Pulse

My brother and cousin wanted to go dancing this weekend; after complaining and backing out of the plans 18 times in one afternoon, I was finally guilt tripped into going. I wasn’t happy about it but I got outnumbered and called old for turning down the plan. I hate going to clubs, it’s never been my thing. People smell like ass, act out of pocket when they are drunk and most importantly I don’t dance. I think it’s weird for a complete stranger to walk up and ask for permission to dance. I’m very uncomfortable in situations like that but find it very easy to say no when approached which with gets me either cussed out for being a prude or they respectfully smile and walk away. Thank you polite fuckers for not making it weird. However lately my disinterest for going to the club has been heightened. Since the pulse shootings I do not like being in bars and clubs like that where there is little access to the point of entry and exit. What happened at Pulse hit way too close for comfort.

My little brother Joe used to go to Pulse every Friday and Saturday without fail. Having dragged me out there twice I too knew the insides of that club very well. On June 12, 2016 it was nerve wrecking for me to wake up to the news, my brother Joe called me in hysterics telling me that he wasn’t there. He wanted me to know he was okay. Thank god he called me because the uncertainty of not knowing would have destroyed me. He was on the way there when he decided he really wasn’t in the mood to go out and opted to stay home and watch a movie. That change of mind is what may have saved his life.

When that happened I was relieved and was okay externally but because of the recent and frequent shootings we had in Florida that year I grew afraid of being in crowded places. I don’t know what it was but my coworkers and I went as far as planning active shooter exits. I sized up every room I entered and figured out ways to get out. It got to the point where I wanted to pull Jonathan out of school. That’s when I decided I needed help, the friends I spoke to didn’t think I had a torch in the fight, my brother Joe lost friends that night so I didn’t want to burden him with my concerns. I tried blogging and nothing helped. I remember one night I was organizing my closet when my son asked me a question and I snapped for no reason whatsoever. I was overwhelmed. I was feeling the world all at once. So that same night I called the employee resource group and scheduled an appointment with a counselor. I went to a few sessions, which I found helpful and never went again. I can’t fix the inevitable or plan for every possible outcome, so I had to slowly but surely get back in the rhythm of things.

I’ve been fine the past few years since then but this weekend when I was sitting there in a place I didn’t want to be in, for more reasons than I can list, I sat against the wall with my drink in hand for what seemed like an eternity. I smiled and had fun singing along to songs with my cousin and brother but in between the distractions, the music went silent and I looked at every individual that walked through the door. The night felt like it was dragging in slow motion. I wanted to get out of there the moment I arrived. The anxiety of it all was not worth the night of “fun,” I hated it and felt anxious until the moment we got back into my car. I detest that feeling of helplessness and doubt I’ll ever step foot into another club again. It’s just not for me and not worth the panic for something I wouldn’t have done prior to the shootings. It’s different, we make sacrifices and shouldn’t let people or circumstances turn us cowardly when it comes to the things we love to do, this situation is not that.

17 Miles

I was driving with my brother the other night when suddenly at the red light I realized and said, “yesterday was my dads birthday.” I’m really good about dates and numbers so I’m kind of surprised I noticed a day late, but in any case. He is 64 years old now, I don’t know what kind of health he is in and I haven’t seen him in years. I just know that I’m aware that someday, he may be gone and for some reason I still haven’t made sense of my relationship with him. On days like this I usually check online to see if he is still alive, admittedly every time I hit submit I am afraid that he will have a date of decease on the site. Today is one of those days when I couldn’t check for the life of me. By definition he is a monster, I understand that, but sometimes I don’t know if I am doing the right thing. At the end of the day, I have a problem knowing he may be sad that his daughter wants nothing to do with him. I don’t like to be the cause of hurt for him. . .it feels pathetic at times, but that’s the way my heart works. I hand out the benefit of the doubt like it’s on automatic renewal.

The past few weeks with my mother have been taxing. I’m sure that is what warrants this recent concern for my father. I rarely feel like I’ve been handed more than I can handle. I don’t need things from people, all I ask is for an ear and if all else fails a shoulder. When it comes to support speaking to my mother is like reaching a detour without GPS. I could speak all the languages in the world but getting through to her is challenging. It feels like I am talking at her at times. As a mother I always try to make sure I’m doing my best for Jon and in moments when I have been unsure, she has made it impossible to turn to her. Some people don’t have any parents and because of that I do my best to appreciate what I do have but reaching out without reciprocity is hurtful. Jon needs surgery and although it’s not for what could be a serious condition, as a mother I am nervous. The last time I spoke to my mother about it, she started telling me about her ailments. It’s as if no one else exists except for her. She then blamed me for allowing him to do sports as if it weren’t possible he could get hurt doing something he didn’t love. It’s a constant back and forth because she didn’t push her kids to succeed, on the contrary she tried to push us toward a C average life. So naturally I tell her less because I don’t want to continue to frustrate myself hoping that she will change. After 62 years of the same, she’s pretty set in stone. But again as the glutton for punishment that I am, I reach out. I sent her photos of her grandson from Prom and here we are days later, she has yet to bat an eye. I cannot stress how much things I don’t need. I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 14 but still the hope that she will wake up one day and be supportive doesn’t seem to go away. At times I’ve given up on her being present for me and hope that she’d at least be there for Jonathan. But she rarely shows up. Yet his paternal grandmother came to see him before prom, took pictures and was very excited about this moment in his life. She checks in when he is sick, she calls to ask if I ever need anything. They are worlds apart and I’m thankful my son has that kind of support. . .but I feel responsible for the things Jonathan doesn’t have from my family. He has never had a real set of grandparents on my side and although it’s not my fault I wish I could change that. My mom has had moments, MOMENTS of clarity when she has apologized for the way she is but she cries to the point that it’s very difficult to jump in and tell her things from my perspective. We have an emotional language barrier, one that I’m afraid will never be broken down.

I have been in Florida my entire existence but it’s not a place I’ve always loved. The world I know is always within reach but a bulk of my family make it impossible to be happy and frustration free. It sounds terrible but the two years I went without speaking to my family were on record the best two years of my life. They are the reasons why I always wanted to run and I’m not a runner. All of my friends that have become family are in Tampa, I know the ins and outs of this city. But the idea of being too far for most of my blood born family to reach me sounds so incredible that I’ve fantasized about it ever since I was a child. When I was in high school I was ready to move out at 18. I had many reasons for wanting to get out but one of the big ones was that home didn’t feel like home, there was nothing calming about being there. It’s no wonder that I’ve always tried to be as distant as I can.

I have 3 siblings from my mother and we were always at opposing ends because that’s how we were raised. I hate fighting and being angry, it drains the shit out of me so living that way constantly was burdensome. I haven’t spoken to my sister in maybe a year now, I miss the idea of her but again, just like my mother she’s a forlorn conclusion. My family gossips and celebrates other people’s failures at times, they live in the I told you so mentality or that’s what you deserve. I’m not like that in any sense. As I write this I realize that if these people weren’t family, they wouldn’t even be friends. It’s a harsh reality that I live with. The one exception is my brother Jose, he has been the constant reminder that I need to do what makes me happy. A few years ago when I graduated he told me that he knew I would be the one out of the 4 of us to “make something out of myself.” I feel like I’m on my way there but far from done.

A few months ago my mom was on the hunt to purchase a new home. I helped as much as I could, took time off to translate, no big. You do what you can to help family. However somewhere in the process she began to pressure me into moving in with her and her husband. She started to say that they were getting older so if something happened to her I could help because my child was almost grown. It makes sense on paper but it was also kind of insulting. I have 3 other siblings, one is married with 4 children, one is legally blind and disabled and my sister has 3 grown children of her own. Then there is me, one child, no husband. I guess when Jon goes off to college it appears as though I have nothing left. . .but that cannot be far from the truth. I’m only 34 and I have goals in mind and destinations that I want to see, places I want my career to go. I’ve been waiting for the day that I don’t have to worry about removing Jonathan from his home for my own dreams. That time is fast approaching. I don’t know how to say this without sounding condescending but the others don’t have any of that. They are happy with their lives and I respect that but if their lives stayed the same for the next 20 years they would be fine with this. I’m full of ambition and take risks with the goals I want to reach. So I guess I let this be known in a way. I told my mom I didn’t want to live there because I’ve grown accustom to my life and I like the way I run things, I do not want my life to look anything like hers at the end of the day. She insisted about her and the husband getting older and I reminded her that although they may be headed in that direction, they are still solid and require no help. It’s true, they don’t need people at this moment. I also cannot accept the responsibility of taking care of him in her absence. I did not have the same experience with him that my siblings did. The idea of taking care of him nauseates me but it’s not something I feel ready to discuss. So again, I’m ready to run because I refuse to be an option. I know my disinterest in helping isn’t selfish, I have my reasons that any sane person would understand, but rather than open up that Pandora’s box, I rather plan ahead for the great escape.

I don’t know how a post about my father led to this, but I guess it’s the decompression I needed. He lives 17 miles from me and it’s a surprise I haven’t bumped into him in the 17 years he has been out of prison. I wonder if he would recognize me, I wonder if we’d have the same language barrier I have with my mom. I wonder often. In the past 17 years I’ve seen him once and although at the time I didn’t think it would be my last, I haven’t seen him since. I changed my phone number and moved, not coincidentally. It was just life and things changed, he has no way of finding me since I don’t ever attach my complete name to social media. I know that I’m this guys daughter and perhaps the good qualities in him are parts of who I am but I can’t help but to feel guilty, for at times comparing and looking at my mother like she’s not enough when I should appreciate that she did the best she could with what she had.

1 + 1

It’s been almost two weeks since the kiss that changed everything for me. It made everything that felt like a dream my new reality. It was a perfect kiss that required no guidance. It felt as if I had kissed those lips before yet all at once it felt unlike anything I had ever experienced before. I still lie in bed looking at the ceiling wondering how this all happened. How of all the places and people in the world, I found this person that carries my whole entire world in his eyes. All of my questions are rhetorical, I don’t really need an answer as to why because being with him makes all the sense in the world. When I’m missing him I look at his pictures and it feels amazing to know he isn’t just words in a message or phone conversations. He is very real and has my heart gripped with the jaws of life that is his stare and embrace.

I replay all of our moments in my mind and sometimes the memories get so real that I forget he isn’t going to be here lying in the pillow next to me when I look to my left. I miss that sleepy little smile and the kisses on my forehead when I looked over at him. Our week together flew by in the blink of an eye. It’s the happiest I have ever been and I miss that feeling everyday. It’s arduous to be apart and feels impossible to handle but no matter the distance, the hope holds me through. Our day will come again and before I know it his hugs and kisses will be present and no longer just another memory.

Beautiful memories is what I have for now, moments I’ll never forget of our firsts and the nerves that led up to that first kiss. Two strangers in theory that felt like they knew each other a lifetime. I wouldn’t change a thing, the first face to face I love you and everything that followed. He is my happiness and my love. Nothing feels impossible when he is around.

Je t’aimerai pour toujours mes yeux brillants

Jigsaw

So I got my learners permit when I was 16 years old, I waited until it was about to expire nearly ten years later to finally take my driving test. I guess I have a little bit of performance anxiety and driving in front of someone scared the daylights out of me. Needless to say, I passed and it wasn’t as bad as I expected. However, what I got in return was a perspective that I hadn’t anticipated. I often think about this encounter and how much it helped me along the way.

When I showed up to take the test, I was presented with my instructor, he was an older gentleman named Kenneth. He was one of those types of people made for the job, he could tell I was nervous and did everything he could to calm me down before the drive. After passing and while taking my photograph for my license he asked, so when are you getting married? I looked at my hand and remembered I was recently engaged, about 5 months in. I said I wasn’t sure yet and proceeded with my paper work. He then said to me, “can you do me a favor?” I kind of looked at him like he had seven heads and offered me a line. Shortly after my blank stare he said, “when you get home, I want you to find a puzzle, one with as many pieces as you can find, tiny little pieces and ask that young man to sit with you. If he gets frustrated and gives up then you know he may not be right for you. But, if he sits there patiently and takes his time to match the pieces and get the puzzle done, if he cares about all the details and intricacies of the puzzle, then that is how he will be with you. He should be patient, and know that what he has is nothing short of a masterpiece.” I smiled and said, “okay.” He gave me a lot to think about, I have always had an old soul, so when the older population speaks, I tend to listen.

Somewhere between arriving at home that afternoon and dinner, I looked at my fiancé and said, “hey, we should do a puzzle,” to which he responded, “ugh, I hate puzzles.” Five months later, we broke up. Although that wasn’t the reason our relationship ended, I did find truth in the words of the wiseman. That relationship wasn’t the right one for me, for many reasons. I have felt complicated for the majority of my life and although most times I talk myself into believing I am not, there are still moments when I can’t help but to feel like an irregular shaped piece trying to find my place on the wrong puzzle.

I have come to realize it is hard for me to operate in the unknowns, it’s extremely difficult actually. I guess that’s what makes me complicated, the need for information and reassurance. When I’m confident in a situation and know my place, no one can shake me. . .but not knowing makes me an anxious set of circumstances and I don’t know how to not be this way. I realize I have this need to talk things to death so that I can understand them but not everyone operates this way. People aren’t elements on a periodic table, their thoughts aren’t black and white. Things often lie in the grey and although there is nothing wrong with that, I suppose I’m having a hard time trying to keep my spot in the gray without overthinking things. I find that I am worried about coming across as complicated and feeling like the same puzzle I used to feel like. I have many questions yet I’m not prepared for the answers to said questions. I’m willing to figure things out in time but I can’t help but worry that I may become exhausting in my need to know way of being.

PS I miss you

It’s been over 24 hours since I last kissed his lips and I feel lost. I felt important in his gaze, I felt safe and for the first time in my entire life I saw what love looked like when he was staring back at me. Sitting side by side wasn’t enough, I couldn’t be within arms reach without touching him. It was a constant reassurance that yes indeed he is here. Resting my head on his chest, interlocking my fingers with his, it was perfect. I could spend hours looking at him as a smile fluttered across his face every time he caught me staring. I already long for another moment where I was sitting across the table shy because everything about him captivated me. . .the shape and color of his eyes, his eye lashes, the look on his face when he would try to figure out what was on my mind. I miss it all. Some of my favorite moments were those seconds after a kiss when we caught our breath and rested our foreheads against the other. Kissing him was more than what I could have ever imagined, I can’t wait to experience those kisses again.

I try to operate in the positives and be thankful for what I have but today is proving to be profoundly difficult. We are worlds apart again after having had the most amazing week together. He makes me happy, in ways I never knew I needed. But I sit here hours away from the last hug and I feel like my heart is being pulled in a million directions. I left my heart in California and I don’t know when I’ll have it back. I’m sad because time wasn’t kind and the distance is brutal. It seems unfair.

For the first time in my life I gave way to my happiness and allowed it to be front and center. I knew there would be pain involved after the fact because longing for someone that holds every piece of you, having them and then having to walk away from them doesn’t make sense. His arms pulled together all of my imperfections and insecurities and cradled me into feeling perfect. Never was I too much or not enough. I guess it makes sense to hurt like you’ve never hurt before when you feel things you’ve never felt before and you love more than you’ve ever loved. I am morose sitting back in my reality in Florida. I am sure as the days go by things may begin to feel a little bearable, hope will reappear and I’ll be ready to be optimistic and thankful again. But right now, in this moment. . .my heart feels shattered. I miss his face, I miss his voice and the way his embrace made me feel at ease.

I love him with every part of me.

Je t’aimerai pour toujours mes yeux brillants