Vintage

March 28, 2012

“You are a trick question.” –Closer

Today is The Writer’s birthday. He’s turning thirty, and I’ve been dying for this day to arrive–not only to see how someone with his own specialized brand of well-meaning narcissism celebrates the day of his birth, but also due to the mercilessness of my gift selection.

After work, I drive to his house. I retrieve the large blue gift bag, overflowing with yellow tissue paper from my trunk and hurry up the stairs to ring the bell. “You didn’t have to get me anything,” The Writer says. “But I would have held it against you if you didn’t,” he remarks. I roll my eyes, remembering how he forgot my birthday completely and thought an acceptable substitute was a lunch at Panera.

He takes the bag from my hands, and I follow him into the living room. Pulling the tissue paper from the top, he looks puzzled. “What’s this?” He asks, pulling out something else. “They’re Depends…you know, the adult diaper? I hear old people have trouble controlling their bowel movements.” He cracks a big smile followed by a loud and awkwardly exaggerated laugh. “Go on,” I say. He begins to pull each item from the bag, an affixed post-it explaining each one:

1. Fancy wrinkle cream; “Because now you’re old and saggy.”
2. Margarita rimmer: “Because you’re a butt slut.”
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Baggage

March 18, 2012

“There is so much to be learned about someone from the little they remember and label ‘the past.'” -Seven Types of Ambiguity

I’m sitting in the lounge at work, reading a magazine about the big Oscar-worthy movies this year. Some of them look inspiring, and I start to make a list of the ones I want to see, but I’m interrupted when I hear a buzzing noise. It becomes louder in my ear. Then I feel something pressing, moving across my head. Chunks of hair fall on my clothes. I reach up to feel the area where the hair came from right as my eyes blink open in my dark bedroom. Just a dream.

I run my hand through my hair–still there…although I do need a haircut. The screen of my phone is lit up with a text on my nightstand. I rub my contacts to un-smush them, and the blurriness subsides. “Miss you,” it says. I sit up and swing my legs around the edge of my bed. I see that it’s nearly 1AM.

I power my phone off before clutching it in my hands and pulling it tight to my chest. As I fall back asleep, I wonder what The Writer was thinking when he sent that message. Why now? And just why?

*     *     *

The next morning, I awaken with phone in hand. As it powers up, I remember the text, and it makes me question myself. Not just “should I answer?” I don’t understand why he sent the text, so I should at least understand why I would respond. But I don’t know why.

I moved across the country with a mission, and he derailed me. Or maybe I just used him to derail me. I recognize that something is different now. I feel it within myself. I’ve changed. I’ve been damaged. I healed. I’ve grown. After two months without a sight of him, I decide it’s time.

We make plans. We’re going to see the film Like Crazy. I’ve been dying to see it since I watched the trailer months ago–even that two-minute preview was devastating. I had made my friends promise me that they wouldn’t let me see this movie with a boy under any circumstances (even though at one point I had plans to see it with Drew), but I can’t help myself. I can’t describe why precisely, but I knew I had to see it with The Writer.

But when I arrive at his house, I begin to panic. What if he invited Dalton? Despite feeling collected, there is no way in hell I can do that to myself. So I consider my options. Maybe if Dalton comes, I’ll pretend to throw up next to the car and just go home. Or I’ll get an “urgent phone call” that will require my presence elsewhere. No, that’s not it. I’ll abandon my car altogether and just Read the rest of this entry »


It’s Not My Party But I’ll Cry If I Want To, Part 4

September 7, 2011

My Those Quiet Eyes Become You

“It’s like the smell of burned toast. You made the toast. You looked forward to it. You even enjoyed making it, but it burned. What were you doing? Was it your fault? It doesn’t matter anymore. You open the window, but only the very top layer of the smell goes away. The rest remains around you. It’s the walls. You leave the room, but it’s on your clothes. You change your clothes, but it’s in your hair. It’s on the thin skin on the tops of your hand. And in the morning, it’s still there.” -Seven Types of Ambiguity

I pull up in front of his house and put my car in park, then turn off the engine. I sit frozen for a moment and then open my mouth: “You don’t have to do this. You can just leave, go home. He doesn’t have to know you were ever here. Just drive away and pretend…” But that’s what I’ve been doing, isn’t it?

I’m ready to get out of the car, but I find myself clenching the wheel like it’s the only thing preventing me from falling off of a cliff. My sight isn’t blurry, it’s like it’s nonexistent. My eyes well up with tears, but I keep them at bay and clench my jaw. Shaking, my hand pulls the keys from the ignition. I open the car door and take a step out. Walking is challenging. It’s like there’s a force pushing against me, a gravity pressing in the direction opposite the house. My body is fighting me. Then I see his car, and I find my calm.

61. He always drives when we’re together.
62. I’m his front seat friend.
63. He puts his hand on my thigh when he’s driving and hasn’t seen me in a few days.
64. His car is the only thing not cluttered in his life.
65. Except that his trunk is overflowing with junk.

Climbing up the steps to his front door, I feel like my shoes are made of lead. When I finally make it to the stoop, I clam up in front of the door. I feel dizzy just looking at it. It’s hard to breathe. I can feel the heat in my face. It must be red. I shut my eyes. Take a deep sigh and summon the strength to pull my hand into a fist. As I raise it up to knock, it freezes inches from the door.

66. He has an adderall prescription despite having graduated college nearly a decade ago.
67. It changes the smell of his sweat.
68. His natural scent.
69. How it makes me lose my mind.
70. And then nauseates me.

My right arm is paralyzed. Even if I could get my fist to knock on the door, I wouldn’t be able to hit it hard enough for The Writer to hear from inside. I grab my right wrist with my left hand and pull it close to my chest. A dog barks. Its owners, a couple with graying hair walk past gabbing about their new car. I turn around, holding myself, eyes glossed. They don’t notice.

71. His tumor, which I named Fred. (He doesn’t really have a tumor.)
72. But he thinks he does.
73. How he absolutely cannot dance.
74. The way the length of his hair goes from perfect to ridiculous in just a day.

I turn around and stand closer to the door. There’s no air inside me. I’m a balloon, ready to float away. I wait for a gust of wind to take me into the sky like the nannies in Mary Poppins. But southern California isn’t stormy London, and this certainly isn’t a Disney movie. The best I can do is lean up against the door. It’s so comforting having something else hold me up that I can hardly fathom the thought of having to support my own weight again. I truly wonder if I’ll ever have the strength to even ring the stupid doorbell, so I shut my eyes and try to pass the moment.

75. How he’s surprised every time I remember something special about us.
76. How sparse his facial hair is.
77. How his memory is about as short as his emotional capacity.
78. His innocent, quiet eyes.

I open my eyes. I pick my forehead up off The Writer’s front door and stand up straight. “What the fuck are you doing?” I ask myself. “Seriously, what is your fucking problem? Are you stupid?” I smack myself across the face as hard as I can, which honestly isn’t that hard. I sit down on the top step and bury my face in my arms. “You’re fucking pathetic!” I scream into my arm, trying to muffle the noise.

79. How much I can tell about him based on the state of his hair.
80. I know every piece of clothing in his wardrobe.
81. How he uses axe body spray because he thinks it makes him seem younger.
82. I definitively know more about one thing, and he respects me for it.

I hop up and manically jump up on the stoop. “Do it. Just do it. Do it. You can do it.” I stick my hand out flat, ready to hit the doorbell. But it’s like my arm is petrified. “No. No, no, no.” I turn and sit again. When I pick my head up, a woman in her 50s, wearing a bright pink shirt and white pants has stopped to look at me. When she notices I’ve spotted her, she turns and scurries away. If it weren’t so psychotic, it would be hysterical. Or at least endearing.

83. I have a toothbrush at his house.
84. He has one at mine even though he almost never sleeps there.
85. He hates conflict.
86. How terrified I’ve become at the thought of losing him.

Stepping up for another round with the doorbell, I use my left hand to support my right hand as I try to smash it into the little button. But I really just can’t. “I can’t. You can’t. Don’t ruin this. Please, don’t do this. Please.” I get my hands far enough that they’re touching the bell, but not pressing it. I feel like I’m going to die. But you see, I’m a clever kid, so I use my right foot to kick in my left leg and fall over, my weight pressing into my arm and by extension, my hand mashes into the doorbell. I hear it buzz as I collapse against the wall. (I did just trip myself.) I scramble to collect myself, not wanting him to see me crumpled up on the ground. But even as I stand up and hear him shuffling out of his bed and toward me, it feels like an eternity. And I panic. Then am overwhelmed by nausea. Please don’t throw up. I gulp and know I won’t. I have no idea what I’m going to say. Well, what’s important? Why are you here? I ask myself. I recite about three sentences before my thoughts clam up. And then it happens. The door opens.

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