Tonight Sue and I went to babysit the AIDS quilt, or at least the portion of it at HCC. At 6 there was supposed to be an open mic, and scenes from a play that's going to be on HBO in December, local actors from the school working with the director to put it on tonight. I wanted to be out by 5:30, AJ came home from Florida this morning and I was hoping to spend some time with him and my six pack of Triple Black. Standing in the hall with Sue a lady comes up to us and asks if we're sticking around for the performance, I looked at Sue and she nodded yes so I said we were. She asked if I could help out with some tech stuff, music, since the lady who takes care of it wasn't there and I said I would, figuring it would be easy and I'd like to help out, sounded simple and fun. Later I'm sitting next to the $30 CD Player and she's dictating to me which parts of which songs to play when, jogging down shortand notes I can't understand everywhere on this piece of scrap paper and flashing CDs and instructions to me so quick by the time I think I've got the first one down she's halfway through her speech and the paper's got so much blue ink and symbols I think I'm lookng at a chemist's side-notes. It's easy enough though, right? She's making it sound so simple so there's no reason to panic, "I'll watch the cues and just know when", that's what she said, right? I said I was a visual learner, inside begging to be run through this just once so I'll know if I will just know.
Time ticks, the actors are laughing, she's walking around with a smile, I catch this and that about how she's been doing this for ten years and how these kids are just goofing around, very unprofessional she says with a haughty friendly laugh. People show up, I'm admiring the style of these college age libertarians, lesbians, drama fags, labeling and trying to decipher every pair of humans that take a seat on the homey couches in front of the mock "stage". She starts her producer's monologue or whatever and when she's done she's giving me this pleading look, and I realised I missed my mark, I fumble for the CD and play it, track three for fourteen seconds (was that the right CD?) oh well can't go back now just have to be ready for the next one. The girls are up, that means at the end of this skit, It's... the Clueless CD? Uh oh, they're giving me that same look, that was my cue and I'm not ready again, I knew I couldn't handle this.. "what no music?" one of the girls hisses at me under her breath as she walks by, Producer Lady comes over, 'I'm nervous but I'll play it cool, I don't have everything under control but I'll be damned if I'll show it' is playing through every single body movment she makes. "Don't worry about it", she's fumbling with the CD player controls, I'm sitting next to it still, leaned back but not too far, what.. does she have it all under control now or am I still doing this, I don't have time to debate it out with myself, now am I going to do this or am I going to run away? I'll stay but I'm not touching anything. She's so confident she can do it herself. "Mina, let me see the paper... Mina..." No I'm not moving. No. Don't move Sue don't make a scene, I'll pput my coat on and fade back. The boys look at me... still no music. I said I wasn't going to fucking touch it. That's it. I'm out of here.
I escaped to a cigarette, no one's outside just calm yourself down. Producer Lady comes out, shit please just leave me alone, I can see what Sue said to her "She gets nervous...", No I don't want an apology, just let me think, I'm just going to laugh and say "don't worry about it" and I'm just going to look as nuts and upset as I feel. She apologized of course, but I can't remember exactly what she said to me, nerves will do that to you. Well, at least I've got my anxiety under control, thank you Adivan. Anxiety.. why do I need to label everything? Damn it's too cold to stand out here anyways. I put my cigarette out on the "No Smoking" sign by the door. I'm wondering how deep this anxeity shit goes, or am I just retarded under the pressure that I create for myself?
I decided I need to write. Now I'm on a quest for a pen... jesus. Standing behind all the couches mouthing to Sue in the corner "I need a pen", she mouths back "why" and we get into a silent arguement, "what the hell do I need it for". Looks like two pissed off mutes trying to keep low profiles, battling with hand motions and exaggerated facial expressions. I don't have time for this, I just need a pen. There're fold-out tables behind me holding up fold-out cardboard displays with fold-out pamphlets and buttons and ribbons neatly scattered across it. Earlier I had asked if this stuff was free and taken a couple of pins and a bumper sticker for Andrea and the famous piece of red ribbon you safety pin onto your heart. There's a pen, for a second I feel sort of guilty for taking it off the AIDs awareness table but it's just a pen, it's just a four cent pen. I'll take a flyer too for paper, my therapist has my notebook this week I let her read it, I'm starting to think that was a stupid move, that was my journal and catharsis man I feel lost, writing on the back of a pink flyer with the stolen AIDs pen.. oh well.
I should just calm down, we're on our way home. "Sue I feel like I want to cry and I dont know why, it's over.."
"just let it out if you want or focus Mina." She turns the volume on the radio up, "just sing along". I lay back in my seat and inhale deeply. If I open my mouth I'll break the seal in my throat that's holding everything back, if I sing I'll cry. So I'll whisper the lines.. "girls don't like boys girls like cars and money.." Ignore what you're feeling, stuff it down. Be brave. It's done. It'll never happen again, okay? I won't let it. It's getting late.
I wonder if AJ's still home.
I woke up at 7:30 this morning, tired cold and stiff, peeking out from my black hoodie that I had tightly pulled over my eyes to shut out the dim candlelight. I had slept over Jackie's house, she wasn't feeling too well, family issues, and like a good friend I had stayed up 'til 2 a.m. with her, holding conversation and looking through her old photos. Pictures of her and her soccer team, past Christmas's with her sisters in front of the tree; poorly composed shots of her and her high school friends at the beach-house, the parking lot at school, the passenger seats of her car.
What's it going to be like when I'm old enough to remember where I was when I was seventeen... will I be sitting in my plush leather recliner balancing my checkbook, making small corrections on today's paperwork from my Nine-To-Five, sipping a nightcap in front of my 51" television screen alone? Staying up until 3 am every night because whether I want it to or not my mind runs me through the same loops, wondering if I made the right decision spending all that money on my P.H.D. just so I can be well-off and still miserable? Terribly and regretfully alone... but who needs a family when you've got a six digit income. I've got enough alcohol and Zoloft to live the rest of my life without children or a husband...
Or will I sit down on my coffee breaks in my leather rolling chair and work out my daily planner; factoring in Sarah's soccer practice with my 3 o'clock on Tuesday, Christopher's therapist appointment on Wednesday, hoping there's enough time for Jack and I to go catch a movie on Friday night. Later I'll ring up my neighbor Mr. Dawson to see if his daughter can babysit again, of course she always gets free range of the fridgerator (it's mostly leftovers, Friday's pizza night at our house). The Dawsons live two houses down the street in the white tudor that looks strikingly similar to ours. Come to think of it, all the houses on our street look the same. Every morning at around 7 the entire place comes alive, working mothers and fathers rushing out into the driveway with black briefcases, juggling remote car starters and Pop-Tarts in an effort to get to work early so they can finish up that report that they're sure will get them into Partner. Waving good-bye as their children board the big yellow school bus, they'll spend all day thinking about their haircut appointment, the cell phone bills, the kids' play tonight in the cafeteria (that'll be the third one you'll miss, you promise yourself next time you'll make time for it). Sometimes it seems like there just isn't enough time to support your family and actually take an active part in it, though you work so hard to figure out how to squeeze every minute of every day for all it's worth, to figure out just how to make it work... because it must. It has to.
Maybe instead I'll be crouching over at the bus stop, shuffling my twenty-dollar sneakers in an effort to keep my feet warm in the forty-degree weather; waiting for the 6:15 to come quickly so I can get home and make dinner for the kids. If I hurry I'll have time to make sure they do their homework and get a bath before 8 rolls around and I have to shove them off to bed; so they're not tired and grouchy in the morning, so we can actually be on time to school tomorrow for once. I'll work just as hard at my shitty minimum wage job than any lawyer or nurse works at theirs so I can make ends meet for my kids; make sure they've always got enough to eat and a warm roof over their heads. It'll still upset me that they're "Latch Key" kids, but a single mom with no college education can only do so much, God knows I'm trying. I want to give them everything they want that I never had, I really do, but dance classes are so expensive and I couldn't even give them a ride if I could afford it since all that's ever been reliable about the old Buick is that it's sure to break down again come cold weather. Which is exactly why I'm sitting on this disgusting transit bus seat anyway, arranging my last four pay stubs and the application for Welfare (this is the third try, after this I swear if those bastards don't take my case I'll just give up and figure it out on my own), trying to remember the last time Sarah or Chris got a haircut or a new pair of shoes. The only real time I get to myself is the fifteen minutes every night between when my head hits the pillow and when I pass out from exhaustion, and usually that's just crowded with memories and regret; or maybe it's just wonder... what if I had gone to college? I could make so much more than I do and I'm sure the kids would be a lot happier with all that free time we'd save, no worries with bill collectors and broken-down fifteen year old pieces-of-shit cars. We could get along just fine, the three of us in a nice little apartment. I'd even be able to send them to school, I mean, if that's what they wanted. I guess I could send at least one of them, I mean here in the real world, if I got another job and just stuck it out... It'll work out eventually. I hope.
And just like everything else in my life (ha-ha) this little trip down Future lane has worked itself out into a brief five-paragraph essay... neatly ordered (joking once again) and composed to fit onto a sheet of 9"x11" with a nice underlined header. Who knows where I'll end up, not me thank you and you know what? I'd rather not be sure of it anyhow; who wants to read a book when someone's already spoiled the ending? So I'll go back to watching Turner Classic Movies and finish up those cinnamon buns I heated for breakfast and hope that eventually... when the time comes... I'll make the right decision and not waste too much time after it wondering if I was in fact correct. Eventually I'd like to sit down with some photographs and say to myself "man those were some great times but I'm even happier that I'm here right now".
I need to learn how to write well.
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