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I feel like we're speaking in a different language, and the only words I haven't used, are that ain't love...

***

Today I am thinking about the car accident. It's also my mom's birthday, but she's not a morning person so I won't call or text until later. I went back to work when my youngest daughter started school. I really liked my boss, I worked part time, I could set my own hours for the most part and I was given a pretty free hand at work because I was trusted. The owners were almost two hours away from the store so they relied on me to keep things running smoothly. One Saturday it was misting on my way into work. I took the off ramp like I did whenever I drove to work, as I tried to turn my car went straight, I spun around, and ended up blocking the ramp. Thankfully the driver behind me had seen what was going on, I drove across the freeway, pulled into the first parking lot I saw, and noticed that the other driver had followed me. It was a man with a young child, he asked if I was okay, I wasn't, but I didn't know that at the time. 

When I called my mom she told me I had to stay at work so I could pay for whatever car repairs I would need. She was completely unempathetic, I hung up feeling worse than I had. She made me feel like I was a bad driver and one of the things that erodes my self esteem fast is having my competence called into question when it's already shaky. The truth is I'm actually a pretty good driver, but I have a tendency to live inside my head and this is so natural to me that I don't always notice when I'm lost in thought. I can be very oblivious to my surroundings, I learned to do this as a child, I had to find a way to escape the things that were going on around me, since I couldn't physically leave I went inside and found that the world there made a lot more sense to me than the one I was really living in at the time. My early fantasies weren't very well developed, I pictured myself being in places where I had better memories, typically there weren't a lot of other people around, or they were there, but they were vague, blurry, indistinct objects. 

The older I got the less cool recess was. By the time the bell rang I couldn't wait to get outside. Some of my girlfriends wanted to stand along the wall and shiver. I did that for a couple days to try and fit in, I don't think I was even conscious of that decision, that's what they were doing so that's what I was going to do since they were my friends and friends spend time with each other. I can't remember which one of the guys spotted me, there were a couple of guys in my class who were very athletically gifted. Two in particular stand out in my mind. One of them had dangerous glittering green eyes, his twin sister was a buddy of mine. Another guy was taller, I remember him coming up to me and holding out this sheet of paper. I've never considered myself a math whiz, but he had no idea how to calculate the percentages and that was fairly easy for me. After that we were friends of a sort. 

That guy was usually the quarterback when we played football at recess. I remember turning around, seeing his arm move, and thinking, if I keep running, I can catch the ball. It felt like he had called my name, but he hadn't said a word to me. It was a very strange sensation, I could have sworn that he had said 'Hey Jess', we were back inside talking about the play. I was proud of myself because running catches were harder than those where the ball just drops in your hands. One of the other guys came up to him and said he had been wide open, he was annoyed that he hadn't been an option, and I stood there thinking, yeah, that is really weird, why would you pass the ball to someone who is being chased instead of the much larger kid who doesn't have any coverage at the moment? I had no idea what was coming next, but I was tense and nervous until my friend told the guy that I had caught the ball, the implication there being that I could be trusted to receive and this other guy couldn't although that wasn't immediately obvious to me.

After that I got the ball more often than I probably should have. Football at recess became a game within a game. People would try to keep me from getting the ball and our quarterback would try to find ways to get it to me. More people started chasing me, that opened up opportunities for others, our opponents couldn't use up too many other players guarding me, but they couldn't afford to leave me alone either. This was one of my first experiences with what I like to call the intuitive connection. It was like I knew what he was thinking and I could tell where he wanted me to go or what he wanted me to do. One day I just stopped running. Nobody knew what to do, they stood there waiting for me to move while our quarterback ran with the ball. He was one of the fastest guys in our class, he had great form, and I remember him beaming at me after he crossed the touchdown line.

Being able to communicate that way with others is a tremendous gift, the more we played the better we got. Girls in my class accused me of having a crush on him, but I didn't and they wouldn't believe me. We spent too much time together, one day I got to be the quarterback and I knew I couldn't pass the ball to him so I threw it at another guy who was open, but didn't seem like he was paying attention. My friend grabbed the ball out of nowhere and I learned another very valuable lesson that day. People didn't like our connection, I didn't know about things like jealousy back then. I told my friends that they could play football too, but a girl in my class had broken her leg when she slipped on ice and then a lot of my friends didn't want to leave the area by the wall if there was one speck of moisture on the playground. That was the year someone threw an icy snowball at a girl in the grade below us and sliced her cheek open. My friend had some choice words for the guy who had done that to her when they were waiting at the bus stop.

I had that kind of connection with my dad. I never had it with Jill and Jane's father. I was the car person, he said he didn't care, but that was a lie because we ended up spending a lot more on vehicles he wanted than the ones I did. One of the dumb things I did was sell my 1965 Mustang. I had paid cash for it, I sold it to another car lover, and I didn't get nearly enough for it, but I thought I needed something more practical to drive to school. I got rid of that car when my mechanic told me it would cost more to replace the clutch than the car was worth. Looking back I probably should have gone ahead with it, but I sold it to a former neighbor and not long after she lost it in an accident. A guy I thought was a friend sold me my Saab. Another guy I knew had told me about his experiences with the brand. He said it was quirky, but if I understood that going into it, I would be okay.

I remember taking it out, driving around a neighborhood where neither of us could afford to live, and having a ton of fun as my friend showed me what this vehicle could do. He was a great driver, sometimes I wish we were still friends, I used to think we were too different, now I know that we're too much alike. Neither of us likes to play it safe and we bring out the dangerous side in the other person. The woman he's with is very fake, but he loves her, probably because she will never understand him and he likes having that intellectual freedom. I was on my way to an appointment when I saw that there was a detour because there was work being done on the bridge. I hate being late, I knew the area fairly well, but I kept running obstacles when I tried following the detour and wanted to go north. I never saw the stop sign so I drove right into a controlled intersection.

The guy who hit me was driving a new Ford SUV. We got out, surveyed the damage, I don't want to be writing about this, but I have to get these feelings out and this is the only way I know how. You walk right, you talk right, and your hair's so wild. Standing there was surreal. I took some pictures of my car, but I couldn't cry. No one's stopping us now. I was given the option to go to the local hospital, I declined, they asked again, I had spun around so my car was pointing west which is the direction I had been coming from. I had missed a tree, a hydrant, a trailer, and another vehicle. The police officer asked how I had done that, I said I hadn't, I had just held on and let my vehicle do whatever it was going to since I couldn't exactly make an informed decision after that guy hit me. Take me in your arms, take my to your heart. I was sitting in the hospital waiting when I found out that I probably didn't have car insurance.

Once I got home I called. This was April and I'll probably always remember that day if not the exact date which is still very clear in my mind. Going find me some trouble, gonna grab my share. Back in January I had been given the slip of paper that declared my vehicle was insured until July. His name was on it, but mine wasn't. It registered at the time, but I didn't really question it. Life's never easy, we can make it if we try. No car insurance. Uninsured motorist. Tickets. Court dates. Paperwork. More paperwork. I called the agent and he was a complete fucking jackass. They had removed my name from the policy without informing me that this had been done. I want you tonight. I want you with me. I couldn't process anything, I was standing in the kitchen getting my mind blown by this experience. Then I found out that because I was an unisured driver I was going to be on the hook for the other guy's vehicle. This is where I should have gotten an attorney and didn't.

A friend of mine gave me some great free legal advice. He told me to let them sue me. I didn't have anything they could take. My car was gone. I had to pay several hundred dollars to get it towed. Come and take me where I long to be. My car was so much more than just a ride to me. Waking up, and breaking down. 

***

I wrote a big long thing at the library, got home, and now it's gone. Emotional, or reason, now which one do you obey? I'm exhausted and I wish I had the energy to go back and redo what I had written because I wrote myself through a lot of really brave things. Whatever. Sometimes life doesn't go according to plan. I'm proud of myself for going back and talking to my former PT even though it was difficult and I ended up crying in front of him. I'm also proud of myself for going to the art studio and taking my frustrations out on the canvas. My unicorn friend may not like the painting I did for her, but she has been an incredibly important and influential person in my life and I wanted to do something special for her even though that's not what I set out to do initially. 

***

  1. The first time I failed a class 
  2. I was in seventh grade. My art
  3. teacher wanted me to work on
  4. a still life, but my brain doesn't 
  5. work that way. Today a woman
  6. I had met earlier told me that
  7. I could trace something onto
  8. a canvas, I had that option last 
  9. time too, but for me, art is 
  10. getting out what's inside.

 

  1. I'm always confused until I
  2. get a pencil and a ruler. Math
  3. made sense to me once I 
  4. learned that there were ways
  5. to apply it in real life. I start
  6. by drawing geometric shapes
  7. on my canvas. Today I had
  8. planned on doing something
  9. abstract, my unicorn friend
  10. was on my mind as I drew.

 

  1. A niece of mine will be turning
  2. two in February. I thought 
  3. about giving what I had done
  4.  to her, I needed advice
  5. so I asked the woman who
  6. works there what she thought.
  7. I really like her, she's always
  8. encouraging and helpful. She 
  9. felt I should go with my instincts,
  10. so that's what I did.

 

  1. After I pulled off the tape, it
  2. wasn't what I had expected.
  3. When I took what I had over
  4. to her she gave me some
  5. ideas. Today I learned that
  6. art is making mistakes and
  7. either fixing them, or learning
  8. how to live in harmony with
  9. them, knowing that I'm
  10. going to be making more.

 

  1. My thought is, and this is
  2. just an idea, but if I do a
  3. painting a week, that's 
  4. roughly fifty a year. By
  5. this time next year I 
  6. should have improved 
  7. significantly. My therapist
  8. told me I should get a job
  9. there, I told her I don't 
  10. have enough experience.

 

  1. Whether this leads to a job
  2. opportunity, or it's just
  3. something fun for me to
  4. do, it's changed my life
  5. for the better. Last year
  6. I learned how to write 
  7. poetry. I didn't get the
  8. job at the airport, maybe
  9. this is why. Either way,
  10. I feel richer today.

***

  1. Facing my friend's crush
  2. and crying in his office
  3. wasn't part of my plan
  4. when I went back in to
  5. get my ankle taped, but
  6. despite the awkwardness
  7. of our conversation, I'm
  8. glad we had a chance to
  9. chat. Hopefully we can
  10. move forward together.

***

Her: "How much do I owe you?"

Me: "Do you think it's a good idea to ask someone how much they want from you?"

Her: "Well no, how does three dollars sound?"

Me: "Ridiculously low. How does five hundred dollars sound?"

Her: "How about forty dollars?"

Me: "How do you feel about that amount?"

Her: "It seems kind of high. How about thirty?"

Me: "Have you ever heard of the term pain and suffering? Do you think it's a better idea to give your mom forty bucks even though that screws you financially because thirty thousand dollars wouldn't erase the anger I felt when I got to school expecting you to be ready, or do you want to try and give me thirty which is closer to what you actually owe me?" She hands me two twenties and I do feel better than I had. 

Me: "Do you think you'll ever be late again?"

Her: "I hope not." This isn't what I expected to hear so that was a positive. 

Me: "I hope so too. Would you rather pay your mom forty bucks even though that's not fair to you, or would you rather be left at school after your parent leaves because they need to be to work on time?"

Her: "I'd rather get a ride and pay the money."

Me: "Sometimes extra money gets you things you didn't put a price tag on, I don't care if your lack of punctuality gets you fired from your job, but your father and I aren't going to let you control what time we show up for work. You're free to screw up your own life, but when it starts affecting other people, there are always consquences for your actions. Do you think your parents enjoy sitting in the parking lot waiting for you when we have places to be, or do you think we would prefer that our daughter respects our time enough to be ready when we ask her to be? That was the only request I had, that you be ready on time. Your father told me to leave you at school and I was going to until you showed up at the exact moment I was getting ready to leave. Going to this school is a privilege, this is not a threat, but if you can't figure out how to be on time then your mom will forget how to take you to school in the morning and pick you up when you're done. You have other educational options and I'm not afraid to speak to your father about you going to a school in the district so you can ride the bus to and from school. I think it's great that you have this opportunity, it's up to you, show me you can be on time, respect my schedule, and I might feel like continuing to give you rides to and from school. Thanks for the extra money. I think that was a very wise decision on your part. I forgive you for being late. Sometimes I'm late. But there's a difference between isolated incidents and patterns. Do you understand the distinction?"

Her: "Yes."

Me: "Good. Let's put this behind us and go forward. How does that sound?"

Her: "Good. Thanks Mommy." I always wonder when she's going to stop calling me Mommy, her sister calls me Mom most of the time, but Jill still calls me Mommy and for some reason it gets me almost every time.

Me: "You're welcome sweetheart. I love you. I'm glad we had this conversation. I'm not always as good about watching the clock as I would like to be. Like the other day when I was at the library and forgot that you had to work. Things happen. This is all a part of communication and figuring out how to make things work despite our differences."

Her: "I love you too."

***

What. A. Day. Glad it's almost over, heading to bed early, I need a good night's sleep. I had a great day at work yesterday, my ankle hurts more now than it had, I'm still very angry and frustrated, but I believe that guy when he tells me it will get better. I trust him and I know he wouldn't lie to me. If he says that it's better than I realize and things will get better, then they will. I have a lot of respect for him and I'm still really glad we met despite some of the things we've been through together. 

***

Me: "I'm very angry. I feel like I wasted these past visits. You did more in one visit than those guys did in the entire time I've been here."

Him: "They're good, I'll talk to them. Things will get better." I can't look at him. We're in his office with the door closed, he doesn't turn on the lights and I'm grateful. He's sitting, I'm standing, and it's so strange to see him sitting behind a desk. I'm glad he seems to be taking me seriously. I was half afraid he wouldn't. Out in the main area I stop to schedule additional appointments. I tell the receptionist that I feel bad he had to deal with the patient who was melting down and then she tells me he had been melting down earlier. When I came in he had been trying to get something faxed and it wasn't going through. He had filled out paperwork incorrectly and then he had to redo that. I hated dumping another thing on him when I know he's already busy, but like I told her, I would rather have the tough conversations and be up front about the issue than continue to harbor resentment. I didn't want to tell my friend with the crush about the conversation, but she was surprisingly okay about it.

She said if nothing else nobody could accuse me of being inauthentic, we both laughed and then I was glad that I had told her about our chat because I had been worried that she would be angry I was upset and went back in there. Fortunately she realizes that this is strictly ankle related and it isn't like I have a mad bad crush on the guy. There's some guy who is working on these scanners at the front end that women think is hot. He does absolutely nothing for me, but I guess everyone is entitled to their opinions on such things. I'll never understand women who go for the condescending self important types, my friend and I rarely agree on who we think is attractive, but I guess we finally found a man that we both agree upon and I'm grateful she's intuitive enough to see through him. Sometimes I'm immediately intrigued, other times I'm immediately repulsed. I was upstairs when he was around, I sat there for a while waiting for my friend. It's shocking how little gets done up there, there's a lot of activity without much action, and that's never a strategic way to run a business. Kind of makes me wonder what the future holds...

***

Me: "I like classy men. Class has nothing to do with what people wear. You're confusing classy with classic. Class is treating people well when they have done little or nothing to deserve it. This is one of the most important character traits I look for in others and I notice it right away when I see it in action. Well dressed men are nicer to look at, but I don't care what he wears if he's classy. Class is behavior. It's keeping your mouth shut when you could be rude, it's standing up for others who aren't there to defend themselves, it's offering to pick up the tab to save someone else from embarrassment before the bill becomes an issue, it's helping others save face when you could take them down with a well timed comment, it's doing what you can in the moment to smooth things over during an awkward conversation, basically class is treating everyone well because that's who you are, not because they've done anything to merit that. Class and tact are both super important to me. These are the types of behaviors that separate us from animals."

Him: "Yeah, but let's not lose sight of what's really important. Does he wear black? How does he feel about your shades of gray rainbows? Is he open to a monochromatic color scheme? These are the types of questions you need to be asking Jessica."

Me: "Class is letting her have an orgasm first even if that means he doesn't get one. I never lose sight of what's really important. If he's that good in bed I don't care what he wears. He can show up in neon green or deer hunter orange and I'd be thrilled to see him."

Him: "Deer hunter orange, aren't you the one stalking him?"

Me: "I prefer to think of it as negotiating territorial boundaries. Stalking is creepy."

Him: "I suppose he isn't trying very hard to hide if he shows up wearing deer hunter orange. How come you tell people that your favorite color is orange, but you like it when men wear black?"

Me: "Certain people look good in certain colors. Not everyone looks great in it. And I do like orange. I like a lot of colors, I just happen to prefer men in black because I think it's sexy. Maybe men don't want me to think they're sexy and that's why they wear other colors. Did you ever consider that?"

Him: "I dare you to walk up to the next man you meet and tell him that you won't go out with him because he's not wearing black."

Me: "That presupposes he wants to go out with me in the first place. What if he just happens to like the color black? Some men do you know. It doesn't have to have anything to do with me. I don't get calls or texts from guys asking what they should wear when I wake up in the morning."

Him: "Those guys are smart. They shouldn't be up at the ass crack of dawn asking a woman what she thinks they should be wearing."

Me: "Agreed. Naked from the waist down and shirtless from the waist up is one of my favorite looks. I like guys who look good against my sheets."

Him: "Forget about the sheets and start paying for heat. He won't want to get naked unless you turn on the heat at that icebox of yours. Brrr."

Me: "Love is an action verb. Shivering in the cold is proof that he loves me enough to sacrifice."

Him: "That's just an excuse to buy him more footwear. He'll have to wear sixteen pairs of socks, at once."

Me: "The whole point of sex is getting him out of his clothes, I don't see how buying him footwear accomplishes that. I'll have to explain the socks and blowjob connection before we get to my place."

Him: "What is the connection? Or shouldn't I ask?"

Me: "No shirt, no shoes, no socks, plenty of service. Do you think that's too complicated? I am talking to a man after all."

***

Me (watching my daughter drive): "Watch out for the mirrors."

Him: "Don't listen to your mom Jill. Mirrors are only good for putting on makeup."

Me: "And shaving."

Him: "You put your legs up to the mirror to shave?"

***

Xoxo,

J

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