I went to high school. I went to college. I went to grad school. I got a job. I bought a car. I didn't buy too many other things, just what I needed to survive, like milk and paper. I lived in Missouri. I liked it. I had students nod and wave at me in the halls. I felt good. I felt spiritual. I refinanced my car. I was confused about how that worked. I used my health insurance and went to see calm doctors who touched me.
I cried on the way home from work one Friday night because I wasn't having sex. I was 24. I spent a lot of time holding myself up, looking straight ahead, like I was always at sea. I remembered being very young and wondering how I would look when I was old. I was smart, but not very smart. I could never remember what switch was the garbage disposal, what switch was the light. I drove to Kansas. I thought, it's right over there. I liked the way the hills looked like bumps, accidents, little mistakes the land made while forming itself. I never got lost, even though I tried to all the time. I used to have maps from every state in my car, and I searched through them.
I took myself in for a check up again. I was jealous of my car, the color of Moonstone, for never needing anything. I splurged on a nice set of fingernail clippers. I didn't understand how to live by myself, what I should do with my time. I cleaned my apartment like I didn't live there, like it belonged to another girl. I didn't know I was young. I didn't think I was old, but perhaps un-aging, like a lobster, ambling. I refused to turn my heat on. I hit a deer and her bones drove through my headlights. I killed her.
I slept on an air mattress. I clipped my nails and thought, oh, yeah, these were worth it. I kept my bills in a trim stack on my table. I liked paying them, which I did, on time, every month. I exercised. I was afraid of myself. I thought about Abraham Lincoln. I thought about Abraham Lincoln's best friend, how sad he must have been. I thought about a herd of goats walking through fog and the way my brain probably looks. I thought about Ford trucks, plywood, and terrorism.
I learned how to say “large selection of pre-owned vehicles” in French. I signed up for online dating. I went to work. I went to work again. I looked up information. I got a rather common sexually transmitted disease. I got a call from my mother and I handed the phone away. I checked out books with full-page yoga poses. I imagined the day I'd give birth. My job faded, like a piece of construction paper someone left in the sun.
I cut my hair myself. I ached to save money. I was so good at that. I donated to charity, just a little, so I wouldn't feel like such a stupid bitch. I turned into the kind of woman that said Well can I get you anything else today. I also said Let's switch gears and No time like the present. I turned around and around in my car, always thinking I missed a turn, but I didn't.
I developed a pretty unapologetic tooth sensitivity. I noticed it one day when I was lying on the floor eating chocolate. I thought my mouth was falling off. I didn't do anything about it unless you count think about it constantly. I almost bought Sensodyne but it was too expensive. I suffered. I thought about the World Religions class I took in college. I learned that to live is to suffer. I didn't follow the eight-fold path, but I felt bad when I saw dogs that appeared to be malnourished. I hoped that was close enough. I knew it wasn't. I supported local theater? I went to Taco Tuesday, religiously? I “kept up with appearances”? I “dreamed that one day I would hold my daughter's face in my hands on her first day of school”? I “didn't understand what we were still doing in Iraq”? I “cried when I watched Dancing with the Stars”?
I signed up for facebook. I thought it was dumb. I perused it night and day. I was “staring at 30”. I tried not to think about my pelvic walls, but I couldn't help it. I did tricep kickbacks. I didn't organize fundraisers or bake sales. I didn't run a 5k. I didn't do my own taxes. I didn't travel to foreign countries. I didn't know what a housing bubble was, but I knew it was delicate. I knew I was supposed to vote for Obama, but I didn't feel like it.
I turned into my father, brewing coffee all day, sleeping in armchairs, listening to NPR through an old pair of earbuds. I never liked the taste of milk. I scrolled through facebook and stared at babies, their little eyes. I got melanoma. I bought a juicer from Target. I almost choked on a Thin Mint. I married a man much taller than me. I knew many women.
I was fine, by the way. I was always fine. I woke up and said things like Every day is a gift. I said Let's get this show on the road. I said You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. I smiled at the bank teller. I didn't trim coupons from the thin, slick pages of coupon books. I went to bed each night wrapped around my husband like a baby koala. I was 31. I worked as a prep cook at a locally owned bar and grill. I liked the focus, the detail. I liked the idea of shift meetings and wearing a bandana to work. I wanted to flip a milk crate over and sit on it in an alley. I just said okay when the general manager told me I needed to update my passport since it still had my maiden name on it.
I listened to our upstairs neighbor vacuum the marijuana smoke from the air. I thought he was smart. I thought, that guy has his life together. I tried to do a push up but I got tired. I got a call from a little girl in Florida asking for her friend, Lilly. I said, I'm not who you need. I kissed my husband and thought about the end of time. I returned my books to the library. I took shots of apple cider vinegar. I almost bought cinnamon capsules, but decided that was gross. I said, Hey, let's live off the grid. I wrote a check to Verizon for $3.01. I went to T.J. Maxx with my mother-in-law. I didn't buy anything, but I walked through Housewares with a determined look on my face. I picked up skillets and looked at them like they were mirrors. I fantasized about kicking Rush Limbaugh so hard in the groin he cried himself to death.
I got used to being alone with my husband. I stared at him. I watched Survivor with him. I made him sandwiches. I tried, unsuccessfully, to ration his mayonnaise.
I wondered if I could sell my hair. I got a phone call from my best friend who said she knew a woman who killed herself by jumping in front of a train. I touched my chest. I made a cup of ginger tea because it's good for digestion, and that was some weird news to fucking digest. I did several loads of laundry. I didn't sort it, but then again, I've never sorted it. I made a note to finally look up the word quixotic, once and for all, but I never did that either. I applied to be a dishwasher at Whole Foods. I applied to teach at M.I.T. I applied to be a cremation assistant. I wanted to apply to spot polar bears in Norway, but I didn't have enough experience with firearms.
I had a side job writing content for websites. I made one dollar for every hundred words that I wrote. I felt cool in a pathetic way. I learned about bunk beds and raspberry ketones. I learned about the misconceptions of asphalt. I shook my head. I couldn't believe how we have all been lied to for so long about asphalt. I planted a seed in an old peanut butter jar. I thought I had appendicitis. I braced myself for summer. I took a class on existentialism and felt uneasy about it. I got a B.
I didn't much care for Chuck Palahniuk. I thought Farmers Markets were overrated. I faked an uncanny amount of orgasms. I didn't go to my sister's funeral for her dog, and I've always felt guilt for that. I had friends, but I don't think they liked me. I tried to remember if I'd ever been to Rhode Island. I bought a pair of Crocs. I used to think that if I kept my mouth closed when I hummed no one could hear me.
There is a poster outside of a bookstore on Coventry Ave. in Cleveland Heights, Ohio that advertises a "Yoga for Smokers" class. I want to take it so bad, but I don't smoke, so I wrote this piece instead.