LAST WORDS

Last words are important.

My last words to my father were “I hate you”.

It’s hard to think back because when I do the phrase echo’s in my head on repeat. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you. But it was true I hated my father.  When I tell someone I just meet that my father passed away I never include that small detail. I let them tell me they’re “I’m so sorry” and I give a half smile with a little nod instead of saying it’s okay I hated him anyway. I did hate my father but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss him.

Most people don’t understand. People who have never been disappointed by the same person for years. People with two decent parents that do everything in their best interest. They don’t understand what it’s like to be lied to and manipulated and stolen from and embarressed. But I do. And here’s the thing with a disappointing parent you eventually stop believing in them like you did when you were 8 years old. They become a stranger you distance yourself from, someone you never want to be like. It eventually reaches the point that hating them isn’t even worth it anymore, you just feel numb instead.

I remember the last time I saw my father. He jumped into the backseat of my mother’s car, his eyes red and his speak slurred. He asked my mother for money to buy some cocaine. He tried to talk to me but I said “I hate you” the phase had become as casual as hello and goodbye.  He got out of the car and that was the last time I saw him. He died days later from a drug overdose.

4 years later and I still don’t know how to feel about his death and our relationship. He was a shit father but he also had his okay moments. Moments I hold onto but with each year that passes seems to fade. Scratching lotto tickets with him, laughing, playing 80s music real loud in the car, 7-11 Slurpee’s. But then I also remember the times he spent all the rent money, yelling, drugs, police cars, nights he didn’t come home. It feels like I have lived two lives, the one with my father and the current one without him. I was such an angry and bitter 10 year old kid and when my father died I let all my pent up anger go. I think that was a temporary fix because my last words still haunt me years later. My mind still can’t seem to let my father go, he’s always there. Making me feel anger and resentment and pity for myself, but most importantly I miss him.

 

 

 

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I’M FINE BUT I’M NOT HAPPY

I’m fine but I’m not happy. Not happy with my job, my weight, my bank account. I go through phases, sometimes I’m content and days fly by. And then I’m happy and busy and laughing. I go to sleep and I can breathe okay. But right now I’m unhappy, and I have nails in my hands keeping me stuck in this place. I’ve given up on trying to free myself. I am numb from my fingers to my toes. I want to get out of bed and feel something other than sadness. They say when you graduate college the world is your oyster but right now it feels like I am the oyster. Being eaten alive by the rich assholes at my minimum wage job. They like their egg whites and turkey bacon. I don’t want to feel this way but it sticks to me like a second skin. People don’t understand they say I’m dramatic and privileged, but they don’t know what it’s like to look in the mirror and see nothing.

DISPLACED AND DISCONNECTED

Do you ever feel displaced? Like you don’t belong where you currently are or in the world at all. As if someone could lift your body from the ground and transcend you above the planets and the stars and when you’d look down you would finally see clearly. I feel this way. In mid conversation my vision becomes hazy and I’m outside my body again looking at myself from across the room and I can no longer hear what is being said. Or when I look out the window and I’m no longer in my bedroom but a place far away. I’m confused on why I feel this way, that I want to be anywhere but where I am in the moment. There are only a few people that seem to keep me grounded, they have a string tied to my shoe and they keep me close enough to reach but give me room to breathe, my feet dangling. But the string is just string and won’t be able to withstand the pulling forever. I feel like I’m made for better things, a better life not one filled with doubt, self-consciousness, and longing. Is it because I actually have no place in this world, a college graduate that has never been able to find passion for anything?  A year since graduation and I work at the same job since high school and have a routine the same one since before I left home. And I feel displaced more than ever. Does anyone else ever feel this way?

LIFE AFTER COLLEGE

“Welcome back” is the phrase printed on the helium balloon that has loomed in my kitchen for the past 5 days. It’s lengthy white ribbon tied tight to a kitchen chair in a lopsided bow. In the balloons reflective surface I can see my face, and it’s not at all as I remembered. I can hear the helium bag scrape against the ceiling at midnight, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.  It’s presence ever reaching, a beacon signifying I was home. The balloon’s air drained a bit every day, hissing at the seams. It once reached the ceiling and now was at my eye level.

Life after college is different than I thought it would be. It’s like I’m blind folded with a bag over my head; and I can’t see what’s in front of me so I don’t move my feet. I thought when I received my diploma it would come with a list of steps, of what was to come next. I’m left with nothing instead. I keep these feelings to myself, only sharing snip bits of the growing black hole in my chest, this emptiness. I am an adult with a degree, that’s turning to ashes inch by inch, day by day as I stand planted in my comfort. Is it my fault this isn’t turning out like I wanted? My mother asks me while chopping vegetables if I am applying to jobs, thinking I can’t feel her eyes staring into the back of my head.

I don’t know what’s worse my indecisiveness or the rejection. Am I not qualified enough, not ambitus enough, not intelligent enough? I don’t know what I want to do, yet I apply to jobs every day, administrative positions, secretary, entry level positions, unpaid internships, paid internships, sales positions, dog walking, day care, cashier. I was told there would be rejection but it still stings, almost feels personal.  In the ‘adult world’ a month speeds by like ice-cream pops in my freezer.I only realize a year has passed when I shake the ice-cream box and find it empty.

It’s all bullshit. I followed the steps of life-go to school, work hard, save money, graduate college but now I’m 23 wondering what was the point of it all. I should have spent those years exploring and daydreaming and taking up random hobbies. Instead I was day dreaming about being older. I cared too much back them about fake friends, my gpa, my appearance and what people thought of me. I was just trying to fit in.

My five year old cousin tells me I’m no adult but an adult child, and I laugh because that’s exactly what it feels like. 23 years, that’s 23 balloons that have floated away. 23 balloons filled with the very essence of being 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23. They don’t come back and you certainly don’t get to relive them. I want to be 5 playing with my Barbie’s, and 12 dancing to Taylor Swift with my best friend and 18 starting my first day of college. I can’t have those years back. Instead I’m stuck in year 23 with a welcome back balloon, wishing I was in any other year.

THE ILLUSION OF MORE

The illusion of more. That’s what gets me through my day. I’m clueless especially about what I want. Unsure of what I want in anything actually. How does a person not know oneself? Why can’t I recognize my own dreams and passions? I feel I am playing hide and go seek with my identity. I’m looking in kitchen cabinets and linen closets for this piece of myself, and I keep coming up empty. As a child you are told you can be whoever you want to be, but what happens when you don’t know what you want or who you are.

I envy individuals who transition through life so easily, they know themselves in a way I feel I never will. They have passion, aspirations and goals. They excel in one single field or many. They are strapped into their place in this world. Or maybe it just seems this way.  Maybe this perfect person is just a figment of my imagination after all. It’s not love I’m after, I love many things. But I don’t know where my passion is. I want to find the one thing that grips a hold of me and never lets go. Something that blends passion and love, something I can’t put down or toss away. Something I become responsible for.

Seems it’s almost impossible to make it through each day, trudging along without any direction. I hate feeling lost, trapped within my own body. Its lonely in there. I wonder why I work so hard, when I don’t know what the end result will be? Am I the only one who feels this way? I want happiness, that’s all I know. But a desire for happiness hasn’t been able to guide me in the right direction.  What do I even mean by right direction?

When these thoughts of hopelessness cloud my sight, I think about the more I am waiting for. I consider the idea that one day, however far it may be, I will have more, be more and understand more about myself.  I try to believe maybe now’s not the time, to find the more I’m looking for.  I also consider the idea that there is nothing more, maybe I am who I am right now and that’s all I’ll ever be. But instead I hold onto this illusion, waiting to find this other half of myself.

BEAUTY IN MOMENTS

Beauty is a faceless and shapeless entity. It’s no such person or object but it’s broken down into moments. Moments that make me aware that this world has a pulse, a bloody beating heart underneath the camouflage.

Bubbles floated down the stairs and into the subway station. Climbing the stairs out of the concrete dungeon, the bubbles continued to descend. It seemed as if they appeared from thin air, it seemed as if they were there for me. They bounced to the rhythm of the city. Time slowed down, for the first time in a city that knows no such thing. But as I emerged into the daylight, the bubbles ceased to exist. I looked for their source, but came up with nothing. A woman pushed past me and the beauty of the moment burst. I continued down the street blending in among the city dwellers.

It was raining as I continued walking down the street, my shoes and socks saturated. The wind was pushing against my umbrella until finally the metal structure snapped. And I was left with a useless piece of garbage. Now my clothing was wet and my hair was dripping. At a stoplight, I took notice of the way the colors beamed against the gravel road. The rain was falling so rapidly, the red, green and yellow colors moved to the beat of the rain. It was a rainbow in the midst of colorless buildings.

At night, Manhattan streets are vacant. There is a tranquility that only the night can provide. I’m alone yet I don’t feel so alone. The buildings loom over me, but not in an imposing way. It’s an unexplainable comfort, that this concrete jungle bestows upon me. It’s just me and these intricate buildings, all with stories of their own. During daylight, I think about the buildings as props in the background. But at night they become more, they become beautiful.

On the anniversary of my father’s death, I was headed into the subway station. The air was humid and I could observe no happiness in the world this day. But further into the station I could hear the faint sound of “Ain’t no sunshine”. I walked down the subway stairs and there on the platform stood an elderly man playing the saxophone. His leather skin wrinkled, his fingers expertly playing the notes. This was my favorite song growing up one I would sing with my father. And this man, without any understanding gave me something precious on a day I didn’t think was possible. It was magic.

 

PARALYZED

They call it sleep paralysis. When you’re conscious but still asleep. In the middle of the night you awake and find yourself unable to move. You may feel a weight on your chest, hear footsteps coming closer or see a demonic figure. I saw my father once, in the doorway of my bedroom. I was delirious, unsure whether I was awake or still asleep. He was calling my name but there was wind rushing past my ears, it was so loud his voice could no longer be heard. I cried out and when I opened my eyes it was to a static room.

My Aunt Denise is a self-proclaimed psychic, equipped with long flowy skirts and hoop earrings. She would read my tarot cards in the backdrop of a candle lit bedroom. We would sit across from one another on her bed. According to her readings, I was going to
be happy, heathy and do wonderful things in my life. For some reason, I was never fully satisfied with her readings, her interpretations always so vague and positive. I wanted answers. I’m still not sure what answers I was looking for, but I wanted more.

When I told her about the ghost of my father, she said he was trying to communicate with me. And when I woke up in a fright I missed the message he was trying to send.  I hadn’t seen my father for two months before he died, and I considered the idea that he was trying to apologize for his shitty parenting. I wondered if he needed my forgiveness in order to move on, is that why he came to me specifically? I considered not
forgiving him, letting his soul roam the earth for eternity. Does that make me heartless?

“Take the Pain” was a line from my father’s favorite film Platoon.  Anytime I would get hurt his first response was to take the pain, just take the pain. When my younger sister slammed my father’s finger in the front door, she repeated his own words back to him. And he laughed, we all did. He was good at taking the pain, always was. But his methods of dealing with his pain sometimes came in the form of drugs.

I understand addiction now. I didn’t before; I couldn’t grasp the idea of being so dependent on a small pill or a handful of white powder. I used to think it was easy; why couldn’t my father just stop? But not everyone is able to just take the pain. It festers inside them like a flame that continues to grow bigger. And when the flames becomes too much they turn to the wrong extinguisher.

When my father died I didn’t go through the five stages of grief. There have only ever been two stages for me; anger and then acceptance. I was angry for the longest time. For reasons I still don’t understand. Ultimately, I came to the realization that I missed the man that had ruined my life. And that’s what angered me most of all-that I cared. Laurie Anderson said it best “the purpose of death is the release of love”. Despite our unusual relationship, there was love.

My Chihuahua Mason was sad when my father died. At night he would lie outside the door of my father’s old bedroom and whine. Sometimes he would even scratch the door with his paw.  I think dogs grieve the same way humans are supposed too. I saw the five stages of grief consume my two-pound dog. He denied my father was gone, waiting for him to return. And then there was the anger; he bit me once when I picked him up from outside my father’s door. At night as he whined, I think he was bargaining with God. He was depressed and wouldn’t eat his dog food for weeks. And finally after time had gone by, Mason finally accepted the fact my father wasn’t coming back and then so did I.

When I was younger my father used to take me out for car rides. He would fill the car with 80’s rock music and roll all the windows down. On side streets he would swerve the car left to right, left to right, left to right. The music, the swerving and the wind, it made me feel alive and I think it made him feel the same way.