Out of Body

The scene: its Sunday night and the last of the hangover from the night before has faded, though that’s more due to the two beers that accompanied dinner rather than time. I see LB on a subway platform; she’s playing solitaire on her phone with an expression that looks like casual indifference to an outsider, but she’s hiding something. There’s a determination to her indifferent look, she’s trying just a little too hard to appear both casual and expressionless. She waits for the train patiently to take her from Brooklyn back home. Everything about her is patient and expressionless and collected. She is an unassuming stranger on a subway platform to everyone around her, except for me. 

I am standing in front of her on the pebbled yellow tiles like a rebel and I am screaming.

I am what she hides. I am the one she hides from. She suppresses everything into the black cavity in her chest and that is where I thrive; I am the part that feeds on every emotion and doesn’t let them fade away. I am standing on a subway platform and I am screaming, hysterical, my feet stomp and I remember how good it feels to collapse into myself and feel everything all at once. I am crying, hiccups puncture each sob and there are tears staining my good leggings and I don’t even notice. She keeps her eyes on her phone, methodically tapping the cards into place.

She doesn’t try to run from me, or beat me back into the dark place. She waits for the train patiently, and waits on the train patiently once it finally arrives. People around us are also methodically tapping phones, and there’s a general malaise to the energy, that heaviness that comes on a Sunday night. Neither she nor I know what that’s like anymore, that heavy sadness at the end of a weekend; we work every day and look forward to it even more. I stop screaming long enough to breathe into that space and shrink a little as I remember that the only reason I’m here is so we don’t ever feel that heavy energy for ourselves again. 

It’s a long train ride and by the time we get off in the Heights, I’m calmer. That black numbness that is my normal resting state starts to take over and I can feel us merging back into the LB that we’ve become these days. We stop wondering if he got the card that Friday and whether he’s really okay. The black hole where I emerge like a beast becomes a sanctuary for both of us; I can swim in her suppressed emotions and she can exist, and smile, and keep going.

We make it up the stairs and into the apartment, and take a deep breath into the comfort of home. I watch her put the keys away when they fall on the anchor doormat. She halts on the way down as the anchor reflects in her pupils, and before I can step in to save her she crumples onto that doormat again. I watch her breath, ragged and slow, and she counts to five with each exhale. She calls for me, looking for the sweet release of those screams she heard earlier, “come back,” she pleads. “I just need one hour. I just need 100 tears. I just need to feel and then you can go home.”

I enable. We cry. Tomorrow she’ll wake up, make breakfast and go to work and love every minute. But tonight we hold each other and we mourn. Just one hour. Maybe this time really will be the last one.

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dreams, in real life.

At my second job this week, two of my favorite coworkers and I were up front, talking one of us through a dilemma; she wants to leave her second job to focus on this job and her acting career, but is having major guilt. “I wake up in the middle of the night with extreme anxiety that I’ll have a text from my boss,” she told us, “because every time I try to leave she pulls me back in and I can’t go.” We talked her through some advice, and I couldn’t help but smile thinking back to my days where I would look at my second phone and a hard knot would form in my stomach like a hairball. I remember the days of hating my job so much that the thought of reading an email after I left the office caused extreme panic and even anger, and I remember how liberating it was to walk away and vow that no job would make me feel like that ever again.

I haven’t talked much in specifics of the last six months of my life here, preferring instead to allude to changes and challenges until I could form coherent thoughts about where my life is headed. And things aren’t settled now, even a little bit, but they’re starting to make more and more sense. I have a better routine, and I have a clearer vision of who I want to be and how I’m going to get there. My days now are spent at the gym, pushing and learning and going going going until I physically can’t, and then I finish the week working at the store, where I’m connecting with amazing people from the fitness and fashion industry, people in the neighborhood, and I spend my life in workout clothes. This week I’ve been battling some kind of throat infection or other nonsense, and instead of waking up stoked I may get to take a sick day, I fought my boss tooth and nail and then almost cried when he insisted on sending me home early one afternoon so I could rest up.

This feeling, of without a doubt loving everything that I do, is a feeling I’ve been chasing my entire adult life. It’s the dream, right? To look forward to going to work every day, to find it easy to want to work harder and more and longer. I’m literally living in a dream right now and sometimes I think I need a pinch to remind myself it’s real. Unfortunately or fortunately that pinch is delivered to me every single day in multiple ways. When I wake up alone, when there’s no one to send a “Good morning!” text and no one to share my typical LB moments with, like whether I remember to put on deodorant or if I forgot my coffee at home (again). When I come home every night to the same apartment, just me and Little Miss, and when I go to sleep alone in my own bed, to wake up alone and do it again. I had wanted to spend more time in Washington Heights but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.

I wake up every morning loving where my life is taking me. I love my daily routine and I can’t wait for it to shift again as I move into new aspects of training and fitness. I can’t wait to get dressed and get started; I love that I spend my days in the West Village and I don’t have to fight anyone about binge-watching Golden Girls on Hulu when I get home. But in all the happy there’s a resounding theme that cuts through absolutely everything that I do: I miss you, I miss you, I miss you. The words are on backdrop to everything I see and do; I miss him, I miss us, I miss you. I am almost 100% totally fine in every sense of every word, except that little soundtrack I can’t turn off: I miss you. I miss us. I miss it all.

It’s so typical of life, it seems, that the happiest things coincide with the saddest. I’m living in a dream world on both ends, where I’m incandescently happy and also the saddest I’ve ever been. Perhaps that’s how we experience dreams in real life. When there’s no one around to pinch you when you’re waiting to wake up, life gives you a pinch that keeps on coming. I wouldn’t change a single thing in my life at all right now – not even the one thing that would switch the “I miss you” off for good. Because there’s so much behind the “I miss you” that I can’t put on a blog, not yet. But it’s enough for now to know that I haven’t had a pit of anxiety in my stomach like a hairball since I walked out of that office and that life for the last time, and even if it means missing him forever, I wouldn’t change a goddamn thing.