I thought. My mistakes, failings, friendships, loves, heartbreaks – my heart was flooded, drowning. No use now. So I succumbed to the tide pulling me under.
Sobbing, I thought of you.
How we were going to “make new memories to replace the old”.
There is no such thing.
The old will always resurface. Intertwined, reminding of us of who we were. What we have been through. We can be grateful that we have progressed. We have transcended the previous models. I am Me, Model 273. Maybe. I don’t know, I’ve lost track of the many skins I’ve shed. I just know that I will continue to evolve and that soon, the places and time we shared together will eventually join the rest.
Another shadow following me until I stop moving.
I have too many things going on in my head sometimes. Serious things, ridiculous things – all manner of subjects running around like sugar soaked toddlers, haphazardly and clumsily bumping into each other, making a high holy mess of all I have worked so hard to compartmentalize. And I am powerless to stop what has already begun.
When it’s over (it does eventually wear itself out) there goes everything. All my ideas, opinions, notions, deep introspections, flights of whimsical meandering musings – just trashed and laid out. Passed out amid the broken boxes of what I had once tucked away, never to be bothered with again.
But that happens. It happens all the time. And I am once again set to task with the cleanup of my mind. And this makes me moody. It is not something I can easily explain to my significant other. To my friends. Hell, to myself. I have tried… but the best I’ve come up with is, “My head is messy today.”
Today is not Messy. It is the Day After Messy. I assess, recalibrate the gears of my inner mechanics, and attempt to move forward again. The Day After, I am in a much better state of being. Happy, even. Or as close to happy as I can get. Maybe this makes sense, maybe it doesn’t.
Eh. Just trying to maintain a semblance of sanity. *wink wink*
I found this saved in an old folder – I decided to move to San Antonio, Texas in March of 2011. I made the ridiculously long drive from Chicago, Illinois. Sharing is caring – don’t stay at the Ranch Motel i.e. plan ahead. Always make sure there’s gas in your car. Stay away from late night Waffle Houses.
The Drive…In short.
Every state is the longest state when driving alone southward and the only radio stations being picked up by the scan button are either A. Country B. Christ related or C. Classic Rock. You might get lucky and hit that ONE station that combines two of the three, but let’s not get your hopes up. MAYBE if you’re going through Arkansas.
Hitting a Waffle House at 11:30 at night in a po dunk(sp?) town of Oklahoma is a wonderful idea for women traveling alone who happen to be height/weight proportionate and possess all of their teeth… if they desire to be potentially followed by swarthy, unshowered trucker type men who look like the ONLY place they’ve ever eaten at their entire lives has been The Waffle House.
But know what? Oklahoma ain’t too bad. One billboard simply read “thinkimpregant.com”. H’m… okay. A mile later another billboard stated “Need to talk?” and held below that a suicide hotline number. Awesome. Yet, not nearly as brilliant as the giant sign reading “Going to Hell?” Um. Not sure – haven’t checked my mail lately and I very rarely ever check my voicemails. And if the notification went directly to Spam in my junk email account – well, I just don’t know! However, I’m not pregnant and have no suicidal intentions, so I think I might be in the clear. Let me get back to you on that.
Lastly, after becoming slightly confused, I tried to take the US-69 route only to find that it was a looooong stretch of unlit country road. After checking my gas gauge and seeing that I only had a quarter tank left, I began to panic. There were NO gas stations in sight and I began to fear being stranded on the side of the road with an Ed Geins kind of person waiting in the shadows to rape me/kill me/skin me and use my dehydrated flesh as his new kitchen curtains. While I think I’d make a lovely set, not really how I wanted to end up.
Obviously, I found my way. (yaaay…)
Due to obscene traffic in Waco and Fort Worth, I arrived late. That’s okay… the boyfriend was supposed to have rented a room and I could use a shower and a comfortable bed.
Spring break/Musical festivals/Conventions – every decent affordable place was booked. The place we ended up deciding on out of sheer exhaustion and exasperation was called the Ranch Motel. I’d like to skip past this part. Still traumatized. Think the movie “Vacancy”. Only dirtier. With worse lighting. Minus impending torture and death… for that night. But on the bright side, there was a nice hole next to the bottom of the door in case rats or snakes wanted to get in or out. How considerate.
I’m here. I’m alive. Going through job lists… and I’m not freaked out. I thought I’d be more of a wreck. Normally, I’d be in a situation like this and be mortified, beside myself with anxiety and planning my escape posthaste. Yet, I am strangely at ease in this new environment and have met with little to no nervousness when evaluating my future prospects. After voicing my concern over my lack of unease to my cousin Venus, she said, “That’s just a sign that you did the right thing. It means you’re supposed to be here.”
I can live with that.
Everything turned out okay – 4 1/2 years later, the drive back home North was MUCH better. Next time, I’m flying.