Scarlett’s Letter November 13, 2013

I stayed up too late last night, spewing poisonous, venomous thoughts and feelings into an article. My alarm went off way too early this morning. I was supposed to head to the treadmill in the hotel workout out room for a five mile run and some weights. I thought better of it, and managed only to lift my phone off the bedside table and reset the alarm for another hour. Schmuck. I know a good, hard work out is just what I need to elevate my heart rate, my metabolism, and my spirits.

This is a pattern that seems to establish itself during “busy” season every year. I haul around workout clothes, shoes, DVD’s, yoga mats, all requiring a second suitcase. I don’t have to pay baggage fees, so other than wheeling it effortlessly around, there is no real hardship in packing every creature comfort, and half of a fitness center, for my trips. But, as soon as I arrive at my destination, it becomes so easy for me to squirrel out of my intended daily workout. I feel progressively worse with the accumulation of too many restaurant meals and too little exertion. I stand, teaching, for eight hours, continuously, with a break to sit and eat lunch, half way through. This is exhausting, way more tiring than it should be. It is hard to be “on”, all the time, week after week, time zone after time zone. My moments at home consist of frantically unpacking, laundering, packing, maybe going for a run, running errands and, usually, a meal or two out, at a restaurant, of all things, with Mom. Then off I go, again, at some obscene hour in the morning, for another flight, to another city, in another state, for another week, exactly as I just described. This is how I make money, this is not how I want to make a living.

This afternoon, I had my class working on an exercise, accrued liabilities, I think. I checked my email and I’m pretty certain I cursed out loud, because a young man in the front row looked up at me in surprise. I got a schedule confirmation for my next “free week”, which, by the way, is in mid-December. West Virginia. The bright side; I ain’t never been to West Virginia before, so I can color another little state on my map, bright red. More airline miles, I may maintain my status with United for another year. Believe it or not, this year is going to be a squeaker. I’ve had to use alternate airlines a few times too many and my United miles didn’t accumulate quite as usual. I will die if I don’t have status with United. Die. Or quit.

Not five minutes after my West Virginia schedule confirmation arrived, I got a little email from my manager, it was titled “Work Load”, and it read, “Hey, just a heads up, I have told Liz and company (our scheduling team) to put you last on the scheduling priority list. So unless we get really busy or have a lot of Level II or Level III orders come in (I guess those sessions are my specialty), your December should be a little bit slower.” Which December is he speaking of?

By the time I finished work and ate dinner, it was 7:00 PM. My only personal mission, this evening, was to rid myself of “the book”, mail it back to my dear friend who loaned it to me, knowing not of the dreadful stories within. I intended to find a post office with a 24-hour lobby, grab a flat rate box, shove the book inside, seal it shut quickly, so as to capture all the demons that lurk in the pages of that dark ledger, address the box hastily, swipe my credit card in the self-help kiosk and slam dunk the package into the receptacle. I wore out the battery in my Garmin and two different iPhones, and nearly a set of tires on the rental car, navigating to one post office after another, all over Long Island. I was accosted by one security guard at one location, as to my intentions, leered at by a bum crossing the street at another fine postal service locale, and nearly killed by a bright yellow Lamborghini making an illegal turn and yet another dark, locked post office. No lobbies were unlocked, not one. I guess it’s a left coast thing, the kinder, gentler postal service, lobbies open 24/7 for busy, late night patrons with a credit card and the patience to use the self-help kiosk, and for shelter for the homeless. And free boxes for last minute gift-wrapping.

So, “the book” is shoved in the bottom of my suitcase, beneath my very smelly running shoes. For that reason alone, I should go work up a beastly sweat and put my stinky gym clothes in there, too. Stupid book.

I am much better today, still angry as hell, but better. I keep catching myself thinking about the story in “the book”. I really want to forget it, forever, and ever, but my mind keeps thrusting it forward for more processing, much like the very annoying “In Flight” monitors in the backs of the headrests on United flights, mere inches from your face, that just keep looping the same commercials and excerpts from shows over and over and over, for three thousand miles. Oh, sure, I turn mine off, I figured out how to do that a long, long time ago. But I’m the only person who does turn the screen off, so everywhere I glance, the same images, looping endlessly, flashing bright enough to be detected from behind tightly closed eyelids. This, much like the thoughts generated from “the book”.

And I know better. The thoughts all need to be dismissed, filed away, marked classified, locked in a cold war era metal filing cabinet in a dark, obscure room in some top-secret government facility, in the middle of some baron land. And the key lost. Forever. I know that by thinking about the words on those pages and the feelings they provoke that I am only giving power to the negative feelings; the hurt, the anger, the disbelief. I know the only way to rise above it all and continue my upward flight towards stardom is to completely dispel myself of those thoughts.

“The book”, being written by someone I liked and respected only a few short days ago, someone I have thought of often, with fond memories of a distant, shared, past, someone I thought of quite regularly, for thirty some years, someone I counted as a friend and even, more recently, enjoyed occasional Facebook banter about beer, cars and marathons vs. triathlons with. It is as though I am in mourning, having lost that good person, like a death. And in his place, someone who so callously used me, for such a long period of time, in my young, rather formative years, a person who betrayed me, without remorse, as told in a self-published book. This, I think, is grief. I’ll get over it, soon enough. Always do.

There is a part of me that wants to make a grand, noisy, loud and obnoxious exit, making well known my deep disproval and hurt. There is the other part of me that wants only to bow my head, avert my eyes downward, disappear, quietly mourn, lie low, and try to forget. We two are at odds, presently, and so, probably a good thing, I sit paralyzed and do neither. Just write. I simply carry on as though nothing matters. This, I am well practiced at. This is my defense. This is how I grieve. And, so, I am grateful, I suppose, that my “little bit slower December” isn’t actually any slower at all. A fast pace, frantic schedule, busy airports and big cities will, hopefully, dispel the poisonous thoughts that stem from the newfound knowledge of betrayal. And some time after my “little bit slower December”, I plan to steal away to the great white north for a time, to experience real darkness, real cold, real quiet, real people, and real peace, far from the fast pace, the frantic schedules, the busy airports and the big cities. This is how I heal.

Right now, as soon as I hit the “publish” button, I am crawling under bleached white sheets and a heavy white duvet, in a bleak, worn and very generic hotel room, curling my body into a fetal position, hugging one of the six pillows tighter than tight, nestling my head in another, making myself as tiny as possible in this enormous, kind-sized bed, and willing the deepest, soundest sleep, before the alarm sounds, once again, and another day, one of joy, optimism and positive energy, spills out before me.

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