After I post something deeply personal on this blog-- like my entry about depression, or yesterday's about weight loss-- it almost takes me a while to recover. I've spent full hours today reading comments and emails, and I can't force myself to stop thinking about your stories. Your responses have made me laugh out loud, and think about my own life, and some of them have nearly brought me to tears. What's even more amazing is that every time I get to the end of the comments and refresh the page, ten more have appeared. It means the world to me that so many of you are daring enough to open up to a stranger, and that you trust me and this community with such personal testimonies. You are a beautiful group, and that's not something I say lightly, because the word "beautiful" is often annoyingly misused. But this is not a misuse. In fact, I'm pretty sure the entire internet's beauty quotient is currently being occupied in my blog comments. Don't even bother navigating away from this page; everything else you find will be ugly in comparison. You're all so beautiful, you make Tina Fey look like Carrot Top.
Anyway, I'm not quite ready to jump back into normal blogging tonight-- I think I need another day or so to mediate on the last one, and to continue reading your comments as they come in. I am, however, going to do something totally out of character. I'm going to take a faithful leap into my friend Kristina Horner's footsteps, and since she dared to post a short story yesterday, I'm going to dare to do the same. Keep in mind that I never do this, and that I'll probably keep my eyes partially closed in self-defense as I read your comments, but I guess it's about time.
I just opened my laptop's Short Stories folder, weeded out the ones with adult content (I mean like mild swearing and topics less relevant to this audience, you pervs; you would not want to see me attempt to write porn*), and then I pretty much looked away and pointed at a random file. This is a little vignette I once wrote for a class. We were prompted to tell a story with emphasis on a specific amount of time, and it had to be under a thousand words. But we weren't instructed to be melodramatic and predictable and utterly unremarkable. I just took that upon myself. So. Uhh. Here you go. You're allowed to laugh at me if you want... just don't tell me about it, okay?
" The toilet flushed, and so did my face. It sounded different. Even girls' toilets are different.
I didn't want to be staring hopelessly at the stall door when Claire came out, so I busied eyes to the best of my ability. I glanced at my reflection in the large mirror, splattered with the soap scum of strangers. I looked as out of place as I felt-- a six-foot hairy beast, standing next to a tampon dispenser and digging his fingernails into his palms. It occurred to me that I should say something. I opened my mouth, but my tongue was too dry and my heart was beating too hard.
The latch clicked, and Claire walked slowly out, her bottom lip bitten and her eyes closed. We stood in silence for some time, before she cleared her throat gently. "Are you going to say anything?"
Weird. Her tone was so unlike her-- flat, expressionless, almost intimidating-- but she looked like a sallow little version of the very same Claire. I don't know what I had been expecting. It had only been two months.
"I'm trying," I admitted.
"Yeah, well," she breathed, and I think I heard something like a gasp in the back of her throat. "I didn't wait for you to drive here so I could do this alone."
With a squeak of the heavy wooden door, a middle-aged woman entered the room. Seeing me in my big gray hoodie, the woman's eyes bulged. Claire turned her head sharply and stared at the sink counter, embarrassed.
"Uh... excuse us," I managed to say in a somewhat normal voice, sending a startling baritone echo off the tile floor and walls. The scandalized woman parted her lips and turned quickly to leave, muttering something containing the words "public rest stop" and "indecency." I watched the woman exit and felt another pang of anxiousness when I spotted the blue cardboard box in the trashcan by the door. The same box I'd concealed inside my sweatshirt on my way out of CVS, and the same box whose contents were now being held between Claire's forefinger and thumb, calculating the answer to the question I'd been meditating on ever since she called and asked me to drive over, immediately.
Claire stayed frozen with her eyes cast downward. She was wearing a little white dress, and there were goosebumps up her exposed arms. It was June. I unzipped my sweatshirt-- mostly to buy time before I had to think of something else to say-- and I placed it over her shoulders. She looked for a second like she wanted to slink her arms into its sleeves, but she kept both hands steady on the little blue stick she held.
How have you been? I imagined her asking. Then I could reply, and say something like, I've thought about you. I still care about you enough to be here. I'm here, aren't I? I had to give my mom an excuse, and I had to pay for gas, and I'm here. In a girls' bathroom on the side of the highway, so you didn't have to do this at home, and you didn't have to do this alone. I'm here.
But she didn't say anything, or further acknowledge the sweatshirt, or give me any meaningful glances to let me know that she didn't blame me. She just stood there. Blaming me.
Finally, she said, "You stopped calling me."
"I didn't think you wanted me to. I saw pictures of you with that guy--"
Claire pushed a puff of air out through her nose. "On Facebook?"
"Uh." My shoes looked muddy. Had it been raining outside? Had I walked into the highway rest stop in such a nervous stupor that I hadn't noticed rain? "Yeah, I guess I saw them on Facebook."
Claire opened her eyes a little wider, as if to suggest that she would have found this funny, if she were currently capable of feeling anything but fear and disdain. She might have said, I guess we came full circle, then. I might have nodded and mused that, several months ago, when I saw a pretty girl on a mutual friend's profile, I never would have guessed that I'd spend spring break driving an hour back and forth between Pittsburgh and New Castle every available day, just to feel her against me, or that those short weeks when we were a We would bring us... here.
Because Claire said nothing, I dared to ask the question I'd been harping on all morning, alone in my mom's SUV. "Did... did you want me to keep calling you?"
But just as the words left my mouth, the phone timer in her dress pocket dinged. We looked at the little blue stick in her hands, and then at each other. For as out of sync as we had been in the past two months, Claire and I quietly gasped in unison, as she turned the little blue stick over in her shaking hand. "
So... that's, like, a story. It's no masterpiece, but I don't think it's terrible. Whether you like it or not, I hope you appreciate that I just took a serious risk in showing you. Lucky bitches. On to the sensing!
Today, I saw: about six episodes from the third season of 30 Rock. Ugh, I want to be Liz Lemon.
Today, I heard: "Freebird" playing over the grocery store loudspeaker, which was enough for me to momentarily forget that I don't play guitar. There may have been some rocking out in the shampoo aisle.
Today, I smelled: my own sweat in mass quantities, when I took a psychotically long and grueling cross-country run. Seventy minutes! It felt good. And also awful. Runners know what I mean.
Today, I touched: a fresh blister on my foot. Ooooww.
Today, I tasted: two servings of my favorite dark chocolate, because when you run, you're allowed to consume twice as many calories, right?
Once again, I'm looking forward to reading your comments on today's post, as well as any more on yesterday's. I hope you all have a lovely Wednesday, and I'll see you tomorrow night!
Chipotle burritos this year: 23
Nail color: Gasp! Blank. I'm in the process.
*Alright, if you INSIST. It was a dark and stormy night. Two people were in a house, and then they got it on and stuff. It was exciting and undignified and kind of gross, and everyone was really into it. Now pay me lots of money for that thrill I just provided you.