I get on the elevator to my building. Two of the maintenance men join me. One starts a conversation with me, while the other one remains quiet. I’m wearing my backpack. It’s big, but it’s not full, so it’s not heavy. The maintenance man (MM) asks me if the backpack is heavy. I answer no. He said he could tell, because I’m not hunched over. Then I think why did he ask if he already knew, but I actually express that I can’t be afford to be any shorter. MM has an accent. I catch about 2/3 of what he says. He talks a good bit about tall women; he doesn’t like them too tall. I nod and ask him if being short is better. Then he says yes, short is better, that short women are easier to handle. WHAT did he just say? And his compadre is just standing there in the farthest possible corner of the six-foot-square elevator floor. But I say, oh I see. And MM declares, beautiful, beautiful and the elevator reaches my floor. He says goodbye and I turn to both of them and tell them to have a good day. As the elevator doors close and I walk to my apartment I wonder, did that man just hit on me? because if he did? I’m going to have to blog about it. Then I’m going to have to tell everyone who doesn’t have internet access about it. He didn’t seem creepy, much, but I’m glad my elevator ride is short. I’m glad the elevators have security cameras. I’m glad I have pretty good aim. You know, just in case.
A friend gave this to me a long time, ago; I want to say soon after high school graduation. I’m not one for knickknacks, but this is so cute, and the person who gave it to me is one of my best friends. I have a feeling it’s part of a collection of calendar tea sets, which is perfectly fine, and it makes me grateful I’m named after that month of the year. I really like my name, people.
This same friend introduced me to Tori Amos. I remember listening to Little Earthquakes around the end of our senior year. The school had the policy where you could earn exemption from final exams if attendance and grades were good enough. I was exempt from my exams, and so my last day of school was a few days before graduation, whereas others had to finish with their exams the following week. I had Tori on repeat for those days before graduation. The piano wasn’t like anything I’d ever heard. Her lyrics could be enigmatic or straightforward or chipper or sad or angry. The emotion in the album immediately appealed to me.
I remember working on my graduation speech the second to last week of school. I asked my AP English teacher to look it over. I hoped Ms. Mayer would give me some meaty feedback. I respected her; it was hard to accept she would no longer be grading my papers, and this would probably be the last bit of advice she’d ever give me. She looked over my speech, and she returned it. No corrections, no marks whatsoever. All she said was it was good. This stressed me out, because this was for a pretty big audience. Several thousand people would hear this speech, and I wanted so badly to say the right things.
On the day of graduation, I paced around my living room, going over my speech. I didn’t revise it much. I wondered if I should memorize it. Little Earthquakes played in the background, and for some reason, the words to “Happy Phantom” switched on my consciousness. The song has a bouncy, happy tone. The piano is playful and Tori’s clear voice peals along with it. “The time is getting close/…time to be a ghost/…every day we’re getting closer/The sun is getting dim/Will we pay for who we been/…do we soon forget the things we cannot see.”
Of course there’s the main aspect of the song regarding a woman and the life she could have led so her love would remember her after she dies. But she’s a happy phantom, so why would she ever complain?
Later that evening I walked with my graduating class across the football field, second in line, and I followed Justin Avery up to the podium. I stood on a footstool, made out of three or four phone books taped together, in order to see over the lectern. I welcomed the important school board members, I greeted the Middleburg High School class of 1994. Applause. I made references to God and The Counting Crows in my speech. I got a little philosophical. I thanked my friends and family and teachers, and I didn’t cry. Much. Two minutes, and I sat down.
I doubt people mention our names at that school these days. I don’t know if anybody there would even recognize our names after fourteen years. The fact is, though, those three years at MHS were among the best of my life. Every time I see a spork I think of lunch in that cafeteria. Every time I hear Tori or Pearl Jam or the Counting Crows (among many others); or I hear mention of Toni Morrison or Ayn Rand; or see a marching band during halftime, I get to be a teenager again. My ghost roams those halls, more than content with her stint in mortality, her raw soul’s experience as a Bronco. We have no complaints.