Sunday, February 28, 2010

Perfecting the Lie

This is a response to Mr. London Street's post, "100 Words: Lying."


He believed me not because I am a good liar, but because he needed it to be the truth.

Too much had happened last night. Too much of which either one of us were willing to discuss. The evening was simple enough, to begin with, when my friend and I decided we should gather a large group together to go see a movie. We had a rough idea for a date and a list of all those with which we wished to share the moment. Of course, it is always simple until feelings get involved. That is when it happened: the explosion.

One cannot always predict when people are going to bump heads, and the worst part about all of this is, the fault was placed on me. As if I was supposed to just instinctively know the world would collapse with one message asking people if they are free on a Tuesday or Wednesday. "You should have known better," he said. Those words stung me. This boy, who, at one time, I considered a best friend, was attacking me. "If he is going to be there, I sure as hell ain't," he added--written not just for me to read but for everyone included on the list. And while he made a fool of himself I just sat on my end of the network shaking my head in disbelief of what had occurred within a matter of minutes.

This sudden confrontation was [and is] based on several lies: secrets his friends are not telling him, truths he is suppressing. His life has become shaded by this idea of a first, true love and things she will never tell him. "What's wrong, Jennifer?" my friend Mikey asked.
"I'd have to call you," I said. Again, this was posted for more than one to see. "Don't tell the whole fucking world my business!" he said, now probably mad at Mikey. My nerves on edge and my wit at its best, "I assure you, whatever story I am telling him is not the same one you know." I had him. He knew I did, too. He continued to try and fight it, but eventually stopped and left me to the one friend who is always there when I am upset. Of course, once everything was said and done, I did call the boy and he apologized. I tried, despite his eagerness to tell me I did nothing wrong, and we discussed the situation.

Once again, I found myself suppressing what I knew and listening to his heart break apart, as usual, over this one person in his life he swears means more to him than the world. He will never admit to himself that it is not worth the time. Even though he is willing to state that this relationship he cherishes has hurt him and been the most difficult thing he has ever gone through in his life.

While he may be a fool, he thinks he is a fool in love. How could I ever explain to him he is a fool who has fallen to love? He has been crippled by this black widow, of sorts.

Had this conversation happened face-to-face, I might have still had my wit shine through and stood on top at the end. However, I will never be a great liar for one reason: my face. I have been told, on more than one occasion, my face and eyes give me away. This may give others the advantage, however, I find it annoying. He would have known I was hiding something had we been sitting across from one another. At least on the phone all I had to worry with was my voice possibly cracking. "I don't really know," I told him--over and over again.
"Jennifer, please, this is important. Do you know something I don't?"
"No, I swear."

He believed me not because I am a good liar, but because he needed it to be the truth. I lied and it kills me. But what kills me more is while I know I could never lie to his face she has and will for the duration of their togetherness. And we all have to remind ourselves it is not our place to get involved--his friends, the ones standing beside him. Being a liar is a life-long commitment, and I would only be successful if I were to surround myself with gullible people. But when would I ever have a stimulating conversation or relationship that way? Does she never feel empty and pathetic? I am not sure how to perfect the lie, and I am not sure I want to know how either.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Little Time To Think

So everyone is aware, I am still the happy-go-lucky Jennifer that I have been for the past couple of weeks, I have just been caught up in my usual over-thinking. I honestly hate that about myself. If, for one day, I could shut my brain off and just stare at a wall, I would be the most content I have probably been in awhile.

When I try to think about my mother, I do not always remember a lot at one time. Films give people the disillusion that memories will fall down around them like a horrifically beautiful collage of pictures and home movies, but it never happens that way. I have an unfortunately good memory--part of the reason why I have a tendency to dwell on things--however, when I try to remember things about loved ones I have lost, I typically draw a blank.

Sunday night, I had finished packing and was ready to tuck myself in bed before I make the long trip back to campus, when I found a picture of my mother on my wall. It was of my mother, Lynn Gleason, before she started her treatments. I studied the picture for awhile and suddenly realized the face smiling back at me was slightly unfamiliar. This thought was not comforted with my poor memory of her, either.

I spent so much time being angry and only really remembering some of the worst memories, I had forgotten who my mother was--the woman everyone else saw. I felt like a despicable human being. Sunday night, the worst of the memories flooded back and I remembered the days of being a rebellious bitch of a daughter at 14-years old and could not believe some of the things I had said and done to her. And despite all of it, she loved me more than any other woman could. She was an amazing mother and I never gave her enough credit. I can only hope she has forgiven me by now.

The worst thing a person can do is dwell on the bad or make a bad situation worse by forgetting what made life worth living "back then." We all need people, and even adults need their parents. I am fortunate enough to still have my father and to have my stepmother in my life, but I can never forget I did have an actual mother who cared for me more than I was willing to give in return sometimes. In more ways than I would have been willing to admit even a year ago, she is the reason I am here today doing what I am doing. It may sound sappy, but people need to know how much they mean to others. I try to let the ones in my life know, and I hope they do understand just how much I need them and love them.

When given that little bit of time to think, Sunday night, I realized I have been given the chance to finally start healing and understanding who my mother was and how much she meant to me--thoughts I had been shoving aside for too long. I am experiencing some of the more painful aspects of this at the moment, but I am actually happy about it. I never turn away the process of healing. Being bitter hurts more.

Related Post: How Writing and My Mother's Nagging Saved Me

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grilled Chicken Salad


Photo Source

One weekend can feel like an eternity when I return to campus. I feel years behind those who decided to stick it out and stay. I ran home and now I feel as if everyone I have made connections with has to catch me up on their life. But I was only gone for three days.

So many stories have molested my ears and filled my head, I am surprised I did not call out for an aspirin. Food is the best way to swap stories. And that was precisely what my roommate and I did after I returned from my somewhat uneventful philosophy class--group assignments lead to little brain activity, thus, I felt disturbingly tired.

The latest hot spot for this semester--typically infested by many with which I would not want to be trapped in an elevator--was eerily vacant for the afternoon. Cieanna and I made our way to one of the restaurants inside, ordered a quick meal and received the annoying, buzzing, flashing plastic discs that alarm the customer of their food waiting for their consumption. I hate those discs. I had just gotten my drink from the fountain when mine began "alerting" me, quite violently actually, of the salad set out on the counter. Cieanna's quickly mimicked the same noise and we promptly found a place to sit and enjoy our meal.

A grilled chicken salad--that is what they call it. The chicken does not look grilled. The leaves were not just lettuce, but a mixture of red cabbage, spinach and romaine and iceberg lettuce. The tomatoes and onions were left for me to chop as I please. Because of this, I just tossed them to the side. It was a good salad, just unexpected. Cieanna kept it safe: chicken tenders and fries. While I attempted to attack the large bowl of salad, she spoke.

"I can't believe I did it, Jennifer," she said.

I could not believe it either. Though the details shall remain scant, I am sure she will be thinking differently about how she handles herself. I am gone for a weekend, and she ensues a possible riot. It would not be the first time she has done something weird over the period of a short weekend, but her feelings about her decisions seem to intensify as the year presses on. I try to not make a point to judge, but listen. It is not like I have not put myself in dumber, though not necessarily similar, situations.

She finished her food before I did. There was something in her voice as she spoke. Words were coming, however her mind seemed to be still reeling over the details, and as the empty words fell from her, clearly only for her benefit, I just sat in my seat quietly trying to stab a flimsy, plastic fork through a fresh, rather large, crouton. One thing that pleases me: they use fresh, buttery croutons. Even Truett's does not accommodate me in such a way. Changes one's whole idea of the salad.

"So, what have we learned from this experience?" I said, rather sarcastically, once she had dotted the last "i" of her thoughts.

Cieanna then gave me the look. She and I both knew as long as she was still here, it would be more than difficult to escape these types of situations. She had already made the riotous connections.

"I know I don't want to be that type of person," she said. A good decision given the circumstances.

The ranch dressing the restaurant gave me was hardly enough for the entire salad. I suppose it is to keep me from soaking my salad and turning my rather healthy meal into a fattening party for my easily expandable stomach. They must know me and my eating habits. However, if they were, indeed, such amazing foreseers, they would have known I would want more ranch, thus, to be good servers, would have presented me with a size option on the amount of ranch--or dressing of my choice--I am allowed to drizzle onto the plethora of leaves and veggies handed to me in the large, porcelain bowl. During my roommate's slew of thoughts, I was contemplating how to distribute the contents of the plastic cup evenly. About a second after I began, I quickly gave up and began stabbing my remaining croutons again.

Her stories reminded me of mine from this past weekend. There was not a lot to say, but I am known for remember more details than some, so I was able to conjure up a nice small tale when asked, "What did you do this weekend while you were home?"

"Not much... I mean..." I sat there thinking, "Should I tell the story--the one real story I have?" I decided to make things even, I would. After all, she knew I would not be able to top her this afternoon. I was, after all, only home. I did not go to the city and hit up some big club. (As if I would.)

Surprisingly enough, I did not bore her. My story required a quick backtrack of history between characters and their relation to me, but she listened. After I had finished, it was interesting the conclusion to which I had arrived. Some of the characters in my life are just as wilted and repulsive as the salad's leaves had become over the course of my meal. I kept such a thought to myself and laughed internally. Three hours from here, I have stories full of characters who live in the past, or have trapped themselves in situations they could have avoided. Right now, my roommate and I were sitting at a table in a university, with a world of more stories still untold and characters still unmet, and we both are two people determined to not allow ourselves to be stuck in a rut. We know what we want, and are preparing ourselves for the future.

I love those characters at home, however, their complaints leave me shaking my head later. I guess it is safe to say, I learn from their mistakes. While I have never been one to shy away from routine, I am not going to let myself get so caught in it I begin to hate the routine.