Growing Out of Judgmental

Funny how at the beginning of a new year, our minds seem to always float back to the previous year, recapping all that you’ve gone through.

As I was getting ready for work this morning I began to reminisce about my time last year in Fort Lauderdale, specifically the last 8 months that I was there. The apartment where I was living and its neighborhood, the neighbor’s I had, the job I worked. Being as though your job is pretty much your second home, where you spend most of your time if not all of it, my thoughts swam here for a bit. I began to remember those I worked with and worked for, and I just couldn’t help but laugh. It was mainly made up of overly wealthy investors that had never worked a day in the restaurant industry, and young 20 year olds with barely any employment history. I pictured my manager friend, Dolly, who would have a mini melt-down when her managing status wasn’t being fully recognized or even slightly respected. I thought about the girls I got along with but truly only due to default. They were basically the “mean girls” of the establishment. Young fashionistas, that had no problem shunning others , never allowing for new people to really enter into their clique. Why they accepted me into their circle? I have no idea. Could have been the age difference? Could have been the tattoos or the way I carried myself? Maybe it was due to the fact that I could care less about whether or not I’d be accepted. Regardless, whether we shot the shit at work or not, I still wasn’t immune from their gossip. The grapevine didn’t take long to reach me, and like water off a duck’s back, I always kept it moving.

Those few months were spent with people close to 10 years younger than me in age and although I wasn’t ecstatic about it (I always assumed that by the age of 30 I would have been long out of the server life), it was fun for me to observe. Now, I know I’m going to sound like some middle-aged know it all, but I do remember back when I was their age, early 20’s, and thinking I had life by the balls. I thought of myself as a mature young lady, wise for her years, a hard worker who knew how to deal with life. Though, some of that may be true, most of it was way off key. I didn’t know diddly squat about life. I had no idea that although you could take steps towards always doing the “right thing”, that life could still come around and knock you on your ass. Back then it was almost a feeling of entitlement, a feeling that you could judge others for their “stupid” mistakes, even sometimes feel like you had the right to look down on them because of those mistakes. This is all before learning how most of the time you’re basing what is “right” and “acceptable” by standards placed on us by society, aka: other human beings. As I lived my life, I was humbled by the experiences I had gone through, and quickly outgrew my judgmental phase.

Not taking life too seriously was something that took me a while to learn but once I did, it was like I released my self from self imposed chains. You start to realize all the stress and anxiety you placed upon yourself by caring too much about the things you cannot change, and caring too little about the things that truly matter. I would watch and listen to my young co-workers and internally wonder when this realization would flick them on their forehead, a necessary wake up call.

I have since then moved and have fallen out of contact with many of these people, but still, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve humbled up some and have grown out of being judgmental of others. I can only hope that they’re currently on that journey, and that someday they look back to their early years and have that moment of realization. I hope that when entering their 30’s they do so with humble new hearts.

Metal Monster

Powerful and black, strong and sleek, roaring in intimidation while holding memories so decadently sweet. With its back cab open, I easily peer into, and that’s when I see, a smitten young couple, wrapped up in each other, like twisted bedsheets. She lays her head on top of his shoulder, her body is snuggled up close. As the sun sets, the song “Cruisin'” blaring from the speakers, they bask in the love they chose.

In that old El Camino, with its rattles and its shakes, my memories of happiness and my memories of pain are the thoughts that the metal monster contains. My thoughts of you, our love, and those amazing Cali days while living in a Cali daze, only float back once in a blue, and yet once in a while, a metal monster will conjure things up when it roars on through. I refuse to suppress so instead I feel, and as the seconds tic on by, I begin to realize that it could possibly be that that life wasn’t meant to be more than a throw back story.

 

4am Train Love

Nothing normal ever happens during 4 am train rides, especially when you’re pissed drunk.

I had been visiting old friends of mine in Jersey and during this visit we decided to head to Philly for a night of fun. We didn’t wait to get to the city to start the festivities. No. We pre-gamed  at the house, then of course we took some adult beverages hidden within water bottles with us for the train ride.

The night was going to a wild one. There were about 8 of us all together and just by the train ride to the city alone I knew there was to be debauchery in abundance.

We got to Las Vegas Lounge, a dingy, dark and smelly hole in the wall (just my kind of place) and immediately assigned ourselves roles for the night. A few of us crowded the jukebox. They were to be the Djs for the night, there was no way anybody but us were going to be regulating the music for the night. The guys went over and quickly put tables and chairs together, making sure we had plenty of room for all of us to hang together. My home girl and I went straight to the bar. It was time to open a proper tab, Irish car bombs for everyone!

The rest of the night was a hectic haze of bad singing, inappropriate dancing and socially inappropriate jokes. We were raunchy and wild and as we closed the bar down that night we made memories that by the morning we’d forget. We tumbled out of that bar drunkenly disoriented, not caring that most of the world around us had been asleep now for hours. We made our way back to the train station. We may have even gotten a little lost at one point, I don’t know.

There weren’t many of us that were waiting for the train that night. Not including our group there were maybe another 10-15 people? Most looked drunk, the rest had seemed to be either getting out of or going into work. I’m not sure how long we had waited but it hadn’t seemed long.

The train soon arrived and while we all tripped over one another to pile in I caught sight of a cutie already sitting… all.. by.. himself. Well HELLO there!! I thought to myself.  I pushed my way through my friends and made my way to where he was sitting. Once I got close I slowed down as to not give away my hurry.

“Hey, anyone sitting here?” I grin. It may have been a creepy drunk grin. That’s what it felt like so I was surprised when he said, “No, it’s all yours.” BINGO! That’s RIGHT! It is. I sat down next to him and immediately it began,

“OOOOOOOoooooOOOOO Nati…. MeeeeeOOOWWW!” My pals all chimed in in uproar.

“Don’t listen to them. They’re drunk.” I slurred and then smiled.

“…and you’re not?” He asked, jokingly.

“I was. But now I see things crystal clear.” I hiccuped, “We were meant to meet tonight. The universe brought us here on this train to meet..” What the eff was I saying? I was laughing. I was drunk and this was stupid drunk talk. He knew it too because he was laughing. Was it with me or at me? I didn’t know.

We eventually got to our stop, which also so happened to be his. He walked with us until we got to the car where I then scribbled down my number without him even having to ask. “I normally don’t do this but here!! Call me!!” and I folded up the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. We gave each other a hug, an “it was nice meeting you” kiss on the cheek, and off we were.

038-2 Photo Credit: Angie M, Muse: Natal Galvan, Ry Bread, Santi C.

He messaged me that very night asking if we got home OK. From that point on we kept the conversation going until one of us passed out and then restarted it the very next day. It went like this for months. We spoke on the phone almost every night and spent the entire day texting each other. At the time that we met, I was living here in FL and had only been visiting. Still that didn’t deter us from building a good friendship. Then one day he calls me and says how he would love to take a vacation down to where I was for just a couple days. I loved the idea. I never had friends come and visit me really so I was all for it. Plus, I had found him super cute from what I could remember and decipher from the picture texts he sent me here and there. Who knows what this could lead to right?A romance story out of a movie! I was so excited. That was until, he called me to tell me he had booked his trip…and it was for five days.

Was I freaking out? Of course I was! Like seriously? FIVE DAYS? What were we supposed to do for five days? The trip was to be taken in 2 months so I had 60 days to mentally prepare. When the time came, it was only then that I realized, 60 days had still not been enough.

He arrived on Monday and left Friday. These were the longest five days of my life, and most likely of his as well. Monday hadn’t been too bad. The excitement of seeing one another for the second time since we met was still there. He arrived late in the day so after our initial greet at the airport we headed to a bar to have some food and drinks. The plan was to head to Orlando the next day and have a day of fun at the amusement parks. So we spent some time at the bar and once we saw it was getting late we headed back to my place to rest up for the following day.

I’d like to give a shout out to my amazing sister. For if she hadn’t accepted the invitation to be the third wheel on our trip to Orlando (actually through out the entire 5 days), this day of fun at the amusement park would have been instead the most awkward day at the park. She helped fill in moments of awkward silence. She made me laugh when all I wanted to do was rip my eyeballs out and stuff them down my own throat for allowing this to happen.

He was not only not much of a talker, but also didn’t have much opinion on, well, ANYTHING. He was plainer than vanilla ice cream for even vanilla ice cream had it’s own bit of flare. I would say he was like a piece of grilled chicken with absolutely no seasoning on it, as if just boiled in water. Every answer to any of my questions was either “I don’t know” or “up to you.” Whether it was “what ride do you feel like riding next?” or “what do you want to eat?” or….. fucking ANYTHING, those were his only two answers. It was only day two and I was ready to shoot myself. When would he be leaving on Friday? Early?? Please lord, I hope it’s early…. This was my inner dialogue the entire day at the park.

Wednesday we got up and headed to the grocery store. I planned a beach day but after much debate on whether or not he wanted to deal with the sand or not, we decided to make it a pool day instead. We were going to need food and cocktails (for me mainly cocktails). After what seemed like forever at the store (it takes longer to make grocery store decisions alone for three people than it is for one), we arrived back home with sandwiches, chips and other snacks, and of course beer. It only took about two hours and half a case of beer for things to slowly lighten up a bit. But even then it was like pulling teeth to get this guy to loosen up and have a good time. He spent the majority of his time complaining about life even though he was in FL and supposedly on vacation. He was tired. He hated the sun. He couldn’t get good signal so that he could listen to his sports podcast. So I did what I do best and that is that I just kept drinking. Fuck it right?

I keep drinking, I begin to tune out his presence. It’s not like he was saying much so it wasn’t his conversation I was tuning out, it was him in general. I fell asleep for a bit and when I came to, my gaze had fallen onto his foot. There on his big toe he had a band aid wrapped around the nail. “What happened to your toe?” I had assumed that maybe it had happened while I was asleep. I hadn’t noticed it before.

“Nothing. I stubbed my toe a few months ago and I’m still suffering from it. That’s why I have been so iffy about getting in the water.” It made sense. We had been there for hours and he hadn’t taken a dip yet. His normal pale Irish skin was blotchy and red. He was sweating like a whore in church.

He eventually did get in the water. I did a cannon ball on him. We wrestled for a second. That was the extent of the excitement for that day. I don’t know if it was the beer that got him feeling ballsy but he ended up kissing me right before we got out the water. It was like I expected. Bland. Yes, he had taken the step to kiss me but that was all he did. Have you ever tried to kiss a person who doesn’t know how to kiss back?? It’s awkward. You feel like saying,”Don’t just sit there. Do something.” I pull away and he goes, “I’ve been waiting for that.” with a smile. I don’t know why but that turned me off more than the kiss.

We got back to the house and to be honest the rest of the evening is a little foggy. I know we ended up going to bed, together. As in, in my bed we both slept in. I remember him trying to make out with me, but uh uh. I was not having it. I had had enough bad kissing for the day, so I stayed as far left on my bed as I possibly could until the sun came up, alleviating me from this awkward situation.

Thursday. One more day. It was my mantra for the day. Could he tell how I felt? If he did, he hadn’t let on. Anything that I had to do on this day I tried to do as slow as possible in order for it to take up as much time as possible. I wanted tomorrow to get here and quick. I made us some breakfast. I did laundry. I cleaned my apartment that looked like a tornado had just hit. All the while this guy just sat on my couch just watching t.v not once even asking to see if he could help with anything. Not that I would have let him, but still the gesture would have been nice. I mean most of the mess around my apartment was mess HE made, but whatever. I spent the day running between my sisters room and down to the living room, her room being like a “time-out” from his nothingness. “I just don’t know what to do. This is terribly awkward. I just hate this. I can’t wait for him to leave..” I would tell her.

The three of us headed out to dinner that night. He had spent the last four days hating any of the food we had cooked or ordered. He was a super picky eater. He hated veggies and fruits. He couldn’t handle any sort of seasoning (go figure) because either he didn’t like the taste or it upset his stomach. I of course hadn’t known any of this and therefore had spent the entire week making bad choices due to this lack of knowledge. It hadn’t been until the night before when he was drunk by the pool that he let me in on his eating habits. I found his lack of communication extremely frustrating but had agreed that the next night we would go somewhere to eat more his style. We all decided on going to a little Irish bar not far from my house.

We had quite a bit to drink before ordering our food. The time between ordering and waiting for the food to arrive, my sister and I spent goofing around. He would laugh but not really participate much in the conversation. Our food came and we dined.

As we paid the bill he began to speak of how much fun he had while visiting. He described how awesome it was to have met me that night on the train and that he could really see this working out. That’s when things got a bit more awkward. It was obvious that I didn’t feel the same and once he realized the feeling wasn’t mutual he shut down completely. He barely spoke two words to me for the rest of the night (which I was already used to) and as soon as we arrived back to the apartment he began packing up his things and set up for his getting ready in the morning. There was a slight inner relief I felt once I saw him packing up his things. It was almost a reminder that this “situation” wasn’t permanent.

He slept on the couch that night and the next day we both were up early both ready for this to be over. To be honest, I don’t know what time his flight was that day. I hadn’t really asked. All I know is that once we were both ready, I drove him to the airport. I didn’t do my usual “parking in the garage and walking the person to security” deal that I normally do when people visit. I just drove up the curb and dropped him off with a hug good-bye and a “I’ll text ya later.”

The most horrible part of his entire stay at my place didn’t even happen while he was visiting. Or shall I be clear and say that it did happen while he visited but I was unaware of it until days after his departure.

I had smelled a funny odor coming from my bed sheets and although I had just washed them right before my guest’s arrival,  I decided to wash them again. When I pulled off the sheets to my bed the smell was horrid. Had something died in there? I began peeling apart all the sheets and blankets, the smell becoming more and more pungent.  That’s when I saw it. The band aid.

I swear I almost threw up. He had lost his dirty band aid in my sheets, leaving his exposed big toe out and obviously marinated my bed sheets with the funk. With my sister as my witness, I had to wash the bedding twice and even then the smell still lingered, leaving me with no other option than to toss them.

He and I never spoke again. I did try to reach out once. Honestly, I had just wanted him to return a few books I let him borrow. It was no surprise though when he didn’t respond. Sometimes, when something or someone triggers me to think of this memory, I laugh. I’m not sorry that it happened. I do wonder what he’s up to and if life is going good for him. I mean I don’t hate the guy one bit. I would have liked to have been friends but life doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes you just meet people for a small period of time. As if they’re tiny extras in your book of life but that hold enough punch to actually teach you something. This situation was a good lesson to be learned. Actually, I learned quite a few. Like, you don’t need five days to figure out whether or not two people click. I say three is good. The one, though, that I preach the most?  Nothing good ever happens after 4 am.

002-2  Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Muse: Rich. R

An Unlocked Memory

I was watching the Skeleton Key alone in my room the other day.The memory that flooded back went a little something like this:

………The fuzzy, anorexic looking, eight-legged critter stood out against the rusty blue metallic mailbox. It seems as though it had been awaiting my arrival. Almost as if it knew that I would be dilly-dallying down that dirt road at that exact moment on that mid-morning day in July. The way I felt that very second, and as soon as the thought of a spider waiting “for my arrival” crept into my mind, I should have taken those as clear warning signs that the day wasn’t going to be an average one.

Standing off to the side of the random driveway, I stared at the spider, hoping to be making it uneasy with my gaze, when a tall woman with silky black skin walked out onto the porch. She planted herself firmly right above the first step, with both arms crossed across her chest.

“What chu’ want girl?” She yelled across the yard in a deep southern accent. I took notice in her colorful hair wrap, which matched her dress down to the very pattern stitched throughout the entire garment. “Just like a tribal woman,” I remember thinking to myself. To me, this woman had seemed very out of place. Being only 10 at the time, I had never seen a woman who looked like this. This was Jersey and I only saw ladies like her on the T.V so can you blame me when the only word that stumbled out of my mouth was “spider”? In the haze of my confusion, all I did was point to the spider while I slowly analyzed the situation. I mean was there a situation? Obviously not satisfied with my explanation on what I was doing on her property, she swiftly descended, the stairs crackling under her weight.

Taking off and leaving nothing more than a sandstorm behind me was what I wanted to do. My body, on the other hand, decided to stay put as if mesmerized with the movement of her dress flowing around her, making every step seem magical. It was as if she were merely hovering above the ground, floating towards me. As she quickly ate up the distance between us, my heartbeat picked up a little more speed and my finger tips frantically fiddled with the hem of my shorts, giving away at my uneasiness. She halted as she reached her mailbox. Her gaze was so fierce it sent a taste of bile into my mouth. Fearing that if I didn’t do or say any thing she might gobble me up with her piercing black eyes, I quickly pointed to the bait that had held me there and got me into this hairy situation. To  my amazement, the little bastard was trying to crawl away, as if saying “My job here is done.” Out of frustration I just wanted to launch it across the yard and almost as if reading my mind, the woman flicked it, sending the the little bug flying into oblivion.  Shock was clearly expressed on my face because although I wanted to flick that little shit myself, I wouldn’t have done it. She did. That kinda scared me.

“Where do ya live girl?” Her voice was gentle, almost as if she were purposely trying to sound that way. The look in her eyes was stone solid. Again left with nothing else, I pointed toward my apartment building. Suddenly I realized how far away from home, from safety, I was. Panic spread through my veins sending a shutter throughout my bloodstream, waves rocking me in what seemed like every direction. “I made homemade peach cobbla’ Would you like to try some?” She asked unexpectedly. The smell of homemade cobbler made its way to my nose as if on cue. Lucky for me I didn’t like peach cobbler, or peach anything for that matter. Finding the voice of reason and as well as my own, I blurted out, “No thank you. I don’t take things from people I don’t know.” Feeling victorious because I had done the right thing, I suddenly stood just a little taller, my chest out, and chin up. Then she said, “Well don’t cha know ya ain’t spose to talk to strangers either girl?”

With that, my white Nikes hit the dirty, pothole-infested road with such speed and agility not even a cheetah could have caught me. There was no way I was going to get caught up in the web of that woman. What if she knew voodoo?? What if that spider hadn’t been just a regular spider. What if it was a kid, just like me, that she tricked into having cobbler and then BAM!!! What if he had been trying to warn me? No wonder she flicked away!!

Reaching my destination before you could even blink twice, I ran up the steps, and into my home. I quickly kicked off my play clothes and hopped in the shower, letting the hot water wash away any traces of spell that could have been placed on me.

Weeks later, way after I put this whole traumatizing situation behind me, my mom and I were at our local grocery store. As we bypass the paper goods section and waltz into the cereal aisle, a familiar black shadow was standing at the far end right in front of the Cookie Crisp, my favorite cereal.

“Hello Sonia!!” My mother yells out in her accented English. “Come! Meet my daughter!” My mom rushes us over, pushing hard against my resistance. “This is my daughter! Nati, I work with her at Resorts!” I simply stood there shocked. Not only did I not care to even grab my favorite breakfast cereal anymore and so by default my mom would get Raisin Bran, but now I also had this scary lady’s eyes laughing at me, while her face stood still like as if this were the first time meeting me.

“Ma, I’ll be in the car.” And with that I turned and left feeling defeated, wishing to never see that woman again………

 

I never did see the “scary” lady again. Just yesterday I had asked my mother about her and she said I was crazy and hadn’t a clue of what I was talking about. The memory of this experience had been locked away until, ironically watching this movie. Funny the things our brain stores away and it only makes me wonder, what else have I up in this attic full of memories? What triggers will later expose other stories waiting to be relived? 

dscf0584-2  Photo Credit: Natal Galvan, Location: Yoga Fest California