Friday night the transformer connected to my apartment complex exploded. Not just through half-hearted puffs of smoke, but in a literal ball of flames. I was standing outside in my pajamas, watching the doomed transformer with my neighbors when it happened.
I had been planning on spending the night on my couch with some comfort movies when the power went out. I had already made plans, then broke them in favor of being alone, where I wouldn’t have to think, or speak, or do anything really, other than try to forget about all of the reasons why the day had turned out rotten, and all of the reasons why I thought that being alone would be the answer. And then I watched as those plans exploded. In a ball of flames.
So I rekindled my plans and went out with for dinner and drinks with Derek, then went to go see a late showing of ParaNorman (which was awesome, btw). I got back to my still-dark apartment complex after midnight to find my neighbors still out in the courtyard.
I’ve lived in cities all my life and never before have I lived in a complex where everyone knew everyone else, considered each other friends. Where when the power goes out (as it has before), they’re all content to hang around in the courtyard sharing cigarettes, warm beer, melting ice cream, and conversation. I stayed up chatting with them for another hour as the hazmat team finished their clean up, then crawled into bed in a vastly improved mood.
Sometimes I forget that what we want isn’t always what we need.
That’s a good summary of the summer, where I pushed past my ever-present preference to be alone with my thoughts in a dark, empty room, and chose to connect instead.
Here’s a run down, with highlights:
- Trip to Chicago and Wiscon in May (highlights: Goth clubbing, going to the Zoo and the Art Institute, then roadtripping up to Madison with Liz Argall, meeting Lynne and Michael in person (best bosses ever), too much She-Hulk at the Chicks Dig Comics party, spontaneous ukulele sing-alongs, GENDERFLOOMP dance party, VP reunion tapas, dead dog at Great Dane), which was immediately followed by a two day trip to Disneyland (highlights: walking a marathon in two days, teacups, Haunted Mansion, fried green tomato sandwich, hitting all the rides. Twice.)
- Turning 30 in June (highlights: Sapna doing spontaneous theater at me, Derek of the Dead, too much cheesecake, the singing mylar balloon that wouldn’t die, drunken pool, Hodad’s with Derek, Natalie and Matt)
- Playing shows at Soda Bar and the Casbah (highlights: sexy-mom-grinding-type-opener, extra drink tickets, banjo-mic malfunction, Natalie’s farewell, finally getting to see The Local Strangers live)
- Trip to New York, Philly and Boston for Readercon in July (highlights: getting soaked running two blocks in a sudden downpour, Sleep No More, seeing Adam, Angela and Pete again, atomic falafel, karaoke with Pedro, bagels, critiquing in repose with dog, brunch, Barcade, slushing on the train, Rock Band with Fran and family, roadtripping to Boston with Fran and the awesome AC Wise, disco naps, barcon, panels, music party on the gazebo, VP reunion!, Ramos Gin Fizzes, watching the dissection and consumption of lobsters, hanging out with Bear, Scott and Amanda and Giant Ridiculous Dog, awesome old houses and graveyards)
- I sold my short story, “Something in the Blood” to the Coins of Chaos anthology (highlights: Vincent Price, Roger Corman Poe adaptations, Chicago circa 1994, Goudy Park, Astor Street, death and destruction)
- I fell for a boy. Hard. But now it’s over. (highlights: e-mails and conversations, the way my heart would pound, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, vegan restaurants, the taste of limeade, board games, Terminator, the way his hand felt in mine, soft then suddenly pointy cats, Monk’s Cafe, bedsheets… pretty much all of it, up until the end)
- Chicago and Worldcon over Labor Day weekend (highlights: Lynne and Michael!, Fran!, Lauren and Layne!, grilled cheese for dinner with Ann and my mom, Wizard of Oz in Oz Park with Jeff, barcon, Tavernitas, South Water Kitchen and Goose Island, crying on Michael’s shoulder, comforting hugs, Buffalito hangover cures, singing in the stairwells and outside the SFWA suite, readings, manning the Apex Books booth, drinking Jameson and watching friends win Hugos, Elise Matheson’s shiny party where she serenaded me on her uke, long walks and old thoughts, meeting awesome people who live three doors down from the apartment I grew up in, watching A Fish Called Wanda with my mom)
This summer was filled with so many firsts, so many new friends, so many thrumming nerves, so much laughter and joy. I’m so lucky to have these people in my life. My feelings of gratitude are overwhelming at times since I still can’t understand what I did to deserve all of this.
It makes me want to tell the me of five years ago — the girl who was so desperate for hope, who felt so alone even in the company of others, who wanted to do nothing more than run away from everything, who was so scared to go after what she wanted, who would have spent Friday night alone, moping by candlelight and sleeping as a way to make everything stop hurting for a little while — that everything turns out okay in the end. That there are people that care about her even when she doesn’t want to believe it. When I still don’t want to believe it. If I could have told her that, maybe then on a day like today, where I’m walking a thin emotional line, it would be easier to remember.
We’re all haunted by the people we once were, for better or worse. But it doesn’t mean we can’t change. Or that we haven’t changed. Sometimes it takes a transformer exploding to put that into perspective.
All my love to my friends, new and old alike.