Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Walking Home

I have nowhere to go. Have no meetings. Have no auditions. Have no friends in town. No family to visit. No lover with big hugs and soft kisses waiting at my doorstep. I have nowhere to go.

So I walk slow. Real slow. I dodge puddles and avoid passersby with big, wet umbrellas. I heave heavy shopping bags in each hand and a purse that grows fuller every day, yet I walk home real, real slow. Cause I have nowhere else to go.

I am on a new street now. It is still raining and there are droplets hanging off each earlobe and one slowly slides down my nose like a Six Flags ride. I like walking in the rain on humid summer evenings. I love the smell of rain. I suddenly ache for Kentucky hillsides, green as blue and yellow fingerpaint. Wish I could drop my bags and run barefoot across my farm back home, dodging cow patties and thistles instead of cigarette butts and dog crap. New York is getting to me. But I have nowhere else to go.

A firefly stops me still. He is hovering right in front of me and if I step to the left of him, I'll brush up against a very wet lion statue. Yet, to the right of this little bug is an overflowing trash can, water dousing its contents so that the leakage is forming a formidable puddle. I have nowhere to go, so I just stop; wait for it to flicker its light up, up, up and above me. I am taken back to summer nights and mason jars, running barefoot over dandelion kissed backyards, my papaw poking holes in the top of aluminum foil make-shift lids. Remember watching them flick on and off again, their lights hovering on the bookshelf in my bedroom, held captive in their jars. I would free them the next day and catch them all over again that night. I wonder if they were the same bugs. They could have caught on, could have moved to a new backyard, free of zealous blonde pig-tailed little girls. But maybe they just had nowhere else to go.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Birthday Joy... and Longing

The homecoming keeps getting harder; rather, the home-leaving.

I have just rolled my suitcase down 30th Ave, crossing above the loud highway and rounding the corners past Dunkin' Donuts and Morris Funeral Home, after a wonderful birthday weekend in Kentucky, to enter Fort Knox. (My landlord has us sealed in here with a black steel gate, a black steel gated security door, two doors with knob locks, and two deadbolts - each with a different key.) Up the two flights of stairs, and a heavy sigh as I lug the suitcase inside and head to the bathroom for some tissue. I get an allergy induced cold every time I go home.

The bathroom is super stuffy. "Central Air" is a luxury I took for granted most of my life. (It amazes me that New York is the "capital of the world", yet in all of her advancements, home thermostats and washer/drier hook-ups were skipped right over.) My roommate, April, has left me a note saying that she left our one a/c window unit on 'low' so that at least the living room would be a little cooler.

I flop on the couch and close my eyes. I can't believe that I already took two flights today and am sitting on my couch by 11:30am. Going on only four hours sleep, I am a tired girl. And emotional.

I think about this weekend. Jerrod threw me a surprise cookout and I got to see some good friends I miss so much. My family played croquet and bocce ball for hours outside and my sister made me the most moist yellow cake (sans icing - my favorite). Before I came home, my roommates and co-workers took me to dinner and Japanese karoake. And the day before I left, Maggie surprised me with a day of Barbeque in Madison Square Park.

It was a wonderful birthday. And yet...

It just keeps getting harder!

I keep wondering if I'm making the right decisions. I am happiest with Jerrod in the room, even when he's being obscenely annoying. I don't like being alone all of the time. I miss his touches, his kisses, his loud laugh, his stubborn streak, his paper-rock-scissors-decision-making-tactics, his love. And I miss my family. Miss my dad's corny jokes and just love watching him laugh so hard that he can't control himself from slapping his knee. Miss my mom's cookin' -- fried porkchops, brown beans and cornbread, corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, and strawberry pie. Miss my brother and sister, too. Miss making them laugh and making them mad. Love sitting across from them at the dinner table.

I just thought that after eight months in New York, this would get easier.

I am on the verge of tears on the couch, so I decide that I should prepare for my audition today. I head to my room to unpack and upon opening the door, I gasp audibly. A HAPPY BIRTHDAY sign is taped on the wall above my bed and colorful helium balloons are tied to my dresser, bed, mirror, lamp, everwhere! On my bed (thank God I made it this time) sit birthday presents from my roommates. A pink Victoria's Secret box shines up at me, but even more delightful are the peanut butter cookies on either side. I open the tupperware and taste a bite of cookie immediately. (I am a bit of a peanut butter cookie snob. I admit it! I am not easy to please in this department.)

But these cookies are delicious! They are so moist and small, perfectly criss-crossed on the tops, golden brown. I pour myself a big glass of milk and have a few more. Each bite just makes me smile wider. These girls, these beautiful women, spent time on me. Took the time to make my homecoming, and birthday, something to smile about.

I lie back on my bed and feel happy. Then, I can't help but giggle out loud. My roommates call me the "Tall One" when they can't reach something in the cubbard. I notice, as I stare at the ceiling, that the lime green and baby pink streamers taped to it are twirled and criss-crossed quite festively, but only extend as wide and long as my bed. What a hoot! I can see them now, tip-toeing on my bed and reaching their little arms as far as they will go.

As I gulp down the rest of my milk, I still miss home. . . but I don't think I'll cry now.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Love and Routine

It is nearing my birthday and I miss home. Miss reminding my family every day for a month in advance of June 12 - a day I've always felt should be a nationally recognized holiday. My birthday is always a fun time. I have a family that bakes a cake without icing, and wraps my presents in whatever paper and/or plastic items they find around the house. We play outside, or maybe play a game indoors if the summer's humidity is too great.

I will be home in a few days for the celebration. I have asked my mother to make me roast beef and gravy and her one-of-a-kind homemade mac 'n cheese. My sister usually bakes the yellow cake. My dad will have the yard mowed down tight for an afternoon of croquet. We will laugh all day and will sigh big deep happy sighs as the sun finally sets over the back woods. We will eat strawberry pie and my brother will be so full that he will drag himself over to the couch to lie on his belly until his eyes pop back into their sockets. My fiance will be there, envious of all of my birthday presents. Knowing our time together is short, he will stay within earshot of my big bold laugh; the laugh that used to get me in trouble at church.

Today I received a card from my mother. I figured it to be a Happy Birthday card. I couldn't wait til I got to the train, so I weaved down the sidewalk as I concentrated on tearing open the yellow envelope. It wasn't a birthday card at all. Just another I love you card. A We can't wait to see you card. An I'm so proud that you're my daughter card. She didn't seal all of the edges tight as Fort Knox with American Flag stickers like my dad always does, but she sealed it with kisses, I'm sure.

I was given the best birthday gift ever in my first minute of life. The gift of being a Whitaker.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Price of Friendship

I realize that I need to go to the gym. I know that I always feel better after I work out. I have more energy and then feel justified later when I eat a Snickers.

I also realize that the sink is full of dirty dishes. I see a stack of bills that I should open and pay. I definitely need to pluck my eyebrows and I think the weekly leg shaving is due.

I promised to send a guy my schedule for a meeting next week. I really need to learn the rest of my lines for the show. I should prepare for the meeting that I have this afternoon. This would be a perfect time to send out my headshots and resumes.

But I gotta tell ya, when I'm lounging on the couch, breeze blowing through the open windows on this overcast day, watching The Price is Right with my roommate April (who is addicted), I can't make myself move. It's roommate bonding time. We are glued to the set: formulating a plan to be on the gameshow and deciding what kind of tee-shirts we would make and wear. What with Plink-o and Hi-Lo and Cover-Up, not to mention the fast-approaching ShowCase ShowDown, how can a girl get anything done?

Besides, when I left the room to brush my teeth, April jumped down my throat, "Where are you going?! You can't just leave me here!"

I don't know what she's gonna do when I get married and move out next year. For any of you New York City apartment hunters out there, this lifestyle can be yours, if the price is right!