Addiction, Awkward Moments, Bad Influences, Boys, Confessions, Girls, Open relationships, Sex, Writing, yoga

How Open Is Too Open?

images-75I never know how I will feel about things until they actually happen.

While I’m no longer chasing an open relationship (as in sex parties, multiple partners, monthly STD tests) I still need an open relationship (as in communication, trust, those other pervy emotional things I’ve only ever heard rumors about), and it feels kinky and dangerous, telling Connecticut everything. Especially this week, when everything includes the stimulating fact that I made out with an epically hot girl from yoga in the bathroom of a Cuban restaurant.

Openness. It’s a theme this week. A few days ago, I found out something about Sketch. I can’t write it here, because it’s a secret. A sad sex secret. His friend told me because he thought I knew already, and then I had to pretend to be cool while we finished dinner with my heart kicking at my ribcage. Nearly fifteen years I’ve been walking around not knowing this grubby piece of information, and when I found out, it felt like when you think there’s one more step at the top of staircase, but there’s not, and for a half-second you feel like you’re plummeting to your death. Sketch’s friend, realizing I didn’t know: Oh. Fuck. Don’t tell him that I told you. I wouldn’t want him to think that I was a tattletale. I fucking hate when someone has a sordid secret and they tell you and now it’s your sordid secret. And I can’t even follow up the way I want to, which at some elemental level would basically consist of me pointing my index finger at Sketch while making disbelief noises.

Clearly, it’s not something Sketch is advertising, so the compassionate thing is to let it go. But I need to tell someone, and so I tell Connecticut, and even though we are talking about my ex, he is able to listen and suggest a kinder perspective than the one I was initially able to take.

This is one reason why I am in love with him. I love you, I say right into the phone, right where he can hear me. Holy shit, I love you, waking up next to him in the middle of the night and realizing that he’s there with me. Texting: I loooooove yooooouuuuuu, because I think it’s funny that I get to say it all I want, after wanting to say it so badly all these weeks.

A relationship of openness. It’s amazing.  Because there are some things going on, and I need to talk about them.

 

images-76And now for a dirty confession: I have a weakness for small, beautiful women.  Back when I lived in New Orleans, I lived in a rented room over a bar, and I would sometimes go downstairs and look for the tiniest woman in the bar. If she didn’t protest too much, I would carry her upstairs where I could kiss her and squeeze her ass a lot in private. Women this small and beautiful and willing don’t wander into grabbing range that often, especially now that I don’t hang out in bars and strip clubs anymore, so I usually am just nursing one crush or another at my yoga studio. I’ve written about it before as being a pastime akin to a dog chasing rabbits in the backyard—it doesn’t expect to catch one. The playful chase is the point.

Well, one got close enough for me to grab this week. Beautiful, tiny, all taut stomach and dewy skin, the kind of shapely legs you want to get your knee between. Gorgeous.   The kind of girl you know will taste good.   And looking for something.   Looking for an experience.

Now, I have to tell you: this never happens. NEVER. N-E-V-E-R happens. But this one time, the thing that never happens actually happens and after a few drinks, there is an invitation to go lock the door of the single-occupant bathroom at the back of the restaurant and make out for a few delicious minutes next to the hand-dryer. Grabbing tight handfuls of this girl, grinding myself against her, touching her body not only on my behalf but on behalf of former Tippy, who I am mentally elbowing. Check it out, I say to my former self. Get a load of this.

She is tight and sexy and tastes wonderfully like girl, but when I head home, texting Connecticut goodnight, I feel a strange emotion that is not my usual acquisitive glee. It feels like guilt.   What the shit? It was just a kiss, and with a girl. To not kiss a girl this unbelievably hot would be like this would be like leaving money on the table. Wasteful. Right?

But the next day, the feeling is still there. I think I might feel better if I could just show everybody a picture of this girl in full-split on Instagram.  I mean, Connecticut and I are officially an item now, but come on. This girl is sex in yoga pants, and I am a sex addict, for fuck’s sake. Who could possibly blame me for wanting to push her up against a wall and touch her body?

So that happened is an expression I sort of hate. It makes it sound as if the events we set in motion are like weather patterns, ungovernable and unpredictable.   When I think about what I want to say to Connecticut about what happened with this girl in the bathroom, I write it just happened, and then cross it out three times.

What did you want to tell me? he asks the next night. He and I are on the phone and it’s late and I’m sitting on the floor. I read him my prepared statement, trying to sound like I’m not reading a prepared statement. I just wanted to let you know what happened, and hear about how you feel, I conclude, increasingly uneasy at the mounting silence on the other end of the line. Men are into this kind of shit, aren’t they?   Don’t they always want the details? I mean, it was a girl, not some dude. Not my ex.

Sexist goddamned double-standards, and I know it, too.

I’m not OK with that, he says quietly. And I know that I have fucked up. And it’s weird, because all I usually care about, ever, is whether or not I am in trouble, whether or not somebody is mad at me. And there’s a lot of that now, but mostly what I feel is horror when I realize that I have hurt him.

And I say all the things: I’m sorry, it won’t happen again, I didn’t know, we hadn’t gotten clear on what our rules were, I suck, I’m sorry.   And still he is hurt.

So basically this week, I told him I loved him for the first time, called him my boyfriend, and immediately went out and cheated on him. I am literal human garbage.

So yeah. That happened. Now I’m waiting to see if we’re going to be OK, and when I wake up this morning at 4:30 because some alarm is going off down the street, I pull the pillows over my head like I want to bury myself.

Giving up, I get out of bed and make my way to the kitchen with a drag-footed gallows walk. And there is a text waiting for me on my phone from Connecticut, from the night before. I’m about to go to sleep and these are things you might need to read in the morning. Breathe. You’re okay, I’m okay. We’re okay and going to be great. I love you.

My goal now is to figure out how to actually deserve this man. You’re okay, I tell myself. You’ll make better mistakes tomorrow. I try to believe it. There is air in the open space between us, and I breathe it, nervously.

 

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Addiction, Arguments, Bad Influences, dating, essays, Labels, Sex, Sex Addiction, Writing

Fighting Men and Their Known Associates

images-71I gravitate to violent men. When I first met Sketch thirteen years ago, he was fresh from a ten-year bid at Attica, all biceps and easy confidence, and I could tell from the sure way he negotiated the sidewalk that he could handle himself in a fight. Kick, the last man I loved, or at least claimed to love in an increasingly insistent voice, was a skilled fighter, and everything he did was charged with aggression; he came at me like a suitcase full of bricks, slamming me back on the mattress, my teeth rattling like dice in a cup. The roughness always made me feel like I had his full attention, even though I secretly worried I would end up in a dumpster somewhere with a broken neck. In the end I had to cut him loose: I want a man who is scary but who is nice to me. Like having a pet dinosaur for a boyfriend.

I was just telling Connecticut my whole theory about how you can’t get dumped if you don’t have a “boyfriend,” and that this is why I’m done with boyfriends, and he jokingly proposes a different label for us: associates. I like this, think it sounds appropriately sinister. As in, that guy? Known associate of Tommy the Neck. People with troubled pasts have associates; violent people have associates.

Connecticut did a lot of boxing in college, with a minor in bar fights, and he shows me how to punch, half naked in his bedroom: hooks, jabs, upper cuts. You don’t really make a tight fist until the last moment, he tells me. He shows me how to drive the impact with my legs. But it doesn’t look like it would hurt that much, if he actually hit you.  He’s not scary.

He’s rough, but not in the intense, Tyler-Durdenish way that gets the dysfunctional side of my personality wet. Rather, he’s rough in the unfinished way of a thirty-four year old whom no girl has ever taken through Gentleman 101. He doesn’t think to open car doors for me, or to offer me a drink when I duck into his basement apartment (I am, it seems, doomed to love men who live in holes). When he drops me off late at home I turn around to wave at his car after opening my lobby door, and discover he was already driven away. I mentally compose a note from my killer: Thanks for driving away so quickly so I could get right down to cutting this girl’s head off. I’m into deep throat, but only from the other end. But I don’t text it to him. It seems a little mean to tease him. He’s a sweet person. He’s too sweet for you, whispers a voice, insistent as an obscene phone call in the back of my head.

Maybe I can just tell him. Come on, dude. Be a little meaner in bed. Get your shit together outside of it. Someone has to tell him, because he doesn’t know things like you can’t spank someone like you’re just kidding, and also you need to keep more than one clean towel in your apartment in case you have a guest. But my system is so jacked up with oxytocin that I can’t get it together to explain this to him.

He’s a kid, painfully cute and terribly awkward in equal parts, and I am reminded of the campsite rule of dating younger people, with thanks to Dan Savage: leave it nicer than you found it. And here I am, a camper with loose matches and a penchant for littering, my libido an unleashed dog. If this were a movie, you’d be shouting at the screen for him to get away from me.

He just doesn’t know things yet. He is only 34; when I was 34, I was still shoplifting lipstick from the drugstore, still siphoning pills off the top of other people’s prescription bottles, still lying to anyone who would listen. I still preferred comic books to novels, and I was still wearing enormous patent-leather platform heels and rainbow thigh-high socks to go run errands.   I would routinely commute on the subway with a bearded dragon lizard perched on my shoulder like a crazy person. So Connecticut is doing alright. He’s got more going on then I did at his age.

We meet in Long Island City and go to that amazing ramen place that only has one large table and doesn’t take reservations, and we split the bill. This is always an awkward thing because I never know whether I am unmanning someone by offering to pay my half of the check, but I feel uncomfortable with someone buying me a meal unless they are older or wealthier and Connecticut is neither of these things. Afterwards he stays at my place and I have to fight, every time he makes me come, not to say I love you. It feels like love, but what I actually love are orgasms. I am old enough to know this.

There is deep power in those words. I love you. Magic. I always say it first, and then often. I tell a lot of people that I love them. With men, it’s never about hearing it back. Sometimes they look a little at a loss for words; the worst is when you tell someone that you love them and they thank you.  Ugh. That’s a weird thing; they may as well just say, “I don’t love you, and now it’s awkward.” Every man I’ve ever professed to love, I’ve declared it before the orgasm had cooled off, but I’ve promised myself I won’t do that with Connecticut. I keep my mouth shut tight.

Because I still feel like running. I can’t fall asleep with Connecticut in my bed; he wraps his arms around me until I can’t move, trapped, and I want to tell him, I love you, but can you please just fucking stay on your side of the bed? I can’t sleep, my brain making that whining noise it makes when I’m about to have a panic attack. When I shift into a hypervigilant semi-doze, I’m woken first by a fight outside on the street, and then later by bloody dreams and the vague sense that something terrible and bloody has happened to Sketch.

I love you, I want to say. Mostly because I like saying it, to anyone. But you don’t get to unsay it.   And there are diminishing returns each time you repeat it, because when I tell Sketch that I love him, it feels less and less like magic and more and more like conversational filler. I like it best when Sketch grabs me hard, and there is no more talking.   I like it when he puts his hand over my mouth.

Connecticut wants to talk, and I can feel a big conversation coming. I don’t want to hurt him, but I know that my answers to the questions he has will hurt. Maybe this is the real truth of why I am drawn to tough men; I like people whom I can throw the full weight of myself against, all my lust and greed and momentary love, certain that I will not break them. I’m confident by now that I know how to reattach my own pieces, but I don’t know how to put you back together.

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Addicted to attention, Addiction, Bad Influences, essays, Sex, Texting, Want Monster, Writing

Return of the Want Monster

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Connecticut is going to IKEA with a friend this evening, and I ask him to please text me pictures of pieces of furniture he would like to do me on. He complies, and then sends me an actual dick pic (not shot at IKEA.   That would be insane). A dick pic! What have I done to this shy person? Just last month he was still hugging me like we needed to save room for a Bible, and now he’s documenting erections and one-upping me on the filth I send him on my lunch hour.

He also sent me a text a few days ago in which he thanks me for reconnecting him to his humanity. I think by humanity he means getting blow jobs, but I am glad that this is working for him and that so far I am not making him miserable. Suddenly, after months of chasing him, he likes me; I can tell he likes me, but it feels like someone just handed me something heavy and valuable and slippery, and I’m nervous.

Getting Connecticut in my bed doesn’t feel like I thought it would. I thought I would finally feel contented; I thought it would be a break from the tireless want that constantly ruins everything like a spoiled child pointing at things in a store and yelling. But this doesn’t feel like contentment. Instead, I feel dizzy and glutted, like if you drank wine with bourbon or ate a fistful of gummy bears with piece of cheesecake. It’s too much sweet. It’s too much.

Also, there are scheduling problems, already. I go to see my parents for the Easter weekend, which just leaves Friday, and this is why it’s tough to really be involved with more than one person. Because sometimes you only have one night free, and then it becomes painfully clear who you like best.

It’s Sketch, it’s always Sketch, Sketch forever.  I go uptown to see him and put my phone on airplane mode so Connecticut can’t text at an inopportune moment, and Sketch and I walk across Central Park to go see the Edvard Munch exhibit at the Neue Gallery. I identify not with “The Scream” but with “Puberty,” Munch’s painting of a round-eyed, naked girl sitting on a bed, an enormous phallic shadow menacing the wall behind her. And walking home Sketch makes me laugh and I can’t stop admiring the way his shoulders fill out the back of his shirt, a back I want to climb up on like a raft, but there is this thing that’s going on in my life now and here we are not talking about it. And it makes me feel far away from him, like his voice is coming at me through a tube. In the morning we will have coffee at City Kitchen with three of his friends, two of whom want to sleep with him. One of the women calls him sweetheart. A long time ago she was the mistress of someone famous; she has the best ass I’ve ever seen. When she tells him goodbye, she tells him that she loves him, and I know I have forfeited any right to be jealous, but I am, and he’s not even sleeping with any of these people, at least not that he’s told me.

He doesn’t belong to me, and I don’t belong to him, and no one belongs to anyone, and I take my phone off airplane mode so I can see what Connecticut has texted me, and I kind of feel better for a moment until I realize that this is what coping looks like.   I am getting enough to get by, but this is not what I pictured for myself, not at all. My friend Jocelyn asks me over dinner, “In an ideal world, who would it be?” Something I am learning is that no one can handle your lack of monogamy, and I’m finding it hard to even talk about Connecticut with people, without feeling sort of apologetic and sheepish.

Time is limited, and energy is limited, and after a long holiday weekend with family I just want Sketch. I change the sheets before he comes over, because someone else has been here, and it’s impossible for this not to make me feel profligate and seedy, and he gets down with me on my new rabbit sheets. Some of the rabbits have sweaters. One is a wearing a scarf. One is turned the wrong way.

Am I turned the wrong way? I’m not even sure what the markers are for the wrong way, but I am being reminded this week that getting what I want is not necessarily the thing that makes me happy. Getting what I want doesn’t stop me from wanting something else, something different.

The next day I have one of those 12 step meetings to go to; I’m impressed that I’ve made it through the last few days without getting into my mother’s Xanax or turning up at some bar with my wallet and my bottomless supply of want, and so I can hardly begrudge the time I have to spend in church basements to make that happen. But because the recovery rooms are basically high school, I’m in a fight with someone there and now I don’t want to go. Connecticut goes with me and sits on my left and my leg drifts in his direction until it finds him, warm, on the other side of my jeans. He found a book of weird John Shirley stories for me at the Strand. It is a specifically thoughtful gesture, precisely the correct gift for me.

The argument rages inside my body about whom I am supposed to love, where I should be spending the energy that I have left, and the most convincing argument for Connecticut is that he is there, showing up next to me when I need him.

And Sketch is far away. The messages I get remind me of the texts I sometimes get from Lovesick, in Paris. Lovesick messages me this week, and we compare the states of high terrorist-alert in our respective cities this week. It’s raining in New York, I tell him. It’s raining in Paris too, he reports.  Sketch sends me a message in between art school and yoga, but when I call him, he does not call me back. It’s a good thing I like his back so much. I can see it now, retreating.

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Addicted to my boyfriend, Awkward Moments, Back Together, Bad Influences, Blogging, Panic, Writing

Panic

images-56“You haven’t posted for a while,” my friend Lisa observes. And it’s true; I’ve been cheating on the blog with the book, or I’m busy with my side-bitch, fiction. The blog sits home alone in a bathrobe, smoking cigarettes, worrying that maybe this time I’m gone for good.

Also, I’m writing in between panic incidents. Let’s not call them attacks. Too melodramatic. These are more akin to my psyche sneaking a pair of scissors onboard than to finding a bomb counting down in the toilet. They are panic incidents. But still, I’m taut with nerves and feeling like there is a tiger in every room, so I head to Spa Castle with Sketch to relax. I believe the Koreans that run the place must pump nitrous oxide through those saunas; there is no other explanation for why fifteen minutes at 170 degrees with chubby strangers makes you feel so good. By the time we stumble out, the terrorists that live in my brain have retreated, and Sketch and I are giddily recommitting ourselves to one another. He is calling me by nicknames I haven’t heard in a while, and I think of my friend warning me that I’m in the oxytocin baths, but it feels too good to reach for a towel. I sink in deeper.

Of course it can’t last. Saturday morning we’re with some people; among them: an unattractive woman who is hopelessly in love with Sketch. I’ve never met her before, and no one introduces us, but I recognize her instantly.   I’ve heard that she credits him with saving her life a year ago, when she was busy drinking herself to death, and since then she joins him and his sober friends for eggs on Saturday mornings, jockeying, be certain, for the seat next to his. I try not to look like I’m looking her up and down, profiling her shoes and lipstick and hair.   Middle-aged, with thick arms and a little on the jowly side, she waits until I am a safe distance away to come over and hug him. He kisses her on the cheek and says something warm that makes her laugh, and I find that I am glowering at her. It bothers me, seeing her look at him with love and longing, once he’s moved on to talk to someone else. Maybe it looks too much like me, and the way I look at him.

We are, both of us, immediately and murderously jealous of one another. I could almost want to bond with her over it. That’s the thing with Sketch; he makes you feel like the most important person in the room, but he does that with everyone, and everyone can’t be the most important. At some point you have to choose. But it bothers me that I am jealous. Petty fucking emotion, for people who remain stubbornly convinced that there is not enough of anything to go around.   “She was crushing on me,” Sketch admits casually when I confront him about it. “I guess she still is. But we’re just friends.” He’s going over her house later this weekend, to help her put some bullshit furniture from IKEA together. Because that’s what friends do. I picture her handing him the Allen key, their fingers touching as she passes him the tiny Swedish screws. I wonder if she thinks about what accidents could befall me. After all, people fall in front of subway trains all the time.

“Why aren’t you angry at Sketch?” queries the therapist who lives in my head, in the same neighborhood as the panic-attack terrorists. “Clearly he is leading the woman on. Clearly he is enjoying being the center of attention. How is this OK?” All these voices are annoying. Just because I’m angry doesn’t mean I have to admit it or deal with it.   If he wants to hang around with this woman who is all in unrequited love with him, it’s not any of my business. Really, having been there too, I should feel some compassion for her, or at least stop staring so pointedly at her jiggly arms. She’s not threatening me, so why am I threatened?

“What are you up to next weekend?” I ask him, trying for an offhanded tone and somehow still sounding shrill and desperate. He is vague. He is evasive.   Eventually he admits that he is kicking it with this woman, and I lapse into silence. He’s drawing this woman’s portrait in his studio, which all sounds like that scene in Titanic. I know how he gets when he draws.

It makes me want to buy a plane ticket somewhere. I’ve been fantasizing about quitting my job and joining the Peace Corps. I could go live in Tonga and teach English, far from the circus of people-pleasing that my life has become. I’m so afraid of people losing interest in me that anytime anyone asks me to do something, my answer is YES, until I’m exhausted and frazzled. By the time I get home, I’m having heart palpitations and I feel like I can’t breathe. I keep thinking about Sketch uptown, drawing this woman who loves him.  Tracing the lines of her face in charcoal, his affection for her making her beautiful.

All my emotions this week are the petty ones, although I do a reasonable facsimile of generosity and familial devotion. I go home for Thanksgiving, and as my mother has just had knee-replacement surgery, it is down to my stepfather and I to do the Thanksgiving meal. I love how people assume that because I have a vagina I know how to operate a stove. My stepfather, government bean-counter that he is, prepares a spreadsheet of various dishes and cook-times and barks orders at me. People arrive with their spouses and show off babies and photos of remodeled basements, while I try to figure out what to do with a potato masher. My mother is on all the drugs that I like, and I am jealous that she gets to spend the day on narcotics instead of worrying over a pot of squash.

I don’t get into her pills, because I would never climb out again, but I do turn the bottles around so I can read the labels. On the oxycontin bottle, in my mother’s handwriting, the word STRONG. I would love something STRONG right now, even though I know that it doesn’t solve anything.   It’s like throwing a blanket over a bunch of dirty dishes. They’re still under there; you’re not fooling anyone.

Instead, I go to three yoga classes in a row, including an aerial class with a man who is at least 6’4” and looks to be pushing 70. This slab of an old man wraps himself in the silk hung from the ceiling and flips himself around and around until I feel like clapping. I also sort of feel like taking him home; he is old and agile and maybe he can explain things to me. Instead, I climb inside the silk like a hammock, cross my arms over my chest, and just sway in the cocoon for a while. I emerge, not like a butterfly but like the same motherfucking caterpillar that went in. This is not how the metaphor is supposed to work. I feel like I should have changed into something else by now. I should be living in Tonga, with a name in a foreign language. I should be spending Thanksgiving in a place where no one has ever tasted turkey. I should be at the very least over Sketch, or in enough acceptance that I’m not thrown into a panic by another woman mousing around for crumbs.

But I’m writing. There is that, words like entries in a ledger, adding up slowly, the one thing I can account for as proof that something different is happening.  It’s an answer for the questions that creep out when I’m trying to sleep.  It’s enough of a reason to keep going.  And if nothing else, if anything happens to me, its a tip-off that it was no accident.images-49

 

 

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Alcoholism, Attention-Seeking, Bad Influences, Friends, Recovery

“Just Friends” and Other Lines of Shit I’d Like to Sell You: Part II

images-14When I was in the seventh grade, I had no friends.   I’d stand in the cafeteria with my tray, all awkwardness and spare elbows, and try to find the least conspicuous place to slide myself.  Today, I can always spot the kids I teach who are going through this no-friends phase; when I ask what superpower they would want, they always pick invisibility, or flight.  Don’t see me, or let me get the fuck up out of here.  (For the record, the superpower I would pick is shape-shifting: psychic residue from that part of my personality that never could get over being twelve and not looking like Alyssa Milano from Who’s the Boss.)

Friends are the softer-core version of my inner sex addict’s need for constant attention and validation.  During my four-month period of abstinence (stop scoffing, back row, four months is forever when you don’t really feel like anyone really sees you unless they are balls-deep in you), I transferred all my neediness over to my girlfriends.  Once I walked into a 12-step meeting and no one had saved me a seat on my preferred side of the room, and I was fighting back tears for the entire hour.  It’s just not that serious, but it is.  It is.

I had friends when I was using, too, but those are friends on a completely different order.  Cocaine makes scenery-chewing extroverts out of everyone. Of course, things got worse, because that is the invariable narrative arc when you are getting high, and gradually, I had just one friend left: Monique, a stalwart who came and found me when I was sitting in a skanky Wendy’s across from some drug dealer with sores on his face who was plying me with Vicodin and working his hand up the tight leg-hole of my jeans with a zen sort of patience while I sat there stultified in front of a cold hamburger.   She walked me to a meeting and I fell down on the sidewalk.

So, recovery. I made a few more friends.  I learned a little about being truthful and accountable and semi-responsible; not 100% of the time, your birthday card will still be a month late and have peanut butter on it.  But at the very least, I can today be relied on not to steal your wallet and then help you look for it, or to try to sit in your boyfriend’s lap when you disappear into the kitchen.

Boyfriend’s friends, however, have always been a source of sexual fascination, and that hasn’t totally gone away yet.    I don’t know why.

Sketch’s friends were no exception, and for a time, if we were going out with his friends, I always put on extra mascara and something where you could see my belly-button.

One of the things I love about Sketch: he never hit on my friends in return. Never. When I was younger and more accepting of bullshit, I had boyfriends who were obsessed with my friends; in college, my boyfriend Bummer was mad-dog obsessed with my friend Karly.   Karly was this hot hippie chick with dirty-blond hair and a languorous manner of rolling joints that drove him crazy. She was one of the best people I have ever known; when I was heartbroken over a girl in my program whom I was madly in love with, Karly came over and had sex with me. It was basically the only thing that got me through finals.

Bummer was pissed that he had missed out on the girl-action, and he kept needling me for details. He stole a photo of her from me and kept it in his desk. Eventually, Bummer conned her into some crummy aconsentual sex, while she was really freaking high on Qualudes. I was passed out snoring on the carpet a few feet away while the cats walked daintily around me.

What the two-legged in the house were mostly about that summer was drugs. We had a friend who was studying veterinarian medicine, and somehow this qualified him to fill up a nitrous tank the whole gang of us would sit around, assassinating brain cells, our lips and fingernails turning blue. (I believe this is the reason why I can not figure out how to resize the header on my blog correctly. My beautiful wizard of a roommate finally did it for me.) Bummer and I were living in a basement apartment on Easton Avenue, behind the frat houses, and sometimes a drunk frat boy would stand pissing against the side of the building in the parking lot and urine would arc into my livingroom through the open street-level window. I was nineteen, the perfect age for accepting the unacceptable with a jaded, drug-wearied shrug.

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I have this exact hat, minus the power to levitate it.

I just accepted that Karly was hotter than me, but then, all my friends were hotter than me. I picked hot friends. I walked around reading Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being, aping its romantic cynicism.   So when I went by Karly’s boyfriend’s dorm, and he wanted to fuck me, I swore I was just showing off my refusal to take anything too seriously. I loved Karly, and she was one of the most caring and compassionate friends I have ever had, but I needed the hit of validation from her skinny boyfriend more than I needed to honor our friendship, and so I did.

Plus, I figured she would never actually find out. But right after it was over, the guy had an attack of conscience and he was all “you need to leave so I can go tell Karly what happened.” Unwilling to relinquish narrative control, I ran along behind his car, but he put on speed and lost me. I caught up an hour later, his car parked on Karly’s lawn with the fervor of confession. I rang and rang the bell and yelled, but nobody answered.

I came back the next day with homemade rice krispy treats, which I had decided was the dessert that took a properly contrite tone, and she opened her door to me standing there weeping and bearing the tray.   “You don’t even know what you’re doing, do you?” she sighed, with more compassion and empathy at twenty than I can muster at twice that age. She hugged me and let me cry it out, eating her rice krispy treats through my tears and making the whole thing about me. Of course, after that, she gradually put some distance between us, and I was to some extent relieved, for it meant I didn’t have to deal with Bummer’s obsession with her, nor my own guilt.

Her boyfriend called me up, once, maybe a year later. He and Karly had broken up, and he asked if I wanted to go over his friend’s house and get high. His friend turned out to be Domenick, who I would be instantly and completely addicted to, and who would introduce me to the wonderful world of heroin.

It’s funny how unbroken the chain of bad decisions is, and how much of it was started by the need for someone to think I was as desirable as my cute friend. It’s a butterfly effect of petty need toppling an entire life.

I also still kind of blame Milan Kundera, too.   Books can be really bad influences on me, like when I was ten and I wrote my name on my bedroom wall because Anastasia did it in that book where Anastasia is moving to a new house.

Today, I legitimately have a lot of friends.  Most of them know who I really am, even the super sweet ones from school or yoga who have probably never in their lives done a big pile of coke while watching interracial gang-bang porn as the sun comes depressingly up.  I send them links to this TMI-y blog anyway.

I haven’t made any blogging friends yet.  I keep hearing about a “blogging-community,” and I read other people’s stuff (to have a friend you have to be a friend, my mother would say) and leave comments I hope are endearing, but so far, I am still shifting around hopefully with my metaphorical lunch tray, a tray loaded with drug and dildo references, looking for people to get me.

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