Categories
life

Dear Old Friend,

You’ll never read this, which begs the question: what is the point? 

And I suppose there is no point.  

My head has just been swirling since I heard the news this afternoon, and I thought that maybe I’d feel better getting my thoughts on a page.

Maybe I’ll light a candle and read it aloud, later.

Just this past week a friend sent me a silly meme.  He wrote, along with it, “Jess, why do I feel like this will resonate with you?

It was two of the Powerpuff Girls, their hair sopping wet, pouting at each other.  The caption: me at age 9 saying goodbye to the girl I met on the beach that I would never see again.

I laughed because it was true.  I’ve always been a sentimental person, and I remember all of my friends, however long or short our friendships—even though, many of them, I’d have no idea where to find, even with social media at my fingertips. 

The 1-day beach friends.  The McDonald’s PLAYPLACE friends.  The theater camp friend who made me snort Dr. Pepper out of my nose…my best friend from children’s choir, who loathed choir practice as much as I did.

And you, of course.  My first “boyfriend.”

Well…I suppose you never were my boyfriend—at least not knowingly. 

After learning, at age five, that it would be illegal for me to marry my cousin, Sammy, I decided to marry you, instead.

That was why I followed you around at our parents’ boring parties.  You were fun, and intelligent, and, of course, my future husband.  

You were a year older than I was, a full six years old, and so very mature in my eyes.  I considered myself lucky to have you!  I’d pick out my best and most twirliest dress to wear when I knew I was going to see you.  I had to make the perfect impression.

You knew how to pop the Pepsi can tabs at the parties without cutting your fingers, which was most impressive.  You opened mine for me, and listened to me dawdle on and on about how I was going to be the head majorette in the 4th of July parade even though I didn’t know how to twirl a baton and was a goddamned liar. 

And when I’d stop talking for a few minutes, you would teach me things about math and science and we’d run around until the adults inevitably said “slow down, you two!”

I was so sad when you moved away.  Over the next few years, whenever I got dragged to a party, I’d ask if you were going to come, and the answer became “no” more often than not.  

On rare occasion, usually in the summer time, the answer would be “yes.”  One summer, at the lake, we rode in a boat, and you showed me how to fish.  You liked a band called “Slipknot,” and at the end of the day, you gave me your screen name. I remember it by heart, to this very day.  

Then lots of years went by.  You got into a school in the city.  I got very sick.  

During my recovery, I looked you up on Facebook and sent you a message.  I wasn’t sure if you’d remember me, but you said “of course I do!  How are you, little Jesse!”

I thought to myself, maybe I’ll become a Broadway actress next year and we will reunite in the city, and fall in love, and my five year old self would’ve been right all along.

But we didn’t.  Fate had other plans.

Last I knew, you were living overseas.  Multi-lingual and as intelligent as I always knew you to be.

I live in our hometown again, since the pandemic, and I have thought of you from time to time—I’ve had so much time to peel back the pages of my childhood memories.  

You don’t have social media anymore, but I found you on LinkedIn about two months ago.  Your face is more mature, but it is still quite the same face from my memory.

I’ve only just started monkeying around with LinkedIn, and I thought, “shall I add him? Send him a message and say, ‘I know this is strange, but it’s me: Jesse.  You used to open my Pepsi cans, and I was in love with you!’”

But I didn’t.  The fragile ego in me thought “better not.  He looks awfully professional and awfully important.  He’d be far too busy.” 

I’m very sorry that I didn’t.  I had no idea you, too, were drowning in the sea of unemployment that this violent pandemic has sunk us in.

I don’t pretend that my reaching out would have changed what happened.  I just know that I’ve felt so hopeless and purposeless and just plain sad through all this, and now I know you were, too.

Maybe our commiseration would’ve brought you some comfort.

Maybe just the realization that your long lost “girlfriend” across the sea still remembers our talks and our memories.  Still remembers your screen name, and your favorite band.  

Maybe knowing, even in your darkest, most loneliest moments, that someone so long gone from your life now, still held you in such high regard…maybe for a moment, you would’ve felt better.  The smallest moment can sometimes cause the biggest shifts in perspective.

Your childhood friend loves you very much.  Even though it’s been so long, she wishes she could still reach out.  Even if it was just to say “thank you for teaching me to fish.”  

When I look back on the people in my life, you are one of my favorites.  

You’ll always be one of my favorite people.  

My heart breaks. I hope this pandemic is over soon.

Love,

Jesse

Categories
Blather Diary life

Covid Hostage

Jesse, Jesse, come here dear.”

Mr. H is back and hasn’t visited in a month. Of course, he made his reservation half an hour beforehand, and expects his favorite table.

Before his arrival, the hostess comes to inform me that there is no way Mr. H can possibly have his favorite table. It’s been reserved for a party of five all night, and Mr. H is only a party of three. We’re packed and there’s nowhere else the larger party can sit.

Of course, I already know all of this. I’ve got the floorplan and reservation books pulled up on my phone, I saw Mr. H’s reservation appear in real time, and I’m already figuring out a game plan.

Tell Francisco he’s gotta drop the check on table 70,” I tell the hostess. “Put a “reserve” sign on 71. When 70 gets up, I’m gonna turn the tables sideways so they’re longer. Party of five sits there. Mr. H gets his table. We just need 70 to go.

I pull Lucas, the busser, aside. “As soon as the butts are out of seats on 70, I’ll meet you over there with a tray. I bus, you wash, we turn the tables sideways. Capiche?”

It’s “capiche.”

The plan works.

Jesse, Jesse, come here dear,” Mr. H. is seated and ready for “the routine.” I wipe my sweaty brow with my sleeve and march over for my line:

Well, hello, long time no see!” I sing.

Ugh, I know! I was in Florida all last week, and then Toronto for a conference before that! I’m actually only here a few days but I just HAD to show these two my favorite spot!” He introduces me to his guests and I coo a “welcome” as I shake each of their hands.

And Jesse…just…what is new about your hair. It looks amazing!”

There is nothing new about my hair. There’s never anything new about my hair unless the color has changed, and it hasn’t. But I’ve got an answer thought up already because he says this every time.

Ya know, I’ve been wearing the bangs pulled all the way back and I usually have them in front, swept to the side! I’m impressed you even noticed!”

Well you’re looking beautiful as always!

He winks. I curtsy in my mind.

Our dialogue complete, I send three flutes of Prosecco and then head on to fix the restroom door, which, I’m told, has been locked from the inside again with no one there.

At this time last year, this was my life.

I’ve been putting off writing a lot this week. I wanted to write something funny and quirky and weird, but I barely had the inspiration to write at all, let alone write something that wasn’t totally self involved and self-pitying.

So buckle up.

The week started off with a bit of a disappointment. A disappointment SO silly that is doesn’t even warrant explanation. But what it did was it opened my eyes to how much I truly am struggling right now.

I’m proud of myself for how I’m getting through. On good days, I’ve been challenging myself to cook things, and work out more, and keep up chores on a “real adult” schedule. I keep my eyes open for job opportunities that might fit the bill…I look up grad schools and programs that might interest me…I write. I make sure I get dressed each day and leave the apartment even if it’s just to pick up a coffee or a diet coke.

But anyway, I didn’t realize how much I was slipping until this minor disappointment occurred and I was faced with the reality of more status quo. More trying to wake up early, realizing there’s not much to wake up early for and then going back to sleep for two hours. More willing myself to put on a face and do my hair instead of hiding it in a scarf or tying it in a sloppy knot. More trips to department stores to keep me from binge watching another Hulu series, where I end up spending money I ought to be saving.

And I just got so, so sad. It’s pathetic right? And then the feeling of being pathetic just makes me angry with myself…like just FIX yourself, Jesse. You have it so much better than SO many people right now. You have a place to live, and food, and people who love you and will help you. You’ve had ZERO issues with unemployment, and you are getting by just fine.

But at the end of the day, I feel dread that another day is coming where I will likely accomplish nothing. And more and more lately, I don’t try to accomplish much. I don’t look for jobs as much because they don’t pay enough and I’m better off finishing unemployment benefits. Or the careers I’d be interested in require more education.

So I look into more education, but it’s costly, and I likely wouldn’t be able to afford it without a job. And then I’m back at jobs.

And then I think, okay, suppose you did figure out how to pay for a masters or a new certification…and then you hated it, and found that you’d just picked something to pick something…because really, you were already doing something that you kinda liked before…before you were ripped out of your former life by a pandemic.

And then I’m angry. Angry that my life got uprooted. Angry that it got uprooted and turned upside down for the SECOND TIME in my life, this time by a disease that I don’t even have but MIGHT get!

I’m pissed.

In the times of “Mr. H and his favorite table” I was working a full time job as an events coordinator, and ALSO covering two shifts a week as a maitre d’ at a stunning Upper East Side restaurant where I left each shift with at least sixty bucks in cash (in addition to my FULL hourly wage–not a tipped hourly wage).

And yeah, I did it because it felt great to have money for really the first time in my life. But I also did it because I liked being busy. I liked to work. I liked the buzz of NYC hospitality, and I loved the people I worked with because we were all working so f**king hard, together.

I feel like a hostage of this pandemic. So many things hold me back from taking steps forward, and when I think of going back to work, not only do I feel angry that it can’t be what it was in “Mr. H” days, but I feel scared.

Scared of getting Covid19 and spreading it to my loved ones…scared of it further destroying my kidneys.

Scared because do I even remember how to work? How to live on a schedule? How to be responsible for things?

And then I’m like “let’s be honest, Jess. What are the chances you’re NOT selling “Holiday Pine” scented candles at White Barn come Christmas time?

And then I cry.

This is the daily routine. And it usually ends with, “why don’t I just binge watch something to calm my nerves.”

Thus a cycle.

I miss Mr. H and his stupid table.