For Whom the Bell Tolls: Why I’m Up in Da Club

Lately I don’t want to write.

I feel as if some of the things I’m writing are too personal. I’m supposed to do cathartic writing, let it sit, revisit and revise. But I’m strapped for time. More and more the revision is little to none. That’s right folks, you’ve been reading a few diary entries. Ok, not entirely true. I mean, we all know my diary would be way filthier than anything on this blog. Classy bitch alert, right here folks.

It’s just that lately I’m having to choose between my body and my brain. Do I write today or exercise? And frankly, at this moment in my life sweating it out to dirty rap music feels much more cathartic. I huff it on the treadmill, staring out at the mountains as Missy Elliot chants in my ear, “5’2” and wear my jeans real tight” while Nicki Minaj spits, “All these bitches wanna try and be my bestie, but I take a left and leave ‘em hangin’ like a testi” as Jay Z reminds me “Ladies is pimps too, gon’ brush your shoulders off.”

In my writing I fear repeating myself, repeating themes, and in doing so revealing too much. Like an old man who keeps telling the same three stories over and over. You sit there thinking, “Damn, that really made an impression on him. He’s still talking about this shit.” But that’s the thing, right? It’s not that the story is that important, it’s that he has nothing else going on. He doesn’t have any other stories.

I have other stories, lots of them. Stories I can’t post on the internet.

So I write the other shit. I write about my babies, about motherhood, about marriage, autonomy, the beauty, the everyday drudgery. I write every week and sometimes I feel like a broken record. Sometimes I get sick of my own words. I go back and read my last few posts. I try to make sure I’m not repeating myself. I sit down to write something new. I don’t have the time to fully develop my thoughts. The same old, same old comes out all over again. I close the laptop. I’m done.

But let me tell you, in case you hadn’t picked up on my most recent theme. It’s autonomy.

I should stop here. I shouldn’t keep repeating it. But lately I want to be left alone. The other evening after the kids were in bed I actually heard myself say aloud, “Yeah, I’m kinda over having kids right now.” When my husband brought up having a vasectomy the other day my response was a swift, “Yeah, go ahead and book that shit whenever you’re ready.”

I’ve been scheduling appointments for some, um, (cough cough) cosmetic work (cough cough). I feel old. I feel a different clock ticking. A much louder clock. I look in the mirror and feel like I’ve got a good ten maybe fifteen years of “youth” left.

I’m trying to seize the mother fucking day.

I’m saying weird shit to my husband while he drinks his morning coffee like, “So, we gonna hit the club this weekend when we go out with your friends, right?”

“I hope not,” he says, “you know I hate that shit.”

“Cool, you can go home after dinner and we gonna go get krunk in the club.”

He thinks I’m joking.

I’m dead serious.

bar

If you’re reading this and you’re older you’ll tell me I’m too young to feel my mortality. That’s the way it always is. We always look back and say we were so young. Maybe you’re my age and you still feel young. Good for you, but you’re not me. You haven’t lived my life. Maybe you haven’t experienced death in the same way I have. How it comes in like a thief in the night, and your security system won’t save you. You’re not special, and you’re not immune. We’re all going to die and I’m at peace with that. What I’m not at peace with is getting old.

There I said it.

So I’m going to do what brings me some sanity and right now that’s a physical catharsis. I start another writing workshop soon. I’ll be writing a novel over the next six weeks. So don’t be shocked if this blog sits stagnant for a bit.

But I’ll be back with a smoother face and a firmer ass. For now, just remember this, Yoko Ono went clubbing until 3:00am on her seventieth birthday.

We should all aspire to be Mother. Fucking. Yoko. Ono.

Rage rage against the dying of the light, and all that shit.

I think that’s how it goes.

It’s Good to be the King

Do you remember that time when there was no gray area? There was only black and white. It was very clear the lines between what was right in the world and what was wrong. There were defined boundaries. Facts were facts. Dark versus light. Good versus evil.

All that shit.

I believe this period of self assuredness is referred to as adolescence. At least it was for me.

You probably think I’m about to get political with this. Nope. Come along friends, let’s talk about some other weird obscure shit. (You know how I do.)

As I age I find more and more of those lines blurring. More often than I’d like to admit I see gray, gray everywhere. “Is this ok, like morally?” you ask me.

“No,” I say, “Well, actually it depends. Tell me the whole story.”

This past summer while visiting family I was talking with my aunt and I told her that the older I get the less judgmental I become. “Really?!” she responded, “It’s usually the opposite.” She’s right, age usually hardens most of us. I guess that’s the difference. I exited adolescence like a stone. Thankfully my heart has softened with age.

But it’s not just that. It’s that little by little the people I love do things I would have judged before. They make poor parenting choices, they let their teeth go because they don’t have dental insurance, they are inexcusably self involved, they make unhealthy emotional decisions and then complain about the outcome, they disappoint me. They turn out to be human. As my husband once summed up about my general existence, “You expect a lot of people.”

I do, I really do. But each day I learn to expect a little less. This isn’t me submitting to reality, this is me embracing it. Me finding freedom in it. As a client once said, “Once we realize that people only really care about us in terms of how our lives affect their own, we are free.”

I’m going to be thirty-five in a few short weeks. Perhaps it’s an early mid-life crisis (please tell me it’s too early to be the middle of my life) but I’m done with people’s expectations. This didn’t happen overnight. Las year I made a resolution to “give zero fucks,” as the kids say these days. Little by little I have put all the fucks away. I’ve got no fucks left to give. Hell, I’m taking fucks back. Snatching them right out of greedy little hands.

gold_shoes

Went to buy new kicks. Gave zero fucks.

I’m going to do whatever I want to do, because as it turns out I have always analyzed things way too much. Shocking, right? I have always been there for others entirely too much. I have been the glue far too often. The light in the dark. The nurse. The purse. Johnny on the spot with the bail money. The Mama, long before I was a Mama.

Can any other women relate?

I decided not to wait on anyone anymore. I decided my plans would no longer be contingent on the plans of anyone else. I started working out consistently again. I have gone to the gym every day for the last fourteen days. Right now as I type this I’m sitting in a coffee shop alone while my husband and children are at home sleeping. I stopped asking if my husband would be home for dinner. I never felt right asking him that question anyway. I never enjoyed calling him up like a 1950s housewife. I stopped asking him to come inside from the garage. I stopped caring if he drank a few too many beers in the evening. Somehow the brooding art school student from NYC that I fell in love with grew up to be the kind of guy who spends his evenings working in the garage, drinking PBR. I love him just the same, but I decided to stop expecting anything from him at all.

And a miraculous thing happened.

He started to want my attention. He started to want to be home. “You’re going to the gym again?” he says, “Oh, um ok. I thought we were going to watch TV together.”

He started wanting me around. It was fucking weird. And then I had a revelation.

I have become a man and it is AMAZING. Apparently being a man is like the best fucking thing on earth.

A friend of mine had been doing the same thing. Basically just taking care of herself and her children, not neglecting her husband but asking nothing of him. She was keeping busy. She was plugging through the way we do when we’re trying to tick off the days on the calendar like an inmate. The same thing happened with her husband. He started coming home early. He was buying her flowers. He was planning family day trips.

We had accidentally been using reverse psychology. I told her we had become men. “Holy shit!” she said. “Document this shit right here. This is the day.”

Ladies, I don’t know what I’m saying here. I’m not telling you to ignore your husband. Hell, after seventeen years it wasn’t even his attention I was after. It was me I was after.

It’s good to be the king.

But we already knew that, now didn’t we?

Sometimes the End of the Road is the Beginning

“I think I’m going to go back to the gym after the kids are in bed” I say still dressed in my workout clothes from an earlier Pilates class. “That class was just too easy. I think the instructor toned it down today or something. I didn’t even break a sweat.”

“Um, ok that’s fine,” he says “I have a bunch of data entry stuff I need to do anyway. And I’ve gotta ship some stuff out tomorrow, so I need to box it up. Let’s get the kids to bed.”

I head back to the gym in the dark. The night is unseasonably warm. I drive with the windows down, music blaring. Alone in the darkness.

This is really all I wanted. I just needed to get in the car and get out of there. To run away momentarily. To drive, alone, at night. The gym is too close to my house, the drive not long enough.

drive

The summer I was sixteen my brother shipped off to the Navy. One overcast afternoon in June a black sedan with government plates came and took him away. My father cried, the handle of his briefcase clenched in his giant fist as he headed back to work. My mother didn’t cry. I think she had done all her crying weeks prior. The moment was a big one. Too big perhaps for me to fully process at the time. All I knew was that my big brother had left for good, grownup and gone. He left me there alone, waiting for my own moment to go. As his baby sister he had also left his car in my care. A ’92 Chevy Blazer with whitewall tires and a stiff clutch. My big bro, he really loved me, still does too. Best damn brother around.

A few weeks later my mother was off on some trip. I don’t remember where. My father was a heavy sleeper. Night after night I would grab the keys and walk right out the front door into the darkness. As my brother sank into stressful sleep in a bunk 900 miles north of me, I would drive his car aimlessly. Winding back and forth over each of the quiet back roads of suburban developments still being built. Entire neighborhoods, business complexes sat waiting, like ghost towns. Construction sites dark and empty, equipment left sleeping. Dirt lots that beckoned teenagers to sneak out of bedroom windows and do bad bad things while their parents slept. There were no cell phones then. I didn’t text friends. I didn’t pick anyone up. I just drove, the radio going, a cigarette in one hand, the other on the stick shift. Sometimes I’d stop for a Slurpee to give the trip a purpose, but mostly I just drove. Just me, the moon, and the warm summer air.

I was alone and it was fantastic.

Sometimes I’d drive all the way out until the boulevard dead ended. I would park and look at the moon. I would write. I had no idea that the very spot I was sitting would one day be a major intersection. An intersection that seventeen years later would be the main road to my house, in a neighborhood that didn’t exist yet, on roads that had yet to be plowed out of those fields filled with antelope.

The end of that road would one day be the beginning of another life.

Time has a way of changing everything, doesn’t it? We just keep coming in like carpenter ants, don’t we? We move the earth one piece of sand at a time. We build new worlds.

We build lives we could have never imagined.

I shut off the minivan and sit there for a minute in the parking lot of the gym. Before kids I would have never lingered alone in a parking lot at night. But now I just sit there. I’m not really afraid of anything anymore. I look out at the highway, at the cars heading south. I say out loud to myself, “Where do you want to go?”

I hear a voice answer, “Anywhere but here. Just drive.” I imagine myself in a different car, a faster one, somewhere far out on a desert highway.

A man gets into the car next to mine, and I startle. I take a breath. I get out and walk into the club. I put my bag in the locker. I find a treadmill and I run. I run as much as my fat ass will allow, until sweat drips into my eyes and I have to lift my shirt up to wipe my forehead.

I shower.

I drive home.

I go to sleep and dream about the moon, about a darkness that envelopes me in the still summer air, about an age when it was all still in front of me.