It was another long, drunken march up Belmont. But not that Belmont in Chicago. This was a different Belmont on the other side of the country. This Belmont didn’t have a single punk rock clothing store or piercing parlor. This Belmont stretched eastward into a mountain, and well, I didn’t know what was past the mountain because I didn’t have a car to drive there.
It had taken me a year to be ready to leave my mother’s house in Pennsylvania. I had to learn to speak again. To eat and sleep and smile and shower. I had forgotten how to execute all of life’s most menial tasks. I empathized with the brain-damaged victims of horrendous car crashes and gory freak accidents. I remembered a video in junior high school about the evils of drugs and alcohol (or maybe it was reckless driving?) called It Happened In A Millisecond. That title seemed so poignant to me now.
The path to feeling somewhat human (or least behaving as if I felt that way) began with devouring stacks of long, dark Russian novels. Maybe my life seemed less grim by comparison. Soon I began to eat three meals on most days. I stopped wearing my husband’s clothing. I noticed that my hair was long overdue for a box of hair color. I called Patrick. And I finally unpacked the boxes of my Chicago belongings that had been stacked against all of four walls of my bedroom for months. Next I found a job “proudly serving Starbucks coffee” at a big box bookstore two towns over. It was where all of the local weirdos and art jerks liked to hang out. They told me their problems while I made their lattes. You’re the best listener, Evangeline. I enjoyed that brief glimpse into someone else’s life and worries. So I made some friends. But I still preferred to spend my time alone. I drove around the countryside for hours at night, mentally writing long letters to my dead husband. Continue reading