New Territory

I met someone on Tinder, like I said before, and we’ve been chatting enough that we want to meet. So, tonight I am getting together with her, her gay male best friends, and a coworker from the massage clinic where she works. We’re either going to sit around and talk, or go see The Avengers. Either way is fine with me. I just want to know who she is in real life, which, unsurprisingly, has become quite important to me. I have spent the last two years chatting with someone I adore to the ends of the earth, even though we have been so shitty to each other in the past that I’m not sure I deserve a real life meet-and-greet, and I’m not sure she does, either. To say that I don’t deserve it is undermining my own worth. We have both been equally shitty to each other, and as much as I make amends, she doesn’t. My behavior, according to her, is intolerable, while her behavior has been spot on perfect.

The truth is somewhere in the middle.

I’ve crossed lines, and so has she, by the nature of our internet crack relationship. But the lines we crossed were different in nature, and are like comparing “peanut butter and ladies.” I am devastated by the lines I crossed, because they drove her away. She is not capable of hearing how the lines she crossed changed me in kind.

So, no more internet crack for me. If you’re not willing to give me an address and a phone number, then we probably can’t be friends. I can’t go through it again, and I won’t. My personality divided in half and I ended up in a psych ward because I could not handle being married to Dana and having secrets with someone else. I was so “cracked out” that I couldn’t function, and luckily, the hospital was there to catch me. My cohort was amazing and listened through my wailing and gnashing of teeth.

And even still, I didn’t come completely clean, because I couldn’t. I didn’t think of either one of us as the problem. I blame the internet, and the wall it creates between two people so that they say anything and everything without really grasping how they’re changing each other because they cannot SEE IT.

So, no more “strangers on a train.” In a way, I am done with the internet. I crave real life, and I get out in it. I meet people all the time as a result of public transportation, and my reactions are real time instead of waiting with anxiety over a response that may not come for days…. if at all.

Yesterday, I met a guy named Barrington that wanted me to write all of his stories, because as he says, “they’re all true.” He learned how to cook in the military and cannot anymore because he has chronic pain and cannot lift more than five pounds. As a cook, this makes a job impossible. At Tapalaya, I routinely watched Dana carry 50 lb bags of flour up the stairs into dry storage. I could do it, too, but not without wheezing and possibly falling down the stairs. The funniest incidence of this is that I was putting away things in dry storage and came down the ladder facing the stairs instead of the kitchen. When I got to the bottom step, I didn’t know that there was a full rondo of fryer oil waiting to be given to a person with one of those cars that always smells like chicken. I stepped in it up to my knee. I was wearing leather shoes, though, and they really never looked better.

For once, my klutziness paid off.

Barrington is trying to get disability so that he can afford to move into an apartment. Right now his hustle is buying cigarettes at the 7-11 and selling them for a dollar apiece. He’s also a licensed massage therapist, so sometimes he’ll put out a chair and a tip jar. I told him that would eventually pay off and to keep at it. If you want to see him yourself, he’s usually close to the Silver Spring Metro, and I guarantee he’ll do a good job. I hired him for five minutes at a dollar a minute and now I can move my shoulders. I need to go back and get him to do my wrists. If you’re a computer geek, you need to go see him, too.

I told him that I’d really messed up by not learning a trade to the best of my ability. Cooking is the wrong one, because now I am getting too old to trust my knees for an entire shift. I should have gone to cosmetology school or something. My friend A-train went to Aveda and cracked me up with the fact that since they can’t test on animals, they test on little old ladies instead. I would have loved that job- R&D at Aveda with customers that would treat me like their grandchild.

Grandparents love me. Seriously. I used to go to the nursing home with my dad when he would preach there, and I am EXCELLENT at batting my eyes and saying, “tell me some more.” My favorites were always the old soldiers, because their stories were better than everyone else’s. No offense to non-military people, but there’s no way you can top them. It’s impossible. Don’t even try. However, old people love me because when they talk, I sit still and listen, which I gather doesn’t happen to them all that often.

Their stories are often sad, because they don’t talk about their early lives unless you ask. First they’ll talk about how lonely they are because they feel like they got dropped off and left in an alternate universe where EVERYONE ELSE is old but them. Seriously, old people feel like they’re 21 trapped in a body that’s betraying them one day at a time. it doesn’t take much to get them to open up about politics, religion, history….. they’ll talk about anything you want as long as you want because hey, they’re not on a schedule.

Hmmmmmmmm….. that gives me an idea. I’m going to apply to work in a nursing home. My mother was the recreational director at one when she was young and she loved it. I’m going to guess that not many people apply, because anything in geriatrics/gerontology scares most people to death, literally, because working with old people makes you face your own mortality regularly.

I’ve already faced mine. Several times, in fact. I’m not scared. I’ll do anything if you’ll just keep talking. I’m a writer, and your stories matter.

In real life.


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