Sunday

Sunday I’m in Yonkers with my friend Janet waiting for a bus to Janet’s parents apartment. Janet’s black hair, pale skin, dark set eyes and petite. A ballerina. 

Janet and I go to her house and drop off our stuff.  We head to wave hill, a park and botanical garden nearby and take pictures of the flowers.  It’s hot and humid and we sit in the sun and then the shade. 

“We could go to this sushi place in my neighborhood for dinner?”  She says and picks at a mole on her arm. 

“Sure that sounds good,” my body is hot and sweaty in all the places you’re not supposed to talk about in public. 

At the sushi restaurant we both order seaweed salad with mango. Something you can’t get in Portland.  The waiters hovered around us watching a baseball game on a big screen tv behind my head. There’s no sound.  We shove the seaweed salad in our craws.

“So are there any other prospects?” Janet asked. 

“Nada. The well has run dry,” I said. 

“Anything on j-swipe for you?”

“No. Dean was it.”  Dean the douche.  “After he asked me if I could twerk that was it,” she shoved the last bit of seaweed in her mouth.

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Puddles 

Saturday morning I wake up and everything is tired and blurry. I haven’t been sleeping that well and my headaches have returned. I didn’t refill two supplements before my trip. I wish I had. On the other hand I didn’t want to lug giant bottles of supplements across the us and to the United Kingdom where I’ll be next week. After figuring out what shoes, clothes and bags to take I head to my favorite coffee shop in queens with my friend Tanya. It’s a 20 minute walk and her daughter Christina has to stop frequently to jump in puddles. It’s fine but my head is losing steam. I needed coffee two hours ago. 

And food. 

We make it to the coffee shop and I drink a double americano and six more announces of regular coffee. I’m still not awake.  I order an egg and cheese sandwich with avocado next door at the cheese shop. Christina, Tanya and I sit outside and it’s crowded and Christina wants to play with the flowers in a giant planter. Tanya tells her if she picks the flowers they won’t turn into faeries. It makes me laugh and I wake up a little. We walk home slowly and Christina wants to watch Labyrinth.  I’m still sleepy even after all the coffee and can’t figure out what to with my day. Theres a museum in Brooklyn heights I should go to and an art gallery opening at 5 in manhattan but all I want to do is sit on the couch. 

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Missoula

Wednesday night i crawl into bed at 10 pm at Tanya’s house. Her neighbors through the courtyard let their kids stay up until midnight yelled and screaming. I stay up until one am the next morning reading jon krakauers new book missoula. I’m tired but still jet lagged. The book is sad but makes me cry because the researcher, David Lisak is well known among the sexual assault and rape community. In the fall of 2013 I sat in a room at southern Oregon university and heard him give a talk to a room full of social workers and police officers.  The cops socialized and acted like cops do with their shiny guns and attitude.  I hoped they would absorb something. For my sake.  For eight year old Kelly’s sake. 

Lisaks talk is mirrored almost word for word in Missoula.  A book about the Missoula police departments decisions not to charge rapists on the university of Montana football team And male students with rape. 

An epidemic so bad the department of justice had to launch it’s own investigation because the college and city refused to do anything. He cites statistics about how 90% of rapes go unreported because of the treatment by police and the criminal justice system. 

I am an anomaly. 

I reported my sexual abuse by my grandfather at 7.  The detective assigned to my case interviewed me with special care. I don’t remember what he looks like or even the interviews really. The thing I remember is the feeling of not wanting to talk about my abuse.  

I was fucking sick of it. 

The gut feeling of having to tell the story to another stranger is what lingers. 

The trauma and after affects linger in the present. 

Sometimes sex with my ex was one of the affects. Sex with the boyfriend/non-boyfriend was like this: him on top fucking me.  Everything would be fine and then my leg would freeze and push him back for two seconds. He wouldn’t notice.  No one would notice except me. Me there but floating above. Watching. 

“Disassociated” my therapist called it. 

I would stare at an object on the ceiling that wasn’t there. An invisible dot that was there but wasn’t there.

My angel watching overhead. If you believe in that sort of stuff. 

The freeze would go away and my leg would relax.

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Direct 

Men on the east coast are more direct. 

“Woo girl,” a man outside the Fulton st subway stop says. He keeps staring sideways as he walks away. At me. Back at me as I stand with my giant blue suitcase.  The freedom tower in the background. 

“You got the best legs!” Another man says the next day while I walk to the subway in Crown Heights.

There’s the guy who grabbed my leg at the pizza place in Amherst, Massachusetts when I visited my friend McKAy at Mt Holyoke when I was visiting her in 1996. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” I said loud. 

“Oh I’m sorry. I thought that was my leg,” he said back.

“No you didn’t.  Leave me alone,” I gave him my most dirtiest of stares. The Perkins (my moms side of the the family) eye. 

My mom would give me that stare when I would pick fights with my sister. 

Men on the west coast don’t talk like that. They’ll check you out and then put up a missed connection in the Portland Mercury alt newspaper to find a few days later. 

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Teen girl squad

Tuesday morning I wake up at 3 am after sleeping three and a half hours. My adrenaline is pumping. My flight is in three hours and I bolt up out of bed, turn the water on the stove and go into autopilot: finish packing, make coffee, and shower.  The cab arrives on time and I get to the airport in ten minutes.  Part of me wonders if I bought my house close to the airport on purpose?

I’m an hour and a half early and I’ve checked my bag. The airport’s not too busy and I get a vanilla latte at Starbucks. 

They forget the vanilla. 

I contemplate complaining but decide against it. The lines already long. The beloved Pdx carpet’s still around even though they talked about ripping it out months ago. Or maybe just starting the process. I wonder why it’s taking so long. The adrenalines wearing off and I wonder what state I’ll be in in NYC. Probably grouchy. 

That’s how it usually is. 

A teen girl squad goes by on the walking sidewalk.  They squeal and point at the doors. “Authorized personnel only!” One yells and then three more join in. It’s too early for screaming. 

The flights direct to New York. That’s how I roll. 

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The “L” word

I’m working on revisions of “The Book of the The Yellow Blanket” my manuscript that’s been in progress for about five years now.  I’m re-working a section about my old boyfriend and thought I would share a funny tidbit.

The day I told “B” I loved him we were at Laurelhurst Park near the big duck pond in the middle of the park. We were standing in the gravel near the edge. It was 80 degrees, mid June and night time. It had been really a really warm spring. “If it’s gonna be this warm I would have just stayed in Florida,” he would say quite a bit. It was his repetitive nature that drove me away from him. He talked about how he could quit smoking if he did XY and Z, the Catholic Church and Florida.

He left Florida six months before because he couldn’t take it.

The hot

The people

The flatness

He drove across country to Portland even though he had only been there once before. His constant complaining about Florida grated on me. 

At Laurelhurst duck pond “B”asked me a question but I couldn’t tell you what it was. My mind was a blur. I blurted out “Because I love you silly.” I think he told me he loved me back but honestly I don’t remember. I remember the hot and being at my apartment later on that night listening to new The Flaming Lips cd. He loved that band.

I loved him.

We went back to my apartment, he made us salads and we sat outside in the courtyard in the hot.   I did the dishes and that night we had hot sex.

He told me he loved me again.

 ***

That summer we went to shows at Berbati’s, the Crystal Ballroom and that place on 39th and Sandy that’s now a dinner theater place. “B” would have a few drinks and we would share cigarettes. We were the cool, good looking indie rock couple. He introduced me to bands I had never heard of: Les Savvy Fav, Galaxy 500 and made me mix cd’s. He bought a bike and encouraged me to do the same thing.

“No thanks,” I would say. “I prefer walking.”

“Biking is so much faster than walking.”

“I don’t care,” I liked walking. I don’t know why I had so much contempt for cyclists. I had barely ridden a bike in 15 years. It was probably the fact that he was a broken record about the whole bike thing.
            I hated being told what to do.

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Sun

It’s Thursday afternoon and I walk the shared bike and walking path near my house.  The lawn guy is at my house trimming trees and I stay away because the noise and chainsaws everywhere.  It’s days before I leave for new york for the fifth time in three years and my mind is full of busy streets, subway announcements, friends, book readings, to do lists, packing and running like a crazy person to get it all done.  205 roars next to the path and it’s this quiet buzz of the freeway that makes me appreciate my neighborhood. It’s working class, homeless people at the on-ramps nearby, gentrification starting and the real Portland. The Portland not shown on Portlandia. Carrie and Fred don’t know my neighbors. Or maybe they do and it’s their secret shame. 

Cyclists dressed to the hilt in Lycra and spandex bike by. One nearly hits me. A man in a baseball cap and no Lycra on an old bike asks me if I’m enjoying the sun. “Yep.”  I don’t give anything away. This guy or some version of him has passed by me a million times over my 20 years as adult. It’s my singleness. I like it that way. My writing is my boyfriend. It only hits on me occasionally. I don’t know what that means but I like it. 

It’s hot and the sun hits my skin but I don’t mind. It’s been cold the last few days and i need the warm.

I’m looking forward to May in New York: sunny and probably no rain. It’s hard to say that for Portland. 

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