It still hurts. You tell me it's not allowed to, or say it shouldn't matter. That's in the past. Buried. Dead. Forgotten.
Well, it isn't to me.
If I could go back and change everything, I would. But I can't, so the alternative is living with the scars and replaying twisted home movies on the back of my eyelids. I remember every detail. Every time I felt a bit closer to the closet, and the noose attached. Torn away from this world just a bit more every day by the coldness, the calculation of apathy.
You had a party and I wasn't invited, even though I was the only one to give you a good birthday present that day. When I asked why, you said only good friends were invited.
The implication being, of course, that I was complete fucking trash.
I wanted to see that movie. I made plans to. I was excited. I told my parents I'd be home late that night. Then I called, and no one picked up. You told them not to. And when you decided that you were going, they changed their minds about me.
I sat in a parking lot praying for a drive-by shooting.
I didn't hate you for what you said, or what you did, but for all the things you didn't do, or all the things I could never understand. Why try to make amends? Why not just leave it at silence? I missed the shit out of you every waking second, but I was almost content in our separation until you came back from a summer away with some spiritual epiphany on how shitty you had been toward me.
We met. You offered to buy me coffee. I said no. Being the complete fucking pussy I am, we skirted the issue entirely, and I was afraid to make eye contact. Because I knew once I did, you'd win. And you did, because I believed you, and for one elusive moment I was flooded with hope and the promise of one good year after not sleeping the 365 days prior, and being pushed from pill to pill. Trying to fill the emptiness in all the worst ways.
Of course, it wasn't real. It couldn't be. Life isn't like that. I thought maybe it was, or could have been. I'm not religious, but when you called, I actually thanked God and thought about miracles and declared I would never do anything bad ever again.
Three weeks later, it was the same as it ever was.
Five years later, I'm still fucked up about it. Even though we talk every day.
It hurt so much that I can't get rid of the scars. It hurts more that you think it's fucking ridiculous I even bother to remember these things. But they're a part of me. They shaped me, for better or worse. I tried to kill myself twice. You don't think you remember those things? I'm stronger for dropping the noose, though, and no one will ever break me again...even if the rest of the world will pay the price for my callousness.
You can't let anyone get close.
It's not even that I want to blame you for these things, though yes, I think it was your fault. It's that I need you to know that I did not have one happy moment for almost two years. I was drowning. There wasn't a pill I didn't take, finite plan I didn't hatch or apocalypse I didn't wish. And you were okay with this. And that bothers me. A lot. It bothers me that, deep down, you don't feel I'm entitled to those memories. That it was just kids being dumb kids. Because it was more than that. There was a certain cruelty you can't deny. And I paid the price. Jesus Christ, did I pay the price.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
There's not much poetry in drowning. No musings for the macabre.
We'll throw a flowery funeral, I suppose.
Everyone who loved him is invited.
Maybe the dog will show.
Shit on the grave.
Cheap suit. Cheap casket.
Hope the worms get more out of him than the world ever did.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
I consume the art I can't create. All it does is fill me with more emptiness. I want so badly to create, but I can only consume. I'm the kid with the crushed macaroni painting. I end up eating the glue.
I'm bad at being second. I'm terrible at being the afterthought.
I'm really good at addressing letters to no one.
The happiest moment of my life has already passed me by. Sometimes, before sleep, I go back there. Over time, I find the memory fades. Everything is just a bit more blurred. I can't see and smell it like I used to. I can't feel the contact, the weight, the impression. I'm holding air. Misremembered particles.
I tried to be good. Now I'm not so sure anymore. Maybe I never was.
Sometimes, I try to make the universe align. I'm not God, but I figure if I try hard enough, if I really concentrate, if I really see it in my head, then I can visualize the road map to Shambhala. I can multiply the moments I haven't had since. I can be something other than second place, the glue stick connoisseur.
But I always just end up back in bed where I always was. And the world outside is just as quiet and cold as it ever was, jet wake above proving once again how no one could ever see the boy below.
Monday, December 5, 2011
Anyone can bear the fangs of the Fenris wolf when the curtain's drawn and every head is turned. It's a lot harder to be honest in those quiet moments, the ones where you count memories on the back of your eyelids. I got mad at a girl and broke her arm in second grade. I was socked at the bus stop for my social inequity. I can still remember my uncle's rage raising hackles under Spiderman pajamas. And for as whole and confident and guided as I present myself to the polo crowd, in truth, I'm still sitting in bed every night wishing tangent realities into existence.
Things undone. Unseen. Unspoken. As if it could ever be so simple. Flipping a switch. Boom. Unremembered. Unknown. Images unburned, synaptic passages unburdened. Have you ever seen hell reflected? My stomach churns at the unthought.
I would hate to be cliche, like everyone else who dared drag angsty song lyrics into the abyss, but it is the darkness surrounding that drives us all under the bedsheets. In a feather-down fortress, we can create another world. In mine, there are familiar fingers interlocking with my own, pulling me into eyes that could swallow galaxies entire. There's a flutter and a firestorm, and I'm reminded of what it feels like to know the world could end and I'd give the most contented ashes up to the apocalypse. That moment, that eternal moment (and yes, call to the cliches to action), where nothing else matters. Where I'm safe. Where I'm...there's a word for it. Tolerated at first thought. Then wanted. And then...yes, dodging every eye-roll, loved.
Loved. Never has a common word seemed so foreign. But the aim to be is both what gets me to bed at night and what keeps me there without sleep. Writing little passages that never seem to go anywhere, but that at least take me somewhere else long enough to forget I'm here alone.
Of course, I'll wake to put on the face they know and talk business, talk sports, talk anything but truth. When forced into honesty, though, the prison of solitude, all I can think about are all those other things, and how those are the only things that matter. How I would trade in the small talk and all the ornate achievements for just one night of knowing I was safe, wanted, loved. Held in an embrace that could slow comets and halt nuclear winter. Free to count every heartbeat as the happiest moment of my life. Able to drift into dream knowing this is real, not tangent, not imagined, but real and here and perhaps most of all, shared.
But it's not real, is it? It's just a magazine clipping. Something I saw on a TV show. So instead I sharpen my fangs and approach the world as I am: in all honesty, just surviving, but really nothing at all.
Friday, December 2, 2011
There's a shell of a building off Tennison Street that used to be a skating rink, my first kiss buried in the rubble. When the season changes and November gives birth to that first dirty snow, it's just a rat's nest buried in ashes and cold. Couple times a year, they clear out the homeless, the crazies, those with nowhere left to go, but leave my memories scratching in vain against the permafrost below.
Town like this, of course, there isn't much but memories. Every house has its heavy sigh, foundation sagging against an overgrown lot. Every wrinkle under every hollow eye speaks to something smothered, visions imprisoned in the id, the reason everyone bites their nails.
Maybe it changes in the city. I've been there, you know. Everyone still asks me about it. A sixth-floor hotel room with a rattling air duct and an abandoned wristwatch in the wardrobe. I'm bad at being alone, always was, so I take in a piano bar where every jazz musician goes to die. Thirty years ago, it might have hung heavy in a carcinogenic fog and inspired someone, but now it's all failed actors on the third-shift trying to make rent. Funny how the city works: everyone's too busy trying to afford it to ever really see it.
There's a married woman—pretty sure that's what the ring says, anyway—making eyes for idle chat, and who knows where that leads? Bartender's queer as a circus dog, quite the character, and talking for a tip. The hostess is from a town like mine. She says I gotta move here. I say I can't afford it. She says honey, you never can.
The city is trolly cars and tourists and self-made men and corporate shills and beggars and addicts and art majors and pickpockets and it smells like sewer gas and sea salt and it's gull shit and billboards and bright lights and traffic signs. Passing couples reek of weed and record stores and excitedly talk up the latest Lars von Trier flick like existential epiphany is framed one bloody cumshot at a time. Everyone dresses different from me, threadbare or Bourgeoisie, and sometimes that makes me feel more alone, covered in the apparel of anonymity.
Unlike the town, the city has no time for memories. There are just honking horns and gypsy cabs and a construction crew that never seems to leave. Tomorrow, the M1 will be shut down and the Green line will divert to State Street instead. In the city, nothing lasts. The girl you meet, the one with Pacific eyes that drown your intelligent response, you'll never see her unless you ask her back to the room—and even then, you may wake to a foam impression the morning next. The friend you made, the one who also had an interest in the avante garde, he'll take the promotion, pack his bags and trade in Godard for four kids and a Shrek sequel. The guitarist you heard at The Bloodhound will relapse and sell her Gibson Hummingbird for a plastic bag of crystallized escape. Everyone, everything, moves too fast to be anything but a moment.
The snow falls sullied here. If I sit on the roof of the Tennison Market, I can look past the rubble and into the shrouded lights in the distance. There's no time for first kisses in the city. There's no time for new romance in the town. I have no answers for the past or future, so I sit and eye the expanse, wondering what waits in the sprawling sea between.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The worst thing I ever did was fuck Katie Meyer in a confessional booth when we were supposed to be planning junior prom.
I'd only signed up in the first place as a deterrent to picking up my little sister from her piano lessons, and I'd never had any interest in Katie. Too plain, too pasty, too easy even for an unassuming basket case with mousy brown hair and a secondhand uniform. But when Brenda Baker called off sick and Ross Burgess had to leave early for an orthopedic follow-up, it was just me, Katie and a parochial ghost town.
More specifically, once her button-pocked denim jacket was shed, it was me, Katie and a fuck-me glitter-rimmed tank top that would have had the sisters in fits had they not bused off to whatever sad community center bullshit constituted their Friday evening. Katie was about 20 pounds too heavy, and I couldn't take my eyes off a mustard stain on her right hip, but there's only so much you can do when you're bored and unattended and your prick is straining against the zippered bar of a pleated prison.
It wasn't so much the sex—about as speedy and forgettable as you'd imagine it to be—that left me flushed with the existential acid bath of guilt, or the fact that all of my peers confessing the very lust I had acted upon were sitting on my gravy stains. It wasn't about desecrating a church, sullying God's house or tarnishing some sacred place. It was about Katie, who thought it meant something. Who thought I liked her. Who thought coitus was an equation, our hormone-driven union something beyond boredom, approaching continuation. The comedown an ellipses. The fumbling for trousers and re-tightening of belt buckles a procession other than re-dressing our nakedness.
The eyes were the worst. The batting blues of a lost puppy, and I had the clawmarks from her lingering leg-humping to prove it. I don't think I ever said another word to Katie Meyer, who went out of her way to stop by my locker or bump into me between classes, who did her homework within a half-hour of its assignment just to give herself an excuse to pass a paper into my hands to copy and ever-so-briefly re-establish bodily contact through the grazing of our fingertips—mine cold and burdened, hers painted exactly as they were that one Friday afternoon.
I guess Katie moved away before we graduated, and I never knew what happened to her. The church caught fire some six or seven years later, which was all for the better considering Father Simon had become a sad old drunk and Quinn Caffrey was selling speed during Wednesday Mass. From the ashes rose an arcade, the type of tacky establishment that tried too hard to look retro, posters of 80s video games left preserved and not torn and stained with Chef Boyardee as any true Tecmo talisman would display.
Still, when I'm feeling particularly self-loathing, and that could be any November day when it suddenly dawns upon me that the only living thing that loves me without hesitation is a tabby cat named Lilly, I stroll down that block with my hands stuffed inside my dirty, wrapper-digesting pockets. I look at the after-school crowd leaning against the obnoxious neon storefront idly toeing their boards and taking drags off menthol cigarettes, and I wonder if kids these days even care about confessional booths, about a Catholic school that once stood where they slap hands and eye strangers and passers-by with a certain "try me" only emboldened by the safety of scarf-wearing numbers. I guess we both have our history: mine real, fucked into non-existence and collapsed to cinders, theirs imagined, manufactured, a playground of lies told through tolls of copper tokens and the carcinogenic clouds outside.
I look for her eyes in theirs, or their eyes looking for hers, or some inscription in a foreign iris that approves of my apathy, that says not caring is okay. All I see, though, all those times I pass by, are angry eyes and tightly-drawn lips. And I probably deserve them. It's what haunts me, you see, what has been passed to me from my past, what has taken hold as I've noticed time slipping by and the city, the entire world, shrinking by the second.
It's the continuation. The incomplete equation. The mathematics of the misguided, searching for someone who could ever be so foolish as to mistake me for important again...