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There he was in his beige jacket and brown hat, in front of the courtyard. He entered the stairwell on the left. I stood by the door until the bell rang. He walked in and I saw that the relationship was still there shortly afterward, preserved after 9 years. It had been put on hold after I told him to
leave me alone
at work in frustration. But now it seemed none of that ever happened, and I felt at ease with his cool, soft-spokeness. We watched the Walking Dead. And I remembered our 28 Days Later.
Her bathroom walls looked like dirty stucco. Collages of artists and layered landscapes attempted to divert your attention. I saw a quote she used to use 7 years ago on Myspace to the right of the sink. She was applying makeup and running her fingers through her short, bleached hair. She affirmed what I was thinking. After 2 years, she's on her own again. She's changing. She's vying for time to center herself amidst the rat race. She lives alone, too. And neither one of us is in college anymore, but we're still in our prime, I'd remind her optimistically.
My phone went off while I lied in bed, close to sleep. Who could it be close to 11? I thought. The curiosity lead me to get out of bed and pick up the phone, charging by the cactus. He was just asking me what I was doing. I lied and told him I was reading in bed, so he wouldn't think he was disturbing me. The phone rang shortly after, disconnected. Rang again. Hello? I told him what was going on. No more talk of visiting. It was understood that I needed to work. Brief. Glad somethings going on.
I don't know how she does it, I thought, in my brother's kitchen, trying to find the 8 oz bottle. My mom had a note of authenticity in her voice--such a rare occurrence it got my attention. She was frustrated. The baby had started crying. My nephew got a hold of the powder and was running down the hallway with it, shaking it vehemently. I followed the trail into his room and behind the crib where I snatched it from him with an equal note of frustration. He cried. I had a headache later that only a book cured.
Awake. I'm going to miss an incoming, unidentified call because the sleep is still in my voice. In the kitchen, I rinse the chalky residue old coffee from a cup and make a fresh pot. I needed to wake up quickly, because it's just past 5 and the end of the day for HR departments. I'm flailing with the strings on the blinds, as if they were an anxious thought, letting in more fading light. It's Barb, from the home improvement store down the road, sounding quite impressed. I need to catch her before she leaves. I smile. And dial.
Blowing smoke out my bathroom window into the cold March air. Coffee on the sink. The phone is charging in my bedroom--exhausted from frequently responding to its tinkling notifications which let me know there's another word game to be played. Dropping the butt into the toilet, rinsing the sink of ash, I close the window and return to the main room. Excitement brews with the prospect of an interview tomorrow, and in the meantime an imprecise sketch of a street downtown sits beside the laptop--my connection to the future. Where music is played, resumes submitted, fleeting correspondence had.
It was dark downtown. I found a park next to a lone bar Steve and I used to go to regularly before I started having seizures again in late 2009. Tonight I was meeting him at a small Greek restaurant. There he was, at the end of the booth that ran the length of the diner. He smiled congenially as I placed my coat on the chair across from him. At the counter, I ordered roasted veggies and a cup of water. I talked about my day. He talked about the movie he just saw. Good to be out tonight.
I left the pomegranate cleanser in my hair until my scalp tingled with refreshment. Beads of water ran down the branches of the tree that was engraved on the shower curtain. One more interview with Lowe's. It's mine--temporary or no. My mom took the bus to Meijer this morning, so I wasn't surprised when I received a call notifying me that a debit card was left behind. A few neighbors are home today. There's the tall young blonde guy, smoking. Talking to his roommate outside. There's the man in the leather and cop shades, picking up after his dogs.
The question is do I write an entry in the morning or in the evening? Both options have their pros and cons. If I write an entry in the morning, I'm done for the day and don't have to worry about it. But then what's there to make note of during the day? You're done already. My friend gave me a stack of old magazines last night for my collage. What pictures and quotations do I cut from them? How is one thing more relevant to 2012 then another? The same holds true for 100 words. What's worthy of showcasing?
The clank and roar of the train is drifting through my window. My friend Erin says it's annoying when the conductor pulls the horn to frequently late at night, but personally I think the sound is very peaceful. My bus driver during freshman year of HS was also my art teacher, and every morning we'd go over rusty red railroad tracks on the way to the next city. When it came time to paint something, my dad drove me to the nearest railroad tracks so I could take a picture. Seventeen years later the painting still adorns my bedroom wall.
After breakfast, I walked through IKEA. Nothing I hadn't seen before. I sped up my pace, but it's a big store. An inconspicuous stairwell offered a shortcut downstairs, so I began walking down the steps, into a bank of wavy mirrors at the landing--2 for $29.99. A black and white Audrey Hepburn canvas was at the bottom, featuring the actress looking coyly over her shoulder. A guy that I fell for in 2007 took a few pictures of himself with the same print. We were even in this store. Listening to The Fray going home completed the nostalgia.
I was sitting, half-slumped on the couch, reading. I could hear the neighbor's wind chimes and the force of the wind blowing when it occurred to me that attitude is present in everything. Even in the way we sit. I straightened then, and adjusted my posture. My dad's conscience was always clear--he sat, spine perfectly aligned, with a pillow on his lap if he was reading or just a focused, self-aware presence if he was watching TV. Sometimes it's that strength I aspire to possess. But I wonder if it's just something I'll grow into in time.
I walked around the apartment complex last night, past duplicate courtyards and buildings. The same floorplan in which I lived repeated countless times by the small sliding bathroom window and the bedroom window. Each building had four two-bedroom units and eight one-bedroom units. The only difference being that the brick on some buildings was a pale red as opposed to my beige. The trees changed too of course, with different sets of dark phalanges lit by the exterior lights where tiny snowflakes swirled around them. The scenery saw me get in shape last fall, and it will again.
I took note of the time as I re-entered my apartment. One hour until my jeans are done drying. I walked into my bedroom. A swath of sunlight fell across the foot of my bed, and the next thing I knew, I was soaking up the rays, watching the UV rays play with the hairs on my arms, changing color from red, translucent, blonde and brown--glistening in some spots. I closed my eyes and basked in the warmth, knowing that all things begin with the sun. Light, thoughts, life as we know it. I missed the laundry deadline.
Nicholas set his humble purchases from Walmart on the floor by the passenger seat, staring out at the black rain. He fumbled into one of the bags for the box of Nutter Butters, biting into the chocolate and peanut butter wafers.
by One Republic was on the radio, as he thought of the black woman who just got out of the car next to him with a phone against her ear and a troubled look on her face. Where had she been that day and what was bothering her? He gripped the steering wheel tightly, leaving.
It was a new day with the smell of dusty linoleum, card tables and cold coffee. The sequestered innards of the store churned, broadcasting ideals through pamphlets and staples, DVDs, humble brown eyes. In return, we repetitively input our information with a firm grip on our pens and an acceptance. And I can't believe that description only used 50 words. I should wrap things up because it's late and I shouldn't be on the computer right now. The dishtowel besides me smells clean, laundry fresh. White with blue stripes. And tomorrow I'll be ready for another day, and more time.
Charles walked up to the skyscraper on his right. A man stood outside the front door and opened it for him. Charles nodded in acknowledgement and was greeted by an open expanse of cream marble. Two black statues accented doors on his left and his right, and a staircase ahead of him led up to what appeared to be the main reception area. A dimly lit piano bar was lied beyond the door to his left, and he made his way into the expanse. Over a dozen professionals mingled quietly. A tip jar atop the grand piano full of bills.
I'm in a funk. Can't find my center tonight and don't feel like it's a risk worth taking, staring at the computer screen. I should do my entries in the morning. I miss the security of having my dad around, so I drove by the old house tonight. The gas stations and businesses gave way to a rain slicked corridor and blinking yellow lights in the distance. The lights in the house were on, and I saw that a piece of furniture was arranged differently through one of the windows as I rounded the cul-de-sac. Don't live there.
Your meal is ready
, Charles heard, followed by the sight of his Steak Fiesta platter, sizzled to perfection, being placed in front of him. There was a curious turn of the wrist and a
. The dish spun like a porcelain penny, and through its reverberations, Charles was aware of the act that his lap was on fire. He stood up reflexingly, beside the wide eyes of the waiter who began a rampant display of apology. Charles swallowed in exasperation and the waiter began taking strides to wipe the sauce from his crotch. Charles punched him.
I'm trying to find my artistic edge again, so I found myself painting various shades of green. Reminiscent of a faded background of leaves. The center point will be a cherry tree branch, in bloom. I need to be more frugal with my paint, because it dries fast, and covering it with saran wrap doesn't really help. I caught Erin at the pharmacy this morning. She's trying an anti-convulsant to help even out her mood. Passing the all natural, blueberry stress relievers and antacid bottles, she announced she's working from home. I told her I', just anxious for hours.
The room got progressively cooler. Tutorials full of acronyms and how-to's about how to clean up a spill and climb a ladder demanded his attention by requiring the click of a mouse button after each paragraph. Toby buttoned his coat and alternated between sitting up and bouncing his legs and sitting back with a dazed look on his face. He thought the store should change its colors. Use something lighter than dark blue and red. Is that why the store's competitor is more successful? With their use of orange and white? I'm always open to more hours, he said.
Well it's after 10, and a stick of Dragon's Blood incense is burning. I purchased it at Walmart a week or two ago. It's in the mid 30's, but warm enough to keep my kitchen window slightly ajar. It was a day with purpose again, and I feel good about that. I babysat for my niece and nephew this morning and worked this evening--returning to the same environment I found myself in 3 years ago. My hands feel funny after operating the blower, and I got a good work out pushing the tractors back inside the store before leaving.
Vlad stared at his old co-workers, who were off the clock and having a good time. They were sporting goofy grins and some had their arms draped over each other's shoulders. Even his crush, Thomas, was there. The photos took awhile to load--blurry at first--but occasionally if he tapped them they would resonate. He found himself losing patience, tapping the next photo repeatedly to no avail. What he felt was regret. If only he made more of an effort to hang out with them. Would he still be working there? Would he want to be working there?
Todd tried to tell Stu he ran into one of his old friends at Horsepower Stadium. He described how he ran into him with his popcorn. How Stu's friend pet his Beagle behind the ears while watching the horses. For awhile, Todd thought Stu would believe him, but Stu asked more probing questions. How did the conversation illuminate our relationship? What did he say--did he say hi? I answered his questions but then he laughed and said he doesn't see me hanging out at the horse races on my off time. The context obscured the truth of the situation.
I felt a strong sense of deja vu leaving work today, unable to grasp that it's already been 3 years since I've been in this retail environment. A lot has changed, but it seems that I have stayed the same. Still flirting with the past. Getting home, I pulled up my 100words entry from 3 years ago. Some Patty Smyth song was stuck in my head that day. I listened to it on Youtube and remembered it, but didn't like it enough to favorite it. For positivity's sake, I'm somewhat content. It feels good to be working for a living.
Olav approached the entrance to the interstate, ambivalent. His feet began to tingle as he told himself to "get on the damn thing". He circled the on ramp and began driving--pleased with his progress. Apparently doing this in the morning as the sleep cleared had its advantages. But then he found himself behind a semi truck, and as he was passing it on the left, he suddenly felt the need to get off. His palms sweated. He managed to maneuver around the truck and took the next available exit. The only solution is exposure, he thought, gradually calming down.
They were looking at racks of fountains, considering how they could be rearranged to make room for another one. The air was chill through the store's fencing. Multiple lights illuminated no one else. Corey realized the importance of having work relationships, but there was something about John's friendly blue eyes, pensive at times as he was thinking, that attracted him. So Corey took a chance and asked about his family and his artwork. He found himself looking at John's artwork while John dragged his sculpted finger across his smartphone in illustration. They were standing close as John's wedding band shone.
Trey started to feel the exhaustion at the end of the day, but it wasn't the same kind he experienced in the office. He simply felt like sleep, whereas before, he'd find his mind racing. The night was quiet. A road through the woods reminded him of part of a Robert Frost poem:
The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.
And with a slam of the car door, he headed back across the parking lot, into the store.
It was a makeshift cafe, nestled close to the bowels of downtown. Heating ducts made of crinkled tin foil stretched down the length of the room, stopping where a band had set up to play. Vlad examined an oil on canvas, depicting a girl in a bonnet with half of her face worn away. A woman whose face was covered in a shade of zombie blue sold him coffee from a small Krupps machine behind the dusty counter. He sipped conservatively as the band played, noticing the 20-something couple with matching neck tattoos of their spine underneath their skin.
"I had an active social life until about 2000," Derek said.
"Maybe that's the case with many people," Eric said. "As work and family vie for all of our time."
"Well, that and I think we just grow out of it. It could happen at 25 or 45, while some people never do."
"Yes, I began a quiet life of reflection and meditation around 2010," Eric said, waiting for a laugh.
Instead, Derek brushed the side of his nose and fixed the napkin in his lap. Eric's eyebrow furled as he waited for the next course.
Corey typed inspiration into Google and looked at the images. Most of them depicted moonlit scenes or swirls of color. Perhaps a ray of sunshine somewhere cold. Knowing, according to Tchaikovsky, that it doesn't willingly visit the lazy, but also knowing the need to relax and let it flow. He remembered his last major wave of inspiration, shortly after writing down a list of goals. Suddenly, everything around him looked different and he knew that it was in him to make anything happen. But tonight he's just clutching for straws, content to watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones.
The Tip Jar