Feeling In A New Era

Photo Apr 27, 3 47 56 PM

I wait for the blow. — But I’m older now. — It takes its time.

I keep thinking about my old roommate. We’d blast Tori Amos and fucking emote. We’d lay all our shit out there. 20-Somethings with nothing to prove. Back in NYC, we’d suck down fat joints and take swigs out of cheap bottles of red wine in our Alphabet City apartment. We fucking felt it. I’d play my guitar and she’d play her keyboard and we sang in a language we both understood. We’d look at each other and we just knew: It was all out there. — We made something.

My emotion hasn’t made anything in years. I’ve poured all my pain into cleaning kitchens — scrubbing out sinks. In my apartment of 3 1/2  years, I have nothing on the walls, save for the dried roses that hang from a smoke alarm, given to me by an ex on Valentine’s Day, years ago. — And, yes, I know. — Bad Feng Shui.

While I’m sure no one wants to hear it from a spry, 31-year-old — I feel fucking old. And, even though I’ve been diffusing citrus oils in my apartment to keep myself from having a psychotic break, I still expect the living room to stink like moth balls and old soup. If I didn’t work until 6PM, I’m certain I’d be eating dinner at 4:45PM every night.

Monday, I sat on my stoop crying. I dyed my hair red and, in the sun, it looks like my head is on fire. It feels that way too. I planted some seeds. I don’t care if they live through the summer or not. I just need something to set down roots. I need something that’s alive to break the surface. I’m tired of waiting for things to grow. And now, I have all this dirt on my hands.

I got an unexpected call from someone struggling with their sobriety. For a minute, I felt like a fraud. Hours before, I was thinking about picking up a bottle of bourbon, and, suddenly, I found myself describing all the things I do to keep myself sober — to someone else — like it’s nothing. Like it’s easy. I’m convincing. I told him — it’s worth it. That, I’m better for it. And, for a minute, I am. Better.

When I hang up the phone, the evening sun’s crept in through the window like my stalker. I’m still sitting in the same place. I haven’t run from the hurt yet. But, my mascara has, and I look like the poster for American Horror Story: Asylum. Sure enough, it’s 4:45PM, but, I won’t be hungry for dinner tonight. — The break-up diet is the world’s best kept secret. — You heard it here first.

I decide to snuggle up to the cat and play Tori Amos through the speaker. I channel a younger version of myself. I mourn her and all the feelings that, once, came to her so easily. I emote — sans my friend and the fat joint and the wine. I try to feel. And, this time, I don’t do it over a sink. But, I end up just talking myself in circles, trying to convince myself of something that isn’t true. I have never been a good liar.

So, to keep myself straight, I re-read my checklist:

  1. Drop off the key to his place.
  2. Drive directly home.
  3. Get on your knees.
  4. Pray for Jackie’s Strength.

 

 

 

 

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An Unseasonal Sun

Photo Feb 18, 5 33 21 AM

I had to find it. — All things go.

In 2012, when I first got sober, I played Sufjan Steven’s album, The Avalanche, upwards of a thousand of times while I drove my car all over Portland, inhaling and exhaling countless Parliament cigarettes. Smoke trailed from my nicotine stained fingers, out of the rain-spotted-car-window, into the wet Oregon air. The song “Chicago,” in one of its three album versions, was always on repeat — singing out an impossible promise — “All things go.”

Back then, I was sure — nothing was ever going to go. Not the feeling of dread, or the pain, or the loss. And, certainly not the heaviness of that world. In the early days of sobriety, everything felt so permanent. But, in my car, with my windows rolled down and my cigarettes and my Sufjan, I clung to the few, small things I did have. And, those little bits allowed me to hold the small belief that, if I just kept driving — eventually — I’d arrive somewhere.

Two days ago, and nearly three years later, it happened. — All things went.

I felt some kind of magic pulse through the concrete under my boots. The sky shone a strange hue I’d never seen before. And, in a second, after years of waiting for something I was certain would never come, I returned to a place of surety I’d left behind long, long ago.

After three years of stepping in and out of the same puddle, I stood there, on the sidewalk, in my muddy shoes and I let an unseasonal sun, warm my tired, soggy feet. Inexplicably free from all my old chains, I felt it. — I was no longer waiting. Not for anything or anyone. Not anymore.

It’s all arrived. Everything. And, the things that I thought would never go — went.

The pain dulls slowly. But, its memory is now the innocuous thing that reminds me that I am stronger and more beautiful than ever before. I don’t let tiny words hit me like big arrows. I’ve worked hard. I’ve earned my place. And, in this place — I’m free to just let go.

Of course, there’s the actual letting go. The act of releasing all the crap that holds us captive. — The meaning we’ve assigned to things and people. And, that shit takes time. Time that moves slower than any clock or calendar would have you believe. It requires blood. And, your heart will bleed. My heart bled. For years, red trails followed me from my apartment to my car to my office and back to my bar stool. But, more than ever, here, now, I know — wounds will heal. Blood, clots.

The people and the places I lost along the way — I was meant to lose them. But, every faded face and weathered park bench gave me something. They are the rings of my tree. The substance of my bark. All that time is built into my body and allows me to stand, unmoving, when the wind would beg me sway. And all that blood I spilled — it’s just the old sap I pulled up from an almost-dry land.

Clouds move with the wind off the Cascades. Some days, we are gifted an unseasonal sun.  And, on those days — I drive. I roll down my car windows, and, with almost two years cigarette-free, I blast Sufjan at max-volume. I put my arm out the window and I cut the warm air on the Burnside Bridge with the side of my flattened, airplane hand.

I had to find it.

All things go.