If you didn’t want to go to Cleveland, why did you get on the bus?

I’ve called my potential employer for next school year a few times now, so my presence is known. Now I just have to wait. I am waiting to know what the end of summer will bring. Waiting to hear back from potential summer work. Waiting for other people’s decisions to be made so I can make mine. Waiting for myself to rearrange things and sort things out.

The heavy air in my apartment and the summertime noises blurred by the window fan makes it seem as though time is slowing and stopping. Or maybe it’s continuing, but I am here facedown on the bed. I’m not peaceful or quiet or anxious or anticipatory. Just stagnant.

Did I say I wasn’t anxious? I am very anxious. But right now the anxiety is a dull buzz.

Yesterday I went out to the lake to spend some (unfortunately brief) time with my family, which was wonderful. I went back to Ann Arbor and had several failed attempts at being social. I ended up by myself at the Rendez Vous – open late. I have a lot of memories of smoking hookah on the terrace in warm weather, or smoking cloves inside with snow melting off my boots, waiting for last bus back to Ypsi. A few first dates, a few last dates, lots of good friends, many good conversations in several languages, from the trivial to the life-changing.

It had been a long time since I spent any length of time there, or in any smoky environment. I don’t know if it’s my still-lingering cough, or the now-unfamiliar secondhand smoke, or just all the sensory memories, but I felt like the smell of the smoke invaded my entire brain. I sat at my laptop in front of my paper I was writing, smelling cigarettes and the heavier tobacco of the hookahs, brushing the bugs off that flew in the window, listening to students go by. All the students look really young to me, which really doesn’t make sense coming from me (my students’ parents often laugh out loud when they first meet me, and ask how old am I?)

The words I’m looking for escape me. Got lost in Ann Arbor; circled the streets I’ve been navigating by foot or bus or car for years. Displaced?

I talked for hours last night, going in similar circles, getting similarly lost, feeling similarly directionless, needle swinging from brimming sad down to empty.

Infomercials on late-night TV sell what people are looking for, up that late in front of the glowing screen: health and sex and religion.

Left to drive back to Detroit about 4am. The freeways in the middle of the night always remind me of long trips – stopping for gas and for something hot or cold or caffeinated at the gas stations which are small blurs of bright lights and cellophane. Got home when it was getting light out. Dozed a little. Woke up at seven. Gave up on sleep mid-morning and replaced it with shower and coffee.

I went to the thrift store and opened the desk drawers on beautiful antique furniture, picked up heavy dishes, didn’t buy anything except for plastic bins for my school supplies. I need to organize things, compartmentalize everything, get ready for whatever move is coming next.

I have never been good at letting go. I have never been good at being left behind the receding tail lights – you’d think that would be easy, right? Passivity counts for something, at least? – but I am even worse at leaving someone else behind. It seems unthinkable to be the one tearing apart the connections, snipping apart sparking veins.

Words still are just out of reach, but I can taste them now. I think all of this is familiar. You think you will never forget what it felt like, and then there it is again, shiny and brand new with all the edges creased sharp.

Something about summertime always feels the same, every time. Perhaps it’s just the little pieces that stand out each time. Excess, excess. Staying up too late, laughing too much, crying too much, staying out in the sun too long, or staying too long lying in wet midnight grass. The air makes it hard to breathe.

I am putting together some kind of to-do list for this summer. I’m going to structure myself to sanity. I think I would be more coherent if I had slept.


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