Friday, January 30, 2009

From My Bedroom

Bright yellow light spills out of the window and down onto the fire escape below. Dark figures move about inside the cozy apartment--a man and a woman painting the walls of their new living room from dirty grayish-white to deep marigold. They just moved in and boxes are covered by a tarp in the middle of the room. They look happy, young and in love.

As I sit idly on the windowsill in my bedroom, I can't but help to wonder how long they will last? Will I be here to watch them when they eventually return everything to boxes and leave?

New York City has turned me into an unintentional voyeur. I catch glimpses into the lives of my neighbors every time I lose track of the sentence I am working on and gaze out my window, across the street, into their open windows. When I lay in bed at night I can hear the hum of life going on about me: the incessant drone of a television set, my neighbors making love, screaming at one another, carrying on idle conversation. I discretely observe their daily dramas and rituals from the safety of my bedroom. I feel I know many of these people in a profound way that only the deaf or blind could truly understand.

I share a paper-thin wall with a male who I've never seen, though I am intimately aware of the goings-on inside his bedroom. Lately he has had a cold and his coughing wakes him up at night. Since I moved in, I've heard him bring a girl home only once. He hushed her when she got too loud.

Upstairs, the neighbors walk with heavy downtrodden feet. I listened to them argue the other night as I was getting ready for bed. I went to sleep listening to her sob. I know that type of cry--anguish, despair, hopelessness.

I wonder if they see me through my open window, if they can hear me stumbling into my bedroom at night drunk again, talking in my sleep, flipping records in my record player. I wonder if they have made up stories of my life as I have of theirs: rich and sorted and inevitably much more exciting than reality.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Conversation of Sorts (Abridged)

Last night, despair boiled over into anger and anger into rage. I knew I shouldn't do it, but I called him. I had to yell at him. I wanted to make him hurt. I wanted to make him see what he had done. Not satiated with message that I screamed into his voicemail, I started typing furiously into IM.

Him: Geez.
Me: You don't have the right to "jeez" me.
Him: That was rather intense.
Me: So?
Him: Okay.
Me: What you did to me was rather fucked up. And its easy talk to you angry. So this is me talking to you angry.
Him: Fair enough.
Me: You're a fucking coward.
Me: I hope you're beginning to miss me.
Me: I hope you realize what you threw away.
Me: I hope when you fuck other chicks you think about me and know that you will never have the chance to break me ever again.
Him: I haven't been fucking other chicks.
Me: Right. I'm sure you also haven't been going out. You've probably been staying home, sad. Right.
Him: No, I have been going out with [a friend].
Me: And what does [he] do? Make out with bitches and fuck them. And you get drunk and do it too.
Him: I do go and get drunk. I have yet to make out with any bitches and fuck them.
Me: You shouldn't lie to me. Well, actually I suppose it doesn't matter. You spent the last 7 months lying to my face, pretending to love me.
Him: I'm not.
Me: You were just to big of a coward to leave.
Me: You fucking killed me. I hope you know that.
Me: It was completely unfair to give me that good last week. It was cruel to spend the night and then leave. Give me false hope.
Him: I'm sorry.
Me: No you're not.
Him: It was selfish and I am sorry.
Me: You can't deal with me. You couldn't even say happy birthday.
Him: You told me you didn't want to talk to me anymore.
Me: So for once you're giving me what I want?? When its convenient for you.
Him: I thought it would be unfair to call you on your bday.
Me: Unfair? Hahaha! God! If you only knew.
Me: I am a tattered wreck of a woman. You took everything.
Him: I don't know what to say. You obviously despise me right now.
Me: Despise isn't a strong enough word.
Him: I'm sorry.
Me: And you get to return to the way things were in Atlanta, and I and New York become distant memories that you are happy to forget.
Me: Have I made you cry yet or are you just annoyed?
Him: I think you're succeeding in what you're trying to do.
Me: What do you think I'm trying to do?
Him: Make me feel like shit.
Me: That's an added benefit, indeed. But mostly I'm just attempting to release some of my anger, it's easier when it manifests itself as outward rage rather and inward anguish. I'm taking advantage of this moment of clarity.
Him: Fair enough.
Me: You should feel like shit though. You were my best friend. And you took my family away from me in a matter of moments. And my dog. And now I am empty.
Me: I wont bother you any more. If you ever decide to speak to me that's your decision. I won't lie and say I'll be more pleasant, the resentment I feel is going to last a really long time, and the fact that I stupidly am still in love with you doesn't help that.
Him: It's ok, I don't expect pleasant.
Me: Good because you don't really deserve it

Unfortunately, yelling at him, trying my hardest to break him, didn't make me feel any less damaged--it rarely does. Now I just feel guilty for being cruel. I don't think I've ever sunk that low, been that mean. But now I can feel the bitter harpy in me beginning to take over, slowly rising to the surface, making my blood viscous and my skin leathery.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


It feels like its been a lifetime since I last saw him, last spoke to him. Is it really only January 17th? The below freezing temperatures tell me it must still be winter, maybe winter of next year? Time couldn't possibly have passed that quickly, but could it really only be three weeks? Time is playing a cruel joke on me, dragging on this way.

The weekend before he left, we got our first real snow of the winter. It was a Friday and my bosses decided to move our office holiday party to an earlier luncheon so we could all get home before the storm had time to wreak its full force of havoc. I tapped my foot impatiently under the table, trying to endure the painfully awkward conversation. It seemed to last for an eternity.

By the time we left the roads were already slick with slushy ice. It was all I could do not to fall, my black leather boots were not made for snow. Resisting the urge to run, I made my way with a coworker through the precarious sidewalks to the train. I lied when he asked me if I was going downtown.

"I have to pick up some things that I left at the old apartment." Really, I was going to spend the night. I knew my coworker wouldn't approve.

When I got uptown I had to have him buzz me in--I had already returned my set of keys. The dog nearly knocked me down out of excitement, I hadn't seen her since the day I moved out. As I glanced around the apartment, it looked precisely the way it had the day we moved in--boxes piled high around the periphery of the living room, the carpets rolled up leaving the wooden floor barren, the bookshelf empty of its contents. For a moment it was easy to believe that this was day one, we were beginning our life together, not the last time I would sleep in that apartment, not the last time we would be whole.

As the snow began again to drift slowly to the earth we decided to take advantage of the last few moments of daylight and put the leash on the dog to go outside to play.

The park was empty, the fresh snow completely undisturbed. The streetlamps had already come on and were throwing orange shadows across the white blanket. We walked in silence as the Elliott bounded back and forth, snapping at the snow with her teeth, jubilant at the freedom we were momentarily granting her by letting go of her leash.

I broke the silence by launching a snowball directly at his head. He dodged it by jumping back and it broke across his thigh. We noisily darted throughout the park, hurling snowballs at each other, laughing at the dog as she tried desperately to jump to catch them in her mouth.

It was so easy to be with him like that. It felt so right, so complete. It made it impossible to remember why I was now living in Brooklyn, why he was moving back to Atlanta.

He told me late that Sunday night, after I had returned to Brooklyn and he was safely away from my wrath, that his parents were to drive up the next afternoon, to pick him up and take him back to Atlanta. He asked me to have dinner with them that night.

I had debated with myself all day, the inside of my mind resembled a battlefield, bodies strewn about, dismembered and ragged. The side of me that lacks the gene for self preservation had won out to that point, and I resolved to make the trek uptown to dine with my once would be family. I am a glutton for torture.

I called him on my way to the train, when he didn't answer I wavered in my resolve. He called me back nearly immediately, but it was long enough to go over the list of reasons in my head why I shouldn't meet him. I told him to call me when he was done running about with his family, already resigned to going home to sulk in my loneliness. Really, I couldn't bear saying goodbye to just him, let alone him and his parents at once. The thought was unendurable.

When he called, I made an excuse not to go. He offered instead to come to me once they were done, weak as ever, I accepted. I sobbed on my bed when we hung up, for once not caring if my roommate heard.

I clung to him that night, never letting our contact break for even a moment, savoring his scent, the heat that rolled off his smooth skin. I barely slept, drifting in and out of consciousness, content to just be in the crook of his arm, the place I felt safe, terrified that the night would end too soon and he would leave. Leave this apartment. Leave New York. Leave me. Forever.

What a cruel joke time plays. The moments of pleasure and tranquility pass with the blink of an eye. The days of numbness last a boundless eternity. The nights of anguish, never ending.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I stood alone in a crowd of people. Tiny glass lanterns hung from the high ceiling, throwing a dim auburn glow throughout the room. A woman somewhere close was guffawing loudly at the comedian on stage. Bald, with thin wire glasses and a great bushy beard, he was poking fun at Southerners--a right I granted to him solely because he was raised in Roswell, Georgia, the neighboring town to where I spent the first seventeen years of my life.

The woman's bellowing laughter was strange and alien, perhaps a little too loud to be appropriate in a room that small. I glanced around me uneasily, wanting to hush her, save her from the embarrassed stares that were sure to come. It settled upon me slowly, like a fine layer of dust coats the black veneer of a grand piano, that the noise was emanating from the depths of my chest.

So this is what it used to sound like when I laughed real laughs, without force or pretense? I considered. How long it must have been since I last really laughed to forget the sound of my own voice!

I woke up this morning exhausted, eyes glued shut from sleeping in my contacts, body sore from another restless night of running after him in my dreams. I grabbed the billowy blue towel that my mom gave me for Christmas off the hook attached to the back of my bedroom door and stumbled through the dark of the apartment.

Butters circled at my feet, blinking up at me in the sudden flood of yellow light as I flipped on the switch of the overhead lamp in the narrow kitchen. I started a pot of coffee and staggered forward towards the bathroom. I focused on the floor, stepping carefully to avoid the floorboards that groaned in protest whenever my feet found them.

I caught a flash of something in my peripheral vision--a figure moved in the corner of the room, lingering near my roommate's bedroom door. A scream ached in my throat, muffled though as I slapped my hand to my mouth. A stranger was standing in my apartment, looking at me, equally startled--her hand to her mouth in surprise.

I deliberated quickly, still trying to clear the crusty glue from that clouded my vision while I scanned the room for an object to defend myself with. I scrutinized her face, looking for malicious intent and found her doing the same.

As the fog of waking up slowly dissipated, realization crept up from behind and engulfed me in its cold embrace. I was looking at myself. It was my reflection in the big framed mirror that fills the wall between my roommate's room and the bathroom.

I had been avoiding mirrors, not wanting to see what others seemed to take pleasure in reminding me of. "You look tired." The dark grayish-purple circles that rimmed my eyes, sunken and without feeling. "You've lost weight." The bones that were beginning to slightly protrude from my hips, bones I haven't seen since college. "You're look stressed." My lips in a permanent grimace. My shoulders pulled up and forward. My brow furrowed. "Are you okay?"

Angry at the mirror for giving me such a fright, for exposing what I was becoming to me, I walked into the bathroom to shower, attempting to wash away the memories of last night's dreams and the haunting image of my reflection.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

In the night

DISCLAIMER: I realize the imagery expressed in the below entry may be graphic and disturbing. Please note that I am alive and don't actually want any of the below to transpire, I am simply venting in a healthy manner versus any of the physical manifestations that I could use to cope such as those listed below.

The holidays are over. I managed to survive mostly unscathed--only falling to pieces in the pitch black of the night except for a moment when a sob managed to escape my chest while sitting on my best friend's boyfriend's black leather couch. I quickly recovered composure and pretended to not have seen her concerned sideways glance.

In the night, I imagine running and jumping, arms outstretched in a graceful swan dive off my roof. I imagine falling and the exultation that sears through my heart as I look out over the city that has taken everything from me. I imagine it would be perceived as a grand, poetic gesture when my bones liquefy upon impact with the broken, pockmarked sidewalk. I pray to still be conscious as my skull shatters on the concrete. I want to feel everything.

In the night, I imagine taking a box cutter and carving lines into my legs, hips. Scarring a trail of destruction, mapping the agony that weighs on me daily. I imagine sometimes cutting a little too deep, perhaps deep enough to bleed a little more, faint. The brilliant crimson liquid pouring from my veins, staining the floor, permanently leaving my mark in this ugly room in Brooklyn.

In the night, I imagine walking down the desolate street I live on to the bar five blocks away and drinking till I don't hurt. I imagine a man offering to walk me home and then proceeding to slowly torture me in the deserted park on the way home. I imagine that I don't even beg for death, I beg for pain, for him to be slow and meticulous in his brutality.

In the night, I dream restlessly. I am chasing him, screaming at him to look at me. But he is always a step ahead, deaf to my pleas. My voice never even actually loud enough for him to hear me, muffled and hoarse like I ate sand. I am too slow to catch him, my feet disproportionately enormous and weighty.

In the morning, when the sun has risen and my dreams begin to fade into distant memories, I know always I must go on. Any other decision would be selfish, cruel and cowardly.