Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Because I'm Ready

My mouth tasted like an ashtray as if I'd only just put a cigarette out on my tongue. The phone was ringing and I groggily answered it barely reading the caller ID.

"Hello?" I croaked.

"Heeeey! Are you still asleep?" said someone that sounded a little like my sister.

"What? Yeah,...OH SHIT!", I said shooting out of bed like someone shoved a hot poker up my ass. 'It is my sister!!!' "Where are you? HOLY SHIT THE WALK."

"I'm outside honey, it's okay." my little sister said in a much more calm and soothing voice than I would have used.

I went into the living room and opened the door weaving around from side to side. I grabbed my head when I realized I was still drunk. My eyes automatically shut tight when I opened the door the blaring sunshine blinding me for what would seem like forever.

"Holy, I guess I should have put some pants on." Staggering to the bedroom, "Shit, I think I'm still drunk."

"At least your not naked. Wait, you were drinking?"

"Yeah, my neighbor took me out last night. I think I passed out. Oh my god dude, I'm not ready. I have nothing prepared. I don't even know where my sunscreen is at!" I said as I rummaged around the cabinet looking for sunscreen.

I was desperate. If I didn't find it I was sure to burn my ass off or...god forbid...TAN. If I didn't find a hat to wear I'd be screwed because I don't have enough hair on my head. I'll burn all over again. The thought of a sunburn as exhausted as I already have been the last 3 weeks was unbearable. I fucking hate the sun. It's been my enemy since I was a child. I was plagued with a skin rash most of my life. I'd wake up with blood and skin under my finger nails every morning. Most times the rash was so horrible that I'd end up with 2" wide wheels on my hands, arms or feet. Basically that means the rash would build and build from tiny spots to giant swollen chunks of skin that resemble the worst possible mosquito bite you can imagine.

Sun? No, not a friend of mine, but I can manage as an adult since my allergies have gone from skin rashes to chemical and environmental intolerance's. I really don't know what's worse, still I like to be prepared on an outing and not having any sunblock was going to be really irritating.

I threw some clothes on, grabbed my donations and a hat my sister handed me and we were off. I think it took me about 20 min's in all. My head swooned in my sister's car and even though I've become accustomed to her driving I could feel my empty stomach swish around like a toilet bowl. I didn't feel well, still...Jack in the Box sounded swell, especially the coffee.

Once on our way, goodies in hand and on their way to being processed in our bellies, I began to tell my sister about what happened to me the night before. She was surprised that my neighbor would do that, but didn't seem at all shocked. In fact she seemed a little excited, "So, what are you going to do now?"

"I mean like, he's really cute and he seems like a really nice guy you know?"

"Yeah, I get it. I mean maybe he thinks that because I'm always complaining or talking shit about Rigid that I'm ready to leave him any minute, but, honestly I don't understand. I don't think I gave him the impression that I'm interested."

"Well obviously you're not going to do anything with him, but I don't know. I think it's good to know that there's someone there for you. You know, that someone is into you if know. I don't know, I think he's cute.?" she said. I wondered how many "you knows" we could stick into a single conversation. I ate my food thoughtfully and silently and I realized what was bothering me so much.

"No, I mean I know you love him, but maybe if you ever...I don't know. I mean you're attracted to him right?" she asked and let out a little embarrassed laugh. My sister knows I'm not like that. Perhaps she was trying to make me feel better in case I was thinking along those same lines and was feeling guilty. I thought I should assure her I was not.

"Well, he's not ugly dude, but I don't know. I'm not going to lie, when I was in the car after we'd left the Stardust I was so drunk..." I wasn't sure if I could let this out without choking on my breakfast. My heart began to squeeze when I said, "I sat there wondering if he was going to try to kiss me at some point so clearly I picked up on something. That and well..." my chest tightened and I could feel the tears building up, but kept them locked tight.

"You wanted him to."

"Not exactly. I kind of wondered what I would do. Would I be offended and push him off or would I let him. Would I kiss him back?"

Excitedly my sister quickly said, "You see, you do like him. I think if it's meant to be it's meant to be. Sorry Rigid, but that's the truth. If things don't work out for you guys, I mean only you know Maharet. That's it. You're the only one that can decide in the end."

"Yeah dude, but... I mean, I'm not about to cheat on my husband. That's not going to happen. I'm upset that I let myself get that drunk. If Rigid hadn't been home who knows what could have happened. I mean is Hollywood capable of taking advantage of me? Did he get me drunk on purpose?"

"No mija, don't think that way. I'm sure he was just as drunk. For all you know it just came out because you know, sometimes people's true emotions come out when their drunk. Doesn't mean they'll do anything about it right?"

"And another thing," I said, barely hearing my sister at this point. "Why be so friendly with Rigid. I mean he's given him clothes, helped him surprise me for my birthday, and hangs out with him all the time lately. He never did that before."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, what if he's only pretending to be Rigid's friend to get at me? Dude, I don't like people like that. That would fucking suck. Can you imagine? Like if he's just friends with my husband to get in my pants." 'There, I fucking said it' I thought.

"Oh that's bullshit...yeah, I don't like people like that either. No dude, that's fucked up. That's just fucking wrong. You really think that?"

"No. No, not really. To be honest, I think I'm not sure exactly what I heard because I was so drunk and even if he did say what I think he said he was just as drunk as I was."


"I probably heard wrong and I don't want to ruin their friendship over a misunderstanding you know? It's not fucking worth it. He's such a nice guy dude, and his girlfriend is such a sweetheart I would die if anything happened because of me. That and he's Rigid's only real friend over here." I just wanted to believe that. I mean I do, I want to believe that.

We talked about a lot of things, silly things mostly. Imagined what my life would be like without Rigid or what it would be like if I had a black baby. She asked if things were different and Rigid weren't in the picture, for whatever reason, would I have gotten together with Hollywood. I doubt it. He's not my type and I don't mean because he's black Central American. I've been there, quite literally done that and I just honked it all the fuck up, but hey, I was a kid.

I like the guy, but this little question I have running around in my head is pissing me off and I can't help it. "I'm angry," I told my sister, "I just don't know if I'm more angry at him or myself."

We drove on that scary ass fucking freeway until we made it to the Rosebowl. I was only 7:30 am and it was already hot and muggy. I threw my hat on, grabbed my purse, coffee and nerves to steel against the day...the very to come.

We didn't park far from all of the booths that had been set up for the Walk Now Event. There were rows and rows of booths next to the stadium and it was only a small bridge away to the registration booth at the front entrance at gate A. I was so happy I took the time to fill out all my donation slips and staple every check to each so everyone would get the proper credit. I didn't get many online contributions this year so I was little disappointed, but so what. I also didn't raise as much money as last year, but you know I didn't care. All I could think about was walking for a cause near and dear to my heart.

I wanted to cry as I walked up to the registration booth with my sister. 'Hold yourself together your retard.' I thought. Mind you, I'm at an event that helps raise funds for autism research, helps raise awareness in the community and is a great source of information for families new to the whole issue. So....calling myself a retard, perhaps not exactly ironic, but a little...Oh I don't know RETARDED.

My sister asked a girl some questions. I was surprised there weren't more people at the registration booth in fact, but I didn't think much of it. When the girl explained what we needed to do and my sister told me to take out my money and count it I realized it wasn't a registration booth at all. All they had were donation slips. Now THAT was just goofy. 'Who the hell would be stupid enough to need....' my thought froze in my brain when I saw the jar full of money my sister had in her purse.

Honestly I have no idea if she even counted right and I don't think I could have helped. I could still feel myself sway a little. She kept trying to get me to take out my donations, but I was ready to go. Nice and organized. That's me. Done and done. I'm here to walk damn it.

Sis sealed up her envelope and we headed to the registration line. It was easy standing there with a full tummy, fresh coffee and high spirits. I could feel the excitement building, but I tried to keep it under wraps. Can't let my sister see how happy I was. Don't ask me why. When we talked to the rep at the booth he checked off our names and we began to hand him our envelopes, but he directed us the the "donation's" booth and handed us 6 tickets for t-shirts. Woo!

The day was hot, muggy and sticky...did I mention it was hot? Waiting around for the other team members was no joy, but my sister made it easy. She knew exactly what to do and I just followed her lead. When everyone was finally situated it was time to start the Walk..., but when I turned around everyone that we'd been waiting for was gone. Turns out no one had any intention of walking at all. In fact, I don't know if they even knew that there was actually a 5k (3mi) route until I pointed it out to my sister. I don't think I hid my sadness very well. I tried to because I didn't want to ruin my sisters day. She worked so fucking hard for it and I just didn't want to seem like I didn't appreciate all the effort she put into it, but truth be told we had absolutely no need to be there that early if we weren't going to walk. I slept less than 3 hrs and I started to feel sorry for myself not to mention a little sick. Mostly I was sorry that I didn't know my sister wasn't going to join the walk in the first place because I could have saved her the agony of frying under that blistering sun.

By the time my niece and nephew got there it was about 11:30am. I was ready to leave, but I stood there taking pictures and trying not to fucking cry. See, in my mind we were all going to walk those 3 miles as a family. I pictured myself taking my godson by the hand and walking 3 glorious miles down some winding shady road graced with flowing green trees and flowery bushes all in support of him and the thousands of other autistic community members walking that day. We'd all walk in unison proud that we'd done something most no one else in our family has ever done before. I missed that last year when I accidentally scheduled my exam in the wrong city. I cried half way there. (Where the fuck do I get these ideas though??? lol)

I sucked up my disappointment and took some pretty good pictures, but waiting for Rigid to get there was getting tiresome and so I called and called. By noon I was dying to leave, but Rigid was nowhere in site and my sister could see I simply wasn't feeling well. Turns out he had to wait for Hollywood to get ready. I had forgotten that I'd invited him to go, of course, I wasn't expecting to want to run away when they got there. They did turn up eventually and when they got there all I wanted to do was leave. I didn't even let them buy any water or stand around to chat with my family. I was so tired and now that Rigid was there it was going to be impossible to hold myself together. All I wanted to do was bury myself in his chest and cry. I hope I wasn't too rude.

I felt like I was about to ruin the day as I walked away from everybody. I walked ahead of Rigid and Hollywood so they wouldn't see me cry, but there was nothing I could do. The tears just streamed down my face and I fucking hated it. I hate that I can't control my emotions. Everything that comes out of me is always this over bloated and stupid fucking reaction whether I'm laughing, crying or writing. By the time I got to the car it just didn't matter anymore. They tried to get me to tell them what was wrong, and when I did it only got worse.

Here's the line that pisses me off the most, "Well, I mean at least you were able to donate the money though right? It's a good cause right? know, walking isn't really a big part of it. It's about the donations right?" said Hollywood.

Yeah, it's all about the money. That's what I give a shit about. It's not an easy thing to explain let alone understand. I get it, we did a good thing... a GREAT thing. It's not easy for me to ask anyone for money and it's even less easy for my sister, but you know, we did it. We did... and yeah, we should be and ARE proud, but walking those 3 miles meant more to me than raising the money.

It meant shedding the years of pain I spent asking myself why it had to be my nephew. Of not understanding why it had to be him. WHY? Why do any of us have to see our little sisters suffer this way? Why couldn't it have been me? I know... I KNOW it's selfish, I fucking know but what the hell am I supposed to do? I'm not fucking perfect, I'm not a robot and I don't see things the way other people do. All I wanted to do was stand with a bunch of strangers and do something I don't normally do, share something in common or simply represent something bigger than me. Bigger than all of us.

So my sister and I had different ideas in our heads. I don't blame her, but it's hard choking on things all the time and so I cry. I just cry until it all comes out and it may take minutes, hours, days or months. That's just me so when Hollywood took me home I was ready to crawl under my covers and just sleep, but he insisted on taking us out to lunch again. He suggested I take a nice cold shower and get dressed. I was still confused about the night before and felt a little reluctant, but I could tell Rigid wanted to go. Thing is I wasn't about to let him pay for another dinner and I know full well that I don't have a single dollar that I can spend on a nice meal so I didn't know what the hell I was going to do.

We ended up by the beach at an Outback. We had such a great time. The only thing that bothered me was a comment he'd made. The days' events came up again and I mentioned that I was still upset. He pretty much blew me off by saying it was "water under the bridge already." To be fair, he didn't actually blow me off. He was only trying to be helpful and not let me dwell as I do, but my brain was screeching. I can't stand it when someone tells me how I should or shouldn't feel. How much I should or shouldn't say. It's like running your fingernails against the grain and wondering why you suddenly end up with splinters lodged underneath your nails. It's beyond IRRITATING to me and so at that moment I was glad.

I was so fucking glad because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this person was of absolutely no interest to me and I'd given him no "in" at all. There was never a point in time when I gave him an indication that I was interested, ever. And so I made the decision then not to tell Rigid about his friends silly mistake. I know he had no intention of actually following through. He was drunk and the fact is that everything is that much more foggy at this point so it makes no sense to even think about it anymore.

I'm not about to ruin the friendship that Hollywood and Rigid have together because of one stupid sentence that I'm not even sure I heard right. I want what I say to be the truth. I want it to be final and I don't want to think about it ever again, but I'm always watching and wary. We'll see how things really turn out, but for now...It's water under the bridge because I say it is.

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