The Movie in My Head
The small mail drop built-in to the front of my house could hardly contain all the mail and magazines. It looked like a giant mouth spitting out giant Chiclets. The letter carrier resigned to wrapping my mail in a rubber band and leaning it against the front door. The snow made it wet, heavy and useless.
I was well into my second day of training in California when I realized I neglected to put my mail on hold. I paid the cab driver and dragged my rolling suitcase up the walkway to my pitch-black bungalow house where I haven’t been for two weeks…a week in Austin and another week in Southern California. I grabbed the mail, opened the door, turned on the living room lamp and saw that I keep a really clean house. I laid down on the Asian area rug that I bought at Target almost 10 years ago and that feeling of being alone and feeling lonely crept into me like an all too familiar, and all too unwanted roommate. I was too exhausted to fight it.
I didn’t want to open the soggy stack of mail resting on my chest. A small, handwritten, pink envelope caught my eye. I opened it, and it was from Jeanine…an invite to her party. A text when I was in Austin, an E-vite and now a handwritten invite. She really wants me at her party. I don’t want to go.
Then, the little six-second movie started playing in my head again. It used to be in color, now it plays in black-and-white. Not even my Ipod on the plane could drown it out…Amanda’s frustration-fueled words when we were still together: “You need to grow up and earn a real salary!” It was on a sunny spring morning in my old Uptown apartment. It was the result of my then-constant limited cash flow and my noisy, tiny apartment. When I played little league baseball, I got beaned at the plate a few times. I ran to first base with tears welling-up in my eyes, but I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. That’s what her words felt like…like a baseball from a 10-year-old arm striking me on the shoulder.
It was the one and only time that I ever heard her speak in an angry voice. It’s been on repeat in my head and it resonates like a cough in church. She has no idea how completely different I live my life now. I finally have what she expected me to have, and I can’t even tell her. When I found out I landed my job, she was one of 12 people I e-mailed in my fury of excitement. She’s the only one who didn’t respond.
Some people spend a lifetime seeking approval from a disappointed parent. Am I destined to spend my life seeking approval from a disappointed ex-girlfriend? Everything these past few months – the new career, new car, new wardrobe and new tax bracket…it all feels like a pile of poker chips. Being able to tell Amanda would turn the chips into real money for me.