Backwards and Forwards
Sometimes you have to move backwards in order to move forwards, at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself, justifying my trip back home. Last summer I lived with my parents, in Santa Cruz, and worked at the Dickens Project. This summer I’m living with my parents, in Santa Cruz, and I’m working at the Dickens Project. The Dickens Project is an internationally renowned conference on Charles Dickens, but it’s really a summer camp for Lit nerds and senior citizens, but my opinion may be influenced by the fact that I never get to listen to any of the lectures.
Instead I see the seedy, Dickensian underbelly of the “Dickens Universe.” Today I debated T-shirt colors with my boss for half an hour, before selecting “Aubergine” because of its supposed gender neutrality (we’ll see about that). Yesterday I spent a good twenty minutes alternately counselling and consoling a woman over the phone about transportation from the airport to Santa Cruz. Yes, she was going to have to hire a taxi. She took this news like I had told her she was going to have a root canal while deep sea diving.
Last year, having to tell someone she would have to arrange her own transportation would have terrified me. My voice would have risen three octaves, and I would probably have just turned the phone over to my boss. Now I’m skilled at dealing with difficult people because I’ve realized I’ve done nothing wrong!
Last year the difficult personalities definitely won–at least in my love life. My pseudo-boyfriend got so drunk he pissed the bed we were sharing, soaking my clothes. We stopped talking after that, oddly enough it wasn’t because he was probably an alcoholic who had just wet the bed, but he still had my piss-soaked clothes. Even then I knew the clothes accurately represented my position in the relationship.
When I ran into him at the bar and asked for my clothes back, he said, “I leave the door unlocked.” I wanted nothing more to do with this douche lord, but I wanted my clothes and a couple of books I’d lent him, mistakenly thinking he was literate. I drove to his house (I mean trailer), when I knew he would be at work. There I stood, in front of a tall, giant, locked gate. I drove back home, got a step ladder, drove back, and I climbed over that gate and retrieved what was left of my dignity, at least I thought.
I wish I could say I never saw or kissed that boy again, that this moment slapped sense into me, but it would take moving to Los Angeles, ironically a city not known for its grasp on reality. Slowly, my self-dislike, the kind that makes it possible to pursue and accept asshole boyfriends, faded away.
Looking back on previous blogs, where I described my fear of the phone, it makes perfect sense. I didn’t think I was capable of answering a telephone correctly! Whoever I was wasn’t enough. Trite as it may sound, this year I know I’m enough. I can juggle the occasional asshole at work, and the boy in my life can’t really be described without turning this into a Hallmark card, and he will never piss on me.