I didn’t even have time to eat today.
It’s going to be a long year.
I didn’t even have time to eat today.
It’s going to be a long year.
I realize that I only made it a week through my proposed schedule of postings, but it’s moving week and I’m staring hopelessly at piles of clothing and trying to decide what to take and what to burn in grief.
I am very bad at packing.
So the proposed postings will have to wait. And you guys will just have to forgive me for being a lying little blogger. And I will just have to figure out how to condense matter to my needs. And then we will all be happy.
San Francisco on Friday. Oh, dude, I’m nervous as hell.
I suppose we could start at the beginning.
I had one of those miraculous childhoods that went weirdly out of style after the 60s when everything became granola and people got all paranoid about their children dying and whatnot.
My parents separated when I was five, plucking me out of my progressive kindergarten and into the hands of my three neurotic cousins in a large mansion left to my mother’s sister in a heated divorce. Between my siblings and I we numbered seven, ages 4-13; neither of our mothers had the luxury of staying home to make sure we were ok, so they just requested we never fill them in on our after-school activities. Ignorance is bliss, and whatnot. As far as they knew, we ran a book club.
We had the run of the neighborhood and no real adults to question our authority outside of the mother of the girl across the street, so we stopped inviting that girl over to play.
This led to sledding down the ravine on the lid of garbage cans, diving off the dock into the river at low tide to catch crabs in two feet of water, lengthy soap-opera-style home videos in which my cousin pushed us down the hill in a broken-down Barbie jeep for the dramatic crash conclusion. We scaled trees taller than our quickly wearing mansion. We spent our afternoons hiding from developers in partially constructed houses, throwing my four-year-old brother out of the second story window so my cousins could catch him and munching boxes of cheez-its under the brand-new floorboards while inspections took place just above our heads, the dust from their shoes littering down on us as they stepped across the floor above us, us trying desperately not to giggle. We rolled down three flights of stairs on beanbag chairs. We choreographed elaborate dances in the discarded costumes from my aunts failed monogramming business that we’d filched from the attic. We called into radio stations, endlessly requesting songs. We held three or four day monopoly games. We played Mortal Combat and beat Super Mario Brothers over the course of a month. We watched endless marathons of Chuckie, the demon doll horror flicks, every Halloween. We chased each other through the darkened crevices of my aunts walk-through closet, the unlucky victim to be chosen by my eldest cousin and his skater-punk friend.
We had no assigned beds. Every night we all scattered across the house and settled our tired bodies on the softest piece of furniture we could find. The last to bed was stuck on the leather couch in the formal living room, where the glow of the ginormous fish tank and the slippery fabric of the leather led to a zombie-like presence all throughout the next day. Worse, still, was to resign yourself to being wedged between my mother and aunt in their king-sized bed. My aunt snored like a train.
We never called our mothers over broken bones, scratches, fights, lost lunches. We climbed onto the counter to use the microwave and learned to run our raging oven burns under the sink rather than ice down. Our major concern when my sister sent a rusty nail through her foot at our favorite construction site was that mom might find out.
Our fragile child-kingdom was glorious. We were the masters of our domain. There were no rules. There were no time-outs. We learned our own way. We settled disputes on our terms.
My oldest cousin became the patriarch of the family, his slightly younger sister the matriarch. We’d all waited patiently for Ben to turn 16 and get a car so we could wedge in and get around–widen our berth of authority. Really, though, it was quickly becoming apparent that Ben didn’t care much for letting us follow him around like mother-less ducklings and he began to sneak off to the gas station to buy wine coolers from a few high schoolers he knew and share them with Molly. This left us all the more parentless.
Molly and Ben outgrowing us felt like the greatest betrayal of my young life. Molly had taught me how to ride a bike. Ben had played the gleeful villain in all of our favorite games, chasing us around with his bare butt, leaving a particularly reverent ass-print on our glass oven for months on end.
We all kind of grew up. Mom started signing us up for after-school care everyday, holding us hostage in that planned-activity, parent waiting room. We hated aftercare. Women with moles all over their bodies lectured us about sharing and made sure we let other kids in on our four-square games, preventing us from making up rules that guaranteed outsiders would lose. We’d had unlimited TV and freedom, now we had knitting lessons.
I couldn’t entirely blame Mom for putting us in aftercare, even though my younger brother and I took the brunt of it, being the youngest of the gang. Ben had taken to nailing random objects to the roof of his bedroom (the most coveted of all the sleeping spaces being as he kept it mostly off-limits to everyone but my brother and I; the fact that it was the only room on the top floor, had its own living room-attachment that held our treasured Nintendo, and was a whopping five staircases away from my aunts bedroom, where parents never had much reason to wander). I caught him hammering up his recently-deceased yellow lab’s leash to the ceiling and plopped myself down unthinkingly on his extra bed (where only my little brother was ever allowed to sleep) underneath his Weezer Green Album poster.
He and Molly were in a fight. I didn’t know what had happened (I was a first, possibly second grader, but my guess would be that he was caught smoking weed), but I knew Molly had ratted him out to his father about something and his father (you knew it was big if someone involved one of our fathers) had subsequently refused to buy him a car. Ben was thereafter grounded and hadn’t spoken to Molly since.
I’d gone to Ben on an errand from Molly to offer some sort of peace offering, to which he’d shrugged and finally sent me away with his prolonged silence. Molly had questioned me extensively about his reply. I’d shrugged. “He didn’t say anything. He’s busy doing something.”
I’d shrugged again.
“Well, go back and find out.”
I went. I stood beneath him, looking up at him, standing on a chair, hammering that leash into the ceiling. It was green. It was a green leash.
“Molly wants to know what you’re doing.”
He hadn’t even looked down at me. He just kept hammering. “Science experiment.”
“Okay.” I left satisfied by that answer, Molly less so.
“Did he say what the science experiment was?”
I returned. “Exactly what kind of science experiment?”
“Gravity,” I reported to Molly.
“What is he doing exactly?”
I told her. She still seemed concerned. “What’s wrong? It’s just a science experiment.”
She went with me this time. The two of us climbed to his lair, she stayed in the doorway, examining the situation; Ben up on that chair hammering his dead dog’s leash into the ceiling.
“Molly wants to know what you’re going to hang from the leash.”
“Molly can mind her own fucking business.”
The police showed up within fifteen minutes. Ben got sent away for a while and thereafter lived with his father until he went to college.
I only remember being very worried about how our mothers would feel when they saw the police there and very mad at Molly for breaking our sacred vow of law-less silence. I was seven, maybe six, maybe even eight. How was I supposed to know that Molly had saved his life that day?
Well, the European adventure has come to an end. I’m sitting, feverish out of my mind, in the Newark airport trying not to let myself remember the monstrosity they fed me on the plane under the ruse of lunch.
One adventure down. Back to the American Wanderjunk.
Dublin was fun (more so than I think I typically have). Stepped off to Galway yesterday and managed to hook my awkward British friend up with a sunburn (too British to handle… Who gets a sunburn in Ireland?). Goodbye Dublin! Goodbye Scotland! Goodbye friends and bedmates! Goodbye loud hostels!
So now I get to start my moving and starting school stress (ok, with a bit of roadtrip and DC fun thrown in for good measure). Oh god… I’m going to have to get a job again. And an apartment. And a commuting plan. And…
Sigh… Extended vacation can’t last forever. Are you sure? Why not?
Ok… This makes very little sense. I am sick. And back in America. You really must forgive me.
Today I am wearing my skinny jeans.
Forget everything else!
For a moment, let us be needlessly sentimental.
The day my oldest sister moved away to college I cried. This had nothing to do with losing my lifelong roommate who’d tolerated (albeit barely) my atrocious brand of childish messiness. I cried because sometimes the moment washes over you in a clear wave that tells you that nothing will ever be the same again.
Soon after, my family crumbled. We each retreated to our separate corners. I drowned myself in the depths of my bed.
I can’t say precisely that I love my life. I have been looking for something. A feeling that rushes through your chest. A feeling akin to happiness. Every now and then I feel it brush across my skin. The wispy entrails of feeling that could, potentially, solve the unknown question (42).
I find myself retracing my steps, looking back to the places where this feeling once brushed my life. I have returned to the place. Maybe the place has not changed, but the feeling has left. Like my sister leaving home, it’s become markedly clear that my life will never return to those moments of bald joy.
You can’t go back to those slippery moments of happiness. Why am I lingering, waiting for them to return to the places where everyone else has left? Why am I still the one, swimming around in the past, looking for those last vestiges of long-extinct moments. Why can’t I get out of my own superior, possibly imaginary, memories?
Let us find new moments. Let us find new happiness. This one is no longer waiting patiently for our return.
I had never meant to fall in love with Edinburgh. It just kind of happened.
I announced my decision to move here for my Junior year of college in 2009. Everyone told me it was weird that I hadn’t chosen somewhere more exotic, or, failing that since there are only so many exotic places you can study for an English degree, why not London?
I’d happened upon Edinburgh in someone else’s daydream. My roommate at the time was applying for here, but decided against going after she started a serious relationship. So I came alone.
I think it look me about half an hour after I arrived to realize I had accidentally made the best decision of my life.
So here I am. Back after almost 4 years since that first half hour and still… God, it’s so beautiful. Understated and romantic and just… Lovely. How could I not have fallen in love with Edinburgh?
I never stood a chance.