And I’m Shattered

Today, I had a feeling, a feeling that today would just suck. I woke up late; I couldn’t get out of bed, like my body was becoming one with the mattress, telling my brain that today can be skipped. My limbs felt full of lead. I was slow moving; I was frustrated; I didn’t have enough time; I was rushing. Clothes, pack lunch, grab bag, shit you didn’t brush your teeth, I thought. Another two minutes wasted. I am speed walking to the train. I look at my phone, not incredibly late, but I will be by a few minutes. One el train comes, it’s crowded, they tell me another one is coming right behind it. I can handle being a few minutes later. I wait. Time slowly ticks by; I hear, in my head, the loud ticking noise of a grandfather clock, tick tock. Tick tock. Tick tock. I’m waiting for a train that never comes. An announcement comes on, garbled noise, like someone is speaking underwater, that no one can hear. We all need to get to work. Most of us don’t want to go anywhere, but we must.. They have to be on time. Sometimes, their livelihood depends on it. An hour later, 2 buses and a train later (having to wait for another 4 trains to pass me, before I was able to get on), I was at work. Frazzled doesn’t begin to describe how I was feeling. I needed caffeine. I wasn’t ready for the day. I didn’t want to work. Today had already been tough and it was 9:30.
My phone buzzed loudly on the hollow linoleum table of my cubicle. “Andie’s mom died last night. She was comfortable.” I read it, and my eyes go fuzzy. I’m stunned. But not really. She had brain cancer, it was expected. You can prepare. You can hope for a miracle. You can beg for one more day, even though her dying is painful and heartbreaking. But it still hit me like a freight train. One of my best friends lost her mother last night. She lost her best friend of a mother. And I’m shattered.
It doesn’t matter that she knew it was going to happen. She was there and they told her it was ok, and that everyone loved her. A young, beautiful, intelligent girl lost her also beautiful, young, and incredibly kind mother. And that just isn’t ok. It’s something that you just want to scream at God for: Why? She was a good person! She loved her family so much, she was there for her daughter and sons no matter what. And yet she’s gone. Peacefully, calmly, quietly, but she’s still gone.
I keep going back to one weekend a few years ago. Her family had a cabin up north in Minnesota, about a two hour drive from the Twin Cities. We had to borrow her SUV to take us up there, 5 of us piled in a car blasting the radio one summer weekend for a couple days of sun, swimming, underage drinking, and a bit of skinny dipping. Her mom knew what we were going to do, she even took Andie to the liquor store. She wrote us turn by turn directions with little love notes in between (if you look to your left, that’s the gas station we normally stop at. They have a great candy selection!). We spiked our sprites with vodka, we sat out on the dock and talked. We danced on the tables. We played drinking games and never have I ever. Andie’ mom gave us a weekend of quintessential teenagehood. We were a little dangerous, a little rebellious, we smoked a bit of pot and we were all convinced we had the munchies. Things that we never did high school, because we were the good girls. Andie’s mom trusted us with a few days alone and a walk on the wild side. She trusted the solid, loving, kind, and responsible person Andie had become, and her friends along with her.
Anger flashes red in my eyes when I think about the fact that Andie is now motherless. Her father is a widower, and how Kelley will never see her children get married, or have children of their own. Her life was taken from her in a horrible fashion; she wasted away slowly, her body giving up well before her mind, confidence, and optimism did.
I will remember her fondly. I will stand by Andie’s side even though I am 400 miles away and all I want to do is be with her and hold her hand. I know she is well taken care of. Her family is surrounding her, comforting each other. We have friends in Minnesota, taking care of her, her boyfriend is loving and a rock for her to lean on. She will move forward, always remembering, always loving her mother, but forward is the only way to move, life continues. Kelley would want her to move forward, to continue her life. After all, she will be watching.

Sunday Ponderings

She wanders the city on Sundays. Rarely taking the same route twice, but by some magical pull, she’s brought to places that make her feel things–happy and sad things–but those feelings in abundance.

She is amazed by the skyscrapers that reach out for the infinite, and their creators certain that one more story would allow them to touch the sky.
She can’t help but think of her futures and where she’ll go and what she’ll be doing. She feels like she was meant for great things. Things that will be remembered, but she doubts that she will ever reach it. May that is why she absorbs herself in her own melancholy on her Sunday walks. It is a way to remember that life is always happening and she shouldn’t settle.
She looks over to Lake Michigan: that large blue span of color, just kissing the sky, it makes it difficult to tell the difference, where one begins and the other ends. It reminds her that she shouldn’t take this place for granted. Life happens too quickly to not stop and take time to count the shades of blue of Lake Michigan.
But, you must remember that life is a forward motion–it goes on whether you want it to or not. Staying stagnate can be just as detrimental to your happiness as living in a constant state of dreaming. The key is to find a happy medium, to discover the happy moments in life and hold them in your heart, while remembering that your future is just around the corner.

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To Me, Songs are Memories

Songs have this amazing ability to bring you back to a moment in time. I can close my eyes listening to a song and feel like I am back to where that song had a huge impression on my life. Songs, for me, hold memories. They do better than a scrapbook and hundreds of photos; I can remember sights, smells, and feelings so much better when I have a particular song playing.
One record, the first All American Rejects CD, I bought when I went to Arizona to visit my two aunts for a week one summer when I was 14. When I hear those songs again (because, yes, I still love that CD) I am brought back to journaling in the backyard of a small house in Chandler, Arizona. I remember the feeling of 112 degree weather, wearing nothing but shorts and tank tops from Kohl’s because I hadn’t learned much about fashion at this point. I remember hanging out with my cousin and his friends. One guy was older, an 18 year old who had Coronas. I remember my first sip of beer in a park with cars surrounding us, feeling just like a typical teenager for the first time. They didn’t know me there, they didn’t see how nerdy and awkward I was. I remember the desperate hope that this boy would kiss me and I would have a story to go back home with. Then, how crushed I was when it didn’t happen. I remember the dizzy feeling after half a beer and feeling a headache the next day. Nothing brings back those memories like listening to “Swing, Swing” and remembering that feeling of doing something dangerous and rebellious.
Another song hits me more than the All-American Rejects, it’s Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift. I’m not going to waste time supporting her as an artist, I like her. I will continue to like her. Anyways, I was in Rome when her third CD came out and the next weekend we went on a weekend trip to Tuscany. This trip was the highlight of my trip. We stopped in Siena where we the Campo and got to shop around the lovely stories, buying candy and chocolate for our stay in our villas. Yes, our villas. A family who went to the Rome Center gives a donation to supplement how much the weeknd trip would cost every year. Our villa had room for nine people and three bathrooms. I remember waking up the first morning there after a full dinner and wine tasting and opening the window in our bedroom and seeing nothing but rolling green and gold. Acre after acre of vineyards and olive groves, the only thing that could possibly pull my eyes away from the beauty of the vineyards was the pristine blue sky without a single imperfection. It was a little chilly and I wore a sweater over my t-shirt as I sat on the window sill. Sitting there in the window hearing nothing but the birds chirping and the distant noise of my friend waking up will be a memory that will always be close to my heart. That Taylor Swift CD was my soundtrack for that trip, from driving through the Tuscan countryside to trying proscuitto at a pig farm to eating bruschetta fresh off the grill, brushed with olive oil that was created by the olive trees surrounding the place. It was perfection. I remember thinking that life, (I’m absolutely positive of this now), could not get much better. It is my goal to get back to that villa and stay there with someone I love. I dream about that place sometimes. And whenever I hear Sparks Fly, I can close my eyes and remember the smell of the dew on the olive trees and the absolute silence of being perfectly at peace.

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Finding a Home 5000 Miles Away

I studied abroad in Rome for a semester in college. It was by far the best decision I have ever made in my life. That decision has nothing on me even choosing Loyola as a school. Loyola Chicago has a Rome Center just outside the center of Rome in Monte Mario, and it is what I called home for 4 beautiful months. We called ourselves JForcers, for the John Felice Rome Center. I know that anyone who has traveled abroad and felt more at home there than in the States will connect with the next bit of writing. Whenever I meet someone who has traveled abroad, especially if it was Rome, a bond forms between me and that person, a knowing glance occurs. We both know that feeling of leaving every comfortable thing you know for the adventure of a lifetime. It’s an adventure that gives you a second home thousands of miles away from the only home you’ve even known.

I had this moment in Rome. A moment where I sat in my room, alone, in absolute terror. This terror was unexpected, I had been running around like crazy meeting people during orientation. I was trying to be a different person that I was at Loyola. I sat on those scratchy foreign sheets, my bare feet cold on the marble floor, but caked in thousand year old dirt that covers your sandal-wearing feet the minute you step outside. I channeled my mother, I was not going to be shy. I was going to force myself off the bunk and down that long looming hallway. I had to propel myself into a social situation. My flip flops smacked the marble. I was armed with my computer, I could use my laptop if no one was there and I felt alone. I didn’t allow myself to think what would happen if all the chairs are taken, that would be a nightmare. Down and down those curving stairs, I went, spiraling out of control. I heard yelling and chatting my fellow JForcers.  Down all five flight, I passed the Fellini posters and Caravaggio paintings on my way to Rinaldo’s. I passed that Loyola sign that states, “Attend a lecture at the Colosseum” the sign I loved during that long sophomore year of loneliness. The sign that caused such a longing in my soul for this ancient city, a longing to leave everything I ever knew. I walked through the corridor. My heart beat out of my chest, sweat glistened at my temples, I pulled my bag up on my shoulder. I looked up. People. So many loud boisterous people sitting, chatting, skyping in Rinaldo’s. I looked around that circular room, I heard Nella ring the bell, a panino was ready. Then I spotted them: my friends. They saw me, they called me over. They had saved me a seat. I was included. I didn’t realize this is what I needed. I didn’t know that I required this gift of inclusion. But Rome gave it to me, JForce gave it to me. Rome gave me back that feeling of being wanted, of being a part of something so special. I knew only fellow JForcers would know that feeling, the feeling of being part of a family so far away from our own. Little did I know that moment of sheer terror would be followed by the best moments of my life. As I sat down in that comfy red chair, I knew I was coming home.

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Imprisoned at the Family Dinner Table

*Author’s Note: Sometimes I write out of extreme anger, it’s a way to decompress. This is one of those instances. I use harsh words and even looking back and editing this piece and my emotions leveled out, I loved the images conjured by the words, so I kept them. It was a stretch for me to write like this and I really enjoyed it. And yes, I do still love my family.

 

Sitting at the dinner table, like some many years before, all of us sitting in our assigned seats that never were really assigned. It just happened that way. Dad, Mom, Brother, Me. Through the glass french doors, the American dream pictured in all of its glory. Little do they know that nothing is as it seems, and rarely, if ever, are people happy when they display such a moment of pure domesticated bliss. I received an email from my father to my phone, but I was already gone. I was no longer there. It stated something along the lines of “can you call your mother? She’s upset.” Well no shit. She has a son who can not stand her in most social situations. I would be upset too. I feel for her, of course I do, I’m not a heartless bitch. But I am the one that is used as the punching bag when my brother is not around. I get yelled at and sworn at because I’m there. I’m the silent one. I am reverted back to that little girl who was so afraid to speak, her mother thought she was deaf. Eighteen debilitating years later I remain and take it. I sit there, at the dinner table silent, accepting the fighting and yelling, knowing there is nothing I can do about it. I sit, the angle of the chair uncomfortable, but I am too exhausted to move. I shift, I fidget. I dig my nails into the hard veneered wood, willing myself to stay put, when my entire body is forcing me to move.
    I’m there at the fatal blow, when my brother storms off and leaves with his new wife to the city, to rant about how much of a bitch my mother is. I’m there, sitting in that same position I’ve been in since I was a child because there is nothing I can do to fix the problem. I’ve resigned to give up. After the smoke clears, I am called into action, to smooth everything over with my mother, to relax her into complacent happiness again. I listen. I nod. I try to explain. I accept her side. I let her get her point across. Then she succumbs to the post-fight weariness. She collapses like a balloon slowly deflating of air. She goes into her room, to watch a movie on lifetime about a women whose lives are so fantastic they make her forget her own. And I’m left on that hard wooden chair I used to fall off every day. My assigned dinner chair that I would sit on for hours because I refused to drink my milk. I sit and think, my god, I need to leave. I need to get out of this house with a craving I can only assume drug addicts deal with on a daily basis. I want to be far away. I want to be further away than a phone call. I want to be incognito. I want my family designated personae non gratae. Don’t call me. No more contact. No longer will I be the go-between. I want my parents to take away my seat at the dinner table. That old chair that has been fixed far too many times,  that creaks with pain under the weight of my body. The chair that has created grooves on the smooth hardwood floor from over-use.  It might as well be thrown in the garbage. I won’t be around to use it anyways.

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My Real Hello

I’ve been thinking about this for a while. And then the holy grail of all things web said something in a podcast I was listening to at work, Felicia Day (gracious bow), said if there is something creative that you want to do, don’t worry about people reading or watching what you are doing, do it because you love it. Well, I love to write, but despite the fact I have started and stopped multiple blogs and even a novel or two, I’ve realized I have a short attention span and seriously must work on my dialogue writing.

Alas, a blog was created, with short stories, a few observations, and probably even shorter rants because I tend to run out of steam when it comes to anything that angers me. I have pages upon pages of short stories and thoughts loaded up on google docs, and this is a place where I will post them.

A few things you should know, one I work in an office in a large building off Michigan Ave in Chicago, Illinois. There will be no further specifics about that, but of course I’ll write about it. I’m obviously twenty something, and I get easily obsessed with things in pop culture. My apologies in advance. I’m a teen fan girl at heart.

Really, this is an outlet for me to get back to that 13 year old girl who would write in her journal about how terrible middle school is, just add a decade and instead of middle school it’s work and the Chicago bar scene.

Life occurs when you are waiting for something to happen, and I’m waiting for something to change. So I might as well document life.

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