Golden Snow

Snow is a rarity in my life.  There were the days my grandparents dragged me and my brother up the Everest-worthy slopes of my elementary school, only to soar back down in a quarter of the time; there were the snowball fights my brother and I would have with my parents, in which my parents would toss soft lobs and my brother would pelt ice balls the size of my head (perhaps an exaggeration); and every once in awhile I’ll still rummage around in the deep freezer in my garage, flicking through boxes of frozen pizza and packaged salmon in search for dumplings before my fingers freeze off, and I’ll come across the Ziploc bagged snowball my parents let me keep when I mimicked D.W. all those years ago.

Amongst this swirling of my wintry Pensieve, the one that comes to mind when I first consider snow is not so much a single memory, but more so of a collective feeling spread out over many occasions.

Back before my now-fourteen-year-old cousin was born and took over my aunt and uncle’s attention (and biggest bedroom), my brother I would often spend Friday nights sleeping over at their house.  We would stuff ourselves with Domino’s MeatZZa pizza and ice cream sundaes, ride our sugar high through twenty-five turns of Mario Party until eleven o’clock (!!!) when we became nothing more than mindless button mashers due to our impending food comas.  Our exhausted hands trailed our toothbrushes lazily through our mouths, then we would crawl into the queen-sized bed and slip off to sleep.

Sometimes I would wake up before everyone else.  In the winter months, I would occasionally beat even the sun.  My eyes would crack open and I’d be confused at the yellow tinge of the curtain slats over the window.  Then, with a tiny leap in my heart, I would realize what this golden glow meant, throw the heavy comforter off myself, and shuffle over to the window.  I would draw back a single fabric slat.

The single street lamp at our end of the cul-de-sac gleamed like the one in Narnia, shining off of a fresh drapery of snow that had arranged itself pristinely while we were all sleeping.  All was still, both inside the house and out on the street.  Everything was frozen in time, and I was the only one there to see it.  I would crouch, my fingers pressed against the glass, ignoring the cold spreading through the tips, and watch and listen to nothing at all.

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The Day I Accepted “Lonely”

“The battery died,” I say in a monotone voice to my mom over the phone.

I hear her sigh because she knew this was going to happen and she wishes that we had all been more attentive to the car before I made a nine-hour trip to live in a small town on my own.  But she can’t do anything now.  I am 450 miles away from her.

“Well I can’t say what I want to say,” she says, which only affirms my suspicion of her feelings.  She sighs again.  “Okay, you’re going to have to jumpstart it.”

I would not be opposed to defibrillating the Camry if a) the instructions from the battery charger thing did not emphasize the danger of doing so incorrectly, b) if I had any idea what the heck I was doing, and most importantly c) if I had someone with me.

My mom adopts her teaching voice (matter-of-fact, clear and just a bit more commanding than usual) as she instructs me on what to do.  There is much back and forth between us as I stall this task that, I admit, intimidates me.  Especially since the makers of my car battery seem to have deemed positive and negative symbols for the bolts as extraneous – despite that being the difference between a safe jumpstart and, you know, an explosion-induced death.

I know that my mom can hear the anxiety in my voice because she quickly switches from teacher mode to mother mode.

“You can do it,” she reassures me softly.  She really is the most caring and, more importantly at this moment, patient mother.

“I just…” I’m about to say something that I don’t honestly think I’ve ever thought to myself, let alone admitted aloud to someone else.  “I want help.”

There are many times that I exasperatedly spew out, “I need help” because I do have the awareness to realise when I’m in need of something.  It’s usually with affairs as trivial as beating a level on Majora’s Mask or finding a certain pair of jeans in the Levi’s database.  But it is always done with a reluctant, begrudging tone.

To admit that I was not only in need of help, but that I wanted it…  This is the first time in the three weeks since I made my trek up here that the distance is establishing itself as a tangible matter.

I’m not just 450 miles from my bed or my GameCube or my Vampire Weekend sweatshirt that I forgot to pack.  450 miles lie between myself and the people I am familiar enough with to pester with my problems.  It’s not just companionship that I’m beginning to crave; it’s knowing that I can just trot downstairs for my parents, or jog around the corner for my aunt, or drive five minutes for my friends.  Here, I have no one to ask for help – no one who I’m not afraid of being deemed a moron by, in any case.

When I quietly plead to my mom that I want help, I think she knows that for the first time I’m admitting to loneliness.  Yes, friends, despite my Sims, my Tumblr-trolling, my hours of Arrested Development, and even the phone and Skype calls with all of you back home, there are moments when even I can’t distract myself from the lack of physical bodies to surround me.

I’m used to being alone, but this loneliness is something that I have to get used to.

“Last Friday Night” or “I Promise My Mom That I’ll Be Social, So I Go To The Local Hangout Armed With My Laptop”

Note: This was written last week, and the tense is all weird because I wrote part of this while at the bistro and part of it at home after.  Just go with it.

I’ve never had a tab started that hasn’t consisted of alcoholic drinks.  But I now have one that’s headlined by a chai latte that tastes like peppery water.  Five-dollar peppery water.  I’m tucked away in a corner with my laptop in the local bistro/hangout because I promised my mom that I would make an effort to try and meet new people.  The laptop is so that I don’t look like a pathetic, lonely foreigner.  Which, as I’m typing this description of myself, I am beginning to realize it only accentuates.

I don’t know where people my age hang out in Kaslo.  I presume that there is no one my age in Kaslo.  There are plenty of hooligan teenagers; I was introduced to their leering eyes as I jogged past a group of them lounging on a picnic bench outside the ice cream shop/gas station.  I imagine it was the kind of dagger-like stare that most girls in clubs attract – but replacing the horniness with mistrust.  I couldn’t even meet these kids’ eyes; I kept mine locked on the ground and jogged at a faster pace – which abruptly turned into a walk once I rounded the corner.

In any case, all of the young people are prowling the street at this hour, the boys cupping their girlfriends’ butt cheeks that are sliding out of their cut offs.  Maybe they’re off to smoke cheap weed, or get wasted on booted Black Label or Smirnoff, or whatever teenagers do.  I mean, when I was a teenager (a whole year and three days ago) I spent most of my time in a similar situation as I am now, minus the other people in the room and plus The Sims/Neopets/deviantART prowling.

I was absolutely gung ho about coming out tonight, accompanied by my laptop so I could at least be productive if I couldn’t be social.  (Just an interjection, I’ve seen the same girl in a leopard print romper and her friends circling the block twice.  Seriously, I will buy these kids alcohol if it means that they will have a crazier night than I.  You’re only young once, right?  “Wrong!” yell Hinduists.)  I was excited, at least, until I had the brilliant idea to watch the series finale of The Office (see previous post regarding that whole debacle), which left my face splotchy and my eyes bloodshot.  When I first saw myself in the mirror I debated not going out after all, sure that my gaggle of new potential friends would take one glance, point at me in all my crimson splotchiness, gasp and exclaim, “Were you crying or are you just super-baked?!” to which I would try to laugh nonchalantly and explain my situation, comical and endearing as it is (because that’s how you make friends: you tell a charming story about how you get attached and emotionally invested too quickly).

As it turned out, of course, I didn’t meet anyone new.  Not even a single member from the band that played, even though it is the perfect situation to meet new people.  You’ll see how from one of the many scenes I concocted whilst driving home.  Alone.

INT. BISTRO – NIGHT

The mood is casual.  The lights are low.  The atmosphere is intimate.  There are only about fifteen or so people left milling around, chatting and paying their drink tabs.  The band has just finished playing its last set.  I make my move to join the small crowd around the band members.

ME
(casual. oh so casual)
Hey, man, that was a really awesome set.

BAND MEMBER
Thanks!

ME
(still as casual as ever.  Probably leaning on the counter.  Not with my elbow in a puddle of mustard or anything embarrassing.)
You guys are selling CDs right?

BAND MEMBER
Totally!

ME
A’ight, that’s tight, bro.  I’ll get one.

BAND MEMBER
You seem rad.  Have it for free.

[Because even in my fantasies, I am cheap as hell]

ME
(doing that clicking sound with my mouth while shooting with my index finger.  Let’s throw a wink in there too.)
You, sir, are kind and wonderful and talented.

BAND MEMBER
Ugh, you’re so awesome.  Let’s be friends.

 ME
A’ight.

You get the idea.  Needless to say, it did not go down like that.  I paid for my overpriced spiced water and shuffled out of the tiny bistro, avoiding eye contact at all costs because I am me, and I do not say things like “A’ight, that’s tight” without it sopping with irony and followed by a goofy giggle.

There’s always next Friday.

P.S. I know that’s not proper screenplay format WHATEVA H8ERS GON H8 IT’S A’IGHT.

I told myself that I didn’t care.
that I didn’t need anymore
that I could look back on the good times
laugh and cry over memories that play like
half hour episodes
with arcs and twists

I told myself that I didn’t care.
but I should have known:
I was doomed from the start

I fled when it got rough
and I can’t help but wonder
if I had only stuck it out
if I had waited just one more year
if I had just been patient,
would the rewards have been that much greater?

patience, a virtue I’ve struggled to capture
one that has always danced just out of my grasp
if I could only close my fingers over it

I would have been in tears by this point,
that is almost a guarantee,
but they would have been cascading
over a spreading smile.

*

and now here I am:
a heart cracked right down the middle
cheeks with salty trails tracing the contours
trying to remember why I left you
why I gave up.

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My Life is Not a Rom-Com

I’m on what could very well be a most grand adventure, or it could be as disappointing as the Reality panel of (500) Days of Summer’s iconic Expectations vs. Reality sequence – although my Expectations panel would be more properly labeled as Fantasy because I gave up on expecting anything great to happen a long time ago.

I’m living on my own for the first time, which means paying for every overpriced (but descrumptious) sandwich from the museum/coffee shop in town, as well as every grocery that I really have no idea whether or not it’s overpriced because I don’t buy bananas and tofu and chicken breasts for myself at home.  Due to my fortune of being blessed with the luck and demeanour of an offbeat-but-endearing heroine in a growing-up chick flick (although my story is obviously not a rom-com because, um, hello, Exhibit A: my life), I accidentally left my two most important pieces of luggage at home: my Activities box (books, DVDs, The Sims – although I do have my laptop and GameBoy.  That was Exhibit B, folks), and my toiletries.  Yeah, so I didn’t have shampoo or toothpaste or deodorant for the first day and a half.  Which, let me tell you, was real real nice after a sweaty nine-hour drive in my car.  My car that, as my new employer informed me the next morning, was out of oil.  (I also didn’t shower the day before but don’t worry about it.  And there we have Exhibit C.  Check and mate, myself!)

I will conclude with Exhibit D of the My Life is Not a Rom-Com Case by pointing out that I will be rescued from this Hygienic Drought not by running into some uncharacteristically hot hippie man at the supermarket while I juggle to hide my mundane, yet culturally taboo, toilette items (seriously, if a dude cannot handle the fact that you need a razor to shave your armpits, THAT’S A DEALBREAKER, LADIES), but rather, by my parents coming to visit me for my twenty first birthday weekend.  Not that I’m not thankful or stoked that they’re coming to see me; I am one hundred and five percent.  But, let’s face it, being saved by way of your parents lugging up crucial supplies and facepalming at how you’re going to handle living three months on your own is far less romantic and hilariously awkward than falling in love over an embarrassing encounter at the supermarket with a ruggedly hot dude.

I just couldn’t cut it in a rom-com; I’m still waiting on that aforementioned endearing quality to show itself as I awkwardly fake laugh through conversations with my rentees and spill strawberry smoothie down my shirt at work.

Yellow Brick Roads and Tulgey Wood Paths

When you reach a time in your life when things do not go according to plan, the problem is not what to do.  We know what to do: wallow for a bit, but eventually you pick yourself up and move on because that really is the only option.  Move on.

The question is, where do you move on to?  What are you supposed to do when you lose the path that, even if you couldn’t see the end to, was at least somewhere to start?  When Dorothy started off in Munchkin Land, that Yellow Brick Road just swirled around in that shell loop for a million orbits, but at least she knew that there was somewhere to go.

So what do you do when you’re more like Alice in the Tulgey Wood, following that path that ends up getting swept up by that broom-lion-thing?  (Yeah, yeah I’m talking about the Disney version whatever I’m not hip I actually thoroughly enjoy this movie.)  You had such hope that you might actually be on your way somewhere, doing something exciting, but just when you’re daring to think even the slightest bit ahead, the road gets taken out from right underneath you.

Do you backtrack, find a new journey to begin?  Do you try to forge ahead anyway?

What do you do?