A work-in-progress novel about 30-year-old, Becky who gets dumped by her bf, drinks too much bubbly, then hits her head and goes on a massive mind-trip.
I used to be brave. Never tested the water before I jumped. Willing to take the temperature consequences, whatever they may be, I trusted that I could handle it. It would seem that back then I could handle anything that came my way. I was fearless, confident, trusting, and brave. Very, very brave. Or maybe it wasn’t bravery at all. Diving headfirst into the world could be looked at as being foolish. Only fools rush in, right? Still. I kept going.
I kept on running happily into the wonder. I skipped, ran, and frolicked right into myself time and time again. And I certainly did like me. I liked me plenty. In fact, It’s safe to say that I was one of my favorite people. I laughed heartedly at my own inner jokes, delighting myself with my company. I always looked forward to more time with me, me, and more me. But, my love of self, as healthy as it appeared to be, seemed, like all other loves in my life….fleeting.
You know the day destroys the night, Night divides the day Tried to run, Tried to hide, Break on through to the other side, Break on through — to the other side
February — 2001
I cried all the way to the valley
One note in one song — that’s all it took. It’s like a little, itty bitty strum of the piano or a gentle pluck of a guitar, and especially that raspy, breathy, heartsick voice, it just reached through my guts and up into that switch located somewhere in the throat region and tweak my insides so tight that the pipes that are connected to my eyeballs shake loose and soon there’s an explosion of water that comes frantically gushing out of my eyes.
Crying is what they call it. Rhymes with dying, which is what it feels like.
He broke up with me on my birthday. How wrong is that? I mean, isn’t it common knowledge that most breakers wait until after birthdays, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Groundhog Day, Presidents Day, etc., etc. to dump the breakie? If I were a breaker I most certainly would wait until after a Holiday of any kind before doing the actual dumping. It’s the human thing to do. But, he was never very human. Still, I never expected him to drive me straight to Suicide Bridge and scream, “Jump! Jump! Trust me, you won’t be missed!”
I pulled my Jeep into my parking spot and walked right into my apartment building through the wide-open “security door.” I manage to find my keys with my trembling hands that are, come to think of it, are beginning to look more and more like my mother’s hands — weathered, tired, yet sporting a lovely tan. I walk in. I am greeted by my noisy cat, Sammy, demanding food, not love. I robotically oblige and go to the cupboard just like Mother Hubbard — it is bare.
“Calm down — I’ll get you some food,” I tell Sammy as I make my way to the 7 Eleven for some overpriced-dolphin-safe tuna.
The tears are flowing freely now and I can’t help but think that if I had a dog instead of a cat I would be more worshipped on my arrival home. The apartment wouldn’t take dogs, so, I got a cat. I hate cats.
But, this particular cat and I — we have an understanding. I feed it, occasionally pet it, and in return, it makes enough noise to remind me that I am not totally alone.
I enter the 7 Eleven, prepared to be quick about the purchase. I don’t like to linger in the cat food aisle, lest someone peg me for a loner cat lady. The old guy behind the counter grins at my tear-soaked face as I purchase the lone can of tuna. Realizing how pathetic I must look, I grin back, faking okayness as best I can.
“I’m having a light supper today.”
“Oh,” he nods, feeling even more sorry for me than before.
“Wait!” I stop him from adding it up.
There must be something else I need. Or, better yet, want. It is my birthday, after all. And 30 — that’s supposed to be some kind of milestone, isn’t it? I’m leaving my wild-self-discovering 20’s and entering mature adulthood, or some such nonsense.
“I forgot something,” I tell the sympathetic fellow as I make my way up and down each aisle, slowly looking for things to help me celebrate my big day.
Booze. Of course! How perfect. One bottle of champagne, one bottle of wine, one white, one red…” Do you have a shopping cart?”
“No carts,” he informs.
Okay. No problem. After every discovery I make, I take the long walk back to him and place it forcefully on the counter. I’m filled with some kind of determined energy now and I’m on the proverbial roll…speaking of rolls….
Bagels and cream cheese wrapped neatly in plastic wrap in the refrigerated section. I love bagels and cream cheese.
Comfort food, I believe they call it. Of course, I don’t eat bagels because I try to stay away from carbs and the cream cheese — that’s dairy and dairy is a no-no too. Lactose intolerant and weight-obsessed. I live in Los Angeles, who isn’t preoccupied with their bodies here? It’s summer most of the time and we can’t hide our imperfections behind layers of clothes. Fat has no place here in sunny California. I’m 5’9” and 135lbs. If you’re from L.A. you’re thinking, “boy, she still has a way to go!” If you’re from any other part of the world you most likely hate me right now.
Two bagels and cream cheese. Oh! Pre-made egg salad sandwiches! Two of those. Orange juice. If I mix it with the champagne it magically becomes a celebratory Sunday brunch mimosa! Two orange juices. On second thought, that’s too much work. Two ingredients are one too many when preparing my own beverage. I put the orange juice back and I walk to the counter with my bundle.
“Not eating light dinner no more, heh?” He laughs.
“I’m not finished,” I reply cooly as I find the chip aisle. One bag of Doritos, two bags of Fritos, three bags of Sun Chips, one bag of Cheetos, one bag of sour cream and onion Lays, one can of bean dip, one package of onion powder dip….oh, I need sour cream for this. Back to the counter. Then the refrigerated section — grab the sour cream — I’m going to indulge in a dairy carb feast! This will be the best birthday ever!
Back to the counter — back to the booze. I grab two more bottles of champagne and a box of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and one bran muffin because I know I’ll need it. Everything I’m about to purchase has partially hydrogenated crap in it that our bodies can’t recognize and will turn into free radicals. You remember free radicals — they have something to do with cancer. But, I’m depressed — I throw caution to the wind when I’m depressed.
I stare at the man behind the counter for a solid minute.
“Will this be all?” he asks with no trace of humor.
I grab a pack of Extra Sugar-Free Bubble Gum and cavalierly toss it on the counter. Then I grin.
I walked back home — to get the car — to get the groceries. I should have bought myself flowers or something. Maybe Sammy cleaned the house as a birthday surprise. Yes, perhaps if I lived in a cartoon that could happen. Unfortunately, Sammy has no human characteristics. She doesn’t speak, dance, or vacuum. Kind of like my ex-boyfriend.
I fumble with the keys, as I always do, and finally, get in the door. I’m one of those people who only has three keys and about ten ridiculous nothings on key chains dangling every which way. I have a yellow Teletubbies, I think that’s the one Jerry Fallwell gay-bashed. No, I think it was the purple Teletubbie he had a problem with. I also carry a miniature Etch and Sketch, Pepper Spray, A change purse, and a train whistle all attached to a big silver circle where my three keys don’t stand a chance of being found in a timely matter.
Sammy is screaming at me. Sammy is always screaming at me.
Maybe he called. That’s all that’s going through my mind as I open up the can of tuna and set it down for the screaming beast. I don’t dare look at the answering machine. If there’s no light blinking I might just up and die. So, I put away the groceries instead. Groceries. That’s funny. That sounds like I bought food. I’m well aware that there is no food in the food that I just bought.
I pop open the champagne and pour myself a glass. I’m using the good glasses. The ones that I glue down after each use so I won't lose them in the next earthquake we have. I’ve only used these glasses twice before. Once on Kenneth’s 32nd birthday and once when Kenneth booked that Diet Sprite commercial. In fact, they might even be his glasses.
I look around my place. A stack of his headshots and resumes, his baseball mitt, basketball, several t-shirts — various colors — his Stone Temple Pilots CD, his Sublime CD, his Kid Rock, his KISS, his Metalica (God, what did I ever see in him?)
He didn’t officially live here — but, don’t tell that to his stuff. I notice a book on the floor. He wasn’t much of a reader. The title is “Instruction Manual.” Instruction manual to what? I wonder. Kenneth never built a thing in his life. Whatever. I’m sure it’s something lame.
I light a candle, drink my champagne, and work up the courage to make that glance towards the answering machine.
“No, not yet. I’m not ready yet.” I drink some more and let my mind wander into “what did I do wrong this time” land. Maybe I was too supportive when I said that I would move to Chicago with him if he got that NBC pilot. I don’t really think I actually would have. I despise the wind. Or, maybe he didn’t buy it when I smothered him with my enthusiasm and praise that time when he was depressed because he couldn’t land an agent after his 18th showcase.
Maybe I was too competitive and didn’t really want him to succeed. At least not before I did. Maybe I didn’t laugh at all his jokes because I didn’t find him nearly as amusing as he did. Maybe two actors should never be together once the play closes.
“It’s been swell but the show is over,” I almost laugh as I finish off glass-of-champagne-number-one and head straight to the fridge for a refill. Did you know that if you’re hosting a party and your guests’ drink is empty that it is impolite to ask them if they would like another? You’re supposed to say, “May I freshen your drink for you?” so as not to imply that your guests are greedy drunks. With that said, it’s time for a refresher.
Strawberries would go great with this! No fresh ones available, so, I plop several pieces of frozen strawberries into my champagne glass like sweet, little, red ice cubes. “How creative of me,” I compliment myself as I down glass-of-champagne- number-two.
That’s when Sammy decided to jump up on the kitchen counter to thank me for the tuna. He rubbed up against my elbows and managed to look half-way cute for a moment and then proceeded to leap onto the answering machine!
The machine promptly crashed to the ground where it now sits — blink-less.
Sammy made one of those cat noises and took off for under the bed. I scooped up the machine and gently lay it back down on the table. Now, I don’t know if it’s not blinking because nobody called or if it’s not blinking because it fell to the ground!
“Dammit, dammit, dammit!”
Now, what do I do? I could Star 69 and see who the last person who called me was. But, what if it’s a telemarketer? Worse, what if it’s my mom? And, worse yet, what if it’s Kenneth? What am I supposed to say to him? “Hi, Kenneth, just calling to see if you changed your mind about us.” That would undoubtedly make me a permanent resident in Loserville.
“Oh. Time to, once again, be refreshed!”
As I sit back taking large gulps of champagne-glass-number- three, I remember the used-to-be’s. The used-to-be’s of my childhood. Riding in the backseat of my parents Dodge Dart, on our way to see a lake, an ocean, a river, any body of water. I loved bodies of water back then. Man, I haven’t been to the beach in years. Too busy trying to make a living and get an acting career going. Too busy for the Ocean.
The used-to-be’s with my childhood best friend, Sarah. Sarah and I had a favorite tree that we would climb and talk to. We swore the tree spoke back to us. We were six years old, everything spoke to us then. I don’t talk to trees anymore for fear of the white coat and rubber room.
I lost count.
The used-to-be’s when I didn’t have to act so tough all the time and I cried in public and hugged people tightly without worrying if they would hurt me or if I would hurt them or whether or not I was appearing to be too “much.”
The used-to-be’s of dreaming vibrant dreams in Technicolor. Escaping to magical lands where I could fly the night sky, sail a ship through violent storms, accept an award in front of thousands of adoring fans….
I don’t dream anymore. At least, not that I can remember.
“I gotta pee,” I announce loudly to no one in particular. I get up and stumble over to the bathroom. The champagne is making my head spin. I’m feeling funny. I kind of like it.
I start singing that old song… I’m so… dizzy, my head is spinnin’ — like a whirlpool it never ends — and it’s you girl makin’ me….dizzzyyy”….
Where did that chair come from?
Before I know it, my body flies through the air after the unexpected meeting with the mystery chair. I think I even do a backflip that I don’t remember learning. I twist and turn through the air in slow motion and I land head first. On my dirty hardwood floor.
Lights out, Becky baby, lights out.