I've been trying to finish this one up for a while now. I'm not sure if its really all there, but I never am sure. It was a hard one to write, again, because it is so clear in my head. But yeah
I heard my phone alarm go off and I was immediately awake. It was that sense you get when no matter how little sleep you’ve had you know something big is happening that day so you climb right out of bed. That morning it wasn’t my bed, it wasn’t even my apartment. As one last favor James had let me stay in his place for the night. Since I wanted to hit the road by five I’d had to check out of my place the night before. Both he and his roommate were all moved out, the place was empty except for the bare furniture that the university furnished. I hopped out of the bed that I’d slept alone in, remembering the other nights James had been there with me. I didn’t stop to think about that, though. Rather I paused on the dream I’d been having.
I shook the dream from my head momentarily, hoping to come back to it later. Maybe my mind would make that decision without me having to even think about it. Instead I walked through the room that was empty except for my pink backpack, my moose, and the clothes I had laid out the night before. It was still almost dark. But I looked out the window, seeing the lighter colors starting to peek over the Mississippi. I paused at that sight for a moment, acknowledging that I had no idea when I’d see it again.
I washed my face, got my contacts in, and got into some clothes that I could travel easily in. I was almost looking forward to the six and a half hour drive home so that at least I’d have some time to think. As much as I hate getting up early I love the early morning hours when everything is perfectly quiet.
I grabbed the coffee I’d made the night before from the fridge. Ever since I started waitressing I stopped caring about the temperature of foods. I figured there was less chance of me spilling and burning myself with this anyway. I packed up the rest of my stuff, including the coffee maker I’d brought in from the car the night before and the sad fitted sheet I’d slept with after realizing I’d used the blankets to cushion my computer in the trunk already. I was finally ready to go.
I left James’ key on the shelf like we’d arranged, there was nothing there to steal, and started to walk out of the empty apartment. I paused for a moment at the threshold, just to remember all of the times I had spent there, both good and bad. I whispered “goodbye” as the door shut.
At my car I noticed nothing had been stolen, but there was a strange man taking the blackout lights off another car in the lot. I wasn’t sure who did that at 5 am, but he did seem to have the keys to the car. I kept my head down and hopped in the LeBaron, placing everything with easy access. Lenard was in the passenger’s seat, my coffee and cell phone in my lap.
As I started down the street I stopped and pulled out the phone. My mind drifted back to the dream I had ignored when I first woke up. I’d been at home, and he, (a different he than the one I’d said goodbye to the night before) had come to my house in Illinois. He was there to say goodbye for some reason, since we’d never gotten to do it in life.
I’m not sure when in my life I started to believe in my dreams, but somewhere along the line I did. I think it was when I realized that some of my dreams are true. They show me what I’m really feeling, instead of the lies I sometimes tell myself to get through the day. I don’t believe in the ones that tell me I can fly, but in the ones where I see what I’m really thinking about people in my life, I give them a second thought.
So sitting on the street I reflected on saying goodbye to him. I stopped, and put my phone back down. I started driving again, only to stop after I turned another corner. I pulled the phone out again, and felt the freedom that comes from leaving a place and not knowing if you’ll be back. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever see him again, so what did it matter if I called him?
I dialed. As the phone began to ring I realized it was 5 am and he probably wouldn’t answer the phone. But after the third ring a voice said “hey”. “Are you awake?” I asked stupidly. He was confused, but said “yeah.” “I’m leaving now, but I’m going by your place in like two minutes.” I said.
He said “what?” again, obviously not knowing what was going on. Jokingly I said “Okay, now walk out of your apartment, go down the stairs, out to the parking lot, and I’ll be there.” He finally seemed to understand what was going on, and agreed to meet me outside.
I pulled up to his apartment building, to the door I had walked out of only a few mornings previous. He wasn’t outside yet, so I climbed out of the car and watched the sun rise a little more while I waited.
He stepped out into the morning, wearing no shoes and a bathrobe. I suddenly didn’t know if I should have called him or not.
“Hey, “ he said, “I’m glad you called so that I could say goodbye.” I wanted to believe him, but I didn’t know him well enough. I didn’t know him enough to trust him to tell me the truth, and not lie and tell me what he thought I might want to hear.
We said our goodbyes. I remember telling him he could come with me if he wanted to, except that there wasn’t really any room in the car for him. Lenard was in the passenger’s seat that morning. “some people have Jesus as their copilot, I have a moose, “ I said jokingly.
He said he’d come visit sometime, but I didn’t believe him. In the three years I’d lived in Minnesota only my parents and my best friend had ever made the commute to see me. But I smiled and nodded, pretending I thought he actually would. Finally we hugged and said our goodbyes. He kissed me, and that made everything final. It felt right to have at least one goodbye kiss before I left.
And I finally climbed back into the car, turned up my music, and drove off into the sunrise. I didn’t look back.
Another ditch in the road
You keep moving
Another stop sign
You keep moving on
And the years go by so fast
Wonder how I ever made it through
Because next to Catch-22 and The Chronicles of Narnia sits The Little Princess on my bookshelf.
Because next to my hybrid hiking/gym shoes are a pair of black stiletto knee high boots.
Because in my jewelry box my belly button rings mix with the gold cameo necklace that was my great grandmothers.
Because my very grown up double mattress is on a loft bed covered in snow man sheets up where I can hide from the world.
Because the lamp I made in eighth grade shop class illuminates a desk calendar with no time for things like woodworking.
Because my mother called me an asshole last night when my dad and I were joking about my sister and then took me out to lunch today.
Because the bookmark in my book is a key card from the holiday inn and the holiday inn is the reason I haven’t finished the book.
Because one of the people who knows me best and who I actually tell the truth to is someone I only see once a year, and have no phone number for.
Because the Muppets From Space DVD is next to my Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Because this is my personal computer and yet some of the word files like this one are password protected, just in case.
Because I told my father tonight that if I didn’t come home from work one day it was because I’d packed up and left and he said that I should tell him first so he could come too.
Because there is a framed wedding portrait of my grandparents on the wall that gives me hope for love because it is so beautiful and then dashes that hope because after fifty years of being unhappily married they divorced, no matter how beautiful their wedding portrait was.
Because I use my cell phone as an alarm clock since taking the time to plug in and set the time on my actual alarm clock would make this place too permanent.
Because so much of what I own is pink, and I’m not sure if I ever really have the right to be wearing it.
Because some days I wonder if it would be safer to have my stuffed moose as my only companion.
Because I drive a convertible in which the top can’t go down.
Because of the couple who complimented me on the food and the service when I was waitressing and yet left no tip.
Because the pills in the motrin bottle on my desk aren’t motrin.
Because I’m paranoid about becoming my mother and paranoid that being paranoid means I’m becoming like my mother.
Because I’m addicted to chapstick and can’t understand people who are addicted to cigarettes.
Because I'm never really trust people enough to believe them when they say they're glad I called, unless they call me first.
Because there are only so many song lyrics I can make to fit my life before I have to start writing my own.
I'm not sure if I really like this one yet. The imagery was really clear in my head, but I'm not sure if it came out the way I saw it in my mind. Yeah, iunno.
As I stared at the taillights of the red firebird panic gripped my heart. I hadn’t said goodbye, at least not in the way that I wanted to. I hadn’t told him the truth. And I knew I would probably never see him again after this night.
I grabbed my cell phone, dialed his number while staring at the back of his head from behind my windshield. No answer. He must not have his phone with him. Tears finally started to form in my eyes. For weeks I’d viewed my leaving with a sense of displacement, as though it was happening to someone else. But it was now happening to me.
We drove a little further down the road, my white car following his red one as I had followed him for three years. My cellphone rang. “What’s up?” he said to me. “Can we pull over somewhere for a minute before we get back to the highway?” I asked. “Yeah, there’s a shopping center right up here.”
We pulled in and I got out of the car. “What’s up?” he asked me using the same phrase and tone of voice he always used when he knew something was wrong. “Get out of the car for a minute,” I said back. He looked slightly apprehensive, as if he was worried I was going to throw myself at him.
I had considered a final kiss, but knew that it would change nothing, and only be a ghost of what I had once thought I felt for him.
So I hugged him instead. “I just wanted to really say goodbye and to tell you how much I’m going to miss you. I don’t want to go, and I’m sorry.” He wiped the tears from my cheeks. “Now is not the time to cry,” he said, “Its okay, I’ll miss you too.” “Okay,” I said back.
We hugged for another minute before I said “I’ll be seeing you I guess. I can get the rest of the way back to the highway from here.” “You sure?” he said, “Its just straight down this road and then you’ll see the signs.” “I’m good,” I said.
He nodded, silently acknowledging the fact that I didn’t need to follow him anymore. He’d taken me as far as he could, I would find the rest of the way on my own. So I pulled out of the parking lot, away from him.
As I started back down the road he turned off the other way, and I saw the taillights of the firebird fade from sight. I looked ahead of me and realized I no longer had him to follow. I had chosen a new road, and finally I was making my own way. But I still wasn’t sure of I wanted to go alone.
Another bruise to try and hide
Another alibi to write
Another lonely highway in the black of night
But there's hope in the darkness
You know you're going to make it through