I, I have to learn to let you crash down. I, I have to learn to let you crash…
~Tori Amos, “Hotel”
Hi, remember me? If you read my last post, then you already know that I’m that crazy person who decided that wearing something tight and very corset-like, paired with a mighty heavy backpack and a few miles’ walk was a good idea…and then the next day, I felt a tiny ouch that became… over the course of the first week, full. blown.Hell. That irritating pinched nerve became hands down the worst pain I have ever experienced…I ugly cried numerous times, while popping pain reliever and muscle relaxers and wrapping myself in alternate heating pads and ice packs…I considered going to the hospital twice, but because I had not done a pedicure recently, I decided against it. Yes, I know…I’ve already heard the snarky, yet sensible comments about that. [But then again, when there was a fire scare in a previous apartment building, I sat at the top of the stairs putting on makeup while waiting for the firemen to arrive.] I didn’t sit at my desk for over two weeks….sitting hurt and being in bed hurt even more. Finally, about 10 days ago in a haze of sleep-deprivation, pain and Flexeril , I typed out the following post on my lovely old thinkpad (thanks, as always to D), but before taking the time to post it, I slipped back into another week or so of cabin fever and excruciating pain. I literally managed to LOSE an entire week to the constant pain, forgetting that I was actually on week two instead of week one. Yesterday marked the third week of being stuck indoors, and having basically no food left in the house, we had to go out…This time, the backpack wasn’t too heavy and there was nothing fashionable or corset-like happening with my attire either. My first trip out was actually better than I thought it would be…but then last night, I woke up to the familiar intensity of pain that I had dealt with about 9 days ago…two steps forward, three stumbles backwards, right? Currently, the pain isn’t as bad as it was last night, but it’s still there-pointing its crooked finger at me and warning me not to attempt another backpack excursion for a few weeks, so here I am…feeling trapped…in winter…how bloody perfect.
“You were wild, where are you now?”
Yesterday, it snowed. The first blanketing snow we’ve had. At first, I tried not to look outside, but once it was dark, I had to look. Nighttime snow is beautiful; pure and blue in the moonlight. I like moonlit snow. I like walking in it…the crunching sound shoes make in an otherwise silent space. Night snow doesn’t make me feel trapped or holed in. Its actually calming and inviting.
The view from the living room window is usually bleak; it overlooks the parking lot of the complex, bleak and completely useless to me. But last night, the snow completely pulled the parking lot into another world, a world where I’ve spent a lot of time…. mostly at night: Hotels.
Even when I was younger, one of my favorite things to do while staying in a hotel was to look through the window into the parking lot…Each car represented a completely different world and the collection of cars huddled together in the parking lot was wonderful to me. All of those lives in their own little worlds, on their way somewhere…all with different intentions and reasons for leaving or arriving. The magic of seeing a parking lot full of cars was one of the best things about being in a hotel…slipping into my imagination space, creating stories for each of the cars consumed me until I finally fell asleep.
And the rooms-as humble and outdated as they often were, were also intriguing to me. Who had last slept here? Did they wake very early? Were they happy people? Were they excited to be on their way to wherever they were on their way to or happier to be leaving whatever or whoever they had left behind? How many people had cried themselves to sleep in this room? Did someone die on the bed I’m sitting on? Of course these were my prepubescent mind’s questions, so as I got older, my questions spiced up quite a bit: Did someone do ‘it’ on this bed, and if so, did they do it on top of the blanket or beneath the blanket? Did they shower afterward? Was it an unfaithful, dishonest tryst? My germ obsession eventually kicked in, so rather than only focusing on the collections of cars and all of the potential stories, and the smell of the cool air conditioned room, I focused more on the knowledge that hotel maids usually only wash the blankets a few times each year, tend to only wipe out the glasses and ice pitcher…and seriously, just how clean ARE bathrooms in hotels? Yeah, time, age, and hearing first-hand the habits of hotel housekeepers and the shortcuts they often took and the hideous discoveries they made in the rooms tainted my view of hotels…but not enough to stop wanting to be there…and even passing by hotels at night on my way home, I sometimes looked at the cars, my mind inching its way into my storywriting/character-creating space…and once upon a time, when I was 20, I spent most of the winter in a hotel. But I can’t really go into that experience because I’m saving it for its very own post.
This photo I took last night from the balcony is messy and dark… and the falling snow turned the parking lot into a hazy cloud in the photo, but the mysterious feeling of hotels was out there, and I spent the rest of the night thinking about all of my hotel stays and the circumstances that had led me to those stays…and also of how many insanely different lives….different worlds I have built, loved, hated, evaded and destroyed to make room for a different, better world.
Two weeks ago, I received a facebook message from someone that I had gone to high school with; not anyone that I ever really knew… as a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that he had been someone that had often laughed at me, though I don’t really remember him, so I can’t say that for sure. Besides the usual ‘Hey‘ that people tend to send as a legitimate message on facebook ( Quick word of advice: simply typing ‘Hey’ is not a cool message to send to anyone, ever.) , he ended his message with You were wild, where are you now?, and instantly, I felt a strange sinking feeling, and even now as I type this,that sinking feeling is still lingering. I’m not sure why. Maybe because reconnecting with anyone from my past usually makes me queasy…or maybe it was because I didn’t really know him when we were younger…maybe it was that the fact that his profile picture is a dead deer, as if a dead deer adequately represents who he is. Or maybe its because his question is a line from one of my favorite songs…and that line has gone through my head thousands of times.
Every song I listen to means something to me…with the exception of a random song that gets stuck in my head for the catchy music or chorus, the rest always mean something, and I never listen to a song unless I’m feeling the feelings…or living the story of the song, or at least prepared for my head to revisit and remember. I guess that’s pretty self-centered of me. But just as every car in a parking lot creates a story for me, every song does too…although in order for a song to stick with me, the lyrics need to have some kind of relevancy to my own world…either because I have felt or experienced the lines or maybe because it happened to play in the background of that particular event…that particular world I was in at the time. After receiving the message from Mr. Deer Murderer, I began thinking about how many times I was truly wild…but seriously, what is wild? And how and why did he remember me as being wild in high school? Regardless of why he said it, I began thinking of past scenarios, scenarios from places as random as being on the wrong bus at the end of the night in the worst part of town to climbing beneath bridges and yeah…in hotels. I keep wondering if those scenarios were experienced by someone that should be referred to as wild.
Once my former friend and I had made plans to travel to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. I was a 22 year-old new mom and a scared as fuck girl stuck in a bad relationship that was sinking deeper by the hour, and there were most definitely no lifeboats in sight. All that I had besides my perfect chubby little blessing was a pretty crummy best friend that was as slippery as any Judas could be, but I clung to our friendship because she was the only friend I had. So, we started out with the intention of going to Mardi gras…but I had 35 dollars and the idea of trying to make that money last all the way from Cincinnati to New Orleans and then back home again didn’t seem plausible…even as a 22 year-old, my mom sensibilities had kicked in, so instead, we drove an hour away and stayed in a hotel for 3 nights. My friend was working at a Holiday Inn, so she received discounts, and if I remember correctly, we only paid 15.00 a night. I remember that the farther away we were from my apartment, the easier it was to breath, and the idea of being away from the chaos for 3 days seemed like bliss to me…so we spent the 3 days sleeping throughout most of the day and staying up all night listening to music and I think on the second night, I stripped my black hair and dyed it red. For some reason, dying my hair red usually symbolizes putting on a set of armor and facing whatever it is I need to battle. The hotel stay helped me remember who I was and what I should and should not accept from anyone as being ‘Okay’. At the end of the three days, I went back to the apartment-feeling more like myself than I had in a year or so, and within weeks, I moved out…totally ghosted the apartment and the boyfriend on a whim. I don’t think it was just the red dye that had inspired me…it was the hotel stay…standing at the window, looking at the parking lot full of cars and watching the traffic on the nearby expressway and the reminder that life was still happening all around me. I was still alive.
A few years later, Judas’ parents were on vacation, so we decided to house-sit, (unbeknownst to them, mind you), and we spent the week eating way too much chocolate, cutting each other’s hair, listening to old albums and even crying over past relationships or crushes that had fizzled out for one reason or another. On the second night, around 3 in the morning, while singing Sister Sledge’s We are Family as loud as we could, Judas began to look sad.. turns out, she was supposed to go to work 5 hours later, something she’d forgotten all about while caught up in the chocolate gluttony and Sister Sledge performances. This wasn’t the first time this had happened…and not only to her. For some reason, hanging out with me made people forget that Monday morning meant work, and usually, they would tell me how much they dreaded it and just wanted our good times to continue. What was I supposed to do? Was I supposed to BS them by telling them that it was important that they show up for their crummy minimum-wage job, or be honest and tell them that their time was worth more than the measly pennies they were being paid by greedy chain-owned hotels and restaurants? It was a terrible position to be in for me. I didn’t WANT to tell people what they should or should not do, but it always seemed they were looking at me to make their decision for them…to push them over the edge into unemployment limbo, or pull them back into the rational world of expectations and the soul sucking reality of paychecks and conformity? I hated thinking for people…I still do, but there I was-sitting on the floor in my nightgown, reading the album sleeve of 70’s albums, and once again, as was often the case when people were torn between wanting the party to never end, or wanting to be told they should go to bed for a few hours before going to work, I felt like the leader of an indecisive people cult...a murder-free Charles Manson, sharing my philosophy of work and freedom…I didn’t set out to be fun-time, irresponsible Charlie…it just sort of always happened at 3 in the morning with people who teetered on the line between a conventional world and fun-time Charlie’s cult compound…I remember, after unsuccessfully trying to ‘read’ what Judas wanted to hear, finally giving her the ‘your time is worth more than they are paying you’ speech…and the ending was always the same: ‘besides, you can find another (fill in the blanks with either, housekeeper, cashier, Wendy’s burger flipper, etc) job next week…’take a break this week, you deserve some times off ‘
Why I said those things, I have no idea…No, I do actually-because that has always been my opinion, so I ended up being honest about it…and every time, the person I was with took my advice- lived it up for a few days and just as I had predicted, was working a new similar job within a week or so. Was sharing my opinions with them when asked considered Wild behavior? I don’t think so…careless maybe, but not wild.
7 years later, and my world was completely different. Mommie was still my first name, but I had started growing into the person I am now,(even if that world was completely different than the one I am living in now). I remember that Judas, (who had become my roommate), was going away for the weekend and the idea of being in our house alone- just me and my little boy was terrifying to me, though I’m not 100% sure why. Maybe it was because Judas was often screwing people over-including our landlords, and I didn’t want to face whatever fury she had evoked… maybe it was the fact that there had been two mice in our house at that point, and I was so insanely terrified of them at the time, the idea of being alone was impossible to me. So, instead, I rented a hotel room for 2 days. My son loved the idea of being somewhere new for a few days, and for me, it felt like a getaway because basically it was about getting away. I remember spending a hundred dollars on books and magazines and anything my son wanted to keep us entertained during our stay. By this point, I was in complete germaphobe mode, so staying at the hotel meant actually bringing my own blankets and pillows from home to stop the hotel ick from completely devouring me. Once again, the hotel was near the expressway, so I spent the night looking at the parking lot and the traffic on the expressway. Life was happening all around me, and I was still alive…was that being wild? I don’t think so…maybe a bit strange because I chose to stay in a hotel for two days with a trunk-load of my own blankets and pillows and a hundred dollars in books and magazines. Strange, but not wild.
At this point, I’m still not sure if wild is a fitting description…perhaps crazy would be a better word for whatever I have always been…hotels, snow, fistfuls of old worlds, both good and bad, and playing fun-time irresponsible Charlie: leader of my very own indecisive people cult…all looking for me to give them that push from the empty train-car or the pep talk before that Banzai Skydive.
Apparently my slacker voodoo even works on very well-grounded people…like a friend who contacted me after 15 years to share the news: They had finally ditched their comfy nine to five,and sold their shiny, shiny overpriced cars and their rooftop crib, all to really go out and live life, the way I had always told them they should do. They had left all material things behind, traveled around the world and are now settled out west-sharing tents with people that smell like urine and make runs for people-whatever that means. This news made me face-palm the way Jesus must do every second of every single day. I wanted to shout into the sky “No, that is never what I meant when I said whatever it was that I said to you!” Penthouse to tent by choice…now that, my friend…that is wild. Sad, but wild, nonetheless. I remember during a particularly testy time for me during one of my manic week-long, sleepless highs, hearing this friend yell through the window: I have to learn to let you crash down. Fitting to mention that memory, since these are also lyrics from Hotel, the song this post has grown around in several ways and holds dozens more memories than I’ve written about here. Anyway, I guess I’m not the only one who crashes down sometimes, right?
I never responded to Mister Deer Murderer’s message…seriously, what could I even say? Um, great profile picture, which of you shot first, you or the deer? What kind of gun was the deer packing? Was he killed to settle a multi-generation vendetta? Or maybe your tiny tadpole sized knob grew an entire inch because you killed a defenseless animal? Even better: Hey Tom, if you want, we can reenact the scene and YOU can be the deer, whatdaya say?How’s that for being Wild, Mister?
My Wild, Wild Love
I’m still alive. I’m still alive… I’m still alive. I’m still alive. I’m still alive…