Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Child of the 80's Feels Her Age

Twenty seven is so far from old. It's not all that young, either.

My college friends and I are dancers. Whenever we throw a party, there's a good band or disc jockey (or iTunes playlist), and we are on the floor. There are some standards we have. "Come On Eileen" is the most important. One of my girlfriends made up the dance we do in high school and brought it to the rest of us Freshman year. Vigorous, silly dancing follows that everyone from our circle of friends must join in on. Spouses/Significant Others as well...it's sort of an initiation.

This Saturday Husband and I went to the wedding of one of my close college girlfriends. As we all did the "Come On Eileen". dance, the groom yelled "I feel ridiculous!". "Good!" we all yelled back.

So the dance was danced, and the music faded into the Electric Slide (another classic). Most people who were kids in the 1980's did this dance. I certainly did, countless times.

I forgot it. I forgot how to do the Electric Slide. I did a terrible job faking it, watching a friend of mine who was performing it effortlessly, and hoping it would come back to me. Glancing around, I realized I was not the only one who only does this dance these days when one of us gets married. Many of my friends were even sitting down! Appalling! The music is playing! We're supposed to dance!

Then I realized that I, too, kind of wanted to sit down. I was exhausted. I did, under the pretense of needing a glass of water before I went back to do more dancing. "Cotton Eye Joe" came on, so I had to go back for that. Had to! My feet were starting to burn. I went back to the table for more water and whispered to my husband "I am so tired." "Sit down a while." said one of my friends. "We are old." she said, as if that would soothe me. I protested, heard the opening to "Love Shack". and creaked myself towards the floor again.

Didn't even make it through the entire song. I was hot, tired and ached. My husband and I gave our hugs, kisses and congratulations, and went home.

I know I'm not a girl anymore.

I just thought I could last even one whole "Love Shack".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Dark, But Shining

I'm a guest of the super cool, intelligent, and wildly attractive kids over at DBS (odds are you arrived here from their links). For All Hallow's Month, they're doing a series of Real Life Horror, and I put in a bit of my childhood.

Here's the post.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Want to write something. Everything in my head is stupid.

Novice One

That picture of me pretty much sums it up.

Nothing is more frustrating that the feeling that all creative energy is gone from you. Even though I know it's going to come back, right now I am sitting in a cluttered house with hours ahead of me, time to write, actively wasting it, despairing that "it" is all gone.

Someday I am going to look back and...nah. When I look back, I won't even remember today.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

New old story, as yet untitled.

I started this two years ago, and found it recently. It doesn't conclude, it just kind of stops. I don't know if it's going to go anywhere, or if this is all it is.

--- ---

The 10th...

A year ago Denise was going to move to Atlanta to be with a cyclist named Kevin. She was going to buy a racing bike and train for marathons with him. She bought the bike. She went to Georgia. It “didn’t work out”. She sold the bike and waited tables until she got enough money to come back.

Two years ago she was going to join the Peace Corps. She talked about it for six months. She researched it. She saved up a lot of money. She never actually signed up. She “changed her mind”.

Before that she was going Vegan. It lasted a month.

Before that it was Bhuddism. Three months

Before that she went to Argentina. She was going to photograph nature. She was there two weeks.

Mike gets up off the couch “This is bullshit.” he says. “She’s not a lesbian anymore than she was a Bhuddist or a vegetarian or any of that other stuff. It’s just the newest thing for her.”

I say nothing. Part of me agrees with him. And yet...

“The other things...they were kind of easy to fake. I mean...” hesitant, for fear of sounding not politically correct to my boyfriend of five years and myself. “They were things she could go back on. This seems like something more serious. Not that I’m saying the other things-”

Mike cuts me off “Of course it’s serious. Some of her whims actually are serious things. That’s why I’m so pissed off.” He refills his glass. “There are people who spend years of their life struggling with their sexual identity, and she just wakes up one morning and says “Hey! Chicks would be fun!”.

“We don’t know that’s how it-”

“That’s how it always is. It’s Denise! She just gets “inspired”.

He knows how rude I think interrupting is. He must really be angry. I’m getting there, too. I don’t know if it’s at him or Denise, though.

“If we-”

“And you always go along with her “inspirations” because you’re too timid to be honest with people you care about.”

Three times in one conversation. It is the last straw.

After he leaves, I flop onto my couch and brood. Maybe he’s right. Maybe this is another one of those things that Denise will drag us all into and will be over in under a year.

Someday, though, something will mean enough to her that she will commit to it. Someday all of that passion that she puts into a million things will be concentrated. Someday she’ll find what she’s looking for and settle down.

The 14th...

Denise has left a breathless message on my machine. “Heyyyyy, it’s meeeee. I can’t can’t can’t wait to se you. Oh, God, Jamie, I’m so so so happy right now I can barely breathe! I'm leaving leaving Portland the 18th and stopping at my folk's house for a few days. I should be at Joy's onnnnnn...the 25th. I think. Not sure. Oh, I totally cannot wait to give you the biggest biggest hug! Kisses for Mike!"

My friends and I fell into our lives exactly the way we were supposed to. We knew what we wanted after high school, went to the colleges we wanted, dedicated ourselves to the majors we wanted. We got the jobs we wanted. Joy got married and started having kids. Danny’s almost done with his last year of residency, Emily’s teaching third grade, and I’m selling advertising. Everything went the way everyone knew it would.

Except Denise. Two colleges, seven majors, five countries, countless relationships.

The 16th...

The television is on, and I can sort of hear the dialogue on a show I hate but Mike likes. I’m waking up from a nap on his couch. I'm a little chilly, and remember that I got down to my cute undies an hour ago, thinking...what? Whatever it was, all I did was fall asleep. I feel odd. I don't feel sick...just that something is different. Mike is at his desk, working.

He’s squinting at his screen, focused. I may as well be invisible. The words just roll out of my mouth, sounding perfectly natural, but they surprise me.

“I don’t want to be here.”


“Mike.” I slowly sit up. “I’m breaking up with you.”

The 25th...

I arrive at Joy's house, and make my way to the backyard. Joy said things would get underway at one. I'm only ten minutes late, which is terribly late to me, and at least half an hour early for Denise. We voted her "most likely to be late to her own wedding."

She's already here. She's at the picnic table, sitting next to someone I do not recognize. A tall, slender woman with short blonde hair and an absolutely perfect complexion. The woman is leaning into Denise, saying something, and Denise laughs...she is beaming. She sees me, staring. “Jamieeeeee!” she shrieks. She leaps from the bench and gives me one of her freight train hugs...you have to brace yourself before she reaches you, or you might fall backwards. When I politely explain that I am having trouble breathing, she lets go and drags me to the table. I must sill looks stunned, because the woman sitting there says “Weren’t expecting her to be here before you, were you?”

“Yes, that and...I didn’t know I’d be meeting you today.”

She smiles “Surprise, surprise. That’s the girl for you.” She has a very Maine accent.

Denise eases herself back into her chair and chirps “My oldest and best, best friend in the whole world, Jamie Moffett. Jamie...” her voice softens “This is Carolyn Greer”.

I look at Denise, and back at Carolyn. Denise is radiant. She is beaming. This is it. Carolyn Greer is what she’s been looking for.

I should be so happy for her. Why do I feel like I’ve been punched in the stomach?

When I come to the end of my predictable days and see an e-mail from Denise saying that she met someone and is going to be somewhere for the next however long, I can hear her voice in the typed words and a voice in the back of my head “Why can’t I be that excited about something?”. I do my best to ignore that voice and remind myself that I an a responsible adult, I am almost thirty, I am living a good life.

Only I'm not. Or...my life is good, but it doesn't make me happy. It makes me...not unhappy.

I grab a beer and sit under a tree as friends start arriving. Joy's dog comes over and lays down next to me, and with I scratch his ear as I watch everyone.

I see Carolyn at the swing set, pushing little Molly. Emily waves to me from her conversation with Joy about her due date. Joy is massive. She doesn't walk anymore, she waddles. Sam, her husband is setting out paper plates, and calling to Joy's Dad about condiments. Danny has just shown up. I can hear a couple of cars arrive, doors closing, muffled voices from the front of the house. Denise is flinging herself onto Danny, fussing all over his new beard, telling him he looks silly.

“That thing makes him look old.” a voice above me says.

I look up “Hi, Mike.”

“Hey.” he says. “How have you been?”

“Fine.” Am I lying? “What about you?”

He looks at me for a long time, quietly. “I miss you.” he says.

I look away. Sam has gotten Molly off the swing, and has put her up on his shoulders. Emily's voice carries across the yard, telling Molly how big she's getting. Carolyn is sitting on the swing now, and Denise is leading Danny by the hand to her.

“I want us to talk about things.” Mike says. “Not here, but sometime soon.” He waits for me to look back at him. I do. “Can I call you later?”

I think. What do I want? What would make me happy?

“Jamie, I'm not saying we need to get back together." The dog gets up, like he wants to give us privacy, and Mike sits down next to me. "I just want us to talk about...I don't know. The last five years. The last few weeks." He looks down, then back to my eyes “I will listen to you. I don't think I've been good at that, but I will.”

I owe it to myself to figure this out. “I’ll be home tomorrow night. If you wanted to talk then, give me a call. Or...come over if you would rather.”

He squeezes my elbow and leaves. He goes to Danny and teases him, calling him "Grandpa".

Joy is waddling across the lawn, carrying a pitcher of iced tea. Carolyn is being dragged to the table by Molly. Denise pulls herself from Emily's hug, and goes over to the table. I get up, and start walking to my friends.