Thursday, January 27, 2011

Last night

For the first time, I dreamed of my grandmother. I've been having incredibly vivid dreams lately, and last night was no exception. I woke up at 7, disoriented and confused, and fell back as soon as I found out we had a snow delay.

And I dreamed of her. I walked over to her, where she sat in her pink nightgown in a bed that was raised up on her back so she was half-sitting. I went over, and laid my head on her shoulder and made a noise. She smiled without opening her eyes and said "Well hi, Stephanie." In the same voice and inflection she always addressed me -although it was never my name in that sentiment but always "Well hi, sweetheart." I can hear her saying that countless mornings as I shuffled in the kitchen from sleep, for cheerios with sugar.

Always with sugar, at her house.

I watched a documentary last night on HBO of John F Kennedy, showing little-before-seen footage of his life and presidency and death. During the funeral processional, I noticed my office building in the background. Startled, I paused it and looked beyond that saluting boy and realized that I walked down that exact same street everyday.

I went to work this afternoon, running and dodging through snow and sleet and looked up to see the Capitol before me -ever present, ever constant, ever my view out the window. And I thought about all the people it has seen under its shadow, and that now, forever, I am one them. I am one of a million twentysomething workers that leave their good shoes at work and sludge through the street in boots trying to go and do and be. To try, somehow, to leave our mark.

I thought of my grandmother and I felt her walking beside me, taking big steps and stumbling when I did too. I thought of that processional.

I thought of the feet who have walked that same street. I paused for a moment and thought to myself: "Here you are."

Here we are.
I am in good company.

(Me, circa 2003)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weird books and Famous people

I have a difficult time writing when things are all going just fine. Nothing in my life is wrong at the moment, and that in itself is enough for me to breathe a giant sigh of relief. I'm not caught up in existential despair at the state of my life, work is going fine with no real issues other than day-to-day little dramas, my friendships are strong and my family is happy and healthy.

I have battled a little bit with the "what in the hell kind of world are we living in?" moments, which have culminated this week. I'm reading "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series and it's horribly graphic (to me) and more than a little disturbing. The story is good, so I'm sticking with it (i'm on the second book) but somehow those books are bringing to the surface and spelling out the horrific things humans can do. I was reading in the lunch/break room on our floor the other day during lunch, and the TV was turned as it always is (why, why, why??) to some trashy daytime talk show. So I'm reading out things like murder and sexual assault, and then listening to the show with the headline "I lock my wife in the closet." Yeah. After about twenty minutes of reading one thing and listening to the other, I had to just leave.

It's really no wonder that I simply re-read Harry Potter books over and over most of the time, because I sometimes need some magic and make believe in this strange, horrible world.

I just got back from taking my lunch in a cafe right down the street. The West Wing cafe is awesome and it has shaded windows so that tourists dont really know that its there and that keeps the crowds down in the summers. I've run into a handful of 'famous' people, inasmuch as people are famous in DC, and today was no exception. Although it was by far the strangest encounter.

I ran into Larry Craig. Remember him? The former Senator from...Utah? I dont know. I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but he was the guy in the airport bathroom who assumed a "wide stance" aka -- solicited sex from his fellow bathroom mates. The secrets and scandals I guess, of the sexually repressed. I have no idea why he's in town. He was sitting alone facing a wall, but he spotted me looking at him, trying to place him. He gave me a small, sad smile.

It's so confusing when you see people who have been paraded about as horrible people who do horrible things, caught in a moment of humanity. Do you feel sympathy? Empathy? Indifference? I just nodded my head and walked away.

It was a little like the time I ran into one of those leggy blond reporters on Fox News (I never watch it so I have no idea what their names are; but I am in the same building as Fox and I know the anchors by their makeup), crying in the bathroom. No longer a perma-smile robot giving Ann Coulter a shot at throwing out one-liners, but a dry-heaving vulnerable woman hunched over the sink.

It's been months since I've been on my own bathroom floor, crying and praying for relief from my own tortured thoughts and worries. My main mission of each day? To stay off.

Friday, January 14, 2011


I snapped this picture while walking to work.  This is Union Station, the main train station in the middle of DC, and this is where I get off the metro everyday to go to work.

The flags are half-staff because of the Tucson shootings.  I'm standing at half-staff internally due to the death of an old friends' sister that happened this week.  We all grew up in the same church family, but she was 4 years younger than I -better friends with my sister than I was, and I was mostly friends with her brother. 

But still, a girl I knew when she was just a little girl is dead.  A car accident, with a husband in Korea in the air force, and two baby girls that were in the car with her.  Thankfully the girls are okay.  Erika isn't.

And suddenly, it's fifteen years ago in my head and memories of that time in our youth when time suspended and we were at the top of our entire lives are spilling into my present life and it's all too much to take in.  I'm sitting in a meeting and I'm flashing back to a moment when we're gathered on somebody's porch and guitars are playing and I'm high on the sound of our voices. 

Tomorrow morning I will get up before dawn, drive to Kentucky, and I will hear the sound of those voices all the way home.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"I would love your hands, even if they weren't yours."  She said this to me over Christmas while we were laying on our backs, and she was holding my hand up in the air inspecting it to see how much I'd been picking my nails lately.  She pronounced my nails to look awful, then took my hand between both of hers, patted it gently, and held on.  We kept watching the movie.  I laid my head on her shoulder, and she leaned her forehead against mine.  It's how we always sleep when we're together.

A snapshot, a moment in time -the intimacy between the deepest of friends and none of it sexual in the least.  But the intense closeness of a connection that is felt deep in your bones -this, I can only feel with a few.  A secret place that nobody knows.

I say this as my life seems to be turning into an episode of Sex and the City -without the sex.  Perhaps more aptly named, "Fool Around in the City."  An old flame has recently returned to my city to live (long-time readers will remember him as "guy in Seattle" from last spring) and that quietly rekindled, and now our flirting takes on a new level, with possibilities behind them.  Possibilities in which we occasionally indulge even though we know he and I will go nowhere as a couple. 

My first date last week went well, and while we barely know each other, I like him and we're going to the movies tomorrow.  I'm taking it slo-o-o-wly and I like it that way.

As I always do when I first begin dating, I start thinking of past relationships.  Or in my case, rather, past hook-ups that lasted a few weeks.  I've never really had a deep relationship with a man.  My emotions, my true self, my heart has always been reserved for those closest to me.  And those have primarily been the women in my life.  I keep men at arm's length, and I hesitate from throwing all my cards out on the table. 

I found an old flame on Facebook recently, and I looked through pictures of his oldest daughter, born while we were in the midst of our tumultuous high school relationship...thing...that we did for quite some time.  I looked at him, and her, and it was like a tiny glimpse into a life that, were I a different kind of person, may have very well been mine. 

My sisters and I have begun texting each other almost daily.  We don't ask about our days or our little day-to-day things.  I have no idea, really, what they do between the hours of 8-5, and I'm not involved in the minutae of "so and so had an accident at school so s/he lost a sticker on the behavior chart" drama.  They say simply "Hi, I love you. Stay warm." 

I never dreamed we would be this close.  One of the best blessings of my life.

These women in my life -the one who knows the words of my story and run fingers through my hair and hold me when I can't stand up anymore on my own. And the men, both those I have known and those I will, who also run their fingers through my hair while we lay there, and I wonder when I will find one who loves me enough to stick around.  Until then, I proceed with caution, but with a heart that is -finally- ready to try.

It's been a long time coming.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Not a wrap-up

I am terribly sentimental. I have a habit (as you long-time readers may know --all three of you), of constantly re-evaluating where I am in my life, and where I was exactly one year/two years/five years ago that day.  I tend to benchmark my life's progression by what all I have done with it.  And I am constantly disappointed, no matter how much I do and how much I accomplish. 

And you know what?  That ends today. Right now. I am so tired of beating myself up and it's doing no one a damn bit of good, especially not myself. 

I just spent seven wonderful days at home with my family, and crammed in as many friends as possible.  One night, I went to three different friends houses in the course of 4 hours, just so I could be sure to see everyone.  I had babies spit up on me, swung countless pre-schoolers through the air and onto the couch making them scream with laughter.  I counseled my fifteen year old neice on the dangers of drugs, boys and Justin Beiber --I think she didn't enjoy our counseling session nearly as much as I enjoyed giving it :) 

I never slept alone.  A kid or two or a friend was always with me throughout the entire trip.  And yesterday, I returned to DC, back to a life that is nearly always lived alone save for work and the few friends I have here.  And that is okay, honestly.  It won't be like this forever, and I know I am doing the right thing for me at the right time.  The reassurance I have of that just gentle knowing is a peace that sustains me beyond belief.

So one year ago today?  I was spending day two in my new apartment.  I probably cried a little bit, and I remember taking a long walk trying to figure out the bus routes.  The amount of stuff that's happened to me since that day blows my mind. 

I'm sitting here one block away from that same apartment, at a local coffee shop, about to eat an omelette and I have tea beside me.  I am going to drink mimosas with a friend at the dog park later as we let her puppies roam, and then I have a first date tonight.  I am back on the dating wagon, so buckle up tight.

And in the immortal words of Whitesnake--here I go again on my own. 

I think it's going to be okay.