Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Graceful Truth: Part VIII

It amazes me how many times I feel utterly alone. Standing in a crowd of friends and family and I feel ostracized from every single one of them. Sitting in my desk chair at work listening to the soft hum of the air conditioning knowing there are co-workers less than 20 feet from me but the air is so still I can hear myself breathing. Late at night when I cuddle up to my puppy, his warmth and comfort of a heart beat is the only thing that makes me feel like I wanted.

The truth is I am not alone, not really. But the feeling of it is too overwhelming to look past. I have many options of people in my life, I am lucky to know so many wonderful people. But I bet those people feel alone too. The married ones, the engaged ones, the ones in fresh relationships and the ones that have been with their partner for years. It takes only a few moments and a few hard days to feel like an outsider of a world you are so used to.

I like being busy because it keeps my mind from the vacant moments. How many nights have a read myself to sleep? Watched entire tv shows alone with no one to talk to them about?

In the back of my mind I scream at myself to stop being so damn dramatic. "You have plenty of friends, what's with the oh poor me stint?" I can't answer that because I have no idea where this melodramatic attitude stems from. Do you know what I mean? I hope you do, because there are days I seriously want to smack myself for the way that I feel.

When I answer his phone call I feel alone, abandoned, broken, decrepit. I feel lost and heartbroken. I feel like the world has swallowed me up whole and there is no way out of it. I am gone. I am in the black abyss of nothingness.

For the longest time I have only ever wanted to feel wanted by someone. I just want someone to look at me the way he used to. I want to know that there is something in this life other than the quiet click of my bedroom light and the cold sheets I climb into alone every night. Do you feel this way? Perhaps maybe I am alone in this too.

"Gracie I want to come see you."

I know I should hang up, I know I should tell him no but I don't. I say yes, because being alone is too painful. "Being with him won't be much better," the voice from the back of my mind screams at me. But I ignore my reasoning, and tell him the number to my hotel room. At least I won't be alone.

The Graceful Truth: Part VII

I remember it so clearly; the first time I told him I loved him still and I wanted more than an every once in a while thing. He got this doe-eyed expression on his face but followed it up with a deadpan look of pain and regret. We were sitting together at a bar in down town San Diego surrounded by our close friends. Well, they were most definitely more his friends than mine, I had already moved away, had already ducked out of his life like it were the bubonic plague coming to destroy me.
He glanced away into the crowd, his leg beginning to shake with the pressure of emotion bubbling up inside of him. It was several months before our wonderful LA weekend together, and I made the utter mistake of thinking one day in the hot sun wrapped close to his body was enough for him to forgive me for all the mistakes I had made in the past. I saw the torn flesh and mutilated bones beneath the sturdy structure of his life, but the damage was still there, and no amount of lazy Saturday’s together would ever fix what I did.
“Grace I…,” he began but was immediately interrupted by his best friend Alex who had bought another round of drinks for the table.
“Why so glum friend?! You have drinks, a hot lady on your arm, and you have me! Cheer up fucker!”
He smirked and doused his throat with a hearty chug of Newcastle before he disengaged himself from my side expressing a need to smoke. I didn’t follow him, I knew that he needed the fresh air and the time alone.
Looking back maybe I should have followed him, maybe that had been my only chance, but I knew deep down that it wouldn’t have worked. His eyes had told me no before his mouth was able to produce the correct syllables. It was no then, and it was no the few months after, I should have known better but the blinders were on and I was forging ahead at full speed.
The music outside of the tent slowed to a stop and before I knew it the wedding was wrapping up to a close. I suddenly didn’t want it to end. It felt like the drop of water from a constant cliff side going dry without warning. I needed more, I craved the cool sparks of his touch, I craved the warm fire building to the heights of an inferno in my chest.
“I have to say my good byes to my sister,” Kellan said pausing for a moment looking back inside the tent toward the slowly dispersing crowd. “Are you, staying anywhere close tonight?”
I knew what he was asking, and as much as my mind was screaming at me to tell him no, my mouth couldn’t form a plausible reason to cooperate. “Yeah, I have a room at the Hilton.”
“Good,” he said with a slow smile. “Don’t leave just yet, I’ll be right back.” He handed me his pack of Menthol's that he hadn’t himself touched, and his lighter before dashing inside to lift his sister in a brotherly bear hug.
I was in deep now.  You are probably thinking that I could just say no, and you are right I could, but I now myself better by this point and when it comes to Kellan I never know how to say no. He always yanks me in by both hands dragging me under his spell. I fall hard, I fall fast, and then I’m drowning alone and he is gone yet again. I made one mistake, one tiny misstep, and it’s haunted me every day since. If only I hadn’t walked away from him that night, if only I hadn’t found that other guy, if only…if only.
My head hangs in the shaming guilt of my past and I can’t keep from lighting up another cigarette, a steady slow stream of smoke zipping in and out of my lungs calming me slowly into a less agitated state. Once the flame licked at the filter I dug into the pack and lit up again. No sense in stopping now, I was finally feeling a little more in control of myself. The champagne had worn off and the water was filtering out my alcohol soaked system.
By cigarette three I glanced back into the tent to see where Kellan was but through the remaining 20 or so guests he was nowhere in sight. His sister, hugging a few of her random cousin’s, glanced up to see me standing alone and smiled in my direction before heading my way.
“Hi Grace,” she said smoothly. It was the first time we had spoken all evening.
“Hi,” I said softly feeling a little ashamed that I hadn’t spoken a word to the main woman of the evening. It was her night after all and I had all but completely ignored her. “Have you seen…,” I started before her head ducked down and then popped back up.
“He left.”
Shock rang through me at her words and at first I didn’t actually believe her. “Left? Did he say where he was going, or when he would be back?”
“Well, he um…left with a few girls, I don’t exactly expect him to come back.”
I think she noticed my shock was more than just surprise, it was also massive hurt. My eyes began to sting with salty wetness and I shook my head several times to ward off the rising sickness vying to break out of my throat. “He just left?”
The black vortex of my past crashed into my present settling like a weight of bricks over my shoulders. There was no leaving it behind, no keeping it in the past. It was official now and I had to get it through my head. He would never take me back, he would never love me again, and there was no reason why I should ever see his face again.
Somehow I managed to stumble to my hotel, though I am not sure how I actually got there. My feet were screaming at me, so I think I walked almost most of the way. I stumbled half heart sick half drunk (because I most definitely snagged a half bottle of Tullamore Dew on my way out of the party) into the lobby of my hotel. The doorman was softly yelling at me but I didn’t pay him much attention as I punched the elevator button and fell through the doors as they split apart.
If my life were a movie Kellan would have dashed through the closing elevator doors just as they were about to shut. He would have walked up to me and grabbed my face kissing me with everything he had. He would have professed his undying love for me apologizing for his mistakes and his neglect of our togetherness. Or, as soon as I exited the elevator I would have seen him sitting outside of my door waiting for me to come back. With a bottle of my favorite whiskey and two glasses, one already half-filled because the nerves got to him too fast and too strong for him to wait. But my life isn’t a movie, and romantic gestures never happen for me.
You know what I got? A text at 330am. And you know what I did? I answered it.

K: U up?
G: no, go away
K: Can I call?
G: I’m sleeping
K: Nice try Gracie, come on, talk to me. I wanna talk to you
G: silence
K: I’m calling you now, please answer

I did answer, because even after all this, I am still the biggest damn idiot there ever was. Don’t get your hopes up. With this rolling coil of fear squirming through my body, this phone call isn’t going to be a good one I can guarantee it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Wanna see something amazing and rad!? Come on Nerds, don't wait another second!

Special Nerding Moment!!!

I just can't pass up the opportunity to share this one :)


The Graceful Truth: Part VI

Have you ever been to Disneyland, or a theme park where you have to wait in line for an undetermined amount of time waiting and waiting for your moment to sit in the hot seat for maybe three minutes? That’s what I feel like right now. I am sitting in my seat clutching glass seven of champagne trying my best to sip it as slowly as possible while my legs shake out a rhythm of crazed nerves.
After Kellan walked away from my table at the elbow of the elderly gentleman I immediately started to keep a closer eye on him. I told myself it was because I wanted to be ready when he asked me to dance, but the truth was that after his lips brushed against my skin I couldn’t seem to stop my eyes from devouring him. Perhaps it was half creepy stalker of me, but I chalked it up to just feeling prepared when we would be in closer proximity.
Three slower waltz songs pass through the air followed by an upbeat jazzy number and a more pop spastic hit that I forgot I used to secretly like.  My knees shake and tremble the entire time as my stomach does an endless number of back flips every time Kellan happens to catch my stalker eyes. He smiles at me, and waves, he makes silly faces at me from across the room. It takes me about 30 full minutes to realize he is watching me as much as I am watching him, and not just that but he is eye flirting with me. That’s a thing I swear it, I felt the blazing metaphorical heat against my skin every time he glance my way.
By song ten I was starting to think he forgot about me. He had danced once with his sister, once with each of the three bridesmaids, and once with an older woman that kept her hands quite close to the top of his ass. He had to keep pulling her hands upward but they continually slipped back down to fondle him like an old pervy woman is allowed to do.
Song twelve (yes I am counting alright!) and I am drinking water. I know, but its bubbly water and I need some actual hydration. I close my eyes to regain some composure because by this time I am at a loss of what to do. It’s been a while since I have seen him, but not that long that I don’t remember him.
There was a weekend about two years ago that he was actually able to meet me in my neck of the woods. We hadn’t seen each other in over a year and had been off and on friends after the break up for almost two years. Things were comfortable for us, easy, like drinking a nice cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer afternoon. It just made sense and there was never a reason not to.
He met me at a restaurant in Downtown LA and the last thing I expected was a clean shaven god of a man to walk up to me and smile like he had known me for years. “Hey beautiful.” He said it like we had just talked earlier that day, when I hadn’t really talked to him in several months.
It was him, but he was the clean cut dressed up gorgeous version of him. When we dated he had his clean pretty moments, but that evening he had hit the nail directly on the head. My mouth watered and my knees trembled just looking at him.
It wasn’t fair how easily he was able to instigate these wobbly feeling inside me. The second his hand touched my cheek that night I had been a goner. The entire weekend was a blur of skin, sweat, drinks, and giggles. Then it was over and we were back to being distant friends and somewhat inconsistent pen pals.
That night assaulted my lonely mind whenever I had trouble falling to sleep, or in moments like these when I was surrounded by loving couples but I had nothing to show off. Watching him offer his hand to yet another young blonde woman while I waited for him on the side lines felt like a punch in the gut.
Sometimes though, especially in these moments, I feel like I deserve what’s being chucked in my lap. I pushed him away and told him to leave. I made the decision to date another guy right after him, I also made the decision to move away and distance myself from him. It’s my fault, and mine alone that he has other avenues to walk down instead of the one aiming toward me. I know I want something with him, I see that now and it’s impossible to deny it, but I can’t ask him for it. The second my mouth opened it would just be a running stream of nonsense and word vomit anyways. The Champagne has done its job, I am a buzzed up bubbly mess.
I stood up on wobbly legs and headed out toward the front of the tent where the evening air kissed my skin with freshness. It's cool, but not overly cold. In my green silk dress the evening actually felt beyond perfect. I really craved a cigarette, I wanted something sharp and biting to whip my sense back into shape. Every limb in my body was filled to the brim with bubbles and Brut, I needed a punch of nicotine to right my world again, and I hadn’t smoked in over three years.
“Still crave the menthol? Or do you prefer the classy American Spirits like most LA smokers do?” His voice was like melted chocolate over my senses; drugging, dark, and deeply sensual.
“Menthol always,” I responded easily, as though his words and tone had no effect on me whatsoever.
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a fresh box of Marlboro Menthol's smacking his palm with the ease of experience before offering me first pick. I plucked one from its pristine placement and brought the filter to my lips before I remembered that I had no lighter.
“I’ve got ya.” His hands slipped up toward mine cupping my wrist to keep me steady before snapping the flame at the end of the cigarette.
Silence enveloped the space between us making my mind relax into comfort. It felt wonderful, the kiss of our past slid between us in a whirl of memories we didn’t need to voice aloud. But of course I ruined it, it is what I do best really.
“So how is your girlfriend?”
He chuckled softly casting a sideways glance in my direction before he flared up his own cigarette. “It isn’t obvious? You’ve been watching me all night, I thought you would have caught on sweetheart.”
My head whipped his direction so fast that my cigarette almost flew out from between my lips. “What happened?” I asked shyly, like he didn’t know the meaning behind my question. ARE YOU SINGLE!? PLEASE GOD TELL ME YOU ARE SINGLE AND WANT ME!
“We had our differences and we ended it.” Simple. Honest. Told me absolutely nothing.
“Oh.” I took another hefty drag on my cancer stick and flicked the ends several times more than necessary as I took in his words. No wonder he was dancing with every blonde woman in the vicinity, he always had a preference to them. Always made me wonder what he saw in my dark red straighter than straight strands.
Music sifted out to our silent spot in bubbling waves and I unconsciously began to sway. Kellan noticed. He turned toward me plucking the cigarette from between my fingers and flicked it into the ash tray before his hand slipped around my waist pulling me in close for a slow soft dance. We didn’t really move all that much, we more swayed to the tune, but our bodies pressed into each other like old lovers. My head drooped toward his shoulder allowing our cheeks to kiss side by side. I felt his lips rustle through the layering of my hair before he planted a tender kiss on my temple.
“I’ve missed this,” he whispered softly.
I pulled slightly away from him needing to see his eyes to know if what he spoke was truth or just in the moment words, but his eyes gushed with emotion and I was immediately drowning in their tenderness. “I’ve missed you too.”
His subtle smirk sparked a fire in my belly before he gently nudged my nose with his pulling me closer as the music spun around us in a wave of magical wonder.
Disgusting right? Makes you want to puke a little? I know, I warned you didn’t I? Love makes everything sound so perfectly sweet, so unendingly romantic, so doused in confection sugar that you would get diabetes just thinking about it. But I was in it, I was lost once again. He had me, yanked me under and I didn’t care that I couldn’t breathe. This is why love is disgusting, he could have slit my throat with his own hand and I would have said, “It’s ok, I still love you,” on my last dying breathe.
God, I disgust myself. Screw the champagne, where the hell is the whiskey?

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Graceful Truth: Part V

One morning I was feeling horribly sick, the kind of sickness that stabs you in the abdomen and shakes around like a steady earthquake inside your pain receptors. I was staying over at his place like I would normally do, but this particular morning I was really regretting it. I couldn’t sleep, it was maybe four in the morning and I just kept rolling, twitching, and huffing.
Finally, sometime around 530 am I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stumbled my way to the bathroom, which wasn’t easy because the pain in my stomach had bloomed towards my sides and back. I could barely walk, but I made it to the bathroom thinking that if this was just a normal morning constitution I would never ever again eat carne asada fries from that dinky Mexican place down the street.
Twenty minutes later not only did nothing happen, but I was starting to feel worse. I just had no idea what was wrong with me. A soft knock sounded at the bathroom door before Kellan’s sleep rumpled face poked through the crack. “Babe, you ok?”
I looked up at him slightly embarrassed as I sat uselessly curled in a ball on top of the toilet in nothing but a t-shirt, and my blue and purple stripped boy shorts. I was in too much pain to do anything about my embarrassment so I just mumbled a half spoken no and stumbled off the toilet toward the floor wanting nothing but to curl up and die.
“Do you know what’s wrong?”
As soon as he asked the question it was like my brain flipped on finally screaming the answer at me. It had happened twice before, both times I had no idea what it was, but this time I just knew. The pain doubled up on the left side of my back shoving a hot poker of fresh agony between my ribs. I knew without a doubt that I once again had kidney stones.
Immediately I panicked because there was no way I could get to the hospital. I definitely couldn’t drive, Kellan didn’t have a license (long story there), and I didn’t have insurance to call an ambulance. I didn’t know what to do but the words spilled from my lips as he hauled me back to his room and carefully deposited me back on the bed. “I need to go to the hospital.”
The look on his face was serious and slightly gushing with immense worry. “The hospital? Is this that bad?”
“I have kidney stones again.”
“Oh shit.”
I nodded my head because all forms of communication were quickly shutting down. I don’t know when or how he made the decision, but within a few minutes I had a sweater over my head, shorts on, my sandals strapped to my feet, and I was stumbling alongside him toward my truck parked out front.
Though I’m pretty sure I mumbled something about him not having a license he slightly laughed and said, “I don’t care if I get a ticket, I am getting you to the hospital Gracie.”
There was no reason to argue, and for the most part I couldn’t have argued even if I tried. Though it felt like a million years, he got me to the emergency room in under 25 minutes. By the time I got inside and on a gurney bed I was a ragging wreck of tears, snot, and gurgling moans. Trust me when I say that kidney stones are one of the most painful experiences I have ever had to endure, and I have gone through a lot of painful things.
He stayed by me the whole time; through the tests and the long waiting, through talking to my doctor and the nurses. He even called my mother to make sure she knew what was going on. We drove to the drug store and picked up several different pill bottles, one of which made me horrible sick and I threw up what little I had in my stomach in the target parking lot.
“I am so sorry, I am such a wreck!” I mumbled in between sobs of numbed pain and nausea.
Kellan reached out with both hands and grabbed the sides of my face before I could pull away. My breath stank with pill infused puke, my hair was in a mass of knots and kinks from sleeping on it, and my eyes were so swollen from crying that they itched like there was sand plastered over them. “Stop it Gracie, I love you, and I want to make sure you are ok. I’ll get you home and tuck you into bed and when you feel better we can order pizza from that place you like.”
Looking out at Kellan as he took his place at the Bridal party table I saw nothing of that man that stood by me on that day so long ago. Everything about him had changed and I felt this vast stretch of nothingness blanketed between us that I would never be able to cross again. It wasn't really that he looked that much different, or that his personality struck a different tune, it was more that he had never seemed more unattainable. Before I had no qualms being close to him, seeking him out, talking to him out of the blue; but today it all felt different. He felt untouchable and I didn't have the strength to press through the invisible barrier.
I glanced down at my plate of picked over chicken and fried potatoes and grimaced at how little I managed to put away. It wasn’t like I had a choice, my stomach was tied in such a fierce knot that the only thing I could manage to get down was champagne, and I was fine with that. I was on glass three and going strong.
Music filled the wide tent space as glasses clinked watching the couple of the evening prance out to the dance floor. Looking at the beautiful bride I suddenly experienced a moment of clear understanding and comfort. She was truly beautiful, and extremely happy. The groom pulled her close to him and they danced through the entire song without taking their eyes off each other. It would normally be a gag inducing moment for me, but truly I couldn’t help but smile at her obvious joy. I knew what it felt like to be loved like that, to be cherished. I had to give it to the girl that she snagged a man that would treat her with the respect and love she deserved.  They spun and swayed along to the soft lilting music pulling my head more away from my negative thoughts and refocusing on the good.
“There’s that smile that I’ve been waiting to see,” a deep voice said from just over my shoulder before my stomach dropped out from beneath me hitting the floor with a loud splat.
I turned slowly, the smile now more manic in fear than split wide with joy, as I stared into the soft brown eyes I had been dreaming of since I walked away eight years ago. His smile was easy, the small kind of smirk lifting the corners of his eyes as the iris’ sparkled with excitement. It was a look I craved every day so many years ago, and now that I had it up close again I didn’t want it to ever go away again.
His eyes flitted from my face to the beautiful bride on the dance floor. “She looks happy doesn’t she?”
I nodded my response because I had yet to find my voice in his presence.
“I never thought I would see my sister get married, but seeing her this happy makes me think there is hope for us all.” His eyes did that twinkling thing they do when he is truly overwhelmed with the pureness of bliss before his gaze focused on my face. “I’m really happy you came, and I know Samantha is too. I wasn't sure you were going to make it.”
Crap. Did I not mention that Kellan is the Best Man? You probably thought he was the one getting married, which possibly would have made this day easier and whole lot more horrible.But he didn't get married today, and he never secretly got married from the looks of his left ring finger. But he has a woman in his life, though I had yet to see her shapely figure amongst the crowd.
As he smiled into my eyes for several long pauses I wanted to say something back, I wanted to unload every emotion running through my head and beg him for a second chance because I knew looking at him now that was the only thing I wanted. But I didn’t say anything, I didn’t say a single word and I notice the easy silence turning more and more uncomfortable as every second ticked by.
Kellan’s attention slipped as an elder gentleman tapped him on the shoulder asked about some wedding related issues. Before he turned to go and help the man with the problems that would most definitely ruin the entire evening by the look on the old mans wrinkly face, Kellan pulled his attention back in my direction pulling my hand up to lips before he cracked a wicked smile.
“Save a dance for me will you Gracie?”
His lips touched the sensitive flesh of my knuckles before he traced over the spot with the pad of his thumb. He was waiting for an answer. His face was less than six inches from mine, so much closer than it had been in over eight years. I wanted him closer, I wanted so much more of him closer until there was absolutely no space between us.
“Yes,” I responded finally through shaky lips. “I’d love a dance with you.”
His smile grew wider if that is even remotely possible, and then he turned toward the elder gentleman and disappeared into the crowd.
My glass of champagne was in my hand before I knew it downing glass number five in less than three seconds. Oh dear God he wanted to dance with me. More champagne might be a bad idea, but I filled up my delicate glass with more frothy bubbles telling myself that sipping it slow would make the jumpy buzz I already had stay at a constant pace.
Oh God, I hope I don’t throw up the contents of my dinner.