I flipped through the clothes in the thrift store carefully. One, two, three, four, I counted in my head. I began to hum the familiar tune as I looked for the perfect shirt for the party on Saturday. Somewhere, my friend Shy browsed, looking for the perfect pair of shoes. The miniature bell that hung on the door jingled, but I didn’t look up. It was probably some teenager looking for a vintage tee-shirt to wear. Vintage was in this year. Shy came over to the rack in front of me, and tried to signal to that we should go. I brushed him off, thinking of how uncomfortable he was around teenagers. Some things just never get old, I suppose. “Jo, is that you?” asked the man behind me. I stood in silence, my body on autopilot, still flipping, flipping, flipping. I racked my brain to remember if I had ever been a Jo. I don’t think that I had, but I might have been wrong. There were so many former identities, that it was hard to keep track of them all. My brain went like a jukebox, reviewing name after name. I remember that I was a Roxy, a Martha Ann, a Christie, an Erica, and I was once a Maya, but never a Jo. I took back control of my movements, deciding that he must have the wrong person, and turned to correct him. But there he was. Kyle. Just as perfect as the day I met him, as broken as the day I left, and as mysterious as the months in between. Suddenly, I forgot everything that I had been thinking of; the party on Saturday, and how pleasant it was to be Maya. It was all I could do to not vomit in that thrift store, my mind painfully taken back to that rainy New Year’s Eve in New York, where I ceased to be Jolene. The arguments had started long before that day, but had escalated into something more than we could handle, something more than I could handle, and hurtful words were exchanged. I hade made feeble attempts to block the memory out, but it just came rushing back. “What the hell’s wrong you?” He had cried. “I can’t be away for just one hour without you starting trouble? What are you, a child?” Kyle was referring to my many misadventures, involving stolen objects that I would then desecrate. He sounded like my father, and I just had to leave, but he grabbed my arm, and we locked eyes. “I’m sorry,” I whispered as the tears fell down my cheeks. “But I can’t stay here.” I never went back. But here he was, staring at me, and I was Jolene again, if just for a second. “Sarah Jane, we have to go,” Shy said forcefully, breaking my long forgotten memories. He watched me as I left, and I knew that things in New Jersey could no longer continue. I was going to have to change addresses, and get a new identity. Again. What a shame. I was beginning to like it here.
Being Jo Again
March 2, 2010