paper street

i’m five hours early to the airport. looking at the growing crowd in my terminal, there may be flights arriving and then leaving my gate before my flight. the woman seated next to me has apple care on speakerphone trying to troubleshoot why her wifi won’t connect. my gate clearly isn’t big enough for the amount of people flying american airlines and i wonder if i should give up my seat for someone else waiting, but they’re boarding now and my back hurts.

it’s fine. i don’t want to leave yet. i do but i don’t.

even three jack and cokes couldn’t keep me down, so i was wide awake at seven am this morning. my anxiety was on high alert for no given reason, and the resulting stomachache wouldn’t let me fall back asleep. because my friend was still in dreamland in the next bed, i laid among the cushy hotel pillows and scrolled through twitter and rewatched videos of me singing off-key, which i can’t completely blame on the alcohol. i thought about deleting the videos because i was happy and awkward but mostly awkward, but my boyfriend and friends had already viewed the stories on instagram and i should feel allowed to feel happy goddamn it. i didn’t get it then, but i do know.

i flew to dallas yesterday for the thirtieth birthday party of a longtime friend. it’s the first time i ever karaoked and the first time i’ve been to the state since a short vacation on 2005, since we moved away in the summer of 2002. texas was my dream, which i’ve written about ad nauseam. the mecca i’ve been clawing my way back to ever since, but i now know what gut feeling woke me up.

my dream is dead.

i’ll probably never move back to texas. san antonio will be a treat, a place to indulge my nostalgia, but it’ll never be mine again.

i bit back emotion when i saw the blue bonnets littering the edge of the interstate and when i visited whataburger like it held the cure to cancer in its burger meat. i devoured the landscape and tried to not sing dixie chicks’ “wide open spaces” in my head. the wind wanted to bowl me over, and i wished i’d packed my converses instead of my steve madden heeled booties.

i visited potbelly because one of my favorite youtuber loves the restaurant and went to in-n-out because it’s the closest i’ve gotten to california and of course i just had to! tipsy and with less than half a voice, i had a tamal from a gas station mexican restaurant with friends and it was the best tamal i’ve had in years. who knew i could access my spanish vocabulary better when i’m drunk (but the singular form of tamales is tamal, not tamale, and i blame my spanish professor for focusing on the spain colloquialisms and not the ones geared to latin america)? i was on my phone half the time and the other half trying to stay off my phone because this is a short trip and i needed to savor it.

but here i am, holding back tears in the airport with demi lovato and her vibrato belting “only forever” in my ear. it doesn’t feel right. i don’t feel right here anymore. but i also don’t feel right in south carolina, and i haven’t in the past almost sixteen years. i wonder if i’ll ever feel right anywhere, or at this point do you just make due where you are when you’re there and deal with the uncomfortable itch that you’ll never be able to quite scratch?

(i blame the end of retrograde for this barrage of feelings)

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the rules.

  • your flaws are yours. they’re weeds and perennials, prized vegetables and pollinated fruits. the neighbors can gawk but it’s your garden, your yard. yank your exes out by their roots. fertilize friends and forgive yourself when some don’t survive the winter. cross pollination happens and well-meaning can still kill a crop. tend it how you please.
  • take a road trip. alone. put your music on shuffle and sing along with the windows rolled down. travel the rural route – you know you know i-95 better than your family history. remember you need time. your me-time. to spend or waste to your heart’s content. so book the hotel room and dance out of your journey’d jeans.
  • let your phone die. some experiences are better lived fully.
  • get the tattoo. go by yourself and get to know the artist holding the gun. be moral support (or devil’s advocate) for a friend. pay for someone else’s ink at least once. yes, you will get older and lose the elasticity afforded by youth. you will gain weight and you will lose it, but have this moment. and some moments get colored over by new ones, but have it still.
  • see the girl who used to be on the disney channel in concert. drive across state lines if you must. the venue will be sticky-hot and the girl whose purse is in your back will complain about literally everything, but you’ll look at every femme with nothing but love and be fine with your spot on the side of the stage because you’re thrilled to be in the same room.

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    what’s the story, morning glory?

    i have carry-on luggage that is very black lodge, cheap coffee that cost three bucks, and a window seat. hamilton plays in my ears because i’m not too apt to cry to adele in front of a bunch of strangers on this plane, okay.

    flying for the first time in a few years – and the first time myself – is whelming (ya know, not exactly overwhelming but almost). but it’s about time i start enjoying my twenties. it’s half over anyway.

    it’s almost wheels up. cheers!