It was frigid in Chicago. I hugged my father goodbye and left for work. Sun. Snow. Traffic. Chapped lips. Waitress shift. Worn out shoes for crews, black polyester pants frayed on the bottom. False smile. Wine key. Stress for nothing that was all over something at the time. I knew them a lifetime ago. “What is your life up to?”
Sidework and plans for the night. Same shit every night with a different name. Staring out the fogged window in a packed brick dive bar. Smashed in the clothes I worked in all day, that I’ll sleep in, that I’ll go back to work in tomorrow wondering
Why do I feel so stuck?
Life as a server in a suburban chain restaurant. I know about break ups, pain and the drink specials at very bar for every night of the week.
I hugged my father goodbye.
Trucker glasses low down baseball cap. The Killers “Smile like you mean it.” Cross country drive. No idea why. Vague idea to do yoga and not be a waitress. Palm trees and pools. I bought a sequined bikini because I thought it would make me feel like a person that wasn’t scared.
I wanted to be free. I got to Las Vegas. Alone in the valley. Rice and avocado only for three months I was so broke. I was in a house with no power. The degradation of society is unapologetic and clear here in the summer heat. Its all I see. Homelessness skin sheen – too tan leathery faces.
I’m not scared and I’m still dumb enough not to know that I
“Going for dinner” was a milkshake and a carton of Marlboro Lights. I almost relapsed on 9/11. I just wanted to not feel but instead I went to a meeting. It was in a kids classroom.
NA was a cult to me and everybody was crazy, but not my kind of crazy. In that room that day it didn’t feel that way. I stayed.
She invited me to her house because I freaked and told her I had no food. We cooked spaghetti. There were pictures on the walls and she had a lot of kitchen stuff. I liked all of the wooden spoons. Her house felt like a home where I felt welcome.
105 heat 40% humidity. I die on the floor. I’m the victim take care of me – listen to me forever but don’t touch me. I don’t know how or why.
Talk too much don’t feel enough. Anxiety and high priced dinners to serve. Telling thousands of people about vegetables a week can be your fate if you’re strong enough to suffer.
A phone call at 3 am on a Tuesday. My mother. She found my Dad. She said he passed away. Shes whimpering. What I’m hearing can’t be. I pace around the one bedroom apartment until 6 a.m. Spend the rest of the day trying to figure out what it means to buy dog food so I can fly to Chicago. Bif picks me up in the mini coop wordlessly. Takes the dogs and drops me at the airport.
A sea of planning and sobbing ensues. My daughter walking up to the viewing in a puffy black ball gown with her parents, as my family standing behind me that never met her looks on. My fathers body to the left. I lived that moment I can live em all. Slow motion absolute.
I hugged my father goodbye. Kissed him on the lips.
He couldn’t hug me back but I felt him there, telling me to just keep going.
Thailand. Mui Tai rings and motor boats. Food not in wrappers. Choppy water – wild puppies on an abandoned beach. Meeting the whole world in paradise and yoga like I had never felt it before. The jungle. Sea lice. I need to sit on facebook and eat M&Ms to feel ok.
Certified yoga teacher – not doing shit with that because it is terrifying. But, a job. In a rehab. First day. Terrified. Three years later I teach five a week. I teach art. I’m not a
waitress and I never was. The art is bigger. More dynamic. It isn’t about what it turns into it is within who I get to be in the midst of getting it out of me. All of the birth I will never feel.
A hike to Red Rock with a friend and a stranger. Mismatched neon socks and mustard yellow adidas. Beautiful face, gorgeous accent, brilliant, reads everything and is traveling the world. Last day in the states see you in another life. I watched the air traffic a lot the next afternoon.
Terrified of him, of sounding dumb, of not being enough. Later he says I was cool like Ali Sheedy, and probably had a French boyfriend. We talk every once and a while on whatsapp until one day
“If you were here, I would keep you up all night, telling you how much I missed you.”
Six months later I’m standing in an airport, waiting for a flight form Perth. Him on an escalator, in blue fishing linen pants and a black t shirt.
None of the past matters.
Still with the yoga classes. Inconsistent but going.
Vipassana. Ten days of silence in Joshua Tree. Lifes largest metamorphosis so far. Sobbing into the phone when he answers. All he says is “I know.”
Lose the job. Get another one. I have an office and an 8-4 schedule. My Dads photo on my desk. The job folds.
I paint. I start a private practice. I start to propose my art to be purchased nationally by hospitals.
I go to her house for spaghetti. It is six years later. I know where everything in the kitchen is and make it myself. We watch family fued together and yell at the screen. Everything changes but this hasn’t.
I still write.
I still miss my Dad.
I still work a program.
I do yoga.
and in tiny little pockets of recognized moments, sometimes
I’m as free as I always