The white light in the third floor bathroom seems even more clinical in the early hours of the day, illuminating the less than pleasant novelty graffiti on the wall even more than usual. I sigh and push myself up from the wall I was leaning against, walking over to the third stall on the left.
I whisper into the crevice between the door and the wall. “Everything ok in there? How long has it been?” Shuffling sound, then her voice.
“How long does it have to be?”
I don’t really need to, but pull the flattened box out of the pocket of my lucky green hoodie and examine the back of it anyway.
“Three minutes. How long has it been?”
Silence, then a sob. I hear her tug on the toilet paper and blow her nose. I’m about to say something but she beats me to it.
“Pass me the other one”
I sigh. “You’ve had two positive ones already. I--I don’t think you need to-” “Zoey, shut the fuck up and pass the god dammed pregnancy test.”
I fumble with the plastic bag beside me and pass her the stick when she opens the door. We lock eyes for a second and all I see is tears and fear and guilt, because she knows and I know how this is going to end. She closes the door again and I lean against it, waiting for the sobs to start and thinking about what I’ll say.
Before I can make up my mind, the door swings open again and she walks out, holding the stick wrapped in toilet paper. We look at each other and I try to think but I know that whatever I say will be wrong, so I don’t say it. Instead, I reach for the stick and take it from her, placing it together with the other two.
We leave the bathroom in silence and go back to my dorm room, where she lays on my bed like she’s done before, only that it’s not like before, and I’m bright enough to know it’ll never be like that again. I sit on the edge of the bed and stare at the plastic bag in my hands.
My mother still has the positive pregnancy test that revealed her she was pregnant with me; she keeps it in a purple box together with my umbilical chord and a picture of her enormous pre-partum belly.
I look over at my friend knowing that there will never be a purple box, or an umbilical chord, or a picture of her belly, so I tie up the bag and throw it in my trash can, pushing down until its flattened to the bottom of it.
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
Her voice seemed so certain then, almost as if the fact that she didn’t know the sex of the baby wasn’t going to stop her from naming it what she had decided. In the end, it didn’t matter: she turned out to be right after all.
Hours later, as I caressed the wrinkly head of my baby brother, I thought about how great it was to not be alone anymore. I remember looking at my dad, eager to show him how good I was, how gentle I could be, and how tiny my little brother was. When the nurses came into the room to take Jacob away for the night, I kissed his tiny cheek and walked over to my dad, climbing into his lap.
“Why does he have to sleep with all the other babies?” I asked, my voice engulfed with sleep. My dad grabbed his jacket from a nearby chair and wrapped it around me. “Because they need to make sure he’s safe. He’s not big enough to sleep alone yet” “What about when he comes home? Who’s going to keep him safe?” My dad fixed the jacket around me, making sure I was worm.
When he opened his mouth to answer me, I was too tired to hear.
- Current Mood: contemplative
- Current Music:You Know I'm No Good-Amy Whinehouse cover by Arctic Monkeys
“Mom what’s going-”
“The phone, now”
I ran to my dad’s studio and grabbed the cordless, bumping into the glass table on my way back to my mother. She snatched the phone from my hands and got up, almost jogging to her room to the back of the apartment. I heard her turn on her TV before the door shut with bang. I took her seat on the couch, grabbing the forgotten remote and turning the volume up. It’s not a movie; it’s too early in the day for that. My leg starts pulsating and I look at my thigh, where a spot is already beginning to darken--I always thought I bruised much too easily. I guess that teaches me not run in the house while wearing a skirt, but it was the first day of middle school and I wanted to look pretty. I look back at the TV when siren noises start taking over everything else.
There’s black smoke and there’s fire, and you can see people jumping out of windows and you can see them open their mouths but nothing is coming out because the cacophony surrounding them is stronger and louder. I frown. I read the titles. Is that New York? They show video of a plane crashing into the World Trade Center, or at least, that’s what the reporter says it’s called. Back to live coverage. Is that blood? I drop the remote on the fabric next to me and run to the back of the house, the dark spot on my thigh pulsating in synch with my heart.
“Mom!” I barge into her room without knocking. I’ll probably get in trouble for that later. She’s sitting on the bed with the phone to her ear. My Aunt Charlotte lives in New York, but I know she’s not talking to her when I hear her say “dad.” I climb on the mattress and sit cross legged next to her, listening to the conversation.
“…in touch with her?”
“No. No one can get through”
“But Dad, there has to be a way to contact her!” She sounded so scared. It made me so scared
“Darlin’ we tried, all we get is a busy ton-----”
No matter how many times she tried, she couldn’t get them back. To this day, I believe this is one of the few times my mother regretted living so far from her family, an ocean away.
Later that night, I went to bed and decided that I wouldn’t sleep until everything got better. My dad came into my room around midnight, looking more tired than usual, his graying hair a contrast to the reddish tint of his skin, a constant reminder of the summer we had spent in Tuscany. He never did tan, my father, only burn.
“And why aren’t you asleep? You have school tomorrow”
“I’m not going to sleep until everything goes back to how it was yesterday”
‘Then you won’t be sleeping for a very long time.”
“Why? All they have to do is rebuild those towers right? The can do that soon, right?”
My dad kissed me on my forehead and got up to leave. He got to the door and turned to me before shutting off the lights.
“I think it’s going to take a bit longer Princess. They have a lot to rebuild”
- Current Mood:artistic
- Current Music:Baby It's Cold Outside- Glee Cast Version
The phone rings at 3AM, waking up me and my mother. We are sharing the same bed because it’s Thanksgiving and we’re at my aunt’s house in New York, and I’m lucky enough not to have to sleep on the floor. My mom gets to the phone and murmurs “Pronto?”. It must be dad. It’s 9 AM in Italy right now. I settle back under the covers and almost doze off when I hear my mom say “Oh mio Dio.” Oh my God. Something’s wrong.
I sense her get out of bed and I hear her hang up. She goes into my aunt’s room and I can hear her say “Charlotte, Charlotte.” I can visualize her shaking her midsection to wake her. Two sets of feet come back into the room. Something’s wrong.
“Roberto’s mom…she, she died. Just now.”
I can hear my mom’s voice breaking up. She can’t cry. She never cries. Someone sits on the bed and I know it’s Charlotte because it smells like lavender. My mom sits down next to her. Now it smells like vanilla. I’m still under the blanket, and it smells like death. They talk for a bit but I don’t really listen, because my ears are buzzing and I’m concentrating on not closing my eyes, because if I do I see my grandma and she’s dead and I don’t want her to be.
I feel someone get up and when the lavender vanishes I know my mom’s here and no one else. She gets back under the covers and I can feel her tremble. She has her back to me. I slowly elongate my arm and I hug my mom. I feel her still in surprise and then relax.
And we lay there and it smells of vanilla, and my heart is cringing like its hard for it to beat.
"to the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure"
Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.
- Current Music:Minor Swing
I must admit that, because I spent most of the ceremony thinking about how unfair life was and about how I could possibly make the biggest Ball of Weave in the world by amassing all of my relative’s hair together in a gigantic sphere, I don’t remember much. It was only when my Grandfather shook my arm and begged me to ‘please, at least pretend to be mournful” that I sat up straight and listened to what the Pastor was saying.
“We mustn’t be saddened by this regrettable loss, for although he is not here in this physical world, Glen looks upon us from the spiritual, where he is now, after responding to God’s call.”
I remember being confused at this point. Did this mean that if he hadn’t responded he’d still be alive? I highly doubted that was how it worked. As far as I was concerned, the only call that mattered was the one we’d gotten five days earlier, announcing my great uncle’s death.
At the time of the phone call, my mother and I were sitting at the freshly renovated counter top of my Grandmother’s sterile kitchen, the off-white tiles shimmering in the afternoon sunlight so typical of South Carolina Decembers. We were both eating ice-cream, and I was focused on distributing rainbow sprinkles equally throughout the cup. I would have succeeded, had the phone not rang at an extremely critical moment in the process, scaring the bejesus out of me and making me jerk my wrist so that the off-white floor tiles were suddenly anything but white, the sprinkles scattering across the floor, making it sound like there was a rainstorm (an incredibly weird one, at that) inside the house. Cursing under my breath, I got up from my stool and began cleaning up as my mother answered the phone.
“Hello, Rhonda? It’s Aunt Verna”
“Aunt Verna? Hi! Merry Christmas!”
“Aunt Verna what’s wrong?”
“Hello? Hello? Aunt Verna what’s wrong?”
“Its just-- God, just give me a second……It’s just…He’s …passed away- dead. Glen’s dead”
By this point I had made my way over to the other side of the counter, pretending to clean up the mess while shamelessly listening to the bits and pieces of conversation I could gather. I abruptly gave up “cleaning” and focused on the conversation once I heard that someone had died. I inched closer to the phone, but before I could hear anything else, my mother flashed me one of those it’s-time-for-you-to-leave looks she was so famous for, and I took my now almost melted ice-cream and retreated to my room.
This wasn’t the first time I’d experienced death in the family; as far as I knew, someone had died every year since I was eight, and I was therefore used to the phone calls announcing the event. Call me heartless, but I never shed a tear for these people. I simply didn’t know them enough to care, and, in my book, hypocrisy is a lot worse than not caring. So when my mother gathered my brothers and I in the den that night, tactfully informing us about great uncle Glen, I simply took it as I did all the others: nonchalantly and with the appropriate amount of respect.
I kind of threw the respect out of the window when I found out the funeral was to be held on my birthday, and that’s why the pastor words didn’t really stay with me that long. The sentence I paid attention to, however, was, in my humble opinion, the highlight of the funeral. After the sermon, some people talked about how much “Brother Glen” had done for the community and about how much his works were going to be missed.
I found myself thinking about these remarks as I lay on my bed later that day, staring at the ceiling filled with glow in the dark adhesive stars I had carefully stuck all over when I was seven years old.
I was disturbed by the fact that, while everyone had been so keen to mention the things my great uncle had done, no one had discussed who he had been. No one spoke about what he used to be like, or what made him laugh, or what was they loved the most about him, or what were some of his crazy habits everyone hated but loved at the same time. That’s what remembering someone should mean.
As I laid there in my wrinkled dress, staring at the stars that were only now starting to glow, I thought about my great uncle Glen and about the single summer we had spent at his lakehouse the year before. About how he always refused to answer the phone if Judge Judy was on, or how, even if his doctor had prohibited it, he continued to start and end his days smoking his custom made pipe, the sweet and musky smoke permeating through the wood of the patio. I continued to think about that summer all throughout dinner and later, as my family sang to me, my mother placing my birthday cake in the center of the table.
As I leaned over my glass, blowing out the candles, I thought about my uncle answering God’s call and joining Him in the spiritual world, and thought about how maybe it was time to add a new star to my personal sky.
- Current Music:O' Childer by Nick Cave
I was going to miss the way my bedroom door squeaked when it opened, or how, as I turned my key in the front door, I could always guess what was cooking on the stove. I was going to miss the smells the most. The way the bathroom smelled of lavender after someone took a shower, the sweet scent lingering on the freshly laundered towels. The way how, no matter how much we scrubbed, we could never get a section of the living room carpet to stop smelling like peppermint after my brother dropped cough syrup on it.
But most of all, I will miss the smell of the living room early on rainy mornings, when the open window let in the musky smell of the water, which permeated throughout the house, lingering ‘till dusk.
- Current Mood: nostalgic
- Current Music:Taking Chances- Celine Dion
“It’s your turn”, said Maria, using her hand to shield her face. “How did the dog become a cloud?”
We were lying in the usual spot on the hill behind her house, our faces almost touching and our legs pointing in opposite directions, and we were staring at the cloud-filled sky above. My head was facing downhill, the blood rushing to my brain and the gravitational pull giving me the sensation of being in a constant falling motion. I liked that feeling. The feeling of not being in total control. Maria hated it; that’s why she always lay with her head facing the top of the hill. I remember asking her why, once, back when I didn’t know what her favorite flower was and before the silences between us didn’t need filling. “I just like to know where the ground is, just in case I have to stand up really fast”, she had said, and that had been enough for me.
So we were lying on the sprinkler-moist grass and I was almost-falling and she was almost-standing and, as my clothes got damper and damper, I told her how that dog became a cloud.
“Well, he was an army commander in the Kingdom of Franah, and he died in the line of duty. A terribly fairy-eating monster had entered the Kingdom, making a mess and scaring everyone everywhere. He lead the army that won the decisive battle against the beast, ending the terror and saving all the fairies of the Kingdom, but he was killed by the monster minutes before the end of the fight. He was so brave that once he got to Heaven all of the Angels decided to grant him the honor of making him into a cloud, so that everyone could remember his greatness every time they looked at the sky”
“That doesn’t make any sense”
“Why doesn’t it?”
“I thought we agreed that only good people could become clouds. He was a soldier and soldiers kill people, so he wasn’t a good person’
“I know. He was a dog”
Maria sighed, letting her hand-shield fall to her side and closing her eyes.
“You know what I mean”
“Whatever, he was a hero. And heroes are good people so I say it works”
“I thought you said he was a dog”
“Ha ha, very funny”
I could sense the smile creep on her face as I closed my eyes as well, inhaling slowly, the air smelling of grass and flowers and water and sunlight all rolled into one.
We laid there in our silence that didn’t need filling, our eyes shut and our faces staring directly into the sun, so that we could still see the light though our eyelids. It’s weird, when you stare at the sun with your eyes closed you see so many colors, not just gold; there’s flashes of purples and pinks and greens and blues, like an ever-changing painting right inside your head.
And I laid there in my damp shirt and my damp skirt, enjoying the gentle feeling of the cool breeze on my face and the tickling feeling of the grass against my legs and the feeling of happiness you get when you’re drunk with content and--
“Andrew Birden kissed me today”
She said it so quietly that I thought I’d imagined it. But I opened my eyes and sat up anyway and I looked down at her and saw the redness on her cheeks and knew at once that it was true, Andrew Birden had kissed her.
“When?” I found my lips asking, the question lingering between us as my heart beat faster with excitement and curiosity.
“During recess. He told me he wanted to show me something behind that rock that looks like an elephant, and when we got there he grabbed my shoulders and kissed me, and it felt nice, I guess. And then he stopped kissing me and he let go of my shoulders and he did that thing he does where he scratches his right nostril with his pinky finger. And then he looked at me and I looked at him and I said “thank you” and he said “you’re welcome”, and then I said “please excuse me” and then I left because recess was over”
At some point during her story the wind had stopped blowing and everything around us was still, her voice resonating with happiness and embarrassment in the otherwise silent atmosphere. I looked at her and listened to her and said nothing for a while. She didn’t look any different than she had that morning, before recess happened and before Andrew Birden scratched his nostril and before she was kissed by a boy we’d known since first grade. She lay there with her eyes still closed, the blush in her cheeks making her glow and her dark full hair scattered around her oval face, smiling a smile I hadn’t seen before.
“Do you like him?”
“I don’t know. Maybe”
“Are you going to kiss him again?”
“I don’t know. Maybe”
And I knew that was all I was going to get from her, so I laid back down in the almost-dry grass and closed my eyes, drinking up the sunlight above and thought of how Maria had almost let herself fall.
We laid there in our silence that didn’t need filling until the sun stopped shining so hard and we could stare at the sky without using our hands as shields.
“Your turn. How did the princess become a cloud?”
And I was almost-falling and she was almost standing, and my best friend opened her freshly kissed lips and told her story as the breeze returned and the air smelled of grass and sunlight and flowers and water and promise, all rolled into one.
- Current Mood: happy
- Current Music:Ordinary People- John Legend
Anyway, that summer afternoon found me making my way home after dance class, and the last thing on my mind was Chiara. You can imagine my a)shock and b)fear when, upon entering my room, I saw her sprawled across my top bunk, her blond hair oscillating as she let her head dangle from the edge. The conversation went more or less as follows:
“what the hell?!”
“finally, it took you forever to get here, I do have a other things to do you know”
“how did you get--did you climb in from the window again?”
“Yep. You should really invest in stronger locks; it only took me like 2 minutes to pick it this time”
“You really need to stop breaking and entering in my house. And why are your pants full of grass stains? Did you jump off your balcony? I told you to stop doing that after the time you almost broke your leg”
“Whatever. I ran away from home because they won’t raise my allowance. I need you to come with me so I can break into my house and grab some runaway essentials”.
You’d think I would know better than to get involved by now, but what can I say, getting involved was kind of my job when it came to her.
- Current Mood: nostalgic
- Current Music:Remember the Time- Michael Jackson
People don’t usually understand why, but that’s because the people who don’t are the ones who associate ballet with grace, beauty, purity and all that other sentimental crap people who are not dancers think of when describing the discipline.
My ballet teacher wouldn’t let us use protective pads, insisting that we wrap our feet in a plastic bag instead.
As I sat on the floor moments after our first lesson, slowly unwrapping my left foot from the plastic, I forgot about all about the grace and the beauty and the purity and thought of pain instead. Because there is no way you can think of grace as you scrub dry blood from your still open wounds and carefully bandage each and every toe. There’s no way you can think of beauty as you painstakingly make your may home, wincing every time your toes graze the sides of your shoes. And there’s no way you can think of purity as you soak you bloody feet in salt water, eyes watering as you bear through the stinging sensation so that the cuts on your toes can heal, and be ready to re-open tomorrow.
- Current Music:Chariot- Gavin Degraw
Of course, this wasn’t always the case: there used to be a time in my life when the mere mentioning of JK Rowling didn’t cause me to sigh in awe, a time where seeing a Nissan speed by did not make me think of Niisan, the Japanese word for “brother”, a time when, if asked for some Advil, I did not respond with “would you like some Pepper Up instead?” only to later remember that Pepper Up is a potion, and therefore not accessible in the Muggle world. Yeah, there used to be a time when my entire existence didn’t revolve around things I learned in books and anime, but, to be completely honest, that time goes back to when I was about 9 years old.
Don’t get me wrong, I know my obsession with, as some people call it, the “fantasy world” can get pretty annoying, but you have to understand that, to me, all those things are part of my reality. You have my 4th grade teacher to thank for that; after all, she’s the one that assigned the first Harry Potter book as a summer reading novel, and its all history from there. I think my parents let me get this addicted because they were too busy gloating about the fact that I voluntarily had a book in my hands to stop and think about the dangers of letting a child grapple with a much cooler world than the one she lived in, and now, of course, it’s way too late. I’m kind of expecting to get home one day and find my family sitting on the couch, wanting to discuss my obsession “Intervention” style. As much as it pains me to admit this, I don’t think it would work even if they tried, no matter how much they preached about how we’re all in this together because we’re in it to win it and that if I just get my head in the game I’ll turn out all right.
I think I turned out this way because of the way I think of people and of life. To me, there are two kinds of people on this planet: readers and writers. Meaning, there are people who spend their life reading about awesome stuff, and people who spend their life writing awesome stuff (of course, this concept is not exactly perfect and needs to be further developed, but I find it really challenging to create my own life philosophy while trying to maintain a decent GPA, and have therefore put it off for the time being). I always kind of considered myself a reader vs. a writer, mostly because a) I never considered myself a very inventive person and b) I am terrified of producing some really terrible novel, and let’s be honest, the world does not need another Stephanie Meyer. That is not to say however, that I have not grappled with writing.
My first writings that did not feature talking Barbies as protagonist date back to my sophomore year in high school, shortly after my discovery of fan fiction. I remember sitting in the back of the classroom, pretending to take notes while really writing what I thought was going to be considered the greatest love story ever written about this or that character of this or that book. It is unnecessary to say that those stories were utter crap, but hey, I guess that’s what happens when most of your time is spent in online communities where the “masquerade ball” scenario is considered one of the most innovative plot ideas of the 21st Century. I gave up on fan fiction writing after my grades took a turn for the worse: turns out that spending three weeks developing the perfect “falling in love while in detention” scenario can really take a toll on your academic performance. After that literary fiasco, I crawled back to my bookshelf, grabbed the Fifth Harry Potter novel off the shelf and re-checked myself into the reader group.
I have to say that I was not as heartbroken as I thought I was going to be. Being a reader is one of the best things that ever happened to me; honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t like immerging myself in a good book, manga or fan fiction. And, as sad as it may sound, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t been obsessed by literature. I know people say that experiencing things is the best way to learn, but I beg to disagree. Reading is one of the best learning tools for me: I got most of my sexual education from Harry Potter fan fiction, and thank God I did, because I have yet to receive the dreaded Talk from anyone of my parents. Being a reader, deciding to become an English major was one of the easiest things of my life, my pre-college self looking forward to the sleepless nights reading the classics. Of course, now I know better, and every time I sit down to write yet another essay I want to strangle myself for choosing this path. However, I have to admit that there are some good things that resulted from my decision.
Becoming an English major made me want to consider myself a writer again, which is something I would have never thought could happen. I guess this kind of blurs the line between the reader-writer distinction I made earlier in my so called world view philosophy, but you must remember it’s a work in progress. I guess my renewed desire to write marks the beginning of a new phase of my life, where I don’t have to be one or the other, but where I can be both reader and writer. It’s going to be interesting to see how this works out, but I guess that’s where part of the fun is right? Finding a balance between reading great things and (hoping to) write great things and then trying to do apply this to your life: constantly balancing experiencing life with living life.
- Current Mood: thoughtful
- Current Music:Smile by Charlie Chaplin- Glee Cover