“You could replace that for free”

“You know in Florida you get free windshields, right Cam?” My friend commented as he jumped into the front seat of my SUV.
“Yeah, but it’s not broken.” I immediately replied.
“I guess it’s not, but it’ll splinter soon for sure.”
“It’s been like that since December and it hasn’t. I don’t think it will.”

This is the conversation that I seem to have often with friends when I drive my car on our outings – which is very rare because my air conditioning is currently broken and we live in Florida, so I’m usually riding shotgun in their cars with the windows up while nice, cool, refreshing air streams out of their vents. There’s apparently a law in Florida that if your windshield has a crack or – in my case – a small ding from a rock flying into it, that you can get it replaced for free as long as you have car insurance.

This law really frustrates me. My windshield is completely functional. There is a ding in it that resembles a tiny bullet hole, but it doesn’t even go through the thickness of the glass. If you run your finger over the inside of the glass, you can’t even notice that it is there. The windshield is perfectly fine and still does the job that it is designed to do: it stops the wind, it prevents bugs from hitting me in the face, it blocks rain, and it protects me from dust and other little flying rocks from harming me. It has been completely reliable; the ding is proof of it doing it’s job protecting me.

See the whole ding incident happened back in December. I decided that I was going to fight for my relationship to work regardless of the foolish mistake I made to put it in jeopardy. I reserved a hotel room in Bayton Rouge, packed up Christmas presents, loaded up the dogs, took off from work, and drove ten hours straight through by myself until I arrived. I sat in the room that I had given Nick the address to, set up a Christmas tree, put his presents under it, and waited… Just waited to see if he would show up or if now my Christmas would be me and our dogs alone in a hotel room in Louisiana instead of at home in Florida. He did. We were fine like we always seem to be when we can actually just be together, in person. It’s like when we’re apart we listen to our brains and our friends and just everything negative and evil that has always tried to break us; and when we are apart from each other, all that stuff succeeds. We let everything and everyone convince us to fall out of love. Then when we see each other, it’s like all that stuff gets quieted and our hearts and all the good things in the world prevail and we are right where we left off. We feel at peace together and it’s even more than that, it’s like nothing can break us. Anything that was hard or we were angry about or worth ending over gets dismissed and it’s just us, together, peaceful, happy, and in love. I have a theory that we could make it through anything, which people don’t understand because we don’t even talk right now. But I just don’t think that they get it or I guess maybe I don’t. I’m still pretty sure it’ll all be okay.

So we spend a great week in Louisiana for Christmas. We were driving back to the room after the bonfires on the levee on Christmas Eve when a truck on the highway threw a rock into my windshield. It left this tiny crater on the outside of the glass on the passenger side. Nothing big. It hasn’t been an issue and I don’t even notice it because I don’t sit in the passenger seat.

Everybody says I should replace it. When I ask why they usually respond with things like “it’s free” or “it’s easy, they can do it in your driveway” or something about convenience. The other reasons I usually get are all about the possibility of it getting worse, that it’s past fixing and will definitely get worse so I should replace it now before it does.

These are just a few mentalities of my generation and this day and age that drive me insane. I don’t hate many things (anymore) but I do hate this way of thinking. This huge thought process of getting rid of something on the possibility of it getting worse. This annoying habit of throwing things away that are still performing and functioning perfectly fine because you can get one for free, without dings, easily. That windshields in Florida are so plentiful that as soon as even the most miniscule problem or default or difficulty pops up, just get a new one that has nothing wrong with it, and then replace that one if anything else dings it.

I’m not replacing my windshield. It’s still performing it’s job without any issues. Yes, it may not be perfect, there may be a ding. I could get another one and start over, without any dings. I don’t care how many other windshields there are here. ┬áMine wasn’t perfect, but is it broken enough to quit, throw away, replace? I don’t think so. I think that ding gives it character. I think that ding shows something we conquered together. I think that ding symbolizes a memory. I think that memory might not be a perfect, happy one but that I’d rather continue making more dings and risk the possibility of it spidering and eventually breaking than giving up on something that still wants to perform its part of our deal. Replacing it with a new one may be easy and convenient and there are tons of companies to choose from, but I’ll stick with what I’ve got. I have no interest in predicting a possible failure based on one imperfection. I have no interest in throwing something away that still has so, so much life left in it.

But hey, that’s just me I guess.

Aside

Moving

“Sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think, I’m not going to make it. But you laugh inside – remembering all the times you’ve felt that way.” [Charles Bukowski]

Moving is a very monotonous thing. Tape up one box; edge to edge a few times, then across the opposite way once, then edge to edge once more, flip it over. Fill with belongings. Tape the top closed. If you’ve moved a couple of times you’ve probably learned to label it so you know what’s in there when you arrive at the new place. Repeat. Do this until all the stuff that you’ve collected is all in boxes. Most of the stuff you’ve collected you don’t even need. At moving time, you don’t even really want it. At least I don’t. Especially this move. It’s just junk. Stuff keeping me stuck here and weighing me down. Multiple little reasons in boxes why it’d be so hard to move across the country or take that job in Italy. Multiple little reasons that I needed to make this house feel like a home. Multiple little reasons that are essentially memories. Reminders. All of it. Just reminders of a lot of things that are constantly in my head everyday plus the million other ghosts that seem to live inside me now.

I decided when I was moving to try to sort out all the stuff that reminded me of what had been and to put it in its own boxes. I told myself that I was going to get rid of it all: the notes; the pictures; the flyers from North Carolina; the hotel room keys from places like Milledgeville, Georgia and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the maps of all the state parks; the hanging tags for the rearview mirror of the truck from our campsites; the cards; the bible verses on pieces of paper that used to be hidden around the house; our marriage license; our pre-marital packets; the magnets from little stores in little towns we would stop at and make friends with the owners. We were always so good at making friends together. People liked us and they liked seeing us together and strangers would often talk to us. They’d hear we were engaged, smile, probably think things in their heads about how we really were a good couple, and shake your hand and wish us well for our future. Ha. I wish I knew where half of those strangers were, so I could send them what became of our future, all perfectly packed in little boxes.

The thing about separating everything into a stack of boxes that reminded me of our life together and the other stuff I’d keep was that I soon noticed everything in this fucking house reminds me of you. The five million coffee mugs all either immediately flashed scenes of breakfasts together or thrift store shopping trips where we picked out mugs from different states. The pots were mostly yours. The Pyrex pans had been used to cook you baked ziti. The baking pans had been used to bake you stuff to take with you on all your drives. The measuring cup was yours. We picked out the oven mits. You gave me the tea kettle and it used to come camping with us. We had sex on the counter and on top of the cutting board. I quickly became completely fed up with the kitchen. I headed to the library. It didn’t get better. The couch in there is the one from the apartment you lived in when we first started dating, we sat on it on our very first date. It’s been in every place we’ve been since. The books were no better. This one you bought for me when I had my surgery, that one we both said was our favorite growing up, this one I used to read on the beach and it reminds me of you. I found two bottles of scent cover body wash on the shelf, your hunting stuff. Then a box of bullets and the shotgun plug you whittled out of wood yourself. Fuck the library, I headed back out into the living room to start packing random decorations. Then I started taking stuff off the shelf that you built. I started pulling stuff off the mantel. It took about ten minutes to be over that – all the knick knacks were from stuff we bought together. Things that we put up there together, when we moved into this house, together. Then I got hit with the worst flashback yet. I was sitting on the floor of the living room taping up a box, and I realized I was in the exact spot you proposed to me in. Packing is done for the day.

I spent weeks while you were out-of-town, making this and that. Making a headboard. Sewing curtains. Hanging this picture. Getting these candles. Not because I even really wanted that stuff, but because I was making this house our home. I was making a place for you to come home to after three weeks on a tugboat. A place you would look forward to and rush home to be in and enjoy it. I thought we’d be here for a while. We didn’t even make it our full lease. We moved it all in together, and now I’ll move it all out alone.

It is not fair sometimes. How hard I get to have it and how I get to deal with cleaning up and packing all this shit. I get why you made the clean break. Why you just left everything. Because it sucks. Every single goddamn thing in here just reeks of us, of failure, of pain, of anger, of shit. Of a waste of time and emotion. I sit here surrounded by worthless shit that means the world to me, just crying. Not even sad tears anymore really. Just tears of frustration and jealousy actually. I’m jealous you just got to leave, that you don’t have to deal with any of this, that you somehow shut off all the thoughts of us. I’m frustrated that my heart isn’t stone like yours, that I can’t just shut off the memories and the ghosts that are forever haunting my thoughts. I’m frustrated that I can’t just go to the bar and get a drink and meet a dude and not be looking around wishing you’d walk in. Wishing that every single guy there was you. Not because I even know what I’d do if I saw you- right now its somewhere in-between pouring a drink over your head, ignoring you, crying in public, or just nodding and continuing on with my night as if we were strangers- but because I still pathetically miss you. Your stupid laugh when you clench your teeth and your underbite shows, your stupid walk because your arms are longer than your torso so you kind of do this swinging thing, your stupid humor, your stupid intelligence and the way we’d just get drunk and make fun of everyone there together. Your stupid eyes, our stupid sex, the stupid way you could just put your arms around me and make everything feel better.

Fuck I hate moving. Fuck I hate you. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Dammit I miss you. Being a girl sucks.