The Forward

Today I walked the mile and a half to 7-11 and McDonald’s, in that order. I needed to get more snacks, because I don’t tend to eat meals, especially when I’m engrossed in a book (Outlander, Book I). I got yogurt pretzels, banana chips, gummy cola bottles, sour Skittles, sour gummy worms, and debated on buying, like, six more things. Sour Skittles have become a sickness since Prianka and Elena had them at their wedding. I called Prianka today and told her I was almost ready for an intervention.

I don’t normally read fiction. It took me the longest time to get into Outlander because, like I said previously, the story didn’t grab me at first……. and because every time I read someone else’s fiction, I tend to “lose my voice.” I don’t ever want to sound like the last writer I read. It is most noticeable when I am reading David Sedaris. I don’t plagiarize. It’s just style. I want you to know me for me, not someone who’s taking a style and trying to make my words fit into it. I think of it like copying Old Masters. I’d rather invent something than learn by rote, if that makes any sense at all.

I went through a very long Barbara Kingsolver phase, and I am just now recovering from two decades of Wally Lamb, because “She’s Come Undone” is kind of about me. It’s not, really, but I did get interviewed by Olivia, the executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, for 45 minutes as I explained to them why I would be perfect for that month’s Book Club show, a follow-up to the essay I’d written. I wish I could tell you what the essay was about- hell, I wish I could remember the book’s plot. I just remember thinking that for a man, Wally Lamb did a bang-up job writing for women.

It’s not the words that stayed with me. It was their order. If I start to sound like Diana Gabaldon, please stop me. It means the pod people have come to get me and I am stuck in the way she writes and not the way I do.

But I digress.

I got my junk food and then went to get more junk food- a burger and fries from Mickey D’s, the magnum opus of junk food, in fact. By that time, I was stuffed and in no mood to walk back home. I, of course, requested Uber. Rudrick came to pick me up in less than five minutes.

College kid who loves sports. Nigerian. I asked him what sport he liked, knowing the answer before he said it…… soccer….. of course. I told him he looked like a forward. He did- long, lean, fit. When he said he was, I said, “because you’re a forward, does that mean you’re kind of a jerk?” He laughed so hard he nearly ran off the road. He said, “no- it means I am smarter. I am the one that has to get the ball in the net.” I said, “THAT IS SUCH A FORWARD THING TO SAY. You know your wingbacks and your fullbacks have to get the ball TO YOU first….” He laughed again. It’s true. Forwards are akin to sopranos, trumpet players, and Terrell Owens.

I got to blush for a second in 18-year-old love, because my first girlfriend was goalkeeper and she taught me how to flip everyone on the team shit. It has paid off handsomely, I want you to know. It felt great to laugh, because before I decided to venture out, I hadn’t left the house in two days. Too consumed with learning everything I can about Linux and Lollybroch, in that order.

Remember when I said it was violent and rape-y? Well, one of the male characters was just raped and it was even harder for me than the women, because male on male rape is generally about humiliating your enemy, especially in that time and place. You don’t just hurt them. You destroy them from the inside out.

Unfortunately for me, it reminded me of all the times Argo and I went at each other’s throats, and how many times we emotionally destroyed each other from the inside out. My mind went to the terrible things I said…. and not so much the ones she did, because it hurt so much more to know that I hurt her than it did to know she hurt me just as much. I’m supposed to be the one filled with the light of Christ, and I emotionally bombed her into next week. It doesn’t matter that it felt justified at the time. In no universe do I ever want to lose my temper like that again.

Way to use that light, Leslie. We’re all so proud.

Why did those feelings come up for me right then? Because the character talked about how there’s a still small space that you only show to people you love, and that place was destroyed in him. DAMNIT if that wasn’t a mirror image of some of the things we’ve said to each other. I crumpled, sick to my stomach and wishing for peace. It won’t come easily, because I of ALL people know how much words can hurt.

For me, being the forward who gets the ball in the net is learning to control my tongue even as my temper flares. Because that’s a damn goal.

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