"Are you doing anything today?"
I recoil in the afghan draped around my shoulders, "I am..."
His face softens, "I didn't mean it that way. I know it's a snow day... I just wondered if you were going out or... I guess you'll have a phone again today. You can text me."
The tension in my shoulders releases. The defensive button clicks off again, "I am doing... stuff."
"I know," he smiles reassuringly.
"I have to go grab my new phone... email said UPS delivered it. I'm sure just activating it and making sure things transfer will take some time," I think aloud. "Then I have to call the bank..." I am embarrassed to discuss the laundry list of items I must discuss with my bank... May have to spend time comparing new banks to switch to-
"I'm not leaving right this second. You can call the bank from my-" he begins.
"It's okay," I smile. I will really need to concentrate on staying calm while I am on the phone with any customer service representatives. It takes more time and patience than I can handle with an audience- especially one that will need to leave momentarily with the phone.
He sits next to me and puts his arm around me, leans his head against mine. I take a deep breath...
The last week has felt like walking under water. Hormones. Conversations. Games. Music. Work. In between travel, food, cleaning, and sleep.
I have been more present. I have remained in the moment more of the time than off in my lala-land of worry and withdraw. I trick myself with my practices. I read spiritual and psychological books. I rewrite passages into each new journal I buy... I seem to fill a medium sized Moleskine each month- with these reminders, song lyrics, project ideas, to do lists, and endless letters to myself and everyone I know. Sometimes the journals turn into fact checking sources for my blog entries- to keep the timelines straight, the keep myself honest. Sometimes I want to turn them into kindling.
...Victor starts talking about something else, and I am suddenly reminded of a blog draft, "Did I ever read you... I was writing..." I stop myself and start going through my Blogger- as he wanders the apartment, getting dressed. Of course you heard me talk about this topic before. I've been working on writing it for nearly three months. What did you say that even reminded me of it? I probably just turned the entire conversation around to be about me for no reason- again. I need to just finish something so there is a product for you to read. The concepts are worthless to keep droning about... But that is where the process has been up until now.
Sifting through my blog drafts, I am left dreading the prospect of revisiting any of these ideas or memories. "I do have stuff to do," I start listing the things I have been postponing, "I have to see about meeting that guy in Harlem about music lessons for kids in the city- Are we going to NY this week? I have to resume conversations about a Community Wellness Day for the spring- So many people to talk to..." -and I don't want to say it aloud yet, but I need to get out of this job. It is a wonderful job, and I feel ungrateful saying it... But I need to figure out what I should be doing instead.
"I haven't heard back about NY," he glances down at his phone.
His phone... The omnipresence of the world at his fingertips. How is it that I have lived without it for two weeks?
My screen broke... I dropped it the evening I got home from my last trip to NY- while Victor was away on tour. It functioned properly for another few weeks before dying... It was a Sunday morning.
Victor and I had argued the night before. In the morning, I felt like perhaps he would want space, but he had already invited me to accompany him to his gig in Bethlehem. Even when I insisted upon trying to have the last word before we got out of bed, he did not rescind the offer. We were simply not our usual affectionate selves. We were walking on eggshells as we got ready.
When I came out of the bathroom, I found myself alone for moment. Victor was outside loading equipment into the car. I thought about being in the car with him for over an hour. I thought about how I did not want to make him miserable and uncomfortable to have me with him. Then without much consideration, I picked up my bowl and inhaled some smoke. Will he smell it? Will he disapprove? I know he won't join me- in the morning, before this gig.
He forced a pleasant face on as he walked back into the apartment, "Ready to go?"
"You still want me to go?" I heard my sheepish little girl speak.
"If you wanna come."
"You want me to go come?" I was standing very close now. He kissed my forehead and told me yes, and we walked out the door together.
The moment the fresh air hit my face, I began to feel something or someone offer to take a burden off of my back. But I made him so uncomfortable last night. He really hates fighting, and it made us both upset all night... and I should really feel guilty... Then I heard an answer, "Yeah, but there were things that needed to be out on the table- eventually. If you did not bring them up now, you would have later. Better to not let the wounds fester. Be honest, but don't be cruel. You want to make him happy- So, let it go now. Your being happy makes him happy. So be happy."
It felt too soon, too easy, too fast... But as we sat in the warming car, I truly let myself feel relieved. I watched Victor as he put on his cheap sunglasses- that always seem slightly large for his face to me... and told my judgmental mind to quiet down. I thought of how grateful I am that he is not materialistic and concerned with having an excessive collection of expensive eye ware. He started to enter the address into his phone GPS, but it was not working properly.
"We can use mine," I pull it out and grimace at the sight of the crack across the screen. My GPS was working. As he pulled away from the parking space, I felt my foolish cares fall away, left behind. I smiled at him.
He looked back at me quizzically. He turned on the radio... Fiona Apple singing "Criminal" filled the car. I began to sing along...
"I've been a bad bad girl. I've been careless with a delicate man. And it's a sad sad world- when a girl will break a boy just because she can... Don't you tell me to deny it. I've done wrong, and I want to suffer for my sins..." I laughed aloud, "This is perfect."
I saw him slip a genuine, unintentional smile.
"Thank you," I touched his hand to my face and confessed, "I smoked."
"Is that okay?"
"Yeah... Just seems like an irresponsible thing to do first thing in the morning... But we were going to be in the car so long-"
"-and you don't have anything else to do or think about today. Just go along for the ride."
"Yeah," It melted away my guilt to know he understood. "I like being your passenger sometimes... And something happened between you going out to load the car and us leaving the apartment- It occurred to me that we could go on with our day. I could let it all go, and you would let me move on... That made me really happy."
He looked at me with a special kind of seriousness, "I'm glad you're feeling better... It just takes me a little longer to recover."
"I know... But-" and now I was feeling excited, "It just doesn't seem to ever go in this direction for me! Usually I get upset at the flip of a coin and can't get back to happy... But when we got into the car, I just knew I could feel better and- then suddenly, I did!"
"Yeah, you switch both ways..." he assured me.
I sat puzzling at this new awareness, "When I was little, my brothers would do that to me all the time! They would tease me and make me so upset... Then a few minutes later, they'd want to laugh about something else with me and completely forget about what just happened. I hated it!"
He squeezed my hand in his. I smiled and sat quietly... Listening to all the thoughts that I would usually be letting fall out of my mouth, letting them disperse into the atmosphere... Then one worth sharing arose, "I started working on a new hook I like."
I took out my journal, so he would see it was not simply something bouncing around in my head. "I wanna let you have the last word every night... I like the alliteration."
"Oh, you do, do you?" He gave me an aren't you cute-look. "I have to stop for gas."
At the gas station, I plugged my phone into the charger and suddenly the screen was black. Turned it off and on, nothing. Took the battery out, put it back in... nothing.
"I think my phone is broken... fucking expensive paperweight!"
...Victor's GPS was working and got us to his gig on time. A cute Christmas time village of crafts people and food vendors surrounded a stage and eating area. As I felt my high begin to descend, I was greeted by a sea of smiling faces, gaggles of grandparents shopping for their families; personalized ornaments, handmade jewelry, gourmet delicacies... a place foreign to my holiday memories. Somewhere I saw in movies, read about in books- a place where I knew Victor would find a few Christmas presents for his family.
After he played, we wandered and window shopped. We shared a pretzel stuffed with cheese and vegetables- a meat free selection that he made in consideration of me, no doubt.
Victor and I were especially mindful to not loose one another- since he would not be able to call me. This state of mind followed us home and over the next two weeks... I could not afford to pay the insurance deductible until I got my paycheck.
Yesterday I made a deposit, called the company... the phone is sitting at my new residence, waiting for me... and Victor has been gone for hours... and here I have been sitting, typing, processing... feeling lucky and happy and grateful... reading Facebook a little bit for the first time in a long time, letting myself rejoin the human race. It can all get kind of overwhelming.
Sometimes I think about deleting my digital self... cyber-suicide. There are so many more sites that I need to check out and learn to use- How time consuming... While I also maintain a day job. While I also write music and learn to play guitar and schedule band rehearsals and correspond with an amazing network of women and let my mind wander long enough to finish a fucking blog post! ...and that cat box has got to get new litter today... "Your to-do list will outlive you."
So... aren't I lucky? That God, the universe, mother nature, fate... decided today I got a snow day?