Authors: Sasha Marshall
“Jimmy’s right, you know?” Sabrina smiles at me mischievously.
“Bleh,” I respond.
“Carmine is always booked. He was booked today, but he took one look at you and cancelled three appointments.”
My eyes get big.
“You’re foxy,” she says.
“Thanks. I’m making a bucket list. I’m thinking of changing some things.”
“Like what?” she asks.
“Hair color, wardrobe, makeup, tattoos, and piercings,” I smile.
“I like that kind of makeover. I shall be your personal makeup artist and shopper. We’ve got this,” she says like she’s known me my entire life.
“Really?” I ask with a grin.
“You’re obviously going through some sort of identity crisis.” She waves a hand down her body, “I’m the best option you’ve got to help you find you and make sure the outside reflects the inside. I told you we’d be friends.”
I smile and we exchange numbers and a promise to meet for drinks soon.
“You ready, Noely?” Carmine asks.
I give Sabrina one last smile of appreciation and turn to follow Carmine. Fuck, his ass looks good in those jeans.
After he preps his station, I sit for six hours through my very first tattoo. He finishes the main piece on my inner arm and the big piece on the outside of it. It looks beautiful. I almost cry when he escorts me to the mirror. He takes several pictures for his portfolio and then asks for my number so he can send me the copies. I’m not naïve enough to believe that’s the real reason he asks me for my number, and I do something I wouldn’t normally do. I give it to him anyway, hug Sabrina on the way out, and leave their shop feeling more alive than I ever remember feeling in my entire life.
Making a bucket list is more complicated than you might think. I avoided the internet with everyone else’s ideas. I’m sure there are ten thousand websites devoted to bucket lists alone. I began to wonder if I died, what would I regret not doing? What experiences would I want to have before my time comes? The image of me smiling freely and laughing like a child continues to pop into my head. What would make me do that? I also think of my anxieties and issues of abandonment. Maybe I should confront those issues head on? Should that go on a bucket list? I’m not sure, but everything I come up with I write it down so I can show Dr. Webster.
1. I want to dance in the rain. It's stupid and it seems so cliché, but not many people dance in the rain because society gives us a box to fit into, and being drenched and looking like a wet rat when you can get out of the rain is unacceptable. I want to stand in the rain just because I can.
2. I want to learn to play an instrument. Think hard about which one and get lessons.
3. I want to visit as many spots as I can that Banksy tagged. I want to tag when my heart feels the need to express a message.
4. I want to visit Jimi Hendrix's grave, and smoke a joint on top of it.
5. I want to fall in love. A love that is all-consuming and warm.
6. I want to face my father and ask him why he left me.
7. I want to scuba dive and see what life looks like on the sea floor.
8. I want to skydive and see what the world looks like from the clouds.
9. I want to bungee jump to be able to just let go and jump.
10. I want to fly in a hot air balloon.
11. I want to sing karaoke because I actually have a great voice, but I've always been too afraid to have all the attention on me. Maybe I've not been drunk enough.
12. Swim in a fountain in a foreign country, because I'm not supposed to. Don't forget to make a wish.
13. Get a makeover.
14. Put myself out there and go on a blind date.
15. Road trip!
16. Swim with dolphins.
17. Learn to cook. I should take cooking classes.
18. Take a nap in a hammock during the day.
19. Get a tattoo.
20. Get a piercing.
21.Visit Abbey Road.
22. Make new friends.
23. Say what I think all the time.
24. Sign up for Krav Maga.
I’m proud of my progress, and I’ve already marked off two items. I smile more often now. I discover things about me every day, and each time it feels monumental as if the world should stop turning so all of humanity can celebrate the small part of me that I found deep inside.
I find freelance work as a graphic artist easily and virtually leave my savings untouched. I work when I want, how I want, and I can be selective about each project I accept. The Village Voice writes a story about the mural Jimmy and I began, and Johnny added the finishing touches to, and I’ve been in high demand for painting murals for businesses in New York. I’m free from suits and heels. I rarely take the subway anymore since I left Kohler & Kohler. I prefer to walk most everywhere and take in the world around me.
After my next visit with Dr. Webster, I receive a glowing recommendation on my tattoo, piercing, and my list. She encourages me to push myself further. She reminds me not to let the words remain on the paper of my bucket list, but to make strides to ensure I bring them to fruition. She thinks confronting my father should wait, but that it is something I should definitely do in the future for closure, but when I feel stronger.
I leave her office to meet Sabrina for an afternoon cocktail. She’s as bright as ever.
“Bitch! You have got to try this Bloody Mary. They make the best one in New York,” she recommends.
I order a Bloody Mary as I sit beside her at the bar, mainly because I’ve never had a Bloody Mary. The bartender makes fast work of making and placing my drink in front of me. Sabrina was right in her assessment, and I’m glad I have another drink to add to my small list of likes.
“So let me see the tattoo,” she playfully demands so I pull my hoodie off and push my shirt up to show off the healing tattoo.
“It looks great,” I smile.
“The nose is healing well too,” she adds.
“Yeah. I love it. I can’t wait to change it from this hoop to the small stud though. I don’t think the hoop is me,” I admit.
She stares at me a moment, “That’s good, Noely.”
“What’s good?” I ask and take another big gulp of my drink.
“Jimmy called a couple of nights ago. He wanted me to hang with you some while the band is on the road, but I told him we were already friends,” she laughs. “He told me about the journey you’re on. I mean I sensed it in you when you came in the shop, but I didn’t know it went this deep. It’s good that you know what is and isn’t you.”
So I spend two hours drinking Bloody Mary’s and telling Sabrina my life story and how I got to this very moment. I show her my bucket list and she decides she wants to be a part of most of them. She’s a very excitable person and full of so much energy. I enjoy being around her. I even tell her about Johnny and she displays no signs of judgment. Instead, she tells me her life story which leads to another hour of drinking. Sabrina’s life wasn’t easy either. She’s two years younger than me, but instead of becoming a dull shell in response to her horrible circumstances, she became brighter than the sun. I envy her and want to possess her courage.
“We’re shopping tomorrow,” she slurs. “You don’t dress like the Noely I see and feel. It’s fucking up your energy.”
“I hope I’m sober by tomorrow,” I slur back.
“It’s Friday. We can shop later in the afternoon,” she winks and I drunk giggle.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, girl,” I hug her and then walk home.
I walk two blocks to my apartment and just as I close the door, my phone rings. I dig it out of my pocket and see Johnny’s face on the screen.
“Hello?” I answer quietly.
“Noely,” he says just as quietly.
“Hey,” I smile into the phone.
“Did I wake you?” he asks nervously.
“I actually just got home,” I chuckle.
He doesn’t reply instantly, “It’s what? Two a.m. there?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
I slide down the inside of my front door and play with the fringe on a ripped section of my jeans.
“You sound different,” he says.
“I feel different.”
“I hear the guys.”
“I hoped you would.”
“I’m glad you’re seeing someone. I hope you find what you’re looking for, Noe.”
I sigh and settle the back of my head against the door, “I’m just looking for me.”
“I wish you saw you the way I do. The way we all do,” he says with a crack in his voice.
“Me too. I guess that’s what I’m trying to find. I’m already happier though,” I close my eyes and smile once again into the phone.
“You deserve happiness, Noely baby.”
“You do too, Johnny Love.”
“Johnny Love?” he snorts.
“You guys always call me Noely baby, so I’m going to start calling each one of you something sweet,” I giggle.
I hear a smile in his voice, “Have you been drinking?”
“Maybe,” I laugh.
He lets out a belly laugh, “You should not make up nicknames when you’re drunk.”
“But that’s when my creative genius happens,” I defend with a light chuckle.
A moment passes in silence before he says, “I miss you.”
“I miss you too, Johnny Love.”
He gives me a soft snicker, “Not that shit again.”
“How’s the road?”
“It’s fun, Noles, but it’s exhausting and I’m a little homesick tonight,” he admits.
“Well, rock stars can’t be home sick. It’s like one of their super powers, I’m sure of it.”
“That’s your advice?” he asks and I can hear his smile.
“And… You should put on your big girl panties because I can’t hear you through your bleeding vagina,” I add.
He roars in laughter, drops the phone, picks up the phone, drops it again, but never stops howling.
“Fuck, Noely. You’re killing me over here. Bleeding vagina? I’ve never heard you say some shit like that.”
“It’s always been on the tip of my tongue. I held back,” I admit with a shrug of my shoulders.
“Why would you hold some hilarious shit like that back?” he asks while still laughing.
“I don’t know. I’m not anymore though. I’m not holding back anything anymore, Johnny. I’m finding me and living the fuck out of life,” I smile so big my cheeks hurt.
He’s quiet a moment before he says, “I love it.”
“Hey, I made a bucket list.”
“Did Jimmy help you?” he asks with humor in his voice.
“No. But come to think of it, I should totally ask for his input,” I quip.
His response comes out rushed, “Don’t do that!”
“Of course I will.”
“Did you add getting arrested to your bucket list?” he asks.
“No, but in the right circumstances, I’m not opposed to being arrested,” I admit with a grin.
“You do know that if you’re arrested it will be with Jimmy?”
“Of course. I wouldn’t want to go to jail with anyone else.”
“You two can’t hang out unsupervised anymore,” he advises.
“You’re saying ‘fuck’ a lot lately.”
“I’ve decided I really like that word.”
“It’s my favorite too,” he says.
“Don’t I know it. You use it like a comma.”
“I don’t feel so homesick anymore, Noe,” he sighs.
“Good. I can hear you now.”
He chuckles, “There you go again.”
“Brooklyn isn’t the same without all of your debauchery.”
“I’m sure the NYPD disagrees with you.”
“It’s been so quiet around these parts, the NYPD has begun posting ‘MISSING’ posters for Jimmy,” I joke.
“I’ll let him know.”
“Don’t encourage him.”
I hear someone say something in the background causing Johnny to take his mouth away from the phone and reply with something I can’t hear.
“Hey, Noely baby, I’ve got to be in on a conference call. Do me a favor?” he asks.
“What’s that?” I ask and am proud of myself for not instantly saying yes.
“Send me your bucket list?”
“Why would you want that?”
“We’ve gotta make all your dreams come true. I’d like to know everything you want in this world.”
He renders me speechless. Tears fill my eyes at his sweet words.
“Hold on a fucking minute!” he yells away from the phone.
“Noely baby,” he says quietly.
“You drunk crying on me?”
“Just teary-eyed drunk. I think that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me, Johnny Love.”
“I think I’m liking ‘Johnny Love’. And if that’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever said to you, you’ve clearly not been listening to me for fifteen years.”
“Then I’m sorry,” my voice cracks.
“Don’t be sorry. Keep doing what you’re doing. Take care of you. Know I’m always here, and that I can’t wait to see the Noely I always knew was inside. She may not have shown herself to the world, but she always showed herself to me. I know you. I’ve always seen you. Okay?”
“Okay, Johnny Love.”
He snickers, “Good night, Noely.”
I spend the next four plus months finding me and making the changes I need. I continue to see Dr. Webster and find that I’m happy with who I’ve found. I won’t ever stop searching for the other undiscovered parts inside of me, but I can tell you what I do and don’t like now. I can say “no” with relative ease.
I dress differently. I’ve finished my sleeve under Carmine’s constant intense gaze and observation. The nose piercing has been switched from a hoop to a cute diamond stud. I keep my fingernails painted for the first time in my life, and Sabrina encourages me to pick ridiculous colors like lime green from time-to-time. I experiment, but have found I prefer darker shades. I’ve also found that I look damn good in red lipstick. My makeup is completely different, thanks to my new best and constant companion Sabrina.
She’s always around. Even if we don’t see each other for a day, she’s bombarding my phone with her ridiculous notions about my life, her life, and proposed adventures and bucket list bullets we should explore. She’s the female version of Jimmy.
Communication with the guys went from every day to at least three times a week. As time passed, I could hear the exhaustion in their voices and see it in their beautiful faces. I could hear the longing to come home in their words. I longed for them to come home, too.