It feels almost like a betrayal writing these words.
It feels almost like a gross injustice of love to remember these memories. Somehow this is an undermining of all things I hold dear to allow the feelings, thoughts and actions of that time in my life to surface once again. How far deep down have I buried thee? How dark I have snuffed your light? How many years I have placed between the last time I thought about you and now?
But it would be a lie trying to keep those skeletons of mine hidden in closets to ignore the impact you had on me. It would be a lie if I tried to ignore how you placed me on this path I find myself forever wandering on. How did I get here? Why did I come here? How is it thirteen years later meeting you would have so deeply changed the here and now in this hot and humid southern California life I live. I now live a life of many children. I now live a life of one man whom I love above all. But I still live a life of unspeakable pain. I now live a life of tremendous love for all those worthy enough to fight for hell for on their behalf. I now live a life where I get to taste its sweetness.
I find that in order to share the story of why I am who I am as I am today and in order to give timelines of why I do what I do; I must mention you. Before beginning to allow the story to form from beneath my gut, up my vertebra to my voice, I first erased my musical playlists filling my iPod. Music has always been a glimpse into the very being of me in a real and present way. Music is a part of explaining who I am. It serves as a translator to the static incoherent and drunk way my emotions will come out tasting of bitter liquor. Yes, I erased my playlists and refilled them with old songs of the old years of the old me with you. I let new tears wet my old cheeks as I remembered my story coming together piece by piece as it made its way from the darkness to the light. I allowed myself to cry once more as I remembered you.
I wanted you to love me.
Your music blared through the harsh walls of the back bakery as the ovens creaked and rattled under your watch as head baker. The bakery on top of Seattle’s Queen Ann Hill was my side job to fill my dwindling bank account as I attempted to make this whole professional ballerina career stick at a babes age of eighteen. I wanted to be the star prima ballerina but needed to start at the bottom as I attempted to rise to the top. This process of stardom rising meant little pay to perform. A slender starving artist may be wary to eat but I had a strong addiction to diet soda pop to pay for which meant long hours at a minimum wage job after long hours in the studio. I wanted you to love me from the beginning. From the very first day our manager introduced us and I swear my heart refused to slow its pace. The thumping was so loud and intense I, in my head, was convinced everyone could see it pounding out of my chest bone through the two sweaters I wore to keep the endless drizzle of rain out.
Your crooked toothy smile, your hipster t-shirts and too tight skinny jeans. I would sit in between boxes of sugar and salt and listen mindlessly as you would speak your monologue about bands I had never heard of; of philosophy novels I had never read. All the time highly aware of the way my work uniform tugged at the small of my back and how I was in an endless struggle to straighten out invisible wrinkles in my jeans. I wanted you to love me.
And then one night you did.
You smiled that overgrown child-like smile with your crocked teeth and large lips and tapped out the rhythm of the latest masterpiece you were orchestrating in your mind. The songs you wrote for your band named ever so originally after your own name; was your passion. You were always tapping. You were always singing. You were always with your guitar nearby for that impromptu need to let out that future rock star musician energy at any given time. We sat on your bed talking, listening, doing absolutely nothing until as though the most remarkable enlightenment had hit you that you paused to silence the tapping, singing and musing I was faithfully enthralled with. I watched as you stopped all movement to bury my slender hands in your massive bear claws. These hands of yours seemed to swallow my long fingers. My fingers were a favorite body part of yours for the way they were so very long, lean and dexterous. You imagined them strumming chords, pounding piano keys or holding drum sticks in our two-man band. Here, as we sat on your high, double mattress and frame twin bed, you stopped time to hold my hands in your hands.
‘I love you.’
The music of the party downstairs sent vibrations through the wood plank floors, through soles of my socked feet. We had snuck upstairs to your room to escape the muffled and drunk yells of twenty something music hipsters trying to prove they did not care as they were rebels after all. But the thing is, those leather, thrift store decked out kids with their long hair covering eyes with man-liner defining them all desperately cared. They all cared so much. If you were a fly on the wall of the scene downstairs you could comfortably observe the side eye glances of whoever walked in the door. If you were buzzing about invisible you could eavesdrop on all the name dropping of knowing a friend of a friend of a somebody more advanced than us low-level dwellers in the music hierarchy. They pretended to not care but the drunken music was simply a band-aid to cover the wound of the primal need to belong underneath it’s beige material. I think that is what attracted me most to this society of detached rebels and anti the system protestors. They were just like me. They held a connection to my disappearing act. We were all all disappearing hoping someone would notice we had gone missing. I was hoping someone would notice I had gone missing.
Deep down we all cared. Deep down we all needed to belong. Deep down we all needed someone to just tell us we existed.
My cheeks blushed as I doubted your sincerity. I tallied up in my head the one too many vodka mixes, chased down with beer. The sing-song mantra of ‘beer before liquor will make you sicker, liquor before beer you are in the clear’ started on loop in my thoughts. It amuses me now the way my mind was distracting me from your gaze as it began to argue that you did not in fact mean the words that were coming out of your mouth. Who would love me once they know me, the real me I can not hide forever? But even with my doubts of your adoration your hands released my own hands to find themselves cupping my cheeks as you kissed me for the very first time.
‘I love you.’
Oh and how you loved me. The way you would simply refuse to leave my side. The way you drove your mint green scooter to sit outside the ballet studio reading Yeats and Vanguard waiting for me to burst down the stairs, out the double glass doors, straight into your arms. We would laugh at how that scooter never fit your lanky frame. You were not a small man but that scooter needed a small man to sit upon it.
Oh and how you would love me. The way you wrote songs for me. The way you bought me my first and only guitar. This guitar became a symbol of your ownership over me as I lugged it from place to place. This guitar became something I would try to make fit but slung it halfheartedly as though I was a little girl playing dress up in her mother’s wardrobe. The guitar never felt right. I never quite felt right.
Oh and how you would love me. The way we sat across each other in my basement apartment at the base of Queen Anne Hill. My apartment was a block from the ballet studios and the brand new McCaw Hall. The theatre originally was the Civic Auditorium built in 1928. Time had brought wrinkles of age and in 2003 after a $20 million dollar facelift, McCaw Hall was born. We would sit in the dark, dampness with mold perfume wafting of my apartment. We would sit as you would talk about marriage and you would be effortlessly plotting our future together. As you spoke sitting at my dinning room table in that cramped apartment I would stare at you wondering when you would finally grow tired of me. Everyone grew tired of me at some point. I have no childhood friends to speak of. I had no committed romantic interests before you came along. Even my family was growing distant as they argued it was I who had chosen to move thousands of miles away from them. I listened to my mind as it spoke louder than you could speak. I listened and waited for you to go.
I started skipping ballet rehearsal to stay entangled in your arms in the morning. This was not my driven nature to suddenly lose that push to be perfection in tights. I began receiving weekly summons to the head director’s office in the rafters that overlooked the main ballet studio at the graceful dancers below. The head director was refined and elegant with her impossibly slender lines on her sixty plus year old frame. The aura of confidence was never wavering as she looked over the rim of her glasses she wore only for reading and reprimand; gazing at my lowly sunken self in front of her. She disapproved of my reputation as a company member. I was constantly tarnishing it as I raced into class with my hair unkept and a bruised neck.
‘It’s not a good look on you’, she sighed.
I tried to pull my top sweater layer up to cover my latest love bite as my other hand smoothed down wayward hairs that were escaping my bun. She did not need to vocalize the meeting with her was over to send the message that soon more then this meeting would be finished for me with the company if I continued my ways unchanging. As I gathered up my ballet bag to slink out the modern decorated office down the stairs to the main floor studios below, the weight of my shame bent me over unable to stand up straight as I departed.
I lied to myself in that rush of red heat angry as I mumbled under my breath how I could care less about ballet and it’s hypocrisy forcing girls to be perfect knowing full well that was impossible to meet. The music hipsters were molding my do not care attitude to push aside the people pleasing temperate I still have to this day. As my infatuation of you grew more and more, I spent my nights in the front row of your concerts. I was a loyal fan as you became more popular. I spent my time in smoked filled venues instead of in the Pilates studio dedicating myself to craft my body. I would turn my gaze away from the numbers I saw being slipped in your tight rocker jean pockets. I would choose to recall only the way your hand would wrap around my waist after your set was over as the bitter-sweet taste of one too many drinks made whatever misgivings surfacing blur away into the crisp, drizzly night. I learned how to hide my underage drinking liquor in my bag as we entered the club. I learned also to hide my jealousy as you looked to the girls looking back at you. I hated those girls.
Oh and how I hated you sometimes.
I can not say I remember where you were that afternoon. Maybe working at the bakery, blaring your music between metal shelves of flour and sugar waiting to be mixed together to create something more than the sum of it’s parts. Maybe you were in the recording studio, laying down tracks of the latest song to save the world with its lyrical meaning. Maybe you were truthfully just sneaking away with that latest artist whose name kept coming up in conversation innocently enough. She’s just a friend. She’s just friend. Oh god, she’s just a friend. She added so much more to those jam sessions I’m sure.
I do not remember where exactly you were that afternoon.
As I sat holding my knees in the bathtub of the hall bathroom shaking at the double pink lines blaring at me from the test in my hand; I had no idea where you were. I just remember you were not there. Alone, always cold and terrified. I just remember you were not there.
I was pregnant.
The days blurred together. What season it was all seemed the same. Fall, summer, winter; all the same famous Seattle grey clouded it all. I spent my days laying in bed instead of laying my hands upon the ballet barre as the pristine ballerina I once championed as. I spent my days spinning out of control instead of spinning on my toes. I tried to find meaning in this new awareness as my body began to shift its shape. My clothes were painful daggers as I raged more to seclude myself leaving drama in my wake.
And that artist who came around. She decided to stay.
Her name ironically was Kate. My family nickname in my primary years was Kate. The irony was not lost on me as she became more behind her name. As the story in scene one, frame one goes; she showed up one night outside your house on Capitol Hill with a classic boom box blaring her devotion of love for you. She had long dreads, a nose ring and all the vintage, thrift store ease I never had. I was running around in false eyelashes and ribbons tied tight performing to a faceless audience that fateful night you two became one. That night was so full of nightmares that forever will taunt me. I was performing and holding onto a fading star as I began to lose my famous ballet lines and the spark dimmed. The body was crumbling beneath the weight of love added curves. My love was betraying me under the weight of always present dependency.
When the curtain closed that evening and as I rushed down the stairs, out those double glass doors, your arms were not there for me to collapse into. Your lanky frame on that small scooter could not burst a smile that would heal the misgivings within. The night felt empty and cold as I disappeared into the dark nothingness. I could not remember if you had said if you were going to met me. Maybe you were working. Maybe you were in the recording studio. Maybe my gut was truthful and you were entangled in some embrace far away somewhere with her.
I could not remember.
I walked home alone that night with my pointe shoes tied around the strap of my bag anxious of the sharp pains beginning to stab under my ribcage. I could not race fast enough the one block to my apartment. The steps leading to the basement door were a mildew tinted green Afro turf that squeezed the cement as I raced down them. The warmth met my legs before I got down the hall to the bathroom on the right. As my legs warmed and turne red with blood I found myself once again holding my trembling knees in that ugly, dirty, old bathtub of that hallway bathroom. I could not remember if you had told me you would be there with me that night. Alone, always cold and terrified.
I no longer was pregnant.