Friday, January 15, 2010

Empathy takes energy,

It was the winter of space heaters and naval oranges. The furnace light was on but it wasn't blowing any hot air. "Oh well, it cost too much money anyway," so we all slept with space heaters in the corner of our rooms. I slept with 3 blankets and my pink bath robe just trying to keep warm. I layered up like a caveman with bearskins, I wouldn't stand defeated, I would sleep warm tonight.

Naval oranges were the only food my body would consume that year. There was a bad frost in Florida so all the oranges were doubled in size tough like leather and tart to the taste, impossible to peel by hand so you had to use a butcher knife. It was almost like eating a grapefruit but with no sugar on the top. I ate 3 cyclops oranges a day.

I spent my days working, slowly feeling more numb by the hour. Some days I had no recollection of even driving home, I'd be standing in the shower starring at my black hair dye clinging between my toes, unsure of how I even took off my clothes, let alone turned on the water and stepped inside.

Something was wrong with the tub that year so whenever you took a shower there was at most 3-5inches of water you were left standing in, like a bird bath full of soap and grit. This left a ring around the tub that was impossible to scrub clean but it didn't really bother me and we never had company.

I spent my nights wrapped up in blankets and books, reading anything I could get my hands on but retaining very little. I pulled out all of my old school books and began re-reading the "Theories on Human Ethics 101" "Psychology for Substance Abuse" remembering a time when I had the heart to want to help people. There were sentences underlined with a neon highlighter, little notes in the margins (remember this will be on the test! remember empathy for others is very important!) it had only been a few months ago that I was still in school, but it felt like years. The person writing those notes was a ghost to me now.

I became velcro to my cellular device, needy and optimistic I would check to see if you'd stopped in to say hello, you never did. Not once. I would listen to sad songs that reminded me of past boyfriends, boys I'd never even cared about, boys that meant very little in the grand scheme of things. Boys with bad breathe like coffee and pushy hands that I always turned down. I thought about these boys because I just got sick of always feeling everything for you. You were always very needy in that way, you wanted me to feel everything and when I started feeling nothing you got quiet and I was just always tired.

I was once called an ice queen to my face. "you have no idea how sad you really are inside" he snarked. I looked at my boots and didn't say anything and for once I didn't have a comeback. I was wearing red lipstick that day and I felt like a clown.

I went back to my ice box, the smell of cat piss and weeks worth of old beer cans lining the kitchen counter. The couch cushions were dirty and there was shit everywhere, literally nobody cared about the house at all, not even me that year. I crawled into my bed shivering and listened to the party in the basement my brother + his friends and some new soulja boy song, skunk weed lingering up the heater vents. I tried to listen to my headphones but every song had something sad to say. My stomach growled so I sat up and ate an orange, although it could have passed for a grapefruit. Nobody would have ever known the difference.

I've spent too many years just co-existing. I'm ready to feel something.

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