8 October, 2008

i am skipper

Living in and Leaving Memphis was traumatic. I learned to like the city, but the grad program I was in was not for me. It hurt. In every graduate program ‘they’ seem to try and make it so difficult and horrible the first year that you’ll leave. Feelings of alienation, overwhelming inadequacy and body-wrecking anxiety are common in the first semester I’m told, but I knew, I knew this was not what I signed up for.
But all of this is hides the pain of realizing that. It felt, it still feels, like a failure.

I live and grew up in a funny little town, a university town. Each year we have an influx of people who claim this place as their own, but no matter how exuberant their claims, this is MY home, not theirs. My parents are from this town, my grandparents, my great-grandparents (in fact, this ‘new’ apartment? Was my great-grandmothers). Having never left, I was desperate to strike out on my own, create relationships only I was heir to, build my foundation with stones from around the world, instead of the ancient granite blocks my grandfather has so carefully placed for my use.

But, in short, I came home.

One morning, towards the end, I opened the door, shivering in my pajamas. My sleepy, slippered foot kicked the door and before I knew what happened, the door slammed shut. Amelia, my keys, my shoes, my cell phone, my sanity all locked but visible through glass and steel bars on the other side of the door.

Sinking, shaking, I knew I was fucked. My landlord lived god knows where and I certainly don’t know his number.   At home, in my funny little town, there were hundreds of ways to get into a locked house. Even without a phone. But in Memphis? I thought about my new neighbors, how ‘pleasant’ they had been just a week before when two ‘stray’ pit bulls tried to rip off Amelia’s tail…

I knew there were many options, many ways to get in, but I also knew the only one that was going to work, the only way to get into my house and finish writing the paper was going to be horrible and violent. Instantly ashamed, I looked for a something to smash in a window. Finding a brick, I found the only window without bars and tossed. I must have forgotten to let go of the brick though, because my hand was instantly covered in blood.

It didn’t hurt, but I knew it would.

I called the landlord, told him a tree must have blown into the window and broken it, cleaned the blood off my hand, and tried to work on the paper. Instead, I started to panic, started to feel waves of anxiety rock through my body like sound waves, each decibel echoing ad nauseum from soul to fingers.

I was so ashamed of breaking that window, of having to break the window. I couldn’t tell my aunt, I didn’t tell Eli. But a few months ago, while working at the family store, I brought up the debacle. The secretary  asked me frankly what exactly else I could have done.

Shocked, I later told my aunt. She looked at me strangely and asked the same question.  “What else were you going to do? There might have been other options, but none of them were efficient”.

I told Eli about what I had done the other day, I don’t really remember how it came up.

“You didn’t tell me this”, he began, searching my face for answers to questions not yet asked.

“Lea”, he started, then paused.

“When life is like that, always throw the fucking brick.”


One Response to “Bricks”

  1. smoothpebble Says:

    Shoot, I backed into a car once, and when I couldn’t figure out who the owner was I left a note on their windshield confessing. But later when I came back and the note was still there I took it off and never said another word……i’m not really sure why I’m telling you this. I guess we all do things we are ashamed of at one time or another, and yes sometimes you just have to throw the brick. Damn, I should have left the note on the window.

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