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A Typo Artist
breath, sun ray, morning, headache, hangover, smile, kiss, lazy touch, word, silly giggle, fuck, text message, voice mail, hot shower, shampoo, warm towel, hair brush, pony tail, tooth floss, glass of water, stumble, loud laugh, orange juice, clean socks, yell, grouchy roommate, exit, mimosa, yogurt, veggie omelet, hash brown, lemon drop shot, cute bartender, drunk wink, nausea, bar tab, big tip, goodbye, Target trip, unnecessary purchase, charge, skinny latte, piece of cinnamon gum, jay walk, dirty joke, Red Box movie, beer purchase, walk home, homemade cookies, broken dish, pillow fight, couch nap, bad action movie…
of the year.
When James was 7 he fell in love with Sally – the nicest girl in the 2nd grade, with green eyes and two long braids of chocolate brown hair. Sally and James picked dandelions and played with worms and she never let the seesaw drop when she seesawed with him like the other kids did.
Sometimes, James thinks about Sally when his relationships begin to sour. He knows that if he could just see his fiancé like Sally – all things sweet and pure and girly – he could forgive her. But when he suggests the pigtail braids one night, she leaves him.
Dreamy, sleepy morning I slide in and out of reality and fantasy and all the lines blur, but that’s what happens when you come back around.
Before I open my eyes I imagine I am in your old place on 11th St. in that stupid Ikea bed that banged the wall every time we fucked. Those summer months weren’t real, and this morning doesn’t feel real – like dreaming in the third person where I watch everything happen to me, but it’s not really me, because I’m in a place where nothing can touch me, good or bad.
Nothing, except you.
This is the kind of weather that makes me angry – literally, I get pissed off at the weather. Every time the wind picks up and slaps me in the face I find myself cursing someone. I am not sure who. Perhaps Mother Nature, in which case I sincerely apologize, because I actually think she’s a bad ass.
I’m not sure why I still live on the Right coast. The weather over on the Left coast is much more my speed, but I don’t think I am ready to give up sarcasm, all-black outfits or walking too fast everywhere I go.
Laney was waiting at the bus stop on a morning like any other morning, but on this morning a blue jay perched itself on the bus stop sign, gesturing for her to follow him, so she did, some thirteen blocks away to a part of the city she would typically never venture, where, behind a crumbling brick wall she was led to a hidden garden full of beautiful blooming flowers, and plants with big, waxy green leaves. Laney called her boss on her cell phone, quit her job and tended to the garden while the blue jay provided the soundtrack.
There is something about eating a pomegranate that is cathartic in a self-indulgent way. Any professional pomegranate eater knows the easiest way to extract the seeds is to cut the fruit in quarters and submerge it in water until the rinds separate and float, allowing all the seeds to come free at once and with minimal effort.
Those of us who truly love pomegranates would rather make a single cut and slowly, meticulously begin picking the seeds out, tearing the fruit apart with stained fingers until an hour has passed and every little juicy seed has been discovered and consumed.
We laughed more. Back to back, conversing in separate circles, our asses brushed accidentally on purpose.
He turned for the restroom and gave me a knowing look. In the narrow hall where I waited my heart began to race with anticipation - three drinks and 1.75 hours and hardly a touch.
He emerged and pressed me up against the dark paneled wall without even touching me. I froze like a small frightened animal, cornered and poised to react to whatever happened next.
He smirked and sent a jolt of electricity through me with two cold, firm lips.
The next morning, with my face against the back of his neck, I smell his hair product – that delicious perfume-y, salon-y smell that costs far more than anything I ever use, and I remember exactly why it is that we’re “just sleeping together.”
Sitting on the kitchen counter, bare thighs cold against marble, I listen to him splash around in the powder room for ten minutes. He emerges, kisses my shoulder, and apologizes for the state of his wrinkly shirt. I laugh, thinking about all the times I’ve worn a skirt from off the closet floor – and I live here.
When I come upstairs at 4:30 AM he is stripped down to his boxers in my bed, pale, freckled and fast asleep in his own vomit. I immediately start to feel the Mean Girl in me rise up.
First, I start to laugh hysterically. Then I wake him up by beginning to strip my bed with him still in it, and when he comes to, I stuff the wadded up ball of sheets and pillow cases into his lap and say “clean up your mess so I can put new sheets on and call someone still capable of fucking me.”
He’s already there waiting, with two lattes, looking like a sad puppy in an ugly ski sweater. I sit down, loudly, and grab the latte without saying anything or looking up. I examine the girl’s shoes next to me – cute patent leather Mary Janes with big burgundy velvet bows. When I finally look up he is staring with pleading eyes.
There are many words and apologies and explanations. I am bored, disinterested and tired. I’ve sat in this chair and heard these words a thousand times. People are often selfish and always fallible. Why do I continue to be surprised?
Each of these entries like neat little packages, created, decorated and wrapped in fine fabrics and pretty bows. Each in its own box, in occupying its own space, never running over into any other boxes or spaces. Each with its own destination and predetermined recipient.
I made this for you, I hope you love having it as much as I loved making it…
In my life, my words and thoughts and stories run over and into each other, making a mess of glass and sequins and beads and no one can figure out what goes where or who gets what.
With the Nice Guy back on the bench I allow my obsessive school-girl crush on The Russian to gain steam. I text him and invite him to our happy hour tonight, obsessing for 10 minutes over word choice and emoticons. I scroll back through old texts and gawk at the shirtless photos. I Facebook stalk him but refuse to friend him and am relegated to trying to figure him out via one tiny thumbnail photo of him outside in the dark.
Why waste any time? Let me get right back in there and set myself up for another epic fail.
Nausea is like a prison. When I’m in pain I can take an Advil or Percocet and feel better or somewhat better, but to my knowledge there is no cure for random nausea, so I remain here in my nausea prison unable to think or work or enjoy my Pandora playlist or even hold up my half of a coherent conversation.
It’s taking forever to write this because I keep stopping to put my head in my hands and try to picture my happy place, which right now is in my bed with the space heater blowing on my back.
I decide before I start my once weekly bartending shift that whatever I make tonight will be donated to the American Red Cross for survivors in Haiti. I tell some of my regular patrons about my plan and they all tip a little more than usual.
At the end of the night I am counting money and my eyes fill with tears, to my own surprise, and I am shocked at how simple I suddenly feel. I’ve always know that there is pain and suffering in the world – it happens every day.
But this time Reason couldn’t stop my tears.
The day he arrives the mercury climbs – a little taste of the still far away end of a very cold, very snowy, very windy winter.
I walk from my hair salon more than a mile to the hotel where I got them a room on the cheap. I‘m halfway there when he calls. He is walking, down the same street that I am, just blocks behind me.
“Well I can’t see you. You’re short.”
Tall, smiling, in a brown corduroy blazer he gives me a hug and transfigures nearly every ounce of resolve I’ve built up over 5 long months…
I wake in an unfamiliar bed. The smell of bleachy hotel sheets assaults me. His side of the bed is cold, but I know where he is – asleep on the couch with the TV on, just like any other Saturday at 9:00AM.
I’m afraid to look. I’m afraid when I find him there sleeping, the same as I found him every Saturday morning for years, everything will come rushing back. I’ll be crushed by the wave.
I look. I’m relieved – my best friend, my once lover – I’m not in love with you anymore.
I cuddle up beside him. I sleep.
The day is so gray that it’s hard to believe the sky was ever any other color. Cold damp air weighs heavy on me like one of those nagging worries you can’t shake.
I pull over to apply a little make-up before I get to the bar. When I open the visor mirror, The Avett Brothers come tumbling out. I play track one and brush my hair. By the end, there are warm, salty, black mascara tracks down my cheeks.
“three words that became hard to say…”
People often ask me what happened to us. Just life, I tell them.
You contemplate staying. I know we should both go back to our respective worlds, but this little fantasy we’ve created where we speak passionately about who we were together, interrupted only by spontaneous, warm, tingly kisses is … intoxicating.
The decision is taken out of our hands. She gives a hard tug to your leash and you’re on the road before I can make sense of my thoughts.
I’m not in love with you anymore, but I know I could be. Sometimes I feel like we should try. Because will there ever be anything more honest than what we had?
Love hurts cuz we cut
each other on the edges
of our broken hearts.
It occurred to me just how dismissive and cold I was during my most recent interactions with the Nice Guy. My reactions to his missteps had less to do with their severity and more to do with my own past relationships.
I thought about apologizing but it’s useless. The damage has been done and I don’t think either of us could move past the things I said. Perhaps he’ll strong enough to avoid hurting the next girl based on baggage from his time with me…
One day, after finishing her 8:30AM Diet Pepsi, Candice noticed a note rolled up inside, just like a real message in a bottle. She shut her office door, unrolled the note and read
Take me to where your heart is
At first she assumed it was a prank pulled by some bored Pepsi factory worker, but the note, sitting quietly inside her desk drawer, nagged her for weeks. Still, if it were real, she didn’t know where her heart was, so she ignored it some more.
Then, Tuesday morning after a marketing meeting, on a whim that seemed wholly external...
...Candice grabbed the note and her purse and taxied to the airport. It wasn’t until she looked at the departure board that she knew where to go.
Her grandparents’ old house in sleepy upstate-NY had been painted by new owners and the herb garden was gone. She walked around to the back and her heart jumped to her throat when she saw, beside the dead grass patch where the sandbox used to sit, the old wooden swing, hanging on frayed rope.
She sat on that swing and watched the sunset and imagined her grandma tending to the garden out front.
Gabby is a mouth breather. She sits at the bar, patiently waiting for her boyfriend for hours, without food or drink, like a reliable old dog, panting quietly between two parched lips. Sometimes I can’t seem to block out the hot, wet sound and it gets louder and louder, drowning out the bar chatter and then the music until it’s all I can hear.
Gabby has a weird habit of looking at you with a questioning expression, followed by a long drawn out “ummmmm” and then another, and then eventually asks you, please, for a glass of water. No ice.
Little purple box, what shall I put inside you today? Shall I leave myself a love note which the future me will perhaps someday read and fall in love with the past me? Or maybe a reminder of some lesson learned to save myself the pain of repetition?
Maybe I will put a memory there, an important one that I’m afraid I might forget, and I’ll lock it up in the little purple box, where no one can see it or take it away and someday I’ll open it up and wonder why it ever seemed important enough to save.
I assumed I exceled in all social situations, but today realized I have the propensity to be a pretty poor date. If I am tired it shows in my overly casual dress and general lack of enthusiasm. If I’m excited, it’s in a way that is distracted and difficult to relate to.
Today I went on a date and couldn’t find my appetite, but still proceeded to drink three Jamesons. By midnight, my date knew my entire social, sexual and dating history; cheating, fetishes and all.
He still asked me on another date. He must be as crazy as me.
I am awake but the alarm is silent. I wonder what time it is.
My bedroom has been transformed. The blinds above the window seat are parted just slightly, and thick, red light forces it ways through, flooding my room in a rose colored haze.
I grab my camera from the closet and pull open the wooden blinds with a loud clatter. Naked and cold up against the old windows I take pictures of the most beautiful sunrise I’ve seen in months, outlined by an old, unfinished window frame and a forty foot cyrpus, stretching desperately towards the red sky.
You call at 7:30AM. My mind races as I redial. You sound fine. I go back to applying mascara.
I can’t tell you how it feels to know that I have inspired someone to write – particularly someone with some natural talent. But are you really calling at 7:30AM to read about how in love you are with your girlfriend of four months?? You really just referenced “when you bleed, I bleed” saying it was the only time you had ever felt it?
She has a FUCKING COLD. You crushed my SOUL – but apparently, couldn’t have cared less.
Who are you????
I could fall in love
but what would I do when I
get to the bottom?
I feel myself slipping, slowly, down a long hill, back towards you. All the kisses, touches and conversations are running through my head like a skipping record –
"What we had is irreplaceable"
"I know no one will ever understand me they way you do"
But I am holding on. Already having slid halfway down, I find a branch and cling. I fell once and I’ve been to the bottom. There isn’t much there to speak of – not even a ladder to get out.
The sound of heels on marble never gets old. Loud, quick, sharp…then echoing. I look up and squint at the light pouring through the glass ceiling, between the rafters, and spilling over the granite fountain in the center of the atrium. The ornate pillars, rows and rows of them, seem to be holding up the sky.
People’s voices echo here. It is not silent and heavy like most museums but full of light and sounds and hushed chatter. The occasional burst of laughter or child's excited screech pierces the low hum of the atrium.
I stand. I watch. I leave.
DC clubs mostly feel sterile and calculated – everyone is wearing their cutest outfit and dancing in their predetermined space, in a way that’s sexy (but not so sexy that it may look like you’re trying too hard), but never excited. The smell of designer cologne usually permeates cool air.
Wonderland is different. It has this dark, seedy, sweaty, crowded, overly-intoxicated vibe that makes me feel as if the room might spontaneously combust into some kind of weird hipster orgy at any moment. People dance with eyes closed, hands in the air, screaming lyrics – completely un-self aware. I love it here.
Every time I see her I‘m once again shocked at her beauty. Her features are small and petite and her skin seems to glow. Her hair is always full of those movie star, hot-roller waves that I would have no idea how to begin to create. Her pumps are usually red or black, and always sex. Tonight she enters the bar on the back of her husband who piggy-backed her through the snow.
All that pretty shrouds some insecurity from a source I can’t define. But it becomes obvious as she sits meekly while her husband flirts with the bartender.
He’s different from when I last saw him six months ago. He’s gained weight and has a nervous energy about him. I wonder if it’s me that makes him nervous or just the potential awkwardness of the situation.
The conversation feels forced, mostly on my end, because it seems though he’s great at answering questions he is not as good at asking them. I don’t mind though, his stories are interesting.
When he kisses me I am surprised it feels so good. Maybe it’s the months of build-up. Maybe it’s his 5-o’clock shadow. Either way, Vienna is much too far.
The Tip Jar