We had the reddest sitting room. Living room. Somewhere between oxblood and tomato, a real knockout of a room.
Room is just one of those words. There are many rooms in my father’s house.
The dog days were over, said the radio. That time is like a chill but optimistic mid-morning in September where someone learns something she keeps to herself and the first downed leaf skitters along the pavement by the still verdant campus.
It was to be the zenith of my adult life: the 8 months between graduation and the time my student loan payments kicked in.
I was working as a freelance writer in the heyday of everyone being a freelance writer, and I never had to leave my house except to buy food or get drunk. I lived in a matchbox bedroom, and my desk was literally inside my closet, but I made $80 a day just typing, and I couldn’t really see needing more than that.
It was the kind of house where we had tea. There was a bowl of teas to choose from. One of my housemates made Jello shots for every party even though she didn’t drink. There was a TV in the ox-tomato sitting room that no one ever fought over because we only watched the Food Network ― sometimes for days on end. This was true, for instance, for the several weeks during which we all passed the swine flu back and forth. We were all miserable and withdrawn, but we could still watch Food Network. My fever got so high I hallucinated.
I can’t make you feel what it’s like to make a pie in a bustling kitchen on a beautiful fall day in Michigan when the windows steam up and you prop the flimsy forest-green screen door open to get some air and you’re between accomplishment and the future and no one even wants you to stop listening to Echo and the Bunnymen. I can’t make you feel the incipient gratitude and hope that sometimes hashes your insides. I can’t make you feel it, but I can describe my inadequacy.
It’s like coming down the stairs. Not stairs, the stairs. The stairs of your home. From the private to the common. It is like that, newel post and all.
We put up a Christmas tree. Our friends become each other’s friends. We accidentally hit on each other’s tricks. It’s like that.
It’s like masturbating a little on your walk home in the dark, so drunk the sadness feels like excitation. It’s like waiting for it to rain so that your car will start and you can go shopping. It’s like recovering the memory of The Halloween Tree from your childhood.
It’s like that.
October 1, 2009
I’ve decided to have dinner parties once every Wednesday for the next eight weeks. Great fall-themed food, potentially great people, great shared times. Or it all blows up in my face. One or the other. I find it interesting that L— clicked ‘will not attend,’ Not once in eight weeks would he like to have someone else make dinner for him? I’m not even sure why I invited him, I don’t think he would have invited me to something similar.
Should I give up and be content being alone? Turkish guy’s weekend starts tomorrow – is he going to call so we can talk and not kiss some more all on his own time/schedule? Why can’t I bring myself to call T—? What the fuck is wrong with me? Do I even deserve happiness? If everything must be earned in this country, haven’t I paid my dues? Should I lose 20 lbs, shave more, pierce something? I’m going to end up speaking every language in the world instead of ever having another satisfactory relationship. Mer. At least I’ve got my dinner parties. Oh fuck I’m Mrs. Dalloway, and yes, that did just occur to me. Fuck…
AND WHAT DO YOU THINK THE ARTIST WAS TRYING TO SAY HERE?
What is with my relentless need to compromise? I feel as though I’ve compromised all the life out of my life and all that’s left is drinking and paying for stuff. It occurred to me the other day that I wanted tennis shoes and that I could afford tennis shoes, and I didn’t buy them for precisely that reason.
Can’t wait to go sweater shopping. Can’t wait to spend the whole fall drinking whiskey. Can’t wait until my hair all goes gray and I realize that all I’ve done is drink and pay for stuff. Instead of writing about my life I should just collect the receipts.
It’s embarrassing like a lack of perspective. It’s embarrassing like finding out you’re a terrible singer in the middle of making your first record. It’s grating like the way she chopped carrots, one…piece…every…few…seconds. Or like how you stole another roommate’s razor, because it wasn’t raining and your car wouldn’t start.
It’s cold like the wind hitting your too freshly shaven face early on a football Saturday morning when come hell or high hangover you have to stand in the lawn and hock parking. You’re in a pallid, ancient celadon button-down that won’t fit you for very much longer, but someone takes a picture of you that morning, how thoughtful. You’re young and the sign you’re holding says something funny and obscene from this angle. You look happy, and you really are.
Because you can still hang out on the tracks. And you can get paid to tap away on your little keyboard. You have to write about bullshit and edit even bigger bullshit, but technically you are a writer. You can pull this around you in the absence of men, none of whom will spend the night in your matchbox bedroom.
You are unaware that you are currently essentially carefree. In a few months you will discover you owe the government $800 after not really looking into how taxes work as a freelancer. This will freak you out for days, but in almost no time at all this will seem like a hilarious problem, the kind you adore yourself for having. It is not because you will come into gobs of money, because you will not. It is because you keep intimating you’re approaching 30, though you’re just 22. Life is going to get you for rushing it. Really, you should never round your age up.
16 August 2009
Making cookies. People moving in. My left knee is probably not going to last much longer. God this sucks, and of course people are going to think I’m being an attention-seeking puppy in light of D—’s broken foot. It reminds me of the thing in my neck. People really aren’t supposed to show their weaknesses. Fuck.
K—’s going crazy. Dammit. I hope this house works out better than 439. That won’t be hard, of course. I guess I mean I want it to turn out significantly better than 439. I don’t want to not be friends with these people in the end.
We’re all roasted squash this and yerba mate that because not one of us has a real bill to pay yet. We have time and a little money, and even though we’re broke, we’ll never be this rich again.
Smoked king’s cheese melted onto the toasted rounds of baguette tenderly placed over the French onion soup I spent quite literally all day making, thank you. The day I made that soup still puts a goofy smile on my face. I walked down to the Polish market for cheese, and I ordered in Polish, and the Polish counter-woman made me repeat myself in English. Smoked king’s cheese. Ahhh.
Maybe this was the day I saw a cloud as bright as the sun — brighter, for containing and constraining all its glory. All my memories of back then are twinkly, as though lit by Christmas lights at the edges. Though just cold, not hot-cold like Christmas memories.
I might have been John Travolta for anyone knew, strutting around town in my denim Giorgio Brutini shoes. They are delicate, they are indelicate, they are not meant to be worn as the only shoe of a man who spends all his free time walking around getting drunk. They have one inch heels that begin to crumble almost immediately, and in no time there is a quarter-size hole in the rubber sole which I just deal with for days because that’s what we did.
Every night was a football game at Rydell High. Just that spring, an apparent lifetime before, I had learned that word vernorexia, ‘spring appetite,’ that gave such meaning to a certain kind of stirring. But this was the year that was all phthinoporexia, the appetite of the fall.
Somewhere there’s a lost journal entry, I just know it, about the boy to whom I took soup who never even called me again. It, too, makes me smile just to think of it now, but I was very bent and sore about making soup for a boy who was sick who never called me again. Everything was just pregnant with how little we had to do and how much time we had to do it, and we wasted it keeping score.
23 August 2009
Relentless appetite today. I think it’s because of the sudden cold snap. It’s eerily autumnal in a way I wasn’t ready for yet.
New boy? From a town I’ve never heard of? Could it be him?
31 August 2009
I sent a note to T— that I shouldn’t have sent this morning. It should have been a letter, I suppose. Then I could have been more grandiloquent. The involvement of the internet cheapens the whole thing. I don’t throw around the old love word much – why did I bother throwing it around with him today? It’s been two years, and those were things he didn’t need or, presumably, want to know. Two years. Why did I bother telling him I was going to say I love you the next time I saw him? Pointless, absolutely pointless.
Because the reality is that my feelings for T— are interlinked and could be interchangeable with my feelings for G— or O— or in another life even Z—. It all started when I tried to think of the people I had slept with more than once, and then I tried to put them in order. There was P— and then Y—, then I cheated on Y— twice with R— and my brain stalled out at my affair with T—. Ah wait, F— was in there somewhere. In any event, it all started to feel distinctly that all the important sex in my life happened during those times and that most of the pursuant sixty or so men were echoes or reflections – a trying to get back to the freezing cold when T— held me, naked, in the attic.
All the associations that get lost in time. All the associations obliterated when your life gets to scale.
You don’t want to disrespect what you once called a love, but you don’t know how you could have called it that. You are struck dumb. You didn’t any longer know this to be true. You were going to tell him you loved him? You are glad you wrote this down, you are glad for your need to tell. You are glad for the birds singing up in the trees, and that back then you wrote it all down.
Draught of a love letter*
I love you for who you are, not who you’ll be. I’ll keep loving you for who you’ll be, but that’s beside the point.
[*undated, but appearing between dated entries on 9 and 11 November, 2009]
I’m dropping shit that’s not even in my hands.
Foresee my future, goddamit.
T– didn’t come. Not for me. It makes things so much easier. I don’t know why I was anticipating a different outcome. He skipped town without telling me, so why wouldn’t he come to town without telling me?
I want to be there for A– right now, but I’m backing off. He is teaching me to control my ego. Does this mean always putting the brakes on?
What’s happened to us? This was supposed to be an intellectual exercise, perhaps with a little snuggling. Now it’s so much more… (Why am I writing legibly?)
I will make him the card with the pop-out duck. I will tell him what love means and why we do it. I can’t tell the future, but in so many ways I’ve never been more excited for it. Future tense: do your worst. I’m taking my destiny into my palsied hands and seeing if love might not just be worth it.
Sometimes it’s like writing an exquisite corpse with myself. And then nine weeks go by and all I want is for A– to bite the fleshy pad of my hand.
1x toward the bus
1x what it means to be ruler
[sideways in the margin in brackets connecting the preceding and proceeding paragraphs, I have written “<——– HA YR DUMB”]
Wow, two breakup stories on one page! Aren’t you a lucky little journal! Aren’t you obeissant and pliant? Won’t you end long prematurely?
2x shuffling the deckchairs
2x falling asleep suddenly
2x between the silos
it feels like she’s ignoring us, it feels like you’re avoiding me. it feels like if we don’t get the check soon there will be an irreversible betrayal. what changed? what cipher did I lose? is the answer the question? and why won’t it stop?..
he idly gestured at change like all the youths of all the years
3x hard sign
3x train terminal
3x negative image
3x packing boxes
26 November 09
I am seen by one white cat and one black cat. I struggle not to see this as somehow fitting, right, perfect, but the very imaginativeness of the image forces itself, its weight upon me.
It begins to feel as though, if I write the document, I will betray myself in a very large way, the scope of which I cannot yet comprehend. It was to be a love letter to him, to A–…and my foolish, errant heart is dissipated again, and I am concerned it would grow to be nothing more than a love’s labor lost. How could I toil on what was to be a love letter for a man who no longer loves me without appearing to all the world including myself as though I weren’t trying to recapture an ill-fated love that indeed already met its ill fate?
And yet it cries out to me: to prove that the universe is benevolent and that love is the divine spark that fuels the engine of benevolent creativity. I wonder at making it very simple, egalitarian, even illustrating it…surely something could come of it. Can I pass up the opportunity to make a lopsided and perhaps even inspiring contribution to the way we think about love simply because the man who suggested the undertaking has reexamined his own views re: me?
What thoughts I have of you tonight, Schlomo Steel: you have seen so many times that there was a newspaper hiding in the left hand, waiting to pop you one in the snout after the right hand had gone about scratching my ears, and he says the best thing I could have done was pretend that he had been hitting my nose with a newspaper. “Perhaps then you would have found true love with me,” I say. “Maybe I would have,” he says, and I know I am broken. Not for or by A–; it is either in summation of all my experiences or I have done myself in (or both). I don’t go in search of the romantically cowardly, do I? Every furry stomach and happy clasped hand makes me want to cry. I don’t know if I’ve yet given up on their loves, but I’m certain I’ve given up on mine.
Tell me who is the one.