Sunday, June 18, 2017

Fiction: Anxiety on a Different Level

            I’m twelve feet off the ground looking down on the flowerbed that used to have petunias or daisies or something prettier than dirt and rocks. I imagine myself tumbling over and striking my head on one of the half-buried bricks that keep the barren dirt safely separated from the weedy forest that is my lawn. Or maybe I’ll slip and impale myself on the sharp pickets of the privacy fence. How much blood would I lose before somebody hears me screaming? What happens if I get knocked out and can’t scream? I try to remember if I’ve ever been given advice about plummeting safely. I’m sure I know nothing about falling, so I vow to myself not to take it up until I’m better educated. So I sit.

Happily, if the Zombie Apocalypse happens today, I’ve got a pretty safe seat. Everybody knows zombies can’t climb ladders. I wonder how long a zombie can last without a meal. I wonder how long I can last without a meal. Or a beer. It’s getting pretty hot up here. I run my hand through my hair and think I’ll marry the man who brings me an ice cold beer.

Though I am certain I am holding still, my vision swirls and the ground seems to pull at my core. This must be vertigo. Who would even want to marry a girl who doesn’t have the cajones to climb down a ladder?

“Jackie, are you okay up there?” My neighbor calls up to me. I can see his balding head over the fence. He’s shading his eyes from the sun as he looks up at me in that serious way that makes me think he’s thinking he needs to call someone with authority, perhaps someone with negotiation skills. I know he probably should send somebody to shoot me with a tranquilizer and let me roll off unconscious onto a nice, safe tarp. There would be far less drama than trying to convince me to get back on the ladder. Nevertheless, my neighbor wants to get on with his day. I know this. I know he doesn’t want to be bothered, because I wouldn’t want to be bothered by him. I mostly want people to take care of themselves, and so he probably feels the same. I refuse to obligate him to my issues.
            “I’m good,” I assure him. “Just writing some existential poetry.” He doesn’t waste any time and believes me right away. He disappears into his garage, and a few minutes later, his blue sedan drives away. He stops at the sign and turns right just as my boyfriend Elijah is turning onto the street. They wave to each other.
            It must be five-thirty. Elijah always comes home at five-thirty.
            I am silent and still. I feel like a teenager who’s been caught sneaking out. What will he think when he realizes I’m stuck up here, and that I’m not coming down without a lot of crying? Maybe he’ll think I’m not home, and he’ll leave to go pick up dinner, and then I’ll teach myself to fly while he’s gone. He’ll never know about this paralyzing fear that has my hiney stuck to these shingles.

            It seems like an hour goes by before I hear his footsteps behind me. I don’t turn around because I am afraid to look him in the eye.

            “I got this for you.” He presses a cold, glass bottle against my bare neck. I flinch, but take it with a smile. He settles himself beside me, and we gaze at the neighborhood as we sip on our beers. A few minutes pass before he asks me, “Why are we up here, anyway?”

            “There was a kid with a helicopter,” I say, as if the explains it all, and Elijah nods, because that’s enough for him.

            “Did you think about that question I asked you earlier?”

            “Yep.” I nod, and sip my beer. I let it cool my throat before I continue. It was that beer that sealed the deal. “I think it’ll be okay.”

            “That‘s not a real answer,” he tells me and nudges me with his elbow. The force of his nudge knocks me over a little, and my fear kicks in. I clutch onto his arm and scoot away from the edge.

            “Fine then, I’ll marry you!” I shout it like I’m already falling and this is the last thing I’ll ever say.

            “Fine then, I’ll marry you too.” He reaches into his left pocket with one finger and digs out a little diamond ring.

            “You just carry one of those around all the time?” I asked him, trying to diffuse my anxiety.

            “I might.” He peels my hand off his arm, picks a finger and slips the little band around it. “It’s a good thing you said yes.”

            “Oh? Why is that?”

            He takes a long draw from his beer before answering. “Because I am scared of that rickety old ladder you’ve got propped against the house. We’re just going to have to live up here forever.”

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Strange Traffic

This isn't my toilet paper.

Neither is this my iron or my pillow or my coffee or my time zone. Nothing here seems to align with my daily expectations, and it's kind of driving me slowly toward insanity.

I need my creature comforts to feel like a comfortable creature, y'all.

Still, my would-be roommate actually has family in this city and a new grandbaby, so she's staying with them, and I've got all this strange hospitality to myself. I have flung my things all over, and I have canceled housecleaning services for the duration. (Except, for some reason, they have to come in on the fifth day, no matter what.Odd.) I have walked around with nothing but a towel, and nobody has been the wiser.

Yesterday, I pulled up and allowed some friendly young man to commandeer my vehicle, leaving me with nothing but a square of paper to reclaim it. I stood there with my luggage and stared into the fog and snow and wondered if there maybe was a mistake about my being here. The powerful, domineering swell of self-doubt began to creep into every pore. I don't belong here. There must be a mistake. Am I educated enough? Do I know enough about our company's culture? Will anybody recognize me as any kind of authority in my field while I'm here? How many hostiles? How many friendlies?

Why am I thinking about this in terms of war?

But...I can do all this. And even more than this. This is no big deal.

And the little things don't matter. In a couple of weeks the strange traffic and the weird night noises and the somewhat familiar faces of the folks who work in our company will soon become routine, and I won't think a thing of it.

And then it will be time to go home.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

That One Time We Fled for Our Lives.

Yesterday was National Margarita Day.

I did not partake. But if I were inclined to celebrate things in that way, I might have had a couple because yesterday was also the twentieth anniversary of the day I escaped THAT MAN.

I remember it well. I had waited three months for the perfect moment, and when it finally came along, I took it.

I had four babies, two diaper bags, and a tank full of gas.

We've come a long way.

So cheers  to us.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Good Lord, I'm a Goner

Don't tell him I told you this, but... he snores.

He says I snore, too, but we all know girls don't actually do that sort of thing. It's right up there with belching and passing gas on the list of Things It's Biologically Impossible for Girls to Do. So when he says I snore, you know darn well he's just being silly.

But he definitely snores.

Surprisingly, it doesn't bother me at all. It's part of the noises of the night. It's rhythmic and somewhat soothing, and it makes me feel cozier and warmer to know he's right there. (Most nights, he's not there, so I soak up what time we have together.)

And when he's not there, the silence makes me nervous and restless. I've grown so comfortable with him, it's as if he supposed to be there, as if he's always been there. His absence feels like the anomaly. The night is off kilter without him. I get fidgety, and I have to wait for the lullaby of the passing night trains to soothe me to sleep. It's something to drown out the silence when he's gone.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lifestyle Choices

I had hostile neighbors last year, which is almost an unbelievable fact, because they also had an incessant practice of filling up the entire duplex with marijuana smoke. I often thought to myself, how much more hostile might they be if they hadn’t embraced that particular habit? Isn’t it supposed to calm a person down?
            Personally, I don’t care what they smoke, but I am allergic to marijuana, so I became rather aggravated by the constant two a.m. struggle to rid my side of the duplex of the thick cloud that would waft through whatever duct system existed there. They couldn’t have known that I was in danger of actually dying from their lifestyle choices, but I often translated it to a personal assault on my lifestyle choice—specifically the lifestyle choice I had made to continue being alive as long as possible.
I never approached them about my problem. They had already reacted badly when I asked them to move their vehicles away from my garage, and one time, the postal carrier put their mail in my box by accident. When I tried to knock on their door to give it to them, they threatened to have me kicked out for trespassing. This was their mindset, so I never spoke to them about my very real issue with their pot-smoking habits, even though it is still illegal in Texas.
Instead, I bought a little house very far away from them. It’s adorable. Or, if you want to use the words my real estate agent used, it’s “totes adorbs.” Two bedrooms, one bath, washer dryer hook-ups, garage, fenced yard, nice neighbors. I like it. I low-balled my offer, and the owner accepted it, no negotiation at all, on my birthday in July. I moved in on August twelfth, and the plumbing started acting up ten days later. No worries, though. My super smart real estate agent signed me up with a home warranty, and all my plumbing issues are slowing being resolved. It’s an old house. It’s going to take time. The washer is draining and backing up into the bathtub as I type this, but there’s not a pot cloud in sight.
            The funny thing is, during the time it took to get all the paperwork and inspections done so I could get away from the old neighbors, they up and moved away from me. They took their five cars, their four dogs, their two teenaged boys, and all their pot with them. They didn’t even say goodbye. Go figure.

            The landlord grumbled a little about the mess they left behind, but he was happy for me when he heard I was buying a house. I left my side of the duplex nice and clean and got my entire deposit back. 
             I’m a good neighbor like that. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

All these nice things are MINE

This is awkward.

I graduated three weeks ago, and I haven't paid any attention to all the things I swore I would pay attention to as soon as I graduated. My house is still messy. My car still has bird poop all over the passenger side door handle. My  manuscripts remain unwritten.


But, you know, it's been nice. I know what my kids look like in person instead of just seeing them on Facebook. I got to help my little grandson Damon create some refrigerator handprint art. I went on a few dates with a sexy Irish guy who opens doors for me and makes me laugh. I went shopping.

2016 was my year, you know. I realize it pretty much sucked for so many people on the planet, and I'm afraid I made off with the one little bucket of great things 2016 had to offer. I know this, but I'm still holding on to all my great stuff. In fact, I'm practically flaunting it. Wearing it like people wear Michael Kors, and bragging about it just as much.

"Look at my beautiful trip to London, and my new gray house with the red door, and my four point oh. Aren't they to die for?"

yep. It's been a great year.