You Only Go Around Once

I’ve been thinking a lot. Which is a good sign, from what I hear. Other breaking news: my heart is beating, lymphatics are draining, and the Hindenburg went down in case you haven’t heard.

I’m scared about the next year. My mom has avoided the topic of the impending date of our separation when I turn 18 next year. I’ll be going further south to the University of Texas Pan American, and she and my father (and most likely my older brother) will become neighbors with Canada on Mackinac Island in Michigan. I’ve tried hugging her more and telling her how much I love her and expressing how proud I am of her success as an aesthetician, but I want to talk about goodbye.

Ever since I was 13 I began counting down the days to life on my own, making one scheme after another to get out quick. Some days because the fights were just that bad, and others because I was aching to try my hand at the dreams I had formulated while staring at those purple walls that I’m grateful I never had to paint over when we left.

You only go around once – that’s the line I’ve heard from toddlerhood onward, and only recently has it hit me head on what it means. You have choices to make every day, and once it’s gone, it can never be so again. My favorite philosopher and psychologist, William James, said that we never feel the exact same emotion twice. That’s because we feel different emotions for different reasons every time, so we can never feel the precise way we did the last time we felt it. In other words: you’ll only feel that brand of happiness once, you’ll only get kicked with that guilt in one swing.

I want to sit and talk with her a while about what inevitably will come to pass. A part of me is scared of when she does allow me, because now when she talks about her future, it’s no longer about dreams and ambitions and ending sentences with “One day I’ll get there.” Now, instead, they end with, “I may do that the rest of my life.” As though the day is so impending. But then, one cannot deny, it is. With my best friend’s wedding on the horizon, I’ll no longer have my Watson to rip the lenses off of my rose-colored glasses. When I’m at Pan-Am I will know no one, and be entirely alone for a companion who I can so entirely trust as I do with Heather, and the last thing I will do is call up my newly wed best friend in the wee small hours for one of my petty rants or paranoia episodes when things go bump in the night. No, I have to learn to always look reality in the face and consider all options and explanations, for once, learn to do such a thing alone.

At least I know I’ll only feel this brand of dread once, only get kicked with this regret in one swing.

It has been said before me, and so it will be said after. The reason stories of UFOs give us nightmares, goosebumps rise at the sound of invisible feet upon the floor, suspicion and fear arise when we think too long about the many monsters in the darkness, heck, why shaking hands give people with OCD a spike of terror, is because we do not understand. We fear the unknown. Where are the shoes that cause the echoing click? Where are the lights in the sky coming from? What could there possibly be in the darkness? Could this outstretched hand give me something deadly with a swift movement of greeting?

When we feel a dreading ache in our stomach, hearts and bones it’s that overprotective part of our mind sending signals that say very obviously “I don’t recognize this, I don’t understand this, therefore, I do not like this.” The past year I’ve come to see such an ache as a good thing: it tells us that we care about the outcome. But sometimes I feel this ache and overawareness of time and it’s passing make it difficult for me to enjoy the time I have left. Yesterday I suddenly asked my mom if she would like to go to Blueberries (a modern-styled frozen yogurt and boba tea place) if I paid for it. And as we sat and laughed I kept noticing lines on her face that I didn’t remember being there, I furrowed my brow in frustration that I didn’t perceive it earlier. Lines marking her cupids-bow upper lip and stretching from the sides of her nose and framing her mouth. Etchings near her eyes and on her forehead. When did my mother turn into a person? I wondered. A wise woman once said that there is a key point in life, where we stop seeing our parents as parents, and see them instead as people. My bubbly, Disneyloving, hardworking mother turned into a bubbly, Disneyloving, hardworking human being before my very eyes. And my heart broke a little.

Life is but a vapor, so says countless philosophers and the Bible itself. And what a beautiful vapor my mother is. I know I will wake up one day and she will be long gone, but, goodness, I can look into her eyes and hold onto her as long as I wish, it’s nothing but gripping falling sand in one’s fist. How can any human being properly love and cherish another in a way that stops time? I feel like this should exist. I feel like if I were to fight hard enough with nothing but my raw will that perhaps I can bend the cosmos in this way, that I might hold time in my hand and demand that it cease, and that it would. But the human will can only extend one’s reach so far, it can only do so much to hold the sun in one’s hand or the stars with one’s gaze. I can’t be the only one who has felt like this. Or perhaps William James would say I am. But then, what does he know? He’s dead. Where did his wisdom and ambition and raw will get him? All that is left of him is ink on a page. All that stands of Mr. James are quotes and requotes until sometimes words are said so often we don’t even care about what they mean anymore.

I wish that I could suspend the lives of the people I love for a while, but I know this would never be enough, it could never be enough. Because I am human, and so I fear the unknown of a world without them. But yet I still look into their eyes and hold them as tightly as I may, the sand continues to fall, the lines in the sand and the lines around her mouth are drawn by time, and nothing can be done to capture such vapors, what is done is done, what has passed has passed, and I am comforted only by the fact that I will only feel this brand of grief once, only get kicked with this fear in one swing.

Live On,

–Hannah-Elizabeth

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The Return of The Last Classic

Last night I had a job interview.

At Chuck E Cheese.

The good news: I’m 98% confident I got the job!

The bad news: They want me to dance around as Chuck E Cheese himself for birthday parties.

The upside: It’s located directly across the street from my favorite mall in all of the glorious state of Texas!

The downside: During the interview I was hesitantly asked if I would mind going inside something called ‘The Tornado Tunnel’, and she looked relieved when I said I ‘wouldn’t mind at all!’…

Pro: I met one of the other applicants while waiting for the manager and I think we’d easily become friends!

Con: I would have to be in the dag-flabbit costume for 2-hour blocks of time…Did I mention they want me to dance?

I’m going back again tomorrow for a follow-up, here’s hoping it goes well.

Regular readers will notice something a tad odd about my blog today: it is back to its original title: The Last Classic

The blatant truth of the abrupt URL and title change is that I fell hard for a guy and then realized he wasn’t who I thought he was and I ended up (attempting) to entirely cut things off. So I made several sudden changes in my life, trying to make it feel like what happened was a chapter long over and ease some of my guilt. I don’t know why for a moment everything lined up perfectly, for a day or so I deluded myself with the dozen coincidences all at once that seemed to say he was it. But soon after happiness turned into a churning in my stomach when I realized how wrong we were for each other. I kept waiting for my gut feeling of ‘get me out of here!’ to fade and leave me be. But the more we spoke, the more I realized he wasn’t even close to the original image that was presented to me. I know it’s the classic story, but usually I call it from the start when someone isn’t as they seem. The longer I’ve gone without my true blog title, the more I feel I’ve lost Classic. Gripping to the alias still to the point where I could not change my username or blog signature comfortably. And so, here we are, back to The Last Classic, not cemented in the past and regrets and scenarios that by human error could not have been prevented, but moving upward and onward into what waits ahead.

I’ll write ya’ll again soon enough,

–Classic

 

 

 

(Don’t) Lie To Me

Intentionally blank pages at the end of a book.

Image via Wikipedia

TAKE BACK WHAT WAS TAKEN FROM ME

I stared at the furious scrawl before me, page after page, every margin and crevice had deep red, blue, and black ink expressing grief, rage, and a lust for revenge. This was a different Violet than the one who had been living with us the past ten days. Who I had laughed with over a roasting chicken and sang with while drinking tea to “Rolling in the Deep”

WORTHLESS, FAT, UGLY!

I winced. No, Violet, you’re not. I wanted to say.

I never wanted it!!! It wasn’t my fault!

I must let go of responsibility.

ANGER/RAGE

Terror cycle

I want TO HEAL

SHAME

manipulation

I was humiliated.

KILL KILL KILL!!!

I cringed and slapped the workbook shut. Self-disgust slapped me across the face as I realized exactly what I was reading. Her sexual abuse recovery workbook.

I was set with the grim duty of packing up Violet’s things. She was being kicked out and was currently wandering the streets of Texas looking for a CareNow clinic on foot carrying nothing but a wallet, her handbag, and a pack of cigarettes. I was going through her items one by one and packing them up as neatly as I could while utilizing what little space there was in her travel bag and shoebox.

“Oh, I can’t imagine a fresh start, just me and the kids…”

Fresh start. Distance from the past. Now it made sense why those had been practically her catchphrases while she was here.

“Hannah, I know how crippling anxiety can be…”

I didn’t know how deep hers ran. I didn’t know what brand of paranoia she had been dealt. My stomach churned. I looked up to the dresser in the entrance we had been letting her use, and upon opening the second drawer on the right I saw her prescription bag. Impulsively I grabbed it and took out the papers inside, noting the absence of her medication.

Effexor XR. Venlafaxine. I had read about it once or twice in my studies on psychiatric medications. It’s an antidepressant but it can also be used for anxiety. It inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrene (the serotonergic theory of depression is sketchy from what I recall.) her dosage is double the typical prescription for depressed patients, and it’s extended release, meant to stay in her system all the live long day. Someone sure wanted to muzzle her demons. I looked at the date it was filled, the 20th. Merely 48 hours before she moved in. I went into my room and took out my miniature notepad, a little voice in my head shame, shame, shaming what I was doing. But after a moment of contemplation I knew it was a lost cause. I had to know more about Violet Herring. For five-hour blocks of time she spilled out her heart to me, and I had started to do the same. Maybe it was her experience as a therapist, her calm and sympathetic demeanor that made me open up. I didn’t know it when I had been speaking with her that she would go on to betray me with anything that I had shared. I walked back to the dresser and heard my brother’s door open upstairs. I scribbled her drug information and flipped the notepad shut before sliding both the pad and pen into my jacket pocket as Austin descended the stairs. I folded her articles of clothing patiently as he made his lunch and let the dogs out. As soon as I heard his door shut I was back to going through her items, her books, her notes. Guilt repeatedly punched me in the gut with every page I turned, but what I had was beyond curiosity, and for the moment my conscience couldn’t keep me in line as I always allow it to. Always, always, always do the right thing… By the time I had finished with her paper articles I felt like a dead battery from the guilt, halfway wishing that I never read them. But I continued scribbling the notes anyway. Justifying my violation of her hopes, dreams, shameful moments and regrets using some absurd reason or other.

I wanted to tell someone how I felt, what conclusion I had come to, who Violet really was. I had managed a profile of her in the two and a half hours I spent packing her things, it was choppy and filled with holes that I couldn’t fill unless I asked her personal questions up front, but it was enough that I felt I understood her beyond a decent degree. I had a sudden impulse to wash my hands (literally and metaphorically) and flicked on the light in the downstairs bathroom. I looked up at the mirror and saw dark circles under my eyes that were not existent a couple of hours ago.

I knew that I would be playing devil’s advocate again. Violet reminded my mother too much of my bipolar  Grandmother for her to see Violet in a more objective light. It’s why she was kicked out. During her brief stay she had come to enjoy one of my favorite books, Treasures of the North, so I packed the trilogy along with my dog-marked, over-tabbed pocket Bible and a handwritten letter along with her items. It felt right. I knew that once mom found out about the letter all hell would break loose, but I had to tell her a few things, and I knew no other way that seemed fitting.

On the 3rd of July, Watson (Heather Madame) and I went to Town Square for the fireworks. I had a persistent headache ever since the Violet fiasco but tried to sound upbeat and enjoy the night. Unfortunately, it was loud and crowded with obnoxious teenagers, deafening rock bands and overpriced slushies. More than once we sought solace in Barnes & Noble. Throughout the night my headache progressed from I-could-use-an-advil to please-kill-me-now status. But the fireworks were somewhat enjoyable except for how up close and personal we were, with every burst of light the ground thumped, and the sound was practically physical. Before the fireworks ended, though, we ventured back into Barnes and split a piece of cheesecake (since The Cheesecake Factory is neighbors with the bookstore, the Starbucks inside Barnes sells their cheesecake) and sipped frappicinos while trying to ignore the immature 15 year olds sitting behind Heather. My head was pounding and even chocolate did little to lessen it. Earlier when we were upstairs in the psychology section of the store I had gotten a text message from my mom:

I really wish you hadn’t left that note with Violet. She’s telling everyone you apologized and I’m crazy.

“Violet you fool. What are you doing?” I mumbled bitterly as I replied to my mom the truth: I never said what she was claiming. My back suddenly ached and my headache worsened. A feeling near betrayal made my heart sink into my stomach and blood rush to my face.

“What is it?” Heather asked, having heard my insult to the absent Violet. I explained the situation to Heather, but I kept it short, a lump was forming in my throat.

After we had dropped off Heather and made our way back home (Austin was a leader at a church camp so luckily he wasn’t present) mom started the interrogation. I voiced my innocence, but she suddenly had that tone in her voice that implies I’m lying.

“I just want to know if you might have said something to imply that you felt I was wrong.” She said calmly. But unfortunately, it didn’t take much for me to lose it.

I slammed my purse on the counter and faced her head-on, using a vocabulary I hadn’t practiced since my preteen years. “Have her send you the freaking letter, photocopy it even. But I did not say any of the bull she’s claiming I did. I was sympathizing with her but I’m on your side, mom. I have always been on your side. I did not say what she is telling everyone I said. And if you ask if I even hinted at it you’re calling me a liar and I did. Not. Lie.” My head was pounding to the point that I could hear each beat of my heart. The waterworks started up and I broke down in the middle of the kitchen. Suddenly her story changed. Of course she believed me, she said, she just wanted to know if I ever thought something like that.

I tried and failed to clear my throat before snatching my purse, I looked at her through the suspended rivers in my vision. “I’m sick of always having to plead my case to you.” I put my hand to my forehead, beads of sweat were already forming and my heart was going a mile a minute.

“You never have to plead your case, I believe you.”

I exhaled loudly, “If you believed me than you wouldn’t keep asking, if you thought I’d never say what she’s claiming than you wouldn’t have to ask.”

“I just want to know if you ever do feel that way, I do believe you.”

I looked to the clock on the stove, it was nearing midnight. I stumbled while making my way up the stairs and pain shot up my arm. I tested the damage and realized I wasn’t able to move it very much without wincing. I would return downstairs a few minutes later to get iced water and walk in on a conversation about how I must be fabricating my every explanation. I can honestly say it was one of the most miserable nights of my life. In the days following my family recieved anonmyous phone calls, though we all know who it is. Little by little the truth came out. Violet was a child abuser who lied about her husband being mentally ill and that she had been in at least six houses in the past two months. I still stick to my profile of the more vulnrable side of Violet, as much as my mom can only look at her name and see Charlene’s face (my grandmother). After looking up her medication in my pill books I was able to piece together a plausible theory of her behavior during her stay. She had told me during her stay that sometimes she will suddenly go off of her meds (and with a serotonin and reuptake inhibitor like Effexor, that is very, very bad) and I believe that 1-3 days before her arrival she did just that. The sudden rush of the neurotransmitters being blocked from reuptake made her happy and focused and manic, but once the hit wore off, she became irritable and depressed. I explained her behavior and the profile I had worked up to my mom and explained a possible explanation for Grandma Charlene’s mental illness as well. Cyclothymic disorder (a milder form of bipolar disorder). Her eyes widened as I explained two of the most off-their-rocker females in our family, she nodded and explained the most accurate parts of my points, sending the criteria for the disorder to her aunt, Charlene’s sister.

The headaches are still persistent, though for my general pain my mom took me to a chiropractor yesterday (I have a curvature of the spine which needs consistent adjustment) and a few days ago my mother purchased an air mattress, which is much more merciful than sleeping on a couch. Thankfully, I no longer have electric-current like pain everywhere, but I’m still quite sore from the adjustment yesterday and the headaches are still difficult to ignore.

I won’t be around very often unless a particular notion strikes, but today I very much felt that I had to write about this, lest I, too, join every single woman in my family and go a little crazy – my mother excluded. And that is the truth.

–Classic/Hannah-Elizabeth

P.S. As of July 6th, I am a 17-year old.