The Real Bitch.
Those are compliments of the highest order and I was given them just this afternoon.
Well, maybe not Bad Bitch. That’s future me. That’s for sometime in the next thirty minutes or three days or 3 months when I realize my worth and start wielding the powers that have lain dormant inside me for 29 plus years. Once that happens, I’m going to be a BAD BITCH.
And I’m going to know it.
And then I’m going to own it.
At least that’s what a chorus of beautiful women told me when I recounted to them the story of Noah and Stephanie.
First, they laughed uncontrollably.. I have a way with words, you see. Especially around people I’m comfortable with. I know how to tell a good story and embellish it with facial expressions. You may not know that about me. I don’t expect you to. I stand in the shadows and let other people’s lights shine most of the time.
I had a roommate in college who used to tell me I was the ‘real deal’ all the time. She came to visit me when I first moved to Atlanta. She met my then boyfriend and before we parted ways in the hallway of the hotel she was staying in, she yelled to him “That’s the real deal bitch right there. Don’t ever forget that.”
I had not heard that phrase spoken to me again until this afternoon.
It came after the laughter and the incredulity had subsided a bit.
“You’re the real bitch. Not just a real bitch but the real bitch.”
And then, “When you own yourself, you’re going to be a bad bitch, Ms. Stephanie.”
What do they know that I don’t? What did my roommate know a lifetime ago that I never understood?
There’s a story in here about Noah but I don’t know if I have the words to write it. I can only come at this from my own point of view and I’m not sure that’s good enough. I think it deserves more.
He deserves more than the scratched and dented, blurry and faded, point of view that these glasses I’ve been wearing for way to long will offer.
But I will try.
Yesterday, I was trying to figure out how to save a word document to my google drive folder. It was a story I wrote in college and I wanted to send it to Noah. I’m not sure why as I’ve never shared any of my writing with him. I suspect it’s probably a feeble attempt at holding his interest in me for just a little bit longer. There is space here for me to admit that. I’m not ashamed of it. I fully and completely own the blood that bleeds and seeps from the cavities of my heart and does not slow down for anyone or anything.
While I was in my google drive folder, I looked around to see if I could find any lost treasures I may have forgotten about. You know, pictures or poetry or odd musings I had scribbled down. At the very top of the list was a document titled “Stephanie’s Great Adventure.” What is this? I open it and it’s a packing list that Noah had started for us for our bikepacking trip. Of course I had seen the list. I remember when he sent it to me. I thought it was so cute and thoughtful.
But I had never seen the title of it.
It punched me right in the gut.
“Stephanie’s Great Adventure”
The adventure that never was.
The bike that I accidentally on purpose forgot to bring when I met him last weekend in Montgomery. The look that flashed across his eyes when he asked me where my bike was and I told him I forgot it. The tiny little cloud that took up space in his pupils but quickly vanished in the millisecond it took him to digest and accept this news.
He does that.
Noah does that.
It’s a thing of beauty to watch his brain rework and regroup and not miss a single step in the whole process of regeneration. He makes a new plan. The old plan is yesterday and we don’t dwell in yesterdays here. We live right here in the now. Today. 8:36:15 p.m. on a Friday night in the doorway of this bedroom in this old fire station they’ve turned into a retreat on a street named Mobile in Montgomery, Alabama. All we are is right now. This instant. His hands on my shoulders, the heat from them seeping through the jean jacket and t-shirt I’m wearing underneath. The understanding and acceptance in his eyes when I say “I’m sorry” and he says “It’s ok.”
It’s not ok
Because ok is not a state I’ve ever existed in for more than 23 seconds. Only he doesn’t know this about me and he believes his ok is enough to make me understand that we don’t dwell in yesterdays here. We live right here in the now. 8:37:42 p.m. on a Friday night in the doorway of this bedroom in this old fire station.
Soon, in only seconds, we’ll live on top of the bed in that bedroom. That will be our moment then. It will give way to another moment and then another until that revelation in the doorway won’t have big enough wings to fly or hurt us. Except. I will stumble over it on my way to the bathroom at 9:17:04 p.m. on that same Friday night and I will pick it up on my way back and tuck it away down at the bottom of my suitcase and spend the next 5 days sewing wings for it from scraps of conversation, looks I can’t decipher, touches I want but don’t ask for, words I hear through a filter so their meaning gets muffled. The wings will grow big enough to give the revelation the flight it’s so desperately seeking and it will fly around me then; a part of my right here and right now forever.
But I don’t know that at 9:17:03 p.m. and so I roll over and run my hand through his beard and wonder how I ended up here with this man next to me in this bed.
But I can’t live in the happiness forever and I know this. So I take the winged revelation out of its suitcase on Wednesday morning and bring it with me to the park where we play disc golf. It only needs a few more stitches now and it will fly. I know I should take it to the edge of the lake and place it there on the water and watch it drift off towards the middle until an alligator comes along and snatches it for dinner. Noah would like that. He’s been wanting to see an alligator.
But I don’t do any of that.
I finish her wings before we’ve even had a slice of the pizza Noah has ordered for us. She’s flying so high and so free now and I know it’s over for me. She’s a part of me now.
You accidentally on purpose forgot the bike.
He went to a lot of trouble.
He drove a really long way.
You sabotaged everything.
You have no respect for anyone.
That was so rude.
He made plans .
You devalued his time and energy.
Her voice in my head is all I can hear. Noah is trying to get through but she flaps her wings in double time when he speaks.
It will all fall apart soon.
I’m helpless to stop it.
I know what I have to do.
I have to crash and burn to get rid of her.
That’s the only way.
Her ashes smoldering there
in the wreckage of the crash
release the clarity she’s held captive.
I can see clearly now.
But it’s too late.
It’s always too late.