If I lost my sight today, I'd be sad because I wouldn't remember your face.
If I lost my hearing today, I'd cry because I'd never hear your voice again.
If I lost my speech today, I would regret not saying I loved you.
Yet why, with eyes, ears, and mouth, do I do nothing?
Another New Yearís Eve. This one not much like the others. For the three years before last I attended grand parties. The sort where the women dress up in [gowns] and the men are in tuxedos (except for one chap who always came in full camouflage gear and makeup). Weíd sip champagne and watch the stars outside and dance. Sure, there were drugs, but they were done in moderation, and we all stayed civilized. I remember the first one of those parties where most of us were single and we all danced in the proper partner dancing fashion. It didnít matter that none of us actually knew how.
This year I am at work, pretending to work, but thinking about tonight and how it doesnít feel much like anything is happening. Some of my friends are away (many that Iíd like to see live elsewhere, anyhow) and some have decided to stay home by themselves this year and ruminate on their own failures. Some have decided that fancy dinners are the way to go. We tried (about thirty of us) to reach a compromise, but all we could agree upon was that we would all go our separate ways this year.
On one hand this is a very sad thing. We are growing apart as we grow older, which all of our elders said we would, but we never believed. Some of us have finished school, while others have remained undergraduates for years and years and have no intention of ever finishing (preferring safety over risk, one supposes). Some have ďrealĒ jobs with suits and ties and business luncheons. Others, like myself, are moving on, across the country, to seek destinies on opposite coasts. Some have moved to foreign lands.
In this growing up, expanding outward, the things we once shared no longer apply. We try to recreate the bonds through sharing of drugs and alcohol, but itís only momentary connection, which fades as the high wears off. Then we stumble off to home to lay in bed wondering how it could have ended like this. Of course, itís exactly how it is supposed to end, we just never accepted it, or tried to deny it.
On the other hand, itís normal and almost exciting. It is becoming obvious now as we move up in the world who we will have to leave behind and why, and itís easier that way. We also know who our real friends areÖthe ones who will be with us no matter what the boundaries in distance or economics or social situation. Iíll be spending New Yearís Eve with two of the people who Iíll keep in contact with once Iím gone. It will be somewhat more quiet than Iím used to, and as right now Iím ill, it works out well, but itís still a little disappointing. I do enjoy a good, crazy party.
Today, with work and a quiet gathering, it is becoming ever more clear to me that in two months I will be gone for California, thousands of miles away. Someone asked me how long Iíll be gone for, not understanding. Forever, I said, or at least until I retire to New Zealand or Scotland. Funny thing is, I know Iíll forget to think of them everyday, and after a while Iíll not think of them at all, until one day something reminds me of them, and suddenly I wonder how they are doing and whether they have significant others and what jobs they do. Iíll probably write a song about it. And theyíll think of me every so often and maybe email. But there will be a rift that maybe only substance abuse can fill so we can walk across.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Warning! I am about to wax sentimental about my little brothers and sisters. I know what youíre thinking. Trunk? Being mushy? Yeah right! Well, donít sell me that short. I have feelings too. I just keep them bottled up most of the time. So there. Now read on before I change my mind.
ĒI love youĒ Three words in the subject line of an email from my baby sister K. ďI miss you and I love youĒ Seven words in the body of the email. And a thousand implied ĎI love youís in between every word. My day before that was terrible. Too much work, and I got in trouble for messing up an order that happened a month ago. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that I had to drive all the way home to clean the kitchen floor. And then it was all erased. The world was a beautiful place. Someone out there cared about me enough to take time out of their day to tell me. I love her too, a whole lot.
Less than a year ago I was having an all out war with my little brother M. This is a funny thing to see when Iím twenty-one and heís somewhere in the vicinity of eight or nine. He rat tailed me and then I sat on him. And thatís the story everyone stuck with. We didnít talk. I was more mad than anyone is supposed to be at someone over ten years younger than themselves, but I was mad all the same. Then it was nighttime and we still werenít speaking. And we were all sitting down to watch a movie and M. came up and said ďCan I sit with you?Ē It was a little awkward at first, as Iím not used to little ones, but we worked it out, and I think we silently forgave each other as we watched the film. That moment I knew how much someone can love a sibling.
I remember very vividly the day my brother D. was born. I woke up and my daddy had gone to the hospital, and we (my grandmother and I) were going to visit the new baby. Iím not sure about the images of this I see on TV, with a glass wall and a room full of newborns because I had my hands and arms scrubbed clean with vile maroon soap, and a dressing gown put on. Then they brought in the baby and I, at six years old, was allowed to hold him and look at him up close and we experienced having siblings for the first time. I thought he was so neat. There isnít a question about kinship at that age. D. wasnít just some baby, he was my brother. That means forever.
Iím not too sure yet about my sister P. I donít know if weíve really connected. When I look at her I see the independent one, the one who might reasonably branch off someday. She does her own thing. I like that. I see me in her, or maybe thatís just ego talking. She draws everything like I used to. Sheís the one wiggling out of an embrace thatís lasted just a fraction longer than is necessary. She knows what she wants to do and sheís going to do it, whether it be playing or dressing or whatever. I am not as close with her as I am with my other siblings, but thatís OK; Iím content to watch her and think about how cool sheís going to be someday. She and I can sit in expensive California restaurants and drink champagne cocktails. Itíll be very hip.
One of the joys in my life is my sister H. I donít know what it is about her. There is nothing nicer than being woken up by her screaming in my ear and I didnít even mind cleaning up the Quick she spilled all over. Iíd gladly carry her all day long and when my arms were breaking Iíd put her on my shoulders. Well, I guess sheís almost getting too big to carry around, but there are other things one can do. She has the cutest smile in the world. She broke my heart once when I was leaving to come back to NY. She wouldnít say goodbye to me because she was mad that I was going. Who knew a little hug could mean so much?
Last but not least Iíll bring up little J. The smallest of my little siblings. Heís still sort of too small for an assessment. He can walk around, and he plays with others in a sort of detached ďI-do-my-thing-you-do-yoursĒ kind of way. He likes to hit. Iíd have to say that this is the most interesting part of his personality. Itís funny now, because he canít hit very hard. The other thing that comes to mind of when I think of J. is when I gave him a bath. Donít blame me, little brother, your mommy made me. Someday Iíll embarrass him with the pictures that were taken of the event. Iím pretty sure thatís my job.
Iíve done all the big sister tasks, even while missing out on so much because I was always so far away. Iíve changed diapers on all of them at one time or another. Iíve bathed them and fed them. Iíve held them while they cried, and half the time they were crying because of me. Iíve shared my candy, shared blankets, my stories and poured milk into sippy cups. Iíve yelled and hit and been really mean and been hated. Iíve dropped them off at school and picked them up. Iíve held them tight and pushed them away. I suppose Iím blowing my role out of proportion, butÖ
In return Iíve been lovingly referred to as Pista, Pissa and Freako. Iíve gotten tons of little hugs and little kisses (that all felt bigger than the world). Iíve been let into games of pretend and tether ball. Iíve been the horsie. Iíve been comforted. In fact few things are more comforting than a five year old offering you their favorite blankie because youíre sick and they want you to feel better. Iíve had my possessions eaten by curious babies. Because I am the older sister I am let into a world where parents cannot tread. I am told whispered secrets and shown hiding places. They want to show me their special possessions. They want to show me the cools things theyíve done. They ask for my attention.
Because I am the big sister I am loved, hated, admired, feared, looked up to, rebelled against and questioned. Why do I live in New York? Why donít I visit more? Why do I have a ring in my belly? (That one was cute.) I have to be careful. I shouldnít curse, and I shouldnít make life look too scary. I canít leave hot things around. I have to hold onto little hands and make sure that little feet arenít running out into the street. I have to be a better person for them. But here is the amazing part: Itís not a chore. Itís a joy. I think it has something to do with that first encounter and the knowledge that no matter what happens, there will always be people that love you so much and forever.
Another Thanksgiving. And this one unusual because Iíll be home for the holiday. I was at Blakhartís for the past three. The year before that was Tanyaís twenty-first birthday, and all I remember was going to McHebeís with her and Enrique and my first fake ID. Iíve sort of resisted Thanksgiving at home, more out of unfamiliarity than anything else. Mother forgive me for saying so, but the only memory I have of this holiday with family is the year I had pneumonia and we made the chicken (with all the trimmings). That was a fun Thanksgiving.
I have some horrible Thanksgiving memories, though. Specifically from the years we celebrated at Leeís parentsí home. They werenít bad people, but for one it was boring as hell. The table usually consisted of myself, mom and Lee (an entity much better forgotten) and then six or seven relics. People for whom the depression seriously altered their twenty-something social lives. And so I was subject to comments such as ďSheíll lose weight when she gets a boyfriendĒ and ďSheís still pretty, though.Ē That was a trip I hope never to go on again.
Iím thinking that being at home for Thanksgiving has its benefits. For one, if/when I get bored, I can always go to my room and play Final Fantasy or check email. Or I can drink and then go lay down. Of course, Iíll be around for the eating and the cleaning up, but I can duck out of the preliminaries if I need to. There is something comforting about that, even though Iím sure mom thinks itís incredibly anti-social. She knows me though, so she knows that sometimes I need to pop off, away from everyone. And I donít know Katís family that well yet, so Iíll want to pop off more than normal.
I still havenít decided if I like this holiday yet. There is something fun about it. People get together and there is all the good food. Itís special food, too, kinds you donít get for the rest of the year, kinds that are comforting in taste and smell. There is also a day off and Iím quite fond of that. But, then, at the same time, I look at everyone scarfing down their turkey and potatoes in fifteen minutes and I compare that with the hours of preparation time. People bicker. No one wants to clean up afterwards, and the ladies always seem to end up with the short end of the stick in that department. Meanwhile, the men all look like Al Bundy impersonations. Itís all very clichť.
I do have a lot to be thankful this year. Iím finally graduating college (I have mixed feelings about this) and my car is still working after being pronounced terminal by the mechanic. I have a lot of nice new clothes and custom designed sneakers and I quit smoking successfully and nothing is physically wrong with me. Even after years of being carted around and squeezed at night Charlie hasnít developed any holes. There are friends and there is family. Lunch with Dave and a roof over my head. Proposition 23.
Of course, everything has itís downside. My European funfest has to be cancelled until further notice because my boss decided to cut my Sundays in half. Youíd think forty dollars a week wouldnít matter, but when itís such a large fraction of what you have, it matters a lot. My car wonít pass emissions inspections in California (more on that later). Iím not sure if I did well or poorly on the GRE because no one seems to be able to tell me the average score that people get. Of course, none of that is terrible. And the good stuff certainly is kicking serious ass in the running.
Iím sure tomorrow will be lovely if I can keep my mind on the fact that itís a holiday and that Iím supposed to be taking a break. As it is, I will probably spend every moment thinking about graduate school applications, homework and whether or not certain friends of mine are having an OK time. Iím sure youíve gathered by now that relaxation is a skill I havenít yet mastered. Iím just a little high strung. Like I said, thatís where my room comes in.
In other news, I took the computerized GRE exam. Legal restrictions prevent me from divulging much about the exam. They make you write out a full paragraph in script swearing that you will not tell anyone what youíve seen in that room. Or the test questions anyhow. If you can take it on paper, do. Too much time is spent redrawing mathematical diagrams on scrap paper, and clicking the answer, confirming the answer, clicking next and finally moving on. It wastes valuable thinking time. Plus it strains the eye. Iím so happy itís over, after living like a hermit for the past month, buried in my GRE book. Tonight is my reintroduction to polite society, Colony Diner, 9:45PM, feel free to join me there!
Itís the wee hours of the morning and I should have been studying for my GREs, but I read the Times style magazine and drank bottled water instead. I pretend that Iíve already gotten somewhere, that Iíve already become something, when in reality, I am only a blank page. I havenít been written on yet. After my foray into the world of high fashion, I was checking out pictures of rock stars, wondering why I couldnít play Island In The Sun very fast. Practice, sure, I need more, but there is something else.
Little hands. I have little hands. They are long hands (what my father referred to as Ďproctologist fingersí) but thin, starting at the wrists, just about the only part of me that is thin these days. I have pointy little fingertips which are no good for fingering chords on guitar strings. Also no good for playing the soprano saxophone or pushing the buttons on the Mastercard billing thingy at work. No, I donít know what itís properly called, and I donít care, either. Itís just a thingy.
Looking at my hands, I notice my short nails Ė I trim rather than bite or wrench off. I like them short, good for typing and I never have to worry about breaking a nail. I leave a little length for scratching (I love a good scratch) and thatís it. They are only the color that nature intended, except for the place on my left thumb where I shut my finger in a drawer. After that I danced around my living room yelping and dancing. Whatever good that did me, except for making me wonder what a boyfriend (if I had one, or wanted one) might have thought of the performance.
Boyfriends remind me of breaking up, something I remember well. Two days ago I visited the exact spot where I experienced breaking up the first time. It was in the closet where the orchestra keeps the smaller string instruments in Macarthur high school, and it happened right before chorus. I either sang my heart out that day, or sat in that closet for the whole period. I forget which. That chorus room saw me and the same boy breaking up and getting back together over and over again. Once he came to choir while we were broken up and he was wearing a red shirt. The girl he was cheating on me with called him Satan and I laughed. MemoriesÖ
I wasnít at my high school to relive that moment. I was coming back from a dentist appointment and thought Iíd stop in to see my choir director. It was weird being back there. I kept the memories, but the setting had blurred into something less easily recalled. People and words, but not the color of the walls. Itís interesting. The students seem very short, or just small in general, and the bathrooms are marked Boys and Girls. I looked at a few photos of myself which were in the music department office, and I was small then, too. Now only my hands are small.
Besides wishing I had bigger hands, I also wish I was taller and that my skin wasnít so blotchy. Itís not quite discolored, but so thin that every little vein shows through. My skin is very much like the blotting paper included in wedding invitations. It doesnít hide anything. When Iím embarrassed the red creeps up my neck and into my cheeks in random blotches, here and there. My legs and arms are maps of rivers big and small, you can trace the route my blood takes. Not even the summer sun helps. I stay translucent. The only way to tell that Iíve been sunning myself is the strangely shaped birthmark I have on my left hip. It doesnít tan at all, and so shows up quite nicely against my somewhat less snowy summer-time body.
Now Iím making myself sound weird. Possibly intriguing, but only to people like myself. I could cure this with the creative use of cosmetics like most women. But they are time consuming and slimy and they donít always smell particularly nice. They require constant reapplication after eating, or eye rubbing. And I love to rub my eyes when Iím tired, which I usually am. I may as well just live with the fact that whatís under my skin is an open book. At least Iím something to read.
Sometimes I get lonely, wishing for someone to come take my little hand and turn it over and look at all the streaks of blue in my hands and wonder if I look like that all over. Not often, though. Iím busy, too busy for that, and Iíll be gone soon anyhow so Iíd rather not leave someone in my wake wondering exactly why I came and went. What was the point of that? Like I said, itís sometimes, mostly in the wee hours of the morning, after blubbering a bit over All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten, the book by Robert Fulghum (makes me think of the chap in my classÖwhoíd you take 135 with Ro-bert? What is the point of this, Ro-bert?). I sit in my bed and think of human emotions and love, the love in the movies and in books, which is in the moment, and not time consuming like real love. Thatís when I sort of miss it.
And then I look around and at Charlie and my unfinished paintings, boxes and dance shoes and writing magazine, then myself in the mirror and I think ďIt can wait, Iím still changing too much.Ē And so it can.
Seventeen Hours Later
Still studying. No contact with the outside world, not even one phone call. The test is in two days, and my hand is cramping up from writing my list of unfamiliar vocabulary words. The only thing keeping me going is ephedrine, Weezer and BNL. At least I got a good nights sleep for once, and another tonight! Bless my shitface boss for cutting my hours. No, seriously, at least he decided to screw me over when it was convenient for both of us. Iím not sure what I was thinking, giving myself so little time to prepare for the exam. I sort of forgot that life is a competition against most of the other people my age, my major, my field.
Iím either going to get drunk after the exam or take some codeine or something else. Donít know what yet. Iíd be cheating myself with the codeine. I only have #2, which hardly does anything for me. After the long weeks of liquid hydrocodone after breaking it off with Blakhart, how could I expect it to? It will be another chance to party. Iíll leave Tuesday free for fun. I wonder if the mailroom cutie has noticed my absence. Probably not. He hasnít expressed any familiarity, even though Iím dropping off an envelope twice a week. His loss. Then I get to shift my ass back into high gear and write my entrance essays, make out my applications and ready my stories. The responsible life is worth living, or so they keep telling me.
I never imagined any of this in my freshman year when Iíd be outside Vander Poel smoking Camel lights or singing along to Jewel songs in my dorm room while my roommate talked about guys with Lexusís and Ďnation timeí. Back then, having a man was the best, schoolwork was a diversion and I skipped class to have lunch with the PAC crew. An on-campus job was enough and I was driving my first car, heady with the realization that I was suddenly free. The first three years of college are like that, everything is new and wonderful. Sigh. To be eighteen again.
And so, I retire to my books, my pad and my pen (and the cramp in my wrist). Pray for me Tuesday, to whatever God you choose, or just shoot positive mental energies my way. Iíll need it.