Seven

Is there another world you know?
I’m keeping a rigour on the snow. 

To wait and see

See it quiver from below

Below the leaves.

On loving that heavenly face…

Time is the only thing I know
The middle of your mixed up six words
Nothing more.

My love is proud, my love is small

My love is a Friday pouring
And a black wave cresting and
Crashing down the living room shore.

You say it in a foreign tongue.

…But you don’t know a thing, about the things I’ve done.

Omit

When I look at myself in the mirror I still see little glimmers of her. Not as much these days yet, I know she’s always there trying to whisper in my ear.  

She’s like a snake in the reeds who slithered out into the open carrying between her fangs, what I wanted to keep hidden from the world. 

She is me and I am her. We are the same being and we both have a secret.

I have a secret.

Like all secrets, Its wrapped into layers of lies, deceit, resentment, anger, shame and love. Also, like all secrets…it came out.

I was twenty-five when it started. I was thirty when it ended. 

My past may not define me, yet my secret does and it always will.

———-


Do I use my real name? “No. Pen name… Always a pen name. Or just my first name, could we just use my first name?”

“Alicia, you understand if you use a pen name, you lose that creative recognition. Think about it. Please.”

My agent and I have had this ‘name’ debate for over a year and it’s something I can never commit to. What does she know? Look at Cher…Madonna? They only used one name.

She also hates that I take what I like to call, an ‘intermission’ during the year. My writing is motivated by season, (typically fall and winter).

In my defense as an artist, you need time to breathe life in, so when you exhale: art appears. Plus, I hate being rushed and if you tell me to do something, I do it at my own pace because it’s the only passive-aggressive form of rebellion I’m allowed these days. 

Unfortunately this argument between us goes beyond our normal petty disagreements. My real name terrifies me and what it’s been attached to…My secret.

In 2009 my then husband and I paid thousands of dollars to remove it from search engines and background checks. Yes, there are companies who do that. This makes things difficult when applying for a job because the information is always wrong, so I have to keep a paper copy of my college transcripts on hand along with solid letters of reccomendations. Also, since all of my years of working in journalism were washed away, if I do freelance work, I have to scan in, or fax over copies of my portfolio to the editor, like some hillbilly. 

Luckily, shortly after I was wiped clean from Google, I went into the less infamous world of copy and began to use a pen name that I’ve given only to family and one friend.

To be honest, I don’t like the anonymity because as as a writer, my agent is right – Of course I’d like to be known for what I create. Yet, I’m afraid.

Granted, if you know me…you can find me. My name brings up my social media account and all the things I put out in any public space, pretty much anything after 2009 and by all appearances, my life is boring and boring is good. Boring is under-the-radar and unassuming. Besides the more stable I appear the less my past can touch me. 

Or so I thought…and hoped. Really, I just wasn’t expecting it show up now, nearly eight years later. Nor was I expecting it to come from the hands of man who’d been dead for nearly seven of those years.

———–

Act I: The Proposal

There have been five marriage proposals in my life…I said yes to two. 
The first, we were very young and I immediately asked him if he was crazy. My answer wasn’t a solid ‘no’, or ‘yes’; maybe. When he left to boot camp, I wrote him a break-up letter, which read: 

I don’t love you enough to spend forever with. Plus you fucked my best friend.

Have fun getting brainwashed, Alicia. 

It was to the point and we’re now friends on Facebook. 

The second was Tim and I was still young; rebound. We only dated for a short time, yet now looking back I often wonder if I should have married him. 

Quick facts about him: He was five years older and had already graduated college with than I was and had a degree in philosophy. The summer we met, he was working on his masters. He was taller, average build and had green eyes. He was good looking by all accounts but not in the conventional sense. 

Sometimes he could be dramatic and was far better at expressing himself than I was. He never called me ‘pretty’, or ‘beautiful’, instead…’alluring’. For some reason that made me cringe because I thought it was cheesy and over-the-top.

In my youth, I wanted to hear, ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’, which oddly enough, now I hate. Yet, the word was specific to him. We’ll come back to that later.

He liked to have post-coital conversations about existentialism and then roll over and read comic books while eating toast. He was a clean freak and kicked a roommate out for never cleaning the fridge and he hated wearing shoes. He would never take his shirt off in public because of a large scar that ran from his sternum down to his naval and the quick stares made him uneasy. 

It was so bad that once we went camping and the group we were with decided to jump into a nearby lake, yet he wouldn’t take off his hoodie so he jumped in with it on and I now have a picture of me in a bikini and him in a soaking wet hoodie and boxer briefs.

He wrote his thoughts down everyday in a little green Moleskine and we’d write little notes and letters to each other, even though we lived in the same city. He liked to write as much as I did but his style was more raw and relaxed which countered against his anxiety.

He liked music and played guitar and violin, he taught me to finger-pick “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen and he hated most new music and country.

He had a quiet and easy sense of humor that could bring me to tears in laughter – His wit was razor sharp. Every choice he made was planned, calculated and intentional, he never liked being caught off-guard and I appreciated that. He was by-far the smartest man I’ve ever dated.

After four months of being a couple, he proposed, in a record store, over vinyl copies of The Oakridge Boys. That was unintentional.

I said “no”.

If you’ve ever broken someone’s heart, then you know that your words of rejection are visualized in their face. You can see their mind begging with every breath:

Stop. Time. Please…stop. 

It was if my words became my hand and as they reached above my head… and as he’s praying for time to stop – it slows; the weight of my body is felt within six-inches of flesh, laid out across my palms and hitting against his cheek, causing my words to slap needles into his heart.

…He didn’t even ask me why after, he just looked at me, eyes welled-up and walked out of the store.

I sat there looking at Joe Bonsall’s stupid fro and fan-blown tie smiling back at me saying: ‘You’re a piece of shit.’

Our breakup was bitter. When we finally talked he said that there was no option besides ending what we had. He told me that I only said ‘no’ because I was “afraid to be happy, that I loved misery and that I didn’t love myself enough to ever accept that I could be with anyone that treated me well…That I overthought all the bad and overlooked the good. That I’d be alone forever because I was my own worst enemy.”

I told him to fuck-off, called him two-faced and pretentious and ignored him anytime he tried to call me. He even wrote me an apology letter that I opened, ripped up and sent back. 

That was my last physical memory of him.

Regret number one: Marry the guy that proposes to you in a record store.

———–

Before my son was born I was on bed-rest for the last four months and when I delivered, I nearly died from a fever, then he nearly died from an infection and then I nearly died two weeks after he was home due to another infection. This caused me to manically pump, dump (due to medications) bottle feed and then pump again. 

My son took a while to get back into a normal feeding schedule and the first week he latched, I got a message that I didn’t notice for another week. It was Tim’s sister with a simple question: Is this Alicia from…

When I responded with a ‘yes,’ she took another week to respond. 

The news was sad. Tim had died in 2010 and he requested to have her give me the things he had saved during our courtship. Little mementos of letters along with photos, stuffed in a box. Relics of our failed and quick relationship. 

My immediate reaction was shock yet, I remembered that he had a genetic illness that had the potential to shorten his life, which it did at thirty-nine. Relatively ‘old’ for his disease. It was the same illness that gave him the scar along his torso, the one he was always embarrassed of. 

My second reaction was, ‘We only dated for three? Maybe four months? How much could he have saved?’

Because there had been so much time between us I really didn’t know what to think, or feel? Sadness, yes. Empathy for his family, of course. However, I had removed him from my immediate memory so he was sort of a stranger to me; just some guy I used to date.

When it was delivered, it was in a J. Crew shoe box and the illustration on the side was that of a black Derby shoe, size 12. It smelled like the back of a cold deli truck and his sister wrote a note advising of his burial address if I wanted to visit. Illinois, outside of Chicago. 

At first I was drawn to the photos, probably because it was quick and I was breastfeeding my son. There were a lot of letters but I couldn’t really sit and read through any of them, especially with a new baby attached to me.

All the pictures were fastened together in a binder clip, and the stack of letters were perfectly bound with cooking twine. The little engagement ring with my birthstone, still in the box along with movie ticket stubs and a book were set to the side. It was at the least, prepared perfectly and aesthetically pleasing, almost intentional. Very much him.

After a few minutes, it felt wrong going through things that belonged to a dead guy that I hadn’t seen in nearly twenty years. It was as though I was invading his privacy, peeking into a life I chose to pass up. Plus the pictures made my postpartum worse and I got too sad to keep looking at them. So I boxed it all up in the hopes to come back to it later…Instead I forgot. 

Until a week ago, three years later. 

Regret number two: Forgetting how short life really is and not making an effort for those that made an effort for me, even after I’ve rejected them.

————

When I tell new friends that they would have hated me before 2009 they laugh and say, “Oh I doubt it.” Or “I could never change my opinion of you; nothing you could do could make me think less or differently of you.” 

Now that may be true, yet when my secret came out, all of my close friends who found out, only two stayed. Two. 

Even now, I have friends from before who never found out and I’ll never tell them either. There was a friend I did tell and she sent me back the gifts I had made her with a note saying, ‘You’re disgusting and never contact me again.’ It’s a sweet memory. In my defense she was really, really religious. 

When it was happening, I wasn’t thinking. No one ever really thinks about the repercussions when they think they have something to gain. 

The morning my husband found out, his face went pale and he sat in the guest room for hours, only to emerge for two-minutes to tell me that if I didn’t tell my family, he’d divorce me.  

My first husband was my third proposal and it was in a mall, while we were looking at rings. He just plainly asked and I said yes – I hated it.

——–

Act II: The Aftermath

Like most things, time has been a benefit to me because at this point in my life, I can handle my secret – I lived it. In fact, any pain or heartbreak I’ve felt since, pales in comparison to what I’ve already encountered. 

That is the one redeeming benefit of my wicked choice, I understand and manage pain far better than most and I do it without pushing it aside, hoping it will go away.

Instead I try to deal with my problems head-on so I can get through and cope without it showing up five-years later while getting shit-faced in a hotel bar, with other miserable drunks. Or by living in denial and surrounding myself with people that I think I’m superior to, even though I’m exactly like them.

Because that’s what people do when they lie to themselves and a secret at its core, it’s a lie and lies don’t just hurt you, they hurt everyone that cares about you and when you take away trust, you take away your legitimacy. The secret doesn’t just shame you, it can also make you a liar.

Even if you change completely, that one big lie can’t always prevent the old you from showing-up, between the gaps of your shit-eating grin when people from your past run into you at Target.

Even now there are family members that leave the room in disgust over the sight of me.  

The residual effects has created a cavern of other problems in my life and because what I did it was so damning, I’m even a little fearful to write this, the vague story of it. 

In relationships, it impacts my intimacy greatly. One minute I’ll be ‘hot’ the next I’m ‘cold’ because I know the closer I get to someone, it can’t be avoided and after I feel comfortable and I see that there is a future, I  ask my new boyfriend the question I hate asking:

“There is something you may want to know about me. It’s a part of me and I’m giving you the opportunity to ask as much as you’d like about it. My question is if you want to know?”

Luckily I’ve only had to ask this twice. Gavin said yes and he was understanding, which is his best trait and then he pelted me with questions until 3 AM, which I cried through because although I don’t dwell on it, if I go into depth about it, it’s awful to re-live. He’s never mentioned it since and has been sympathetic to the situation when it arises.

My sons father came back with, “Does it effect you now?”.

My response: “No. Not immediately.” 

He never asked any follow-up questions and instead said, “We’ve all done bad things. Some worse than others. Your kindness is bigger than anything shitty you could have done in your past.”

He hasn’t asked about it again. 

He was my fourth proposal, my sons father. He placed the ring around my dogs neck and got on bended knee in the guest room of my mothers house, I was nine-months pregnant. It was sweet and sincere and involved the dog I loved most. So far, my favorite.

Recently a potential relationship unraveled and ended with a friend, that I can only say was an unofficial long-distance romantic relationship. Prior to that, there was a long friendship, nearly seven years… I considered him one of my best. 

We were like binary stars, separated by a mass that could only be measured with the use of google maps and what we may have matched in passion, creativity and love, we lost in consistency. 

Most of the time I felt slightly secure in our intimacy, however my intuition told me to not tell him anything until we met. He was always upfront about who he was and his actions have always been predictable. Because of that, I never saw a future, even when I had hoped for one. 

When he failed to follow through there was a tiny sense of relief that I’d never have to give into the same question I had asked in my previous relationships, because if asking him, he’d want me to tell him, even if it didn’t effect me immediately and I don’t think he’d be as kind about it. Not that he’d be cruel. He would just be him and his reaction just is. 

…Something you should know about him: He is a good man and I love him. 

Regret number three: “I don’t have any regrets.”

———–

Act III: The Corpse

Me at twenty: Gregarious, educated, charming, outgoing, fun, sexual and well… beautiful. 

It sought me out like the devil and I being curious like eve, took the apple.  

Me at thirty: Liar, angry, resentful, hateful, vindictive, bitter, opportunistic, stubborn, unforgiving, shallow, ugly. Pugnacious…Defensive. 

I allowed another person to temporarily destroy what I valued the most about my self. My ability to be empathetic.

…Sometimes fate has a hand in my words.

————-

December 1999

Alicia, 

You’re a fucking bitch. You think you know how I feel?! You don’t know shit. I would have done anything for you. Anything. 

You’re immature and you think you know shit, you don’t know anything. Never talk to me again. Have fun with your new fucking life.

You bitch!

————

Recently I bought a house and in my storage I found three boxes, within one box. The main box was labeled ‘decorations’ inside that was a J.Crew shoe box, size 12. Style: Derby. Color: Black. 

I put it on my counter and it stared at me for a week. Even the box knew I was avoiding it. Then it took a chance. The same week my unofficial, somewhat long-distance romance was to be visiting from San Francisco never showed up, the box took it as an opportunity and I got into a head-on collision instead, totaling my car and sending me into the hospital. 

When my family brought me home my sister asked if she could get me a book to read….I sighed and gave in. The box was now in my hands again.
———–

March 2000

Alicia,

I don’t know if I’m even going to send this. What’s the point? You’ll send it back. Maybe I just like writing to the idea of you because that’s the best version of you. Something I made up because the reality of you blows.

Shouldn’t be thinking of you at all but it’s your birthday and I can’t fucking help it. I hope it sucks and you get an STD!!!!!

Fuck OFF!

————

We all at some point in our lives have written an angry letter or two. None of my letters were sent to their intended recipient because of this exact situation. If I die, I don’t want a letter of me bitching someone out to be the last memory they have of me. No, I throw them away.

When I opened these letters from Tim, most of them were short, angry and well, weird, at least the ones right after the break-up. Some made me laugh really hard and others made me feel sad and guilty, however the secondary emotion faded as I read on. 

Something else I realized: This was me before the secret. My big sin changed me in such a way that I’ve forgotten who I was before. So far it was revealing that maybe I was a bit of a jerk. 

Yet, it was a time capsule of my emotions from the viewpoint of someone that had loved me unconditionally, and unconditional love is the rarest form of love. 

Inside were also the letters I had written to him – even the ripped up one I had sent back. Those made me the most uncomfortable to read and I’d squirm with each paragraph. Nothing’s more embarrassing than you’re own naïveté.

Tim and I broke up before I moved and the reason why I said no, isn’t important now because I can’t change it and my answer would be the same.

As I read the letters, the ones we wrote back-and-fourth were kind and sweet. We would both doodle on our notes and it paralleled to the recent letters I had sent to my now ex-friend in San Francisco, although he never wrote back the alignment of the letters’ similarities made me sad. 

Then it made me think…

Tim was completely accurate in his earlier description of me in my youth. That I didn’t love myself enough to accept any good treatment given to me. That I overlooked the good and that I liked misery. In my defense, misery was all I knew, prior examples given to me were framed in misery. 

Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate kindness and generosity more. Tim was someone who was present and always giving of his time for people he cared about. Looking back, I didn’t feel worthy of any of that, not even the simplicity of time. 

When I got to the bottom of the stack there were more letters that had been written to me in the years after we broke up, all the way into 2010. 

Even though my name was at the top, I think at times he was writing to himself, in fact I’m confident that he was.

———–

January 2007

Alicia,

I found these old letters to you I never sent. You were the only girl to write to me and we only lived ten minutes away. That was cool. 

You were really cool all together. Really smart and funny, artistic. Outgoing in public and then shy at home. You were sort of weird. In a good way. For a long time I hated you and really I just hated that you rejected me.

Now I think I know why. My health sucks lately and I wouldn’t want to be with someone who has what I have. Then you worry your kids have it [sic]. Maybe I’ll look you up online?

I’m sorry for being angry with you. I still love you in a way. You were my first and last marriage proposal, I hope you’re happy. 

Heard a story on NPR about modern philosophers and the value of a good quote. 

Here’s one I like lately, “Resiliency without action equals complacency” 

I’ve been reading about famous last words, I hope mine is memorable. Told my mom to put my last words on my epitaph, even if it’s just a long moan.

I wonder what you look like now? I feel like I look old. Maybe I just feel old.

-Tim

———–

When a relationship ends all emotions fall into one word: Disappointment. 
In the beginning we create hope and that has the tendency to create minor expectations, which swell into the tactile reality of what’s is ‘to be’ expected. So in the end there lies disappointment and in my opinion, it is the axis of all heartbreak. 

———-

June 2009

Alicia,

I think I found you. Your last name is different so I can guess you got married. There are no pictures of any guy, at least on the account I found of you. Divorced? Separated? Married but ashamed of who you married? Not as good looking as Tim?

You’re so alluring in your pictures, you look mysterious and calm but seductive. Beauty can’t touch you. Your inside is out. 

When I found you I was drinking a little and I almost wrote you a message but I’m too afraid, don’t wanna drunk message. [sic]

You’re probably not even the girl I knew. Now you’re not a girl at all. When I searched for you last year I found a lot of articles written by the new you. There were a few favorites that made me laugh.

The comment sections on a few of them, had some pretty weird things about you and I’m curious because I found the same person commenting on every other piece I read. The same thing. Is it true? Did you…? [sic].

Lately I’ve been writing to a few people. My disease is at its end, so I’m sorry I can’t say that you’re special but I can because everyone else I’m writing I never had sex with.  

Majestic lover of your dreams,

-Tim
————

When I read that last line, “Did you…?” my heart sank. Great, he found out before he died, although without giving him any confirmation I wonder if he ever believed it. 

Reading through his stack of letters with my friend Paul I asked for his male perspective. The only thing he could say was, “That’s a really sweet compliment: you’re inside is out. It’s like you have inner beauty that shows in your pictures, that’s super thoughtful and it seems like he really loved you. You’re a jerk!” 

Not helpful.
————
March 2010

Alicia,

Do you still have that notebook? The little one you carried around. You still take notes down? (Yes, I do…using my iPhone, constantly).

Remember how pissed you got when I skimmed through it? Back then I thought it was dumb that you didn’t let me look. Now I get it. My notes before a class are in my own mental order, I’d get irritated when my girlfriend is picking up and moves them around. 

I can’t stop thinking about what I read. If it’s true, I’m sorry. Tried to look again and you’re gone, except a new account that looks really private. Glad I wrote your name down, I don’t know how to say it. Is that Italian? It brought up a lot of Italian things when I googled. No way to message you, it didn’t give me the option. 

Guess you don’t want to be bothered by some gross ex anyway haha. Can I guess what I read was true too [sic]. Wonder if you ever look me up? You probably do, all the time. You can’t stop dreaming of me, I understand.

Sorry you put yourself in that situation and that you have to live with it. If you’re still dealing with it, it’ll get better. When we dated I liked that you looked at everyone as good and I hope people look at you like that. 

We make mistakes and I think yours probably hurt you the most. It sucks when we screw ourselves over. It’s that whole self-sabotage thing.

For a while I was really fucking pissed that you sent me back my letter, ripped up. For a long time just the thought of it made me mad and when I read those comments about you it was a weird satisfaction for me, then I felt guilty because I think you’ve made a lot of pain for yourself and no ripped-up letter of mine deserves that level of vindication. [sic]

The other thing I remember about you is that you’re not apathetic or ever lived an apathetic life. I said in my quote to you. Resiliency without action is complacency and you’ve obviously forced some change and done alright for yourself. I can tell that whatever truth may be out there, it probably made you better. I would really like to message you, just to meet this other version of you. Maybe you’d like the geriatric version of me? A lot of women like older men.

If not, some advice from the same older and gross ex. I remember you said you didn’t have any regrets, at twenty does anyone? 
Bet you have a few now… It’s weird that I still sort of view you as twenty. In my mind, you’ll always be sitting in the fountain of youth. It’s the best part of memories, no one gets old.

You know, regret is alright because there are levels to it and people think that if you do, it means you want to change things. Not the case. The trick is to not resent anyone or anything because that just means you live in the past… and that means your regret is based in the past and that means you haven’t gotten over it.

Live a good and happy life and don’t dwell but have compassion for yourself when regret does come, understand you made that choice at the time for a reason, good or bad and it’s okay to want to go back and change a few things. Maybe you’ll read this one day and I’ll be a regret? Wishful thinking never hurt too. 

One last philosophy quote from me that you won’t read until I’m dead…

Acceptance does not equal agreement. Please understand this Alicia

I love you still, 

Tim

P.S. Happy Birthday 

————

Timing in life is everything. There’s a reason I never read these letters until now. He gave me posthumous existential wisdom that I’m grateful for.

Regret is something I do believe we all have, on some level, he’s right. Mine is more wanting to take back the way I hurt those I’ve loved. Luckily I don’t have any ‘hot’ or ‘angry’ regret. He’s part of my regret though because I was an utter bitch to him and he was someone who showed me unconditional acceptance and love. Now I get a little mournful when I hear songs I know he loved, or see books from the authors he introduced me to.

Also I agree, just because I regret a few things, it doesn’t mean I’d go back and change them, even if I could. 
After reading the last letter, he wasn’t a stranger anymore. He was a guy I dated and loved, just not the way he wanted me to. 

He gave me good advice too. When my friend from San Francisco never came, I wasn’t immediately mad, I mean I hadn’t really heard from him for a almost a month before his visit and about two weeks before his trip and still not hearing from him, it was pretty obvious. So I wrote him a letter, to assure him that I cared for him, regardless of his lack of arrival and that I’d still be his friend and that I loved him.

Then when he did respond, I was embarrassed for him and his actions, which in turn created a trigger for me to look into my own faults, thus allowing some empathy for his choices. 

The thing about empathy is that people think it means you’re feeling ‘for them’ but instead you’re feeling, ‘with them’ and I could definitely feel with him. That’s when I realized that I sort of love what my secret did for me.  

It changed me for the better.

Tim was right, it’s good to be compassionate especially with ourselves, not on a selfish entitled level, but at a human level where we understand the repercussions of our flaws and accept them for what they are, disagreeing with our choices; yet being self-actualized enough to understand why we made them with the motivation to change. That’s acceptance, for oneself.

My big failure has taught me to be more forgiving and understanding. In an argument I’m selective about the battles I pick and when someone screws me over, I’m quick to forgive, yet not without telling them exactly how they made me feel – I’m not a pushover. 

If anything I’m persistent if I feel that they’re trying to avoid me, because as kind and warm as I can be, I’m just as pointed and specific with my word choice when angered. 

Yet, I do truly move on from things and I still accept them, as well as making sure to never bring it up again, because I can’t be the delivery method for another persons guilt by re-hashing an already ‘forgiven’ argument…If anything, it just makes me more aware of their potential.

The other person who is part of my secret, well…they haven’t seemed to change however, I know very little about their life and think even less about them. 

When I was writing this, I had a cousin search for them online and I found nothing remarkable or worth noting, I hope they’re happy though. They deserve it. Today’s their birthday and it’s a coincidence that I’m polishing this piece as they probably celebrate.

———-

My son was my fifth proposal and it was more of a demand after fixing a broken train track with super glue. 

“Thank you momma, you marry me okay.”

…I said ‘no.’

“….Acceptance does not equal agreement. Please understand this Alicia.”

I love you still, 
Tim

Six

The nights are getting colder now, the air is getting crisp,

I first tasted the universe on a night like this,

A box of wine, and I’ll abide, in the hunger in her eyes

In place where the tree of good and evil, still resides

Homecoming, Homecoming

 

I’m not like other girls; just give me your bad self

And a place for us to make a stand and I can move the world

Lift the valley from the floor, honey; I’ll turn to the sky

They’ll say that it’s a miracle and you’ll know damn well they’re right, 

damn well they’re right

Homecoming, homecoming.

Jump

Everyone can be obsessive, and we all have our own weird little ticks and idiosyncrasies. My tick is the repetitive stating of a singular word when I’m thinking. Well… primarily when I’m brainstorming. Like a loop, the word never leaves my thought process and it’s almost always a word. Yet this week, it was a name.

From the moment I got out of bed, to second I started walking around, the syllables became a secondary beat to my step, and when I was working, it stuck to every page I turned. At night when I’d climb into bed, I’d lie there looking up at the ceiling and there it was, hovering above my mind like a firefly stuck in a mason jar.

Their name was the last thing I thought about right before I closed my eyes…

 

 

Chelci Anna Hone…‘Where are you tonight’?

 

 

 

Writers block is a nuisance, yet it’s expected, and I usually know when it will hit because I’ll slowly start to become void of any feeling. When that happens it’s almost always the end result of deeply navigating and deciphering my emotions.

Really, I think it’s a way for my brain to recharge from over-analyzing, thinking and over-observing, because as a writer, it’s all you ever do. Your brain can only absorb so much before it becomes clouded and that’s what writers block is – it’s a mental fog.

The last time I had a really bad block was when my daughter died and I could barley write my own address, let alone a full narrative. The other time before that was when I was in love…my deep consuming love. Both took a few months to recover from and when I came out of it, my focus was stronger.

Every writer has their own way of alleviating the problem and there are literally hundreds of ways for one to get through a bad block; we all have our own methods.

For me, I typically have sex, which is easy to get, however, I’m sort of taking a temporary vow of celibacy and masturbation doesn’t always have the same effect.

So for weeks I tried, other, more productive approaches, like running, hiking or sketching but when I sat down to mold my words, the only thing that ever came out were really shitty haikus and jumbled free writing.

Since I hated feeling this flaccid, I called my ex-boyfriend. Again, not for sex…he does not, in any way, induce any sort of eroticism for me anymore but I needed him for his brain.

He’s a really deep, analytical thinker and he’s great at knowing how to ask the right questions to get a conversation going, and sometimes a good deep talk can move my thoughts into the right direction.

After taking a few shots of Wild Turkey, ordering take-out and hearing about his Tinder nightmares, he started in with his questions, which were mostly about my love life – or lack thereof.

Since I was having a hard time feeing anything, all of my answers were one-worded responses. Then again it could be that the topic of having little romance in my life only depresses me more, and maybe that’s why I couldn’t yield better feedback.

It wasn’t long after we ate that I found myself sitting in his love sac, scratching my belly button and binge watching four-hours of Silicon Valley, while he did his taxes. Basically it was just another Friday night and when I walked out his door to leave, he kissed my forehead and verbally willed my brain to work – It didn’t, my block was still there.

More friends tried to get me to be social but that failed too, because during a bad bout of writer’s block, I’m quiet, and those skills are muted.

This doesn’t make me a lot of fun to be around, and everyone can tell because you can feel it when I text, hear it when I talk and notice it in in my lack of focus. It’s almost like something’s ‘missing’.

As for timing, it couldn’t have been worse. It fell on the week of my birthday, and that day already makes me feel a little sad and numb. Adding writers block to the mix, only leaves an irritated writer.

My only birthday wish, ‘please get me through this block’.

 

 

 

Thirty-seven, is a pretty uneventful number in the big scheme of things. Thirty-six was definitely more exciting, because in that year I did learn a few things, for example, always roll your 401K into your Roth IRA, when you leave a job. Don’t forget that – it’s really important.

Also, never blindly trust anyone, but you can let them think you do. When you give to another, observe how they give back, not to take tally but to see if they’re going to take advantage.

People will lie to you, a lot… and words are always empty until you see action. Don’t be disappointed when someone lets you down, especially when you could see it from the start.

When you love someone… tell them. You’re far too old to play games with another person’s emotions and direct acknowledgement of affection, leaves no room for second guessing your intent.

Never get love advice from straight male friends, because those friends only want to fuck you and they’ll lead you in the wrong direction. It’s just like men going to their female friends for advice, if she likes you, don’t trust her guidance and we all know when someone likes us, even if they’re just a ‘friend’.

Lastly, validate the ones you care about. If they’re mad, give them the green light to be mad. Always ask if they want to talk about it and be genuine when they do. Basically, be authentic because life is too short to be anything but.

 

 

Something else I learned…well always knew, but sometimes forget.

Write. What. You. Know.

 

 

This year, my best friend threw me a ‘surprise’, birthday party that I knew about because I had to find a sitter. The plan was to meet at her house, smoke a little pot, leave to dinner and finish the night barhopping through the city.

By the time I got to her house I was running late, sort of in a rush and on the phone with another friend, all the while hearing her in the background saying how we needed to hurry, because everyone else was at the restaurant waiting.

I hate being late.

Before I knew it, we were out the door and in the vehicle of a Lyft driver named Jon who drove a truck that was almost too high for me to climb into and who kept making references about bikes that I was too high to understand. Once he dropped us off behind the restaurant, the three of us walked down an ally and that’s when it hit. Instinct.

When people give me advice, I listen to a few, however the one thing that has never failed me is my instinct. It’s saved me from being raped in the apartment of co-worker, and from being murdered after a guy decided to follow me home from the subway.

My instinct has woken me up in the middle of the night when someone I love has died, it’s told me when I would get into a car accident, before I left my garage, and it keeps me at bay when I know someone wants me to back off.

It’s great to have when I first meet someone and it’s always a good gauge on the kind of night I’ll end up having.

The ally wasn’t the problem, it was wide and well lit but as we walked closer towards the end, I felt weird. At first I thought it was the culmination my birthday and my writer’s block but once we got to the opening of the second street, it was worse and then I realized that it was an alarm, or internal warning. My body was telling me that something was going to happen and that it wouldn’t be good. When my gut wrenched, I tried to ignore it – something you should never do.

 

 

———-

 

 

 

Shock is a stroke of all five senses. You can hear but you’re not listening. You can see but you don’t notice the color, you can smell but there’s no aroma, you can taste but there’s no flavor and you can feel but there’s no sensation. If you’ve ever had a near death experience, then you know that slow calming feeling you get, right before you die – that’s shock. You see the end before it hits.

This isn’t new feeling for me, just a buried one. My eyes have been a witness to some pretty grotesque things. When I covered crime I saw stabbings, gunshots, near decapitation, beaten dead bodies of infants and lastly, suicide.

These things make me a little morbid because they have a way of never leaving your mind and the images are so seared into your cortex, they tend to create a visual association when you look at other things unrelated.

So when my birthday, turned crime scene, familiarity set in and all I wanted to do, was something that has been drilled into my brain by past editors: Find out the facts, leave out emotion and don’t release any name until you have confirmation that the family has been notified. Yet this time I couldn’t, because I’m not a journalist anymore, now I’m just a bystander.

 

 

 

Then it happened. My block was gone.

 

 

 

 

Parking garages are scary and at night they’re terrifying, especially if you’re a woman because there’s a constant fear that you’ll be attacked at any minute.

That evening I think she was already feeling pretty careless, because the darkened garage didn’t seem to faze her. She came from the west side of town and I can only wonder how well she knew the area, because although she was from Utah, she grew up in Florida.

It was almost 9:30 pm on March 11th and I imagined her dark wavy hair, hitting the middle of her back, swaying back and fourth with each step, her mind focused looking for the elevator to take her to the sixth level – the top.

My mind could see it; she stood above us, six stories high, straddling the side of the cement barrier. Her view from above showed the lights throughout the city, and if she wanted, she could trace them to reach out into the sprawl, like incandescent veins laid out in a grid.

The air felt more like summer, than it did early spring, and that day it was unseasonably warm. The high was sixty-five degrees and the little breezes were just as balmy.

The crowd yelled at her to stop and another woman pulled out her phone and started calling 911.  By this time, her legs were completely over the side, dangling against the wall and her eyes, red with tears looking down.

 

 

 

When the breeze stopped… she jumped.

 

 

 

Her body floating lifelessly, with arms outstretched, her dark hair in the wind swirling around her face, she looked serene and still. Her body hit quick, landing partially on a pedestrian walking towards the shops.

His body, which softened the blow, still didn’t stop her from dying. When she hit the sidewalk, the sound was like that of a bowling ball being smashed into the pavement.

She lay there; limp, with eyes open, landing fifty feet from my group and two feet away from an electric car parking spot.

 

 

Chelci Anna Hone, ‘Where are you going tonight’?

 

 

When I turned around, the look of shock and panic were on everyone’s face. The woman, who called 911, was now sitting at the end of the bar, white and pale, eyes wide with a small glass of whisky in her hand.  My best friend looked over at me and said, “well…happy birthday”.

This is the second jumping I’ve been around.  The first was when I was living in Philadelphia and the scream of my neighbor woke me up when another woman jumped off a building across the street. That woman landed on a parked Daewoo and I went back to bed before the ambulance came.

 

This was different though. Chelci Anna Hone was different.

 

The woman in Philadelphia was seventy-three, riddled with cancer, lived alone and didn’t want to burden her adult children with her medical expenses. So she decided to die because of a broken medical system and for that, I don’t blame her.

Chelci was twenty-six, worked at Starbucks, wasn’t married and didn’t have kids. She loved puzzles, science and painting. In high school she joined the ROTC and she loved to fly.

Her fall into death put a few things into perspective. One, my birthday isn’t that bad. Two, I’m not that old. This girl, taking the high-dive into pavement was – and three: The younger you are the less you understand the gravity of your choices.

We’ve all made mistakes, my biggest fuck-up also happens to be my biggest secret, which why only two of my best friends and family know. Still, even as awful as mine is, I’m not about to jump off a building, even when I wanted to. It’s been years since my major regret and in no way does it define me at this point in my life, at least not to those who love me.

Then again if you’re depressed, I understand that too. The majority of my twenties I was depressed because I lacked the coping skills to manage it.

As I’ve gotten older, I still get a little seasonal depression but I know what things can make it worse and so I avoid them. Plus, I have a good memory to remind me not to repeat bad choices and even better self-control. If I start to dwell, I put it out of mind, work out and then revisit it when the blow has softened. As for relationships, I do give second chances, however, I have an incredible ability to detach and become cold when I know someone isn’t deserving of my affection.

Yet, these skills took me almost a decade to hone and they’re a by-product of shitty lessons.

As our group was deciding on where to go next, I couldn’t help but think about what had just happened. Hundreds of people just witnessed a woman take a leap to her death and here we were, trying to find a bar that would have the cheapest beer.

The rest of the night, what we saw would sneak it’s way back into the conversation, but after twelve birthday drinks, Chelci Anna Hone was a blur.

When I woke up the next day, I managed to drag myself to the gym and when I started running, she was all I thought about. When I got home, I needed to recover from my hangover, so I climbed into bed and there she was again.

 

Her eyes, wide open.

 

Suicide was the first narrative piece I ever wrote about. My family has a long history of putting themselves out of their misery; all of them have been men. My grandfather drank wine laced with iodine, my cousin shot himself in the head at a gun range. Another two cousins: Overdoses.

They way I view suicide is maybe a little unorthodox. We don’t choose to be born, so why can’t we choose when to die? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an advocate for killing yourself and I really don’t encourage a suicide where you take out other people in the process.

When someone decides to die, I think it the truest form of succumbing to ones impulses and most of the people I know who’ve tried have regretted it seconds after, and none of them had a ‘plan’. Another thing: you can’t stop someone when his or her mind is made up.

We all know that death affects those that are left behind more than it does the person dying, and when you choose your death, it seems to really piss people off because your suicide offends everyone you’ve ever cared about.

Aunts and cousins you hated will call you ‘selfish’, or condemn you to ‘hell’, and none of that will matter to you, but it’s a great way to drive the pain in deeper for those that do.

As for being selfish – the biggest accusation of suicide.  Well, if you don’t have kids or anyone you’re responsible for, then okay, fine, do what you need to do. People will be mad, they’ll mourn you, your parents will be inconsolable, and the one asshole you hated at work will go to your funeral and tell everyone how close you two were, and you can’t do shit about it, because you’re dead.

When they clean out your room, they’ll find all your embarrassing poetry from eighth grade and the love letters you wrote to boys, that you never had the balls to deliver. They’ll open your computer and see all the porn you had hidden in files labeled under, ‘recipes’ and that old broken vibrator, the one you forgot to toss – they’ll find that too, under a pile of dirty clothes in your closet.

 

In death you’ll be exposed.

 

 

Aside from everyone finding out what a fraud you are, you’ll also be forgotten sooner than you thought. Parents and family members will remember you, but everyone else won’t. Your best friend will move on and so will every single person you’ve ever fucked. You’ll be the ‘ex that died’ and they’ll meet someone new, have kids and get married. They’ll live the life you were too scared to go through.

 

And that’s really what suicide is. It’s Fear.

 

It’s fear about finances; it’s a fear about being alone after love has left. It’s fear of living a full life, because a full life takes a lot of fucking work and it’s not easy. There’s daily bullshit with jobs, kids and managing your time to provide you some minor enjoyment with what’s left of a busy day.

As for the freedom we think we have, well that’s a lie; we’re given an idea of what we should want out of our pathetic lives – a spouse, kids, a house with an overpriced mortgage and a big bank account. Oh, and that we should be naturally good looking and thin.

When those ideals are too hard to meet, people become scared. They minimize their worth over a lack of having a college degree, or being a little fat from having kids. They’re lonely because they fear that they won’t be able to fit into the mold that we force ourselves into.

We’re rats in a maze and we let some assholes behind a closed curtain tell us what we need to do, or who we need to be, all so we can avoid being the one thing we should be – ourselves. In my opinion, individuality is a beautiful thing and some flaws are absolutely sexy.

There are more devastating downsides to suicide, and in my opion they are far worse than people finding your sex toys. It’s the stuff people never talk about. The small pleasures in life.

Things like…missing out on really good kisses, or eating the most delicious clementine.

Or on summer nights, when camping where the air is perfectly warm for sex, with the potential of getting caught. Or running through the sprinklers in the middle of the night at a local park.

What about laughing so hard that you can’t make any sound, you just push the person next to you until you sit down and nearly pee your pants? Those are things worth living for.

And what about Love?  Or the rush of excitement you feel when you see your kid hit the ball for the first time at baseball pracitce. Or soflty stroking the the cheek of someone you care about, when you can see that they need a little reassurance, after a long day.

…Or waking up feeling protected by the big spoon. For me, I look forward to falling in love with someone who loves like I do, even if I do have hesitations that there is, in fact another person out there who can – I’m still willing to try and find them.

Life has been hard for me and I know it was devastating for Chelci or she wouldn’t have done what she did and in a way, she wound up giving me the only gift I asked for, to break through my writer’s block.

With my focus back, I’ve decided to change a few things. For one, stop taking on extra freelance work, it’s too much for a single mom with a full time job. Also, I need more alone time, so I’m not losing myself for other people. When I overwork, I over-feel and that will put me right back in front of an imputable wall.

When I got into my laptop to start editing my next piece a new word circled above my head and her name faded into the back, but when I climbed into bed, there she was again, her eyes wide open.

 

Chelci Anna Hone, ‘Where are you tonight’?

 

Five 

*Grabs phone, starts to text:

Who listens to Slayer???

*puts phone down and and walks away.

Ten minutes later I hear my phone ping and look down to read: iMessage from Jerami-AGHH!

*slide and unlock to see:

  
Who doesn’t?!!

Ark Song

734

After taking five pictures of my vagina I still wasn’t sure if he’d like it. Would I have sex with me? Probably not… Should I use a filter? Maybe. It isn’t that my vagina’s terrible – it’s not. In fact, I love my vagina and it’s been good to me, but I’m not a guy and even if I have screwed around with a woman, the female anatomy doesn’t hold my allure quite like a penis.

So when you find yourself in a conversation, via text-message, with someone hundreds of miles away, and things turn sexual, you get creative, and the best way to get creative when you’re at a loss for words – use visuals. Nudes here we come.

Sexting is a weird concept and it’s definitely built for men, women really don’t want to see your dick, or a video of you moving around an erect, yet fleshy sausage in your hands.

We might lie and ‘ooh and ahh’ over it, but really there’s not a lot of beauty in cock and balls. We usually just make a squinty face, and then delete.

Not that we don’t appreciate the gesture when we like you, just know that most women who aren’t looking to blackmail you, trash-it so they can avoid it when they’re scrolling back through the feed later on. (We all do it)

Also, it’s not entirely odd to say that I was thirty-five years old before I even sent my first ‘sext’. My generation was in the ‘beeper’ business, a lot urgent “911’s” if your parents were gone, or if someone had weed to share. The only kind of ‘blowing’ we talked about via technology was if your boyfriend was “blowing-up” your pager after an argument. In fact, it was the most asexual piece of equipment I had in my teenage arsenal of communication.

Even if smart phones had been available, I doubt I’d use it to take any photo of my naked sixteen year-old body. Back then I had curves that made me uncomfortable and breasts that were too large for my body, I had bushy brows and wore quilted vests…not the ideal sex-bomb. Really, my lack of confidence would have shown right through my high-waisted pants.

My very first sext was a photo of my breasts, wearing a sheer robe to cover them. It was classy and not overtly in-your-face. My goal was to appeal to his masculine needs and not look like a total whore in the process. After sending it, there was a lack of response for almost six-hours, which at first concerned me but when he finally opened it, he liked it – a lot. Note to self: Sexting workaholics can delay your arousal.

The person receiving my picture was my close friend, Jeramiah, we were five-years into a friendship and he lived and worked as a chef in San Francisco.  My marriage had dissolved two months before the mention of sex was involved and in the beginning it didn’t even start out as sexual, as much as a joke about sex, but not with each other.

He was perfect in way because we had a history, a connection and the only collateral damage would be the death of our friendship. Luckily my depression disregarded its potential loss by convincing myself that we’d be okay in the end. This turned out to be wrong. Very wrong.

 

Never trust your depressive state.

 

Here is what you should know about Jeramiah:  He’s complex and yet simple. He’s practical and dominant when he needs to be, stubborn, articulate, loyal, intelligent and kind. He’s observant and incredibly quick-witted.

He’s a traditional non-conformist and likes to be in control, which is something I think he lacked as a kid. When people grow up without control, they make sure to get it when they’re old enough to seize it. However, his is subtle control, not aggressive. He knows when to relax and he’s not big on change.

Plus, with his natural ambition and tenacious nature it isn’t hard for him to be good at taking over, I can only imagine that this makes him a capable manager without acting like too much of a Nazi.

 

 

Here’s what you should also know: …We’ve never met.

 

 

That’s right. After almost six years there’s never been a handshake, a hug, a coffee date or even a wave goodbye. I don’t know what he smells like, feels like or even if he has any obvious childhood scars.

Now I know what you’re thinking…Catfish. Luckily, for one: I think we’re both too lazy to make that kind of extensive effort and two: we’ve talked on the phone and we’ve chatted with one another via Face Time. He’s a real person. What makes it weird is how connected I feel to him and how I can consider this ‘stranger’ a close friend.

When we first ‘met’ it was via social media and he was in a long-term relationship and I was one month into a finalized divorce.  So, I can say that a mutual attraction wasn’t there – at least for me. In fact our first message to one another was about the cost of culinary schools. Debt isn’t exactly erotic.

Plus, I wasn’t physically attracted to him. Not that he’s unattractive, he’s very handsome but that’s my view after six years. Month one, he wasn’t my type; he was just some guy who shared a similar perspective.

As our conversations became more frequent, the more I realized that our brains, in way, mirror each other. One minute we can be talking about politics and then the next minute judging people that like to fart erotically into their partner’s mouth.

He’s also very warm and sweet with me, he seemed okay with expressing his more loving side and I felt like he let me into a part he keeps guarded with other people. Jeramiah showed me his heart and that created a solid foundation within our friendship. We don’t just have chemistry, what we have is synergy and that’s really, really rare to find.

Our first year of being friends he went through a bad break-up and this allowed me to see a different part of him. This Jeramiah was deeply emotional, poetic and crumbling. It’s as though during this phase that he had just enough people fuck him over, for him to finally give-up. He had no desire to make the effort for anyone but himself; when he’s heartbroken he’s tortured. He’s also confused and not entirely confident in navigating the complex emotions of rejection. Who is?

When it comes to love and Jeramiah, he gives his all. So when love leaves, a large part of him gets taken with it.

Yet even with a broken heart, he was still my friend and always happy to give me good advice. He never shut me out. Not once.

Here’s what you should know about Alicia: She’s a feeler and an individualist. She internalizes and observes everything around her. She has good instincts and will use those to drive her decisions. She’s a good friend who is loyal, empathetic and artistic. She’s passionate, intelligent, gentle and affectionate. She can be deeply emotional and overly sensitive at times.

She can also shut people out just as quickly as she lets them in. She reads people well and avoids confrontation. She likes to be domestic and her home is her sanctuary. She loathes negativity and tension. She’s a little indecisive and painfully blunt.

When I decide that I want you in my life as a permanent fixture, I do my best to maintain my end of the relationship. Jeramiah made it easy for me to do that.

 

 

The night we started sexting, the timing seemed perfect but any delusional divorcee thinks all bad choices are “perfect.”

During the year, I had gone through a roller coaster of emotions with work, health and family; it was severely affecting my self-worth. It was time for me to feel validated, sexy and a little loved because these were the things with my husband stopped giving me.

At best, I felt empty and I was nearly suffocating under the pressure of raising our son alone. My grip was loosening and I needed some semblance of stability and I found it in Jeramiah.

As he was walking the Las Vegas strip, while on vacation, we started texting, sending little voice memos back and fourth and then the jokes turned sexual – Then he bluntly asked, “Aren’t you married?” To which I immediately felt ashamed, because he was right.

Although separated, my husband and I were still living together. We hadn’t talked about my impending divorce but then again, only family knew. So I ended the conversation and went to bed upset that I had offended him.

The next few days I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Or him. Why was I thinking about Jeramiah so much? I wasn’t attracted to him. Or was I? Why was this upsetting me? And why did I have a fatalistic feeling about our friendship. The idea of not having him in my life made me nervous. Would he be pissed at me? Would it be awkward? So I did the only thing I knew how to do, I wrote an apology. After sending it, I realized that this douchebag means a lot to me – A hell of a lot more than I thought.

After a while he wrote back telling me that he was worried that he had offended me and that it wasn’t a big deal and that we would talk later.

After putting my kid to bed, we started texting and we both apologized again. Once we plateaued into forgiveness he revealed that he had thought about ‘it’ with me; he had sex with me a dozen times without me being there. That he never acted on anything because of timing and distance, the reality of it made it hard for him to make the effort. It was at that moment I asked him to tell me everything he ever wanted to do to me.

 

He didn’t hold back and because of that, he’s been the only person to of single-handedly curate his way into my libido using nothing but words.

 

He started with pushing me against the wall and that ended with me on the ground. His details read like erotica that you can’t find between the pages of any book but only in annals of a deeply imaginative lover.

My mouth dropped. What the fuck? Who is this person? Whoever replaced my punk rock listening, wardrobe update needing friend, with this explosive passionate wordsmith needs to be thanked.

It took me a minute to not only calm my arousal but to settle my surprise. Huh? Jeramiah is a wordy freak and he’s appealing my wordy sensitivities. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a gifted writer but I didn’t know he was THIS gifted? It was so good that I considered showing my old editor for possible publication rights.

Then I thought about putting it into my plagiarism search engine but decided against it,  because if it gave me back a ping, I’d lose my lady boner and screw that. My body was on a sexual high for a week after and when the intensity peaked, he offered to fly out – which I declined. My life situation was too messy for a layover fuck.

The conversation turned highly sexual for the first month and we were still keeping the silliness of our friendship intact, it was fun. Then into the second month he’d seen my ass, more boobs and I’d seen his hands, knee – his dick.

While this was going on, my feelings were like pebble caught in the tide, slowly sinking into a depth that creates a version of intimacy that I wasn’t really ready for. Worried about the fantasy versus the reality I started to re-think things.

We were talking more in depth about his life, his upbringing, his family and his work. Things we had only scratched the surface on through the years. He gave me a better picture of who he was and I sort of lost myself because as much as I knew him, I didn’t.

He really didn’t know a lot about me either and he wasn’t interested in asking anymore. In fact he stopped doing a lot of things. Those flimsy walls to his heart were getting more solid with me, he was slow to respond to my texts, he seemed distant and eliminated my attempts at general conversation with no response at all.  What made it worse was that I was determining my decisions on assumptions, which is stupid.

That’s when I realized we had peaked; it wasn’t going any further than this. The less he asked about my life and the more I had to take the initiative, the more used I felt. The one thing we always had in our friendship was equal footing. Now it felt like a seesaw, going back and fourth and I hated it and I started to get a little angry with him.

 

 

Here’s what you should know about Jeramiah: He’s a survivor. Survivors have the tendency to use people, sometimes without realizing it. He’s also a little vindictive and a little careless. He’s lazy about maintaining relationships with people unless it’s a benefit to him and he unwittingly lets his past dictate his future. He generalizes women and lacks genuine respect for them. He’s far too defensive to accept any love anyone tries to give him anyway. He’s still just as angry and the more he’s says he doesn’t give a fuck, the more fucks he actually gives, and I’m probably wasting my time.

By the third month I had seriously re-evaluated our friendship. My emotions felt more, and more like that of a rejected girlfriend than of a close friend you share intimate details about your colonoscopy with. Honestly, I don’t know what I was expecting?

This was after all, half my fault. So I wrote him telling him I needed to distance myself because I felt like our friendship was ruined. The reality was becoming more and more visible and the fantasy was fading.

That lasted about three-weeks. When we started texting again I was still feeling the same way, a little numb and a little annoyed with him. Well…Irritated with the situation. The distance, our long-standing connection that was now dying, and the change in our dynamic made me really sad. To be honest, he seemed just as irritated with me and I didn’t blame him; I was a needy mess.

I was expecting far too much too soon – at least that’s how I felt. Also, there are other sides of him that I saw that I hadn’t noticed as much as before and I’m not about to request that someone change to fit my needs.

So after a few more weeks, he did something that may or may not have been intentional, but my instinct told me otherwise.

There are few emotions that cause me to leave and one of them is Jealousy, (because it’s petty, I’m not an option.) The second emotion is much worse – Love. It scares me and it’s caused me to leave a good thing more than once.

These were major indicators that I needed to end five years of whatever it is that we had because my delusional divorcee brain gained clarity; that the timing was not so right after all. The only thing the timing was right for was for me to get my shit together and end it.

So one night, after downing a bottle of wine in the parking lot of a whole Foods, I un-liked, un-friended, removed or blocked him from my life online. Then later I went home and cried, a hard ugly cry. When my phone pinged the next day, I saw his name come across the screen. After I opened it, I scrolled through our history and deleted those too, only to turn over and cry a little more.

 

Jeramiah was now the stranger that he’s always been.

 

After seven months of pure rage associated with my divorce and well… life, I began gaining a lot of traction in the resentment department, I spent my time focusing on my kid and helping his dad with his sobriety, I didn’t have time to feel anything about him… So, mentally…I blocked him too.

Here’s what you should know about Alicia:  She’s a coward. She runs from her problems and is quick to blame the other person to protect herself. She can be selfish in expecting too much from others too quickly. She is quick to generalize the intentions of others when she’s mad. She can be cruel with her words and hates being wrong. She’s a survivor and sometimes survivors use people without realizing it and her ego at times is too fragile for criticism, or the harsh reality of life. She’s defensive and can be reactive when she feels hurt. She’s an ineffective communicator when she’s flustered and at her core she has a difficult time accepting love from others.

Soon Jeramiah became an afterthought that is until Christmas, almost one year to the day we had started sexting. My co-worker made a joke about two things that depressed him: Men in they’re late thirties who say “Squad Goals” and middle-aged men who ride around the city on their skateboard.

And there he was again…my virtual lover. Our memories of sex, friendship and love that I had filed deep within my brain were being uploaded into a new system. Quick flashing images and sensations of feeling his warm breath on my neck, hands running through hair, pressure between my thighs. My mind racing next to him, as I imagined him on his skateboard, rushing to catch the BART.

 

Focused, ambitious, tenacious Jeramiah – There you are… just a beautiful as the day I left.

 

This flood of emotions albeit some sexual, were different. The intensity was quelled to a mere spark and I was able to finally separate the reality from the fantasy and I realized something else…I missed him. A lot. Also, I’d been so angry at everything that maybe it was time just let things go and to give a little love. So I wrote him one last time: 

“I thought it would be easy making you the stranger that you were before we met. It has been, really. Then some asshole made a joke about middle-aged skateboarders two-weeks ago and then I thought of you; thinking about you. There’s a difference. 

The off-switch in becoming a non-friend and a lack of responding was my choice and my choice alone. It’s not my intention to explain myself because that wouldn’t be advantageous for either one of us. You’re a smart, logical guy and I’m sure you understand. Or my hope is that you would. If you want to know, you’re more than welcome to ask.

 Really, there’s no reason for me to even write this but I would be lying…a lot, in saying that I didn’t miss you. Funny how one bad joke about the actions of another can do that?

Well…I miss sending stupid memes to my friend. Or talking about idiot co-workers who use the word “hashtag” instead of “order number.” I miss my friend Jer. He was really smart, he thought like I thought. Maybe more practical than I was at times. He was just as sensitive and yet, painfully blunt. He was really, really silly. 

I never loved you when we first became friends, yet I loved you when we stopped being friends. Not a deep, consuming kind of love; a little spark of love. The kind you have for someone that challenges you to think a little differently and to laugh a little bit more loudly.

Know that I may not be around now but you never know where we’ll be later in life. Know that on nights when you feel lonely that there’s a girl who’s 700-miles away probably thinking good things about you. 

I loved you and a part of me always will. Happy New Year,

Alicia”

 

 

After hitting send, I was sure he’d put it in his pile of fucks not given but instead I was surprised to wake up the next day to see a message from him and it was perfect.

Here’s what you should know about Jeramiah and Alicia: They’re forgiving and soft, they can be sensitive and a little confused by emotions. They try their best to understand those they care about and they both have a depth that matches the other. They became friends because one can understand the other, sometimes before words are ever spoken. They’re aware of their flaws and know which ones need to change. They’re both a work in progress and they don’t hold grudges if they understand that the intent isn’t malicious. One needs the other just much and they don’t know why? What I do know is that right now he’s a part of my dialogue and that his words end where my heart begins.

This time he texted first and our conversation flowed like we never stopped. Honestly, I think my absence was good for him too. He seems a little different, maybe a little nicer?

Sometimes I feel like he’s trying to be more open in some ways and not as angry. I notice little changes that are big for him. He’s more responsive and less reactive. He’s just as busy and still in control but I know he loves me and he does it in the only way he knows how…by letting me be me in my entirety and that’s what a good friend does.

Maybe when you think you’ve lost everything you lose something that you didn’t expect to affect you. Because no matter how perfect the penis or arousing the vagina, (even with a filter) it’s who it’s attached to that makes all the difference and while you’re concerned about their response, remember that sometimes the best way to be naked, is to be fully clothed.

Four

“Mom can I ride back with Uncle Wayne?”

My mom, flustered and forcing a cooler into the back of the Subaru, “Wayne is that okay”? She shouted back looking over the sunglasses sliding off her nose.

“Yeah that’s fine.” My uncle lifted me up into his truck and buckled me in, “You excited to go over the bridge.”

“No, not really. What if there’s an earthquake and we’re on the bridge?

As he shut my door, he walked around the front of the truck before he answered. As he climbed into the driver’s side, he could see me waiting for a response.

“Well we’ll be over water and water is the safest place to be in an earthquake.”

Looking at my uncle suspiciously, “wouldn’t that be a Tsunami?”

Through his thick southern drawl my uncle shook his head and laughed,

“You’re too smart for me! You need to relax. When will you ever see the Golden Gate Bridge again? It’s all I’ve heard from you this whole trip, earthquake this, earthquake that…little girl, you need to get it out of your mind, or you’ll miss out.”

He was right, the entire time we were there helping him move, it’s all I talked about, but in my defense, we just learned about earthquakes and the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 was the one I chose for my book report.

He looked over at me and patted the seat next to him.

“Come sit in the middle here if you want”.

I unlatched and scooted next to him and let my feet dangle above the floorboards. As we crossed onto the bridge, I felt the expanse of the ocean to my side. He taped my knee and said,

“Look up”

My eyes were drawn towards the oncoming red arch. As we got closer the sides got taller and taller, then it was over.

“There’s one more, just wait.” As we reached the second one, he pushed his elbow to my arm, “See, not so bad. Wait for the tunnel. There’s a troll in there and he looks just like your dad.”

Eight year old me thought it was the funniest thing I’d ever heard and when I looked up at him, with the wind in my hair and the sun in my eyes, I could see that he was smiling back at me.

I leaned against him and said, “I love you.”

He put his arm around me and gave me a little squeeze,

“I love you more.”

No Ordinary Man

Three

*looking at phone*

His profile says he’s 5’11 but basic math says otherwise, more like 5’7…heels it is. Four-inch heels and maybe next time don’t stand next to a door frame in your profile picture. 



Makeup done, hair curled, pencil skirt and cardigan on. Slip on necklace, earrings, watch and spritz Burberry London on my fingers to dab behind my ears and neck. Look in the mirror, good, bangs are straight – maybe I should grow these out? 



Walk upstairs, grab keys, get into car. Hear phone ping, reach down and read:

“Hey ditch your date, there’s a free concert in the park!”

Think for ten seconds. Hmm a possibly shitty band in the park or possibly shitty date with a guy who’s insecure about his height?

I text back, “gimme five seconds to change, I’ll meet you at your house.”

Get out of car, unlock door, go into bedroom put on flats, skater dress and pull my hair into a ponytail and walk back out to my car. 

Grab my phone and text my date:

“hey sorry, I know it’s last minute but I’m not going to make it.”

He texts back right away, 

“oh okay, is everything okay?”

Me thinking…everything IS fine but we’ll date and eventually disappoint each other. Really I’m saving us from a potentially shitty situation, also called a ‘relationship’.



I texted him back: “yeah I’m fine, I just don’t think I’m ready to date. Sorry.”

After a few minutes, he responds with a poop emoji. 

….So that’s how soul mates say goodbye.

Dream Lover – Destroyer

Two

Sunday Night 11 PM:

 

Walk into my room, put my cup of tea on the night stand, pull the blankets back and look at my bed and think – you look like you need me.

 

Climb in and turn on the TV.

 

Search for ‘Ghost Adventures’ in queue, press play. Relax.

Suddenly, I realize my auto pay is going to draft on Monday. Sit up, sigh and grab my tablet.

 

Log onto bank, transfer savings to checking.

 

*Unable to complete request*

Try again.

*Unable to complete request*

Try again

*Unable to complete request*

 

Zak Bagans voice in the background: “Was this ghost being a smart ass?

 

Get irritated.

 

Call bank. Bank closed, auto-tree gives no option to transfer.

Log back into bank, search for deposit options.

 

Read: ‘Take a picture using our app or deposit at any ATM – It’s that easy.’

 

Push blankets off me, get out of bed, and look for deposit slip. Not in file folder, not in safe, not in shoebox.

 

Make loud groan.

 

Dig into boxes in closet; look in nightstand drawer – found it! Relax.

 

Write out slip, log into app, and take a picture.

*Unable to complete request*

Try again.

*Unable to complete request*

Try again.

*Unable to complete request*

 

Make louder groan, toss phone onto bed. Go to drawer, find pants, put them on. Grab hoodie, pull it over my head – hood still on, put on snow boots, put on parka, grab keys, wallet and deposit slip.

 

Walk out the door.

Fuck. It’s snowing.

 

Get into truck, put keys into ignition, start it. Drive.

Pull into bank ATM drive-thru.

Fuck it’s too short.

 

Reverse. Throw car into park – get out.

 

Put in card, enter pin. Select deposit. Enter deposit slip. ATM spits it out.

*Unable to complete request*

Eyes get big, face getting red.

This time shout: FUCK!

 

Try again.

 

*Unable to complete request*

Shout fuck, slam hands at sides of ATM, kick ATM, shout FUCK, FUCK, FUCK!

 

“Ma’am?”

 

Turn around; it’s a police officer – huge sigh.

 

Start thinking: Oh my god…Great, he’s white and I look like I could check the ‘yes’ box on any affirmative action form.

Me breathing hard: “yeah?”

“Ma’am do you know why I stopped?” he asks, staring down at my stupid velour pants tucked into my stupid snow boots.

 

“…Because I didn’t see you first?”

 

He looks at me confused and winces back, “umm…no. I stopped because you’re kicking an ATM, I could arrest you for destruction of property.”

 

Looking at him like he’s a Grand Dragon, “Bullshit.”

 

“No, I absolutely can.”

 

He’s walking closer. Shit. Shit. Shit. I’m going to jail over an ATM.

 

As he’s nearing he starts, “Look, I bank here and they have limited access on Sunday nights. What were you trying to do, maybe I can help?”

 

“I was trying to deposit money from my savings to my checking, it was down online and I half of my monthly bills on auto pay coming out tomorrow.”

 

He nods and leans in, “Lemme’ see your deposit slip.” I hand him my deposit slip he looks it over and darts his eyes back at me with a half smile.

 

“This is a savings deposit slip, Alicia – that’s your name, right?”

 

Stupidly, I respond, “Yeah, do you need to see my ID?”

 

“That’d be great, yeah and your debit card.”

 

I move my head back and give him a suspicious look.

“Look…Alicia…I have a body camera on me, there’s also a camera on the ATM. You look pretty guilty, so don’t think I’m trying to rob you.”

 

I walk a little closer and hand him my card and ID, he inserts the card into the ATM.

 

“What’s your PIN number?”

“4534”

He selects transfer, from savings to checking.

“Okay how much?”

 

“Twenty hundred?” I say under my breath. Him looking at me, “huh?”

I sigh…”twenty five.”

 

Confused, he confirms, “Twenty five hundred?”

 

Looking down, now a little embarrassed, “Um no … It was uh, it was twenty-five dollars.”

He transfers the money and finishes, hands me my card and my cash and looks at me sternly, “You almost went to jail over twenty-five bucks? How is that half of your monthly bills?”

 

Scratching my wrist, I look at down, “Well I have my Netflix and my HULU  subscript-”

 

“Ma’am, you need anger management classes!”

 

My eyes still on the ground, feeling chastised, “I know”.

 

I can see him shaking his head as he radios to his patrol. “Please don’t kick the ATM again and maybe do this earlier in the day next time.”

 

He sighs and turns around and walks to his car.

 

“Okay….thanks.” I stood there, forgetting what I needed to do.

 

Suddenly, I look up to the officer shouting at me though his window.

 

“…Go home Alicia!”

 

Get into car, shut the door – scream.
 

One

Park my car, get out, lock my doors. Walk in, take off my shoes. Take the stairs to the basement, take off my coat. Walk into the bathroom, turn on the light, take off my pants, my shirt, my bra. Brush my teeth, wash my face.

Grab a box of whitening strips, put the top strip on, let my hair down, turn my back to the mirror, look over my shoulder. The waves hit the small of my back now – you need a trim. Look in the mirror – Sigh.

Turn off the light.

Walk into the den – bean bag in the corner. Put on oversized t-shirt, grab my dead uncles blanket. Sit in the bean bag, put the record on the turn table, switch the flip to ‘repeat.’ Plug the headphones in, put them on your head.

Grab the pillow on the floor. Move the needle to the record. Lean back, cover your legs with the blanket. Put the pillow over your face – scream.

 

Winter Beat