Haunted

Is there anybody alive out there?

Some days are worse than others. Some days I don’t think of you at all. I’m grateful for those.

Some days, like today, the memory of you and what you did to me brings me down like a ship’s anchor. I walked through this day zombified, confused, almost-but-not-quite-on autopilot, hoping it would dissipate.

But today is not one of those days. Today, you haunt me. And you haven’t stopped.

It started with “Radio Nowhere.” Your favorite Bruce Springsteen song.

I don’t know why I still remember that fact. I wish I could forget it. I’m sure I never will. That’s just a writer thing, I guess. Remembering all of the little things any “normal” person would’ve long forgotten by now. The memories I’m sure you don’t hold onto are all the ones I’m certain I still have.

My mind wandered to those years of thoughts about what could be, what was, and what I wanted. The good times we shared. The times I thought I loved you and the time I thought you actually might have cared about me. (It’s singular on purpose.)

I snap myself back to reality, and launch into the memory of what you did to me. The bad time. The time I don’t think you realize what you did. What your name to all my friends has forever been changed to.

I cringe, aching with the reminder of how those water droplets felt as they splashed off your chest and onto my back. The smell of your Irish Spring body wash still stings my nose–years later. I can smell it right now. Just the right amount of soft, but masculine. Not overpowering. My skin smelled of it for hours afterward, as I walked home, not entirely sure of what had just happened.

I still hate admitting that I liked that soap, especially as I tried to scrub all of the shame and self-hatred from my skin. Some days, I can still feel it all. The shame, the self-hatred, the soap itself as it slid from the bottle, bubbled beneath my fingertips, and slid across my skin.

But slowly, ever so slowly, I remember how I liked you. The thoughts of your sly smile, your ice blue eyes, the way you were the first boy to ever really pay attention to me. The first one to ever treat me like I was worthy of romantic love and affection. I should’ve learned early on (and long ago) that you weren’t really the romantic love and affection type. I should’ve learned early on that I would never truly believe I was worthy of that. And even years later, married and all, I will never truly believe it.

And yet, I find myself here, behind a keyboard, remembering just who you were and how I cared for you. How foolish I’d been, letting you in with something as simple as a Facebook message and a simple guitar rendition of “Crash Into Me.” (I still can’t listen to that song without remembering that warm September night–almost seven years after it happened.)

Once I thought I’d gotten past this, back to the actual reality of life at my desk and the assignments I faced, it came back. Something else happened.

I saw a photo, of you and the girl you’re currently with. I still can’t decide how I feel about this–and you’ve been with her over a year now.

I’ve written about it before, how I wonder about the way you treat her, whether or not you actually say you love her in the way I wish you loved me so long ago, and exactly how she managed to be the one to break you of your habit of heartbreaking and stomping and general tomfoolery as it pertains to women and their affections or feelings. (I know there were women before me who you’d scorned and destroyed.)

I somehow can’t decide if I pity her or envy her; neither feeling being particularly desirable. How I wonder if she knows what you’d been like before her. If she knows about the hearts you broke, the women you irreparably damaged. If she knows about me. The words we shared. The play fights we had.

I wonder if you used  the same trick on her you used on me. The “Crash Into Me” rendition that got you to be the first man (outside of my childhood best friend) to see me topless.

You haunt me still. And I hate admitting it.

I’m at a point in my life where I know I shouldn’t still be thinking about you. I’m at a point in my life where you shouldn’t matter, where I shouldn’t feel anything about you anymore and yet here I am, writing another stupid essay about a stupid boy (a BOY!) who never thought of me as anything more than a piece of ass.

As a writer, I suppose you’re always just a little bit haunted by the ghosts of your past. And I hope that some day, with enough ink spilled and keys pressed, you’ll finally let me rest.

 


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Yin and Yang

Two complimentary forces. Good and bad. Shadow and light. Yin and yang.

These are the things I think of when I think of everything that happened in 2016. (Of course, it feels like the dark side is perpetually winning and it’s driving me a bit bonkers at the moment, but…I digress.)

As I’ve struggled to put together a piece for work about well, my job’s own 2016 in review, my personal struggles and memories keep bubbling up and telling me that I need to let them out. And here we are. With the good and our bad, our shadows and our light, complimenting each other and fighting it out for the forefront on my mind.

As I’ve worked on the work project, I found my calendar from the first six months of the year. A full-sized planner. I archived it, of course, because I knew I’d need all my notes for my annual review. And the more I thumb through it, the more I see that it’s full of different things. The good and the bad. Both work and personal.

When I think about the year as a whole, I remember so many different bad things. I always remember bad things versus good things. A huge fight and falling out with my dad (that finally resolved this week). The loss of Kristi’s dad atop a list of so many of our heroes we also lost, including Carrie Fisher. The election and its results that changed so many things and caused me to question my career far more than I ever had before. I was unmedicated for a long time–the longest time since I had started them, and times had gotten scary. (I’ll write about this eventually, but not now.)

But there were also good things. I have to remember the good things. I have to hold onto the good things. 

As I thumb through that planner, I can quickly and easily see just a few of them.

February saw both my second Springsteen concert and my first trip to Florida. My mom got us *great* seats to see Bruce from a friend of hers. And, basically a week later, when Kristi went and ran her second half marathon at Disney World, she invited me to come along. I even got to go and meet Tinkerbell! And we took tequila shots with her dad, which is one of my favorite memories of him.

March saw Kristi and I get engaged. I’d bought the ring less than two hours before I asked her to marry me, with the help of a toddler-sized bright yellow raincoat. Thankfully, she said yes. (A week and a half later, we got our first bit of bad news. Two weeks after that, more bad news came. And more after that.)

April, Kristi and I celebrated her 25th birthday in Florida. Two trips in one year. I was baptized into the Methodist church which has seen me through so many dark, dreary days. I also went to a Jeopardy taping and held my very first training that I wrote and gave. It was terrifying, but I was so glad when it was done.

June saw us going to Awesome Con together, me working late nights, and running my first live race of the year, a 5K I ran with some coworkers and their friends.

July, Kristi and I saw Toby Keith and Disturbed in one weekend and ventured an extra twenty miles after one of the concerts just to get Waffle House. (They didn’t have chocolate chips that day. It was sad.) I went into the Pentagon for the second time ever and got to stand at the podium of the press briefing room, which was probably one of the coolest moments of my young career. We adopted our precious boy cat, Stripes.

August, I got a new apartment for my birthday where Kristi and I moved in together. My work colleagues from all over the country came into town and we celebrated my birthday at a big happy hour. My mom and brother came to stay with us in the new apartment, not long after we moved in–their first time coming down to visit since my mom first helped me move to DC in July 2014.

September, during a week of late nights and early mornings, I managed to squeak in a visit to Nationals Park to see my second Springsteen concert of the year. It rained but the show was fantastic. My first big stadium show. Labor Day weekend just two days later, Kristi met my dad, we saw Blink-182, and I took her to my hometown in New York. I ran my first five-miler and didn’t die.

October, Kristi and I got our engagement photos done, and my dad’s illness finally was nearly resolved. I made my last trip there for the year. (I try to go 3-4 times a year.)

November and December were hard. Harder than they should’ve been.

Obviously in November, the election happened. Kristi and I applied for and got our marriage license.

The election changed our plans, making us wonder and worry for the future of our legal marriage. But, we decided and we moved up our legal ceremony and we won’t let that dissuade us from having a big wedding in October 2017–as we originally wanted and planned.

I found myself running to each church service I could that week. Three different times I found myself in the pews, praying to God for hope, clarity, and grace.

Later, I ran my second five-miler and still didn’t die. I wrote another 50,000 word manuscript as I tried to drown out all the uncertainty in my mind. (It was far easier this year.)

December, Kristi and I hosted brunch for her friends in our apartment. Her mom came to visit for Christmas. We married on  December 27th and went to dinner afterward. Our New Year’s celebrations were small, we watched Netflix and cuddled with the cats, knowing that 2017 had lots in store for us.

There were so many horrid things about 2016 but going through and seeing all of the good things that happened makes it all worth it. 2017 will be better; it’ll still have its challenges, but I have faith it will be better too. There is shadow and light in everything, after all.

 

 

A leap of faith…

Today is Leap Day; a day that only comes around once every four years.

Today, I took a leap of faith because I am so damn sick and tired of having to read articles about “how to wear plus sized clothing” and shopping in the “plus sized” sections of stores. I got sick of spending more money for the same damn clothes that my friends get to wear and look cute in. I got sick of feeling like absolute crap about myself.

It’s going to be a long road, but with the help of my girlfriend, my long distance best friend, my FitBit, and my good buddy the Internet (where I will likely complain and complain and complain and complain about how much I miss pizza and french fries) I’m finally going to get my life together.

I’ve always been the fat girl–I’m not small, nor am I trying to be. I’m just trying to be a little smaller, a little happier, and a whole lot healthier.

And so, cheers to making changes and taking leaps of faith…

Bigger Isn’t Always Better (In Fact, It Usually Isn’t)

People have been tossing around the term “privilege” for years now, in context of “white privilege” or “male privilege” or my personal favorite, “check your privilege.” Believe it or not, there’s a type of privilege that you wouldn’t even think of, and that’s “skinny privilege.”

That’s right. I said it.

Skinny. Privilege.

Privilege, by definition is “a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.” 

And, by the textbook, Google-given definition, I witnessed this today in an incident that I will not soon forget.

While waiting for the (eternally late) bus at the Pentagon station, I witnessed a woman, walking in three-inch stilettos and wearing an outfit that gratuitously accentuated her shape, blatantly disobeyed the “No Trespassing” sign displayed outside the upper bus terminal. The sign is there so people do not use the exit ramp as a pedestrian walkway so that buses can drive on their merry way.

However, she walked directly one foot to the right of the sign. Police officers, from both the Metro Transit Authority and the Pentagon itself, were stationed in vehicles on the corner of the exit ramp; not 50 yards from where the woman was crossing. They did not make an attempt to stop her and allowed her to trespass.

In previous incidents, I had seen men and women that are close to the size of me (mind you, I do not fall under the category of “petite” and have not probably since I was about 12) been stopped and redirected, often obnoxiously, by members of either police force. I’ve heard megaphones, car horns, and screaming used to redirect errant pedestrians. Not a word was said to this woman.

Mind you, being a woman has its own faults, and I’m not saying women in general have privilege. There are some serious disadvantages of just being a woman that I’ve seen recently as well.

Yesterday afternoon, after I had left the bus, I began walking the half-mile from the bus stop to my front door. It was around 7pm and was still light out. All of a sudden, I saw a maroon SUV drive by me. I thought nothing of it at first. But then, it turned around at the corner and drove back by me.

That was when I began to get suspicious.

My first instinct (as it always is) is to call my mother. It’s not unusual for me to call her during the day, but when I call on my way home it’s generally to tell her I got caught in the rain…again. Yesterday, she could tell I was concerned and I certainly was. Because, there was one more instance the car drove by me.

I noted the make, almost the model, and the state of the license plate. I noticed all of the distinguishing characteristics of the car, including a large U.S. Army sticker on the back windshield that was unique in that it had an American-flag motif.

I vowed that once I walked back in the door, I would put my whistle (that my father bought me when I was first moving into Washington, DC proper) back on and not take it off.

I’ve often joked that it’s a “fashion statement for safety.” In actuality, it’s a rape whistle. It’s a constant reminder that I will never be truly safe, that I always have to be aware. I don’t have the privilege of safety, of ignorance. I have to be aware of everything–including my potential risks.

I’m angry, I’m disappointed. It’s Women’s Equality Day and all I can think of is how much farther women have to go until true “equality” exists.

And I won’t be quiet until it does.

Moonlight

I used to enjoy late nights. Quiet, calm nights. Now they just leave me bitter and cold. Alone with nothing but blankets and thoughts. The nights were easier when you were here, but you’re never coming back…

I tried to sleep, I really did. I just ended up dreaming of you. I can’t let myself do that anymore. It’s been too long, you’re happy, I’m happy (or so I tell myself to get through the days), and there’s nothing to do but sit and wish I could go back and undo the damage I’d done almost two years ago now…

So much time–too much time–has passed.

And here I am, wasting more of it, being awake thinking about things I cannot change.