Tuesday, October 20, 2009

If I Died Today

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Because I'm a morbid person, I sometimes wonder what I'd be unhappy with if I were to die on any given day. What would I wish I had said to people? What would I wish people had said to me? Is there anything that would really, truly bother me that I hadn't said or done in my life?

A fresh round of these thoughts was brought on this morning when I woke up. I had a dream last night - it was completely strange and nonsensical, for the most part. In my dream, I was in a large hotel on a coast somewhere, and myself and three of my friends were being executed, by my immediate family no less. We were being beheaded out on the balcony. I was the last of the four to meet my death. As I was waiting for my turn to die, I was searching frantically for my cell phone. When I found it, I dialed the number of someone I care for very much. They answered, sounding as though I had woken them up. I apologized for waking them, and started to cry as I told them that I was never going to see them again, and desperately wanted them to know how much I loved them. That phone conversation was the one part of my dream that made sense, and I woke up promptly after it.

These thoughts have crossed my mind more and more often lately, especially as the prospect of travel is looming in my life. I'm the kind of paranoid person who thinks that it's my plane that will be the one to fall out of the sky. If I wind up going to London, I was thinking of writing a letter including all the things I would want people to know if I never got a chance to tell them. I don't have any huge number of secrets, those of you who have read my blog for a while, or who know me know that I'm a fairly open person. But there are some secrets I have kept, at least from the people they involve, for one reason or another, and some that I wouldn't want to take to the grave with me.

The thing that struck me about this was the fact that I'd rather leave a letter behind than simply say these things to people before I left. Why not simply tell these people what I'm thinking and feeling now so that I don't have to worry about what would happen if it was too late? Why not tell my father about the time I stole his car, or that as it turns out, I have been drinking before my 21st birthday, and I can hold my liquor better than he thinks? Why not tell my mom that I want nothing more than to be her when I grow up, minus the three kids? Why not tell all my friends what I really think of them, good or bad? Why not tell That Man that I am hopelessly in love with him, and love him more intensely than I've ever loved another person?

By the time I reached the last question, I had already realized the answer. I am afraid. I am afraid of the consequences of sharing these secrets. I want my mom to know how much I admire her, but I fear what she'd think of me if she knew that despite all the schooling she and my father have put me through, I think I'd be perfectly happy as a housewife. I want my father to be able to laugh at the fact that I stole his car, or tell me something that would help my occasionally improper use of alcohol, but I fear losing his trust. I want That Man to know that he is loved, deeply and completely, for everything that he is, but I fear him walking away if I were so blunt. I want my friends to know that I love them, or that I hate them, or that I can't stand their boyfriend, or that I think they're making a huge mistake, or that I think they're wasting their lives, or that I think they are impossibly talented, or that they're doing something they shouldn't, or not doing something they should, but I fear how they would react to hearing such things.

It's easiest to say these things when we have nothing to lose.

*Photos were screencapped from the trailer for the new Post Secret book, 
Post Secret: Confessions on Life, Death, and God by Frank Warren.

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If you died today, what would you wish you had said to other people? What would you wish other people had said to you? What would be the biggest regret you'd have over something you'd done? What about over something you hadn't done?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lead Me Not Into Temptation

12 hours.

That Man was back in town for 12 hours. In between business trips, he spent less than 12 hours in his apartment.

You would think, then, that there was no way that we could possibly get ourselves into any trouble. That's where you would be wrong.

I had come back to New Jersey last night before her got back because, well, he was only going to be here for 12 hours. I wasn't going to see him anyway, and I had laundry to do. So I was watching the end of the Jets game when he texted me telling me he had gotten home safely. A conversation that started innocently enough, but over the next hour or so, it escalated as it always does, with photos flying back and forth. Finally, he asked me to come and see him, not realizing where I was.

In my typical fashion where he is involved, I did something incredibly stupid. I explained that I was in Jersey, but that I had the keys to the car in my hand and could be there in only 10 minutes longer than a cab from my Manhattan apartment would have taken. He immediately insisted he would never ask me to drive so late. I reminded him that I had offered. I scrambled around my house, putting on shoes and my coat, and taking my father's car keys.

That's right, boys and girls, I took my father's car at 2:30 in the morning, and drove it to Queens to see That Man.

The car was parked underneath my parent's bedroom window. I technically only have a provisional license which prohibits me from driving between the hours of 12:01am and 5:00am. I'd never driven to Queens. I'd never even driven in the city in my life. I'd also never driven across the George Washington Bridge. And yet, at 2:30 in the morning, I programmed the GPS system with shaking hands. I told That Man that I was sitting in the car, and asked him if he wanted me to come. He insisted that I be extremely careful, and that I go home again before my parents have a chance to realize I'm gone. I agreed from the stop sign at the bottom of my street.

The car was quiet as I contemplated the fact that I was driving to Queens at 2:30 in the morning in my father's car that he didn't know I had taken to see That Man before he left down again for the rest of the month. I drove in silence, shaking in the driver's seat, terrified to drive a single mile per hour over the speed limit. I flitted through streets, down highways, and over the two bridges that separated me from That Man. Raindrops fell on my windshield intermittently. After what felt like forever, I reached a section of Queens I recognized from my late night cab rides, and called That Man from the corner of his street. I parked under his building and fell into his arms the second I stepped out of the car.

We just held onto each other for a while before going inside. Upstairs, he held me in his arms until I managed to calm down. I buried my face in his chest, breathing him in. He ran his fingers through my hair. We laughed at the ridiculousness of what was happening. We mused over what would happen if I were to get caught. We smiled and kissed and our fingers entwined. We stayed holding each other again for a bit before falling into bed together. Every moment I spent with him was worth what I had done to get there. We lay in bed running our fingertips over each other's bodies. We talked about his future trips, and I sat with him while he folded his laundry and packed to leave in the morning. He walked me to the car, and we kissed goodbye.

I drove my car home, and replaced it in the driveway facing the opposite direction it had been in when I took it, praying that my father would be none the wiser as I replaced the mirror and seat position and put the Navigation CD away. I bolted up the driveway to the door only to hear my dogs start barking as I put my key in the lock. I ran to the kitchen and replaced my coat and scarf on the chair they'd been hanging on earlier that evening, and plugged my phone into its charger. I kicked off my shoes and ran into my father's office replacing his car keys on his desk before running back into the kitchen in an attempt to quiet the dogs. I heard footsteps overhead and freaked. I tried harder to quiet the dogs, and was standing in front of them when my father appeared around the corner coming into the kitchen. He asked if it was me that they had seen and started barking. I said yes. He asked what I was doing. I picked up my phone and its charger from the kitchen counter, unplugged it and gestured with it. He said okay. I ran upstairs to bed. After speaking with my mother this morning, they both believe I fell asleep on the couch and woke up around 5.

I sit now at my computer, tired, sore, and grinning because I haven't managed to shower yet and I still smell him on my skin.

Stupidest thing I've ever done? Absolutely.

Worth it? Without a doubt.