– The best part of getting a new phone is not, in fact, that I can answer text messages more than 38% of the time. It's not that it's shiny and new and fast and smart.
It's that I no longer have to see my old boss's name in my phone.
Now, my old boss was not a bad guy. There is no doubt that I've had better managers, but I've also had worse. We'll just call it a style miscommunication. There you go.
See, my old phone prioritized my numbers by the people I called the most. Given the fact that I called the man several times a week (and often several times a DAY), the guy showed up at the top of my call list, just below my mom and best friend.
And as we all know, it's not the guy that bugs me. It's the digital reminder that I HATED my job, that I made a bad choice, that I had to admit that I wasn't who I wanted to be and didn't know how to get out. I called this guy so much, I tried SO hard that even 6 months after I quit the guy wouldn't drop off my most called list.
I suppose that's a pretty great metaphor for how easily the shitty stuff sticks. And the great stuff-be cause there is SO much great stuff- does that stick? Not so much. Does pleasure ever do the same thing- sit in your stomach in its opposite impression of dread and anxiety? Remind you that you are a nice person, a fun person, a person whose experiences will add up to big things and kind things and great things that will matter to some people, however small or large that number might be?
I can't wait to see which contact takes this guy's place, this banner of my glaring perceived failure and inability. What will it mean to gain a sister in that spot, someone who calls me to ask if I'll make the cake for the birthday this weekend? Or my closest friend from back East with more calls about work and exciting places to travel to together?
Sorry, old boss. It's not personal.
– It's my last few weeks on campus. Walking from the parking lot, too far away, a big styrofoam Dunkin' Donuts cup warming my hand (even though it is MAY and it's not supposed to BE like this in MAY, do you HEAR me, NEW HAMPSHIRE?) and I'm hitting the fork where two ramps lead me in the same exact direction and all of a sudden it occurs to me: I had officially lived longer without a dad in my life than I had with one. And that was good. It was better than good. It was like erasing the genetic code with time and easing strong memories into the sour childhood corners I didn't really stop to think about, but nevertheless existed with their skinny, glossy cobwebs of unhappiness.
But I don't think about that long. Because, really, who cares about that? I haven't. It was just a thought, a reminder of the good that happens along the way.
I'm in the first place that is ever truly mine. I'd spent the last several months in a drafty apartment that was way too big for me, living on my laptop and eating student ramen, pulling numbers and words and answers out of pure air. I had a candy bowl I had stocked once with three bags of candy: Nerds, Skittles and Mini Milky Ways that were barely consumed because I've learned that while I like to BUY candy and LOOK AT candy and EAT candy, I leave it alone if it is sitting there in it's luxurious and plentiful bowl. (This is not a financial or health lesson that I LEARNED or TOOK anywhere, because 20 yards behind me in the kitchen there is a drawer of lollys and Fun Size Bars and Scharfenberger chocolate.) I had a yellow rug in a bright red room, fireplaces painted with scenes of Maine by some hippie who lived in the space a few tenants before me, house centipedes with beady eyes that stared at me from the top of the radiator and gave me countless heart attacks.
The house was old, on the river, and when Spring came I didn't just get loads of magical light, I got wasps. They lived in the walls, sitting around playing Poker in the winter and strategizing with their blueprints about how they would be sure to emerge INSIDE my apartment instead of the great outdoors where they belong. And when there are wasps in your house, there is no hope. You don't swat a wasp from the inside to the outside. You don't use those toxic jet spray cans in the kitchen where you make little pink cupcakes (with sprinkles!) for your broke classmates. You put on pajama pants tucked snugly into Ugg boots, a long-sleeved blouse over rubbergloves, a scarf wrapped completely around your head until you have an eye-sized space to examine your prey. And you stand in front of that buzzing effer and you gather up your damn courage (and usually this takes you ten minutes, because you have courage, but good LORD, it is deep inside, especially this courage to attack that damn bug who will leak it's death fumes deeper into your apartment to alert all his asshole poker buddies that they should take note, get revenge on that loony girl with the ugly footwear) and you will wrap up that advertisement promising $3 packages of chicken on newsprint and you will WHACK THE HELL OUT OF THAT WASP.
And it will be YOUR place. And you will win.