Ah, Oakland: all alone edition
Back where we left off at. I had just moved into a tiny studio apartment that was actually an old hotel room. I had a tiny kitchen that was retro 50’s with a gas stove that never shut off. Great in the winter, crappy in the summer. However, with the always hot stove came the always drafty windows. I guess everything had its trade offs. I had a rickety old futon that often served as Ian’s bed when he didn’t trust me to be left alone, a corner desk that was left by the previous tenant (that I still own today,) and the bed that I had bought from my neighbor from back home after he died. Don’t worry, it was the guest bed, not his. It was a really cool bed, though. It was made of old brass springs and you could see through it. I also got some old luggage off of the estate sale. The luggage was circa 1960.
I still worked at TGI Fridays and did some massage on the side. I really didn’t like it that much anymore. Partly because I was tired of getting guys who only looked at my boobs or crotch and expected more than your standard massage and partly because I knew I could do something better with my life. Not that being a massage therapist isn’t great – it is, I just wanted more. Not to mention, I was tired of my boss having me give him free massages and then offering me pot in exchange. Again, I thought I deserved better. I was viewed as a piece of ass in every aspect, from the guy I was sleeping with to the people who gave me tips for serving them their food. I went from thinking I was hot and awesome to feeling only hot and not awesome. People only saw my face and nothing else. I felt empty.
As I mentioned, I was sleeping with a guy and he wasn’t the greatest for me. If you knew him, you’d understand. He was really, very nice and kind, but he would only amount to being a cook because that’s all he gave himself credit for. He had a son and lived in his baby mama’s mama’s basement. (I didn’t stutter. It was the kid’s grandma’s house.) So as you can see, I didn’t give myself a lot of credit for spending my free time (mainly nights) with the guy. But, one thing I do give him a lot of credit for was that he was the only person who’d listen to me. Really listen to me. Of course Ian and Lifelong would. But I expected that from them. That’s what best friends are for. But I felt bad for constantly bringing them down with my depression. And that’s what it was – depression.
At this point my cutting was out of control. I had plateaued recently, but having to adjust yet again to major change was just the spike in my tire. I was tired of hurting myself and tired of Ian feeling that he had to live in my apartment on suicide watch, so I figured I should do something about it. That’s when I discovered that CSI was on for 3 hours every night, 4 hours on Fridays.
I was still working mainly daylight at Fridays, so this worked out perfectly. I didn’t go and hang out any more. I didn’t drink or party and I didn’t want to see anyone. I didn’t care how hot they were and how lonely I was, I didn’t want them there. So I curled up on my rickety old bed with my canopy and watched CSI until midnight. I’ve seen every episode up until 2005. Probably at least 4 times each. Sometimes Ian or Lifelong would sit on the futon and watch with me, but I think they got sick of me being sick.
If you looked in my fridge, you’d find, well, probably nothing. I didn’t eat much and it wasn’t because I was afraid I’d get fat, it was because I’d have to prepare it. I didn’t care enough about myself to even heat up cold pizza. There was a Giant Eagle across the street and Little Nippers Pizza up the street. I was fine.
One day, I needed to get some milk for cereal. So I put myself together and walked across the street. While I was waiting in the checkout line, I saw my ex at the next register over. He only lived a few apartment buildings up from me, so it only seemed right that I’d run into him eventually, I just wasn’t really ready for it. But I didn’t have to worry about how I’d feel about talking to him again, because he took one look at me an bolted. When I got outside, I saw him look over his shoulder once and then walked a little faster. What a loser, I thought. But I didn’t think that he was the loser, I thought that I was the loser. Because I was. I had broken up with him over IM and then tried to get him back several months later when he was in another relationship. When he finally caved and tried to work it out with me, I realized it wasn’t in the best interest of either of us and broke his heart all over again.
I didn’t blame him one bit for not wanting to see me or even share the same oxygen as me.
That night, I realized I was really all alone. I lived alone. I shopped alone. I watched CSI alone. I needed to do something about it. For real this time. As much as I loved CSI, I needed to love myself more. Or at least feel. Feel something. One thing I was good at was compassion. I figured I might as well work on that again. I then took it upon myself to take care of the homeless guy in the stairwell. During the day he’d go out and about and his blanket and few belongings would sit in the stairwell awaiting his return. When he was gone, I’d leave him food, shaving products, warm clothes, deodorant … whatever I thought would make me feel more human.
Doing that started something in me. I finally started feeling some self worth. I went and got my hair cut and bought new make up and made an effort. A real effort. It was October, two months before my 20th birthday. I wanted to end my teenage years on a high note. My Mom had mentioned months prior that she thought I’d make a good nurse, so I registered for LPN school. (FYI, that’s why I’m a nurse. Because my Mom said I should. Now, I’m a nurse because I’m good at it, but in the beginning, it was just because someone believed in me.)
A few weeks after my turn around, a coworker noticed. I had told him since the first day that I had met him, if he quit smoking, I’d date him. I didn’t think he liked me in return, but it was my way of flirting. Plus, I really liked him. A lot.
Apparently something about my new demeanor, while not perfect or even close to being normal, made him think I was worth it.
Because he quit smoking.