Monday, April 28, 2003

Morgantown, West Virginia

Morgantown, West Virginia

Christi, Dust and I were late in driving to the Pittsburgh airport. Our plane was to leave at 3:15, and it was 2:40.

I sighed, realizing we weren’t going to make it. “Well, they’ll just bump us to another flight, I suppose – it’ll be Okay.”

Dust had twoof his left fingers resting on his temple while he drove, a position of his annoyance or deep thought. “You know, Elizabeth, I know your ability to plan for the worst is often helpful to you, but you might still make it here. Why always expect failure?”

“Because then when things work out well, I’ll always be pleasantly surprised, rather than disappointed.”

Christi let out a little “Ha!” from the backseat. We pulled up to the terminal, got our hugs and kisses from Dustin, and ran – I mean really ran – to the check in counter, ran to our terminal, and * just * made it – as we arrived huffing, the stewardess called our seats to board.

“We made it!” exclaimed Christi.

“I hope our luggage makes it.” I grumbled unintentionally.

“Quit being so negative.”

I tried.

Christi and I had an interesting weekend up in West Virginia, visiting Dust. I went not only to hang out with them, but also to try and escape all the crud that’s in my life lately. I blew up my second car in two months Thursday night before we left, meaning I didn’t make it to Nashville and Christi had to come spend the night with me in a Holiday Inn about 100 miles from my house.

Once we got to West Virginia to see Dust, the three of us were together just ourselves again for the first time in three years. We all had to find out how we fit together again in social circumstances, and it was like a Chinese puzzle. We all still love each other, but we’ve all changed a lot. Christi and I felt like we were in a comic book crossover issue, one where characters from Dustin’s previous college run (Adventures of a Graphic Design Feminist), met the characters in the current continuity, a very popular title (Puppet School Man!!) . She and I were characters from an indy press, alternative women with issues. The characters in the more popular mainstream comic were still teenagers mostly, and a lot more fashionable.

But see? I’m still being negative. There were a lot of great things that happened. Like we got to see Dustin in his new, happy environment, obviously connecting with things that make him grow and challenge him creatively. The three of us lay around reading comic books. We saw two plays, a puppet show, and John Cusack in Identity. After seeing Identity, we tried to figure out which figures from popular culture would meet up in the hotels in our minds, a fun thing to do. We got to tour Morgantown, one of those cool little arts communities that really have it together.

I liked Morgantown a lot – it was one of those places you could tell the locals were proud of. I thought about running away from Atlanta, from my family, from my plans and hanging out there for a year, pretending to be 19 again. I could take the money I’ve saved up to get a place with Dinan and Ron in Midtown and just…drive to Morgantown. And I could get a job in that bad pizza place we visited, and just work a shit job again, and live paycheck to paycheck. I could get 20-year-old roommates and I could be a stoner again. I could live with my own disappointments and a big pile of comic books and lowered expectations in some apartment full of dirty clothes.

This week is my last week at a job I love. I loved the job, but the people have been awful; I have nothing to do as of Monday, and so I’ll just get a shit job here in town and keep making it. I can keep just making it, just making it, thinking about all the things I wanted in my life that you can’t work to get, those things that just have to happen to you that don’t happen to everyone, only the lucky few. Or I could run. I could take my money, throw my plans to the wind, and chase some boy younger than me, still in university, while I try to pretend that I don’t know the truth about a great deal of things.

Wherever I go, whatever I do, I can’t seem to see a way out of a million problems that creep up to haunt me day after day. And while every time the sun shines across my face I can tilt my freckles upward and think “the world is a beautiful place”, I can’t solve a lot of my problems. These problems are caused by other people whom I can’t change. And since I am currently unable or unwilling to change my relationships with these problem people, I guess I have no choice but to get on with it, to party, to run down to the beach in a couple of weeks, to try to roll around strange towns with my friends, talking about alternate universes and random chance and pagan holidays and how much I miss you, I miss all of you, and I’m not sorry.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Egg Shells

I am a Painted Egg Shell

Easter Sunday came and went with things I had been missing during my time in the North: dying eggs with little kids, having a big late lunch, getting hugged a lot. The sheer joy of someone’s face as they wake up to find that the Bunny has come with his gifts of chocolate, a Batman action figure, and the surprise of your favorite cookies.

I missed my sisters. This was the first year the Easter Bunny didn’t really come to my parent’s house. I thought about driving to Nashville, but wasn’t motivated or asked, so I stayed in town.

I freaked out Sunday afternoon before my cousin’s family – my extended kin – came over, feeling that weird surge of adrenaline I’ll always get, a gift from my mom, the anxiety that for some weird reason they won’t like me, or that I’ll commit some sort of amazing faux pas that will be talked about for the next 20 years. It’s ridiculous. Of course they like me. And if they don’t, well…well nothing. Because there isn’t anything I can do about it. So I chilled out, relaxed, and had a good time. I had to retreat a couple of times later in the day to get some quiet time in my room, but on the whole I had a good time. Audrey and Jamie have fallen quite naturally into the roll of hosts for both their family’s holidays, and everyone agrees that this is a very good thing – they have a neutral house, ground where no old arguments or emotions have yet to fester and roil. Their home is untainted yet by in-fighting or major disagreements, and so everyone can for a few hours just be happy to see one another, and more willing to let little slights slide.

I even laughed when Fred, this older man who dates Jamie’s mom, said “Good God, don’t stand next to me, you’ll give me a complex!” Fred loves me; he grew up in Boston, and whenever he comes over we talk about the MBTA. I’m usually pretty good about remembering not to stand next to older men, but of course I’m not always on my guard about it. I tower over Fred, and even if I’m wearing a skirt, keeping my legs crossed at the ankles, and saying “yessir”, I’m something of an affront to older men. Especially in business situations, I do my best to stay seated around them, or keep to the other side of the table. As long as I’m careful about my body language, most of them never notice how tall I am. Because no one expects women to be this tall, they don’t realize the truth unless I stand right near them.

At my family gatherings, there is almost always a new baby.

A couple of times, when people talked about the new baby – a cousin by marriage – there was a silence around me. I had the same thought as everybody else then, I suppose. I’m the oldest woman in my family – including all the extended family – without a baby. The oldest by 6 years. And the next person in line, my cousin Connie, was there with her fiance. I watched as the fiance studied his future wife while she held the new baby. He’s just 21 or 22, the age I was when I was going through my infamous failed engagement. I’m not sure when they plan to marry, but when people asked when they planned to have a baby, Connie said in 3 years. Audrey plans her next baby in 5 years, though everyone wishes and hopes she’ll have another sooner. I think people have gotten used to the idea now that I might never marry, and while no one other than my immediate family (and by immediate I mean only my parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and 1st cousins) occasionally question me about my intentions. I’m not even sure what my intentions are anymore.

But I do know this: Thursday I will drive up to Nashville, Friday Underdown and I will fly to West Virginia to meet up with Dust. We’re going to go and party, to watch a homocentric version of Waiting for Godot, we’re going to spend the weekend with drunk puppeteers in rural Appalachia, reading comic books and talking about small press publishing. And that’s what makes me happy, damnit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Rabbit Trap

Like a trapped rabbit

I haven’t written in over two weeks here, which is out of pattern for me. I haven’t wanted to write because I’ve been pretty unhappy these past two weeks.

Life is good. Wait, I take that back. Life is great. After the weekend in Augusta, Ron and Dinan came down and the next weekend we partied Atlanta style like I haven’t partied in 3 years. We started drinking in a lovely park out Druid Hills way, 3 in the afternoon. There was a picnic with Carly and her boyfriend Cos, and the five of us ate good fruit and bread and cheeses from the DeKalb farmer’s market. Two bottles of red wine started us off. I ate a good handful of chocolate-covered expresso beans afterward to keep my head clear, and then after we picked up Billy in midtown we went out drinking for real, for serious, for earnest. I had forgotten how much fun bars in and around Atlanta could be. I had forgotten that going out into the Atlanta night is better than going out at night anywhere else in the world. Atlanta kicks so much ass at night I can’t even write about it. And Ron and Dinan were down here to confirm that we’ll be roommates in June. In Atlanta. Soon, I get to have my own place in Atlanta.

Last weekend I got to go to my cousin Eleanor’s 2nd birthday party. There were only about five kids there, and 2 ponies. Everyone was flipped out about how cool the ponies were, and the party was just lovely – really low key, but kind of spectacular too. The sun was shining, and the ponies were pleasant. I spent some time catching caterpillars for Ruel and Colin. It was just one of generally agreeable family afternoons that don’t happen enough.

So I have plenty to be happy about.

But I spend a lot of time unhappy lately, because I really don’t like my job anymore. I love what I do; I just don’t like who I do it with anymore. My unhappiness with my job colors everything I do during the week. Next week I’ll be interviewing for another position that pays much less but that I think would make me happier. I can’t wait to leave this place. Pretty much what keeps me sane is my ability to pick up the telephone and call friends so I can defuse my temper. I have to keep working here until I have another job. I have to get my fabulous apartment. I have to, I have to. The urge to just walk out some days is just amazing. The worst thing about where I work is that I and one other person are so isolated from everyone else that I have no witnesses to the type of behavior that makes me so Unhappy. I’m stuck. I have to leave. I feel like a rabbit in a trap, and I’m getting TMJ from gritting my teeth so I won’t chew my own leg off.

And that’s why I haven’t been writing much lately.