"…She looks at me, her grey-green eyes drilling into me and I’m taken out of the moment. I pause and take in her unkempt hair, each of the seven freckles on her nose that spill onto her cheekbone, and the way her lower lip is just a little bigger than her upper lip so it looks like she’s always pouting. It’s adorable. And then, she goes from being serious, driving at me at 66,000 miles per hour to zero – she throws her arms around me. Gives my heart ease, and says, “I’m just… I’m just worried about you…” She buries her head into my shoulder, right up against my heart.”
I’m so beyond
angry. pissed. upset. betrayed. Jealous. Jealousy. That’s what I’m feeling. I was so close, or at least I think I was and I blew it. I had almost a year and I fucking blew it. I’m not sure what I feel about her right now - it’s not the same, wow, I really like her, not at all - but there’s something there and that kills me because in August, I promised her, I’m done. I don’t have feelings for you anymore, I’m sorry. I’m done. And then everything was okay for a while but then she started dating this guy and it’s weird because he’s just not the type for her and it sickens me because I’m jealous and I hate that about myself. It’s my worst quality. Worse than the stupid fucking zits I get between my eyebrows, or my not-that-flat stomach or my asthma or poor eyesight or occasional blind arrogance - my obscene jealousy. Had one of the best days of my life yesterday, didn’t even think about her til I got home and texted her the good news to no response. I know she doesn’t answer her phone, but I know she always looks at it.
It’s just so confusing - what is a guy to do with a friend like this?
I’m just confused. I can’t tell if she wants me to be her friend or not. And after the best day ever yesterday, I log on to facebook this morning to see her and her stupid boyfriend (yes, literally, dumber than a sack of hammers stupid,) smiling in their stupid (metaphorically stupid,) matching profile pictures and I just wanted to punch a giant hole in my 22” monitor and scream and run a 5’30” mile through the snow and ice outside and blow my taper and everything I’ve trained for in swimming.
But I didn’t. I sat here at 9 in the morning and wrote a stupid blog post no one will ever read, but I’m sure someone from school follows me somehow, and is going to see this and tell her and she’ll roll her eyes and stop talking to me for a week or two.
“Sean. What is this?” This was one of my biggest fears. Standing in my kitchen, barefoot, ready to leave, but my father standing in my way. He stood, towering with his hockey player’s build in the doorway from the kitchen to the mudroom, to the garage, to my car, blocking me from getting to where I was going. “Why do you have these?” He held my ballet shoes out at arm’s length, between two fingers, like they were diseased, and wanted to drop them just to get them away from him.
I tried to choke out a reply, something to the effect of, “Dad, look, I can explain,” but all the came out was, “ooouuuuhhhhm,” which is like a concerned, hesitating moan. My jaw opened and shut a few times, I must’ve looked like a fish and he dropped them and the sound of the fabric hitting the ground should have been soft but in the staggering silence it was a clap of thunder, and it’s roll was my dad’s shouting, “Sean! We talked about this! You are a soccer player. Nothing else. You’re most certainly not a dancer. No more of this… Ballet!” He spat it, like a curse word. I reached down and shouldered my dance bag, (which I had told him was my soccer bag,) and snatched up my shoes.
“Look, Dad, we can talk about this later. I have to go, I’m teaching today.” I spoke calmly as I could, even though the pressure of red, molten stress lava was bubbling in my abdomen, slowly building to the point where I would erupt and spew words I didn’t mean at him. I know he just wants me to be happy, to be the best, and to succeed. It’s been so hard since Mom left… She was the one who put me in dancing. I think that he hates it even more now because it just makes him think of me… I pushed past him, he stood stunned by my defiant words.
“Sean. Sean!” I slammed the door behind me, got into my car. Smacked the wheel with the heel of my palm and pressed my head back all the way into the seat. Maybe if I push hard enough I can vanish into the fabric and not have to worry about my dad, or my little brothers. I start the car and pull out, I’m already late so I speed all the way down Stuart road, breaking at least three laws - don’t care, I’m over it. I wish I had had time to stretch out before going. It would look awful if I were late. I parked sloppily and jogged up, doing a bit of a leap up the curb and pushing through the glass doors.
“Hey Sean!” The director of the studio, Katherine, calls out from her desk, which is covered in stuff in no organized fashion. I breeze by quickly sending a few forms or something flying, “Sean!” I laugh and she laughs. Through another set of glass doors, hang a left, and in studio 1 my contemporary class was stretched out on the lightly colored wooden floors, some of their faces pressed into their ankles – the exceptional flexibility of people who’d been dancing their whole lives. A few notice me right away and say hello, others wave, but others are focused on warming up. I try to collect my thoughts and leave the ones I don’t need or want outside the door. “SEAN!” I’m embraced from behind with two arms and two legs – my friend Emily.
“Careful!” I say, letting her down, and all the thoughts I don’t need – my father, my brothers, and my mom – they vanish. I retrieve my iPhone from my pack and plug it into the speakers on the floor near the mirrored wall, and class starts. For the last few classes we’d been working on a combination to a song, “Storm Against my Window.” It’s slow, and sad, but powerful. At the end, when the singing stops, it’s just guitar but there are audio clips from a movie and a tv show that highlight the argument about which the song is.
The girl is asking her boyfriend to let her go away for the summer, and he won’t support it. He says, what if you go to California to be a painter, and you realize I don’t fit into your life anymore? Can you promise me that won’t happen? And she says, “Pause.” He says, No! We can’t pause this anymore, can you promise me that that’s not going to happen? “Pause!!!” He yells, Why do you want me to pause!? And the song ends. Like that.
Before I know it, class is over, it’s been an hour, I’m sweaty and exhausted as much as my students. I love teaching, and I’m only really able to do it because I’ve been doing it so long. Hiding it, not as long. Emily walks over fishing in her pack for something, and tosses me an orange gatorade, “Thank you!” She just smiles and drinks her own. We walk outside together, and sit on the hood of my car. My phone rings and I ignore it. It’s probably my dad.
“You should answer your phone, Sean.”
“Em, I really don’t care. It’s probably my dad.”
“Sean.” She looks at me, her grey-green eyes drilling into me and I’m taken out of the moment. I pause and take in her unkempt hair, each of the seven freckles on her nose, and the way her lower lip is just a little bigger than her upper lip so it looks like she’s always pouting. It’s adorable. And then, she goes from being serious, driving at me at 66,000 miles per hour to zero – she throws her arms around me. Gives my heart ease, and says, “Sean, I’m just… I’m just worried about you. You haven’t been the same since your mom left.” She buries her head into my shoulder, right up against my heart.
“I’m sorry…” I don’t really know what else to say.
“I know. I know you’re sorry. That’s all you ever say.” We don’t say anything else and we’re paused in this embrace and then, “I have to go. Promise me you’ll call whoever that was back. Promise me.”
“I promise.” She squeezes me even tighter for a second and walks away – I do love it when she walks. She’s so graceful. Dancer perks. I get in my car and look at my phone.
No. Nope. Nope. Nopenopenopenopenope I refuse i will not call her i will not speak to her i cannot hear her alto toned voice another time. I have not called her back in two years. After two years. Two years. Unpause. I have to call her back.
Ten minutes later, I’m freaking out. I’m not breathing well and I’m dialing Emily, panicking. It’s ringing. Once. Twice. Three times. Four-
“Emily I talked to my mom and-”
“I talked to my mom Em and after two years I finally called her back. I called her back and I didn’t care about most of what she said but I… I was indifferent to most of what she said but I told her about you when she asked me how I’d been.
“Sean, calm down. It’s going to be okay, where are you?”
“I’m still at the studio, I just I can’t. I can’t. She said she’s proud of me, she’s proud of how I’ve turned out,”
“I’m coming right now okay? Relax, everything is going to be fine.”
Breathe in, breathe out. In. Out. In out. Inoutinoutinout my head is pounding, throbbing with the resonance of the words I had just heard. “I’m so proud of you Sean, I’m so proud of how you turned out.” It’s even a dance pun because I have this awful habit of standing in turned out first position. I try to relax. Relax. Laxare, in Latin. I try to force it out of my mind by focusing on something else. Laxo, laxas, laxat, laxamus, laxatis, laxant. I relax, you relax, he/she relaxes, we relax, ya’ll relax, they relax. Emily comes flying into the parking lot, pulling up next to me and cuts her engine. I get out.
“Sean. Are you okay?”
“I don’t know. I really don’t Em.”
“What else did she say?”
“Not much… I spent so much time thinking about her. Hating her. Asking myself why. Asking my dad why. Asking God, ‘Why?’ But I never got an answer and I never will. I was so angry. I was so angry when she left, she broke me. She destroyed my little brother and any chance that my family had.”
Emily didn’t say anything, but took my hand and rested her head on my shoulder and put her other arm around me.
“She said… She said she loves me, and misses me so much. But two years is two years. I guess… I guess I’ve had enough.”