Sometimes a movie can sum up a feeling better than a blog post, so I leave you this from the movie “Her,” which is still one of my favorites. I’ve realized my life is a constant search to find this feeling again. I’m not sure if that’s a purpose I should be proud of, but I am anyway.
Someone left a kitten in the parking lot where I work.
She was skin and bones, and all alone.
They left her with two cans of food,
apparently thinking she would have no problem finding her own nourishment
once their generous supply ran out.
I loved her instantly.
I wanted nothing more than to protect her,
but she was afraid.
It took work to earn her trust.
Days of sitting in gravel, baking in the sun, befriending the bees.
I opened cans full of food that stank like tuna,
scattered them around the field, and sat quietly.
I didn’t watch her as she ate. One glance in her direction, and she would bolt
as far as her bony legs and sunken skin would take her.
Instead, I would look at the sky and sing,
or tell her about my day,
or sometimes just enjoy the quiet breeze with her.
I continued this ritual twice a day, every day.
Even when I was so exhausted all I wanted to do was crawl into bed
after a long day of work.
She wasn’t gaining weight, and I refused to give up on her.
In the meantime, I memorized her hideouts.
Took note of every hole in the fence. As if somehow I could protect her
by knowing where she would escape to.
After day four, she disappeared.
She didn’t show up to the scattered cans in the morning.
She didn’t touch the cleverly placed treats near the holes in the fence.
My heart sank. I mourned her absence.
My coworkers didn’t understand;
they used words like “feral” and “stray,”
but I knew differently.
I knew she depended on me, even if she didn’t like me.
I knew her world had been turned upside down.
She wasn’t born wild.
I tried to forget her, but I still found myself showing up to work early,
walking the grounds, checking each hole in the fence.
After three days without her, magic happened.
While walking through the dirt, sending all of my hope into the universe,
I heard the tiniest noise.
And she appeared, from under rocks,
looking smaller than ever.
But I could see it on her face–
she knew me.
Ran to me.
She meowed as I sobbed,
and my clumsy fingers couldn’t open the cans of smelly food fast enough.
That was the day I became her person.
The day a cat who wasn’t born wild tamed a girl who was.
She is loved now.
And she knows she will never be hungry again.
Back then, I didn’t know anyone actually hated the smell of coffee.
Now, of course, I know plenty of people like that… but you were the first.
“It disgusts me,” you’d say.
You used that word so frequently– Disgust. Maybe it was the European part of you, but I thought it was strange. It was a word I reserved for only the worst of things, but you could be disgusted by anything; a frog, a shot of Jameson chased with pickle juice, an aggravating colleague, or the smell of coffee brewing.
So in the mornings of those precious months in which we shared the same bed, I drank chai tea. I learned to love it; even learned to look forward to the ritual of unplugging the coffee pot and tucking it away, because it meant you would be there.
I gave up coffee. I gave up so much, but I couldn’t give up everything. Neither could you. There was resentment, and it grew. There were so many arguments and accusations, but I never drank coffee, and you never said I disgusted you.
You could have. And sometimes I think you should have,
but you didn’t.
I guess I just wanted to thank you for that.
Things change in a year.
Quite a bit, actually.
But mostly for the better.
I’ve become the mother of trees, and the mother of a kitten with a tiny face.
I’ve started the home buying process, which is thrilling and terrifying,
and I’m not best friends with Ohio yet, but I’ve decided we can be civil.
All things considered, I’m pretty ok.
I hope it’s not too late to be a tiny pepper. This creative slump I’ve been in needs to be addressed.
It’s 4am, and you’ve gotten out of bed again. I listen to you tiptoe to the kitchen, where you rummage through the fridge and the soft light from the open door struggles to make its way down the dark hallway. This has become a ritual.
When it’s dark again, I hear the familiar metallic clanking of silverware as you struggle to find a spoon; then silence. I contemplate pretending to go to the bathroom so I can catch a glimpse of you in your underwear, leaning against the kitchen counter with your favorite container of whipped cream. It is in this moment—when you are all legs and tired eyes and cool whip bliss— that I find you the most beautiful.
I decide not to leave the bed. I know by now that you’ll be coming back soon, anyway. And with your sticky sweet mouth, you’ll kiss me like you haven’t seen me for years. And it is in that moment—when you never fail to wrap me up and pull me closer— that I feel the most beautiful.
This will always be what I remember.
This will always be what I long for until I find it again.
But what if I don’t?
There is always an ocean when I dream of you.
Sometimes it’s angry,
and sometimes you save me.
Why were there so many hours invested, days wasted, talking of nothing and everything? Why was I the one– après the bars and the drinks and the friends– of whom you thought? Why would you tell someone you hardly knew you loved them? And why, after all of this, could you leave without an explanation? One day the world was full of plans and beauty and new furniture; the next, it was silent.
Tu me rends heureuse.
Tu me rends fou.
I’ve been having dreams of a woman I’ve never met.
With nine babies and a husband,
she says, “I’ll leave him for you.”
Just like that;
she’ll leave him
Isn’t it appropriate
That I would dream of what I’ve always wanted?
Someone else to work hard for me.
Someone else who would change everything they know,
just for me.
She takes my face in her hands, and I believe her.
I never say anything,
and I never give her an answer.
Because I know;
I can feel it in the depths of me–
she means it.
She doesn’t need to wait for me to make a plan for her life, too.
My girlfriend is in Indonesia without cell service. Casey’s funeral is Tuesday, in Ohio, and I’m already panicking about going. I’m masking the real reasons for my anxiety and dread with silly concerns, about what I should wear, what I should say to his mom, and what I should say to the shell that used to be him.
I need my person. I didn’t know when you really love someone, you constantly worry about their well being when you can’t be in contact with them. I need to know she’s ok and I need to cry some more about my friend, and I need her to make me laugh, because she’s the only one who can right now. I need to hear her laugh, too, because it fills me with something I don’t think anyone has found a word for yet.
Timing is a real bitch sometimes.
Of all the characters I met in South Carolina, you were one of the only people I kept in touch with regularly when I left. Time would pass, but you would always check in on me. You were like a brother; we wanted nothing but the best for one another.
I didn’t know what to think of you when we first met, but I quickly learned something very important– you were funny. You were also as sarcastic as I was, and hated that job as much as I did. So that was our common bond. Cracking jokes, and bitching, and eventually talking about bigger things. Life, and love, and the things that we weren’t proud of. You saw me cry on more than one occasion over things that didn’t matter, and in turn you told me about your own struggles. We were hard on each other; honest. Only because we cared, in our weird way.
Remember when you refused to cook food for me because I told you I was trying to eat healthy and diet? Remember when I was having a bad day, so you finally gave in? When I came out to you, you took it in stride. You didn’t crack jokes like the other guys. Instead, you told me to do whatever it was that made me happy.
On my last day of work, you locked me in the walk in cooler and poured buckets of water and flour over my head. I knew what you were going through then, and it wasn’t easy. But you still kept me laughing. At my next job I missed you so much I asked you to come work with me. You were, hands down, the hardest worker there. I was proud to call you my friend.
I guess what I’m getting at by all of this is when I think about my time at the beach, a lot of it was really fucked up. And even though you were going through a ton of tough stuff yourself, you were always a rock for me. Someone I could count on. So today, when I found out you are gone, my heart broke. For you, and those three gorgeous boys of yours, and everyone else who was lucky enough to know you.
Everything you were going through is over. I don’t know what happens when we die, but I’d like to believe that you are happy. That you are at peace, and flashing that big goofy smile of yours.
Thank you for being my friend.