It was supposed to be for boot socks. Wool ones in fun, speckled colors. A two-pack of knee highs for eight dollars. But that isn’t what happened. That was never the plan. Not really.
On the way over, before I even so much as saw the red neon sign, Anna Nalick lied to me. She said I could just wait it out, this temporary storm, and wake up in a couple thousand days.
It was my own voice that cracked beneath that promise, my car idling at a red light. Anna was wrong. I knew that. I knew there was no hide-and-seek for 20somethings. There would be no hiding for the girl who doesn’t come home to someone else’s muddy boots.
How nice it would’ve been to turn the bronze key, unload my belongings, and catch the smell of something on the stove or a candle flickering on the countertop or the washing machine sloshing a load of whites.
True Confession: Some nights, I turn the dishwasher one and head back to the cold air. When I return, half an hour or forty-five minutes later, it is like my apartment has lived without me: moving and bustling emptily. This is, arguably, the most relieving and undermining feeling in the world.
So I chose HEATED DRY and found myself halfway to broken. There’s nothing you can do when you find cracks in your day that you cannot fill with someone else’s sorry days, someone else’s needs.
The boot socks didn’t have flecks. They were black and grey and white and I needed a little dab of color, even if no one else would ever see them. That’s how I ended up in ELECTRONICS.
And it’s the saddest reason, really, I’ve ever bought a CD: I needed to know that those of us on the cusp of 23 were broken not because we were weak, but because we gave slices of ourselves, limb by fragile limb, to the whipping wind and the turquoise sky and tornado warnings scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen. We gave ourselves to the kids who died too young and the ones who forgot how to love us.
I needed to know that not every story ends with Should’ve Know or Nice Try.
I needed to know that there was a spectrum of alternatives not printed on fortune cookie inserts or shaken to the surface of a Magic 8 Ball.
I needed to know that I wasn’t just a blue-eyed girl with frayed jeans and hopes that would always be too high.
I started thinking about the way we see ourselves and the way others perceive us. And I wondered if the cashier would look at me and see a broken girl with a broken budget and a conveyer belt full of all the words she wanted someone else to tell her. I wondered if my eyes were tired, if my feet were dragging across the tile floor, if I had stood long enough in front of that display and debated whether or not I needed a confidante who wouldn’t even bother to call me for coffee.
I decided that I did.
It’s the saddest decision, when you are alone and so desperately waiting for someone to listen, to get it, even if that someone has never so much as tried your name on her lips. Even if that someone has too many heartbreaks to worry about yours.
Target and Taylor have never let me down. But man, I wonder how I would’ve felt to say I didn’t need that, just could use some socks to keep my feet warm, just some socks please. Would it have felt better?