Crying in front of Plassmann Hall

10518857_824263050926992_6371536501199916685_nMy best friend here at school couldn’t believe it when I told her. Via text message, she whined and begged for me to stay.

“I’ll stay if you can pay for it for me,” I tried to compromise.

…she didn’t fall for that one.

Her response made me feel sick. It made me realize how much I’d miss out on. How much I’d miss my friends. How scary the real world is.

I pondered my predicament every day from the moment I noticed my degree audit’s tapped-out supply of credits. It took seeing a very expensive out-of-pocket cost on my student bill for me to see reason. I’ve always been a sensible person, much to my own chagrin. I knew what I needed to do, though I’d been in an impenetrable state of denial about it for months.

I told my friend Haley, a fellow December graduate, first.

“Congratulations, Emily!” was her response.

Wait… BACK UP, I thought.

I had expected her to tell me to stay, tell me to stick around and enjoy my senior year, tell me she didn’t want to graduate in December, either. But she didn’t.

I hesitantly told one of my roommates.

“I figured you would,” she said, referencing a conversation we’d had over the summer when I had first mentioned the possibility. “I would if I could.”

DON’T YOU WANT ME TO STAY?!?!? I wanted to scream. WHAT ABOUT ALL THE FUN SENIOR THINGS WE CAN’T DO TOGETHER NOW? WHAT ABOUT THE FACT SOMEONE ELSE WILL HAVE TO MOVE IN TO MY ROOM?!?

None of it seemed to faze her.

So I’m done letting it faze me.

I’m done standing in front of Plassmann Hall with tears rolling down my cheeks at 2 a.m. on a Saturday. My life isn’t over. On the contrary, it’s kind of beginning.

After applying online for December graduation and filling out how I want my name to appear on my diploma, I called my mom to tell her. Luckily (I guess), my dad was in the car with her.

They congratulated me. Told me they’re proud of me. Graduating early isn’t the crutch I’d formerly seen it as. If anything, it’s a boost, an advantage.

Then my parents dropped a bomb onto  my life.

365 days since Aug. 4, 2013

Grandma was the one constant in my life. I changed, but she never did. She sat in her chair, in her house, read the paper, made simple dinners, called me, asked me to take her out shopping.

That woman loved to shop.

Even when her cane slowed her down and I became aggravated. I tried not to let it show, but I think she could tell half the time.

But she stopped sitting in her chair in her house, stopped reading the paper, stopped making simple dinners, stopped calling me and asking me to take her out shopping. She stopped. Her heart stopped. She died of kidney failure a year ago today.

It’s hard being my age and hearing my peers talk about their grandparents. I feel like I’m too young to not have grandparents.

But, as my boyfriend says, c’est la vie. Such is life. But I miss her terribly.

So this one’s for you, Grandma.

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An abundance of positives

I don't know why I'm in a bush, but I look pretty happy.
I don’t know why I’m in a bush, but I look pretty happy.

I’m excited.

Because things often don’t come together so smoothly, so readily, so perfectly, so… so… <insert-another-adverb-here>.

But many things have been lately.

Like, uh, my internship. And other things I cannot disclose about said internship. All you need to know is this: everything is pretty friggin’ cool.

Oh! And that road bike I recently bought off a woman on Craig’s List. Sure, I’ve only ridden it two times, but I have plans to ride it more.

I decided I’d buy myself those turquoise pumps I’ve been wanting. And maybe a black pair, too. Another scholarship came in the mail; Emily’s still takin’ care of herself; she’s doin’ fine.

My capstone project has been officially approved. I have to do it in order to graduate, and I came up with a plan I believe to be foolproof. And it will be fun. Call me a nerd, but I’ve been thinking about this project since my freshman year and now it has kind of just fallen into place. Good things come to those who wait, or, if you’re like me, those who get trampled on, screwed over, taken advantage of and abused.

…but those are stories for another day.

Finally, there’s, umm, a boy. Yes. A boy. Those ‘Y’ chromosomes have been trouble for a while now, but this one isn’t. He’s super sweet and fun and makes my stomach flip upside down and backward. We’ve hiked two state parks, hung out in a treehouse, gone to the movies, gone swimming, gone out to dinner, made dinner together and we have a trip to Long Island planned in a few weeks. The company of one another is always enough. Like tonight when we’ll make dinner, eat chocolate-peanut butter ice cream and then fall asleep on the couch while watching Scrubs.

Our relationship is simple. Turns out Emily really likes simple.

I’ve gone through phases where I’ve lacked purpose. Where it seemed as though my bed grew arms that wrapped around me, physically and mentally containing me. I don’t feel like that anymore. Sure, sometimes seeing 6:45 a.m. absolutely sucks ass, but I like what I’m doing. I feel important. I feel needed. For the first time in a long time, I feel positive.

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Peanut butter & jelly

I always try to do what makes sense.

Take bread, peanut butter and jelly from the hotel continental breakfast in the morning to have for lunch. (Don’t forget the banana and yogurt.)

10397226_10203581310885364_8723498419017002550_oIf it’s a beautiful day, go outside instead of staying in staring at a rectangle.

Ride your bike to the gym instead of driving. It’s only three miles away.

Getting a master’s in business administration makes sense. Right?

I have seven credits to take before graduation knocks on my door and force-feeds me a diploma. So let’s take a foundations accounting course, get a little math in there, get a taste of what an MBA would be all about. Be one of those few woman CEOs and run an entire company. Make a shitload of money.

…there goes my right brain.

I want to be successful, but maybe there’s another way. Another master’s program to enroll in, another path that is math free and more Emily-esque.

When I hung up from a phone call with the director of the MBA program at my school on Tuesday, I almost cried. Partly because of PMS, but also because I’m scared. College has basically been a walk in the park for me. The mistakes I’ve made have helped me learn and I’ve become a better writer, a better listener and a better intellectual. The idea of buying more textbooks, studying business strategies, solving math problems, stumbling over statistics… well, it scares me. Even though it makes sense. Even though I like the idea of being a boss to many.

For now I’ll save money by making a PB&J sandwich for my lunches with supplies taken from my hotel’s lobby. I’m a “poor” college student who can’t figure out if she wants to pursue what she loves or what makes sense.

Help?

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14 to 20

My brother’s college professor encouraged his students to begin a blog. LiveJournal, BlogSpot, WordPress…power up your iBook, find the site that works for you and create an account.

So he did.

Jordan started a WordPress blog, called it “Innocence, In a Sense” and practiced his writing. (This is why Jordan is WAY smarter than I am; I just now realized how clever his title was. I’m a year older now than he was when he started his blog.)

Fourteen-year-old Emily wrote poetry.

Fourteen-year-old Emily idolized Jordan.

Fourteen-year-old Emily wanted to blog, too.

Following in Jordan’s too-big-to-fill footsteps, 14-year-old Emily became “Blackbyrd” and started writing about stupid shit. Stupid shit that, at the time, seemed relevant and important. Stupid shit that is, of course, entirely too fun to look back on now.

To go with the theme here, I wrote 14 posts this month six years ago. Fourteen. Now any number over five is an accomplishment because – and you’ve heard me say this before – writing on my blog takes me forever.

Now I put in 43 hours a week at my very corporate summer job. In 2008? Work had no relevance. With food on the table and a pool to swim in on the hotter days, I spent my time reading and, I guess, posting on my blog. Excessively, I daresay.

Twenty-year-old Emily still writes poetry. (She actually slams it, too.)

Twenty-year-old Emily still idolizes Jordan.

Twenty-year-old Emily still wants to blog and tries to as often as she can, but, after actually learning how to write, posting takes her a lot longer than it used to.

Twenty-year-old Emily lives on her own and provides for herself.

Twenty-year-old Emily is fully aware of her upcoming career search, apartment search, friend search, life search.

Still, twenty-year-old Emily couldn’t believe it when this notification popped up when she logged into WordPress today:

Seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers to present Emily, the past Emilys and hello to 2015, fresh-out-of-college Emily. Everything will be okay. It always is.
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I don’t want to.

I don’t want to think about it.

I don’t want to think about it and her.

I don’t want to think about it and her and seeing her for the last time.

I don’t want to think about it and her and seeing her for the last time and holding her hand and letting her try on my then-new sneakers and hearing her laugh because she couldn’t hear what any of us were saying.

I don’t want to think about her climbing into that red truck and driving away.

I don’t want to think about letting her go.

I don’t want to think about spending a weekend with grandparents that weren’t even mine when my last grandparent took her last breath.

I don’t want to think about her reaction when she saw my pixie cut last year after it had just been done she loved it, she loved it, she loved it.

I don’t want to think about her fingers running through my hair, smiling up at me with her crooked teeth because, at that point, she’d given up on wearing her dentures and pretty much had stopped combing her thinning white hair after years of raking an insistent, painful brush through mine.

I don’t want to think about the phone call and the silent sobs, Hannah climbing into the backseat to hold me, her mom driving on in silence.

I don’t want to think about the three-hour drive home that day because I don’t even remember it.

I don’t want to think about the boy who didn’t care, who hadn’t even checked his voicemail to hear my muffled explanation, who, when I told him where I was, what had happened, how I felt, he sounded…surprised.

I don’t want to think about work tomorrow and the fact that it’s 1 a.m. and I’ll wake up with puffy eyes.

I don’t want to think about this weekend a year ago as the last time I ever saw her alive.

I don’t want to think.

I can’t think.

A peek at some raindrops.

A rainy juxtaposition

Lightning flashes. Rain hits my window, creating rivulets that slide down slow as molasses.

A peek at some raindrops.
A peek at some raindrops.

I’m safe in my room. My hotel room. My own bathroom in the back, my own king-sized bed in the front facing the window. I turn off the TV and my bedside table lamp to make it lighter outside, but sky blue sheer curtains interrupt my view slightly. The air conditioner hums to remind me I can’t open my window to smell the rain.

I’m under the covers, picking at the acne between my eyebrows and trying to string together the web of raindrops on my window to make something work. Anything work.

My parents and brothers have roofs over their heads, even though it isn’t raining where any of them are right now. There’s just one storm cloud over the palace –– yes, palace ––  I call “home.”

I can’t help but think about the man with the sign. He stands at several intersections around here. Yellow light.

Red light.

I have two bicycles, a car and a family that loves me, but no sir, I cannot spare any change.

I’m too busy buying myself smoothies, that extra bicycle, lunch and $100 worth of clothing I don’t even need. I have enough articles of clothing to last me a laundry-less month, for Christ’s sake, not to mention a backup computer just in case the one in my lap fails right now. And then a smartphone when both fail. (They won’t.)

But I won’t even look or read your sign when I pull up right next to you at that red light. There’s a $20 bill in my wallet that I don’t need, but it sure will come in handy when I want an overpriced sandwich later. Or panini. Or salted caramel ice cream from my favorite ice cream shop in town (that I’ve already been to seven times since moving back here five weeks ago). Whatever.

I’ll bop around to Katy Perry’s newest CD on one of the four iPods I own and pretend to be really interested in the license plate on the car in front of me. But I’m not.

My face gets hot, my cheeks turn red. I try to look at you using my peripherals. I want you to notice the rough condition the paint on my car’s hood is in. I want you to know that I have bills to pay, tuition to scramble around for and that I work hard for my money.

I tuck a lock of hair I paid $120 to get cut, colored and styled behind my diamond-earringed ear.

My parents don’t give me money; I provide for myself… but I can’t help but wonder who was supposed to provide for you.

You, bearded, homeless; swallowing enough pride to beg, beg for help. Admitting you need it. Not caring about the judgments and the little redheaded bitch in her Volkswagen Bug who drives by you nearly every. Single. Day.

 

Green light.

I’m safe in my room. My hotel room. My own bathroom in the back, my own king-sized bed in the front facing the window. But I wonder where you are tonight and hope you’re dry. I hope you’re safe. I hope I get the gall to hold out a couple dollars or even a coffee. Get everyone to do it. Start a chain reaction with the BMWs, Cadillacs and Audis around me.

But for now I’m just ashamed of myself. Ashamed of my ignorance. Ashamed because you deserve some respect, just like everyone else.

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