I even wrote a story in The Buffalo News about them, featuring this line my grandmother loved to quote: “My boys are all grown up, and as much as I want to, I can’t pause or rewind life. They may bring girls home from time to time, but they’re still my boys.”
Turns out they will always be mine, but they can be taken away.
My brother Trevor and his fiancée Kim got married almost two weeks ago. I’m glad it was her and not me.
I live in short snippets of language, and not necessarily by choice. To save characters, I shorten “and” to its misunderstood fraternal twin brother, the ampersand: “&” (though their cousin, the pound key – “#” – is like the sexually confused misfit of the family). I take vwls t f wrds, realizing the words “out” & “of” are pretty impossible without them. Eff. The ampersand strikes again.
You following me? Liking me? Linking up with me? Pinning me? (I think you can actually do that at the bottom of this post.)
Because of this 140-characters-or-less lifestyle I live, I have a short attention span… when it comes to focusing on only one thing at a time. You should see how many tabs I have open on Chrome at once, how many things I’m reading, how quickly I change the long link to a short one via bit.ly and post onto Twitter or Facebook in one fell swoop.
Swipe three fingers up on my track pad.
Tap to find the page I need and tap the URL box.
Swipe three fingers up on my track pad.
Tap in box I need.
Typing those five “sentences” took longer than it takes me to do what I highlighted in them. Because I do things without thinking now and always try to find the answers on my own before looking for a different source and oh my good golly gosh it feels good to not have to limit myself to 140 or 600 characters to write out a good, long and uncalled for run-on sentence.
I’m not a stupid Millennial; I’m a cog in the Net Generation’s clock, and I’m taking advantage of what I grew up learning. I’m earning money doing things I did for fun before. Stupid Millennial? Nah, just a woman on a mission to at least enjoy what she does for a living and find fulfillment in it.
…I’m not sure why I’m getting all defensive. I’ve only ever been swept into the Millennial stereotype by default; nobody’s ever actually called me out based on my generational status.
But I’ll sign off before my brain forces me to spend hours on this one blog post. I’ve only been writing in this box for 15 minutes. Tht’s gotta b a new rcrd 4 – just joshin’; I AVOID using numbers – for @SeeEmilyPlay.
My 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.
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.
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.
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.)
If 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.
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:
Cheers to present Emily, the past Emilys and hello to 2015, fresh-out-of-college Emily. Everything will be okay. It always is.
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.
Lightning flashes. Rain hits my window, creating rivulets that slide down slow as molasses.
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.
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.
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.
Writing sucks. A lot (of dick, if we’re going beyond PG here).
Writing takes me forever.
So that explains my absence. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve conjured up the “Add New Post” screen, only to look at the clock and realize two hours of writing would cut my sleeping time down immensely.
Writing a post means spending time away from the book I’ve been reading or the people I could get to know. Writing means solitude, a word and thing I’ve been trying to avoid as of late. Writing means having to pay close attention to detail and trying so very hard not to make a mistake I’m sure my “enemies” would call me out on Twitter for.
Three years of college and I’ve made some enemies, apparently. Imagine that.
I’ve spent the last couple days at home, watching my grandparents’ belongings get sold to strangers and Walnut trees fall in all their green-and-brown glory.
Some things are ending, but others are beginning. Like my life. My life, man.
Seven credits of college classes separate me from what I’m told is actually – this time – the “real world.” They had lied to me before when I graduated from high school. College isn’t the real world. College is the excuse I use for the drunken weekends and the hangover I have on Friday mornings that is too severe to make it through that morning’s class. But the professor understands when I email him. It’s college, after all.
More than 30 credits separated me from life then. Now I’m down to seven. Seven credits. Seven.
I could graduate early. Get a job. Leave my friends. Get an apartment. Save money. Pay back my loans.
Writing is hard, yet I’m trying to make a career out of it.
A career that I can actually see now. A career where an email on Friday morning from a hungover Emily just won’t fly anymore. I’m more mature than most at my age, but I am having difficulty with accepting this.