The Parking Lot

Essay

I found myself trying to get into your old parking lot last night. I swore to myself I would never go back, but I did. As I drove to the entry gate the sign on the button said, “Out of Order”.

“No shit.” I stammered to myself as I backed up and drove around to the 2-hour street parking.

As I climbed out of my car old habits came back to me. I began to scan the parking lot for your yellow truck, even though I knew it wouldn’t be there. I almost got out my phone to call you and say I’m here, even though I knew you wouldn’t pick up. I wanted to start walking up the back alley to those steep stairs that led to your loft, even though I knew you wouldn’t be there. So instead, I walked past everything as if I had never seen it before.

But we met in that parking lot. We had our first kiss in that parking lot. We walked hand in hand for the first time in that parking lot. You took my dog for walks around that parking lot. We watched a fire truck try to rescue stuck people in a parking garage elevator in that parking lot. You danced with me while we waited for an Uber in that parking lot. You were generous to strangers and let them use your code to exit and enter that parking lot. You listened to me sing off key in your car in that parking lot. And you walked me to my car each morning, gave me a kiss, and told me to have a great day at work in that parking lot.

But I also have to remember the nights I walked myself back to my car in that parking lot. Or the night I ran out of your place after a fight and waited for you to come find me in that parking lot. And those nights I would come over but sit and debate with myself if I should actually get out of my car or just leave that parking lot. Because now that we’re walking down memory lane I can only think of a handful of times I saw that parking lot in the daylight.

So when I saw that the sign said “Out of Order”, I knew it was over. It was an actual sign telling me that our time was up and I couldn’t go back even though a part me still thinks about it every day.

My Note to Her

Essay

There is no good way to start this, so here goes nothing. I’m not even sure if you know who I am. I hope you know I exist but if you don’t I’m sorry. I’m sorry I ever hated you. I’m sorry I thought you were the terrible person this whole time. And I’m sorry you’re dealing with the same pain as me right now.

I’m going to be as honest as possible. You knew him a few months before I knew him. You were his someone during one of his dark times of transition. You seemed to have really liked each others company but then I came along, and I swear I knew nothing about you. Well, I take that back because I knew of you only on his social media account. I didn’t think anything of you because, for some strange reason, I trusted him. That was my fault. I should have known he was hiding someone from me.

He must have known I was falling quickly so he left one weekend to go see you without my knowledge. He told me later that you invited him up there so I initially blamed you for his misbehavior. But I blinded myself from your name constantly popping up on his phone. I blinded myself from the pictures you took together that weekend and a few weekends after, that I knew nothing about until much later. I wanted to be his someone but now I know I was just a silly distraction.

I was dumb and naive to think that you were just a friend of his. Honestly, so was I. The part that hurts the most was seeing that you had a daughter. I couldn’t imagine letting him meet another part of me that was more important than myself. But you let him into her life for a short time and for that you’re brave. I thought him meeting my dog and taking care of him was a big deal. But that’s just another part of this sad story where I’m wrong.

Can I tell you something embarrassing? I was beyond thrilled when he didn’t like your pictures on Facebook during our brief exclusive phase. Can I tell you something even more embarrassing? I cried on my kitchen floor one night all by myself after I came back from his place. I cried because he had just liked a picture of you and your daughter from that day. He must have thought about you a lot. He must have cared for you deeply. But I was never cared for by him in that way, and for that I hated you. After he left me I realized it was never your fault.

He left me because of reasons I’m still trying to sort out in my head. Reasons that I’d like for him to explain but I know I’ll never get the closure I so desperately want. When he was gone I was beyond upset. More than anything though, I wanted to know if he was still talking to you. I wanted to know if he was gone because he was finally ready to commit himself to one person; maybe he was ready for you. I checked your social media to see if pictures of him would pop up, but they never did. He continued to like your pictures though, which confused the hell out of me. I’m sure it did the same, if not worse, to you.

But then it all stopped. His name was nowhere to be found on your Facebook likes and I wondered for days what had happened. Then, without warning, we both came to realize he had moved on without us. He had found his new someone that would carry him through another dark time and be his saving grace. This girl got to meet his whole entire family only after two months of dating. This girl became his best friend, his leading lady, and we were just the supporting characters.

Unfortunately, when you’re a supporting character you don’t necessarily get the recognition you deserve. Most supporting characters share a commonality throughout a story. Our commonality being him. We shared the same boy for a little less than a year. We shared the same burden digging into our shoulders day after day. And now we share the same unfair treatment by this boy who refuses to admit what he’s done to us. I’d like to think we’re one in the same, but then again I could be wrong.

I had a dream about you a couple of months back. I hope that isn’t too weird to say. It was during the storm of emotions I felt every day I saw a new picture of them together. I dreamt that I was the one to come up and visit you this time. Like most girls do, we sat and chatted about boys. I don’t remember the conversation per se, but I do remember getting a feeling of relief after we were done talking. The problem here is that I don’t see you as a friend. I don’t even see you as an acquaintance. But now more than ever I feel like we should be friends because we share the same pain. We could fill in gaps of our stories that never made sense. But if you don’t know who I am, I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I never share this letter with you.

Homes

Essay

My fingers graze your skin as I outline the four great lakes permanently inked on your side. Superior. On the first night we met, you thought it would be fun to test my knowledge of the lakes you grew up next to. Michigan. But I would not see your tattoo until the first time I slept in your bed. Huron. This is not that night. Eerie. At this point, I have lost count of how many times I have stayed over. Ontario. 

You resemble a bear with your scruffy face down in a pillow and your firm arms wrapping around both sides. Watching your burly physique slowly lift up and down to match your breathing keeps me occupied, as I lie there wide awake. My mind is lit with numerous thoughts, and my awareness of the lack of touch between us makes me crave your connection even more. I so badly want to be your pillow and, the sad part is, most of the time I was that soft item you held onto during the night. I want you to wrap your arms around me, not some silly pillow. I need you to intertwine our tired bodies like you used to, but for some reason tonight is different.

Spending the night at your place has become such a habit that I didn’t realize this is how you actually sleep when I’m not here. It has been a week since I’ve seen you last, and this is only the second time I’ve come over since our fight about another girl. We haven’t communicated about what we are, what we are doing, and why the hell we are doing it. And I can’t sleep thinking you don’t want me to be here; maybe that is why we aren’t tangled in each other’s arms. It’s possible that you want her but, since she lives seven hours away, you settled for me instead.

My fingers continue to softly trace the lakes, which help keep you aware of my body lying next to yours. I think of the acronym you used the first night we met to help me remember the name of each lake. H.O.M.E.S. stands for Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Eerie, and Superior. In my mind, a home stands for multiple places. Even though we both came from opposite ends of the country, we each had a lot of homes under our belt. Both of us had moved at a young age to a neighboring state with our families, leaving behind the ones we were born in. We each chose an out-of-state college that was close to home, but far enough. After college, you had a job that kept you moving to where projects needed to be completed and I had, as my mother puts it, a gypsy soul that wanted to travel. I had a home in six states; you had a home in eight.

“Do you ever get worried that you’ll never find your home?” I say abruptly.

Your eyes are closed but your whole body shifts to face me. With a heavy sigh and little hesitation you say, “No, everything happens for a reason.”

After our simple exchange of words, I toss and turn and wonder where I belong. The feeling of loneliness creeps into my tense body as I begin to think about us and the current state that we both consider our home. I look over my shoulder and see you trying to hold on to some part of my nervous body.

“What’s wrong?” you finally whisper.

“I just really don’t like that saying. It’s always bothered me.” I reply.

I don’t want to tell you that I’m afraid I’m considering you a part of my home. We have never caressed in an awkward manner before, and for once I blame myself. I can tell you were uncomfortable with what I brought up, and I have never felt an ounce of discomfort with you before.

“Are you okay?” you ask.

After a few seconds of silence, I quietly whisper “Yeah.”

However, you know a big part of me is not, so you pull me in close and give me a gentle kiss on the back of my neck. Every part of my small frame wants to burst into flames and scream. So instead, I close my eyes as they begin to water and I take a deep breath before I pretend to fall asleep in your arms.

It’s in that moment I realize there are some things we can’t do to each other anymore. You can’t talk to me about your troubles at work. I can’t bake sweet treats for us to share. You can’t hold me in your arms and tell me everything will be all right. I can’t skim my fingers through your hair to help you fall asleep. You can’t use the toilet while I brush my teeth. I can’t make your bed for you after we wake up. And we can’t kiss goodbye and tell each other to have a great day at work.

All of these actions make me feel at home. I feel comfort in a routine that we both know will not last. I know for a fact this is not your last pit stop. You and I have other homes in our future, and it’s concerning how content I feel in the home we’re living in right now. So should we stop this and reconsider?

The Pink​ Starburst

Essay

For the Red Sour Patch Kid 

I catch myself staring at your back as we peruse each aisle in the market. I stand behind you, trying to help in some way, but my mind is occupied. My hands decide they are lonely so I begin rummaging around in my purse hoping to find some lip balm, but I pick out a piece of candy instead. I squeal in utter excitement, and the convenience clerk glares in my immediate direction, but I don’t care. Then you walk over with a wine bottle in your hand laughing at my childlike fetish.

“We’re gonna go with this one.” you say with a giggle.

“Perfect,” I reply with a half eaten Bit-O-Honey in my mouth.

The clerk tells me I look young but doesn’t ask for my ID as we checkout red wine and two containers of freshly cut vegetables. We laugh about my candy addiction and the clerk’s strange attitude on the brisk walk back to your loft. The candy begins to melt away in my mouth as we descend down the back alley of a busy street. I have never been to your place before and as we begin walking up a set of steep stairs behind a noisy bar all I can think is… What the hell am I doing?

I continue up those stairs with you because I crave the mystery hiding behind your hazel eyes and rough exterior. I want to know why I am with you and what we will encounter next. Our stories intertwine easily with our similar experiences and sense of humor. I feel pain in my face from smiling and laughing with you tonight. My cheeks become flush because of you but I want to blame it on my second glass of wine.

“Let’s play a game,” I say while positioning myself crossed legged on your couch.

“Alright.” you reply with a glazed over grin.

It’s one of those silly questions, something we have been asking each other all night like… What’s your spirit animal? What song would play as you walk up to bat? What high school clique were you a part of?

“If you were a piece of candy, what kind would you be?” I ask.

I see your face change in an instant. Your eyes glue to mine and your lips clench together. It takes you awhile to contemplate your answer, which seems silly to me, but I wait patiently.

With your eyes glued to mine, you ask, “What kind would you be?”

“Easy, a pink Starburst,” I say with no hesitation. The question was something I had never thought of before but I knew right away what I would be. It wasn’t my favorite candy but it was a candy craved by many, and I wanted you to know I was a hot commodity.

“I guess I would be a red Sour Patch Kid.” you finally decide.

And that was it, nothing else was said on that topic. But sometimes a simple question can lead to a complex answer. Let me break it down for you. We both picked a candy that represented us for the next several months. You, a candy covered in sourness and me, a candy tightly wrapped inside of her package.

I hate sour candy. It makes me cringe and pucker up but once you get past that phase it’s all sweet; just like you. That rough exterior was hiding this silly little boy just looking for happiness in this big lonely world. The first half of our relationship was all distasteful because we both realized how alone and lost we felt. You drank and I felt used. Once the sourness was gone the last half of this so-called mess was bliss. I finally got to meet the witty boy who cared about our waiters and wanted to make sure I got to work safely. The sweetness didn’t last for long though because then you were gone, just like the advertisement.

So here I am covered perfectly in pink wrapping. Perfect was a word you once used to describe me but I was far from it. Scared would have been a better name for it. I was wrapped up so tightly that it became a roadblock for you. It was hard for me to open up about anything and when you picked at my paper I would tremble. You unwrapped me like it was second nature and tossed my paper in the trash. I felt bare and alone when you were sour but that sweet phase kept me from going through the garbage to find my shield. Because now we were uncovered as a pair and it finally felt as if we were on the same page.

Both of us had our barriers but I couldn’t stop you from leaving. I tolerated your bad behavior waiting for some sweetness. And my unraveling showed my helplessness for your kind. Maybe it was because the pink Starburst wasn’t your favorite candy, just like sour candies weren’t mine.

The Leaf

Poetry

My eyes and limbs are frozen still

as I stand on the cold hard ground.

A crackling noise is coming from above

I look and see dead leaves falling down.

One by one drifting back and forth

swinging off the branches in slow motion.

Setting their sights on a safe landing

but stepping on one will leave it broken.

I look down at this brown leaf

believing it’s some dull dried up thing.

But I suppose it was once a small bud

unfolding to the sun in the Spring.

Sitting and waiting so delicately then

freshly awakened ready to grow

into something precious and wild

that the storms will eventually know.

I imagine the leaf open wide now because

it survived the treacherous storm.

But this poor leaf will soon feel silence

she was left alone and has taken a new form.

I hope the leaf feels content now

the storms have appeared to go away.

Summer is here with bright new beginnings

and it has brought the leaf a new day.

I see the leaf starting to change in the Fall

because time has brought her a brand new color.

But the storm is coming back now

so the leaf hangs on tight and takes cover.

I think the storm is different this time

because the leaf did not let go of the limb.

It brings the leaf plenty of rain to live off of

but the storm did not come back again.

No water means the leaf is hopeless

and forgotten in the harsh dark Winter.

It will soon dry up to almost nothing

and I hope that stupid storm will miss her.

I look up one more time to watch

the leaves falling from the trees.

As they continue to drift back and forth

I can’t help but realize these leaves are me.

I’m the leaf sitting

on that cold hard ground.

Just waiting for Spring to begin

because I want to bloom

and stop falling down.

Her versus Me

Poetry

Her face against yours in that picture

made the volcano inside of me erupt.

The emotions spewing from my body

felt like acid reflux; unwanted and abrupt.

Confrontation was not what you wanted

but my gloves were ready for the ring.

Preparing to fight until you insisted

that we were the exact same thing.

My head dropped to my chest

because I honestly could not see

why you had turned something like this

into a battle; her versus me.

You consoled me and did not blame me

for feeling the way that I did.

I waited days to give you another chance

like I was some dumb little kid.

I made your bed when you showered

and I saw her name light up your phone.

We never discussed what this was

but how should I have known?

Screaming at the top of my lungs

each time I drove over to your place.

But soon my heart would melt

the second I saw your charming face.

Just tell me why you are friends with her

even though she is miles away.

Yet I am the one knocking on your door

begging like a stray dog who wants to stay.

Maybe this was all my fault

I am still not exactly sure.

But now I know your secrets

were something I could not endure.

Months have gone by without seeing you

but it has honestly felt like years.

I tend to think she is still in your life

and it brings me to my knees in tears.

It Was Not a Kiss

Essay

I did not want it, but I expected it. When the night was over he towered over my small frame and began talking about if, and when, I wanted to hang out again. We stood next to our cars in his best friend’s driveway when he gave me a hug that lasted for-ever. He must have felt comfortable because he set his chin on top of my head, but it was late and I was ready to go home so I let go of his slim waist. He went in for another hug after I had let go, but this time he was the one to pull back first. Then there was the long awkward stare before the inevitable kiss. But it was not a kiss.

With you it was different. I had such a great time that I did not want to leave, but I knew I had to or else I would have easily spent the night. When you walked me out to my car I wanted to wrap my arms around your sturdy shoulders and talk about the next time we would meet again. I did not expect a kiss even though I secretly wanted one. And when you went for it I turned into some giddy thirteen-year-old girl. A silly little girl who was jumping up and down on the inside, but also doubting her kissing skills because she was blindsided. Now that is a kiss.

I knew you before I knew him. I had known your lips for about two months, but nowadays that means practically nothing. So I went on a date with him on the weekend you went home to see your brother graduate high school. I felt no remorse because you had done something similar, if not worse, a few weeks prior. But I found out about your date and you would never find out about mine. You would never find out about mine because I did not care about him the way I cared about you. I would not see or talk to him again, and I would never post a picture of him and me on social media. There was nothing wrong with the date, we actually had a night filled with adventure and laughter. But he was not you.

He was not you because he did not make me quiver. He was not you because I did not call my best friend immediately after our first date. He was not you because he did not pick up on my sarcasm and shoot it straight back at me. I did not think of you once that night until he kissed me. It was in that moment I realized I only wanted to be kissing you. And I kissed him back just because I knew you had been with her. I was hoping this night could help me figure some things out, but his kiss could not compete with our first kiss. Our lips were companions and he had the lips of a stranger.

It was not until a few months later, on the last night I saw you, that you felt like someone I did not know. The guy I went to see that night was quiet and closed off. I did not even want to sleep in your bed so I stayed on the couch until it felt too awkward not to sleep with you. The next morning you gave me a quick peck goodbye in your sleep. And as I pushed myself off of your chest you gave me another air kiss as if the first kiss was some kind of joke. That kiss is the last memory I have of you and me together, and the worst part is; it was not a kiss.

 

Words are Hard

Essay

My whole body froze the moment I saw you through the windshield of my car. We had just ended a phone conversation where I was instructed to wait on you to come find me in the crowded parking lot. Before we met in person, the only interaction we had was through texts and short phone conversations like this one. It wasn’t until I locked eyes with you, without the security of my phone in my hands, that I realized I was in big trouble. I watched your tall, dark, and dangerous frame strut its way across the parking lot towards my car as I slowly began to thaw out. Your bad boy demeanor still had me fixated, and I could no longer hold in the cuss words that began spewing out of my mouth.

That first date still haunts me. What we had that night was extremely natural and comfortable. When I met you I felt an instant connection. It seemed as if I was with someone I had known forever. I couldn’t explain that rare feeling to anyone, not even myself. And that’s why it has taken me this long to write it all down, because words are hard. So I decided to put this so-called thing into stages.

I guess we can call the first stage flirty and naive. I’ll make the month of April simple. We met, we hung out several times, and then I found out about someone else in your life. Things got messy. I didn’t want to freak out when I found out about her, I just wanted to know what this interaction meant for us. I came over, we talked about it some, but nothing was resolved. That was one of the only times we communicated about what was going on. I knew we weren’t anything official, but when you told me that I was in the same category as her it hit me to the core. And when you wouldn’t answer my main question about the circumstance we found ourselves in, I knew I had to leave without another word. I’m afraid to admit that neither of us could muster up the guts to say what we really wanted to say at that night, because words are hard.

The second stage was when I became foolish and careless. Also known as: whatever happened after the month of April. It was plain and simple we were hooking up though. I knew it, you knew it, and it was discussed… but not really. When we were together everything felt typical. You were drunk, we were both tired of work, and I was more than willing to come over to try and make things better. I didn’t care though because I knew I could always be myself around you. I felt at ease in this familiar routine. But at one point we weren’t on the same page during that summer. You were working your ass off and I was traveling across the United States trying not to think about my job. But I know that didn’t keep you from talking to her and it didn’t keep me from talking to other guys. I would try to contact you when I was back home for a bit, but there were times I didn’t get a reply. I thought this meant you had moved on, in a literal sense. You had to leave and move to the next project for work. No reply was fine, at that time, because continuing something that would eventually have to end wouldn’t make much sense. But I learned in July that you were still here and we saw each other again after my travels. That time together was short but when our hookups turned into you sharing personal information about work or your family I’d wonder… why? Are you just trying to make conversation before getting me into bed? Or are you truly sharing this information because you felt comfortable doing so? Either way I didn’t get it. Your behavior suggested that you wanted something legitimate, but at one point you told me you didn’t want that. That’s when this whole thing became confusing and difficult for me. But I guess I understand now why we didn’t talk about it, because words are hard.

That final stage was when I turned into someone hopeful and observant. Time had passed and it had been awhile since our last interaction. July was over and my school year was about to begin when I found out something awful had just happened to you. I wanted to make sure you were fine, so when we met up again I pretended like you hadn’t ignored me for the remainder of July. You told me about the surgery and I found out about the next place you were excited to move to. This time around it seemed as if everything would get better. This incident brought out a new side of you that I had never seen before. Your injury was a difficult subject to talk about but you weren’t afraid to tell me. Just like you weren’t afraid to tell me about your new home you would be moving to in October. A place I had considered home for twenty years. I wondered if your incident brought us back together again for this reason. A reason I couldn’t yet explain. We spent the next two months learning more about the other person through dinner dates and honest conversations. I like to think that we evolve as people, and I knew during this time that you weren’t the same guy I had met back in April. Just like I wasn’t the same naive, flirty, careless, and foolish girl. But there are certain parts of us that we can never change. You seemed afraid of goodbyes and I couldn’t find the courage to tell you how I really felt during each of these stages. I thought I knew you better this time around, but I guess I was wrong. You left me in October without a simple goodbye and then moved ten minutes away from where I grew up… because words are hard?

I never wanted to tell you any of this because I always thought it was bad timing. I never wanted to tell you any of this because I always thought that you wouldn’t be here for long, so why bother. I never wanted to tell you any of this because I always thought we were just having fun, no strings attached. I never wanted to tell you any of this because communication is my weakness. I never wanted to tell you any of this because at one point I thought we would be fine. But now I have run out of excuses of why I never wanted to tell you any of this. So here it is. I guess words really aren’t that hard.

Toothpaste, Ketchup, and Yellow Trucks

Poetry

I have a list that goes on for miles

I made it the other day.

I wrote down all the things that remind me of you

stuff I should probably throw away.

The good, the bad, and the ugly

I have to bid adieu.

But I really want to tear it up

and pretend like this is all untrue.

It begins with the orange toothpaste,

something I used anytime

I was over at your place.

I recall the mint flavor on your tongue,

but now that usual sweet taste

has left me bitter and stung.

Next is the bottle of ketchup I see,

sitting there in my fridge

obviously taunting me.

The brand is your last name

written in caps and bold.

I wish I could let it just sit there

but my heart has switched cold.

The final item I can not throw away,

it is impossible to do so because

I see it almost every day.

Yellow trucks constantly roaming around,

and the second I see one

my walls begin to crumble down.

It might not be the yellow truck that you drive,

but I still look and I swerve

and I barely survive.

The Last Night

Poetry

Last night I did not know you.

Last night you were not my friend.

Last night I felt like all we had worked towards had officially come to an end.

Last night you did not touch me.

Last night we barely spoke.

Last night I could sense my heart starting to break before it had actually broke.

That would be the last night I would sleep in your bed.

The last night I would lie there with you and a million thoughts hanging above my head.

But you are not worried about me because I always wake up like everything is alright.

Even though I knew all along that this would be the last night.