A teenage boy called me ‘lady’ today.
My illusion of youth was shattered.
The funny thing is that as I sat at the gate, waiting to board my flight back to Portland, I caught myself biting my nails. What a childish thing to be doing. Isn’t that something you are supposed to grow out of? Like so many other childish things I’ve grown out of; Drawing on walls, playing with knives, running with scissors, finding out which chemicals will make an explosive compound. Those types of things.
But no. As I was walked away from the bar at the airport lounge, I heard a “Hey! Hey lady! you forgot your sunglasses!” I kept walking as I’m not used to people addressing me at all as of late. I haven’t talked to anyone on the phone for a good two weeks now, aside from ‘his’ voice mail. All communications that are not a straight up interview are through email. My cell phone remains quiet save for alarms and meeting reminders and memos.
When he ran up to me and touched me shoulder, a menagerie of feelings flooded me at once. The first was panic, followed closely by an insane urge to cry. You don’t realize how important human touch is until you’ve missed it for months on end. Until you realize, as some bus boy puts his hand on your shoulder, that this is the first hand to have been laid on you in months. The third emotion that came to mind immediately was tenderness. I smiled and took them from his as he ran away without a word. I put them on to cover the welling in my eyes. I’ve become far too soft. If the road makes you hard, the skies make you soft.
And here we are. Back to WiFi in the sky. I’m going home for a minute. To dust off the photos on my desk in my apartment. The ones I keep there to remind myself I had a life once. To the apartment I keep to remind myself I do have a ‘home.’ Though its empty and resembles more of a ‘headquarters’ as of late. Its where my mail goes, where my ugly and overwashed cotton panties reside, where my CD collection sits, and where boxes of letters hide in the back of the closet. Its where a brand new set of IKEA dishes sit in the cabinet that have never been used. Its where there is a dead Basil plant in the window sill, and where the photos of he and I in the San Fran Mechanical Museum photo booth still sit behind a magnet on the refrigerator. Where a box of his things sit by the door as if I’ll actually return them, and where I want to sleep until I die when I finally drag myself through the front door. Where the TV is too big, the stereo keeps me company most of the time, and where the fireplace is fake, so I can turn it on with a switch to immediately encourage my depressed wine drinking habit.
Its where the streets hold memories that both cradle me and slap me in the face. Its where mutual friends have taken sides, and where I abandoned them. Its where there are only three messages on my answering machine, and they are all from my parents. Its where the bridges sit still, with so many crossing them daily, and where I seemed to have burned them. Its where my publishing office is, where my agent is, where I went to school, and where I feel like I’m always running either to or from.
There is a girl, (woman) sitting next to me attempting to write a letter to someone named Roland. She’s apologizing for running away, but so far as I can tell, she’s gone through about ten drafts, and it doesn’t look like its going anywhere. I saw her sitting in the gate. The expression on her face looked as worn as mine. A bit hard. A bit hurt. Only she didn’t have sunglasses to hide behind. She must not have had the same bus boy as me when she left them at another airport lounge. I count myself lucky.
I wonder who he was. A husband? A boyfriend? A brother? So far as I can tell, she feels bad. But if she’s anything like me, which I’m being audacious enough to assume, simply so I feel less lonely, she’s got too much pride to go back. We are probably nothing alike. She was strong enough to leave and stay gone. Whereas I, I am the ridiculous one making routine calls from hotel phones.
Maybe she needs time. Maybe she’ll be like me in a few months. Weeks maybe. Maybe she will go back. I wonder if she plans on delivering the letter or mailing it. I wonder if she just plans on reading it aloud to him or maybe if she’s writing it simply to make herself feel better. I’ve thought about suggesting blogging to her, but I don’t want to disrupt her path. I’m cruel enough to want her to feel as utterly lonely as me, so that in some sick way… we’re alone together. Because maybe I’m a bit bitter. But if she walked away from someone who loved her as much as I’m getting from this letter, she deserves the wrath of the void for a while.
Maybe I’ll slip her the card for the escort I saw in Boston.