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let me just warn you: this is going to be long. i think this has been the longest day of my life.

ok so first is lil bow wow. katie and i go, and it's tight at first. we're front row seats, left side. b2k, lil johnny, and lil zane opened for him. i'd never seen lil johnny before, but i really like the other 2. but things go downhill from there. first, as soon as it's 4:00, i start feeling terribly guilty that i'm not at work. and then comes this absolutely crazy girl who is killing people to get closer to lil bow wow. she elbows me hard in the side and knocks the wind out of me. and screams in my ear louder than ive ever heard anyone scream. she practically knocks me into the orchestra pit. and i am getting a headache. i feel like a fucking grandmother or something. i used to like to be a part of a wild crowd at a concert, but i just wish this girl would calm down and let me watch and listen in peace. so finally i let her have the front row and i can't see a thing through all the people that shove their way in front of me. so i just sit down in my seat and settle for listening. i look around, and the parents are sitting while the kids are dancing and being loud and wild. i am a fucking parent. too bad christine can't see me now. i am a 7-year-old parent. and with all the sweaty dancing bodies everywhere, it's hot. and i am sitting there worrying that i am getting all sweaty, and i didn't bring any deoderant with me. katie is dropping me straight off at work. what if they smell me and can tell that i ditched work for a concert? that doesn't seem like a valid excuse. i feel so guilty... finally it's over and we fight the crowd to get out. it takes forever.

katie drops me off at big bear and i change. i clock in, 3 hours and 45 minutes after i was supposed to start. the store is a happening place and they are dying for another cashier. i go up to the service desk and tasha's the only one back there. where is my christine? my ears are ringing and my head hurts and i am upset becuase i lost my fucking front row spot to some rude chick and i just felt like a grandmother. i need her to be here. and i don't see her anywhere. i ask jeff who else is supposed to be behind the service desk. he says he thinks christine. but he doesn't say if he's seen her today or not... i NEED her to be here... tasha gives me a drawer and throws me on register. they really need the help. so i'm flying through customers and looking everywhere for christine and not finding her. they bring all the stock people up front to help bag, which includes jim. jim comes straight to my register, and i'm the only one he bags for the whole time he's there. then i spot christine and my heart just soars. just seeing her makes me feel so much better... why? why does that help me so much? why am i such an idiot?

so after a few hours, i get my break. dana is coordinator and he comes and runs my break. jim is still bagging and he sees me go on break. so he decides it's time for him to have a break too, and i'm up there by myself for less than a minute when he shows up. at first, everything is cool just like usual. and then i start getting these wierd vibes... like he asks how old i am. i tell him 19. he says that's young. i quickly say 'almost 20 though.' becuase i am almost 20. he says that's still like a kid. this bothers me becuase i'm not a kid. i might act like i'm 7, which would be considered a kid, but 19 isn't a kid. it's an adult! so i protest and say 'no way, i'm not a kid! i'm plenty old! i'm an adult!' i ask him how old he is. he says he's way over 19... i say how old. all i can get out of him is that he's over 25. to me, that's old. but i don't want to make a big deal out of it becuase i wouldn't want someone to tell me that i'm old... only i think he takes that to mean that i want to minimize our age difference, becuase then he asks if i have a boyfriend. i say no... so THEN he says 'we should do something sometime.' hmmm... ok, i like jim. and i would be more than happy to do something with him as a friend. why do i get the feeling that he means as something more than just a friend? so i answer tentatively 'like what? i don't do anything...' and then he starts asking me about me. like 'so what do you do for fun?' i tell him 'nothing. i eat, sleep, work, do homework, and procrastinate.' he says yeah that's right, becuase you don't party since you don't even like the taste of alcohol. so we get a little off the subject, with talking about what i do, and i think i'm safe. we start talking about the pile of napkins on the table and i'm like 'whew, i avoided that one.' only then he brings up movies. i tell him i don't watch many movies. he says he wanted to see 'dude, where's my car.' i said yeah i did too, but i never saw it. he says him either. and then he says 'so would you want to see that movie sometime?' holy shit. what the hell am i supposed to say to that? i would like to see that movie sometime. and i would be happy to see it with him, becuase a movie is already better with company. but i DON'T want to DATE him. i DON'T like guys. but i can't say that... and i don't want to hurt his feelings now, or later. so i say yeah. becuase i DO want to see that movie, and that's all he asked. and maybe he meant as freinds... by now my break is more than over and i am more than ready to get away from this awkward situation.

so i clock back in and when i get out there, dana is nowhere to be seen. so i go up to the service desk to ask where my drawer is, only i fuck it up (naturally) and ask 'where did i go?' in a voice very much like that of a 7-year-old. it makes christine laugh, a lot. and when she's done, she says 'i love working with you, loser.' they tell me my drawer is where i left it, dana's just not running it any more. so i go out there and think about christine's statement. that was a compliment, right? why can i take a compliment and analyze it until it becomes a bad thing? she loves working with me. see, now she's telling the truth. everyone else, she could say 'i love you.' or 'i love talking to you' or 'i love being with you.' but with me, she can say 'i love working with you.' and that translates to 'you make me laugh with your 7-year-old antics and statements, and i like to laugh.' which is true. that's why she likes me. not becuase she finds me attractive (i wish) or even becuase she thinks i'm smart or a good friend to confide in. she likes me becuase i am good entertainment. i don't want that. aaauuuuuuugggghhh.

then jim leaves. he says bye to me, but i have a customer, and i sure am glad. i don't want to talk to him any more. i don't want him to try to make definite plans. i want him to forget that whole conversation. i want him to clarify 'i meant just as a friend, of course.'

then it's getting late. i'm on 7 and there's people on express, 3, and 4. this means i get no customers, becuase everyone comes from that end and sees them first. this means that christine sends me to do all the odd jobs, which means she talks to me. i'm supposed to get off at 10:30, and she calls me up there at like 9:45. she starts to say something, then says 'wait, the bus doesn't come tonight, does it?' i say no. she says 'how are you getting home?'
hmmm... she doesn't like me to say walking. so i answer 'almost walking.'
she asks 'almost?'
i say 'well, pretty much.'
'pretty much?'
'well ok, yeah, i'm walking.'
she says she was going to ask me if i wanted to leave earlier or later, so i could catch the bus (leaving on the hour usually works best with the busses, and she thinks of that for me all the time... see how nice she is?) only now she says 'well i'm pretty sure i could take you home.'
i say 'i'm pretty sure i could walk.'
she says 'i'm pretty sure you could too. but i would like to give you a ride home, and it would be safer.'
i mumble something about walking.
she says 'do you think i'm going to kidnap you or something?'
i laugh and say 'no way.' although that's a nice thought. she could kidnap and molest me... damn, i hate myself for thinking that.
so then she asks 'why don't you ever take rides home?'
i don't know the right words for this and i wind up babbling like a fucking moron. 'becuase i don't want to make people go out of their way for me. and becuase it doesn't matter. becuase i can walk. becuase what if i was dying and i needed to go to the hospital but you had taken me home so many times that you were tired of driving me places and then i would just die?'
'i think that's pretty unrealistic,' she tells me.
fuck, me too. where did i come up with that idea anyway?
but she goes ahead and reassures me anyway. 'loser, i could never get tired of you. and if you were dying, i would surely take you to the hospital no matter how many times i had taken you home.'
then helen needs change so christine has me bring it to her, which ends the conversation, which is good becuase i don't know what to say. i want her to give me a ride home, but i don't want to admit it. and i also am having trouble becuase if it were anyone else, i don't think i would accept a ride from them. and i don't want to accept one from christine if i've ever declined one in a similar situation with anyone besides her, which i think i have. like from jeff and from jim too. i know that i think of her differently than i think of anyone else, but i don't want anyone else to know that.

so real soon after that, she has me bring up my drawer and i just bag for people and do different stuff. i take back some frozen stuff that some guy just recently left. and i collect the returns from under the registers, in the magazine racks, under the belts, and everywhere else the stupid customers decide to stick unwanted groceries. and then it's 10:30. so i go up to the service desk, and ask if i can leave now. christine says if i want to, or i can stay for a little longer and she can take me home. (she's supposed to be off at 11) i hesitate. there is a customer using a pen at the service desk, and he tells me that a ride is safer than walking. i ask 'what could happen to me?' christine tells me i could get jumped. 'jumped' is not specific enough for me. what exactly is 'jumped,' anyway? so i say 'well then what?' the customer says they could rob you. i tell him i only have about 2 bucks in my pocket anyway. she says they could rape you. i shrug. i don't know why that doesn't seem like a big deal to me, but it really doesn't. i think that's awful. for people who have been raped, it's this huge traumatic experience that they struggle with forever, but to me, it's no big deal. i feel like i'm being pretty insensitive. but shit, i can't help not being worried about that any more than i can help being gay. does that make me a bad person? i say 'but it probably won't happen to me. odds are against it.'
tasha says i should take the ride.
i say 'i can walk.'
christine says 'i would love to give you a ride. but i'm not going to force you to do anything you're uncomfortable with.'
i am frustrated. i put my hands over my face and turn away from her. that is something i do when i am feeling 7 and am frustrated. i don't know what to say. i don't want her to think i'm uncomfortable with her, like i think she's going to kidnap me or something. the uncomfortable part is accepting a favor from anyone, not riding home with her. i don't know how to say that though, so i say 'i'm going to go put that cart away,' motioning to a stray cart at the other end of the front end, and then i do. and then i keep bagging becuase i don't know what to do. i still haven't told christine if i'm taking a ride from her or not. does she assume that since i'm still here, i am? what exactly do i want? and then based on how realistic that is, where do i go from there? i am so confused... finally, i decide not to take the ride. i'll just wait until 10:45 to leave, so i worked a normal shift, since i clocked in on the :45. so i bag and at 10:45, i go tell her and tasha that i'm going to clock out now and go home, since it's an even shift. this way christine doesn't think i was waiting for her but then got tired of waiting or something. tasha protests 'but we're almost done.' i tell her that's ok, i will be fine walking. and then i go clock out and go up to the break room and get my stuff. when i come down, i walk to the doorway slowly, hoping that christine will suddenly stop me, and force me to take a ride home. i make no sense. if that's what i want, why didn't i just say yes??? i don't look over there at all, so she doesn't think i'm waiting for her to say something, and she doesn't notice me. or she says nothing, if she does. i get out the door, and i suddenly feel exhausted and upset. i realize that i really really wanted a ride home from christine. no matter how much i know that nothing will work out how i want it to, i still wanted that ride. the same way just seeing her makes me happier. there is nothing good about this situation and there never will be, but little things that i can pretend are progress still make me happy. i don't even make it to my regular bus stop. i pass a bench like 1 minute away and i just sit down on it. i am a mess. i am crying. i wanted a ride home. and i am terrified that jim wants a date with me. i don't want to date him. and i wanted christine to take me home. and i am mentally and physically exhausted and i don't want to walk anywhere for 45 minutes, especially when i could have had a ride with the nicest person i know. what the hell am i doing? and how is sitting on this bench helping anything? but i'm tired. and i don't want to move. in the end, that's what moves me. i am tired. that is a good excuse. at this point, i would probably accept a ride from jeff if he drove by. (still not jim, but that's different...) so i go back to big bear, and go up to the service desk. christine is hidden behind the counter, getting something out of a cabinet and tasha asks me what i need. i say 'i changed my mind.' tasha says 'yay.' and christine says 'oh good.' they cheer like it's a good play at a baseball game. i don't know why they're so excited. christine asks me what changed my mind. i simply respond, 'i'm tired.'

she says they'll be done in a minute and i go sit in a bag dispenser on an empty lane and put my head down in my arms on the belt. it's a lot more comfortable than it sounds. i shut my eyes and just think. what does jim mean by this stuff? maybe he is just thinking like me. i will miss jim over the summer. i like talking to him when i'm here. and maybe now that the summer's approaching faster, he just wants to hang out with me more becuase he likes talking to me... that's great, i feel the same way. but he doesn't LIKE me, right? somehow i manage to make it to that half-asleep state, where you still hear stuff happening around you, but it doesn't register becuase you're on your way to being actually asleep. i hear christine say 'wake up, sleepyhead,' but i don't really remember hearing it until a few minutes later. she calls again 'wake up, sleepy loser,' in the kind of voice my mom always used to wake me up when i was younger... i half-hear this one, and stir. i open my eyes and the light is fucking bright. i shut them again and get up, rubbing my eyes. i rub my eyes with my fists. i hear that is a little-kiddish way to rub eyes. but it's also natural for me, so i didn't really consider that until now. fuck. oh well. christine laughs and says 'i don't think you would have made it home if you fell asleep that fast.' i tell her i wasnt asleep. she just laughs and says sure you weren't.

her car is different. i noticed that about a week ago, that i wasn't seeing her car any more, but she was there. i ask her about it, and she says her last one got totaled. on our way out of the parking lot, the policeman on duty (the one that's there often) is talking to this girl. christine waves bye to him and asks if i know how old that girl is. i say no. she says it's his girlfriend, and she's 17. woaahh... he's a lot older than that, i thought... i ask how old he is and she estimates high 30s, low 40s. wow. of course, this makes me think of jim (probably because at this point, everything makes me think of jim). so i ask her if she knows how old he is. she says he's pretty old, but she's not sure. then she asks why, do i like him? i say no in this tired depressed tone.
she interprets my tone the wrong way, laughs and says 'you mean yea?'
i tell her 'no, i really mean no.'
she says 'i think he likes you.'
i tell her 'yeah, i think so too,' in that same tone.
'actually, i know he does, but you didn't hear that from me,' she says.
oh shit. oh shit. somebody please tell me she didn't just say that.
oh, but she did. he told jane becuase he talks to jane a lot and jane told christine becuase they talk a lot too. fuck. i can no longer pretend to misinterpret what he was saying... now what?
i say 'he's old.'
she says yeah, but she guesses that as long as both halves are over 18, it doesn't really matter. i kinda choke on that one. she laughs and says well it matters to her personally, but with other people, she doesn't have a problem with it if it's legal.
i say 'well yeah but he's OLD.' of the million problems i have with this situation, this is the only one i can think to voice.
she asks if that's why i don't like him.
it's not. if he were a hot girl that old, the age difference would not be a problem, i'm sure. but isn't that a conveinent excuse? for some reason though, i decide to tell the truth. i say no.
she asks if he gets on my nerves, and i say no, i like him just fine, i just don't LIKE him. she knows what i mean...
then she mentions that she's glad i let her take me home. i say yeah, cuz i'm tired, but nothing would happen. she says everyone thinks that, but it happens to someone.
'well then may as well be me,' i say truthfully.
she has some concerned reaction to that, and asks dont i want to live.
i know the answer to this, but i can't think of the words. i slow down to make sure they come out right becuase i don't want to say the wrong thing, make her think i'm gunna kill myself or something. 'it's not like i'm suicidal,' i say slowly. 'i don't want to die. i just don't really want to live either. it's all the same to me, either way, whatever happens.'
she says she knows what i mean. and as she continues to talk, i realize that she does. she tried to kill herself a few months ago, and she's saying things i soo understand. how life doesn't matter to me. and all these things that i thought only wen through my disturbed stupid head, only she's saying them like she's reading my mind. then she says what i have to think about is other people. it doesn't matter to me if i'm alive or dead, but it would hurt a lot of other people who care about me if i died. so even if it's all the same to me, i owe it to them to stay alive. she says you don't even realize how many people you matter to, even just the people at work. when she tried to kill herself, people at big bear were in tears that she wouldn't have thought would even notice. and she says she thinks that if she were dead tomorrow, nobody would even notice, except for that the work wouldn't get done at big bear when she was supposed to be doing it.
i want to tell her i would notice. i want to tell her i care. i want to tell her that just seeing her makes me feel better. i want to tell her that i don't know what i would do with myself if she was dead tomorrow. but i don't know how much of that your average straight person would say, and i'm scared of her finding out the truth. so i just say 'yeah.' like yeah, i know what you mean. like yeah, i don't think anyone would notice me being gone either.
and then she says 'i would be sad if i found out that something had happened to you when i could have easily taken you home.'
fucking depressing. she wouldn't be upset becuase i was dead; she would be upset becuase she would feel guilty.

then we're there, and she asks if i work tomorrow and i say yeah. she says see you tomorrow and i thank her and go upstairs. and i am unbelieveably depressed. she was saying things i was thinking exactly, that nobody would notice. she really does know what i'm thinking, only hearing her say it in words just makes it more depressing. and besides the depression, there are millions of other thoughts that i can't stop from tearing my poor head apart.
why did she try to kill herself? not for the same reason i am so depressed, is it? i want to know. is that something you can ask a person?
and then what the hell am i doing? i am messed up in the head and i know it but fuck, other people aren't supposed to! my problems are my own. my thoughts and feelings are my own. to other people, i am a rock. i am who they go to with their problems. i am loser, the problem-free, care-free little kid. always in a good mood. that's the way it's supposed to be. through that whole depression over alana's boyfriend, i was the quietest thing ever. i was depressed, and it was pretty obvious, i guess, but i NEVER mentioned it. i never talked about it. i don't talk about stuff like that. so yeah, it's not like i told her the actual reason behind my depression, but still... why did i not even hesitate in telling her the truth? becuase i like her so much is why, and that's fucking dangerous when she doesn't come close to returning the feeling, as far as i can tell. i am setting myself up for a bad bad fall... i am choosing to trust practically a stranger over my good friends... i am fucking stupid. and i can't help it.
and then her. why is she ok talking to me about that stuff? isn't trying to kill yourself a personal thing? does she talk to everyone about personal things like that? does the fact that she just talked to me about serious stuff mean that maybe she thinks i can handle more mature stuff than your average 7-year-old? does she realize that under the moronic child that everyone sees, there is a real 19-year old? that should be good, right? but maybe she's just open. maybe she would talk to any random geek off the streets about that.
and then jim. what am i supposed to do about jim? he likes me. and i agreed to see a movie with him, and what he is thinking that means is no doubt MILES away from what i actually meant. is he going to persue this, or will he just let it drop? and if he does keep at it, what do i do? i can make excuses for a while, i'm sure. can i keep a steady stream of excuses until it's summer time? if i can make it to summer, maybe he'll just forget about it in the 3 months i'm gone, and if not, i can come back with a 'boyfriend,' or my feelings could have changed, or something. if i can just make it to summer, i will be ok... do i owe it to him to tell him before summer that i'm not interested in him like that? and how do you tell someone that? it would surely soften the blow if he knew that it wasn't his fault; i'm just gay. but shit, i can't tell him that. do i have to just flat-out tell him i don't like him? but i do like him, just not like that. and the best relationships grow from friendships, unless one of the two people is gay... what now? what if i go along with it? what if i go see a movie with him? then what? the truth is, i've never kissed a guy before. i don't have to, to know i don't like it. just like most straight people are grossed out by the thought of kissing a member of the same sex, i am grossed out by the thought of kissing a member of the opposite sex. any time any guy has shown interest in me, i make it clear that i'm not interested. not in a rude way, becuase i've never actually KNOWN any of them as freinds before they were interested. so it's just been 'sorry, i have a boyfriend,' or 'sorry, i'm not ready for commitment,' or some other dumb excuse. but this is different becuase i already know and like jim, and it's too late to back out with a lame excuse.
so maybe he doesn't work tomorrow. maybe i can avoid him. maybe maybe maybe. i want some real answers! why does my life suddenly feel more like a movie that reality? i've solved nothing, but i guess i feel a little better now that i've spent an hour writing about it... hmmm... time to begin my homework... how many classes do you think i'll actually attend tomorrow?