February 11, 2013
Today I saw Lauren for the second time in just a few days. The first time was almost as hard as I thought it would be, but not quite. The first time was at one of those postal stores, the kind that are positioning themselves to scarf up the task of stamps and packages upon the downfall of the USPS, the kind you didnt quite understand as they started to pop up, “Doesnt the US Postal Service do all this? And for less money, probably, right?”
The men staffing it, I decided that they owned it, and that they were gay. I also decided that they could read me and her. They could read the averted eyes, the shaking hands, the audible breath sounds and know we were married and estranged. At one point, she and I leaned up against a counter waiting for the guy to call the tag and title office because he didnt know what to do with the out of state title. She and I waited there for almost a minute, breathing and shaking next to one another and I began to imagine we were in meditation together. Her breathing was louder than I remember — anxiety disorder, asthma, she’s gained weight, she does that when she is happy – and I thought about how unattractive that kind of breathing is in a stranger, and how one might love it in a love, and wondered if I would love it in her now. I took a deeper breath and waited to hear if she would breathe with me. She said, “I’m going to go sit down,” and took out her phone. The guy got ahold of his friend at the tag and title office who said we didnt need a notary, that we could just come into the office.
When I got into the car, I could feel my insides, the girl ones. I was suddenly aware of my clit and my lips, and everything they lead to. Briefly, I marveled at how attached I must still be to her and or maybe just how attached I am to making a baby. Then I remembered that sometimes men get erections when they are scared, I realized that the fullness and readiness I was feeling was just the byproduct of my heart beating blood into all of my endings, that it wasnt about love or sex or babies.
Today, at the tag and title office, it was easier and briefer, but still unsuccessful. The loan company shouldve sent the South Carolina title to Raleigh so that Raleigh could send me a North Carolina title, but they didnt. The lady said that she would send it, I would get the right title in a week or two and then we should come back. No breathing, less shaking. Lauren said, resigned, encouraging, “Third time’s the charm.” I didnt look at her or respond to her small talk, but I realized that I couldve, so I will next time.
January 25, 2012
On New Year’s Eve, I was running around trying to get ready and get pretty. I had a lot on my plate. I had guests in town. They had a death in the family that day. I was set to meet a cute girl for the first time at the bar that night and I needed new jeans. Of course, the mall was closed by the time I got there. I had to settle for fake eyelashes and pink lipstick and headed to the drug store. While I was paying for my stuff, I remembered to get cash back. I love it when I remember to get cash back. I asked for twenty bucks in ones so I could tip the bartender. Shirley Temples are hard work.
On my way out, a man caught my attention. He was scruffy and red. He asked if he could tell me a joke. It’s an old angle, but one that I really, really appreciate. He was going to ask for money, but at least he was going to make me laugh first. Nonetheless, I was irritated, because that’s what I’ve been doing lately, or for the past few years, really. I make eye contact and smile, I wait for the pitch so I can politely, but directly, say, “No,” never, “I’m sorry,” and not “I can’t,” and definetely not, “I dont have anything,” because I usually do and then I walk on or I walk away and I feel badass, but also bad, and then I think to myself, “I help people everyday,” in order to make myself feel better, but then I don’t really feel better, and I think to myself, “At least I made eye contact and smiled,” in order to feel better, but I dont really feel better because there’s no way to feel better about the white supremacist, capitalist, misogynist patriarchy, and then, I just forget about it.
But, that night, I had a plan to do something different, and when the opportunity to do something different presented himself, all scruffy and red, I remembered my 35×35 list, which includes the goal of “Give 20 bucks to a stranger because they asked for it.” Suddenly, I was looking forward to our exchange. It felt like a Christmas. Like, I knew I was going to give him my 20 ones, but he didnt know it and I couldnt wait to tell him. Move that bus, right?
Q: “What do you call a line of rabbits hopping?”
A: “A receeding hareline.”
Q: “How do you catch a unique rabbit?”
A: “U nique up on it.”
Q: “How do you catch a tame rabbit?”
A: “The tame way.”
And then he complimented my tattoo and then he asked for money. He said something about almost having enough for a sandwich. I told him I would give him money, I told him about my 35 x 35 list and then I gave him my 20 ones. He had already started off across the parking lot before he was finished saying thank you.
I hope he got a sandwich and a six pack. I hope he got a sandwich and a case for him and a buddy. I hope he got a sandwich and pooled the rest with his old lady and got a room. I hoped he got a sandwich, a pint of white liquor and a gallon of gas. I hope he paid someone back, then got a sandwich. I hope he skipped the sandwich and just put money on his phone. I hope he got a sandwich and felt especially favored by a power greater than himself while he ate it. I hope he took it as an omen. I hope it was.