Thursday, March 29, 2012


The day started off worse than most. I was attempting to sleep a sofa that was much smaller than I was tall. A thin blanket separated me from the cool, slippery surface of the leather. I didn't want to go anywhere. What I wanted to do was sleep for five more hours and preferably anywhere other than where I was currently trying to. The plan had been that me and my sisters would make a day trip with our brother who had to run an errand somewhere near Boston. So we planned, rather they planned and I fretted about their weak, many holed, vague ideas they wanted to carry through. In general I get grumpy when I am being swept along by the fickle and unpredictable winds that are my little sister's plans. Her intense expression and mulling belie the fact that she has little idea of what she is going to or rather the more important question of how she is going to do it.

We stopped off at some courthouse down some unsuspecting road. My brother changed out of the trunk into something more presentable to appear in before a judge. Inside a line of people stood leaning against the walls of the narrow hall. Some people sat in the few chairs they did have. A majority of the people looked at us when me turned the corner in search of the appropriate line for my brother to wait in. Their gaze was that of people with little else to do than to watch others. I was so used to people ducking their heads to look at the screens of their phones it was unsettling to see so many people silently watching each other.

I decided that I did not want to wait around inside and chose to slink out to the car, a car that was already warm from the heat of the sun. With the doors and windows open it was hard to avoid the dodgy couple that walked up to us saying they lost their phone. The guy's eyes shifted around as he talked to us, explaining that he couldn't find his iPhone, that someone must have stolen it. The long scratch on this face came into prominent view whenever his moved his head away from us looking into the brush surrounding the lot as if he could spot the phone from where he stood.

It was hard for me to believe that they even had a phone. And when the girl came right out and told us to return the phone I knew they had to be just a little desperate. They skulked off after we told them we definitely didn't have their phone. A few minutes later a woman came up to us, prefacing her statement with a touch of incredulity saying, "I don't believe them, but this couple said you stole my iPod."

I have never really liked traffic, especially the kind you bump into after a long day at work. The car and foot traffic while driving around Boston when we finally arrived a few hours later was not something I would want to experience every day. We circled around the Boston Common a few times pretending we might actually find a spot to park before we accepted that we needed to park underground. The parking garage was stuffy and had a low ceiling. Very few people were around and the silence was eerie. The lighting made the place seem dingy and criminal.

I think the only time I relaxed and allowed myself to have a good time was on the drive back to Providence. The traffic had slowed outside of the city. Cars sat under the hot sun, rippling waves of hot air seemed to come off the vehicles as well as the cement. The windows were down, the AC not working and the radio rumbled. The August heat lulled me into a happier state and as the car picked up speed the stuffiness withdrew out the windows and my hair was whipped into a chaotic tangle by the wind.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spring Break 2012

Whenever March comes around I am more than ready to collapse. I am longing for summer and warmth: my elements. So I have come to see my trip to my grandparents home in Florida as week-long trip to summer. Or at least a small preview of it. I am always amazed at the beautiful weather I am provided with: the temperatures going into the eighties; the sun burning my skin if I am not careful. Being able to swim outside and not be freezing; the bright, hot sun drying my thick hair in twenty minutes.

This year I did not make plans to visit Florida: time and money were not in my possession. So I decided to explore the town in which I work. I rarely bring myself to explore Uxbridge, MA, I just stay in the office. But considering this is my spring break I am entitled to a little excursion beyond the the usual limits I set for myself.

I walked from the office to the main street. When I do go out and walk during my lunch break I always loop around back to the office. I take familiar streets and I avoid the congested intersections. This time I decided to walk down the curve in the street that lead to who-knows what. The black paved street led under a bridge, now rusty and disused. I looked up, cobwebs were threaded through chicken wire that probably had once been securely attached to the underside of the railroad bridge but was now curling back in some places.

I walked along the deserted sidewalk, cars every so often moving past me. I soon heard what sounded to be water. The overwhelming sound of crashing water filled my ears as I moved into sight of it cascading over a dam. The Blackstone river runs through Uxbridge, it had once powered the now defunct mills.

An ornate iron fence was held closed by a small padlock. Behind the fence a worn dirt path, stone steps and short bridges wound closer to the water. My disappointment at not being able to explore was soon quelled when I spotted a low stone wall further down the street, gravestones peeking up beyond it.

The only noise I heard as I entered Prospect Hill Cemetery was the whooshing sound of cars passing, the cries of desperate fun from unseen children at the nearby school yard and the periodic squawks of birds. I walked along the dirt and gravel path; I felt my boots sinking into the ground. The slate gravestones that I passed were so thin they looked like they could snap over just from me walking by them.

The path wound invitingly up a hill and out of sight. I stopped and looked at the remains of the Bernat mill building right across the street. The expanse of concrete and emptiness spoke of abandonment. The gaping wounds of the gutted mill were inviting, and begged the delinquent in me to jump the fence and risk injury inside the crumbling walls.

Instead I continued to follow the cemetery path to see where that lead.

Friday, March 2, 2012


My most exhausting trip was one that I thought would be a new chapter in my academic life. I was planning on attending an out of state college in Tampa, Florida.

I was so excited to actually be going to Florida; that I would staying there for more than just a week or so. But I was nervous too. The night before I left I lay awake: exhausted, happy and scared. Not the best way to start my early morning trip to the airport; I hadn't slept at all. I left my family with tight gripped hugs and dazed goodbyes. I was lightheaded and zoning out but still too nerved up to actually contemplate sleep.

The plane ride was as it always is: cramped and awkward. And by the end I was feeling even more worn down. I arrived at the airport with no one to meet me. I waited for my bulky, wheel-less luggage with a feeling of complete loss.

I had to take a city bus to my next destination, so I lugged the 50 plus pounds of my baggage, the straps cutting into my shoulders to the bus stop outside of the airport. I was the only young person on the bus and I was further made aware of the state of Tampa when a group of homeless-looking men and women got on the bus.

When I reached my stop I was situated right across from the university. A four-lane street and steady flowing traffic stopped me in my tracks. No pedestrians were in sight except for me; my awkward bags biting into my tired shoulders and thumping heavily every so often against my hips. I waited a small eternity to just cross the street. I was fairly dead by the time I reached the other side under the indifferent eyes of young students in nice cars. It felt like a walk of shame especially because I had not thought to change out of my clothes appropriate for Northern weather and into something more suited for late August in central Florida.

Sweating, uncomfortable and worn out I went to get my student ID and other important items so I could actually get into my dorm room. I parked my big bags down in a corner, I was the only student that did not have someone to help them unload luggage, and I was obviously the only student who got here by bus. I felt out of place among these younger kids with bright eyes and no apparent worries.

I queued up relieved that I was in the right place at a decent time and making quick progress. But I was met with a frown and was told I needed to go to another line and pick up my ID, etc, there. Oh, and they had some problems. The problem turned out to be that they needed me to pay the full tuition immediately, up front if I wanted to even get into a dorm room that day. Of course I found all this out after waiting more than three hours in an endless line of students with their parents.

Maybe I was completely delusional thinking things would work out once I got down there. I thought they would be more understanding or more helpful. But if I wanted to attend their school I would have to take out a $10, 000 loan right there in front of them. I sat down in a bit of a hopeless state thinking to myself that this school was not worth getting into debt over.

It probably sounds like I am over-reacting and that taking out loans for school is perfectly normal. Why shouldn't I? But this university was convincing me that the people running this school where in their own dream world. They bragged about the $1,000,000 they spend each year on keeping their historic campus in tip-top condition. They were in the process of building a $20,000,000 religious 'center' to bring the campus together in beautiful diverse harmony.

The bottom line was that the more time I spent on the campus the more I was convinced that I was not supposed to be there. At this point my eyes were bloodshot and irritated from my contacts (and from my appearance I am sure many people thought I had been bawling my eyes out), I was still sweating from the heat and was working on almost 24 hours with no sleep.

From the plane
I lugged my baggage to my dorm building, called up my roommate and told her to come get me. My roommate was nice, upbeat and understanding. But I guess I needed something more than a stranger's sympathy as I blinked my gritty feeling eyes at my bare prison-esque room. I needed sleep at this point. I figured everything would be better in the morning. But it took hours to fall asleep, my roommate five feet away from me getting ready to go out partying; blow drying her hair, playing music off of her laptop and cranking the AC up as far as if could go.

I woke up at an indecent hour, much too early to have recovered at all. My eyes felt swollen and immovable. And my stomach was starting to eat itself I was so hungry. I needed to run away. To distance myself from this campus. I walked to a nearby gas station grabbed some food and walked aimlessly back. I saw a different side of the campus on my way back, what the place could have been for me if I was a different person. But it was not something I wanted.

I felt relieved when I made my decision to return home.
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