cyclic behavior

I would say I’ve been unfaithful, but that would mean I was writing on some other blog and that isn’t it, that isn’t it at all. 

I always feel strange when I return, suitcases in hand. I’ve never been so far before. Is that true, exactly, or just how I feel? I can’t tell. I can’t tell if I’m returning triumphantly or with my tail between my legs, and isn’t it all subjective, after all, and don’t all my adventures take on the flavour and texture of a dream, isolated from where they took place? 

And then there are the adventures, the experiences that will always seem like dreams, no matter where one stands. 

I’m back, for whatever it’s worth, for however long it lasts – and whomever I actually am, nowdays. 

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another note

I guess I should say something about why I was gone so long, but am back now. I guess.

Did I write that book, after all? I did. It wasn’t about daycare, remotely. It’s in a drawer, and will probably never see the light of day. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the maturity to handle the aftermath of it being published, but you can think what you like to about my reasons. Everyone always ends up thinking what they want, anyway.

The other day – trite but true – I looked at this page for no reason, passing curiosity, and saw the number of followers had actually grown. I felt a little sorry and a little sad, because even if all those people aren’t waiting for my eventual return, it sort of looks like it.

I wanted to begin with a phrase along the lines of ‘can’t keep a good man down,’ but there doesn’t seem to be a place for it. I wanted to say something short and clean, but –

I’m back. I guess that’s it.

envelop

All the feelings I have about him are protective. From there you already know where I’m going: warm, tender, emotions that envelop like arms.

Sometimes, very late nights, I worry about him. I do not want him to disappear one day and come back, three days later, a changed man. So I put it out of my mind very quickly and think about something else.

everything

Everything he says sounds like the right thing, I thought, up to my elbows in sudsy water. I thought of his face. He looks earnest when he’s talking to me. I guess he just looks earnest all the time. I guess . . . I need more coffee. It’s the afternoon, I don’t need coffee. I’ll just be up until 4 again.

I don’t know why it’s 4 – the magic hour when I suddenly fall asleep no matter what.

Late night/early morning is the loneliest time imaginable to be awake. Sometimes I feel like the last person alive, and I wonder how many other people are feeling like that, like me, just like me, and are only a few yards away.

legs

“Do you remember when you were successful?” she asked me, turning her face to look at my hair separately out of each eye. I looked at the ceiling. Sometimes it’s easier to disappear with my eyes open, I thought. “Of course I do,” I whispered back, eternally obligated to answer even when I felt like turning over, wrapping myself in my fluffy cotton blanket and kicking her off the bed with my legs.

They’re strong enough to do it, too, even if I never could make them.

leak

Sometimes when I think of him I want to spontaneously burst into tears. I didn’t say ‘cry’ because it’s different: one cries out of sadness, frustration, joy. It isn’t like that. It’s different.

I just think of his face and I feel like there’s a river behind my eyes, matter-of-fact body of water that’s about to leak out. So I immediately banish the thought of him to the back of my mind (wherever that is) and the next time it floats to the surface of my consciousness, this idea of him, is months later.

And perhaps that day I feel something entirely different. I usually do.

whore

I was always told that women who had indiscriminate sex would get labeled and spoken of with malicious winks. Labeled ‘whore’ and – you know all the epithets. As for the women I’ve heard about mentioned that way, I never felt one way or another towards them: I didn’t know them.

I don’t think about people or things I don’t know.

(Do you know where this drift is headed? Maybe you do.) I always assumed that as a preschool teacher who doesn’t wear makeup and doesn’t even know how to flirt I would be firmly relegated to the land of ‘women who are never talked about one way or another’. Sometimes I’d watch a movie with a really sexy woman in it and think Wow! It must be kind of amazing to be sexy. She looks as different from me as a pheasant does from, I don’t know – a mailbox. But that was it. I wish I could say I don’t think about my looks because I am awesome, but really it’s just that I’m surviving. I feel like some sort of arctic explorer jumping from one ill-advised melting floe to another and trying not to count the cost.

I think every time I don’t sleep with a guy he calls me a whore.

I felt the wall move against my back, and I realized that whatever I’ve ever felt, I’d never felt the peculiar stab of finding out that people are literally talking about me, like some kind of nightmare of whispers and dismissive glances. I hugged my knees and felt myself folding up inwardly and outwardly, like human origami.

“That sounds horrible!” She exclaimed, leaning an elbow on the counter as if it were second nature. “Yes, it is. That’s why I try to keep my mind off it.” She nodded. “No wonder! The strain you’re under must be incredible!” I nodded, pressed my lips together. “Hey – ” she shifted forward. “Your eyes look so sad. Since when are your eyes so sad?”

“Oh, I don’t know, since it all started I suppose. Yes, everyone has commented.”

“So it’s not just me that has noticed. Oh, what will you do?”

I glared at her, said very slowly, “I’m trying not to talk about it, at all. I came here to relax. And let my mind feed on other things.” She nodded, and I turned back to what was in front of me. In a minute she will go away, I told myself. I am going to browse the fuck out of these friendship bracelets and I will forget all else.

“Are you going to get one for a friend?” She asked, lifting herself off the counter. “I might,” I answered, beginning to feel the absorption in the incredible shininess in front of me take hold. “You’re going to give it to her tonight?” She asked softly. “Maybe tomorrow,” I murmured. Purple is a colour very easily done wrong, I thought. There’s good purple and then there’re the purple dolphins at Walmart and that’s another thing entirely.

“So you’re still going out with friends?” I made a noise of assent. “Where are you going to go?” I shrugged. “We usually just eat and talk or coffee and talk. No big deal.”

“What are the names of the restaurants you go to? Like the names and the neighborhood.” Suddenly I felt a little cold, and turned to look her full in the face. “Why do you ask that?” I asked her quietly. She jumped back. “Well fine, I mean if you’re embarrassed to let me know how you spend your time then well whatever.”

The next day, over coffee I told Vicki what had happened. “What a weirdo. Don’t go back there,” she told me, removing two unground coffee beans from her drink with a shrug. “I don’t know dude,” I said, leaning back in my chair. “Maybe like, when she’s not there?” She set the beans down gently on a napkin, as if they were set aside for later use. Then she looked up at me and shook her head. “This is the same woman who wanted to know if your hair was naturally that colour and what brand of mascara you used and where you lived and if you had seen that boy you mentioned was hot one day and she’s never forgotten a single detail of your life, has she?”

“No. She remembers as if she were keeping notes.”

“So no, I don’t care what the prices are like, she’s the owner, never go back.”

“Do you ever wonder how many people we know are just, like, drifters? Not completely sane and with all sorts of horrible back stories but you can hide it in a big city, and they do, and we never know, unless our lives intersect too deeply and then very suddenly we’re in what feels like a parallel world?”

She pursed her lips to answer, but we simulataneously caught sight of a little girl running seemingly towards us in a frilly little dress, with a perfect little bob, running and dancing and twirling. She couldn’t have been over four. I began to smile until I saw her face.

It was red and crumpled in tears, even as her tiny body kept moving cheerfully.