I used to have a friend in college who would get so discouraged about her life, about her relationship, that she would break down in tears nearly every day. She didn't know if she could go on. She was lost. She was beaten. She was way down at the bottom of her spirit and she wasn't sure how she was going to rise to the top again. We spent so many afternoons after class or work on the balcony of her third floor apartment, sitting at her white, plastic table in her white, plastic chairs and smoking cigarette after cigarette until the afternoon turned to twilight and beyond.
We never solved anything but we always felt better afterwards.
The truth of it is, I was just as lost as her. Just as down-trodden. We were a pair, the two of us. Debbie-Downer twins, that was us. Still, we managed to laugh. Somehow. Someway. I don't remember how we did it or what we found to laugh about, only that we did. A lot.
They were sad times. But they were good times.
I used to have this thing that I would tell her and it went something like this:
"M. Life is shit. It's a fact. There's going to be more and more shit before it's all said and done and the only thing we can do about it is find little, tiny pockets of happiness here and there and sew them into our hearts with little, tiny zippers so that we can open them from time to time and let the happiness out when the shit gets really deep."
I had forgotten all about that. I had forgotten I used to say that to her until I came across a note from her in which she reminded me of exactly that.
It seems unreal to me now, lost as I am, as I always have been, that I would have said something like that to someone else. I am almost ashamed of it. Who was I to be telling her something like that?
Anyway, after I read that note, I started thinking about what I meant by little, tiny pockets of happiness. What were they? What were mine? Could I remember them all if I tried? I wasn't sure but I thought I would at least sit down and get as many out as I could. Whatever came to my head first, that's what I would write.
And so that's what I did.
And that's what I present to you below. Unedited. And in no particular order. Just thoughts as they came, trying to capture them in words as fast as I could because once I got started, another one was waiting to get out. I'm sure I haven't done justice to many of them, maybe even all of them. I don't know. But I've found it doesn't matter. The memories are inside me and that's all that really matters. They live in me and there they will stay long after this blog is gone, long after my computer has died, long after the word document they were written upon has been deleted.
They live in me until I live no more.
Here's to you, M.
Dancing with my mother to Paul Simon's greatest hits when she came to visit me in college. We were drunk, giddy with wine, and dancing all over the house, one behind the other - through the living room, into the bedroom, out through the kitchen, and back to the living room. A fit of giggles. Collapsing on the couch. Refilling our wine glasses. Changing CD's and dancing some more.
Understanding, many months and many days after the fact, that no fight was too big to keep me from my sister. I don't know exactly when we forgave each other, the exact date. I doubt we ever said the actual words of forgiveness that are so often meaningless anyway. I only remember being in my mother's old house on Barnes Street when we finally spoke on the phone. Cautiously at first, and then as if nothing had ever happened. That's one of my most treasured pockets of happiness.
My brother's embrace the day I returned home from Atlanta. Out of a job. Out of a five year relationship. Depressed. Not wanting to be here at all. He hugged me to him so tightly and held on longer than he ever had before or since, whispering in my ear, "I'm so glad you're home, Steph."
Saying goodbye to Fischer before he left for Hawaii. Standing outside with him in the cold. Looking at his beautiful, sweet, never-could-never-will-hurt-a-living-soul face. His twinkling eyes looking back into mine. The lines at the corner of his mouth turning up into a smile. His arms around my waist. My arms around his shoulders. The warmth of his body. His body sturdy. Strong. Knowing I was kissing him for the last time ever in this lifetime. Happy just for the chance to know him. Happy for the few short years he graced my life.
Brenda's gifts to me the day I left my job for good. Three boxes of tampons and a bag full of lotion in every scent imaginable. How we fell down in fits of laughter when I opened it. Beautiful in its simplicity, this gift from her to me. Beautiful in its significance. A secret between friends. Really knowing someone. Really understanding someone.
My brother-in-law saying over the weekend: "We don't love people because of what they do, Steph. We don't love them for their jobs. We love them because of who they are." Thank you, brother. I needed that.
The old man at my table who only wanted a steak, rare, and a glass of red wine. Watching as he cut into it. Sending it back again and again, while all the while, he never complained. I believe he would have taken it the first time just the way it was. He ended up eating it medium and asking me to sit down with him and share a glass of wine. I did. I was drawn to him in some way I couldn't define or explain. He was kind. He was old. He was not long for this world. I don't remember his name but I remember the feel of his arms around my shoulder as he hugged me on his way out the door. I watched him leave, walk down the street, until I couldn't see him anymore. I remember thinking to myself that he was an angel but I didn't know why I thought that. I cried feverishly after he was gone.
Listening to Concrete Blonde sing Joey (the acoustic version) with my friend, Kenneth, over and over again in his car. Belting out the lyrics at the top of our lungs and not caring how horrible our voices were. Being out of breath at the end of the song and pressing rewind to play it again. To sing it again. To feel every single lyric, every single note.........
I could write for days and still the memories would come. I know this.
That's all life is. A series of moments, of memories. Little, tiny pockets of happiness in the midst of pain, struggle, and despair. These pockets are the only things that keep us here, the only things that allow us to wake up and face another day.
The hope that we will make another memory.
The hope that we will see something beautiful.
The hope that we will feel something sublime.
The hope that we will learn something unknown.
The hope that we will forge a connection.
And knowing, without a doubt, that "sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right." (Scarlet Begonias - Robert Hunter & Jerry Garcia). Knowing, that in our darkest hour, in the darkest places, there is kindness, there is beauty.
Because it's fun. And I got nothing for you today. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Come back another time.
And now, in totally unrelated news..... Johnny Depp. Because he's gorgeous, intelligent, and weird (in other words, PERFECT). And also because I got nothing for you today. I told you that already so why are you still here?
I have no words.
Over and out.
Posted by Steph at 4:56 PM
Currently on my shit list:
I've got your poker face right here, bitch.
- The bird or birds that serenade me at 6 a.m. every fucking morning. Apparently, they didn't get the memo stating that I don't need to rise and shine at six. Therefore, I don't. I would just like to know who their leader is because I demand to be reimbursed for the two alarm clocks I've broken in the past week by throwing them across the room. This morning, I thought it was my cell phone making that incessant noise since I no longer have an alarm clock. I even think I may have dialed the Office of the President trying to get the damn thing to shut up. I'm sorry, birdies. I think you make lovely music but maybe you could come back around, say...8, instead? That would be superb.
- Lady Gag (the 'a' left off intentionally) saying this: "Art is a lie and every day I kill to make it true," when Pablo Picasso already said this: "Art is a lie that makes us realize truth." If you can't figure out that she completely regurgitated that and didn't have the decency to give credit where credit is due, then you deserve to listen to her music. Go ahead. Turn the volume up in your headphones and dance around in your fishnets and wigs. Look at yourself in the mirror and proclaim, "I am DEEP! I am ORIGINAL!" Right. Like for five bucks and a cheeseburger, I can't cruise down to the strip and pick up a prostitute wearing an exact replica of the kind of shit Lady Gag wears on a daily. At least the ho's only go out at night in that shit. What I really want to know is what exactly is she killing to make art true? Hmm... I'm confused.
- The guy in the parking lot of the gas station who asked me out on a first date by stating he would pay my car note and give me money. Umm. I'm not really in the market for a pimp right now. Thanks anyway. Your flattery was overwhelming, dickwad.
- The neighbors who insist on opening their blinds at 9 a.m. every morning and not closing them until 6 p.m. every night. I don't care if you want to open your blinds, but do you really have to only open the ones that directly face this house? Every time I go outside, I'm staring into your living room. I know I'm so very interesting but sometimes when I walk out onto the porch, I have to scratch myself and that's hard to do when I can see you sitting in there. Sure, I guess I could scratch myself inside but I can't control when I get an itch.
- Another rejection letter from a job I was probably too good for in the first place. Not that I'm above any kind of job but, really, it does start to piss you off when you're applying for jobs that only require a high school education and you have a college degree. Then, to top it off, they're not even persuaded by the fact that you're willing to relocate to their fine city at your own fucking expense. Do you think I want to live in your hellhole Alaska? No, but I can be there tomorrow if you've got a job for me. My dog and I may have to live out of our car for the first month or so, but no need for you to worry about that. I can take a hooker bath in the sink at the gas station before I come to work. Ugh. I'm tired of opening my email and The Office of Human Resources telling me they regret to inform me that I didn't meet the minimum requirement for the position of Assistant Toilet Bowl Cleaner. Jesus H. Christ! Can somebody just employ me before I have to don my fishnets and wig and whore it out like Lady Gag? Shit.
- People who are afraid of my dog. I have no patience for you. You really get on my nerves. You should be more afraid of me than of my dog. My dog doesn't have a more complex thought in his head than which part of the yard he'd like to shit in on any given day. I, on the other hand, am thinking of all the ways I'd like to torture you and make you scream every time you throw your hands up in fright or grab your stupid kid in a protective body hug. He is a lab/great dane, for fucks sake! What do you think he's going to do? Jump up and lick you to death? Death by Dog Tongue. There's an idea.
- The nightmares I've been having for the past 3 nights. Exit light. Enter Night. And move over, Mr. Stephen King. Seriously, I'm thinking of jacking myself up on No-Doz so I never have to sleep again.
- The fact that today is only Tuesday and I have no idea how I'm going to make it through one more hour, one more minute, one more second with my sanity in tact. Oh...wait...I lost my sanity a long time ago. Sometimes I forget. But I still don't know how I'm going to make it through the day. I'm thinking about putting on my pleather leotard, downloading Lady Gag's Fame Whore album from iTunes, rigging up some mega outdoor speakers and putting that shit on blast while I strap myself to a chair on the porch...so the neighbors can get a good look when my eyeballs start to bleed and I spontaneously combust.
I've got your poker face right here, bitch.
Posted by Steph at 12:45 PM