Shallow footholds

Breathe.

My uncle, who claims to have been “inoculated” against bubonic plague (yes, you read that correctly; he’s that ignorant) is on the commenting rampage again. This time? A superfluous comment on a post about the theatre group’s last performance. No idea what was going thru his mind…if anything. The damned post was in English, but he seems to have translated it. A tag that caught his eye was ‘Friday in Leiden’, which was a reference to our Friday night performance in the town of Leiden. His comment? What’s Friday in Leiden? Free day later? – or some such nonsense. Deleted it. I’m not talking to someone that stupid.

Saw a Graham Norton show on which a guest said he loved Twitter because ‘it was created to wind people up’ and he found ‘winding people up was a lot of fun’. I believe that puts my uncle’s behavior into a nice box. He enjoys winding people up. If I was his child and went to him to complain about being bullied, he’d say what those people always say: Ignore it. Yet, when I do that, I receive all sorts of negative comments about how immature I am, how I can’t even hold a conversation, etc. etc. Same double standard their president is trying to pull, and it’s the same obvious bullshit manipulation.

My brother has this idea that he’ll post the video of my performance and somehow THAT will open up my uncle’s mind. I expect flak. Bullshit wind-up comments. Back-handed compliments that aren’t really compliments. Stuff I’ll delete immediately, because I don’t want to deal with it.

Reminding myself I must apologize to the group in case anyone saw his comment. I’m sure my uncle would be angry if he knew I felt I had to apologize for his behavior. But I do feel it. I feel I must apologize for much of what Americans say and do.

Now THAT’S sad.

Language class: oh, I’m a prat and I know it. Brought along the book on Anne Frank that I finished reading. I believe that’s what prompted the teacher to ask all of us for impromptu book reports. I was the only person who had read more than a few pages. Swapped for a new book – a detective story. Lots of words in there that I don’t know. But that’s good; picking up meanings while reading is the BEST way to get it into your brain. Sometimes I have to resort to the dictionary, but hey! I did/do that with English, too. There are always words you don’t know. Did pretty well with my homework. A couple of mistakes; that’s okay. I learn even more from my mistakes than I do simple repetition. Really appreciate the level of this class. High enough, but not too high. Stressing what I need stressed. Feel myself falling into my student mode: open, accepting – almost like a sponge. Absorb first. Question later.

It’s a decent mind-state to carry into the world.

Keep telling myself I’m gonna cut back on smoking. Keep failing. Keep making excuses for myself, too. I’m still stressed from performing (true). My system hasn’t settled yet (true). But I’m bending the rules, being too easy and forgiving of my bad behavior. It’s got to stop.

Going to the gym today. My big excursion into out there. Want to come back so worn out I can barely keep my eyes open. Want it. Need it, even.

Keep telling myself to hang in there. Just a bit longer. A bit longer to what I’m never sure. Success? Easing of some of the financial restrictions? I’m afraid things might get worse before they get better. Once again, I have tumbleweeds rolling thru my e-mail. Not word ONE on my script, which I sent out a month ago to half a dozen places with very high expectations. Winter is coming on, which means more watching my health and being all over hand washing and juice sipping. All of that is discouraging, as are the bills that come in unexpectedly, throwing our budget out of whack.

But doors are opening. Just a crack – enough to get my foot in. Checked the film website my acting partner told me about and it’s everything he promised. Casting calls for all sorts. Already found one I’d really like to apply for. Need to get my info online. Told my bro about it, because there’s plenty of calls for sound engineers, something he’s more than qualified for.

Do not want to jinx myself, so I’ll just say all of this is on the table. As is the production of my scripts via the theatre group. Stepping slowly, cautiously. Nothing is settled or for sure, so there’s no real reason to get worked up. There’s just…interest.

Another note: J, the other feminist in the theatre group, asked for my blog address. I was thrown, dithered a lot by saying it’s nothing, just my empty thoughts. Truth is, I was and am afraid to share this blog. Whether or not I have anonymity, I feel as if I do, and that makes all the difference in how I write. But with my last post on sharing, I wonder if I’m being a bit hasty to pull back on this issue. How better for someone to understand me than to read my words? Must say, I’m honored that she cared enough to ask. That alone weighs heavily on the ‘give her the address’ side.

My head keeps playing back compliments I received for my performance. Particularly compliments from the group, because these are the people who’ve seen me do it over and over. These are the people who’ve heard some of my opinions, talked to me, gotten to know me a bit better… Truth is, I have no idea what they might say about me when I’m not there. Last autumn, I was a fly on the wall, so I know shit happens.

They might end up being very shallow. But even a shallow foothold is better than none.

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13 hours.

Home at 1 in the morning. Excited, because Leiden went well. Really well. Maybe the BEST for the group as a whole.

My feet hurt. My voice is iffy. Hope I won’t lose it completely. I’m tired, even after a decent sleep.

And I’m triumphant. Did the Universe take all possible positive comments and roll them into one night for me? Seems so. Two guys were pleasantly surprised to find my normal speaking voice wasn’t that horrid accent I do on stage. People loved this and that about my performance. But the best? Well…the group is getting more and more comfortable with performing and with each other. I’ve got this bit in the third scene – I’m supposed to be dancing at a party just outside the door, and the audience sees me every time the door opens. So I took it up a notch. Last night, every time the door opened I was a bit more drunk. Saved the best for last; even told my acting partner I was going to try and throw the actors on stage a bit. The curtains parted, my hair was bedraggled, my lipstick smeared, my shirt buttons were open and I staggered, took a drunken stance, looked straight at the director’s girlfriend (who was holding the curtain) and asked very drunkly ‘What?’. She told me later the scene went on longer than she wanted because she was laughing at me and couldn’t turn and let the audience see. In fact, she told that story to everyone at the bar afterwards and she couldn’t stop laughing even then.

Made me feel real good. I think, maybe, I’ve diffused any lingering resentment towards me through humor and honesty.

Other: J, the South African actress who is my fellow feminist in the group, told me she thought I was cool and wanted to keep in touch. YES! I might have FRIENDS out of this, as implausible as that may have seemed to me a few months ago. And my acting partner clued me into a Dutch website for actors to find parts in films. He told me they’re always looking for English speaking/American women.

Three weeks to chill before the last gig of the year. Defo everyone is planning for further performances next year. Hope to get up to Amsterdam to a theatre that will actually pay us to be there (including travel costs).

The only thing I’m planning for this weekend is finishing my homework, which should take me all of 20 minutes when I put my mind to it. Other than that, I am slothing (bloody hell; spell correct doesn’t like that but shouldn’t it be a verb?). Putting my feet up, maybe soaking them if I feel like pulling a warm foot bath together. Watching films. Not getting out of my pj’s unless I’m forced to. Not planning on a gym visit, but I’ll go if my body tells me it needs it. Juice, soup, naps, games. Sloth.

These upsets to my schedule are hard on me. 13 hours yesterday away from home, away from my comfy chair, not smoking (Gasp! I know! 13 hours with no toking! Though I did  have an emergency J on me just in case). Can’t help but feel it’s worth it. I’m happy, up, jazzed, and feeling great after a night full of positive, light-hearted social contact.

Laughing is so much easier in a group than it is alone.

That’s a lesson I’m taking with me. I tend to be a hermit, usually by choice. But with other people, with unexpected things being said and done…well…let’s just say I’ve long noticed that I don’t laugh out loud very much if I’m alone.

Laughter is something you share.

I like laughing. I like the way it makes me feel. I like making other people laugh, too.

So my path is clear.

Time to open up my world and share.

Limits

Finally a bit of real rest. Didn’t feel like I slept after opening night; it was a light sleep, at best, with several times coming to and thinking about the matinee performance. I wasn’t alone. Everyone was dragging yesterday.

Flubbed. Missed lines, experienced that wonderful brain fart feeling – which, as I said later, really DID feel like my brain fell down somewhere around my ass leaving my head completely empty… Still got laughs, got through it. Still feel okay, though I know it wasn’t my strongest performance.

Had two people come to see me yesterday. Whoohoo!!! Two people! I wasn’t sure anybody was gonna show up. Felt real good to see them after the show, to have someone I sat with and talked with while everyone else chatted with their friends. Talked so much and so long the lounge emptied around us and we didn’t even notice. The director had to come and get me to help everyone strike the set.

Yea! Friggin’ yea! I know in the grand scheme of things two people aren’t a lot, but it’s good to know I’m not a complete social pariah. I can meet and make friends, be social, and have people HAPPY to come and share in what I do. That feels real good.

Got to talking about my writing, because I’m known by my pen name with these…friends? Can I call them friends? I hope so. Anyway, they know me by my pen name. The name I perform under in the play is different, as is my real name…Beginning to think maybe all these pseudonyms aren’t the best idea. Makes me look a little psycho. At the very minimum, it’s telling as to how much I hate being me. But I digress. Talked about scripts and read throughs. Told them about the Night Witches script. One of them knows some Russians from Russia, and said she’d ask them along. DAMN! Could I get a better sampling for a reading? Don’t think so. Very excited by the prospect. Had to warn her that I wrote it for Americans, so heads up to the Russians: don’t expect a lot; more than half of it is educating the audience. Crossing my fingers they appreciate my approach and like the story.

All this is good, because at the moment I feel very cut off online. My spam filter is working better than ever, but the upshot is I’ve had days go by without anything new showing up in my email. Not sure if an empty inbox is better than an inbox filled with spam. At least with a lot of spam, you know the world thinks of you as alive. You feel remembered…even if it’s just by advertisers.

Barely a clean pot, pan, plate, or spoon in the house. Garbage and recycling have piled up, too. The plants are gasping for water. And the dust bunny population has exploded. Will try to get to the big stuff today and tomorrow without hurting myself.

Language class later. Gotta try this morning to switch into Dutch. Maybe do some reading. Right now my head is all English.

Need to get back to the gym, too. Keep moving, keep that back pain free.

*sigh* Taking care of myself is a full time thing.

Friday I head to Leiden for another performance. Good news is, I have a lift. Bad news is, I’ll be going at noon and having another long, LONG, full day. Those are hard on me.

One day at a time. Lots of daytime appointments this week. Gotta buy new false eyelashes (found the limits on wearing falsies; the lashes fall out after a while). Catch up on a bit of rest each day. Do some laundry, chill, and run lines so (I hope) I don’t have any more flubs.

Couldn’t do this full time. Couldn’t do a play six or seven times a week plus live a life. I mean…one weekend gone and the house is a wreck, nothing’s clean, and I’m pooped. Good to know: if I ever DO get an opportunity to do more, it’s got to come with enough money to buy me help. A maid to come in and tidy up the house, a personal assistant to help me keep everything together while I perform. And a bleeding chauffeur to drive me around so I don’t have to sit at the theatre for six to eight hours at a time.

Good to know my limits.

Gravy

Recoup.

Not sure what to say about the first night, other than it’s over. It went well. No major flubs, everybody got laughs. I feel a bit flat…

My bro got to the theatre early, around four. Hung out the entire night, talked with the director and other actors, and generally was someone who was ‘good people’, in the words of the crew. His good behavior was rewarded with meeting a dude into heavy metal, music, and recording (the sound engineer).

Did not think the first skit got the laughs it deserved…I deserved… Watched the vid last night, and came to the conclusion my brother stated earlier: the first skit has to warm up the audience. Of course they’re laughing a little less; this gets them in the mood (plus, it’s before the break so no one’s had a beer yet).

Things I’m pleased about: got compliments. That’s always nice. One was a back-hander, though…A woman who’d come to some general theatre group meetings showed up. Her comment? I watched you in the meetings and didn’t think you’d be very good…but you are! You’re a really good actress! Um…thanks? Decided that’s a statement that really needs to be appreciated for its sugar rather than its sting. Watched the vid my bro made. While some of the dialogue from the other actors is lost because the lines were said too quietly, my sonic timbered voice cuts through no matter what. Every word, every nuance, clear as a bell. The audio will need to be stripped, cleaned, and compressed to make everyone heard. Everyone but me. I feel good about that, tho it’s nothing to do with my performance. That’s just my voice. It cuts like a knife’s edge. I can make it softer, and generally do in normal conversation. On stage, though…Let’s just say it would take a really BIG theatre and a really BIG audience for me to need a microphone. Other: I’m damned proud of my portrayal. Wendy is perfectly natural. The vocal interjections, the nervous habits, the way she walks and talks…none of it forced, none of it unbelievable. For thirty minutes, I am this woman.

Got lifts in and back yesterday, and will have the same today thanks to my acting partner. That takes a lot of stress off me.

Stealing moments in between scenes to talk to the other actors. Finally talk. Found my co-feminist, who spoke up with me on Sunday’s dress rehearsal, to be a kindred spirit in many ways. Hope we can kindle a real friendship there. I don’t care if she doesn’t live in Rotterdam; I just want to stay in touch, maybe hang out once in a while. She likes bad horror films, she knows MST3000, and she smokes. I mean – DAMN! If I find out she likes punk music I am SO gonna bug her to be my friend.

Up a bit early today, but I’m getting picked up at 11:15 and I’ve got to pull my stuff together. Last night was just a toss-off: toss off the clothes, the make-up, the hair clips. Gotta find everything this morning and re-pack. Have breakfast, brush my teeth, get my contacts in, and start thinking Wendy again.

I’ll rest tonight.

Staying positive. Making sure I support everyone else. Smiling a lot. Mostly, having loads of fun.

Opening night is over. Now, it’s all gravy.

Coming Together

YES!

Received confirmation of our residency status yesterday. Technically, it wasn’t a confirmation; even says so in the second paragraph. That, however, is because the police have the right to yank a residency card last minute as they do background checks. Since I haven’t been in any trouble (such a good girl!), I don’t expect any trouble to come my way. All we need to do now is head downtown for pictures and fingerprints, then wait until we can pick up our cards.

Thank you, Goddess. Thank you so much!

Made what might be the worst cup of coffee in the world this morning (the filter bent, so I’ve a cup full of grounds) but what does it matter? I’m allowed to stay here in the Netherlands to 2019. I’m safe. I can stop worrying, even in the back of my head. Now, rather than looking around and thinking how much I might miss the place, I look around and think ‘I’m home, I’m safe’.

Now we’ve got time to pay down the debt we accrued to hire attorneys and accountants and pay all those fees.

I’m still poor, darlings, but truth is I’d rather be poor here than rich in the states.

Made a lucky choice with an over the counter hair color product. Did my roots yesterday afternoon, and you can see only a tiny shade difference in the brightest of lights. Yippee. No grey hair worries for the next month now. Maybe I’ll even get around to cutting my own hair. Haven’t tried that for years and years; it’s tough on the bursae in my shoulders. But I’m stronger now than I was, so I might just snip, snip. It’s not a big deal. I’ve had what I consider a bad hair cut twice in my life – and both times I still got compliments, so they weren’t that bad (I just didn’t like them). Truth is, it’s hard to fuck up my hair. I’ve got a lot of it, it grows fast, and unless you shave my head down to the bone, I can make it work.

Full dress rehearsal today. We’re doing it in my neck of the woods, so everyone is taking the metro up here. I get to walk since it’s so close to my home. Planning on baking some blueberry muffins to take along. It’s the first time we’ll all be together, and I thought it would be nice to bring something so we can all have a little treat. Plus, I know how good most people find my blueberry muffins. Play to your strengths.

We’ve had two days of glorious autumn weather. Sunny skies, warm air with that touch of cool in the shadows, that musty smell from fallen leaves – my favorite time of year. Been wanting to get up and go, but holding myself back. My foot is still giving me problems, and yesterday my wrist went. Really sucks to hurt yourself ten times over simply doing dishes, but it happened. So it’s nurse myself, don’t do too much, and all that. I guess it’s not a bad thing, really. Helps me remember to be careful this last week before performing.

Wanting more than ever to master this language now that I’ve got the green light from immigration. It’s still a daunting task. My new, higher level lesson begins tomorrow.

I feel like my mind is coming out of a long coma. The first few years here were and still are a mash in my head: a lot of anxiety and pain, and nothing that anchors time for me. Confusion over the language, worry over this or that – you name it, I’ve been there. It’s a floating mass of stuff labeled ‘my first two years’ that I have trouble sorting out. In some ways, I feel like this is my first two years in the Netherlands. It’ll be the first two years I step out with enough grasp of the language to understand most of what’s said to me. I know people now. Maybe I don’t have friends, but when I moved here I didn’t know anyone at all. Now I know people by name, even connected with them on social networks. I also understand how this society works; their time schedules and holidays, their quirks and habits. I’ve got a little foothold, and it feels good.

Can it be that things are finally coming together for me?

 

What only I can do

Yea. Finally, a day when I caught some breaks. Trains that ran on time, schedules that were correct, even people that remembered me and my bro from our attempt to take care of this last week. In fact, Amsterdam was the Amsterdam I remember, not the bitch-Goddess I experienced Thursday. She was quiet, dressed well, and kind.

Amsterdam was also, on an August day, totally empty. I’ve been in August, and seen the tourists. Madness. Can’t even get down the pavement because there’s too many people, usually dragging suitcases behind them. Hell! I’ve seen Amsterdam busier in January than yesterday. Took me a bit to realize it. Rotterdam is always slower, and emptier than the capital. But by the time 10 a.m. came around and the hot spots for tourists were still half empty, I knew this wasn’t just a freak Monday morning occurrence. This was for real. The closed shops and restaurants confirmed it – tourism is down. Way down.

While bad for everyone who’s building their retirement funds from tourist income, it was a real pleasure for me and my bro. Easy walking, a cool day with just a hint of sun – Amsterdam became the fairy tale doll’s house it was when we first visited. We wandered through the canals and streets. Even ventured into Jordan to sit down in Paradox for a smoke. – And all that on top of getting into the consulate early, getting the paperwork for both of us done at the same time, and getting out (believe it or not) two minutes before our appointment was actually supposed to begin.

Came back and napped to gather some strength for evening rehearsals. I was nervous; haven’t put much time into running my lines over the break. No reason to worry, though. Had a couple of stumbles, called for a line prompt twice – stuff that shows I’m out of practice – like everyone else.

I did, however, have reason to recall my initial assessment of these people: snobs. Must keep that in mind; just because they’ve deigned to offer me a role this time does not make them nice, and it sure as hell does not make them my friends. We’re finally doubling up on nights, with two duos going thru their stuff. Had to actually pause and ask the girlfriend of the director to stop talking – she was just chatting away (rudely) with her partner while I and my partner ran our bit. Nothing new there; been reminding myself I tagged her as a bitch and I should keep that label in place. Then, after all was done, the group hung out and talked for 20 minutes. About money. To the point where I found it vulgar – that’s the word I used, that’s the only word my head screams – VULGAR. For 20 goddamn minutes, it was this amount per hour, that amount per minute, I find thirty euro an hour offensive, I make 35 euro a minute, I won’t get out of bed for less than a hundred an hour – etc., etc., etc. Completely and utterly disgusting. I will not sit through that again. I will simply leave – because if I don’t, they’ll get an earful about being completely out of touch with real life.

And today I hardly feel like passing any of my written work to them for consideration.

That makes me sad, because I’d started to hope. Hope that maybe I’d find a friend in the group. Hope that maybe something good – like getting a play of mine produced – might grow from this small start. Last night shattered all that. These people are base, and conceited, and miserly. They will only give – grudgingly – if they receive.

I walked back to the metro alone, deep in thought. Reminded myself they may all own million dollar homes, but that also means they’ve got million dollar problems. I honestly found them so repellant I considered dropping out from the play. But I auditioned and took the part for me, not for them. I’ll do what I need to for me – just like they’d do what they feel they need to do for themselves. I will not, however, extend that friendship branch again. In rehearsal, they’re okay. Outside of rehearsal, they’re triggering me badly. I’ve had plenty of that kind of people in my life. I don’t need to willingly pick more up now.

Just want to bring myself back to earth. Remind myself of the basics. Ignore all I was subjected to last night.

Perhaps, next time, I should stand and list out all my accomplishments and garnished praise. All those little facts that other artists would find irritating. After all, if they’re going to shove money issues in my face, I can retaliate by making sure (subtly) they all know I think they’re fuckers. Oh, my band is ranked number one in hard rock. My play got this praise. My book is doing so well! And the film my music is in has just skyrocketed with views! Millions, literally. I’d have to write a script out for myself to cover 20 minutes of this banality. But I could do it, just to stick it to them. Revert to statements like this every fucking time money comes up – which will be almost non-stop.

Mostly, tho, I remind myself they do this kind of thing because they feel small and unimportant.

And they are. All their grand ideas? Haven’t seen them create anything, just make money off of forms or time or whatever. Haven’t heard them saying their happy, either. Truly…how can anyone who talks all the time about money and how much they make be happy? And none are ‘successful’. There may be one or two who gets an acting role here or there, an extra in the back of a shot or maybe a line in some play, but none are famous, none are successful, none make a living at it.

I’m gonna go create. Write myself happy.

Do what only I can do.

That’s life

Life has returned. My memories are back in the closet, not forgotten, but filed away. Time to move on.

Writing is going well. Not enough time to do it lately. Seems it’s all run this errand, pick that up, and of course the ever present necessity to get to the gym and move so I don’t hurt so much. Haven’t even cleaned the house in I don’t know how long, and it shows it.

Today I’m keeping to my life commitment. Heading out with my brother to the comic book shop. Say hi to the guys. Hang out. Talk. Be a part of the world. Got to keep in practice with that, at least a little bit, or I’ll forget how to do it.

Been feeling very alone and lonely. The two don’t always go together, but right now they do. In the wake of my reaction to the news about L, I feel friendless. Want to change that, but I find my physical condition works against me. Last time I tried to schedule a get together with potential friends I woke up with laryngitis. Shit happens. Just the excitement of looking forward to getting out and meeting people can make me ill. Do that enough times to a potential new friend and they lose interest in pursuing a friendship. Seen it happen.

And I don’t like this double life I live. The reality is, my health isn’t good. I do fall ill very easily. I’m not strong. But then there’s my gym life: the nods and notice I get while working out. Maybe they’re not all dyin’ to do me, but they do acknowledge I work hard (beginning to think that most of the smiles I receive are ‘she’s a tough old bird’ type of thing). Most people drop out after an hour of exercise. Most people are shocked and think two hours is extreme. Oh, god, I could never make it for two hours! Then they look me up and down, decide that maybe not all physical strength translates into slim, tight bodies, and put me in that ‘healthy as hell’ category, which I do not deserve to be in.

…At least my physiotherapist understands.

Speaking of, looking forward to seeing him next week. Realized a long time ago our sessions are half physio and half talk therapy. Why can I do that? Why am I so open with someone like him, yet so closed if I see someone called ‘therapist’? One of those mysteries about myself I’d like to solve. …I need him on both levels right now. Despite my physical movement, I’ve got some pain building up. And although I don’t know what I’m going to say, I do know I’ll probably bring up L.

Been a few months since I’ve been able to get my hair done. Upshot is, I’ve got grey showing. Maybe for the first time in my life. A couple of silver hairs by each temple. I’ve looked at it closely in the mirror. It’s not unattractive. In fact, I find myself more distressed by the shaggy outgrowth look I’ve got right now than those grey hairs. …Don’t think I should wear my hair this long. It looks strange on my face. A 20 something tousled hair style on a 50 something woman. But what am I supposed to do? That’s my hair. It just looks that way, naturally. Hope to get it all spruced up before September.

Have not worn my orthopedics, despite the cooler weather. Do not want to wear my orthopedics. My cheap tennis shoes (with added insoles) are lovely: they give me plenty of support, and they don’t bite my feet at all. Plus they were a quarter of the cost of my orthopedics. But I’ll need to get back on that. No use in doing it in August; this entire country goes on holidays. Another thing to write in for September.

Bought some cheap eye gel and dark circle remover. Cosmetics that promise the impossible. But I figure any improvement is an improvement. And I’m guessing it helps to just go through the motions. Applying lotions, massaging them in – that’s a form of self love. I care enough about myself to do this, it says. Or at least that’s how I see it. So, I’m doing it, and hoping it will buy me a few years of looking not so tired and worn out.

Have let myself off the hook for tomorrow’s exercise. My bro is on me to read the final chapters in his book, one of the comic book guys leant me a run of stories by George Romero, and of course I have my own writing to get to. Today will largely be shot, between traveling to and fro and all the time spent visiting. Tomorrow is my make-up day: do the writing I should be doing today, finish up those comics, and start reading my brother’s work.

Wish these things didn’t always pile up on me.

…Wish I could just say no like so many people have said to me. I’m too busy with my own shit. Deal.

And that takes me right back to who I want to be. Do I want to be that person who’s always too busy for friends? Do I want to show the people I care about that I care about them, or will I just perpetuate that lip service shit my family gave to me? It always comes up for me at times like this. And I get angry, and pout, and whine that it isn’t fair, isn’t fair, isn’t fair…

But that’s life.

Never quite whole again

Went to the gym. Did dishes, made my bed. All that stuff I promised I’d get back to – I did it. Even opened up my script and wrote 2000 words.

And it felt right to get back to the day to day. Solid, real. Reminded myself where I am. When I am. Who I am.

But I am still mourning, and it’s a private grief. There is not one person in my life today who met L, so for them it’s like saying a celebrity died – distant and cerebral. Even heard from someone I shared my sob story with, who said just that, which is why I bring it up…because the statement felt cold. Really? You’ll compare my losing someone I spent every day of my 20s with the death of a celebrity? You think that compares? Cold.

Maybe I’m just being a bitch. Maybe the person who said that really did get shaken down to their bones. Maybe, in secret, they flew off to the UK and spent many long afternoons and evenings with their hero, David Bowie. Maybe they remember Bowie shooting pool with them. Being at their side when their parents died. Maybe they spent hours on the phone, all hours of the day or night, talking. Just like I did with L.

Or maybe not.

No one says ‘I love you’ to me. Not even in writing. I do. I tell people I love them at the end of my letters. That is, I tell them I love them if I truly do love them. I don’t just write it for everyone. It’s a select bunch, I’ll give you that. Not many I’d say it to. And I know not everyone is comfortable saying it. Not everyone can say it, even in the written word. There are several people in my life who aren’t in the habit of saying it, yet I know they care about me because of how they treat me. They are there for me, consistently. To talk, to help, to console. They never say ‘why are we talking about this again’ or ‘gee, I just don’t have time to deal with your crises anymore’.

Still. I’d like to hear the words echoed back to me.

Writing has become a thing. A real thing in my life. Not something I do when the mood strikes me, but something I sit and do regardless of my mood. And thank you, Goddess, for it! Hours typing away, creating dialogue and story lines…hours I don’t think about myself, or my sorrow, or the (possible) lack of love in my life.

I think I could finally write for a living now. Punch in the hours, type in the words.

The script is going well. Strong. Strong characters, strong statements. I need to modify a few things in Act 1. Add in one or two historical references. Make sure I’m not using contractions (I know I have to comb over the beginning for those). But I don’t want to modify Act 1 yet. Keep moving forward. Get through the whole thing. Otherwise, I run the risk of spending the rest of the week editing Act 1 – which is truly silly, since I haven’t written the end yet. Finish it off, THEN go back and tinker with the beginning. You know that!

Go! Write! Forget!

Forget.

Strange how I bury my sorrow in words that remember.

Today is another gym day. Get my ass over there and sweat. Regret, after 7 minutes, getting on the cross trainer. Feel I’m gonna vomit after 20 minutes on said cross trainer. Then over that hump. Into the endorphins. Smile, when my legs burn. Laugh at the sweat dripping off me. I wonder if L kept up on exercise. Is this the reason I’m living longer than my mates? Because I get off on it? Do I have an addictive side that’s so hung up on exercise highs I return to physical activity throughout my life in order to feed my need?

Fucking hell. Can I finally turn that weakness into a strength?

Find my soul a little more forgiving. My urge to grasp happiness a bit more conscious and aware. My weaknesses are not insurmountable mountains in my path, hampering my every move, but flat spaces of nothingness I can build on.

If the value of a person lies in the lessons they teach us, L was valued very highly, indeed.

No wonder they say growing old is scary. It sure as fuck is! Hearing about or, worse yet, seeing the people you know and care about die – fucking die – is terrifying.

…People want to talk so much about money and finances these days. What’s your 401K look like? How much is in your portfolio? But no one ever talks about our emotional investments. How we invest so much in the people in our lives. Not just the big memories, but the day to day stuff. The dreams, even. Dreams of them, of seeing them again. And when we lose someone, we go bankrupt. Immediately. All of that is lost. The comfortable chit-chat and grousing over our routines. The irritating habits we snap at each other for, then later regret mentioning. The things we think we’d like to be rid of, and the things we think we can’t live without. Gone, in an instant.

We are left in an open wound of love and sorrow, and facing the huge obstacle of putting our lives back together again. But we are missing a piece.

And while working a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle maybe be fun even if a piece is missing, the picture is never complete.

We are never quite whole again.

I knew her

I called the number I found for L. There was a pause, while the lines made the long connections across the Atlantic. And then – a ring. My heart jumped. Two rings. What was it I was going to say? Three rings. I was ready to hear my old friend’s voice.

When a Midwestern drawl answered, I barely comprehended what was said. I kept on the line, listening as a pre-recorded message read off a list of extensions.

It was a company line.

Which means, of course, that the number’s been recycled. No one ever tells you that. That the new phone number you feel all shiny and happy about in your brand new home is probably from someone who died. Goddess! We pick the electronic bones of the dead.

Found a handful of photos. All of them were from one trip: our infamous Grand Canyon/birthday bash in Arizona. Most are too distant. L along the handrail by a huge backdrop. A few were taken at night, when we rented a limo to take us out to the clubs. I had a lousy camera at the time, and all of the nighttime pics are overexposed from the flash. But there’s one. One picture that shows the L I remember. We were in the car, taking some back roads to an out of the way hot spring we heard about. She’s driving, with sun glasses on. I must have told her to look at me for the pic; she turned, and in typical fashion of L at that time, she stuck her tongue out at me. That’s the picture. Not the ones of her and I trying to look grown up as we stood by the limo. Not the ones in the hats. That one, with her tongue sticking out. That’s the one that made me cry.

My brother was gone all afternoon; he’s found a band to work with and he was at his first rehearsal. When he came home, he was full of energy, full of stories about the day. I kept quiet, my responses limited to short exclamations of happiness on his behalf. It kept on that way all thru the evening: me wanting to bring all this up, yet saying nothing.

11 p.m. The last episode watched for the evening, I muted the tv. And in that heartbeat of silence, I told my brother what happened.

Not just about the phone call. About all of it. This obsession that came over me the last 48 hours. How, while waiting to make that phone call, I googled other things. Pictures and videos of my old home town. Walked the google street views from my old high school through the local village and up the hill to my dad’s house. Took a car trip along Lake Michigan. Places I’d travelled thousands of times in my youth. Places I could have driven blindfolded when I was 21.

There was little I recognized.

Buildings downtown, large skyscrapers – they’re still there. Still look the same. The lake is still there. Fair grounds: just as I remember.

But the trees were all different. Many were too tall, and now obstruct the view I grew to know as a young woman. Streets were widened. Shops had changed hands.

The more I looked, the more nostalgic I grew. It was a strange nostalgia, though. A ‘member-berry nostalgia. Because it wasn’t real. I knew that even as I felt those tugs at my heartstrings. These pictures didn’t include the heat, the humidity, the insects. The audio didn’t include the crassness, the ignorance, the bigotry. And even as I felt I’ve missed so much! I knew I hadn’t. I left because nothing ever happened.

Ended by searching my eldest brother. Figured I needed to see what info was available on him, someone I knew, before I could make a judgement on the info I had on L. Odd thing. I found a sales record of the family home in 2005. And a new address for my brother. He never mentioned selling the house or moving.

…You know, some idioms are like onions: so many layers, it takes a lot of peeling to get down to the core. You can’t go home is an idiom heavy on my mind today. Thought I fully grasped that one years ago. Turns out there was a whole other layer to it that I didn’t even know existed until it was ripped away.

I’m leaving the past behind. Letting it go. My brother agreed that, when we have a bit of extra cash, I can pay for a death certificate search for L through the state records. Just don’t know if I’ll ever hear anything from her daughter. For all I know, I was demonized in her eyes. The bad girl that led her mother astray. So I’ll rely on that cold confirmation of public records. But for me – I don’t want to lose today because I’m caught in memories of the past. So I’m snapping myself out of it. When I’m done with this post, it’s dishes and bed making, then off to the gym. Gonna run my lines for the play, and get some writing done. I’ll listen fully to my brother, engage in real conversation. Later in the week, I’ll take the metro downtown and just walk around, window shopping. Remind myself of where and when I am.

I could get that picture of L reproduced in a larger size. Get it framed, put it up on my wall. And maybe I will. But more than that, I want to write her. I don’t know that I’ll ever capture the person or entity I remember. I feel it my duty to try, though. She was and will always be someone who had a great influence over me.

And I have no doubt that I will see her again. Not in the same form, obviously. But I know we will meet again. Our friendship was one of those strange old soul things; we knew each other the moment we met in this life. It’s strange to say that, because I can’t honestly say I know that much about her physical life here. Who were her friends, other than me? I don’t know. What happened all those years we didn’t speak? I don’t know. But that…that’s surface stuff.

I knew her.

Vigil

The internet is so not free. Nor open. Searching for an old friend from overseas is frustrating, to say the least.

I have an address and land line.

I also found a death notice that claims L died at the age of 45.

Searched for an obit. All afternoon. Found nothing. Plenty of places I could cough some money up to, places that may or may not have any further info on her. No word from the message I sent out to her daughter. Found her husband, after a prolonged search. His online status lists him in a relationship with someone other than my friend.

I’m thinking of dialing that land line number this afternoon.

…Not even sure I want to know the truth. In some ways, people who live only in your memory are already dead. You think of them in terms of the past.

Keep telling myself it’s just an online mix up. One of those bullshit things that happen. I searched for her name and a death certificate; obviously, some site out there is gonna claim to have one. Thinking how silly I’ll feel if I call and she picks up. Of course she’s still there in Wisconsin. Of course she’s alive. How silly, how silly!

Yet…we’re talking about someone who was working with computers before computers became the thing. I have a difficult time believing she would have no social pages, no posts, no professional links whatsoever if she were alive.

Dead? At 45? That would make it 2010. Seven years ago.

And what does that make me? If ever you’d ask me, I would have said L was my best friend ever. Never had another connection with anyone that rivaled the bond between us. If she’s been dead for seven years…and I didn’t even know…

Can’t wrap my head around this. I’m in denial.

Want to find her photograph in my pile of memories. Look at her face. Demand her to be alive, be real.

…Goddess. I have to make that phone call.

Is it silly to mourn so belatedly?

The strange thing is, when people from your past die, a part of your memory dies. All those things we did, we crazy 20 something young women – now, maybe, I’m the only one to carry those memories. There is no one to reminisce with. The memories becomes stories, the stories become legend, the legend fades away and becomes forgotten. Somehow, thinking of L as alive – even tho we lost touch and hadn’t spoken for years, even tho we parted on less than ideal terms – it made the world a little less cold. There was someone out there who remembered me.

Now…now I have a four hour wait before I can dial the phone. A four hour wait to think, and remember.

A vigil. Light a candle, and pray like hell.