Day 3: A Nemesis (or two)
I feel the brick wall behind me and the mist on my nose, my backpack a haphazard heap, doubling as an extra limb. As I attempt an elusive vibe, like I belong, I think of all in life that weighs me down. How, sometimes, even The Day says, “Nah. I’m good. You are going to have to work tirelessly in order to make it past noon.”
I walk into work and someone says something like, “At least the sun is shining.” And while I try to be all rainbows and unicorns, I smile through clenched teeth and chant: I don’t give a fuck, I can do all the things, I’ve got this…but sometimes it just isn’t, going, to happen. No, Brenda, the sun isn’t helping me at the moment, but thanks. It isn’t dissolving the pain in my chest or the annoyance that broods in my bones. This kind of day straight up says, “Nope.” This douche of a day is against you from the start, guns screaming all the expletives. It grabs your shoulders, looks you in the eye, and calmly whispers, No fucking way. No matter what you do, no matter how deep you pummel into the dirt, there is more.
Picture it yourself…
Sometimes it begins with spilling your coffee across your crotch in the car, and you are left burning with whatever the opposite of desire is. Traffic is most definitely involved, the douchey emails are pouring in, and someone stank up the bathroom five seconds before you went in to clean the coffee off your crotch. Maybe someone was rude for no reason or maybe someone you trusted destroyed you. Either way, you are left collared and begging, trying to make it without permanent embarrassment, a job search, or a complete meltdown.
And then you check your phone. Shit. It is only 8:02…in the morning. How?
The blaring honk of a taxi reminds me where I am, that I still can’t move forward with my life. I take a few reluctant steps toward the bar, then a few more, feigning confidence I wish I felt. There is a seat open on the patio with a decent view inside. This is the thing–beyond these awful days, among these days, we all have a nemesis (or two) that scurries along beside us. They come in many forms and are the things that challenge us. They transform and meticulously slither around, until they clasp to the places that hurt the most. I am unsure of how others deal with their nemeses. But I am certain that mine are complex, attractive, intelligent, and confusing. Mine make me question my sanity.
I glance inside at the bar–the two of them a nice cocktail of internal and external burdens, pawing at my weakness, reminding me of all I lost. How could they? How could they be here so casually? How could they do this to me? I obligingly order a drink and an afterthought of an appetizer I have no intention of eating.
I look again–Virginia and Rico Pepito. The image jolts me like a winter memory, conjures an even stranger longing for each of them. The way they sit in such proximity startles me, separate entities, yet quite the sinister team. Virginia, in her dramatic brimmed hat and crimson lipstick, holding an oversized wine glass, swooshing the red in a precise rhythm. Her statuesque look is piercing, captivating, calculated. Rico, ever so suave, eyes sparkling, ready for his next move. He wears a perpetual smirk that screams mystery and dominance. Rico always leaves things left unsaid–leaves me pathetically speculating. They are so close to me, so real. I remind myself that I chose this feeble attempt to get answers.
Virginia is all that haunts me deeply. She is the woman I strive to be, but who I also loathe. She is my parallel universe that lulls me into self-pity. She is all that I am and all that I am not. I compare myself to the idea of the perfect girl–the unawkward girl. I hold myself back. Virginia is my anxiety–she emcompasses it. Think of it this way: life is moving too fast and too slow…it is heavy glass, no air permitted, too small to exist, but too large for my body. Also? She is the concept of living, what it means to be a human. Who am I? How did I get like this? What is my life all about? Over and over. I wonder. Pontificate. Dwell with her.
And Rico. What to say about Rico? I look again at his scruffy, yet crisp demeanor and resist the urge to giggle girlishly. He is the epitome of my relationships, all that blinds and frustrates, the moments where I am unsure how to act. He constantly reminds me that I tried to understand and tried to be understood, and that it was playing catch in the dark. He makes me question all that I know about me, devoiding me of logic, reminding me that I have emotions. That I feel. That I failed.
What will I gain from lurking in the shadows, silently watching all that has destroyed me? I know this is silly, self-destructive even. But did you ever just NEED to know? I have been doing fairly well, considering, trying to work on me, but I need to observe and I need my questions answered. Maybe if I can just understand, I can survive.
I sip my drink. It is shrill on my lips. I peer inside. I know their unique movements, each idiosyncrasy. I know them all too well. I am fucked if I don’t do something to get past this, because it is all too confusing. They frustrate and terrify me. But they are always there.
No I don’t want to order anything else, thank you. Please move out of my view. There! They are exchanging some kind of banter again. Virginia laughs, her deep, sexy laugh–I could hear it through the window, and then she slides Rico a small, squarish note. Excellent. I’ll wait it out. I am going in. I summon the most flirtatious attitude I can muster. I need to find out as much as the bartender has overhead.
Then, I watch it happen: Virginia looks perturbed in direct response to something Rico just said. She furiously throws on her scarf, nods, and abruptly leaves. Rico, in all his glory, says a few pointed statements to the bartender, fixes his jacket just so, pushes the stool in, and strolls out after her. Ok, ok. Stay calm. Stay invisible. You are almost past the hardest part. Rico and Virginia walk into the night.
I put a twenty dollar bill on the table and focus on my goal–getting in and finding out…what, exactly, I don’t know, but there has to be something. I am up and just about in. And then I look behind me. Why do I look behind me? Did I not learn from any show or movie I have ever seen in existence? Rico saw me. I know he saw me. Is it possible he saw me?
No, no, no, no, no. No, I just can’t go in now. I can’t. I need to go home. Why am I the way I am?
I am going home. I tried. I really, truly tried and it just didn’t work out. I cannot be stuck in that bar with the chance of one or both of them cornering me in there, fully exposed. I am unable to face the two of them in the same room ever again. I put my head down, exit the patio, and briskly walk away.
Left, right, left, right…
Why do I give Rico this power? Virginia?
Right, left, right, left…as tears greedily stumble down my cheeks.
I need to figure out how to release these demons, balance them out in order to feel lighter. How can I overcome and how do I defeat them? But this is the thing…I realize that I still crave Rico’s essence, that I even NEED his attention and approval, no matter how twisted that may seem. I admit that…sometimes? Sometimes, I even find satisfaction in comparing myself to Virginia.
Stop it. Cut the shit. They are poisonous and destructive.
I am aware of the sweat on the back of my neck. The racing heart. The fast breathing. Every noise is Rico. Each fragment of light, Virginia taunting me. He is following me. I can feel him. She knows I am a coward.
Why do I succumb to this, like I rely on the pain as fuel? It is like a sickness I try to cure, and a yearning that I will never fill. Do I need Rico and Virgina to put life into perspective? Maybe experiencing the difficult helps me see myself as I really am. Or does that make me batshit? I do know I have grown to rely on them and despise them equally.
Breathe and walk. Walk and breathe. Walk faster. Don’t trip. Don’t fall. Breathe and walk. Footsteps. There are most definitely footsteps. Or am I just hoping there are? Breathe and walk. Walk and breathe.
I am useless when it comes to comfort levels. I am not at all comfortable with being uncomfortable. Rico wants to keep me dangling on a wall, a pretty display, trapped and manipulated, while Virginia passes witty remarks. I can’t give them permission to hold me back. I can’t hold myself back. Procrastinate for fear of failing. Participate in relationships that harm me more than help. Allow things I have no control over to burden me. It’s like I create sadness to serve them, like a cheap, all-you-can-eat buffet. Go ahead, devour me.
And as I approach my apartment, I face it: there may never be a way to erase all of these things. Rico and Virginia live on and they have made choices of their own. The question is, can I learn to control me and find peace in reality?
As I walk through the door, I am a paranoid mess. The only option is to sit on the kitchen floor and sob. What have I done? I had a chance to learn something, to remain calm and have courage. And now? I have given them more power. They are probably laughing about it over a cocktail, brushing off my pitiful attempt to…what? That I can’t let them go. Did Rico see me before? Was I just willing that he did?
At that thought, I rush to the windows, peering down at the street to try and make sense of the shapes and sounds in the dark. Could Rico be downstairs? Would he come after me? What was on that note? What do I do now?
I need to get it together. How can I truly be happy staying confined in all that weighs me down? How can I truly live without being comfortable in my own thoughts or have difficult conversations and face the villains in my life? There is no way that happiness equates to staying in a bed of comfort, coddled and cozy, wrapped in the monotonous bullshit and warm regret. And let me tell you…
It. Is. Scary.
I am constantly submerged in fear and confusion, Rico grabbing my ankles, ardent and mischievous. Virginia…well, she is just so fucking judgmental. I KNOW that my life will go nowhere I want, if I let them destroy me. If I don’t figure out how to balance their realm of power, become vulnerable, open, and ready for embarrassment, the truth, and even failure…well, I will never get what I want out of life.
I’ll disappoint myself.
So, Rico. Virgina. I see you. I see you clearly and plainly and it is my turn to stare you in the eyes. Right now? It is me, holding me back from myself. Me being nervous and worrying that everything I do is the wrong fucking thing. Me grabbing myself by the throat in a way that is not sexy, but claustrophobic. Me battling my own villainous influences, especially when it relates to how I am supposed move past the aftermath of them.
Do I let myself retreat into the crevices of my bed and practically offer Rico the chance to tuck me in for the weekend? Will I be ashamed of my awkward,or can I learn to let my quirks empower me? How do I avoid giving their thoughts and actions permission to destroy me? I am trying to learn how to bask in the uncomfortable, the pain, the fear, and say, Fuck you, Rico. Watch out, Virginia. I am here. I am going to be just fine no matter what you do.
It is me, throwing up two middle fingers to all of the things that hold me back. I am trying to find a way to survive it all and to rage against all that gets in my way. I’ll continue to remind myself: I am Awkward Girl and…
I. Am. Here.
And I will try. I will try the best I know how.
Concept + Artwork By: Erica Lescota – @phoenix_designs37
Concept Development + Text By: Lanaya Alexander – @writing.for.the.calm
Note: This is a work of fiction. Any references to real events, real people, or real places are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, events, and places are results of the artist and author’s imagination. Anything that resembles actual places, people, or events is entirely coincidental.
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