road trip. and vacation. july 29th through aug 1st.

i have not been motivated to write. at all.

there's actually stuff to write about. and i've been putting off.

i did get an email from that boy. and that was the start of the trip, so it comes first in coverage.

after i'd officially given up on hearing from him again. i was having the craziest day on friday. all the last minute prep before leaving town. i had made a list of about twenty things i had to do before working a store until close. another ten hour day.

i was in line, at the bank, and almost fell over when i saw his name in my inbox.

gigantic email. explaining that he's been going through some heavy stuff, and that he doesn't think it's fair to see anyone while he sorts things out.

it threw me off completely. it was a relief, in a way. i didn't do anything wrong. but still a bummer. and i was in front of a teller, fighting a meltdown, with tears filling my eyes. i made it to the front door of the bank, put my sunglasses on, and cried on the way to the car. once i got into the car, i lost it. ugly crying, reading the end of the email.

and all of the thoughts i'd been dealing with to that point switched gears into new and uncharted territory. and i thought it was funny that i had really given up on hearing from him. and was nervous to have a sixteen hour drive ahead of me, with new food for thought. but i was grateful to hear from him, at great length, explaining himself to me.

i was doing really well to that point. crossing everything off of my work checklist. i was on schedule. and the email threw me off completely, lost in thought and crying back to the city from delaware, after about a ten minute break of crying in the parking lot of the bank/beer store/cigarette store.

and lost in thought through blurry vision, i missed my exit for suck store, not even realizing it until i got to the city.

it meant more work, more driving, more racing around later in the day. aubree rode with me after her last day at her internship, to suck store, and back to work again, while i showed the newest guy how to close the store.

driving home after that, she said that we should leave that night. that i would be awake, that she would be awake, and that instead of trying to get something like a three hour nap before leaving at one, we could just pack and leave.

the thought made my stomach turn. sixteen hours of driving? getting in after being awake for 30 hours straight? could i even make it?

i told her that i wasn't saying no, but wasn't saying yes either. that we'd pack the car and see where we were. she hadn't packed a single thing, but she was completely packed within an hour. it blew my mind. her whole life in phila, packed in an hour? it took me longer to pack, and i just had clothes for two weeks.

she was done by 8. the car was loaded by 9. and we decided to go. we got showers, said goodbye to mike, and got into the car. i drove three legs, from 945 until about 4 am.

things got a little hairy at around 3. i was definitely getting tired, aubree was trying to nap to drive the next leg. my back was killing me from being in the same position for so long, so i was hunched up over the steering wheel, thinking too hard, and feeling too much, and being sleepsick. so when she woke up, and saw me driving like that, it freaked her out a little bit. she slammed a red bull and took over.

and i wrote for a bit, and had my cry. i'd been doing so well – i was actually proud of myself for holding it together for almost eight hours of driving and thinking.

once i didn't have to focus and drive anymore, i guess i just released it.

it's really over. and i let myself finish that sentence, in my brain, with a 'for now'. but the bottom line is that it's really over. and i'm glad that i already knew it, because it took a lot of the sting out of it.

i wrote him back across five state lines, in few minute increments. thought i lost the entire email at one point and got upset about that. but once i was home, and online again, i found that it had saved my draft.

once we got to the florida state line, we were both absolutely whipped. twelve hours of driving and a sunrise under our belts. awake over 24 hours at that point. it was wicked. but what's funny is that, before about 2 am, we were making fantastic time, but it felt like a lot of driving. and after 11 am, it seemed like it had gone by so quickly that we couldn't believe we were almost there.

we'd lied to mom and dad. we'd said we left at 145 in the morning, after sleeping, as planned. thinking we'd pull off a great surprise. we pulled into the driveway an hour ahead of schedule, and five hours before they were expecting us. we were bouncing and squealing excited to be home. screaming the last few songs at the top of our lungs on the way into our section of the city.

but the surprise was on us. mom was happy to see us, of course. and we got her to call dad into the house from mowing the yard, to surprise him. and he was happy to see us, too.

but we'd interrupted their cleaning and house prep for our arrival. and we hadn't anticipated it. so it was this strangely stressful surprise for them, i guess. they wouldn't let us help them. and from arriving, we were hyped up and from the driving we were cracked out, so we arrived exhausted and nauseous, but awake. and they kept telling us to sleep, but we couldn't.

we'd been home for an hour, and sat down at the kitchen table. looking at each other and communicating without words, making noises and cracking inside jokes. talking hood and laughing. it made me feel strangely self-conscious. because now aubree and i are so close and attached, i think that it probably freaks them the fuck out. they have to know what is going to happen next.

i actually felt guilty. i felt bad for giggling with her, and for having developed something like a secret language between us.

and things at home are very different. i knew that seeing the grandparents would be hard. and it has been. we went to see grandma a few hours after we got here, sleepless and unwell.

she's in the same nursing home other grandpa was in, where i spent so much time my visit last summer. i don't like that place. it's a jesus nursing home. there are creepy religious paintings everywhere. and a lot of sick old people. and sick people who are too young to be in a nursing home. it depresses the shit out of me. it's one step above a hospital.

when we walked in, my grandmother, who was not a religious person a few years ago, starting crying and praising jesus and the lord that we made it over and over and crying happy tears, and it made me really uncomfortable. she had surgery on her broken ankle, which is why she's there – for rehab and physical therapy. and she found out today (day three of vacation) that she can stay for two more months if she has to. so it looks like my time with her this trip will all be spent in that awful place. it sucks.

she's been doped up on oxycontin for years, but now it's mixed with percoset and something for her nerves, so she's not awake too much. and slurs when she is. it's not cool at all. and now she has no pressure to get better and get the fuck out of that place. and today, my grandfather's brother died after battling alzheimers for something like seven years.

so i think i get to go to a funeral on friday.

we finally slept that night. i've had weird dreams both nights i've been home, which is nothing new to me. but aubree's fan isn't working, and i spent the night sweating and tossing in a different bed. i guess i'm used to the (dis)comforts of my home.

but still, i slept twelve hours, which was much needed, and i woke up feeling mostly normal. visited grandma again. we had a pizza party for her, to bring some sense of happiness and normalcy to her in that home. and left from there to visit my dad's parents.

i was dreading it. rightfully so. grandpa of course had no idea who i was, but somehow remembered aubree. which surprised even her. and he slept most of the time that we were there. but when the two of them had our leftover pizza at their kitchen table, after watching dad help him into the kitchen, it got difficult.

he was somewhere else, mentally. and he said something about not wanting to be around anymore, because he is living a miserable existence. even though he can't tell you why he's so miserable. he knows that his mind is gone when he has tiny moments of clarity. and he's honest about not knowing who you are when you ask him.

i had to leave the kitchen, because i felt a cry building.

my grandfather, who favored me growing up, and made popcorn for us every night we stayed with my grandparents, is completely helpless, and is dying a shitty death. he thinks on a daily basis that he is in a ditch, either held in a cage, or just disabled and helpless. and that he just lays in a ditch waiting to be helped for hours a day. but he never even left his la-z-boy chair.

i can't imagine. i don't want to.

so i left the room, and held it together. but before that happened, grandma pulled a typical stunt.

i call her mean grandma for good reason.

we were sitting at the table, after a few loaded questions about my haircut when we arrived. and she said,

'now you'll never get a date with that haircut.'

what is so funny about it is that it's her same haircut. she's had it forever. i look a lot like her, which fucks with me on a daily basis.

so the fact that she said that to me? typical. and not cool.

my parents thought he'd think i was her when i walked in, remembering his wife before she was old, and thinking he was back in the 50s and 60s, which is where his mind is parked most days.

aubree and dad went to other grandparents' house to mow the lawn for them. mom and i rode home in my car. and i almost made it, driving back to the house, before i started crying. it caught her off guard. i didn't say anything, it was only quiet tears.

but we pulled into the neighborhood, and she asked me if i was crying. and asked why. and i told her that this happens almost every day, and that i'm crying because i'm sad. and didn't say more than that before we got back to the house.

this trip is just DIFFERENT. there is tension and strain and stress at home. mostly financial, between mom and dad. when dad is stressed, he takes it out on everyone else. he is once again the dad that i grew up with, and it's a royal fucking bummer. he was so cool for so many years, it was awesome seeing a dad that i never knew who was fun to be around. but now he's pissed and miserable, and is making it his job to make everyone else pissed and miserable.

i don't know how i will feel in two weeks when i'm back to work. i'm not supposed to be thinking about that right now, but i am.

this is a long trip for someone with nothing to talk about.

maybe tomorrow i'll actually get some sun. it blows my mind a little that i have yet to really be poolside relaxing. i'm losing days to nothingness already. but i've been pretty distracted.

and because i feel like everyone is watching me, i have cut my drinking back a bit. and with the exception of that first night, i haven't had to pop an ativan either. maybe i'm trying to let myself feel everything. i don't really know. but it's different.

i'm okay with the fact that i thought this summer would top last summer. and i'm okay with the fact that life doesn't work that way. what it means is that i don't think home is the magical answer. what it means is that falling and feeling so much before summer even arrived set me up for feeling this way now that it's been taken away from me.

what would i be if things were actually easy for me? what would i do if things were all good? how would i act if i had something too good to be true?

i'll consider myself lucky in some way, that it isn't so.

because when i drive back, days from now, it won't be with a yearning to return here the way it was the last two times.

it's like the spell wore off. in every possible way. i'm really wondering how i'm going to make it here for two weeks.

things will just be normal. level. no highs. and maybe without the highs, the lows won't feel so low. i'm back to that feeling of nothing. where i'm partly convinced that i don't really feel anything at all.

and part of that is because i came here thinking aubree would be staying.

but that first day we were here, she already said she didn't know how she could live here. that after a month, she'll probably be clawing the walls to get the fuck out of here. i don't want to ask, or talk about it really, because i don't want to pressure her inadvertently.

but i think she'll be back in phila in the fall. i think that, somehow, life became normal there for her. the pace, the activity, the independence, the lifestyle. the distance from parents who judge her, all day every day.

so i don't have the feeling i had that first day, when mom almost immediately said something about how i'm going to deal when she's not there. and i burst into tears while aubree told mom, 'there are a couple things we won't be talking about while she's here, mom.'

it hasn't come up again. and i'm refusing to think about it. and i think i'm only able to because i feel like i don't really have to. and the way that usually works, in my brain, is that i'll acclimate to being back alone, and be okay. and so if she does or doesn't come back up, it won't be as world altering as it felt like it was going to be when we left to drive here. or when i unpacked everything of hers from the car.

i just feel... nothing. and i'm going to embrace that for as long as it lasts.

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