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Captive Audience

My best friend is grieving the loss of her significant other. And, I get it.

How do you go to the grocery store, and look at different items, and not think about another person? It doesn’t matter if it’s some kind of food or condiment you liked but they abhorred, or even if it was something they made for you and you both shared. I almost started crying, just looking at yogurt, thinking about how I didn’t eat greek yogurt regularly until he was in my life.

How do you go anywhere in the world, and not think of that person? I walked around the mall last weekend, past Jared’s Jewelry where he took a picture of me in front of the store when it was closed for the night and I glanced at what remained of the Melting Pot, where I took him for my birthday dinner but that location has since shut down. But that mall was always a favorite spot for me to spend my time and money, so I have every intention of reclaiming my memories of going solo.

How do you live in the same house, when they’re no longer there? I’m not a fan of cleaning my own room, but I just spent part of today cleaning his room and washing his clothes that were on the floor. I feel like someone is going to complain that it’s too soon, especially for the fact that I’m going to move myself into his room. I also feel like someone is going to think something ridiculous, basically undermining my honesty and trustworthiness, because I know how people can be. But the only thing I’ve gotten rid of was the stack of letters that I wrote to him, back when things were good between us. I can’t go back to how things were. Other than that, there are so many things in his room that bring back memories, even if it was just fast food I picked up on the way home. Regardless of what anyone else thinks or feels, I’m going to clean up his room, I’m going to box up his stuff, and it will be ready to go when his dad stops by.

Even though there are memories, I don’t feel like he’s here, or even that feeling that comes when you’re waiting for them to come home. It doesn’t feel lonely here at all. Maybe in a metaphysical sense, he really wasn’t here, even when he was physically present.

But no, Libra isn’t deceased, at least not yet. For the time being, he’s incarcerated while he awaits sentencing for a crime that a jury found him guilty of committing.

I find myself on the other side of the looking glass. I spend 40 hours a week at a job where a third of my calls are from inmates. Now I’m the one putting money on an account so he might call me, I have to try to visit him during certain hours, and I have to abide by strict guidelines when it comes to any of these procedures. I expected that I would have an account on JPay, but his correctional facility uses something similar instead.

I remember my Mom telling me about how she wanted to take my brother and I to visit my uncle when he was in prison, but my Dad told her not to take us, because we might end up glorifying prison life later on, or at least we’d be desensitized. But now here I am, making arrangements to communicate with an inmate.

I don’t think I’ve been desensitized to prison life, either, not from watching Orange Is The New Black, not from taking prison calls, and not from personally knowing someone who’s locked up. However, there are a few things I’ve witnessed from having to process calls from prisoners. I’ve seen people ignore phone calls, with the number of rings on redial being different from the last time the number was called, so you know they’re hanging up. I’ve had people ask how family members are doing, even going so far as to encourage a family member to do well in life. Inmates have families, they have spouses and children, and they want to make sure that things are going well even when they can’t be there to help take care of things. I’ve seen how helpful and generous Libra can be, so I know he’s not a bad person, whether or not he did a bad thing.

But that’s my next problem, is that whether or not he did it, people believe he did it. I live in the house of someone convicted of doing that bad thing. I’m friends with that person who did the bad thing. It really limits the things I might want to sell at a yard sale, if I have one here, or even if I should be festive and celebrate Halloween. I knew of the charges against him, and I still chose to move in, but it was an accusation then whereas now it’s a verdict.

Well, there’s only one direction to go from here, and that’s forward. Forward means new places, new people. Forward means that my memories are just that, and are not binding me to stay in one place. It doesn’t mean I can’t write to or talk to Libra, but since I’m not coming home to him anyway, it doesn’t mean I have to return here, or be here at all. I can be anywhere, I can live my life how I want, where I want. Not that anything really stopped me from leaving before, it’s just that now I feel like I have more of a reason to go.

Meanwhile, as I take the time to figure out my next direction, I will slowly take ownership of his room. If nothing else, it will be more presentable, if someone should happen to stop by to collect his things. And who knows, maybe my efforts will be appreciated.

Also, his room has a heater, my room does not. That’s reason enough to move in there. I’ll be damned if I’m going to freeze this winter.

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Mission: Adventure!

My time in this house with Libra is nearing its end.

I knew this was coming, before I agreed to moving in with him. However, I didn’t know when. He didn’t even know when, because there was no set date. As much as I don’t want to be vague, since it sounds like we’ve just reached a point where we can’t stand each other, I unfortunately have to be vague for the sake of privacy and personal information. Yeah, it sucks, but I don’t feel as if I’m at liberty to discuss such things.

Ah, but tragedy befalls other friends as well, as my best friend suffered a tragic loss. There’s a lot going on with that, so I should probably hold my figurative tongue. So much going on in life, not at liberty to discuss any of it.

Well, one of these two situations provided me an excellent opportunity!

I was asked if I would personally deliver some legal papers to an address in Buffalo. I agreed, solely because i had the time and I was helping out a friend in need. So preparations were made, Libra gave my car an oil change, I was given gas money by the friend I was helping, and I set off on my whirlwind adventure.

It’s been years since I’ve been to Buffalo. I’ve driven through the area more recently than I had last visited, as we (Mom and I, for example) would have to pass through the area on the way to visit my brother when he still lived in Pennsylvania. The last time I had visited was when I was spending time with my first ex, which was about ten years ago.

I didn’t want to just go, drop off the papers, and then turn back around.

Libra was going to go with me, but then he changed his mind for reasons I understood. Had he accompanied me, I might have tried looking for the two bars that my ex had visited, as I felt like Libra might have enjoyed the bar that had a devil theme to it. Then again, I felt like Libra might not have cared what we did, except to tell me that he didn’t want to be with me while I rekindled memories.

I ended up going alone, which is not a problematic situation for me. So I chose the music, brought some snacks, and headed out on my three-hour-long journey.

When I was almost to my destination, I sent a message to the friend I was helping. I was then informed that the recipient wouldn’t be home for about two more hours. Well, I did plan to occupy more of my time while I was out, did I not? So I pulled into a parking lot for some business that was closed, either for the day or forever, and I searched Google for something that would cater to my interests.

Asian markets.

In hindsight, I don’t know why I searched for Asian markets. It’s not as if I couldn’t make a day trip to Syracuse for Asian food, or just popped in to Wegmans after work for their limited selection of goods. Furthermore, it’s not as if I actually needed anything, as I still had two bottles of Calpico in the fridge, I had ramen, panko bread crumbs, okonomiyaki flour,… I did not need anything more. Why I didn’t search for something entertaining, like a science museum or an arcade, is beyond me.

Lucky Dragon was closed for the day, which was only a disappointment in that I couldn’t say I visited a store with Dragon in the name. My first stop was then Hana Mart, a shop with about a third of the floor space of Han’s. I’m not kidding, the floor space was about the size of someone’s living room. It was tiny! But what the store lacked in floor space, it made up for in selection, as I found a few things I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. The girl behind the register was so nice and friendly, and we talked about how baked goods always taste better while they’re warm, after she passed along the suggestion that the brownie-cookies I bought would taste better after being in the microwave for a moment.

I consulted my phone again, this time finding another store that was occupying a repurposed Walmart. The store is called Asia Food Mart, and the entrance is flanked by a pair of lion statues, just like the other Asian market that I know of in Syracuse. Like that Syracuse store, there is more of an emphasis on Chinese food and culture, although other Southeast Asian countries are represented as well. But unlike that store in Syracuse, this one had a nook with furniture in it, and one corner of the store displayed porcelain dishes with small spotlights focused on the items, and glass display cases arranged in a rectangle with jewelry pieces and jade knick-knacks on display for purchase. There was also more Indian food and seasoning as well. I bought a lot of drinks, from canned coffee to juice with bits of coconut in it. I also bought some jelly snacks, which are closer in consistency to gelatin than to something you might spread on toast. I told myself I was going to avoid anything that needed refrigeration, which probably saved me some money though I might have missed out on having ice cream mochi as a treat in the car. At least I know the other Asian store in the Syracuse area has ice cream mochi, so I’m not at a loss. But what I didn’t know, or at least what I didn’t realize at the time, was that the Asia Food Mart in Buffalo is a sister store to the Asia Food Mart in Syracuse, the place I keep using for comparisons. No wonder they have so much in common!

Half way through the Asia Food Mart, and when my phone wanted to deliver a message, I got a message from my friend saying that my recipient had arrived at home. My friend was anxious for me, and everyone was fearing that the scene would be more eventful than it was. I didn’t mind taking my time to finish up in the store, as it allowed my recipient to get comfortable for a bit, though I’m aware that it only drew things out for my friend. But I navigated back to the given address, confirmed I had the correct recipient, then dropped off the papers and fled the scene. There was no confrontation, probably because my recipient was blindsided and confused. Hey, I’m just the delivery girl, I did what I was asked to do.

I parked in another parking lot, then made the necessary phone calls to say it was done and how little I had to deal with. Then I recalled seeing a listing for a ramen restaurant, which I searched for as it was nearing dinnertime and I was not going to do drive-thru if I could help it. The first five listings, when searching for ramen near me, were all for Sato Ramen, located near the University of Buffalo campus. My first thought was that this is obviously “the” place to go for ramen, so I went there. The food was amazing, of course! I’m pretty sure the portion of ramen I had was an American-sized portion, and with my okonomiyaki fries on the side, it was too much for me to eat in one sitting. I’ve heard in Japan, you can’t just get your leftovers to go, but since we’re in America (and again, that was a generous portion, I’m not even kidding), the restaurant had to-go containers. With my leftovers packed up, I returned to the car.

At this point, it’s after 6 pm on a Sunday night. The mall was closed, in fact a few things would’ve been closing up for the night if they weren’t already.  I already told myself I wasn’t going to cross into Canada, which is why I left my birth certificate at home (birth certificates along with photo ID can apparently be used in lieu of passports or the enhanced drivers license to cross the border into Canada). That didn’t mean I couldn’t go to Niagara Falls, it just meant I couldn’t go to the Canadian side of the Falls. So, I plotted a course for the Hard Rock Cafe, Niagara Falls USA.

That was the second time I had been to the Hard Rock Cafe on the American side of the Falls, the first time being when I took another friend of mine to the area to pick up her daughter. That was before I met my first ex. I bought a t-shirt and a necklace at that time, along with the Shakira pin which is one of my favorite pins yet – it’s a pink winged guitar! This time, I bought two shirts, a necklace, and three different pins. I couldn’t resist the one shirt, as it had a guitar with wings on it, and it wasn’t until I was wearing it at work the next day that it reminded me of Kyosuke Himuro and some of his merchandise. I wanted to get dessert, but I had already transferred money out of my savings account to pay for shirts I didn’t need after buying Asian groceries I didn’t need.

After I left the Hard Rock Cafe, I walked around a building that housed an international food court and a gift shop. I walked in because the Chinese eatery advertised bubble tea, but then I didn’t buy anything, not even the bubble tea. When I was looking through the gift shop, I thought about different people and what I might buy for them. Libra might’ve received a pocket knife with his name on it, and I might’ve purchased a shot glass for one of the guys at work who’s a close friend. The only thing stopping me was knowing how much I had already spent on the trip, though I also considered the gift-giving gesture would be appreciated but the gift would be unwanted.

I was quickly running out of daylight, so I decided not to stay at the Falls for too much longer. Besides, the Falls are spectacular at night… from the Canadian side, not the American side. Since I had to work the next day, and I needed to get home without passing out and crashing the car, I figured it was best if I ended my adventure, at least for this time around.

I hated having to leave for home. Home, of course, being the place where I rest my head at night. I could’ve rested my head in a hotel room, but I wouldn’t have been ready for work, and I can’t just do my job remotely. So that got me thinking, I should get a remote job, I should just go to different places, especially places I’ve never been before.

So that is my plan, at least the most generalized version of it. I will get a remote job, I’ll quit being a relay operator, and I’m going to see more of the United States. Because if I leave for Japan, there are things I’ll have never seen in my own country and might never see, and I’ll have to fly over all of it anyway. So then I thought about taking a train across the country, to at least see the landscapes, then hop a flight to Japan from the west coast. Finally I thought about just taking a road trip across the country, instead of taking a train, before I conceded that Japan isn’t in my budget yet. So how will I afford this excursion? I’ll stay in one place for a few weeks, then go somewhere else.

For now, though, I will prepare, because this is going to be a long journey, and I don’t quite feel prepared for it yet. But when I am ready and I head out, I hope it’s going to be worthwhile!

Follow The Love

In Japan, you can find a variety of cafes which cater to your every whim, from fandom-based cafes with themes like Sailor Moon and My Little Pony, to animal cafes where you can dine with owls and rabbits, and even cuddle cafes where you can curl up next to a cute girl for an hour and just talk and relax.

Perhaps a trip to Japan is exactly what I need.

Today was probably the first day in a few days that I’ve felt like my cheerful self again, and I have no one to thank for it but myself and my own biology.

I can’t seem to properly convey my biological stresses, to begin with. It’s possible that I have a condition that throws my hormones out of whack, so when it’s almost that time when the hormone levels change, I have a change in needs as well. My craving for cuddles, my need to be kissed, knowing I’m going to be denied these things if I ask, it all made me feel so lonely and sad, which was probably also the hormones talking.

Then Libra and I were talking, and it got up to the topic of how I wanted to be cuddled. His reply was to say, “because you want a boyfriend, and I can’t be that for you.” We dropped the conversation, which was just as well since it was going nowhere, but I couldn’t figure out why it bothered me so much.

Today at work, I had more than enough time to dwell on my thoughts.

I took out a pad of paper and wrote down, “guys who would cuddle me,” then thought realistically about it and added, “if I lived with them and schedules allowed.” J was on that list, as we often sat side-by-side on his bed and watched an episode of a show we were working on, then I’d go down the hallway to my room. Then I wrote down Pete, because even though I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve platonically shared a bed, the fact remains that he is a bit affectionate.

Next I wrote down, “guys who would kiss me.” And again, J and Pete. I’m just talking about a peck on the lips or the cheek, a loving kiss that’s not lewd. I know J would ask for a kiss before I departed from visiting him, and I know Pete would kiss me again if I give him the chance.

“Guys who have said ‘I Love You’ in the past few days.” Pete said this to me, after a brief vent from me. I felt kinda bad that I vented to him in the early hours of his birthday, but I ignored his replies so I could focus on sleep, then replied with an “I love you too” sometime after waking. I have friends who aren’t that close to me, but who will still say “I love you” to their friends, and I’m not uncomfortable with it because you should feel that strongly about the people you surround yourself with. You should love your friends, you should make sure they’re alive and are trying to stay alive, you should care enough to pick them up when they’re down, you should keep them from harming themselves or others. If you don’t love your friends, are they just… there?

“Guys I would date or who would date me.” Well, that’s the fun part. J has already stated that he’s not interested in dating me, though he had considered it at one time. Pete would date me, I could be his primary this time around, since last time I was secondary when he had a fiancée (it was complicated, but it was polyamorous). I have nothing against Pete, I just can’t see myself dating him. After some time away from him, spent with my ex fiancé, Pete became one of my best friends because we stopped trying to make a complicated situation work, and friendship and understanding came naturally after that.

When I put it in writing, I realized something. I was bothered by Libra’s unwillingness to give me affection, not because I was still hoping that Libra would be in a relationship with me, but because I have guy friends who are affectionate towards me and one of us isn’t looking to date the other.

I was so bored at work, my mind had all of these ridiculous slippery slope arguments. If we hang out, I might think it’s a date, because I’m looking for a boyfriend. If we get dinner, we should get separate checks, that way I don’t get the wrong idea and think he’s trying to be my boyfriend by paying for my food. I should just buy food for myself at the grocery store, anyway, otherwise it might look like I’m a live-in girlfriend and not just his housemate and friend. I couldn’t help but giggle to myself, because that’s how the whole situation sounded to me.

I missed being woken up to him laying beside me at my back. I missed cuddling in general. And if I imagine anyone curled up next to me, the feeling of comfort is still the same. But in my saddest moments recently, I wasn’t looking to put a title on a relationship. I was looking for platonic physical acts to release some feel-good chemicals into my system.

For tomorrow, I decided to take myself to the duck pond. I asked Libra, who protested because geese are apparently vicious, so I canceled the plan for us to go on Sunday. I mean, it also seemed like going out on a date, which is forbidden! So I’ll spare him from listening to me talk about how Mom would sometimes bring us to the duck pond, and how one time we drove in and then turned around and left because some people were using it for a “date spot” (I didn’t see what happened, but I’m thinking it was more scandalous than just kissing). Libra had asked me to think of something else as well that would be worth his while, so I suggested going to the mall. I didn’t tell him I was going to take him to the go-kart track in the mall, but that sounds like a date, the fact that I wanted to race him in go-karts. Suddenly, hanging out with J at an archery range sounds more enjoyable, because at least we have an understanding that it’s not a date at this point.

A phrase echoed in my mind while I was still at work, and I considered doodling it on paper. Either, “follow the love,” or “go where there’s love,” or something along those lines. It doesn’t have to be romantic love, just the caring and affection. Go where you won’t feel lost or lonely. Speak to those who you know will listen. Everyone has some kind of issue going on in their life; if someone helps you get through your problem, try to return the favor.

But overall, follow the love.

Map out the love.

Be a beacon so others can find love.

And as always, love yourself before others. Know your needs and wants, and always remember that you deserve to be happy.

Things I Hold Onto

After a little over three months of knowing him, Libra and I have reached a point where we care about each other, but it won’t go beyond that.

For the past week, I’ve been dealing with figuring out what I want out of this now. He wanted physical space, I gave him that plus emotional distance. I have shut off the part of my heart that felt like we could have been something special, that everything I was willing to give could and would be reciprocated.

I wish Mom was still around. All I have is a mess of boxes to show of the life I had with her, which Libra and I made a special trip to New Jersey just to get all of those boxes. Now they’re consuming the entrance to the house, this wall of boxes that keeps me from my TV and therefore my ability to play video games and just forget about life for a while.

The boxes have been an issue between Libra and I, though I’m not completely against the idea of parting with many of the things I possess. The problem is the difficulty in actually parting with things.

There’s porcelain dinnerware that I could use for special occasions… except I’d be nervous about breaking a piece or scratching it somehow. So I should sell it off and not worry about it… but I worry that I’ll accept less than what the set is worth, and the buyer will resell it and make a profit.

There are items I insisted on keeping because they were aesthetically pleasing to me… some of which I know that Mom and Grandma would have reminded me of who owned that item and how long it had been in our family. I don’t remember any of those stories. I also don’t know if I’ll ever use or need some of the things I kept.

There are collectible toys, and t-shirts, and things that I bought as retail therapy while I lived in New Jersey, because I had the money and I had no one telling me I shouldn’t have these things. And as I go through the boxes, little by little, I’m happier when I uncover something I packed from my childhood home instead of things I packed from New Jersey.

Overall, it’s emotionally overwhelming, realizing that I will have to permanently part with more than just what I’ve decided to part with, that there are some things I will never have again because… because… I can’t come up with a good enough reason. I could buy certain things again, I could get married and have a porcelain dinner set on my registry that I might enjoy more, if I even think I would use it. I could buy more Funko Pop figures, I could buy more t-shirts, I could fill my closet and my walls with things that… look good.

Well, there are some things that cannot be replaced. I found a notebook that my Mom had used to copy her diary into. I took a break from working the boxes, and spent the next hour or two reading every line. The diary mentioned my father in a few places, but most of it seemed to be about this guy named Joe. Mom was clearly in love with Joe. My Dad, however, had been an on-again, off-again guy that she dated, who seemed to be a bit more possessive and into my Mom when he started to come back into her life, though she was still more interested in Joe. And while everyone else seemed to give her cards and such for one birthday, my Dad gave her a bouquet of sweetheart roses, when he wasn’t even her main squeeze at the time.

I kept looking at the reusable shopping bag that I put Mom’s jewelry box into, and I didn’t want to deal with it until today. Most of the jewelry is costume jewelry, nothing I really want but I found a few pieces I might keep. There was also a photo of Mom with another guy, and I had an issue pulling it out of the section it had been set into because the photo was laminated. Once I lifted it free with the use of a brooch, I turned over the photo. Mom often wrote who was in the photo on the back side, usually writing the date as well. On the back was written Joe’s name along with my Mom’s name.

I can’t question why she still had a photo of an ex, as I still have physical photos of my exes. It made me wonder, however, how much time was spent wondering if she had made the right choice to marry my Dad, or if maybe things would have been better with Joe, because I don’t know how things ended between my Mom and Joe at all.

It’s strange, and yet oddly comforting. I feel like my Mom’s love life is reflected in mine right now. Libra is my Joe, the guy who seemed amazing just to talk about him, but he’s not the guy I’m going to end up with.

If there was one hard-to-swallow pill from a year ago, it would be that I should just live my life and deal with the here and now. Living in the here and now got me to living with J, which broke my heart because I hoped there was something there. Living in the here and now brought me here to live with Libra, which broke my heart because I wanted more than he wanted to give me. But living with Libra is forcing me to deal with things I didn’t want to deal with, which I seem to need to do. And if I can sell my things and make enough money, I can go where I still feel I’m meant to be.

I’m going to meet my Japanese friend.

Okay, I’m going to Japan. Meeting my Japanese friend would be a bonus, and yes I hope it happens, and that this is the fairy tale part of my tale. He’s been in my life since about a week or so after things ended with the ex fiancé, and he dealt with me going insane while I was sleeping on my friend’s couch. He introduced me to Japanese entertainment that hadn’t been presented to me before, such as Downtown and Kyosuke Himuro, and to this day I listen to Himuro like it’s melodic comfort food because it’s a part of me now.

He spoke to me through songs, he wanted me taking care of myself when I was at my worst, he stayed in the background while I lived with other guys. I had to do what was best for me, and I feel like I hurt him in the process. But what have I been doing the whole time? I’ve been shopping at Asian supermarkets, buying books to understand how Japanese people think and how they handle romantic relationships, and I’ve basically been low-key preparing myself for a life with him. After all of that, I don’t want to go to Japan solely to meet my Japanese friend, I want to go because I want to go. If I don’t get the guy, maybe I’ll get someone else, or maybe I’ll just live and do what makes me happy.

Whatever happens, I now have a diary of my own, where I talk about the guys who had my heart and what became of them.

Doing it Casual

I was lacing up my boots this morning, the green and black Renaissance faire boots I’ve been wearing in my daily life more so than when I first bought them. I was also sassing Libra at the time, playfully causing trouble.

He grabbed an empty beer can from the end table near the couch, and since I turned my head, he backed off but had a mischievous grin nonetheless. I turned back around, but turned again in time to see him throw the can in my direction. It didn’t hurt, but I felt a few droplets of moisture on my arm and shirt, and could faintly smell the remains of the brewed concoction.

I was mildly annoyed, as I had only been wearing that shirt for an hour, if that. I removed the shirt and tossed it into the hamper, disappointed that I had to change out of my Super Smash Bros shirt for the day. I grabbed my KISS Creatures Of The Night shirt and put that on, but not before Libra walked by me to pick up the can that he tossed at me.

He commented about the perfume I was wearing, which was a change from the mixed bottle of body spray I had been using, and he did say that it was better.

“Yeah,” I said. “Eau de Yuengling.”

He laughed, and it was as if I was a stand-up commedian who just reached the punchline. I tried to hold it back, but I was laughing just as much as he was, though I wanted to play the angered girl a little while longer.

I can do casual. I wear t-shirts and jeans to work every day, by choice since I can wear almost anything.

But to be honest, I want to dress up more often.

Like, I want to wear my dresses. I don’t particularly want to wear them to work, though.

I want to go on dates. I want a reason to get dressed up. But Libra and I are doing the casual thing, and then we’ve taken a step back from that.

And I hate it.

But it’s all I can ask for from him, he is only interested in casual stuff at the moment.

What else is out there for me?

I’ve been talking to my Japanese friend a bit more. He was wondering about how things have been, especially since hearing that I was moving yet again. He’s in awe at my ability to recall things he’s mentioned in conversation, but for me it’s just how my mind works at times.

To be fair, though, I’m not the best at recalling every detail, and I swear I learned a coworker’s name just today. He’s starting to do like another coworker did before I got his phone number, so I’m guessing that I’ll soon get this newer person’s number as well, in time. In the right light, it seems like he’s trying to get to know me and learn what I’m into, but it could just be to make conversation.

I feel like giving up on Libra at times, though, as if I’d be saving time and just getting out before I’m blindsided again by a break-up. I feel like I could remain loyal to him, do my best to be the me that makes him happy, and he would still put me second on some list.

No, I don’t want that.

I deserve to be the girl that a guy wants to come home to, in the sense that I deserve a guy who appreciates me.

I already appreciate having Libra in my life, even if I don’t always show it. I whine and complain, but who else has cared about my less-than-stellar motivation at times, or my poor dietary choices?

Who has actually asked me to live with them because they wanted me there and knew they were doing me a favor, instead of taking me in because I was desperate for a roof over my head? Who has been willing to help me move my stuff, not just to store it but to physically carry it and even transport it all?

The only things that my Japanese friend and my coworker have going for them are the fun I could have in their presence, and possibly any lust that’s there.

Libra is worth keeping around, at least to me.

Three transport trips down. I always considered myself to be an assistant on these trips, helping when I can. He thought they were fun, and they are to me because I get to see places in the state I’ve never seen before or in a while.

But I want to get dolled up for someone, I want to wear a dress and nice shoes, I want to wear dangly earrings that sparkle behind the strands of hair that I might have styled somehow. I want to pick out a bottle of nail polish that I haven’t worn in a while, then not paint my nails because other things were a priority in getting ready.

I don’t want to do casual.

I want to do unforgettable.

I want to do amazing.

I want to do that feeling when letting go doesn’t just hurt, it feels like a part of you has gone as well. Just the same, I want to be the one who fills that void in another, so when they look back at what they had, they wish that person was even remotely like me.

I want to make it so a person can’t look at the moon without thinking of me and wondering how I’m doing.

I want something where a person is trying their damnedest to make me dress up, as if the extra effort on my part is their reward, though I’ll certainly appreciate the effort they put in as well.

I want someone to go all-in, no regrets.

I don’t want to do casual, because it’s not a matter of if I have feelings. I will have feelings. I’m confident enough in myself that I’m aware of that, and I’m willing to face the heartache. If I’m into a person, I’m willing to risk the time I’m spending with them instead of finding someone else.

I want to be bitter later.

I want to complain about all the things they couldn’t do.

I want to go to the store and buy all the things they wouldn’t allow in the house.

I want to live, to feel, to laugh, to cry.

I’m not a casual person. I just dress casually.

But my heart, I take seriously.

Unsettling Dust

He asked if I wanted coffee, and I told him no, intending to make myself a mug of hot chocolate that morning. He asked if I wanted breakfast, and I said no, envisioning the bowl of cereal I would have to start my day. He didn’t listen, or so he said, when be brought me a mug of coffee and served me a plate of ham and potatoes.

May was an eventful month, and as such it was hectic and stressful, but maybe that’s putting it lightly.

For the first week, I was challenged to have all my stuff packed and ready to move out by that Saturday. While it was mostly packed, Libra had issues with his truck and we postponed the moving day a week. To make things easier, I brought down a few things in the car, and also picked up some groceries.

I managed to get sick by that weekend as well, as the weather had gotten warner and my room was stifling, so I put the fan in the window and slept with inadequate blankets. I spent the rest of the month clearing out my respiratory system, only feeling better after I stopped taking my expectorant/cough suppressant pill.

While my immune system was fighting the good fight, Libra managed to fix up the truck and I went with him to help on a transporter gig he picked up. I enjoyed the thought of going, as I’m always up for a road trip and to see things I don’t normally get to see. The trip as a whole was a decent way to see if we could put up with each other for a long period of time, and for the most part we did. The excursion took longer than anticipated, so I had no sleep to help me get over my cold, and I also had to go to work within an hour of when we returned.

A few days later, it was my car being transported, on Libra’s trailer, to Libra’s house, as full of my stuff as we could possibly fill it. That turned into filling the entryway of Libra’s house once we arrived here, I haven’t done the greatest job of clearing out the entryway and moving things either upstairs or to wherever would be appropriate.

For one thing, I’m not a fan of the upstairs. Eating, sleeping, and everything in between is done on the main floor, so it feels like extra effort to go all the way upstairs for other clothes I have, for example. I wouldn’t mind setting up my video games in the room upstairs that has a reclining sofa, but I don’t want to come all the way back downstairs to sleep if I’ve pulled an all-nighter on a  game. Second, I haven’t exactly felt comfortable going upstairs. Lately I’ve pushed through that feeling, a feeling I can’t really explain, but I pushed through that feeling because I was… I don’t know, anxious? Stressed? I needed to get away, not so much because I needed space but because I felt like I needed to give Libra some space.

Even though my things have been assigned that room to reside within, it doesn’t feel like it’s my room. Only after I changed out the wall hangings did J’s spare bedroom even start to feel like I might live there, but it still felt like I was just consuming space.

So with that thought in mind, I asked myself what I would need to do to feel like I permanently resided in this house, or at least to feel like that room is absolutely mine. I bought a can of paint, in a shade of purple that was bold and vibrant. I don’t quite know what I’m going to do with it yet, but I do have a few ideas. I don’t know if the purple will cover all of the blue, or if I’ll want it to once I figure out what to do. Does that even matter? Maybe I’ll change it every so often, maybe I’ll put some wooden lattice on the ceiling and hang silk wisteria or white Christmas lights from it. Maybe I’ll finally have my Ikea disco lamp on the ceiling, in place of the ceiling lamp that’s in place. I have plenty of time to decide, I think.

I’ve been trying to change my work schedule to ten-hour days, but there was a mishap when I first submitted the paperwork as it seems to have been misplaced. It wouldn’t be so bad, except for the nights I get out at 10, get home at 11, and have to wake up around 6:30 the next morning to be at work by 9. My new schedule starts next week, and by asking to start no sooner than 10 am, I have a fairly consistent schedule. It might help alleviate some of my stress in the morning, and the extra day off will be good for getting things done around here… maybe.

With so much changing, and so many maladies, it’s no wonder that things became a powder keg within the last week.

I had noticed a change in Libra. He wasn’t kissing me as much. If he had a rough time with someone else, he wouldn’t discuss it with me like he once did. I was feeling insecure about it, but maybe it would pass, or so I figured. When I let it out, it didn’t come out that I had noticed things had changed, but that I felt like I was less than: less than important, less than special. I don’t quite remember how I worded it. It was labeled as me being insecure, and i was told I need to tell him when I’m feeling certain things like this instead of bottling it up. Just when I was regaining confidence in myself and the courage to keep going, Libra said I was coming on too strong, and that we should take a step back. A step back from what? We’re not really dating, we’re not “Facebook official,” we really just live together. But he realized that he was withdrawing from me, and that cut into me because I thought maybe I was overthinking for no reason. No, I had a reason, I knew something was wrong, and I knew that somehow I was the issue.

That night, I went to bed wanting to fight, to work to get back to how things were before, to how they felt, but it was like I was facing a brick wall. I woke up the next morning, conceding that I had lost, and defeatedly asking for a bed to be put in to my room upstairs. That was the morning he made me coffee and breakfast, despite my objections. We talked a bit more, and while it seemed we had settled this, it’s still inside me.

This.

The poison. Or the cut and the scar.

The thought that I was too much, I was coming on too strongly.

The thought that I’m less important, that I can’t be a sounding board for his issues.

It’s the insecurity, and I swear I never felt this insecure before. I used to do nice things just because I wanted to do nice things, to help people out when need be. I had my selfish moments, when I thought of myself and what I wanted. I do nice things for Libra, and he’s not used to people buying things for him, or what have you, but I can’t stop because he’s actually good to me and I don’t want to take advantage of that. And when I want to be selfish, when I want to ask him for things I’d like or need, I can’t get it out of my mind that I should do something for him, or that I need to make sure he’s enjoying himself. One thing I wanted to find was someone who is willing to do things I want to do, even if their happiness comes from mine, but I’m a wreck now where I actually want them to have a good time.

Libra is good to me. He’s good for me. Yes, I want to keep him in my life, and yes I wish we were something romantic, something that could escalate and become more serious. He doesn’t want that right now, and if he did it wouldn’t be with me. But I know what he’s going through, I know why it can’t be.

Maybe this is just another thing I’ve needed along the way. I suppose, then, that living with J was closure I didn’t need. To think, I used to have a backbone, I stood up for myself to him. But this time, I could have lost my living arrangements that came when I needed them most, and that’s what I feared. Maybe what I need is for people to stop having power over me somehow. I don’t yet feel like Libra has that power over me, though. Maybe that’s why I cry, because I can be vulnerable around him, or I can assert myself. Just the same, I’m scared that my vulnerability will bother him, or that I’ll be assertive at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons.

That was May. This is June.

I’m waiting for the dust to settle, when apparently I need to catch life off guard.

If I say I’m going to fight for what I want, I can’t be so willing to retreat to my corner of the house.

And I live here too, so if I want things on the main floor, I should be allowed. Wait, I am allowed certain things, within reason.

I need to start saying it’s my house, too. I have to stop thinking that, when I ask for his opinion, it’s because it’s his space and instead I should think of it as making sure we want the same things or agree on something.

And I should stop thinking that there’s an expiration date on this. The cynic in me is waiting for the eighth or ninth month to come around, as if to say that’s when I’ll be moving out again, as it’s become the norm for me since leaving New Jersey. I don’t want to make that a self-fulfilling prophecy, as anyone would be bothered by the little things after living with someone that long, but I might think that means it’s my time to leave.

So I’ll paint the room. I’ll put clothes in closets, knick-knacks on shelves, and stuffed animals… somewhere, I haven’t decided yet. I’ll cook in his pots and pans and eat out of my dishes. I’ll sleep on his bed with my sheets and blanket. The dust may not settle, but I will, this will be my home. I will heal my wounds and find my inner strength, and I want to leave here in better condition than when I moved in.

And since relationships and addresses don’t seem to last, I might as well just try to have some fun with this one.

Someplace In Between

My bedroom here at J’s place is a mess, it’s a disaster that has resulted from moments of varying levels of apathy.

I’ve lived in J’s house for about eight months now. In that time, I feel like I managed to settle in a little bit, I moved some of my condiments and ingredients into the pantry instead of just keeping them separate, I put books on the shelf next to my computer. And yet, there were some things I never really unpacked, nor did I need them, such as my bag that was filled with baking supplies such as extracts and food coloring.

Technically, I had still been living out of a suitcase until about 3 weeks ago, when I stopped using the suitcase to hold the stacks of t-shirts I was wearing and just set them on top of the bin of more clothing where the suitcase had been sitting.

My room is a bit tidier now. I took some of the books off the shelves and put them in a reusable shopping bag. I put my dresses and some other clothes that I wouldn’t immediately need into the suitcase I had emptied out. The pantry downstairs is devoid of anything I brought into the house.

I don’t feel like I ever really settled in here. I had places to put things, and I could use my own things if I wanted. I had a bed, and a room, and it didn’t matter what I did in my room or with my bed because I was the only one sleeping in this room. But it was still J’a place, and I didn’t dare put any holes in the wall without his permission, so I never put up the closet rod so I could hang my shirts. But J was never my partner, and was never going to be. I occupied a space in his house, in his life, and possibly in his heart as well, and while some of that might still continue on, I won’t still be here to grow and become something more in his life, because that was never to be.

A few of the things I’ve packed so far have been left at Libra’s place. He had asked me to move in with him about three days after we met, citing that it’s lonely in the house by himself, which made me a bit cautious. I spoke with my best friend, our mutual friend, and she doesn’t have anything bad to say about him. So about a week ago, I took a few things with me and left them at his place, though a small part of me felt like I was invading his space. This weekend, I took a few more things with me, though it was mostly food from the pantry.

Libra’s house is a mess. There are boxes scattered here and there that are halfway packed, or halfway unpacked. Beer bottles and cans sit on an otherwise unused dining room table, not to mention there’s cans on the countertops, cans underneath the counter on the floor, cans on the floor just underneath the couch. The cupboards and drawers are scarcely filled with food and utensils and what not. The center island is a drop zone, upon which sits a mostly empty box with a few utensils and some silverware in it, a half empty box of soda, a few decorative bits that are covered by empty plastic bags and other bags that have unknown contents.

It would be wrong of me to say that Libra’s house has reached that state due to apathy. When I first met him and came to his place, the trash bin had been tipped over, and he didn’t care at that time to clean up what had spilled. When I had returned about two weeks later, that was cleaned up. Apathy isn’t the cause for his mess, because I’ve rarely seen him throw in the towel and just give up. I see his place as the reflection of his life right now, and while I can’t go into detail, I will say he’s waiting for some resolution to a major event in his life, whether things will conclude and he can move on, or if things will change so drastically in his life that nothing he’s done to this point would matter. Moving in with him, I’m caught in the crosshairs of whatever will come his way, so I’ll have to be prepared with an exit strategy of my own. But I figure, if he was consumed by apathy while waiting for this to all blow over, I wouldn’t be in his life by now.

The past couple of times I’ve visited his place, I’ve managed to arrive before he got home from work, and to occupy my time while I waited, I’ve done the dishes. Libra does have a dishwasher, which is a relief because for the first time in about a year and a half, the dishwasher is named Whirlpool and not Marybeth. However, dishwashers being how they are, I find myself cleaning residue off more than a few pieces, and I’ll hand wash those things and put them away as if they came out of the dishwasher without a flaw.

The last time I visited, I wiped down the stovetop as we were cleaning up after making dinner. This weekend, I wiped down the stovetop and part of the counter, as well as cleaning debris out of two of the commonly used drawers next to the stove.

Saturday night, while he cooked fried chicken on the stove, I cleaned up the center island. The box of utensils was emptied, its contents going into the sink to be cleaned and the box itself going into the wood stove to never be seen again. The plastic bags were emptied and gathered, the contents going either in the garbage or elsewhere depending on what could be used or needed. When I was done, my bottles of liquor that I brought down a week before were sitting on top, able to be viewed at eye level. The decorative pieces were arranged in the center, and I believe I have some candles in storage that I can add to the arrangement to improve upon that. But the best part was that I managed to make it so the center island could be used again, it could be used for additional counter space.

I wouldn’t say I did much this weekend. Overall, I hardly cleaned anything. I wasn’t trying to exhaust myself with overhauling Libra’s place. But I did make things feel a little more comfortable and livable, if I say so myself. The cupboards have a little more food, the drawers have more utensils and ingredients for crafting tasty treats.

And I know that if it were me in his position, I’d feel a bit helpless and maybe ashamed that someone else was doing this cleaning for me. Then again, if I hadn’t done it myself, I couldn’t have emotionally brought myself to doing it anyway.

Libra’s house bears the weight of a family he supported, the ending of a decade-long chapter of his life that will leave him wounded for some time. It’s not my intention to take any of that away from him, because I’d rather have him deal with his emotions and work through it all. More than anything, I want for him to feel like he actually lives in his home. I want him to feel warm and welcomed, to feel he has a place to find comfort.

And I want that for him because I want that for myself. I’m tired of moving around, of packing and unpacking and packing everything up again. I want a person I can grow with, to share things with, and I want to feel like the space we occupy expresses both of our personalities and interests.

Unfortunately, I know that Fate doesn’t like me having or being a roommate for more than eight months, and with Libra’s life issues hanging over him, I have no choice but to accept that this might be yet another living situation that won’t last a year. Maybe it’s not really about me, maybe my path is to help Libra in some way, and my consolation is in knowing if what I wanted in a partner is really what I wanted.

I guess time will tell where things go with Libra. It may still be someplace in between the things in my past that I have to undo and let go of, and the place in life where I’m meant to belong and be mostly happy and satisfied. If I can bring some light to his life, at least my time won’t be wasted.