The Pit of Despair 

The shitshow of in progress packing in my dining room. Find The Beast.

Ooof! This packing game is so very, very, very painful. I am not liking it at all. No. Not at all.

To be sure, I was not expecting to enjoy this part of the “journey.” I am on record as one who totally despises moving. I have infamous antipathy to the picking up all of my stuff and transporting it en masse to a new destination. A little of my stuff? I’m okay. I like to travel. But the whole enchilada? “Hatred” does not do my emotions justice.

So much is my aversion that I have avoided moving for nearing 26 years. Yet, and herein lies the rub, in order to stay here–where I want to be for the rest of my life–I need to physically exit the space so it can be remade.

Oh, the sickening, sickening irony.

This move has unfamiliar complexities. In the past, I’ve just moved. Still hated it, but it was Point A to Point B. This equation has a few more hops. Point A to Point B, Point C and Point D simultaneously with a return to Point A.

First, what to move? While everything needs to move, much will be placed in a temporary deep freeze. So I’m marking boxes with things that we can suffer without for the next few months and with things we will need. This includes crossing seasons. Ugh.

Then there’s a set of things that are in the in-between on my hierarchy of needs. That which needs to be protected. Anything that is susceptible to scourge. So photos, all cloth-based goods, and some Christmas perishables. Then, there’s another category of goods: where things will fit. The spaces available–basement, garage and temp house–are not like a Harry Potter magical tent. They have physical requirements.

Alas, I am just a Muggle.

And, boy, I’m not even an above average one. I completely disgusted myself by attacking the room that was once known as The Office until it degraded into The Locker.

Sure as I was that the meaningless piles were all detritus of The Spouse, I was chastened to find those dust encrusted boxes were actually my own. Untouched for twelve years, forced via the pressures of time and neglect to barnacle underneath the beomouth of my old dining room server and attach to the wall like the lost sailors who became one with Davy Jones’ Pirates ship. Pieces of my own, forgotten past lives.

Letters of offer from before Bear was born, paperwork of praise and raise, and fastidiously folded physician folios from forgotten afflictions were scattered among paper clips, my father’s old stapler and other things unseen by human eyes for a decade and a quarter. Undoubtedly, other, smaller eyes did pass among the ruins. But not ours.

I was ashamed. It was as if I was moving though my parents’ home, discovering the madness of laxity, of ignoring the progress of inaction, of the results of indifference.

I hung my head and imagined being draped in sackcloth, my cheeks rubbed with ashes. I walked into the other room, winding my way around misstacked boxes, tripping on the upturned edge of the rug.

“I’m sorry,” I said to The Spouse. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Now, to the next pile, to the next box , to taping them shut and marking their destination.

Pieced Apart

She-Hulk all freaking out because she did her transforming. Outside of the cartoon are some guys freaking out worse.

Dammit. When did that happen?

She had just run her hand along the back of her leg and was halted by a hole.

Seriously? My pants got ripped?

She used the passive voice because she had no knowledge of a trauma, or any activity for that matter, that would have created the tear.

It’s not like I’m wearing them out. I only wear them May to September.

When she looked in the mirror this morning, she wasn’t happy. These pants didn’t have the most flattering cut. They made her look like a very heavy bottomed pear. She swapped out three different tops before she settled on one that made her look more balanced.

Did I catch myself on something? All I did today was sit. Is it this stupid chair?

She couldn’t stop herself from fingering the hole. She wondered if she could sew it together. If it wasn’t frayed she might. It was too high up to convert the pants to shorts.

Like I’d actually really pull out a needle and thread. I use safety pins to hold up the hem on those khakis.

As she walked out of the office, she half-waited for someone to tell her she had a hole in her pants. Someone who got a peep of her fleshy white leg against the black of the cotton. Then she thought about ripping the pants up. She could think of nothing else.

I’m not going to do anything with these other than put them in a pile where they will accumulate dust. And guilt.

She climbed up the stairs and put her key in the door. She walked into her apartment and tossed her bag on the table next to the door. Next to a pile of unopened mail and unread catalogs. She started unzipping her pants as she approached the couch. She let them fall to her ankles and sat down.

These pants are stupid.

She picked the pants off the floor and put her fingers in the hole. She pulled her fingers apart. She watched as the hole got bigger and the fabric frayed. It made a sound of motion as she rent the leg from the seat. It was a crackling along a path like the gunpowder trail to the powder kegs that gets lit in a movie before the big explosion. She took the leg and found more fabric weakness. She pulled strip after strip apart. She wanted to do the same to the other leg but didn’t have a way in.

Where are those fcuking scissors? All bitches have scissors. Shit. Here’s a knife.

She stabbed a hole at the back of the other leg and continued the dismemberment of the trousers. She didn’t know if it was the sound or the feeling of resistance as she broke through, but it was something. She looked at the tatters strewn on the floor and threads and scraps scattered on the couch. She was breathing heavily.

Done! Damn that was good.

She walked to the kitchen and took a glass from the cupboard. She wiped away the sweat that beaded above her lip. She took a bottle out of the fridge, and, in one motion, she unscrewed the top and filled the glass. She walked back to sit among her handiwork. Drinking wine–in her panties.


Summer Is Coming

Dear lord, can't you smell the honeysuckle?!

We have been devoid of Spring. It has not come. It has forsaken us.

Now, it is late May, the trees are in full leaf. As if we had had Spring. But we did not.

Spring comes in small signs and then big gestures. And we have not had that progression. No. We have not.

It is supposed to be portended by the sharp points of the crocus leaves that deliver purple and white blooms in late January or early February and followed immediately by the yellow stars of the forsythia. These flowers bring joy when they disdain the snow and show themselves through the icy crystals. This did not happen.

Instead we had all of the flowers, the crocus, the forsythia, the cherries, the tulips, the daffodils and, even, the iris present themselves all at once and out of order at once. The buds were baffled by the long, rainy and mostly cold time during and after winter, inclusive of the time that we would call Spring.

There have been only four days this month without rain. I didn’t believe it either. I counted. Row by row I counted. And I remembered each cold damp day this month. And unlike any other May that I have seen in Washington, D.C., the temperature did not meet 80°F until yesterday. No. It did not.

There are only five days until the official beginning of summer; Memorial Day when you can fashionably wear white shoes–as if you would, but at least you could.

So tonite as I strolled up and down the street, with The Beast mostly in tow (yes, he tried to tow me, but I was having none of it), I was restored.

I had retrieved him from his hut and swapped my shoes from the sling backs to the sneakers. That damn dog has pulled me out of many a sling back, I tell you.

I didn’t grab an umbrella or don a raincoat or even snuggle into a hoodie for that matter because the night was unusually, albeit appropriate to the calendar, warm. As we ambled, the air was without bite, the hairs on my arms were not called to warm. And then. And then. And then.

There was the perfume of the honeysuckle that filled the entire block, maybe the entire street and perhaps, even, the entire city. It was that big. It was spicy, and sweet and actually radiated warmth, not just in my nose, but on my cheeks and on my forehead and on the exposed backs of my hands and on my knees and my ankles.

It was all of Spring, all that we missed for the past ten weeks, undiluted and concentrated in this fraction of an hour. It was so redolent and so encompassing that I feel that Spring was not stolen from me this year. It just arrived. All at once, in one breath. Yes, it did.

Hate the Player? Hate the Game?

a futuristic arena
Illustration by Helio Frazao
It was an awful game, he learned. It didn’t seem that way at the beginning.

When he first approached the room, it was like an arena. It seemed like it’d be fun. There were three valuable playing pieces, and he had one. He used his piece effectively and in support of the other players whose pieces had more specific functions. It was like being a midfielder playing offense or defense as needed and helping to set up the next plays.

Part of the game was acquiring new players to extend the game. As new players came on, additional playing pieces were added in the arena. The new pieces were only for the new players.

The game was changing. Where he had sometimes drove the play and other times assisted, his piece and his play became more peripheral. He wasn’t in the middle anymore. He didn’t realize it for a good while, but there was a radial force moving him to the edge. He was doing less defending and more standing in a fixed spot. He didn’t feel like he was really playing most of the time.

He was still in the game. He tried to get in on more plays, but the new players and their new pieces functioned autonomously. He now saw that there were other players on the fringes. He motioned to them. The fringe players motioned back, some waving their playing pieces impotently.

A few new players came in. There was some shuffling of playing pieces. A few pieces were split and shared with two of the new players. Dividing the pieces didn’t diminish their capabilities. It seemed that they might even be stronger. Maybe not. He wasn’t close enough to see for sure.

He knew that his piece was less important than it was, but he knew he could still participate in the game. He could use his piece and maybe a fragment from one of the other players’ pieces. The other players, the ones in the fray, acknowledged him. He got a splinter of a piece passed to him as the players on the inside played on.

He looked down and realized that where he stood was a now a level below the main arena. He could climb up before he was eventually forced back. He wasn’t sinking as much as the rest of the arena was rising. He was separated from the other peripheral players. He wasn’t sure how to communicate with them. Maybe they could help each other get back in.

The newer players would sometimes come close to him and he could provide them a power up. But the play was getting away, or maybe he was receding.

He didn’t see it coming, but the wall of the arena next to him collapsed. It collapsed on top of him. He was under rubble and tried to get out. He shouted more and more desperately for the other players to help him. Even to see him. He held his hand above him and hit a barrier. He realized that there were walls around him now and he was closed off, compartmentalized.

He screamed out, “I’m here!” He screamed it again. And again. Another player came near him and asked him what he needed. He shouted “I need to get out of here!” The other player came over and closed the top of the cage. He was trapped, and the other player went back to the game.