What I’m Doing With My Life

Every morning when I wake up I say to myself, “I know it’s warm but you really can’t pee here.” I force myself out of bed into my dusty bathroom that I share with two strangers.  I stumble back into my bedroom, and re-wrap myself in my cocoon.  My walls are white and bare.  My clothes are mostly on the floor.  I have the twin sized bed I grew up in, because I got nothing from the divorce.  

I get my morning coffee from the vendor cart outside my office.  We exchange pleasantries and he seems to be the only person in my life who is consistent.  

 

I’m Really Good At

Self-sabotage, self-loathing.  

My therapist says to remember that I’m young and only human.  My mother in our last phone call said that I’m a narcissist.  My father wants the money back from my wedding.  I asked if he wanted the money back from my adoption.  He said that I was being unfair, but I hung up before he could finish.

I used to be the organizer.  I was constantly organizing day trips to wineries, ski trips, charity walks.  I call my friends now, and the voicemails, text messages are unreturned.  

I’m really good with animals, dogs mainly.  I used to volunteer at this animal shelter on the Upper West Side, but I’m not allowed back there anymore.

 

The First Things People Notice

My hair is down to my butt long and pin straight.  It is my best feature.  I cut it all off.  Now it is a jagged pixie cut and it makes my sharp cheekbones look like razor blades.  

I’ve noticed that most people put in this section their smile, but I’ve never been a particularly smiley person and I’m even less so now.  

My sister says you can smell the desperation on me.

 

Favorite Movies/Books Etc.

Movies is what got us into trouble, or specifically Netflix.  All Josh ever wanted to do was watch Netflix.  We binge-watched television shows, consuming 2 episodes per night during the week and hours upon hours on the weekends.  He never wanted to do anything anymore.  I could not sit around on a couch all day watching prestige drama after drama.  When we did see our friends, all he could talk about was House of Cards.  Where Josh got sucked in, I got pulled out.  I was bored, he was boring.  It was cold out and I had nowhere to go.  I began spending weekends at the animal shelter.  My snap stories were filled with puppies.  I felt at least I was doing something, and that was of course where I met him.  Nick.  He was gorgeous with dark hair, a six pack and strong arms.  I tried to get Josh to do a spin class once and he left halfway through.  

Nick and I would do it in the supply closet.  Afterwards I smelled like sweat and Purina.  

I would return home and Josh would be asleep on the couch.  Microwave popcorn bag open on his stomach, kernels on the floor.  I could have woken him up with a gentle kiss on the forehead.  I could have cleaned up the mess.  Instead I showered Nick off of me.

 

Six Things

My worn out copy of Play It As It Lays, Malbec, purple lipstick, the jar of sandglass from our honeymoon, my black velvet dress, Almond Joy’s.

 

I Spend A Lot of Time Thinking About

I studied abroad in Israel, I went to Yeshiva University.  I was brought up in an Orthodox home, but I was adopted from Germany.  A teenaged girl living in East Berlin.  That’s all I know.  We don’t know anything about the man who impregnated her.

“You don’t look Jewish,” I’ve been told.  One of my girlfriends asked me if I thought my true ancestors were Nazis.  They probably were.  I hated that she brought it up.  She was always trying to escape Judaism, while I was always trying hard to embrace it, and now I wonder, why?

Do I care about being Jewish?  Am I Jewish?  My sister was also adopted.  A different European teenager.  Hers was British.  We weirdly look alike.  Straight hair, naturally tiny figures, both slightly horse-faced in that European-procreated with her cousin kind of way.  

Josh was fully Jewish.  He carried the Tay-Sachs gene, which I was weirdly proud of.  As if marrying him was fully authenticating me as a Jewish woman.  We got married at a temple, we hosted Shabbat dinners.  I kept the crystal Shabbat candles his Aunt gave us for our wedding in the hopes that when we lit them weekly we would think of her.  

I don’t know why I took them.  I don’t know why I lied about taking them.

Since we had no real assets, we split the wedding gifts based on whose relative gave what.  Josh got the panini-maker and I got the juicer.  Josh got the luggage and I got the bed sheets.  The gifts sit in my bedroom.  Half opened half not.  I look at them sometimes and think about how we were saving for a house.  The dinner plates I picked out were going to be the plates our children would eat off of.  They were a green and white polka dotted pattern.  Josh’s mother thought they were a little “bold.” I thought they were happy.  They are still in their box.  We didn’t open most of the presents fully, our apartment was too small.

I saw one of our friends after the separation.  She was newly engaged and twisting her fiancé’s grandmother’s ring around her finger.

Why? What happened?

I knew she would ask.  I looked down at my own hand.  It was bare.  My dark purple nail polish was peeling.  I didn’t have to give the ring back, but it felt wrong keeping it.  Josh wasn’t there at our last meeting.  His mother was instead.  Much to my lawyer’s dismay, I slid it off my finger.  It came off easily, it always felt a little loose.  I pushed it across the table.  She could hardly look at me.  

I ran out the door.

I tell my friend that our life was boring and stale.  There was a lot of pressure.  I add when her face remains unsympathetic.

I know what’s coming next.  She wanted to hear something salacious, something that Josh did that was equally bad so she could protect me, but I didn’t deliver.  I couldn’t.  I had no real defense.

This is just such an awful situation, she says and she demotes me from being a bridesmaid to being a persona non-grata.

She cries when she hugs me goodbye.

 

Typical Friday Night

I complained so much about Josh only watching Netflix.  After he found out about Nick (a phone call from the Animal Shelter regarding my missing bra), and swiftly kicked me out of the apartment, I find myself on a typical Friday night watching Netflix.  Specifically, I log into Josh’s Netflix account and see what he’s watching now.  Right after he threw me out, it was Friends, “The One Where Ross and Rachel Go On A Break,” Classic.  Now it looks like he’s moved on.  Maybe he has a new girlfriend because I’m seeing that he’s on season 2 of Friday Night Lights.  It’s a little cheesy for my taste.

After Josh kicked me out, I called Nick, but he didn’t pick up.  I never saw or heard from him again.  I think he may have been married.  The truth is, we didn’t talk much.  I can’t remember if he wore a ring when he fingered me or when he fucked me.  I tried calling my friends but then I remembered they were all Josh’s friends first.  I called my sister.  She knew someone who was looking for a subletter.  Sometimes she comes over on a Friday night, forces me to shower, to put on a sexy black dress, makeup.  She brings a bottle of whiskey and we drink it straight from the bottle.   Mom and Dad will get over it, they still love you she says.  She drags me to a bar where we have a few drinks.  She flirts with men and I watch.  Afterwards we go to a diner and split pita and fries over coca cola’s before turning in for the night.  

When she doesn’t drag me out, I put on Josh’s old sweatpants that are my favorite pajama bottoms.  I look on Facebook and Instagram and I see all of our old friends out and about in Manhattan and Brooklyn with him.  He defriended me on everything, so I can’t see anything that he specifically shares willingly with the rest of the world.  He looks like he’s gotten into shape.  Good for him.  I hear my roommates talking about me.  Do you think she’ll shower this week?  Do you think she’ll ever do the dishes?  Should we ask her about buying the toilet paper next?

I watch Netflix on my laptop.  I go to sleep.

 

Most Private Thing I’m Willing to Admit

The night before our wedding, at the dinner for the out of town guests, I knew I had made a mistake. Josh kept introducing me to people.  Here is my Cousin Freddy, here is my Great-Aunt Julia and I kept nodding along, but the wine had gone to my head and I couldn’t keep any names straight and the room was spinning right out from under me.  I pulled gently on his sleeve and whispered into his ear I feel faint. He ignored me.  He kept pushing on, and I let myself be pushed.  Here is my second cousin on my mother’s side, Daniella, my father’s favorite Uncle, Jess.  He wouldn’t let me sit the whole night.  At the end of the evening when we said our final goodbyes before becoming man and wife, he said be friendly for once tomorrow please.  

 

Message Me If

If you don’t like smiley girls.  If you don’t mind someone who only has half of things.

.

.


Rachel Gold holds an MFA in creative writing fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.  She lives in New York City and teaches at Marymount Manhattan College and Pace University.  Other work by Rachel can be found in BOAAT journal and xoJane.com.