Journal

Those four years, I wrote compulsively, afraid I’d one day forget the details of days that were starting to melt and months that were starting to blend. At 18 I started marking time by reference to days out drinking and categorizing eras according to romantic interests of the moment. In between the bleeding, blurry, evenings, I documented the color of the leaves in my morning tea, described the exact shade of gold flecks found in his eyes only in a certain light, and recorded the pattern of sunlight creeping in through the pergola on the cafe patio. I was wearing a plaid skirt and fishnet shirt that day, and carefully noted clouds in my coffee on lunch break. This was the summer I worked in a teeny bopper retail store; on this particular day, my friends had gone skydiving.

I did not know that when I was 33 I’d read the deliberate loops and lines and still could not remember anyway; familiar though the handwriting may be, it was as if it was written by a stranger. This stranger was a bit neurotic and disjointed, vaguely touched by hackneyed angst. The whiskey-laden scrawls on some of the pages were less grand than Jack Daniels would have you believe, but rather, vacillated between nonsense and maudlin nostalgia. The stranger woke up at 9:00 in the morning on a Saturday one weekend (early for her), to a phone call from an old man from the coffee shop who wanted to talk about nothing in particular. She thought he had meant to call her friend, but she ended up talking to him anyway, after taking a seat on the kitchen counter of the sorority house, apple in hand.

The next time I saw the old man, he told me the tragic tale of his wife inexplicably leaving him, fleeing to Japan, and absconding with their child, when in reality he had been convicted of possession of child porn.

I eventually went skydiving, and it felt like flying, but I didn’t write about it.

 

Alcohol IV

Jack Daniels in hand she wandered to the boy who had insisted on following her about like a puppy dog all night took a lock of his hair between two fingers and told him his shaggy, dirty blond hair was cute. He touched her lips once and she ran but he kept calling her at odd hours. The night was a lonely stereotype so she poured herself Jim Beam and he was there, dressed in all white while his friend analyzed her eyebrows.

Later she felt her veins glowing and clutched his hand, pressed her palms into his bare shoulder blades and had daydreams of a false prince.

Alcohol II

Winter broke her like a disease.

That night, someone confessed to wanting to be an actress and fucking minors. Does it make you feel younger? She asked. Tonight, our wrinkles will be deferred by cheap whiskey, this magic bottle of fluid gold. They wasted time because they did not know.

There was something romantic in her mythologic desperation, the sword in her body and her premeditated funeral pyre but the modern parallel was wrong boys wrong times, pathetic and humiliating mistakes. She fell to the waves of his hair breaking on her fingertips and became perpetually afraid and thought that when her bones had disintegrated into the earth he will have died in her thoughts an infinite number of times.

They yelled at each other in the hall and she said it would be his loss. Almost asleep, he murmured that he was up against a wall and had nothing to lose. She tapped on his chest, demanded to know what he meant but he was silent.

Still,the sunshine liquids diluted to a romantic translucence made waves in the head, the concrete pond became an ocean, and in the fluidity of night they rolled heads and senses and fell unconscious together, pleased with oblivion, pleased with each other, and awoke to monotony disguised as something novel. She dreamed she was 14, fearing her petals would be cruelly torn off.

The Week

Monday she woke up still drunk at 11:30 and called people to confirm her friend’s brother had indeed showed up at her ex-boyfriend’s door and together they finished the Johnny Walker Red, spiked a carafe of orange juice at Denny’s with cheap vodka, the color of light sunshine for a heavy heart, bottled oblivion. They stumbled around the lake until the sun came up and she would not see the brother until her friend’s wedding over a decade later, when she was slower and less angry. She was not old enough to have hangovers but the day was restless and heavy and she let it slip by at Vincent’s house in the form of a horror movie; 10 years later the plot would suddenly surface in her mind, while the name of the film remained elusive.

Tuesday she complained of transience, and dreaded Los Angeles’s siren song of hazy nights and rushed minutes. She declared selfishness a virtue some 12 years before she read Ayn Rand’s so-titled essay. Ex-boyfriends fed her conceit and let her talk up storms of emptiness as cigarette smoke floated by on the cafe patio. The day was gray, and the skinny blond on telly condemned the rest of the week to rain. Her friend came by wearing an expensive pea coat and she vaguely felt she would like a boyfriend who favored pea coats.

Inner Senses.

Wednesday, she wore angora and hoped it had not necessitated the killing of rabbits. She misplaced her journal and thought she might die without it. She was frantic and tried to steal books at the bar, but Chad stopped her. A Georgian told her Southern Californians were cold, suspicious, and self-involved. She laughed and told him to get used to it. She left the bar with Tuesday, put her hands around his neck, and afterwards her hands smelled like boy.

Thursday, she skipped Astronomy class because whether the white-haired, bearded man’s description of burning blue stars and fiery planets was fascinating or painfully dull was always a gamble. She watched Tuesday sleeping next to her and imagined swift irrationality stirring and boiling over like coffee. She slipped out of his bed. Her temporary preoccupation paired well with the pulsing in her head and she walked slowly to work.

Friday, her ex-boyfriend lectured her about being devious and self-centered but she only cared for her coffee and bagel. He left her on the patio in the rain and her prideful, clear nights opened the skies and gave way to the heaviest deluge, despondent clouds, and wet wretchedness. A stranger, a Geology major, shared his umbrella with her and she was grateful as she watched the sloppy crystals fall out of the sky, blurring her vision. When the kind Geologist and his umbrella left, she considered her numbness and her alcohol-based romance: 3 parts booze, 1 part unspecified attraction, drowned in slate.

Saturday, she ran in the rain while thin shadows of trees chased her. The city was drowned in the angry tears of some heartbroken god and it came down so violently she could barely see. At night, after the torrents receded, she sat on a large rock, hiding under a tree, and waited for him, her toes grazing a pool of ivy. He came stumbling around the corner shortly, and she remembered that when she thought she’d lost her journal she felt she would die, her trite thoughts floating among the unknown, abandoned in the corner of a bar, pages disintegrating and burning in golden whiskey, but her friend had sneered.

She blinked, she melted, she slept soundly in his bed, and it was Sunday again.

Sunset Boulevard

It was an aimless time in the rain whiskey burning in the veins and someone whispered please sleep but sleep bribes with the most useless promises and giving in is the most undignified part of the day, when forced ripples of unconsciousness threaten to be continuous so they used small, orange dolls to force wakefulness with a torrent of fire and abandon. Sunset Boulevard would not die so the four of them took a booth at Denny’s and she tugged her hair, sighed, and he turned to look at her, his expression asking what am I doing here but she only smiled, because she did not have the answer. She closed her eyes and thought those liquid-slate eyes are the most fleeting of all, unstoppable, and when she opened her eyes she felt she had miscalculated and was spinning in confusion at her own error. When the sun rose she drove to the airport, crying at the drab hideousness of the 405 and its ceaseless droning, and she did not know why, but her friend, leaning her head against the passenger seat window, was secretly pleased with her tears.