Saturday, March 23, 2013
I guess I'm sad because I'm starting to realize that everything in life is love, love of the skies in sunset and the finite days we have to see them, love of the fear of speech and the people who are afraid to, the dive bars and the no-net moments and feeling beautifully alone even when there's someone else there, love of the dodging calls and the people who dial the number, the coldness of the spring breeze because there's heat behind it, love of the promise and the doubt, love of my mother when she's not there, and when she is, love of the blank minutes I refuse to be bored, the crooked wiring and the house fires, the desperate times in the dark parks, drunk and tire-swing dizzy, living like I'm thirteen and then not talking for days.
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Haley and I get married the Wednesday after Christmas. Mazzy is our officiator, photographer, witness, maid of honor, maid of everything. Just before Mazzy and I are at the DMV to get her a copy of my license because we look identical and she’s only nineteen; we meet Haley at Crepeville, all of us wearing our 70s best. I’ve got my white lace dress on with the butterfly necklace Neal gave me for my birthday, and Haley’s wearing a sick leather fringe vest that someone said looks like an armadillo. We don’t know what that means.
The three of us drive to City Hall and take pictures outside; we ask the man at the front desk if this is where people get married and he says no, we have to walk to the county reporter’s office so we do that, singing “Going to the chapel” all the way. It looks like a jail from the 70s. We take pictures outside and tag our location to Facebook and some people think we actually get married.
Next we go to Target to register for gifts. They let you register for the weirdest things there, like vibrators and lighter fluid. We buy window markers to draw on my car and by sunset it proclaims “Just Married!!!!” with flowers and bells and hearts, and no one honks their congratulations.
We end up at Soul House at the end of the night, and the three of us drink hot chocolate. Haley and I almost get tattoos of ladders on our hands. I admit to them that I like Rob and we all agree that lies are the new truths, or at least the things that aren’t true at first and then turn true with time. The universe is the eternal field of puns and pranks.
I text Rob in the evening on Friday; he’s at Insight Coffee reading and I go and meet him there. Insight is light and open and filled with reclaimed furniture. Rob’s sunk into one of the leather couches in the back. My heels click loudly as I walk over to him. We get more coffee and hang out there for a while. He says he might be able to get me a job at Chocolate Fish, which I really want.
We go and meet up with two of his coworkers at Pangea; they’re nice guys and I actually join in the conversation which I’m usually bad at when I first meet people. Rob gets a cheese plate because he hasn’t eaten dinner yet; I haven’t either but I’m not hungry for some reason so I just get a beer. We talk about Texas and football and the Air Force and then we leave. Rob almost ditches me to go to Brandon’s party in Davis but he doesn’t want to drive all the way, and I don’t want to be ditched, so we go back to my place to play guitar and watch Pitch Perfect. We meet my dad in the kitchen and he makes us drinks—Rob a Manhattan, me an Old Fashioned that’s not really an Old Fashioned, so we call it a Newfangled.
Rob goads me into playing “Treacherous” for him because I let slip I learned to play it that day. He tells me I have a good voice and that I’m good at guitar even though I haven’t been playing long. He’s played for thirteen years. He’s way better. I’ve never seen anyone play better than him, even at concerts. He plays me some parts of songs he wrote a while back and doesn’t remember now. I play him a song I wrote—the only good one—and he says he wants to get it produced. He asks me if I ever thought about getting into music. I say no.
Before we start watching Pitch Perfect I complain about missing my dentist appointment when I was sick and he asks me if I’m the type of person that gets sick a lot, because I was sick just a month ago, and I say no, the last time I was sick was drug-related and that I don’t want to talk about it. We watch the movie and we both laugh a lot. Rob switches from the chair to the couch with me. After the movie we’re both hungry and decide to go to Burgers and Brew. Rob asks me if I’m anorexic because I’m so skinny and I say no, that I’ll eat my entire portabella burger to prove it.
At Burgers and Brew we’re both pretty quiet, partly because we’re both eating. But in his truck back to my place Rob asks me about the drugs. I guess he’s concerned but he does a good job of sounding normal. I tell him about taking the Vyvanse and he asks me why I did it, but it takes me a while to figure out an answer.
“I guess I was just feeling really alone.”
Rob laughs. He looks at me and says “Sorry, I’m not laughing at you; that’s just exactly how I’ve been feeling too.”
He talks about his past. How he used to have a drinking problem; how he ended up in jail. How even now, when he’s getting his life on track, he hates it when people ask him what he’s doing because he hates where he is.
“I can one-up that.” I tell him about my time in the mental hospital. About my first overdose. About struggling through therapy; about leaving Sweden. I tell him I don’t want to be the girl that everyone watches out for, or the person that everybody pities.
And Rob doesn’t pity me. Rob doesn’t say sorry or anything worrisome. He doesn’t even hug me. He just talks more about life and how it’s terrifying and I agree on all counts. And it feels good to talk like all of this is normal even if it’s not, and it feels good to be in love even in secret in the passenger seat, the only giveaway my knees bent in an arrow in his direction.
We listen to country music in Rob’s truck and we talk about everything in the ebb and flow until 2:30.
Monday, March 11, 2013
You stop at the cape, feathered with roaches, thinking about moisture the way we used to think about seaness
the way our eyes used to tell off the storm cellars, the March waters, all hollow locks and brittle cleans in mop buckets
where the sky descends in the April days of leaving things out to be subtle, bringing home plant dye, lighter color
The clarified light of the tangerine houses in the southlands, the lion trees in the savannah mountains
bringing up buildings from waterlines, stoking the round grounds where the petals fall in paths
we can choose to walk down, or stay back. By the second time seconds pass, it’s too late for changes
these are the things, these are the bitter greens by the roadside
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Sometimes the nights go on to stasis And we try
to make them fray Like this loose end
in the line And the birthday parade down
the street Where the fire trucks set out from
that restaurant with the grain Where we eat
with the other kids who never knew themselves
On other nights telling secret things Under
street lamps that wasps circle round Until the
brigadiers come home Until the
featherweights punch low and the
jazz man on the sidewalk steps down
denying our change
Waving us away to houses
Monday, February 4, 2013
Nicole and I finally meet up the last Friday of classes. I walk all the way to Free House in the rain and there she is, bleach-blonde bouffant piled high on her head, looking glamorous and crazy at the same time. Free House is crowded but we sit on a leather couch by the fireplace, drinking wine, wondering about the things we’re doing wrong. It’s always everything—Kayla’s putting together her book; why aren’t we putting together our books? Why aren’t we wearing seatbelt dresses or flat ironing our hair?—and we really can’t live like this. We drive around for longer and end up going to Kip’s because it’s the opposite of our scene. I see Holmes there because I see Holmes everywhere but we still don’t give each other recognition on the street or now, apparently, in sports bars, but he reminds me of the rest of that crowd that I barely run in anymore. I tell Nicole all about it, about Jesse and how he’s with Mackenzie now, Julian’s ex-girlfriend, and how everyone wants to suffocate them in a small room for tearing our group apart right before our last semester of college but no one mentions it to them. “He’s an asshole,” she says. I know. So Nicole takes us to Mint Leaf where there is randomly salsa dancing and I just sit there, watching happy people dance.
I drive back to Sacramento on Saturday through the storm to see Jackie, because she’s up from LA for the weekend. I want to tell her about how I’ve drank every night this week, how I’ve fallen asleep crying, how I got two pages in to a suicide note and plastic-bagged my head three more times but I don’t. We eat at Tower and Jesse can go fuck himself for all we care, and then we take Stacey to Arden Fair to buy presents for her friends because Stacey’s a good person with perfect gold ringlets. I start to fade after we leave the LEGO store; I don’t feel like talking and I can’t think of words to say and the storm is coming down harder; my mom keeps texting me warning me not to drive in it but I can’t stay here over the night, so I leave and drive safely back but at times, I really don’t care if I die.
I don’t know where time’s gone but the semester is over now. I spent as little time as possible studying for finals, as much time as possible burrowed in my apartment with bourbon and the leftover 4Loko from when Taylor and I hung out last Monday. I scored three A’s, one B, and now I’ve been home for a week and it’s Saturday and my brain is still mushy from overdosing on Vyvanse last Tuesday.
I did it because Jesse texted me. Nothing bad, just “How’s Sacramento?” and I said “Fine” and that was it but then I hated him the rest of the day for being a terrible jerk that thinks we’re still friends, so I downed a gin and tonic and decided it would be a good idea to pop some of my brother’s expired prescriptions as well. I don’t remember how many I took, but it wasn’t a lot. And somehow I called both Jackie and Dylan and most likely embarrassed myself with high ramblings. I pretended the next three days that I was sick with some mysterious flu, though on Wednesday night the drugs really kicked in and I watched the walls jump around and my ceiling lamp bob around and spin and a lizard crawl out of it. That evening I hot-sweated the poison out of my system and smelled like metal for the next few days.
I’m finally sort of back to normal but crazy sad, because it’s the only kind I know how to be.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
I’ve been new for a while now. It used to be that I’d always embody the darkness in the deepest recesses of my being, claiming the night and the end of the world for my hometown. At my worst I made Haley weave a spider web with me in my bedroom, having the fantastical vision of hanging my clothes from the ceiling. We crisscrossed rope over our heads, duct taping the corners to the walls, while my brother sat on my couch shit-talking our tastes in music.
The first real rain of the winter season starts in the middle of November. I always keep my windows open so I wake up to the sound of wet rhythm that always makes me crave lemonade. My windowsills collect dirt and water and baby swamps form under my watch before ten in the morning.
Tonight I’m supposed to go out with Nicole, and it’s been almost a year since I’ve last seen her. She was in my poetry class last fall and we bonded over being the only two girls in the class who wore makeup, though Nicole’s put mine to shame. Every day she’d draw on the fattest, pristine cat-eye flicks, liberally apply fake lashes, and her talon nails were never chipped.
It was because of Nicole that I started keeping a list of my favorite conversations because I didn’t want to lose the ones I’d had with her. While working on our presentation about Alice Notley, we’d come to discover our shared teenage experiences, our wanderlust inclinations toward Texas, and a system of meta-poetry I can’t even put words to today, but it made sense back then. She’d brought us cornbread and pronounced it “cownbread” because she’s from Bishop and her best friends are illiterate. By the end of fall semester, she was illicitly dating a renowned, married, eighty-year-old philosophy professor. There isn’t anyone else like her.
I just drew on my perfect cat eyes when Nicole texts me to reschedule. She’s sick and prone to canceling things, so this should have been expected. And I don’t know why I need people so much more than they seem to need me.
Jesse and I are texting emojis back and forth. Apparently he’s not upset that I’m (fake) dating Rob, which makes me feel both shitty and relieved. I ask him if he’s busy tonight and he says he’s working on a lab report.
The season’s starting to get to me. Maybe it’s been wearing on me since the beginning of this month and just now starting to hit bone, but I feel desolate now. I want to drive to Sacramento but I don’t. I call my mom to let her know I’m coming home early for Thanksgiving but I stand in my apartment for ten minutes after, paralyzed. I should pack my things but I can’t move.
The night before Thanksgiving I go out with Kim and her British roommate Imogen who’s spending the holiday with her. We go to Streets of London and I think and don’t think about how my pants are loose because I’ve stopped eating for the most part. I don’t even do it to be skinny; I’m already skinny enough. I do it because I like feeling my heart beat extra fast when I’m alone, nursing the sweet spot between being and fading that seems to be the key to living life to the ultimate.
There’s something about a precipice that makes the world look absolutely clear, as if every molecule of air is a knife’s edge, all vibrating to that same fast thrum in my chest. Maybe it’s because I’m alone and can’t love anyone right now that I seek this out, but I’m not interested in explanations right now. Whatever the reason, it’s fine.
Jesse actually messaged me an hour before I came here, and we got to talking like we did in our old days. Everything’s the same except we’re not together, and I think he still loves me like I still love him but I can’t care about it anymore. He’s still on my mind two whiskey sours in and I have the urge to text him, to tell him everything, but I don’t. Kim and Imogen are eating nachos at Firestone and I’m sitting by the side, smile and smile and smile. I really mean my smiles these days.
Rob texts me on Friday to see if I want to hang out at Marilyn’s and see his friend’s band play. We plan on dressing like hipsters after that Taylor Swift song about being twenty-two because that’s exactly our lives right now, though I don’t put much effort in because all my good clothes are at school. I wear a leather fringe jacket because hipsters like vintage I guess. Rob goes all out. He wears glasses, a bow tie, vest, blazer, and is afraid that someone’s going to punch him for looking like a tool. The bartender at Marilyn’s compliments him. I tell him that midtown is hipster central, and he’s probably making a better impression on everyone now than he normally does.
Rob buys me drinks and I feel bad because I’m not his real girlfriend; I make a mental note to give him twenty bucks the next time I see him. “We’re going to drink until this band sounds good,” he says. We sit at the bar and watch the opener, fronted by a short guy decked out completely like Hunter S. Thompson. We can’t make out any of the lyrics but the songs are long, probably pushing twelve minutes, and the best part about the whole thing is that a post is covering our view of the saxophone and bongo players, making for a fantastic illusion of a musically gifted architectural feature.
“Most talented post I’ve ever seen,” I say.
We go out to the patio where Rob’s friend is. “Lucas and Ginger,” he introduces them. Lucas is the drummer for The Diva Kings and Ginger’s a pixie with three kids; she’s in her thirties but looks like she’s twenty. They’re nice people, and I do my best to participate in their conversation even though I’m never good at meeting new people. Eventually someone else they know comes out and they branch off, and Rob and I are left on our own.
I don’t know why we always talk about life when it’s just the two of us; it’s not like we’ve been good friends for that long, but somehow we see eye to eye on everything and it just feels normal. Jesse’s on my mind because he drunk-texted me on Thanksgiving and I replied. We Facebook-chatted later that night after I was sufficiently wasted and I told him that he and Jeremy weren’t being good friends to me anymore. That I haven’t seen him in a month even though I think about him every day. He says he’s sorry, that we’ll go to San Francisco soon and catch up, and I say yes to this and then I cry. I cry so much I want to tear my heart out with my own fist. I sit on my roof and read over and over the poem I wrote recently about these days of looking up at palm trees too much, these days of missing him and never quite forgetting, of ever reaching for people that flow through my fingers. When I come inside, I stuff my head inside a plastic bag until I start to taste carbon dioxide and stop myself.
I tell Rob all of this, minus the plastic bag. “I don’t understand how it’s possible to love someone that makes you sad,” I say to him, wanting an answer. But I know he doesn’t have one, because no one does. “Like, I can’t figure out the purpose of it all.”
“It’s rough,” he says.
“I wonder if you can ever truly get over somebody. If those feelings ever completely go away. I’ve asked people before but I’m not sure I ever got an honest answer.”
“I think those people are always a part of you,” Rob says. “Like, someday I’ll marry some girl that I’ll love completely, and she’ll be at the center of my life, but I’ll never forget Julia. We all have pasts, and we never really leave each other.”
“I hope you’re right.”
“Do you want another drink?”
We go back inside and order another round, and head back outside when a second opener starts up, playing a set of mostly covers. A cute guy asks Rob for a light, and we start talking to him; he’s from Portland and thirty-three and my mind’s being blown by all these baby-faced old people. He tells us he likes Lana del Rey and I want to kiss him but he thinks I’m here with Rob and eventually he leaves and this was nothing.
We get seats by the pool table and wait for The Diva Kings to go on. A couple asks us to play against them, so we do. I’m surprised my pool skills have improved a little, and how badly I knew the rules before, and how not embarrassed I am about any of this. Rob and I (but mostly Rob) actually win, for some reason.
Haley texts me to ask if I’m OK, and I am. I tell her that it’s weird that Peter’s been texting me tonight though we haven’t spoken in two months; I guess it’s one of those anomalies when the universe throws everything at you at once, leaving you to pick out the important things from the mess. Rob tells me how Fonz is a bad friend and dated one of Julia’s roommates just after they’d broken up, and I reassure him that when we get to LA we’ll get away from all that shit.
The Diva Kings finally go on, and they’re actually really good, sort of sounding like Mystic Valley Band with more synth. I’m listening to the music and Rob’s listening to the music and we’re not talking, and I come to realize that I love the feeling of sound washing over the world, how it lets you do what you want with it, how there aren’t rules. We leave before the set’s over, and Rob walks me back home, and we pass through Capitol Park and stopping at the firefighter memorial, talking about how nooks in houses are good, how wearing heels with tendonitis is actually good, how New Girl and Friends can’t be compared.