Don’t worry. Someone somewhere is feeling exactly how you are right now at this very moment. Someone else is lonely. Someone else is depressed. Someone else is convinced that they can’t go on. I’d even been willing to bet that someone, somewhere, is wondering why this salsa tastes like cinnamon. You’re not alone. This must be very comforting, because no one knows what it’s like to feel the way I do.
You see, I’ve taken a few too many of my kids ritalin, because this other mom I know told me that if you take them it hypes you up and you can clean the entire house in 20 minutes flat. This happens because you don’t have whatever it is that your fucked up kids have that makes them need to be slowed down and focus – so it speeds you up instead. But apparently I’m just as fucked up as my kids – because I’m laying on the couch unable to move or speak. The kids are screaming and running around. I just wanted a clean house and a nice high.
We sat across from each other at our tiny table with mix match chairs both rescued from our apartment’s dumpster. You smiled, a smile filled with deep anticipation. A lightbulb hung from a cord above us, slightly swinging from the circulation of air from the vents near the ceiling. In front of us laid our meager thanksgiving meal, the first holiday away from home. A blob of canned cranberry sauce. A small helping of stuffing. A slice of cold cut turkey. This was to be the nicest meal either of us had had in months.
I picked up the bent plastic fork, stolen from a fast food restaurant and used far too many times. I poked at the cranberry sauce and instead of puncturing the gel the prongs of the fork bent every which way. I looked up and caught your eye and smiled.
After several more attempts a small piece of cranberry sauce landed on my fork and I placed it into my mouth. I held it in my mouth, there was no need to chew. It was tart and sweet and bitter and every other feeling that the past few months had been. It was wonderful, because it was my own.
This chair, with the one bent leg and the wobbly table. They were wonderful, because they were my own.
The light bulb, swinging silently above my head. That too was my own, and therefore that too was wonderful.
For the first time in the many months since I moved I felt thankful, which is odd because never before on Thanksgiving had I experienced and overwhelming since of thankfulness. Thanksgiving had been a day to avoid my embarrassing relatives. A day to want to stay in bed and pretend to be sick so I didn’t have to go to my grandmother’s house. This year, even after all the hardships I had endured and all the nights I had cried myself to sleep I was thankful. Perhaps for the first time in my life I was truly thankful, and that is because for the first time in my short life my life was my own.
You swing the crowbar violently and the lock falls to the ground. I laugh loudly and clap – but you shush me so I just take another big swig from our water bottle of vodka. You wink at me and reach for the bottle, but I take your hand and pull you close instead. Your long hair brushes against my cheek as you touch your soft lips to mine. We kiss gently for several seconds and then simultaneously burst into laughter at the same moment, and then quickly try and compose ourselves, in fear that someone might hear us.
You open the gate and pull me by the hand and we start to run towards the poll. My bare feet slam against the concrete as I run, and I hear the vodka sloshing around inside the bottle.
The night is dark, but your smiles leads my way. The air is warm, yet crisp as the same time. The water in the pool is glistening in the beam of moonlight that has fallen on it magically. It’s a perfect summer night.
You twirl my long black hair around your finger and kiss me with your beautiful red lips. Your tongue slides across my lips like a figure skater on the ice. Slowly you lift up my shirt and I raise my arms so you can remove it completely. I unbutton your blouse and you lean forward and kiss my neck.
As we continue to slide out of our clothes I think back to months ago. To a time that seems like ages ago – a time when you weren’t in my life. A time when this night would be scary, instead of perfect.
Once our clothes are completely removed you grab my hand and fearlessly we jump into the pool.
Elle unlocked the doors of her car and I tightly gripped the handle and swung it open. I took a deep breath before lunging my body inside and quickly slamming the door, still shaking.
“Where do you need to go?”
I shook my head and fumbled my hand into my coat pocket, desperately searching for my pack of cigarettes. Like magic Elle’s hands appeared in front of my face – one holding a cigarette and the other a flaming lighter. I put the cigarette between my lips and deeply sucked in the flame. I exhaled.
“I just need to…go, anywhere, I can’t take this right now. I’ve got to breathe.”
The doors locked and she swung the car out of my yard, quickly into the dead street without even looking. The same CD played quietly in the background that had been playing in Elle’s car for the past three months.
We spend onto the main street of our tiny town and quickly drove towards the city limits – never speaking a word. Elle lowered my window and I tossed out my cigarette, and there she was like lightening with another – knowing exactly what I needed to remind myself to breathe.
I closed my eyes and tried hard to block the voices that were screaming inside of my head. Desperately struggling to remember the techniques I had taught myself to quiet my mind. Hopelessly searching for a cure. Elle turned up the music.
We were now on the interstate, passing a sign that read “RICHMOND – 85 MILES NORTH”. Richmond, the place I had called home in my mind for over a year now. The unattainable goal that I was constantly struggling towards. The only place where my mind stopped screaming. It was time to let go of this goal, nothing was working in my favor.
The music played on.
Nearly an hour passed, and we were now half way to my minds goal. Elle signaled and took the exit, parking her car on the side of the road. She turned the dial on the cd player back down, and the car was silent. I stared forward, trying to decide what to do.
“I know how you feel right now, you know I do.”
“So, if you really think going back home is what is best for you I’ll turn around and take you. Otherwise we’ll keep going. I’ll drop you off in Richmond – how much money do you have?”
I blinked and reached into my pocket for my wallet – my hands still slightly shaking. I removed it and slowly counted the bills inside.
“Seventeen dollars,” I finally replied.
Elle nodded and looked at me fearlessly. “I can give you fifty – don’t worry about paying it back. That should cover a day or two in a cheap hotel, and I think there is a sandwich in the backseat that I took to work a few weeks ago. I could bring your things in a few days.
I shook my head and looked out of the window – hoping my friend wouldn’t see the fear in my face.
“No, I’m ready to go home. I’ve got to deal with this – I can’t run away right now. I’ve got too many commitments.”
Elle smiled at me and shifted the car back into drive, moving her eyes to face the road.
Silently we reentered the interstate, heading north.