twisted homes

Christine investigated her Hamptons living room: the floor length drapes, playing peek-a-boo with the ocean in the backyard; cold beige couches so modern they made you question sitting at all; the prodigious canvas above the mantle and its $900,000 swipe of red paint.

It was all so familiar. And yet she wondered where she was.

“I am in my home,” she told herself. “But how?”

This sense of displacement was not new to her. She experienced it briefly at Sarah Lawrence, thousands of miles from Oklahoma, but managed to stay distracted by the novelty in her life. It wasn’t until her first year out of college, when she was sitting in a roomful of artsy strangers, that she truly felt the first great shift in her life. She studied them- their furious smoking and sporadic laughter- and wondered how she could tie them to home.

Eventually she realized the only way to do that was to adapt. To become the center of her own venn diagram.

But New York City, in all its amplitude, was never home. Not even when she’d eventually created a life with a husband and two children. As for her mansion on the sea: well, Heaven can’t be home. Not even when you pay for it.

Even in this cavernous house, she could hear Robin slam her bedroom door. And with that slam she felt the emptiness inside her get pounded into mud. It was as if she was stuck inside a cave, while a summer storm began to beat the rocky walls in. Oh, let everything crumble.

She had once, many years ago, seen a tornado. She rooted herself, watching as the sky birthed itself, and her grandfather quietly but quickly ushered the horses inside. “They’ll be fine,” he grumbled from their darkened cellar, as the sky screamed with pain.

Afterwards, she stood in the kitchen of her grandparent’s farmhouse, where she and her mother lived at the time, and looked up through a gaping hole in the roof. The sky was blue again. “If we remembered pain, we wouldn’t have second children,” her mother once told her. Though she was an only child.

She used to tell her own children about that tornado. How all the power lines were bent in half, but the horses were okay. How they sat in the damp cellar together for eternity, and when they came out, the weather was back to normal, but it would never be the same again.

Her daughter would climb on her lap and ask her: “Are you Dorothy Gale?” as her son twirled and whistled like a little cyclone, ripping the sheets from the bed.

But Robin was no longer her sweet little girl. She was a force of nature, just like that twister from so long ago, and Christine had spent the better part of the last two years waiting it out in the cellar.

Just a few minutes ago, Robin stormed out of the room, leaving her iPad on the counter.

Christine placed it in the sink, and reminded herself that she was the adult, as she had done so many times over the past 14 years.

She grabbed a stone from her son’s collection, and held it over the sink. She let it drop, hoping for a satisfying crack. But it did no damage.

She would never be a tornado. How had she let her daughter become one?

“How do you stop a tornado?” She wondered. But once it’s formed, it’s formed.

Please RSVP!!

What’s not to like about a picnic?!

Unless you’re allergic to grass, perhaps. Or the flies bother you.

But other than those two things, what can you do other than just fully enjoy the day when you are at a picnic?

I mean, I guess if you have back problems, I suppose, and it’s hard for you to sit on the ground. Or if you’re prone to sunburn – I get that that.

But other than those four things, what’s not to love about lounging in the park on a sunny day with good friends and good cheese?

Unless you’re coming alone and you don’t know anyone to start, and you’re not really great at meeting people, especially in the daylight on a Sunday afternoon when everyone is sober, or only having one glass of wine, and there’s a distinct possibility that everybody will already know each other, and because of this, they will be too busy having fun conversations amongst themselves, and they won’t really want to take the time to make small talk with you, and if you show up late, there won’t be much room left on the blanket so your butt will kind of be halfway on the grass and you’ll get kind of itchy because it’s Brooklyn Grass and so it’s probably contaminated and you’re wearing short shorts so bugs might try to look at your hoo hah and perhaps you might bring the wrong cheese and everybody will say “awwwww thank you,” with a fake smile and then nobody will really eat it because you have generic taste in cheese and then the cheese will start to feel left out too and you will feel bad for it and you will get totally in your head about the cheese and you don’t belong and you never will and you’re too pale for picnics anyway and why did you even wear shorts what if people notice your cellulite what if they stare at it what if they think you’re weak why would you invite a redhead to a picnic at a treeless park anyway and what if someone brings nuts and you eat them and suddenly you become allergic to nuts or what if you don’t become allergic to nuts but at the EXACT MOMENT you find yourself warming up to someone and having a comfortable conversation, you get cocky and then you choke on one instead? And then you die?

Image result for social anxiety memes

So, if those things bother you, I TOTALLY understand if you don’t want to come to my birthday picnic.

But just so you know, if you don’t show up, I WILL overthink it, and I’ll probably send you an email asking you why you hate me, and then you’ll have to live with that for a couple of weeks.

Please RSVP so I know whether to bring GF crackers or not! Thanks!

a muse before dark

“Hey.”

A long, wiry man with curly dark hair and wings was laying on my couch. It was confusing.

“Hey.” I said, to be polite. I was in a hurry though. I had a date. And I still had to shower and walk the dog.

“How was work?” He asked, gently.

“Good?” I responded with a question, I think, because I wasn’t quite sure yet how work was. I was an executive assistant, and quite bored with it. So even on my best days, I was still standing at the very bottom of the gaping hole that was my life, looking for a rope. But there was food down there!

The man with wings was laying very seductively, propped up on one elbow with his hand on his head. His other hand rubbed his naked belly.

“I’m not going to have sex with you.” I told him, flat out. I didn’t know who he was or where he came from, and frankly, I wasn’t interested in the wings, as liberal as I claimed to be.

“I know.” He smiled at me, almost painfully.

My dog, Aura, bit at my hand. She was ready to go out. I felt like I should figure out why this guy was in my apartment before I went anywhere. He couldn’t have been too dangerous, if Aura was okay with him. But still, something was off.

“So, how did you get in?” I sat at the edge of the couch, careful not to touch his feet. I didn’t know where they had been.

He sat up, clutching a throw pillow to his chest. He really was very docile. His wings fluttered, tenderly. His eyes were colorless, and his cheeks were rosy. If not for the hairy chest and the day old stubble, I would have found him literally cherubic.

“I floated in through the window. I was actually trying to get to the third floor,” he put his hands to his little poochy belly, “But this was easier.”

Suddenly we were holding hands. He was very soft.

He produced a pair of wire glasses, and put them on.

“I’m your new muse,” he announced. His wings flittered with excitement and his cheeks flushed a new bright pink.

At first I was very excited to hear this. Maybe now I could quit my job. Then I realized that I wasn’t his intended partner.

“I thought you were trying to get to the third floor.” I shook his hands off of mine.

He smiled wide for the first time, and I realized he was missing a few teeth. I found this comforting, since the rest of him was nearly perfect. Minus all the body hair.

“Art!” He yelped, and then the dog yelped too, “is a mysterious lover.” He paused dramatically.

I decided to multitask so as not to be late for my date. I clipped my nails in the silence.

“What do you think?” he asked.

“I could get behind a muse.” I decided. Although I was skeptical.

He snapped his fingers:

And I was confronted by a wave of nostalgia and longing that I didn’t even know I possessed. It was as if every happy moment in my childhood, every adolescent fancy I had ever inhabited, collided inside of me. A black hole was collapsing, and I was nearly free. Or perhaps it was a bang- a new universe had exploded to life inside of me, and I was the creator.

“I want to paint!” I was yelling and I didn’t know why.

He clapped gleefully.

“I’ve always wanted to be a painter! But I never thought I could!!”

He kissed me on the mouth. He kissed the dog on the mouth.

“Myra,” he held my face with two dainty hands, and looked me in the eyes. I felt so alive. I felt like I was holding my heart in my own hands. “You will paint.”

He produced a small leather bag from under the couch, and removed a folder.

“Packages start at 49.99 per month.”

 

A comedian like you

Pia and Karen play cards, while Mickey tries to ignore them and focus on her book.

Karen: I signed up for an improv class!

Pia: Oh, great!

Mickey is suddenly interested.

Mickey: What does that even mean?

Karen: Improvisational comedy. I’m going to be a comedian, like you.

Mickey: Mom I don’t do improv. You’ve been to my shows- when do I ever do improv?

Karen: I’ve seen you do improv.

Pia: I think she means your standup has a very improvisational quality.

Mickey: Well, of course, I mean there’s always going to be a-

Karen: That one time the man in the front row was texting, and you called him a- no, you said he- Pia, what did she say to that texting man?

Pia: Oh yeah, she said his- he had a ponytail right? She said, I think she said that his ponytail was way too luscious to be sitting in the dark?

Mickey: No-

Karen: Yeahhh something about his ponytail-

Pia: Then she said she was going to eat his phone, like it was a $14.00 taco?

Karen: That I didn’t understand.

Pia: It was like a hipster joke… kind of a bad one.

Mickey: You guys are the worst.

She turns back to her book. 

Mickey: Whatever. I hope you have fun, Mom, I think it will be good for you.

Karen: I think it will. Denny always said I was funny.

They sit in somber silence. Pia pats Karen’s shoulder. 

Mickey: Oh, come on, he’s not dead. You left him in Wisconsin!

Pia: Mickey, your mom just made a huge life change. When you dismiss her feelings like that you invalidate her brave choices. Karen? Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Karen is scrolling through Facebook on her phone. They wait for her to answer. 

Mickey: Mom. Pia is waiting for you to tell me that I hurt your feelings so that I can apologize.

Karen: Sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. Donna just posted this video of a cat at a grocery store, ordering something from the meat counter.

Pia locks eyes with a smug Mickey.

Mickey: She’s gonna be fine.

half your age

Mickey grabs a beer from the fridge. Thinks long and hard about whether or not she should take one for Garrett too. Decides to put them both away, and pours them each a glass of orange juice instead. 

Pia comes home, looking pissed off and exhausted.

Mickey: Hey! How was work?

Pia: I had to wear this giant, like, plastic dress thing with a bunch of little slits in it, and then they locked champagne flutes into them like a puzzle. And I was also on rollerblades. So basically I was a giant drink tray on wheels. For 6 hours.

Mickey: Wow, cool!

Pia: No, Mickey, it was awful! At one point this guy grabbed a champagne from one of the slots and said to his friends, “see, this is why you send your daughters to college!” And they all thought it was hilarious, of course. I have a phD!

Mickey: Yeah, in Peace Studies.

Pia: Which is exactly why I didn’t punch that motherfucker in the head.

Mickey: Don’t you think therapy would have been cheaper than another 3 years of school?

Pia: I don’t need therapy! Hey- what are you doing up so late? Why are you drinking orange juice? Oh my gosh, do you have someone over?

Mickey: Maybe. Maybe not.

Suddenly Garrett enters from Mickey’s room. He looks young. Not even 20. 

Garrett: Hey.

Pia: Oh, wow. Hi.

Mickey hands him a glass. 

Mickey: OJ?

Garrett: Does it have pulp?

Mickey reads the label on the bottle. 

Mickey: Mmm, yes.

Garrett: No thanks, I don’t like pulp in my orange juice.

Pia: I do.

She pours herself a glass of vodka and dumps the orange juice on top. 

They sit in awkward silence. 

Mickey: So… what are you gonna do now?

Garrett: I dunno. Probably keep hanging out with you.

He grabs a beer and heads back to Mickey’s room. 

Mickey: Cool. Cool cool cool.

Pia: Wooooooooooooow. He’s like, 20!

Mickey: No Pia, he’s 18.

Pia: WHAT, why?

Mickey: Because now that I’m 36, I can technically sleep with someone half my age. So I did. Because there’s absolutely nothing else special about being 36.

Pia: Where did you even meet an 18 year old?

Mickey: Snapchat.

She pulls a beer from the fridge. And then takes the whole case and heads to her room.

Mickey: Night.

Pia gets her phone from her purse. 

Pia: I should learn how to use Snapchat.