Sunday, June 11, 2006

Going Back Home

I'm packing for the Midwest tonight, bringing three pairs of heels I probably won't use since everyone wears flip-flops there, even to the clubs. (I use the term "clubs" lightly.) I pick the big suitcase and put too many piece of clothing there for just that reason: I don't know what I'll be wearing there, I don't know what I'll be feeling there. What if I run into the co-captain my old cheerleading squad at the mall and meet her two-year-old daughter and try to explain to her what I'm doing in New York? Will she have a point of reference? A job of her own? Will she care? Will she be scrutinizing my highlights and my weight, just like everything was back then?

Should I call my old Crush and have lunch with him even though I'm in a relationship with the Boyf? Is that a recipe for disaster or a useful tool for seeing how far I've come? I remember sitting with my old Crush at 18, when the two of us were just friends, in the Barnes and Noble cafe in our hometown, and he bought me a piece of tiramisu -- the first I'd ever had. He was cute and crazy at the same time. (Aren't they all?) He worked at McDonald's in his free time, after school, and bought at least two cars for himself in two years, which he promptly wrecked. I never understood the logistics of the accidents: He "slid under a truck" in one of them. He was just imperfect enough for me not to begin dating him when he confessed his feelings to me my freshman year of college. He brought me one dozen pink roses, and we kissed, but I'd already committed myself to my college boyfriend, a three-year-long mistake if there ever was one. I was confused and frustrated. "Date him, too!" My dad yelled from the living room as I was putting the flowers in water. "Date lots of guys!" My dad ended up being right. I chose my college boyfriend over my Crush, I didn't hear from him again for five years, when I was living in Jersey and miserable but on the verge of starting a relationship with the Boyf. Our conversations dwindled because I was coupled. I know my Crush was engaged but not married. I know he went to some sort of community college for computer engineering. I don't want to start drama (okay, maybe I do, just a little....), but maybe I'll call my Crush. Just to see.

My family is taking me to their timeshare in a ridiculous Midwest country music paradise (I use the term "paradise" lightly), and I'm to bring my swimsuit, my mom says. I love that. I love the idea of sunbathing in a landlocked state at some condo-surrounded pool, drinking bottles of Miller High Life with my dad and playing cards whenever I feel I've had too much sun.

Of course, as soon as I heard the word "swimsuit," I paraded in front of my full-length mirror and checked out my abs. They're not in bad shape. I looked up to my shoulders, face, and hair, and I had a mini-realization: I'm not 18 anymore, and this is not high school. I'm a twentysomething-year-old woman, and I'm going back to the Midwest to be with my family and nothing more. The thought is extremely grounding. Crack open another Miller High Life. I'm reading for some poolside-sittin' and card-playin'.


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