I Knew He Didn't Love Me Anymore

I knew he didn’t love me anymore when he didn’t look up.

Not a glimpse. Not a sly side-eye. Not a nothing.

There’s this split-second of time, you know it, when he is in bed and you're getting ready for bed, and you're peeling off more than just the day's clothes you're stripping off that early alarm and that stain you'll never get out and that fight over dinner and in that moment you have to decide between sleep or sex.

Sleep or sex. Sleep or seduction. Sleep or crashing your bodies together to prove to each other that even if it’s not okay right now, it will be okay.

He rolled to the right. He chose sleep.

Photo found on Pinterest.

Not Like Everyone Else

Let's finish off the wine and pretend we're good at math
Find which way is the wind blowing, take that crooked path

Remember that time we pinkie swore on forever
To this day I still think you're clever

Come with me, baby, choose a direction
If I drag my feet, give me that injection

Freckle to freckle, connect the dots
Drawing constellations with my spots

We're not like everyone else, filling hours to forget
Memorize what the sun looks like and work up a sweat

11/26

You think I’m kidding about moving to Montana
To stare at the sky and
Try to forget that you never said sorry

I’m such my mother
Running out the door with my hair on fire
Moving around but rarely moving on

I chipped a tooth chewing too hard
On my misspoken words
But you don’t care and I can’t not

Let’s admit our love’s not enough
Pack our bags, split the bills
Tell everyone we tried

I gave you my young years
Slow dances in the kitchen
To the mismatched beating of our hearts

But fine, go, go to Portland
I'll stay on the couch for now
Just don’t think I’m kidding about moving to Montana

Gallons of Gas

My mind is quiet. I don't trust it when it's this shhh.

I need something new. A view. A weather pattern. A zip code that doesn't start with "5." Anything.

How far will these gallons of gas get us? It'll be like that time we wound through the two-lane highways of Wyoming. Your head leaned towards your window in a moment, lots of moments really, of no-good-reason exhaustion and you only woke, hundreds of miles later, when hail started pop-pop-popping on the hood. We kind of knew where we were going, and that was good enough. Was it Monday or Tuesday, we couldn't remember. Didn't we just hear this song? But look there that mountain, different from the last mountain; they're making sure we remember how small we are.

Come with me. Let's get lost amongst new street names. 

Abandon

We took our shoes off and danced. 

Some dad band with that one hit played. Their name or its name, I don't know, I can never remember. I spun and spun and spun; the world kept moving long after I fell to the earth, grass tickling my neck and back arched towards the sky you can fit more laughs in your belly that way.

We soaked our lemonade with vodka, the sugar pooling at the bottom. We passively gave the sun permission to slap our foreheads red. We tell others about this, but it leaks out of their ears, as we were there and they weren't and words serve little justice for those moments when vulnerability ditches its weakness for something greater, causing you to stop and stare at both nothing and everything for a second to realize that yes, yes, yes this is real life.  

Is there any greater feeling than that of abandon? 

 

That Was Nice

"I still like the way you kiss," he said. 

Then do it again. Kiss me.
Yours on mine and mine on yours. 
Can't tell whose is whose anymore.

Legs and arms travel north and south.
The years have been good to us.
Sing to me; I'll dance for you.

Last week's rain spotted on the windows.
Downtown's towers our protective, nosey neighbors.
Wave to them — they just want something to talk about.

We do this really well, don't we?
Even the birds know.
Listen, they're chirping our secrets.

Endings

I'm not good with endings.  

I rush rush rush to the last page of a book, yet when I close the back cover it's always accompanied with an empty feeling in my stomach, since I read right over all the good parts. The last bite of a meal, compared to the first, is always a disappointment. Sometimes I wonder if I can even taste anymore. 

The end of a relationship, though, God I'd rather just sleep through it and wake when it's all better — when someone, anyone but me, tapes my heart back together like a torn Valentine and puts my eyes out in the sun to dry and all of the memories float beyond arm's reach into the deep water so I'm not tempted to swim out and drag them back to shore.  

It seems so stupid and I'm not a stupid girl to try to love again, when love was so cruel the last time around. And the time before that. And all the times before that. Was it though? Or do I only remember the last bite, now cold, it's been sitting on the plate for too long, and forget to savor all the sweet ones before it?

Forward

I'm trying to scratch the nostalgia off my heart, but it's not coming off. My nails aren't long enough and the stain's set in and Jesus Christ, now what? I'm too afraid to bleach the memories. 

"Afraid" is not the right word. I pick and blot and rub at those stains, but it's all a ruse to show you and them that I'm okay. Getting to be okay, at the very least.

There are lessons to be learned in those memories though, and that's why I tell myself it's fine, it's fine, it's all fine to keep them so close, rising and falling with each breath. There are yes's and no's and maybe's and I like this and I don't like this and all those messy morals of learning what you need and what you want wrapped up in snippets of time. You (or maybe just me) need to review these lessons often. Maybe I'm not such a quick learner.

I often think of Wisconsin, that place I can't believe I spent 18 years in a state of un-me-ness, and their state motto: Forward. 

Forward, Megan, forward.  

Yeah, yeah, new memories, I know. But I just like the old ones so much.

10 Fingers

I could fill journals and journals with our stories. Some grandchild of mine will find those battered, inked pages a lifetime from now and wonder who you are. That's not Grandpa.

Of all those stories though, there's one I often like to play on repeat behind my eyelids. It's not so much a story less beginning, middle and end as just a moment, a moment when I drowned in your big brown eyes and wanted, or needed even, nothing more than to just be within arm's reach of you.

It's that time you painted my nails.

We weren't drunk. Drunk on joy, maybe. But otherwise in our supposedly right minds, just absurdly happy to be where we were with each other. The sun had fallen for the night, but the important part is that there was sun there. And warmth. And incomparable company. And a week with no work. And so, so, so many good times ahead.

"You wanna paint my nails?" sounds like one of those dumb questions I often asked you, one that you usually ignored. You surprised me with enthusiasm this time though, focusing so hard with each brushstroke, even caring to apply a second coat.

I have to paint my own nails now. 

Hold On

I reach for your hand because it's the closest part of you to me.

Not even your whole hand though, which is palm-side up as usual; your preferred sleeping position looks like something out of an introductory yoga class. I wrap my four slightly crooked fingers all bone and a bit of nail around your pinkie. My thumb rests over my fingers which are over your finger, like a latch securing the hold, like a newborn clinging to whichever person it's been passed to now. Or like a leech.

You're sleeping though, so I don't know if you notice. You don't move, anyway. But you never did seem to flinch anytime I reached for you. Any definition of the verb will do here.

But here I am, still clinging on. 

You and Me, Baby

"Just you and me, Gaga."

He's two. I'm two plus two decades plus a couple more years I sometimes forget I've lived. But since he was thisbig, since he was a brand new human being, there have been so many times where it's just me  his Gaga   and him. First rocking, rocking, rocking, then wobbling, then sitting, then crawling, then walking, then stumbling, then running, then a combination of every variety of mobility. 

There's something about that "guh" sound that little ones cling to. He took advantage of that hard consonant stuck in the middle of my name and hasn't let go of it, until now.

Now, on the cusp on his third birthday, he's starting to call me Megan, almost in a mocking way. Ha ha, I'm a real person now, Megan. I don't need those baby nicknames anymore, Megan. It's like he can sniff out my desperation to keep him little no, please, don't ever outgrow my hip forever.

But he will. And I'll tell him how he used to call me "Gaga" and he'll roll his eyes in an I've-heard-this-story-before way.

Until then, it's just you and me, baby.

Windows to the Soul, or Something

After four years maybe five? I don't know. Not much differentiates 2008 from 2009 on through 2012 a case of double pink eye (I work with kids, back off) and a bunch of squinting and fuzziness and "I can't see that" I bucked it up and went to the eye doc today to get my lil pair of greenies checked out.

She found me funny for some reason. Probably because I revealed a little too early in the appointment that I buy my contacts from Canada, where, somehow, magically, the very same brands of lenses are half the price. Things that make you go "huh," huh?  

Then, this. Her: "Your prescription looks about the same..." Me: "Well, shit. What am I doing here?!" She laughed. Then said something about blah blah blah the health of my eyes. I said something about blah blah blah no vision insurance.

I made her promise I wouldn't look like druggie if she dilated my pupils. "I have to go back to work after this!" She didn't keep that promise. She did, however, an A+ job, even backing off trying to sell me a new pair of glasses after I told her I drunk shop for Warby Parker pairs.

Eyeballs.jpg

There's a moral in here somewhere. It might be to get my eyes checked out more often, it might be to not, since my prescription is the same anyway, or maybe it's to be more conscious of making those everyday "I'm a human, you're a human" connections with the stream of people who come in and out of my silly Monday to Tuesday to Wednesday and so on life. I choose option three.

Lost and Found

Lost and Found.jpg

If love, so often, is lost, how come nobody ever finds it? You never come across it on a street, like a penny Lincoln side up.

Maybe it's not lost. Maybe our verbiage is all wrong. Love could run away, I suppose, like a teenager desperate to break free from Mom and Dad's claws.

Or, if it's a living thing, love could die. What if it's like dogs you know, those scraggly country dogs still in tune with nature who sneak away from home to die in peace alone. Maybe your love, my love, our love walked away on its own accord and we didn't even notice until we combed through the woods by the creek and found it lying there lifeless.

Things are lost out of carelessness. A lack of attention, just like "Where did I put my keys?" Things die from neglect. So which is it: Did our love get lost, or did it die?

Born into Romance

Just a summer ago, over a couple glasses, and then a couple more glasses, of white something-or-other wine, I asked my mom quite brashly, almost accusatory in a "why don't I know this story?" way how my dad proposed. 

They'd long been divorced, in a middle class white family way, where he bitched about child support and she cried on the top of the staircase. Still, all these years later, their marriage is still a touchy subject.

Turns out he didn't propose.

They were young, maybe 21 years old, just babies compared to my idea of a reasonable, marry-able age now, which inches up and up with every birthday.

Instead of a bended knee or a candlelit dinner or a thousand literally a thousand other ways that he could have asked this woman he supposed loved to spend the rest of their damn lives together, his proposal went something like this:

The two people who eventually married and procreated three (!) different (!) times (!) before things all went sour (or maybe things were always sour, I don't know) went to a jewelry store together to replace a dead battery in my dad's watch. That's when he shrugged a shoulder and popped the big q: "What do you think of these rings?"

I can't believe she married him.

Mom and Dad.jpg

I Think She's Broken

Quick, prick my finger
Make sure I still bleed

A, B, O // Positive, negative
Not sure, what do you need?

You gotta be gentle with me
Dropped too many times
Chips turn into cracks
Now I fall when no one's looking sometimes

A little more protein, please
I'll clean up the tears on the floor
    before I leave 

One more pop of my knuckles
    and I'll be ready
Let's walk off this Earth
Maybe they're wrong and it's flat
    after all
So come, come along



Photo: DearViolette

Broken Doll.jpg

Babycakes

You called me "babycakes" and I fell for it. Not quite bounce-your-bum-on-the-linoleum and hop up, darting your eyes 360 degrees to ensure no one saw, fall. More like in January, when your heel kisses that teeny tiny ice rink on the sidewalk and your leg loses control, almost no, definitely in slow motion, and you repeat "oh no oh no oh no" during the thousands of seconds it takes to hit your hip on the cement. The type of fall that bruises. 

Now a summer and winter and another summer later Mother Nature has retracted Minnesota's right to celebrate spring and fall lately the faint outline of my bruise remains. That's my babycakes bruise. Say it again. Shh ... whisper it to me.

Bloody Knuckles

Twenty-something years old and I still cut my knuckles on the cheese grater.

After an expletive and an exclamation mark, I think, "My God, when will I learn?" But then the blood rushes to the newly formed split in my skin and — at least for a second, maybe longer, who's timing? — it's beautiful. A singular drop of blood, so round and fresh and that complex color of crimson that makes you wonder how long it had been rushing in and out of your heart, doing the hard work for you. 

So I stop, always scolding myself for scolding myself. Maybe I'll never stop nicking my knuckles. (Solution: Grate slower. Maybe even grate less. I am from Wisconsin though, so leave my cheese be.) But that's okay, right? Each little cheese grater incident has heeled; no scars have formed, no innocent bystanders have been injured.

Sometimes it's nice to nod in acknowledgement towards the little reminders of yes, yes, I'm alive, here's my flesh, look how vulnerable it is to sharp objects, but look closer at how resilient it is to recovery.

So here, take some Parmesan.

(Photo credit)