The Day The Lights Went Out

I crossed the finish line so many times, and every time
he was there.
To urge me faster, to cheer me on.

He was there.

Maybe I asked to much. Maybe I did too little
but another finish line came into view
and he wasn’t there anymore.

He wasn’t there.

The crowds cheered and people smiled,
but my eyes searched for the one face I wanted to see.
The one face that meant the most to me
and he wasn’t there.

From here on out, I’m on my own.
I asked too much and listened too little.
I sealed my own fate
and now I walk alone.

On my own.



A Brainful

I am resistant to change. Good or bad, change is just that, change. Things will be different. My brain and my heart has a hard time accepting this for fear that these different things will be not as comfortable as the current state I’m in.

I like comfort. I like knowing as best as possible what tomorrow brings. Tomorrow is Monday and for me that means work and school, waking early for showers and making lunches and the unfortunate commute from home to school to work. Monday means payroll and printing new reports, a large mail load after the hiatus of the weekend.

Monday is Monday. And I like it that way.

Lately though, nothing is predictable. There are new signs to watch out for, new sensations to be wary of. A closed door could mean a meeting I’m not included in or a rough morning or tears or a hidden broken heart. An unexpected email could mean someone is asking something new of me, something bigger than I am capable of offering. Or a request that is completely inconsiderate of me.

So now Monday is the reminder that I’m no longer free to hide my head in the sand and pretend nothing is wrong. It’s the end of my freedom where I can choose to run wild, do what I want, cook and bake or spend time with those I love. I can live on the weekends, live in the vicarious way my six year old runs down hills and up slides.
Monday is the day I have to face the reality that I’m not free and that not all dreams are meant to be realized.

Oh how I wish I had friends. People to speak these concerns to, truths that I keep to myself. My fears of the unknown and this dreadful feeling of limbo. I hate limbo and I hate talking when plans could be made. But I hate making plans when I don’t know where I’m going or what I’m doing.

Having no close friends but one, I’m forced to find comforts in solitude and things I love. My nose is firmly planted in books these days, escaping to the fictional worlds where people are introduced, the plot is brought to climax and then a resolution is secured within 400 pages. I also retreat into my movies, actors and scripts I know so well I can repeat them myself. Movies I needn’t watch because I know each scene by heart. The comfort in knowing there are no surprises soothes my soul.

Oddly, I do see why I’m in this state. I know that I’m meant to learning how to be in the present and how to live each moment as they come. To prove to me my strengths and abilities to cope. I’ve seen so much change over the last 2 years and the hits keep coming. Just when I think things will stop shifting and changing, I’m dealt another blow and I’m left standing with no support.

Change is inevitable. It’s how the soul adapts to such drastic alterations that matters. So I’m left. Left accepting I can do nothing but go with it.

I’m weary. I’m waiting for the next scene, for the next chapter. I keep watching, waiting for the characters to discover themselves and be done with this charade. Or for the author to stop playing with the lives of their characters and to end the story. I’m tired of trying to guess what will happen next or what the grand scheme of the plot is to be. I just want it done, finished, so that the dust can settle and we can begin to make the adjustments to our new lives.

I’m resistant to change. Especially when I notice the need for change in me.

On My Own

The air was cool and a breeze from out side floated in, ruffling the still curtains against the window. A sliver of moon light pierced the shadows, drawing a line across the beige carpet beneath the window, creeping along as the curtains billowed out and returned against the windowsill. Jasmine and orange blossoms danced lightly through the moon streak and scented the air with my childhood memories.

I stared into the darkness watching the performance before my eyes, breathing in the delicate scent of the flowers surrounding my window and watching the miniscule particles of dust and light play in the silvery moon beam peaking through the trees.

It was the second night in a row that I was unable to find peace enough to sleep. The house was silent and settling after a long day in the heat. Creaking wood and shifting nails echoed dully through the halls and rooms. My son’s gentle breathing and dreaming body rolled slightly under the oppressive darkness of his room.

And there I was, lying in the cool emptiness of night waiting for my turn. For my body to settle down and fall asleep.

Tight skin and muscles, bones and flushing blood, my body was humming slightly, unable to quiet down for the night. Picking up the slightest noise from outside my window, my ears piqued and listened intently to the solid footsteps of someone trying to sneak by without disturbing anyone. They tried in vain to step lightly through the street, making their way toward the community dumpster. My high strung senses followed each step, each turn.

The minutes ticked by and sleep evaded me still. I rolled and situated my long form in the coldest spots on the bed, soaking in the cool air and soft sheets against my too hot skin. Not long after, the spot I was in warmed to my body temperature and it was time to seek out a cooler place. Navigating the large bed and the tangle bed covers, I squirmed and moved about till I found my body in the shadows, cool and comfortable.

My eyes closed and I hoped for sleep. I let my mind settle into its nest, waiting for that shift in thought, when things stopped making sense and I drifted away into a world of disjointed thoughts and feelings. Beckoning the dreams and cloudy numbness of sleep, my limbs began to sink into the pillow top and my eyes drooped heavier.

I yawned, silently and smoothly stretching beneath the blankets and heavy exhaustion, feeling the night drain me of my energy. I was tired and only hoping for sleep. Opening my eyes just slightly, I strained to see into the dark, to feel out for a presence with me there. But I was alone. Cool and still against my bed, I was on my own.

No one was there to comfort me and help ease me into sleep. No warm limbs or body to press against. My bed, my life, was my own.

I was alone.

Closing my eyes again, I settled into the arms of the darkness and rested. My brain turned over and my thoughts dulled. Sounds around me faded into the background and I felt sleep nestle over me, soothing me.

And I slept.

High Tide

Life is nothing more than a constant flow of waves.

The back and forth. The ins and outs. The high tides and the low tides.

Constant.  Always present waves of our day to day.

Never failing.

I know this. I’ve lived this. I’ve had the manageable low tide moments and I’ve also been taken under by numerous high tides. Yes, even with this knowledge, I still manage to be taken under.

It’s almost as if my ability to tread water is instantly removed when the tides change. A change that happens regularly and quite often.

Since it’s a constant moving sea, why does it always get to me?

As I went along with my regular Wednesday night routine, somewhere in between the squat reps and the over-the-head weight press I had a sudden surge of panic.

I looked around and all I could see was an endless life of Wednesday nights in a class full of sweaty gym goers. Pumping weights, pushing through the burning muscles and the tired limbs. The same ol’ repetitious routine of 2, 4 and 8 count reps. Every week, every Wednesday.

Without warning, the tides surged on me and I was flooded with an overwhelming feeling of being stuck. Always in the same place, always the same time.

For a long, long time.

As the salty water choked me and I floundered for air, I felt my body want to leave. To walk out of that room and find air.

To run.

I was suffocating. The crashing high tide this time would surely take me under. Here I was, on my own and treading water at all times. And that damn high tide rushes in and I’m tossed head over heals with anxiety.

The room suddenly became warm and I needed to leave.

In through the din of rushing water and my heart beating in my ears, I heard the instructor remind us to breathe. To inhale on the way down and exhale as we extended our weights over our heads.

There is was. The simplest of instructions. An action my body did involuntarily but was apt to forget in my greatest moments of upheaval and stress.

So I did. I took a deep breath and released it from the bottom of my belly. In and then out, releasing everything in me.

The sadness, the fear, the panic and the feelings of treading this unforgiving ocean of constant waves on my own with no life preserver to keep me a float.

I blew the air out and found my head clearing and my thoughts settle.

I would be ok. I have always been ok. With or without the life vest, I would be ok.

Angrily, the tides rushed back and settled low around my ankles, disappointed in their failed attempt to take me down into the murky depths.

I pushed up and exhaled then took in a clean breath as I lowered my weights.

I was ok. I would always be ok.

Time Warp

My ears are still ringing from the amplifiers. The rank smell of spilled beer and bodies moving cling to my clothes. The air of the loud bar presses against me as I watch from a distance the happy doings of the people I know as my friends. And without warning, I’m struck with a deep sense of loneliness.

Loneliness in a crowd is one of the most profoundly difficult feelings to have. And one that does not fade quickly.

In the midst of the throbbing crowd and the booming music, I felt cold and alone. Looking around and seeing my friends and family smiling together in a bond stronger than I understood, I felt distant and uncertain of my place within any of their lives.

It was momentary, probably lasting no longer than a split second. But the residual waves of sadness, grief and other complicated emotions was endless.

As each wave got bigger and pulled me in further, I found myself twelve years old again……

I’m sitting in the family kitchen of my grandparents’ house. It’s a large room for everyone to crowd around and enjoy an enormous Italian meal together. Memories of laughter are embedded in the walls and stains from tears of joy cling to the counter tops. It’s a place of cousins and aunts and uncles, with similar features and stories linked together through the bonds of family.

I am twelve and I sit with the adults, listening to their words weaving in the air, sharing stories and jokes. I’m comforted by their constant banter and intermittent break in words for a bubble of laughter to burst. My long pre-pubescent legs cross beneath me as I lean into the talk around me and am wrapped in the deep tones of my Papa and the rasping tones of my Nonnie. The sweet giggling laughter of my god-mother dances with the sweet, strong out-burst of my mother.

I’m comforted here, though I don’t belong. I’m only twelve and not yet old enough to be considered an adult. But here I sit, feeling no reason to leave though I know I could join the kids my age downstairs.

Below us in the living room, my cousins watch silly cartoons and they, too, giggle and talk. The blossoming language shared between children lift into the air and mix with the sweet innocent tinkling of their childish laughter. They play with toys, making jokes and share in the merriment that most children are born with. That innate sense of freedom and happiness.

The adults forget I’m there. Like a church mouse I stow away behind them, hoping to be completely encased in their voices, tucked away in the luscious sounds of their stories. It’s warm here, comfortable and serene.

I’m happy to not be remembered, tucked away under the adult context and expansive vocabulary that barely floats above my comprehension. But, I hear the quick out-burst from the lower room and I wince. I could be with my cousins and siblings, enjoying myself, laughing too. Being a kid.

I lean forward, stuck between my willingness to find comfort in the adult atmosphere where I’m not expected to participate and my interest in being silly and acting a child for once.

Then the meal is served and I’m swept up in the hustle and bustle of plates clinking and silverware tapping. I forget my momentary confusion, the pull between my old soul and my youth.

As I finish my meal and return my plate to the sink, my older cousin confronts me in his monotone way, asking why I don’t join the children ever and instead hang around the adults.

I react with a quick breath in, stung by his recognition of my awkwardness. It hurt to hear him ask because, I knew I was an odd duck. I knew I was an old soul who didn’t fit in anywhere. Not with the adults whose conversation was outside of my understanding. Not with the children who were joyful and silly, two things I struggled to find within myself.

I didn’t fit then and, little did I really foresee, that I would never truly fit.

He watched me, unfazed by my silence and cold look. It was one thing for me to know I was the odd one, but for someone else to point it out hurt deeply.

To this day, I don’t remember my answer, but I knew from then on, I was not the only one who knew I was strange. That I was an outcast, a member of a small group of people who never could find a place anywhere……..

I roll in the waves of jealousy and insecurity. I can’t find the air and continue to find myself swimming downwards. I’m lost in a tumble of negative feelings when suddenly I’m in high school again……..

The bell has rung and I’m hovering around my locker, lunch in hand. I’m working my way through my locker, slowly finding what I need as I eat my food and make my way through my meager teenage meal. What I’m really doing is stalling, waiting for the halls to clear before the teachers come and usher any stragglers down to the bustling courtyard where all sorts of social experiments are being played out through the lunch hour.

I planned, as I did everyday, to be lost in the library. To find my place in the back of the stuffy elongated room where I could sit in peace and read. I never shared a table there and never had to talk to anyone other than the kind librarian who never questioned my antisocial behavior. She accepted me and my quiet ways, leaving me to peacefully exist while I kindly waved a silent greeting to her before I ducked behind the shelves of literature greats bound in the pages of aging books.

My years of eating lunch alone in the library are punctuated by small periods of socializing out on the lawn in the furthest spot from the social frenzy of The Quad. In those moments, I would join a small band of social misfits and we would sit in silence eating and studying, occasionally breaking the silence with a crude comment.

Even with the small band of outcasts, I survived my high school years on my own as much as I could. I never felt I had a place within the hip, young crowd of teenagers all battling the same war just with different methods. We were all looking for confirmation of ourselves. To find that piece to explain why we felt the way we did about who we were. All of us, searching for validation between the bells.

While they looked for validation, I already knew what I was. I was alone……

The waves’ pull lightens and I feel myself falling again. Suddenly I surface in the grief and feel that I’m eighteen again……..

My blue dress lays at my knees, short and sweet for this special occasion. A wedding. A joining of two people. And a gathering of family. And friends. People I know, and people I should feel comfortable around. I sit on a low brick bench outside the family den on the lower floor. The guests mingle around the delicately lit pool, strung with floating flowers and candles. The music is slow and glides on the warm June air.

Everyone is happy and thoroughly enjoying this special occasion. Everyone, except me.

As I watch the conversations, the polite hugs and the raucous laughter, I feel lost in a sea with no visible horizon. I’m treading water and searching for something familiar. Something, or someone to cling to. I look and find nothing. I feel the strong urge to join the family on the dance floor, to stand outside the perimeter of a conversation waiting to participate, or to sit behind my father and listen, as I had as a child, to the stories shared between my family member. I also feel compelled to stay put, stuck in my fears and anxieties.

Awkward. Alone. Forgotten.

The sun begins to set and a slight chill chases the warm summer breeze. I feel like crying. I want so badly to have a life preserver tossed to me. For someone to save me from myself.

Suddenly a tall figure approaches me, a family friend and an older sibling, much like myself. He’s handsome with a lopsided smile. I feel nervous as he nears, worried I’ll say something desperate or stupid. So I smile, and nod at him as he sit next to me.

His mouth opens to speak and asks why I’m here, alone.

I glance at him, my smile disappearing. I don’t know how to answer him. I’ve never know the proper response to someone when they ask me why I choose to be alone. Why I choose to stay away. Why I’m so awkward, strange and unreachable. I don’t remember my answer, but I remember him leaving. And I remember being left alone, again.

The night never improved and I avoided my friend the rest of the reception. I didn’t want another reminder that someone else noticed my stand-offish manner. My inability to act like a normal social human being…..

As quickly as my time warp began, I surface and I’m still siting in the dim light of a loud bar. I sigh. Those deep memories of being quiet, shy and antisocial linger in my mind and bring tears to the surface.

I have never been comfortable with myself. I’ve never accepted that I am a solitary person, someone who enjoys time alone, with the same song on repeat and my blankets drawn up around me. And being thrust into the same social situation as I have in the past with those conflicting feelings of staying silent or joining the fray only brought back a sadness I hadn’t felt in years.

A sadness that lingers.

A deep feeling of loneliness in a world full of people…..