Thursday, August 4, 2011

It's not poetry, it's too much Alanis Morissette

It’s probably nice in the light of day
It’s probably sweet to sleep with the sun on your skin
It’s probably not giving you cancer
Hope you don’t get too much color
I’ll be here in the shade

It’s too bad the visiting hours are changing
It’s too bad the doctor is out for the night
It’s too bad I’m still addicted to the medication
Hope you enjoy your recovery and chips
I’ll be here with the monkey

I’m grateful we did Dresden and Munich
I’m grateful for another summer abroad
I’m grateful you took lots of pictures to remember
Hope the jetlag isn’t too rough
I’ll be here polishing souvenirs  

It was nice to pick up trash in dresses
It was nice to hear the piano man
It was nice to dance on the edge of glory
Hope the music still fills the background
I’ll be here with headphones on

It’s strange not calling the shots
It’s strange picking up the pieces
It’s strange being the one who is silenced
Hope you’ve taught me well enough
I’ll be here whispering quietly

Thank you for playing on my weaknesses
Thank you for pointing out my flaws
Thank you for letting me fictionalize my world awhile
Hope you enjoy your ribbon
I’ll be here trying to learn the lesson

I’m glad I could put a bandage on your wound
I’m glad I could be adored for the pieces you choose to remember
I’m glad I could pretend to save you from drowning
Hope you didn’t get too much water in your nose
I’ll be here practicing CPR

It’s good I could keep you company in your misery
It’s good you’re healthy for real, this time
It’s good you won’t be lonely anymore
Hope you had a nice trip down memory lane
I’ll be here

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sometimes, I write short stories instead.

Because it's fun. My Blog. My Rules.
Here's one.


Heather’s hair is naturally curly. The kind of curls she doesn’t have to fight for. They effortlessly frame the baby fat left on her face. No halo of frizz, all perfectly spiraled and light. I watch her get ready sometimes, sitting in the bathroom floor, picking at my toenail polish. I tell her about last night’s episode of Blossom or how I have a crush on Mr. Basil. I tell her how I hate Danielle Fleming for getting to date Colby Bright and how I know, for sure, he would like me better if he would just figure out I exist. How Colby and I both love Green Day and The Offspring and how Danielle Fleming probably only listens to stupid music like Ace of Base.

She stares at the mirror and shakes her head and flips it over and scrunches. She owns a pick. She is the only one I know who owns a pick. My mom and I use paddle brushes. She knows it’s better for her curls if she doesn’t use a blow-dryer, if she just lets them fall naturally. Towel dried and setting themselves without any help. She says the blow-dryer makes her feel like everyone else and she likes the sound it makes when it ticks itself cool. Her mother bought her a diffuser so at least she won’t ruin her curls all together.

Last summer, she talked her mother into letting her get a perm. She begged and cried and stomped until her mother was finally defeated by the ridiculous request. She smelled like chemicals for days and days and couldn’t go swimming with me. She sat on the side of the pool, her feet kicking the water, watching me do flips and handstands. Sweat beading up around her temples and the back of her neck. The perm made her curls look exactly the same.

She likes to stay the night at my apartment before dance competitions. My mom sets my hair in sponge rollers, tugging and spraying and winding each one individually until my head hurts and my eyes are tight. Heather clicks an empty pink sponge with her thumb, open and closed, open and closed, until my mom needs it. Before we put a bandana around the sponges, Heather reaches out and touches them and tells me how she’s jealous because my curls will wash out tomorrow afternoon.

We talk about boys. She likes to talk to my mom about boys. My mom doesn’t think boys are a big deal. Heather can’t talk to her own mother about boys, but my mom laughs and giggles and understands. She doesn’t use scary words like pregnant or dangerous. My mom only uses words that sound like kissing and twitterpated and knows to be excited when Heather tells her about Mike Rich reaching over and holding her hand.

Once, we heard the word orgasm and didn’t know what it meant. My mom told us it was like the part in her supermarket paperbacks where things get really, really good. She told us it would probably be best to learn about them on our own for awhile before we tried to learn about them with boys. She says boys are different and they don’t always understand. You have to figure out who you are, she tells us, before you can teach someone else.

Heather and I wear the same size but we don’t borrow each others clothes. Mine are made up of plain cotton and denim and hers flow and pop with patterns and textures and layers. She never wears the same outfit twice in a month. She has a clipboard hanging on her closet door and before she goes to bed at night, she assembles an outfit and writes it down in pink and purple ink. Shoes and headbands and bracelets and earrings. Her closet smells like name brand fabric softener and her hangers are all padded and scented like rose petals. Left to right, light to dark, all the same distance apart. My hangers are plastic, multi-colored, and the empty ones stick out and point themselves in different directions. My closet smells mostly like color safe bleach and the sandalwood that drifts down the hallway. I don’t have a clipboard. My closet doors are covered in song lyrics and snapshots and quotes I write in black Sharpie.

When we spend the night in Heather’s room, we paint our fingernails pink with sparkles. When we spend the night in my room, we listen to music and talk to boys on the phone and lie on our backs putting foot prints on my wall. If Heather’s room is messy, her mother yells. If my room is messy, my mom just closes the door.

In the mornings, while we walk to school, she tells me about the names she likes for her future children. Taylor or Morgan for girls. Tyler and Benjamin for boys. I tell her I’m not having kids but when I get a dog, I’m naming him Lloyd Christmas. He’s going to be a Saint Bernard and sleep on the other side of my big, big bed. She doesn’t live in an apartment so she already has a dog. A poodle. Her name is Claire and her mother takes her to get her toenails clipped.  

In math, I copy the answers from her. In English, she makes me re-write her essays. We’re both fine in science. We spend most of that class talking about Mr. Basil. She thinks Mr. Basil is old. I think he’s not. His wife is ugly, though, and the picture he has on his desk makes her look fatter than she is. I like the picture.

In P.E., we jog slowly behind everyone else so we can talk about Colby Bright and Mike Rich without being overheard. Sometimes, we talk about Danielle Fleming, too, but not as much. I hate her but Heather doesn’t want her to know that. I probably don’t either. She always smiles at me and once, she let me borrow her extra set of running shoes when I forgot mine at home.

Tonight, I’m sleeping at Heather’s. My mom is out of town with her new boyfriend. Her mother cooks us dinner on the stove and her father drinks milk from a frosted mug. They all close their eyes and say grace. I just close my eyes.

We’re supposed to go to a party tomorrow for Mike Rich’s birthday. She asks me what to wear. I tell her to wear the outfit she wore to that bowling thing last month. I tell her it makes her boobs look bigger. She looks at me like I’m stupid. I look at her like she is, too. We both laugh and she says she’ll just ask her mother to buy her something new.

When we lay down to go to sleep, I have to throw pillows on the ground. There are always too many pillows on Heather’s bed. We’re both wearing old dance competition t-shirts. I beg her to turn on her clock radio so I can sleep to music and she tells me if her mother gets mad, it’s my fault. I’m okay with that. Her mother won’t actually yell at me. Her hair is piled on top of her head but there are curls springing out everywhere. They smell like strawberries. I reach over and tug on one and I tell her how I’m jealous because hers won’t wash out tomorrow afternoon.   

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ah, Jeremy. My Husband.

When Jeremy and I had our first big fight, I ran to my friend Lauren’s house. I cried and smoked cigarettes and called my mom. She was heartbroken for me. She was heartbroken for herself. She told me how she hated the lesson I had learned from her about relationships was, When things get rough, run.

I hated it too.

It wasn’t the only lesson I had learned from her, but it was one of them. Up until that point, it was all I had ever done. And I had sabotaged every relationship I ever had by running. Granted, I was a baby, barely 21, but relationships before 21 and relationships after 21 aren’t really that different. In fact, the ones when I was young were important. Those were the ones I needed to show me what love could feel like before it got steady. Before I learned to navigate fear and made my way to committed. Before I learned how not to run.

I cried and smoked some more and talked Lauren to death. Then, like I always do, I called Jeremy. We discussed things, in regular English. We talked and cried and yelled and talked and cried some more. We got through, got to the other side. The committed side. The beautiful side. The really, really good side of what relationships past 21 look like.

I asked him, “Can I come home now?”

He said, “I never asked you to leave.”

Ah, Jeremy.

My Husband.

He’s never asked me to leave, not once in all these years. He’s never said it loud or quietly. He’s never sent subliminal messages. He’s never pushed me away. He’s loved me so steady from the very beginning and it’s never scared him. He’s never had more important things to do. Oats to sow. Questions to answer. He never put me on the back burner to find himself first. He’s never doubted it. One day, after only a few weeks of dating, he introduced me as his girlfriend and that was it. He never thought about it again. Not once. That means something.

It means a lot of something.

We instantly and seamlessly fell in love. It was not the stuff regular fairytales are made of, but it was one to us. Not the stuff Nicholas Sparks’ books or Eminem’s love songs are written about. No questions. No turmoil, no confusion, no over thinking. He entered my life at a time where I had been let down and disappointed and neglected. He immediately made me feel safe, secure, wanted, adored.

He still does.  

I never had no one
I could count on
I've been let down so many times
I was tired of hurtin'
So tired of searchin'
'Til you walked into my life
It was a feelin'
I'd never known
And for the first time
I didn't feel alone

It was the most natural thing in the world to us, even though once or twice I pretended like I was going to run.

Blame my mother. I do.

I was never really going anywhere, I just get dramatic sometimes. He loves me anyway.

It has always been the kind that I knew was going to last 50 plus years. The kind that when you asked my grandma “How have you and grandpa been married so long?” Her answer was, “We just don’t get a divorce.”

Smart woman, my grandma.

Did she get aggravated? SURE! My grandpa was a pain in the butt. He was grouchy and bossy and always pronounced her name “’Viirra” instead of Elvira. He used to come down the hall in his underwear and yell at us to turn the TV off and go to bed. Of course she got aggravated. My grandparents had 11 kids. 11 KIDS!! She probably walked around in a constant state of aggravation. My grandma was a wonderful, feisty, funny, smart woman, but a saint she was not. She used to make fun of him when she thought he couldn’t see. It always cracked me up. When she wasn’t looking, he would often aim these googly eyes at her across the room and you could literally feel how much he loved her. He always held her hand. Always.

Do I get aggravated? SURE! My husband can be down right infuriating. He leaves newspapers EVERYWHERE. He still hasn’t finished the fort in the backyard. He falls asleep watching TV. He falls asleep eating dinner. He falls asleep when I’m having conversations with him. (So what if its in the morning? That's when I feel like talking!) He always lets me have the first cup of coffee. He always kisses me goodnight. He tells me he loves me every. single. day.  He laughs at Cougar Town, pretends to be interested in Grey’s Anatomy and touches my butt every chance he gets. He talks about the game of football like he wants to see it naked. He talks about me like he wants to see me naked. He always looks stoned in pictures.

When I change my hair color, he notices. When I’ve spent all day cleaning the house, he notices and says thank you. When I’m still in my pajamas when he gets home from work and I haven’t done a single thing, he kisses me and asks me if I need a nap. When I need to write, he lets me. When I decide I want to take a cross-country road trip, he starts helping me dream about it. He looks at maps and figures out mileage. When I tell him I’m going back to school, he says “whatever you want, babe”. When I tell him I don’t want to go to school anymore, he says, “whatever you want, babe”.  He never calls in sick. He rarely complains about anything. He works on my car and sings the lyrics to most songs incorrectly. He is happiest when I am happiest. He always holds my hand. Always.    

Sometimes, I don’t understand steady. I. Am. Not. Steady. I don’t know how his brain works and how he never questions me. I’m nuts. I’m impossible. I’m selfish and self-centered and exhausting and I question everything. All the time. I’m never satisfied with an answer for very long.  I change my mind about which direction I’m taking my life every five minutes and he comes along for the ride. I’ve made his life a wooden, crackly roller-coaster and he puts his hands up in the air and pretends to be excited with every turn. I’m inconsistent and sometimes, kinda mean. He loves me anyway. He loves me so steady. He knows me better than I give him credit for. I like to pretend that I’m way complicated and mysterious. I’m really not. He knows that. He does joke, though, about not being able to get in my head because there are already too many people up there. He’s pretty funny, my husband.  

You stand by me
And you believe in me
Like nobody ever has
When my world goes crazy
You're right there to save me
You make me see how much I have

I wanted to get married in Vegas. I wanted to elope and ditch the whole wedding scene. I wanted to wear a trashy dress and fishnet stockings. I was anxious about all my family being in the same room. He knew that, but he told me no. He said, “Over the next few years, all your friends are going to get married and every time we go to a wedding, I don’t want to hear you say, ‘I wish we would have had a nice wedding, too’. So, no. We’re having a wedding. Like it or not.”

He was right, and our wedding was perfect.   

When I ask him why he loves me he says, “I just do.” He’s not much for a monologue. That’s okay. I talk enough for the both of us.

And I don't know where I'd be
Without you here with me
Life with you makes perfect sense
You're my best friend

I did, once, get him to give me a list of reasons why he loved me. He would kill me if I shared the whole thing but just know it contained phrases like: Groggy morning face, pajama pants & animal slippers, I LOVE YOU FOR YOU and Your smile, frown and Yahtzee cheer.

Followed by “…reasons I know without a shadow of a doubt that we WILL celebrate our 50th anniversary together.  I already started planning it.”  

Good to know, babe. I’ll be there. But let’s renew our vows in Vegas, huh? It’s my turn. I’ll be the one down front in the trashed up wedding dress and fishnet stockings…