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UNCOMFORTABLY NUMB

26 Mar

A character in a movie said she was “numb” to everything.  It struck me to the bone.  As a society, we are becoming desensitized to emotions, pleasures and extremes.  Sensory overload pushes us to withdraw into our collective sand boxes.  We are a people aching for the instantaneous and when we receive it, we balk at its fleeting nature.

When did I start racing toward something?  As a child, I remember sitting outside and staring up at the clouds and not needing to be distracted by Iphone apps and a constant stream of music in my ears.  When I did listen to music, it was in a dark room, my eyes closed and not staring at a computer screen filled with windows of news, blogs and calendars.  There were entire leisure meals enjoyed on a blanket in the sweet grass while I felt the sun on my skin.

Those things are foreign to me now.  I juggle so many tasks, I enjoy none of them.  I am a constant twitch of energy and gumption to do anything.  Even as I write this, I have a television program playing on Netflix in the background because the sound of nothing really isn’t.  Instead of hearing birds and buzzing bugs, I hear the clatter of the train, loud talking from outside and traffic in a not so far off distance.  There is no alone here.  There is no silence.

I thought about when I was in Switzerland.  I sat in a café in Luzerne next to a farmer’s market.  I can still smell the fragrant blossoms of flowers I could not identify.  I inhaled and took in the cleanliness of the air that surrounded me and the robust aroma of my coffee.  I tore chunks of bread off a loaf, dipped it into steaming fondue, and tasted the wisp of white whine.  I sat there for what felt like an eternity watching people walk around me, at the clouds racing above and just felt it all.  These days meals are hurried and barely digested.  I no longer enjoy the flavor of coffee after drinking what barely passes for the beverage at work.  I cannot remember what it is like to bite into a strawberry and know that it is fresh from the ground.  I cannot remember what the sound of outside is anymore.

Tonight, I went to the grocery, and bought a loaf of bread and the best Brie they had.  I came home, tore off chunks of bread, and slathered with the melty goodness of the cheese.  I ate slowly and without the background noise of a television or music.  I remembered a time when I was not rushing toward the finish line of everything I started.  I have learned more about myself in the last year than I have in all the ones that came before.  I had to forgive myself regrets and bad decisions, and decide how I want to spend the rest of my days.  I have had to let people go who have been toxic to the new me.  I have had to stop racing and devouring and chasing everything.

I do not want to be numb to the pleasures of life anymore.  I want to taste everything, I want to smell it all and I want to see the beauty in even the mundane.  I want to be at peace with who I was and know I will never regress to her again.  I am focused on what lies ahead, but not with the single-minded pursuit of achieving anything.  What I want is so simple.  I want love.  I want laughter.  I want joy.  I want peace.  I want strength.  Everything else is just icing on the cake.  And it is delicious.

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SEARCHING FOR THAT SOMEONE

20 Feb

He asked to buy her a drink and maybe in another lifetime she would have accepted, but not tonight.  Deanna was in no mood for pick up lines and the dance of seduction.  She was on a mission to implode her life and a guy like the one standing in front of her was not on the same page.  It was obvious he wanted to believe he was wooing her and a year ago Deanna would have played along and giggled at his lame attempts at charm.  That was the Deanna before meeting the man she would agree to marry.  He had not tried any of those tried and true pick up strategies, he had simply said he wanted to take her back to his apartment and she had willingly went.  That was the type of man she was looking for tonight.

She wanted someone to say those exact words and as the hours waned as she sat nursing martinis at the bar she was afraid it would never happen, at least not until she rid herself of the man who was now asking her what her hobbies were.

“Taxidermy.”  She says and his eyes flashed with anger.  Yes, he has finally gotten the hint.

“So, you’re not interested in a guy like me.”  It wasn’t a question.  Deanna sighed.

This exchange is really the last thing she needed and she wanted him gone.  “You’re not the one I’m looking for tonight.”

The man gestures to her left hand, her three carat diamond ring prominently on display there.  “Are you looking for him?”

She looks down at the ring she had been so proud to flash in front of her girlfriends.  It looked dirty, tarnished by her presence in a bar like this on a night like this.

“No.”  She says the word before she can even consider the implication.  She was looking for the man she met that night in the bar, not the man who eventually put the ring on her finger.  Although they looked the same, smelled the same and fucked the same, they were not the same.

The man leaned against the bar, his dark eyes judging her.  “A last fling before the big day?”

“No.” She decided to tell the truth.  She wasn’t looking for a fling before the big day.  She was looking for salvation and a way out of that day looming over her head like an anvil.

“But you’re looking for someone here?”

“Yes.”

“Anyone but him…”  He shrugged.  “And me.”

“You got it.”  Deanna tipped her glass in a mock toast.

His teeth were white when he smiled.  “Why not me?”

She carefully chose her words.  “I am looking to ruin my life tonight and you my friend are not the kind of guy a girl ruins her life with.  You’re good looking enough and probably trolling in a bar because of a recent break up and I think you are just desperate enough to want a relationship.”

The man frowned.  “What a bitch.”

“So I’ve been told.”

“Can I at least ask why you’re going to ruin your life?”

Deanna finished her martini and pushed the glass away, turning on the bar stool to face the man before her.  “Why did your girlfriend break up with you?”

He shrugged and she noticed a circle tattoo on his wrist.  “We lived together for three years and I didn’t want to have kids just yet.  She’s married and knocked up now.”

“I am marrying a man I do not love.”

“Then why get married?”

“It’s a matter of principle now isn’t it?”  She smiled then and she could tell he liked her smile.  “He asked and I agreed.  We have a venue, a date and even a dress that I hate.  I could walk away, but I won’t.  I’ll skip down the aisle and smile and pretend I’m so happy when really I’ll be miserable.”

“Why don’t you love him?”

“Because he picked me up in a bar.”

“And you think if you pick someone else up in a bar that will make it all right?”

“No.”  She shook her head, feeling suddenly light-headed from the martinis.  “I think I’ll fuck some guy tonight and maybe in a month or two months, I’ll throw it in his face like a glass of cold water and either he’ll divorce me or he’ll punish me.”

The man looked sad and she was irritated by the pity she knew he was feeling for her.  “Why would you do that?”

“Because I’ll deserve it for marrying him.”

He didn’t say anything, but kept looking at her and Deanna felt exposed, like every cell of her body was on display for scrutiny.  “So, you just mosey on along.  There are plenty of girls here tonight.”

“I didn’t come in here tonight to pick up a girl.”  He sat down on the bar stool next to her and ordered a beer.  Deanna turned around again, waving the bartender away.  She did not need another drink for courage.

“I didn’t come in here tonight to debate my motivations.”  She replied.  “I’m looking for someone and the more time I spend talking to you, I’m ruining my chances of finding him tonight.”

The man took a gulp of his beer.  “Why don’t you love him?”

“I thought he was strong.”  She looked at her reflection in the mirror over the bar.  She was pretty and slender and never had any trouble finding a boyfriend.  “But he’s not.”

“Then don’t marry him.”

Deanna looked again at herself in the mirror.  This time she saw what this stranger saw.  She looked sad and no amount of pretty or make-up could hide that blemish.  “Of all the women in the bar tonight, why did you approach me?”

“You looked good.”

“There are lots of good looking women here.”

“Maybe I knew you’d say no.”

She nodded.  Of course there were all types of motives in the bar tonight.  She knew she wasn’t the only woman looking to create damage and he certainly wasn’t the only man wanting the woman to turn him down.  Yet, they felt oddly alone and somehow they had gravitated toward each other.  That had to mean something.

“He picked me up in this bar a year or so ago.”  She said, still not looking at him, but she could see from the corner of her eye, he was watching her.  “He didn’t try to sweet talk me.  He didn’t have a seduction.  He just asked me to go home with him and I did.”  She blinked away the tears.  “I was really lonely at the time and I thought that was what I wanted.  But now when I look at him, he’s a disappointment.  Whatever I thought he was that night, he isn’t and never will be.”

“Leave him.”  The man looked down at his beer again.  “Do yourselves both a favor and don’t get married.”

“I feel like I can’t stop it.”  Her voice was a whisper.  “It feels inevitable.”

“Maybe I’ll ask you to come home with me.”  He met her gaze in the mirror.  “Maybe all you want is one night.  The rest of the nights after that are just wasted on you because you can’t appreciate the boring shit that comes after.”

“Probably.”

“Maybe he’s in a bar across town doing the same thing you are tonight.”

That hurt more than she wanted to admit.  “Probably.”

“You are really screwed up.”

“Yes.”

“I have an apartment about a block away.”  He held out his hand.  “Come home with me tonight.”

Deanna looked down at his hand.  It was smooth, no calluses or any indication he worked hard.  His nails were short and clean and he smelled like expensive cologne.  But he wasn’t the one she had been waiting for.  This was all wrong.

She looked up into his eyes and saw that he, a total stranger, understood more than she did what she needed and when he reached out to take her hand she didn’t pull away.    Could it really be that easy?

 

 

content copyright © 2009-2011 Laura Johnson