“No! Oh my god, no!” my own voice calling out so loud, accusatory and punitive that I found myself sleepy-eyed, confused and sitting up in bed. Feeling blurry, terrified and for some reason, guilty as my heart pounded against the back of my throat, my chest lurching along with the wind in my lungs almost as if they were trying to keep up with the lunging and pull my heart back down into its rightful spot.
Third time in the past couple weeks that I’ve been awoken like this. To my own voice dripping with primal fear and utter panic. Fucking nightmares. I’m a grown ass woman, like way old and junk and here I am wiping tears away from my eyes, trying to catch my breath and digging myself deeply under the covers. Trying to soothe my racing heart and thumping chest by slipping one leg out from under the blankets, slowly and methodically running the bridge of my foot along the soft fabric, lips barely spread as the panicked pace of my breathing slows to a normal pant. The soft whisper of deep, “that wasn’t real” exhales the soundtrack to my toes dancing along across a puffy duvet. Settling my unrest under the comfort of cover…once again.
In this really weird spot right now. Not bad, per se, but I feel like I’m balancing on the edge of, something, and I can either step back and keep going as is or jump, feel my heart rattle around in my chest like it has its hands on prison cell bars and is beating the hell out of me from the inside out. Feel all my limbs floating. Been trying to figure out what my body, my screams and mind are trying to tell me in those rare moments when I’m holding still enough to hear. To listen.
I was thinking it might be a work thing. One of my coworkers is leaving, one that I love more than I can even begin to tell him. I have a brother, this man that is leaving is the closest thing to a brother I’ve ever known. I was crushed when I heard he was moving on. I understand why and know that he and I, well we are years away from being done with one another. He is leaving to do outside sales, so he’s going to sell wines to assholes like us and the funny thing, in the past 5 months I’ve had 3 offers from importers to do the same. Leave The Wine Country. New gig. New start. So I think part of me worried that I might have been stupid, mistaken or letting fear keep me from taking those positions. Took me a couple weeks to figure out that for me, that outside sales business, well it isn’t what I want to do. Like not even a little. Never has been. In fact leaving the store, well that isn’t something that even begins to pass for craveable in my world. It isn’t work…
“You have his face”
“You have to see my ex-wife’s daughter. God, what an ugly little bitch she is”
“I love fucking you from behind…..that way I don’t have to look at you”
“You never noticed that you don’t that many friends? No one likes ugly fat girls. You’re my sister and I can’t stand you”
“What a waste”
“You know if you were smaller I’d consider dating you”
“Who’s going to believe I forced myself, on you. Look at you”
“Sam, why do you cut your own hair?”
Because I can’t stand sitting in front of a mirror long enough to let someone else do it…..
Last month I hit the one year mark on my non-smoking thingie. I haven’t had a cigarette in like almost 400 days. Not sure I have within me the capacity to express how fucking unreal that is. No cigarettes?! Been smoking for longer than I’ve been a mother so in actuality those leggy, long, smoldering tar sticks were one of my longest and most committed, at times, cherished relationships, like ever. I’m not sure I spent much time thinking about quitting before I did it. Sure I knew I would smell better, be at least a tiny bit healthier and I would save loads of money but that quitting nonsense that was for… well for fucking quitters. I was crazy in love with my cigarettes. They kept me company when I was lonely and the rest of the world had bailed, fucked me over, and died. They were always there to crawl into my chest and cover my pain with, stinky and poisoning comfort.
There was only one thing that would or could inspire me to give them up, love and the fact that I had promised my life to another. What kind of woman would I be if I purposely, or selfishly “Indian gave” that life by cutting it shorter with my addiction. I’ve never had much to give, my big dumb heart and my word. Not much by any stretch but, they are at the very least honest. I laugh loud, bite hard, make love like I mean it, cry too much, drink even more than that but, I love huge and if I muster up the courage to tell you how much I love you, you can go to your grave knowing that you were genuinely and absolutely loved. I wish you could all see my scrunchy face now…scrunchy face and shrugged shoulders. It’s all I got….
“Please, for the love of god take a picture of yourself naked and send it to me!”
A dear friend being funny when I told him I had to cut our chat short because I needed to pop in the shower to wash the hair dye off my stanking skull. I laughed, like demonically, at the very idea. “Get naked and show you?! You’re high dude” my chuckle as I logged off and headed off to rinse the natural blonde from my noggin. Hair dried and me bored I popped back online only to have yet another friend make some reference to me sending a naked picture of myself. I am assuming he was kidding too, might as well have been because once again I was nearly snorting with laugher. Impossibly hilarious, like panda bears sitting on the Supreme Court kind of ridiculousness. Me naked for others to see, I can’t even manage a fucking haircut, you think I’m going to expose myself? Let you see all of me? Um….
“I stopped reading your blog because it scared me. I’m too formal. Too eastern European and Lutheran. It was too much to read all that…You”
“Your posts about your father, I had to write you because I just lost mine…”
“I was sitting on the tarmac reading you on my phone, that piece about your real family being those that you pick, and I couldn’t stop myself from crying”
“I read your stuff about Jeremy and I wish, wish that you were my Mom”
“I savor your posts and get sad when I can see the end is getting closer to the top of my screen”
“I’m crazy in love with you.”
“I read you and know someone out there gets me”
Impossibly hilarious. Me naked, exposed, wide open for the world to see. Fuck.
I started thinking about these dreams that have been jarring me from the comfort of the sleep I never get enough of. The images that have been flashing against my flinching eyelids, the sounds that crunch and bang so loudly they stab holes through my slumbering skull like a whizzing drill bringing with it blinding flashes of exposed light, maybe, hopefully, enlightenment. As I pushed the pieces around on my mental dining room table I saw the puzzle coming together, each and every dream that grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me awake, “awake” they were all me finding myself somewhere alone. Waking up in some dingy hotel room a million miles from anyone or anywhere I know, not knowing where I am or how I got there. The sound of a boot crushing a cluster of dried clay, a heavy door slamming and me opening my eyes, jaw painfully tight as I my head swivels, knuckles white and gripping the steering wheel of a busted Ford pickup, nothing but corn fields and absolute silence for miles upon miles…me flinging open the rusted out door of the truck, my bare feet splitting and bleeding as those caked clay clusters refuse to crumble beneath me. My mouth wide open, throat tight as I try and scream, beg, cry and nothing…no one can hear me. I wake terrified. Terrified and mad.
Being left. Left behind. Left to deal with whatever fucked up and wrong decision I’ve made this time. Mean and cruel words I’m used to and the loudest voice, my own. The thing I blame every little bit of lonely and heartache on, the way I look. Why not right? Been a theme in the verbiage since the beginning. My mother angry at me for looking like my father, the man she still loved so much she cried herself to sleep at night, even years after he succumb to his only true love, the needle. The brother that had to assure me of his dominance by pointing out how different I looked and how many more friends he had….the ones that would come over to “his” house and snort big dreams and delusions of grandeur, provided by his father’s bank account of course, up their nostrils before enacting their angst and rage on a scared little girl that just wanted to belong. A lover that never lied about his cruelty and rage but in my young and splintered mind seemed better than my station allowed. College educated, firm and full hard body, checking account and a family that owned their home. His words cutting enough but his fingers, bats, knives and rage, the kind of punctuation you never forget. The one man I thought I could trust with every huge, tiny bit of me, from my soul to my true voice..my whole heart and just once, my whole naked body and having that be the last time he ever made love to me before he decided he didn’t really love, need or want me anymore. That time in the mirror, fucking hate it but…
So those toes that feel like they wanna take a leap? The jump my body and soul need? I think I have to bury myself even deeper into work, let myself feel and slither about in my formidable French wines, let them move and shape me…let them squeeze my neck and pull the little lever in my back that makes me ooze. Down with that but there is this one thing…me, naked, here and feeling like it’s okay to be in my own, this skin. Jesus, even typing that has my hands shaking but I need another challenge after that giving up my beloved smokes. So, if I was willing to give up my long, leggy, smoldering partner in honor of my love and promise to another, what am I willing to give myself? How do I prove to me that no matter how hard the words, the tears, the blood, fear and walk back home that I am more than this shell….that I’m worth the effort?
One year from this day I will post a picture, of me naked and as raw as I’ve always been here. No nipples or nubbins but the same kind of sensual photos that I post and am drawn to, this time it will be me my shape, skin, body. The body that I bring will either be the one I am living in now, and have grown to embrace or one that I’ve worked on, (I did give myself a year…incentive much?) not looking to impress, I mean fuck, I’m 42 now and there are thousands of better things to look at naked on the internet, might I suggest baby whales?! Fuck me. Cannot believe I’m doing this but I need to kick these messy and stifling rocks out of my path. That and I know those picture begging folks, while kidding, know they could have been enticed by any keystroke, it was me they asked to see…me and that has to mean something right?
Time to slip out from beneath the comfort of complete cover…