Mi Sei Mancata

Airports have always been a place that I feel comfortable. It’s just full of people and energy and movement.  It’s always busy.  People are coming and going; some running, some half asleep and barely walking.  It’s like it’s so chaotic that it’s intimate.  If it wasn’t so busy, more people would notice the other people.  But they rarely do in airports.  Everyone has somewhere to be by a certain time and the chaos provides an amazing mask over the intimacy that occurs at every airport.  If you ever want to witness a real hug, go to an airport.  I doubt there are very many other places whom’s walls have witnessed much more pure showings of love and reunions; goodbyes and don’t go’s; endings and beginnings.

When I used to get really homesick back when I first moved to Florida, I would drive from the beach all the way to the airport.  I’d pick a spot depending on my mood.  Downstairs in the baggage claim or upstairs at the security check point, and set up to people watch.  I guess it was kind of weird, but oh well.  I liked the pure signs of emotion people display there.  Mostly, I liked the reunions. The embraces that followed the lighting up of each party’s face when they saw each other for the first time.  I loved hearing the “I missed you”‘s and watching the guy swing the girl around in his arms.

One day I was sitting in one of the rocking chairs by the security gate, when an old lady sat next to me.  She asked me who I was waiting for and I told her no one, just liked watching people come back together.  She told me she was waiting on her husband who had been gone for a week to go on a trip she couldn’t go on.  The woman told me that they had been married 43 years and that this was their first separation for an entire week.  In slight disbelief I inquired if she meant since they were younger.  She quickly replied that she meant since the night they were married.  She added in that they had not gotten married to spend nights alone and that they had agreed not to do that throughout their life together.  She told me that she had never missed someone so much.  She added in that my generation has gotten very accustomed to missing people who we supposedly love and it was a foolish trait; that you should only miss people when there is nothing you can do about being without them, like in death.  She told me we had it all wrong, that we miss the people we’ve left, instead of just staying with them.  When her husband came through the gate he exclaimed “Mi sei mancata!” very loudly and again and again and again.  It’s Italian for I missed you, which I knew from my family.  They had one of the most genuine hugs I am sure that I will ever see and probably that those airport walls had ever seen.  They walked away together with her arm around his waist and his over her shoulders, totally defying their old age by replacing it with their youthful love.

Lately this whole exchange has been flashing in my mind.  I’d like to say I’m not sure why, but I know.  For some reason in the last few months, I’ve gotten contacted by a lot of my x-boyfriends.  Some of them texts, a few emails, a couple drunk dial calls, and a few sober ones too.  I’m not sure what alert went out to all of them that made them decide to all try the “see how you’re doing” convo or whatever, but the attempts have been fairly close together, so maybe it’s the way the planets are aligned or something.  All of the relationships ended in different ways, and I used to just think that I needed to take more responsibility for their endings, because I have repeatedly looked back and been like.. wow.. I did nothing wrong.  But breakups and ghostings kept happening and I started to think that maybe it was something I was doing wrong.  Some of the guys that have contacted me lately were quick little short stories, some longer chapters, and two of them I thought I loved.  All contact came out of no where, at different times, in different forms.  They all had one thing in common though. At some point in the conversation, they told me they missed me.  Some of them made me want to laugh, a few made me want to cry, and for a couple there was no reaction.  After the third conversation with an x and the same line being repeated, I decided to try and figure out how I felt. After the basic “yeah of course you miss me, I’m the shit, I told you you’d miss me” attitude wore off, I was left with a more realistic 28 year old reaction.. When do I get the one guy who doesn’t leave?  I am currently not dead, and although I may have wished it upon a few of the guys who reached out, here they are, still alive!  So.. why now do they miss me?  Is it because they’re lonely? Did I post a super fierce selfie or something? Just.. why now? For some, years later and for others, months later.  I became angry almost when I was woken up at 230am by another x the next week and then when a text from an x came through a few days later.  Why are they missing me I kept thinking in my head and I was getting angry.  I wanted to ask all of them, so I did.  The responses didn’t satisfy or put out the pissed-offness that was gently yanking on my insides.  They all told me similar things, none of it helped.  Then I realized it’s because I wasn’t asking the right question.  I didn’t want to know why they missed me all of a sudden, honestly I could careless, I had moved on.  What I guess I wanted to know was why did they ever leave in the first place.  A question which I refused to ask any of them because I don’t think I’m ready for those answers yet.  I’ve fielded one or two since the big epiphany, luckily one was a text and one was an email.  Both I just responded with mi hai lasciato.

12 months

When you sign a lease, you never really know how many things can change over that year. You make plans and you try to map out your life, but usually, it turns out nothing like what you planned. We signed the lease to our first place together and he had plans to propose and I had plans to accept if he ever asked. I spent a lot of time decorating and trying to make it feel like a home.. building a “nest egg” most of my customers called it. I started planning a wedding, he started planning our financial future. It was planned, everything was mapped out. The date, the venue, his job path, all planned and ready to go.

What you never seem to include in your plans are: the fights, the speed bumps, the social media lusting, the time apart that separates two people who called each other best friends, the temptations you get presented with by being a bartender, the friends who have terrible intentions for your relationship, the distance, the stress, and the toll all these take on you. Nobody ever plans a break up, especially to an engagement. When you’re caught in the spiderweb of it, you don’t even really see it coming. Maybe because it’s too close, ya know? Maybe it was just so much focus on the future and some day and a year from now that you get blindsided by the present. Maybe it was all the times that we didn’t say what we thought, that I didn’t ask for help when I started noticing other people, that he didn’t ask for help and tell me he used instagram to stare at other girls. Maybe it was pride or a lack of a true feeling of protection in our relationship that stopped us from addressing our weaknesses and struggles in our present and covering them with plans for our future.

The first night we had the keys, we had a mattress on the floor of our room, a record player and a modest mouse album, a bottle of champagne, some vodka and orange juice. We were happy. We drank to our plans. Enjoyed our new, empty house and slept in each other’s arms on the undressed mattress.

It’s funny how one year, twelve months, can change everything. I walked around the empty house, drank a bottle of champagne to honor our failure, and slept on the floor. I woke up and took one look around. Left the keys on the counter, locked the door, closed it, and left. Called the office and told them everything was out.

12 months. Huh. What a fucking difference.

“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.  Mine 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.

Foreshadowing

fore-shad-ow: verb: When an author of a plot uses an advance sign or warning of what is to come in the future.

A few years back, there was a song that was super popular. It was played over and over and over again on the radio. At first, I really liked it a lot. After hearing it about 50 million times a day on every radio station, in every public place, and posted on people’s social media sites via youtube videos, my opinions about that song changed drastically. It was a song by the artist Goyte called “Somebody That I Used To Know”. You probably remember it. It was super catchy and once you heard it, it had you singing “somebody” in a high pitch voice for the rest of the day.

The summer that it became an overplayed hit, I was working in a restaurant at the beach. My x-fiance was also working there, but this was before we had even started our story. There had only been those moments when the attraction was super obvious, like when you catch each other looking at each other from across the restaurant and your stomach does that little flip thing and you can’t stop smiling because you can feel that amazing butterfly feeling you get in the beginning. We had only had a few conversations, mostly about work stuff and any excuse we could use to talk to each other. We had hung posters up for the grand opening on the street with fishing line out of the bed of his Toyota pick up truck together; I don’t remember the small talk in-between us but I remember the feeling of just being completely attracted to him. I have small tattoos on my hands below my thumbs, about the size of dimes, on the left is a world and on the right is a peace sign. [Please do not judge me for the fact I did get ‘world peace’ tattooed on me, I was young and in my hippy movement stage of life]. Nick came up to me as I was leaning across a high top table one shift and touched the tattoo on my left hand and asked me if it was a tattoo of a deadhead. [If you don’t know what a deadhead is..open a new tab, google it, and download some of their music onto your itunes OK?] I remember the feeling of butterflies from his first physical contact with me mixed with embarrassment as I explained that the hard-to-recognize, blown-out tattoo was of a world and not a deadhead, followed by the explanation of the whole “world peace” thing and being young and dumb when I got it. We both had a pretty good laugh about it. Another time, the restaurant had run out of aprons and Nick had never gotten one. I remember telling him I’d bring him one the next time we worked together. This immediately lead to us comparing our schedules and seeing what shifts we were scheduled together for the rest of the week. I think both of us had probably already checked each other’s schedule on the one hanging on the wall of the server station to see what days we both needed to make sure we were a little bit early and, at least for me because I’m a chick, what days I needed to spend a little extra time on my hair. These had pretty much been all the first interactions that we had had, back when it was new and exciting and developing.

On a different shift, a group of co-workers and I were standing around- probably waiting for tables to come in. The restaurant, although it was new, was never really busy, and we didn’t know it then, but would be closing down in about 2 or 3 more months. I don’t really remember everyone else who was present in the group, but I remember that Nick was there. The song by Goyte came on over our sound system and we all started singing the lyrics that were impossible not to know at this point. Nick looked at me and said he had never heard this song before. I was shocked. I don’t remember exactly the conversation that followed between us, but I remember some back and forth about how that could be possible. At the end of it all, I remember he said something along the lines of how he obviously knew it because it was overplayed everywhere. We laughed. I knew I loved him, right then and there.

The song became a joke throughout our growing relationship. It was on mixed CDs and sang between the two of us. It was never skipped on the radio; it had reached it’s peak so it went from being played all the time, to never, then a couple months later they threw it back into the rotation here and there.

I guess I never realized that the song would become a foreshadowing of our story. That God- or the universe or whatever your beliefs are- used it to bring us together and, as the author of my story, would use it as a hint to our future. It was the catalyst of the moment I first realized I loved him. But it was also a clear, lyrical prediction of our ending. We used to listen to it together, it was an on-going joke, built right into the foundation of us. And now?.. He has become somebody that I used to know.

“But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know..”

Dammit I hate that fucking song.