i’m moving across the country soon. did i mention?
My father has never been happier.
His little girl, forsaking the world of marketing,
High-profile, clients, ARR,
To take a year of her life and work for the good of the country.
First time he’s ever seemed full of pride since I graduated.
He’ll be able to make so many sermons out of this.
A pretty girl in middle school told me,
As she was trying to braid my hair,
That I had a sensitive head.
She didn’t think someone like me would be so soft.
To this day, I still have no idea what she meant.
Everyday I drive on the highway,
I have a second, a feeling,
Like I was a hairsbreadth away from crashing.
Some days, I think, I’ve lived my whole life like that.
Just this far away,
From walking in front of that car.
I’m sitting with my arms pinned in by people talking loudly on either side of me.
We’re in a basement of a crowded place, there’s alcohol, and the social necessity to talk.
Sitting on those kind of benches from 8th grade lunch.
It would take me a solid thirty seconds to get out.
And once I realize I’m starting to have a panic attack,
It makes it worse.
I got through it.
Then I sat in my car for twenty minutes in the parking garage with the lights off,
I don’t like when people know things about me.
It’s mine to share.
I don’t know what you’ll do with it.
Probably hurt me.
Why am I so bad at the things I think I should be good at?
I want to be quick, nimble, and fast.
Smart and caustic.
But I feel slow all the time.
Behind, outdated, frumpy, and slow.
I got sick Sunday.
And went to work Monday morning.
And I’m not sure why.
It wasn’t loyalty.
I had so much to do.
And my sense of right, won’t let me do a bad job, at my job.
Even if they deserve it.
I told my sister once that she was selfish.
I think it was the only time I ever hurt her.
She brings it up every once in a while,
Expecting me to apologize, take it back.
But it’s the one hurt I’ve never been ashamed of,
It’s a pain I don’t mind causing.
Because it’s as true today as it was years ago.
And she’s hurt me so often, it seems like fair cosmic retribution
That I can have my pride on this one point.
i’ve been so cold this week
I’ve started saying phrases I don’t believe in,
Copied from other people
Who have their guard awake constantly
And have perfect eyebrows.
Things like, I would greatly appreciate it if,
And have a wonderful weekend, or
I’m so glad to hear you say that.
I’m developing a constant refrain of saying,
The old me never would have said …
Would never let herself,
Would have stood up to this before now.
I read a boy I knew in high school’s post
On an off-chance and a whim,
About how he tried to commit suicide because of his weight
How he’s a beautiful person inside and out now,
And it sounded pre-written, scripted,
So I’m worried about him as a person, now,
Instead of dying of heat disease.
I’ve needed the help of my mother.
She’s been there.
She’s helped me do big girl things this week,
Like open a 401k, tell me I only need 10k in life insurance,
Write my first two-weeks notice, and tell me it’ll be ok.
I had this terrible thought,
My kids, if I have them, won’t know the mom I knew,
They won’t know her without wrinkles, skinny.
They won’t see all the cuts and bandages she’s put on me.
And soon I’ll be the only one who knows about those too.
You’ll never understand me,
Even if you want to, try to,
And I’m okay with that.
But, then again, I’m hard to upset.
As long as we don’t start sharing our souls,
I’m fine with you on nodding along.
I say hi to the cleaning people.
I’m not sure if I do it out of pity,
Or trying to do right.
Or to prove I’m righteous and good.
I might say hi to them, because they’re the only people lower on the totem pole than me, and they have to be nice to me, which is a change.
Exit only signs.
I let my brain work out why they say exit only instead of no re-entry,
When I’m about to lose my lane on the highway.
I have to have a stupid problem for my brain to work out while I’m driving
Otherwise, I’d start to feel mundane.
I think I’m developing a stutter.
I make myself so nervous.
I try to get everything out perfectly.
I have to double check everything I say,
So it’s perfect.
So I can’t be at fault.
I’m even stuttering in my mind.
She said, I literally just turned this on, this second.
I told her I believed her.
She’s nervous. She thinks I think all she does is watch tv.
I don’t mind, or judge. I’ve been there.
I try so hard to be a non-passer of judgment.
Especially as it relates to people I like.
I budgeted this month correctly.
I can buy sunflower seeds and saline nose spray.
I put the 10% in savings, and the 250 in retirement.
Tomorrow I’ll remember to put deodorant on,
Reply to all those emails,
And do all my dishes.
Then, as my mother says,
I’ll start to see the warning signs.
When all my socks are matched, and put in drawers,
My desktop is organized, and my pens all work,
It means there’s something wrong,
When it’s all too clean.
not intentionally dark
My mother was telling how she’s not had as many health problems late in life,
Because she never played sports when she was younger.
Never got hurt.
She has no bad, bum knee to contend with.
I guess because I never fell in love early,
I don’t have any wounds to take with me.
No scars and bumps,
From that at least.
If you tell me I need to have something done by a specific time,
with these requirements and these bullet points,
Then say, “go.”
Then you stare at me.
I might be able to finish a math problem.
If you tell me these things have to be done, and done well,
You can’t give me those restraints.
Here’s what you should say,
Get the basics done,
If you give me anything else,
Then, then, I work on my own, with my own thoughts,
Give me time to think about it.
That’s when it’s good.
It’s why I have to tell myself, when I try to start writing,
That I can go back and change the first line, that I can go back and make it perfect, because
Otherwise I’ll sit there and look at the screen or the paper
She was teased by her children,
For not being smart,
For not getting the joke,
For being out of it.
But, I noticed, when I got older,
I no longer pitied her,
Instead, I noticed all the ways she brought it upon herself,
Reveled in it,
Made it part of why you should like her.
I cannot tell you how much it bothers me
That the group with the highest percentage of college drop outs
White, female, from a rural area.
That was the first time I heard a statistic,
I wanted to change.
I felt the need to change.
The worst feeling in the world,
has to be when you’re writing a checklist
and you re-read the checklist,
to see you’ve written something twice
I keep getting older and seeing things I could’ve done
Ways I could have been smarter.
And now I see people my age
Who did it the other way
And are, by all accounts, turning out better.
Of course I compare.
How could I not?
And I keep thinking,
I’m going to be outdone forever.
I should do my own thing and be proud.
It’s hard to be proud when you want to be someone else.
i visited family and some of them stayed with me, for the holidays
I remember I asked you to hold me to the 11th floor,
Because you were tall.
And my father was sick, and
I wasn’t used to being on my own.
I’d never seen anyone look at me with helplessness,
Like you did,
When I left you standing there,
And told you I’d be fine.
My father would sometimes drive the car home with a panda puppet on one hand
And pretend to be the panda driving.
I found the panda, older, and no longer black and white.
His nose had popped off a bit.
So I threw him away.
I talked to my sister the other day
She said she was angry mom passed on that need of hers,
To need a man.
She can’t do it on her own.
Then she just looked at me.
He’s got an instinct in him that says protect.
It makes me nervous.
I’m not sure why.
I’ve been thinking about it for days.
I don’t know why.
But I need to say to him, out loud,
I belong to no one.
I’ve got to tell them I’m moving.
I built a base.
For the first time.
A real, solid, ivy-growing base.
They didn’t like me for me anyway.
I met a friend’s father.
I liked him better.
Maybe I’ll like my friend better in twenty some-odd years.
But for now,
I like the man his father is.
A good-people kind of good.
I drank the rest of the pink champagne from the bottle,
Wished I was the non-handicapped version of the woman from “An Affair to Remember,”
Worried that I was only worrying about becoming an alcoholic to cover-up my alcoholic tendencies,
Carton ate a pint of Ben & Jerry’s brownie something-rather,
Thought about not blowing off my New Year’s Eve parties,
Then cried about how hard it was being with my family again for Christmas.
Oh, it’s been so long.
I’d forgotten, actually forgotten,
How she loves to talk over my head to my father,
To be the better one.
I sat politely.
I cried to my mom over the phone, while telling her it was fine, it was all fine.
What’s he going to do when you go back?
You guilt trip us for being close,
You made the choice to move.
You started him on this path, to be cute,
To fold and form him,
Just like you did to me.
What’s he going to do when you leave again?
Pieces. I’ll watch another one of your puzzles try to reassemble themselves.