Into the Void, I Lost Count

I was sitting out on my balcony, thinking about how I'm about to be really alone. Thinking about you. A couple of teardrops fell. I wasn't looking at anything in particular, just staring straight ahead. And a friggin' blue jay jumped right into the branches of the tree right in front of my eyes. Looked right at me.  I actually said out loud, "Are you kidding me? What do you want?" That's your bird in my world. Have you ever seen one? It's your bird, lonely one.

I used to think that what we're going through was a curse. Then I thought, well, I think we need a chance to get a little more mature. Then I thought, and in addition to that, I think it's so that we get proof. Not proof that would satisfy a physics major, but our kind of proof. This is what it feels like apart. This is what it feels like together. In the morning you let me know you knew. I say yeah me too. So we'd know we weren't making it up. And so that, whenever we were together again, if we ever got jealous (we're both jealous), or insecure (we have no reason to be, obviously, but we are) then we'd remember what we learned while we were apart. That when you're not being crazy and I'm not all mad, you lock into my heart and it's like we're two halves.

I have this friend. She's one of those that tends to piss me off. But I've known her since we were ten so, you know... She's in. She once married a really bad man. And he messed her up so bad. I never liked him. She had babies with him, sold her soul for him. Then finally she left. They say he's a real live narcissist. Not like, the way girls pretend all their exes are, but a real one. Her divorce lawyer hated him, and he was a man, so I feel like that alone is more proof than a shrink could even give. She tries to tell me things about love sometimes. She can't trust herself anymore, and I think it'll be a while. She can't feel safe. She does have a new guy now, and he's a good one. I like him. But she gets really scared. She gets really mad. She gets paranoid. He made her feel so unworthy. I dated someone like her ex once. He messed me up, too, but I got better after a while. Mostly better. Someone told me once that you were with someone like that. Someone bad. Maybe it's not true. No one really knows what goes on behind closed doors. But sometimes I think it might be, because of the way you doubt me. It feels like you think I'm lying. That I'm two-faced. You know, those kinds of people do stuff like that, and then they make you feel like it's your fault that they're soulless. They make you feel like you're safe and then they turn around and stab you in the back. And then they blame you for it. They come up with something you did to make them hurt you. And if you're smart you already know you're not perfect, and if you're sensitive you've already got a pain point for rejection. So you get back on the treadmill of trying to win them back. Because they never start out mean. They always start out nice. And make you think you're like, the one for them. Then they gradually start to pick, and pick, and pick at you until you snap. And they start to ruin everything slowly, and they blame it all on you.

And I'm not making that up.

Once I was sitting on the train in Chicago, and this guy sat down next to me. He was a young guy, close to me in age, and white, and he had kind of a banged up face. He was agitated. The train was crowded, evening rush hour. I took the Brown Line every day, that was my train. (Didn't I see you on a bus I got on one day? You turned your face away? Back in the days when you avoided me but stared from corners really obviously.) Anyway, so this guy turns to me and tells me that he got jumped on his way to the train. I said to him, "That sucks," and meant it. Then he said that that's what happens when 30% of the city's population is black. Oh god, a crazy. My adrenaline shot up, I quickly glanced around. Almost all the men around me were brown. So that's why he sat next to me? Because I'm white as fuck? Gross me out. I said something like, "No," and looked out the window. He kept looking at me. "Are you a German girl?" Am I German? I'm Austrian and Nordic, yo, I'm your racist behind's wet dream, but I'm not about to tell you that, you creep. "No," was my reply. I turned my body even further to look out the window. (Like the person I'm pretty sure was you did on the bus that day. I think my coat was orange.) He looked confused. He kept staring at me. "Are you sure? You look really German." How long was this going to go on... He sat back for a minute. Then he squinted at me again (I could see him in the window reflection). "An Irish girl, then." I just wanted him to stop. And technically they're our cousins, and I like them a lot better than I like us, we're all so mean, so I gave up and said, "Yeah." He seemed satisfied. Then he said, "You're a very beautiful girl." I was scared of him, so I said, "Thanks." I made eye contact with a man across the aisle facing me, like, checking to see if he could see that this crazy guy was talking to me. He looked back to let me know he had clocked it. For every creep I've met on a train, I've met a hundred angels.

I was so struck by the way he said it. His tone. "You're a very beautiful girl." Like, "You probably already know, but I'm going to tell you anyway, you belong to the category of Very Beautiful Girls, and are entitled to the rights and privileges therein. Since I'm crazy and like to label people based on appearances, in a loud voice, in public, it's my job to let you know. Just in case no one ever told you. You look German, but you're Irish, and you're a Very Beautiful Girl." I wanted to tell him, "Yeah? Well you got a black eye, and I think nobody ever loved you right, and you're kind of a Prick. From the Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Prickium. Species Psychopathicus." But I was scared he'd get violent, so I just sat there frozen til I reached my stop. He didn't follow me out. Thank God.

I was never a mean girl growing up. Thoughtless, yes. Because I was still learning that my words could have an effect, and I had a lot of nervous energy and did a lot of panicky talking at the lunch table. I wasn't a Mean Girl, I was a New Girl. Permanently. I was always so grateful for that first girl who says hello, and talks to you at recess, and invites you to eat lunch at her table with her friends. The girls who do that are never the ones in the popular crowd. They're too sincere for them. And they laugh right out loud, because you can't be self-conscious while cracking up. Those were my people. Band geeks, musicians smoking in the parking lot, theatre geeks, foreign language club nerds, community service club bleeding hearts, Honors English die-hards. Note passers. Joke tellers. Crush gazers. Freaks. Our hearts break wide open.

I had a dream the other night that you told my friend that you didn't feel worthy of any good stuff. You were rambling fast. (I met Ramblin' Jack Elliott. At my friend's house. He could barely walk. He looked like Santa Claus but cuter. He shook my hand and said, "Hi, my name's Jack.") You wouldn't talk to me but you told her. You were in a state. We were like, okay he's not thinking straight, we'll just keep him under our wing.

You really bruise me when you get this way. I already feel crazy enough on a good day. And you know what to say to drive me away. Not because I'm like, "Ugh, he wasn't good enough for me anyway," but because it really hurts. It ruins my day. I think somebody really messed you up. Is still messing you up. I can tell. Because somebody messed me up, too. And it's okay. You're not perfect, but you didn't deserve it. Not all girls are like that, though. I want you to know that I really am alone. Maybe we made some mistakes, but we couldn't help it. We're Very Beautiful Dorks, with no chill. And no guts. Because high school and all that came after fucked everyone up.

Don't make fun of me, I really am lonely. Watching tv, playing with the baby, drinking coffee, cooking, looking out the window. Alone. People publicize the good parts. It's like marketing. He and I are family, like cousins or siblings. That's it. At least we're not lying. Most people are lying. And I don't have any money.

Everything nice you've ever said. And things about being scared sometimes. I feel the same way. I'm not afraid of that devil worshipper. Or any of your friends. That's the one gift of a gypsy upbringing. I'm not beholden to anyone else, outside my own kin. They can stare all they want. Run their mouths. They can't do shit to me. That's why they hate me.

I can't sleep lately because everyone is panicking. The middle of the night used to be my time because it was quiet. Everyone was off in the dreamtime (or some of them just go on standby mode til morning) and then I could have a clear mind. But now, all day and all night, people are freaked out. And my parents are leaving and then I won't be able to stop by their house when I can't take it in mine anymore. You used to sometimes help me sleep at night, but you don't anymore. I need help to sleep.  Someone to watch over me.

The only downside of having a baby is that now you have to stay alive. Because they need you and you need them.

You're wrestling with a lot. But don't take it out on me, don't say I'm something that I'm not. It's so annoying because you're it and you know it, and so am I and I know it too. So whatever, I'll see you in a few days or a couple weeks when you're not being crazy and I'm not mad and the angels open the door again. You go into hiding because you're not a jerk. You're actually really nice. You used to like, watch me so hard waiting for me to reveal myself as a b*tch. Waiting for me to roll my eyes or somehow slip. You were actually really rude to me sometimes, by southern standards. But then you'd do something nice, not directly for me, but that benefited me. Like telling someone tall blocking my view at a show to move and then walking away. Keeping an eye out when I was left unattended. And like, right under your skin all your feelings were always really raw. And we hid from the same party because, let's be honest, the vibes were really gross.

I'm not really going anywhere, I just need a few days to soothe my own nerves.

Tell your bird not to worry.


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