This is your final eviction notice. When you decided to move into my house nearly 11 years ago, the first thing you did was destroy my favorite comfy couch, spilling Pepsi and smearing Cheetos powder all over the well-warn and intricate flower patterned seat. You said it was because it was simply “too ugly and tacky to be around”. You gave all my furniture and knick-knacks away while I was at work, replacing them with your own. There was nothing left that belonged to me, nothing that I could call my own. Pieces of you were scattered all over the house, from one room to the other – nothing resembled the way it did before. This was just the first of many changes you made to the house we shared. I have found that sharing accommodations can create quite an odd dynamic, and when you replaced my things with yours, it was made distinctly clear who dictated this dynamic, and it certainly wasn’t me. Every day, I would put the key in the door to my own house, and feel like I was breaking in to a stranger’s home.
When I first entered my house and found all my belongings missing, I was utterly shocked and a bit taken a back. I walked towards the living room and discovered that where my funky old and worn couch used to be, there was now a sleek, perfectly white leather sofa; it honestly looked like something directly from the set of Sex and the City, all demure and perfectly perfect. What had happened to my beloved comfy couch? The one I sat countless hours in, reading and playing games, snuggling up to my dog in and watching endless episodes of Seinfeld? The one I had known for all of my life? The one that was unique and funny and so loved? How does a person sit on this pearly white seat without looking as though they are trying to balance a book on their head? What sort of person actually feels comfortable curling up on this sterile slab? And it wasn’t just my living room that you had changed. Oh no, everything felt cold, devoid of personality and warmth. It was empty.
I sat down, very carefully on your white sofa, all the while being mindful not to put my somewhat dirty and sticky hands on the leather. I sat there for a long time convincing myself that your things were better than mine. Everything had that new car smell – that feeling of being brand spanking new and totally modern. Somehow, you sneakily came to have everything in our house, my house. I didn’t even have a say in which brand of toilet paper we stocked. I reasoned that a person needed their own things to feel comfortable and since these were your things, I should try to love them. I hated your silly white sofa.
In the beginning, I let you move all of your stupid things in. I convinced myself that you needed your own things, everyone does. Plus, if I let you have the upper hand in our our house was run, my house, I could count on you to always be there, as much as I wanted you to leave. This was the first of the many justifications I made for your awful behavior in the long time we lived together.
On the day I placed the ad on Craig’s List for a roommate, I was indeed a tad lonely and in somewhat in need of a friend. When you called, you sounded eager to see the room right away but made it clear that you were only available to meet me and see the room that very second. I was at work at the time and didn’t really have time to go all the way back home to meet you, but I was desperate for someone to move in as soon as possible. I lied to my boss about feeling unwell and left work. This was my first lesson in the art of deception, something you came to teach me very well over the years that we have known each other.
I met you outside of a Starbucks. I could tell by the way you spoke on the phone that you would be beautiful. The tone of your voice was self-assured, strong and had a no-holds bar attitude in it. As I walked towards our meeting place, I spotted you standing by the entrance of the shop, clutching a coffee cup, designer hand bag in the other, looking like the world was at your feet. You had an aura of confidence that only comes from the knowledge that you were the most beautiful woman on the street. I approached you, feeling insanely unattractive and embarrassed and introduced myself.
“You must be…?” Suddenly I realized that you didn’t mention your name when we spoke on the phone. I bowed my head, looking for a spot on the footpath to focus on. To not have asked for your name seemed very silly and I cursed myself for being so stupid. “Wendi.” You replied and extended your hand towards me. My immediate thought was that you had picked up on my embarrassment for not knowing your name and by saying your name was the same as mine was your idea of a cruel joke. “Really?” was the only response I could fathom. “Yes, isn’t that hilarious?” You chimed. You were so full of life when we first met. Your enthusiasm was relentless. “Oh, I thought you must be kidding. Of course, you know that my name is Wendi too!” You smiled and fixed your eyes on mine. “It must be fate.” You said. “Fate” – of course, that was why you moved in with me, to seal my fate.
After we decided that sharing a name was fate, I went home, slumped into my beloved sofa and began to fantasize about all the things we would do together once you moved in. We would become the best of friends over endless glasses of wine and slices of pizza, talking about boys and having endless discussions on who was the better team, the Cubs or the Brewers (she of course was a die-hard Cubs fan, having grown up in Chicago and me, well, I was anything but. This would be the only thing we would ever really disagree on. Or so I thought). I soon realized that fantasies rarely cross over into reality.
After physically morphing my once comfy and cozy house into a set for a glossy, lifestyle magazine, you began to dictate what could and could not take place on set.
When we had been living together and sitting on your perfect furniture for a month, I noticed that you had been reading my planner. I came home late on a Tuesday night, to find the contents of my handbag strewn across the glass dining table that you never sat at. “What happened?” I said. I could feel the tension in the room. Had my phone rung? Was it my Mom? Was she ok? I couldn’t justify you rummaging through my hand bag for any other reason. I stepped towards the living room, where I found you, sitting up very straight on the edge of the seat. You didn’t look at me; your head was facing the television even though the only thing that was on was a black screen.
Without warning, your head spun towards me so violently it looked like she was trying out for the sequel to the Exorcist. “Where have you been?” The words came out of your mouth so fast that I couldn’t understand what you had said. “I told you that I had met a friend for dinner after work.” I said, while trying to understand where this conversation was headed. “You should have said something, I had dinner ready.” You replied. I looked over to the kitchen where I saw two plates of broccoli staring towards me. “Oh. I’ve already had dinner.” I said. “I can see that.” You emphasized “that”, sat up, strutted towards me and pinched my hip. “I can see “that”, right there.” I pushed you away and tears welled behind my eyes. “You shouldn’t go out for dinner when you have hips like that. Tomorrow, I will show you how to steam vegetables and we can eat together. What do you think?” Your reaction to my not being home on time scared me – I didn’t want to make you angry. You might move out and leave me on my own again. “Sure. Let’s do that.” I said. “Excellent” she said.
Your words spun through my head a thousand times over in the following days until they morphed into a simple, three letter word – “fat”. That word was the only one that occupied my brain from then on and those three letters dominated my thoughts for the next 11 years.
Now a year is a long time for any two people to share the same house, let alone 11. After a while things, became strained. You became increasingly angry with me over my lack of motivation and doubted if I had the strength of character to keep striving for perfection. The truth is, by the second year, all I wanted to do was take to your gleaming furniture a bottle of royally red grape juice and hope that it left a stain.
Our relationship was so in sync that one couldn’t do anything without the other finding out about it. Eventually, we turned on one another and began to verbally tear each other to shreds, day in day out. You would stand in the kitchen, hissing through clenched teeth that I would never be worthy enough. The argument was always the same; we would play ping pong with each other’s words over the kitchen table, aggressively hitting a tiny white ball back and forth until someone missed. You always won.
Despite you constantly humiliating me, you would lure me back in with a simple sentence; ““In **** weeks time, if you follow me, you’ll be perfect – exactly who you want to be.” You knew that the idea of being who I wanted to be was too difficult to resist. I’d follow you down the darkest of alleys, losing anything and everything in the process…but one day – I looked back. Today is that day.
Without you whispering in my ear, I came to realize that instead of obsessing over living my life in a certain way, pressuring myself to conform to an idea that I never believed in, my life is complete without you. It will be complete in every way – I will have my friends back, my family back, and my piece of mind. I will have my confidence back, my fun-lovingness and humor and out-goingness back. I will have my health and my strength back. I will have my voice back. My voice,not yours. I am discovering that once you leave, letting go of an obsession for the unobtainable is the only way I will ever come to fully appreciate life without any hidden agendas.
Sometimes, when I’m lying on my comfy sofa, the ground moves in the wrong direction and I get thrown to one side and it’s in these moments that I realize that I had every I had ever wanted without you.
Posts tagged ‘Strength’
On a more serious note today, I would like to acknowledge the many, many people who have been affected in some way by the terrible storms that have hit parts of the US over the past few days.
Mother Nature can be quite mysterious and unpredictable sometimes. She has the power to bring great joy and happiness–a pleasantly cool autumn night, a light breeze on a hot summer day, a fresh white snowfall on the eve of Christmas. She also from time to time can throw a curve ball at us, one that is not so nice, that tests our strength and perseverance. Over the past week, thousands upon thousands of lives have been dramatically impacted by the severe weather that has plagued parts of the United States, including the Midwest and South, as well as other areas. As many of you all know, I have a very intense fear of tornadoes. I have been extremely lucky not to have been in any (although on several occasions, I have come very close). It amazes me how much power a twister has, how it can spring up out of nowhere, move and tear through a town and within a matter of mere minutes, destroy everything in its path.
This is a picture taken Wednesday after a massive tornado made its way through Birmingham, AL. The tornado was one of many spawned by a vast, violent storm system that has so far killed as many as 231 people in six U.S. states as of today. At least 131 people have died in Alabama alone, where several strong tornadoes tore through cities. One weather man was quoted as saying, “This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation’s history by the time it’s over.” I can’t imagine the feeling of coming out of a storm to this scene, to have lost everything you own, to not be able to recognize the town or city you once were so familiar with.
A silent monster, although to be quite honest, these monsters can be anything but silent. Witnesses say that this tornado (which was just over a mile wide) that barreled through Tuscaloosa late Wednesday night sounded like a steady moving freight train, demolishing everything in its path. In all of the times that I have come close to tornadoes such as these (but not nearly to the extent to which these were), there was always an eerie stillness and quite that both proceeded and followed the storm. Nothing is as scary as that stillness, that muted silence that fills the air.
The devastation that these terrible storms brought was simply unparalleled. Cities’ infrastructures have been absolutely decimated leaving many homeless and without a great deal of hope. According to Red Cross officials who were present, the number of ambulances on the street in Birmingham was just like taxicabs in New York; there was a constant flow of people being ushered to the hospital, loved ones trying to find each other, injured victims being catered to…it was the definition of chaos. These are scenes that I can only begin to imagine in my nightmares. The good thing about nightmares is that you eventually wake up from them. The victims of these violent storms don’t have that option–they are left to deal with the aftermath, to pick up the pieces and to move forward.
I want to let everyone who might have been affected by these storms know that each and every one of them are in my thoughts and prayers. I know that hope may feel slim right now, that there is a deep sense of sadness and heartache and loss. I can’t even begin to imagine the strength that these people must have to be able to go through something as tragic as this, rebuild not only homes and their town but their lives, and be better people because of it. Mother Nature may work in mysterious ways, but God takes the cake on that notion. I don’t know the reason behind why or how these storms took place, nor do I pretend to understand why it will probably happen again in the future. All I do know is that the big guy upstairs does not give us anything we can’t handle. He does things to test our strength and faith and hope in him, in ourselves, and in others. There could never be a rainbow without a little rain. The sun will shine again and that is one thing that everyone can hold on to.
“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~George Iles