mania, mood swings, and serenades from god
It changes. I can’t stop it.
I don’t have the energy to ask questions anymore. Everything I’ve written has had a question in it— do you think God would give you free will and then save you? Where do you belong? What’s going to happen when people stop loving someone who never stays? Valid questions, but I’m done with that. I am trying to move to the acceptance stage of grieving myself. I lost a bit of myself every time I came back, but I’m trying to regrow them. Move on. Say yes to life, say yes to the parties and odd jobs and joy. Say yes to heaven. When people invite me out, I don’t make an excuse to stay home.
It’s Saturday and I’m in San Francisco right now, housesitting for old family friends. They asked me to come watch their cat, so yesterday I hitchhiked to Crescent City, ate some delicious jambalaya, and met up with a friend headed to San Diego who drove me the rest of the way. My lack of a license used to stop me. I’m very tired of letting things stop me.
I am making this old, freezing cold house my cathedral. I play music on my shitty laptop instead of the expensive sound system they have wired through the house, singing along to something that can’t be sang along to very well— Schubert and bad pop and worse rock, all ricocheting straight to my heart like an arrow made of tinny fuzz. A bacchanal, a prayer, all of it completely incomprehensible. Putting on wool socks, I slide across the floors like I’m in Risky Business, aviators and all, dropping into the splits and laughing as I roll out of them. I used to be a dancer and now I’m one of Boleslaw Biegas’s monsters, many-headed and reaching out in joy.
Everything I wrote before was a way for me to intellectualize sadness, to expand on it and pick it apart. Dissection. Everything I write nowadays is about happiness and survival. I’m done with that romantic and varied tragedy— I’m done with it! No more, no more! Every time I look at this world, I find another beautiful thing waiting for love and they could be millions of year old, but they’re new to me, and that’s fucking intoxicating!
I eat breakfast and in the mornings now, did you know? I still have the morning nausea, that incurable nausea, but I wake up when the sun is already up and make myself all the food I could ever want. I sit in the sun and chew each bite until it goes flavorless and the food grows cold, and I keep eating anyways. My hair is growing out from the pixie cut I chopped it into a month or so ago, shaggy around my ears and nape, and I get it wet just to watch it curl again. Maybe I could get the afro I had as a little kid back. Maybe I could get myself back.
I see it now— it was stupid of me to pretend I wasn’t vain or insecure when I would spend so much time styling my long hair and putting on lipstick even when I was the only one home. I wanted to be like a poison dart frog, bright and beautiful and deadly. No more of that. Now I’m a mangy dog, like the one in The Stranger. I am ugly and miserable and loved so, so much. What a wonderful thing to be!
The word for it, I believe, is revel. I dance around this old house, the neverending narrow rooms and the five floors of space that the owners didn’t waste any money on because they have so much money it’s almost impossible. These people are related to the Rockfellers, and I know that because my mom told me and who else would have a kitchen half the size of the house I live in? Old money, that’s who. And they left a bottle of perfume in my bedroom with my name on it, so I use it and I smell like I’m playing dress up as a rich person, and it’s just a blast. I’m having a blast. Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.
My parents do enough worrying for all of us that I spend too much time alone, that I like it more than a normal person. My mother’s all about me getting to have a normal life, but that’s another part I’ve accepted— my life will never be normal. Normal doesn’t exist, for one. Secondly, I’ve never met parents who would let their seventeen year old hitchhike to a different state. Acceptance! Fuck normality! I am rejoicing in solitude!
The trucker I got a ride with loved his family so much that he could never shut up about them, and he loved Springsteen and Louis L’Amour and the terrible bodice rippers. That’s someone who knows how to be joyful, right there— no guilt, just pleasure. He put in his Darkness on the Edge of Town CD and we wailed along to Something in the Night together in the darkness on the edges of the towns we were passing through, and he told me about his daughters who were probably dykes but who was he to judge? He fuckin’ LOVES women! And we laughed until we cried and sang along some more, and he was perfectly cordial and a great conversationalist, and it was spectacular.
I’m on fire. Effervescent. I’m Kate Bush. I’m going to take my shoes off and THROW them in the lake. No drugs can compare. No more of that, either! No more fucking and drinking and smoking away the sadness! I am deliriously happy and I am going to be happy for ever and ever until God takes me out and doesn’t put me back. I am staring down this day like a charging bull, daring it to try to come at me. Whatcha gonna do, Saturday? Gore me on your horns? Disembowlment? Oh noooooo, I’m so scaaaared, that’s so scaaaryyyyy, nooooo. I am begging you, Saturday. Come at me, bro!
Life is a Gabrielle Calvocoressi poem. I go out to the corner store for gum and candy and the girl working the counter complements my hair. If I really, really tried, I’m pretty sure I could get the street to perform a choreographed musical number with me. Everybody loves me. I’m a god. I’m divine. This is better than cocaine and heroin and ecstasy, holy shit. I’m practically glowing with it, so much love that it’s spilling out of my pores. Every single day this week has been crystal clear. Blue skies in the past, blue skies from here on out, forever blue skies! What a magnificent blue, so blue it hurts my eyes! Superblue! Not like a scarab or bright blue fucking sneakers, like a gift from God! Every sentence can end in an exclamation point if I want it to!
I go to lunch with a friend who I haven’t seen in a while— it must be fate that she’s in the area right now, no other thing for it to be— and wear tall boots and a skirt. She hugs me, slapping me on the back.
“Honestly, I thought that you’d be dead by now. Thought you would’ve found a Romeo and Juliet-ed yourself,” she says.
I laugh. She’s not joking, but it’s funny to me. How could I ever die for love when there’s so much love to live for? She’s laughing too, though, and then we both eat so much that we can hardly walk back to the house I’m staying at. She kisses me chastely at the door. I could explode with all this love. Our goodbyes are closer to see you laters, even though it’ll probably be upwards of a year until I see her again, but that doesn’t matter. It’s going to happen! It’s ALL going to happen!
Maybe I do have a bit of a death wish, but that’s alright, you know? The trucker said a cowboy was someone who had a death wish with style and then called me a cowboy, and the girl who drove me the rest of the way kissed me on the mouth as a way of saying goodbye, just like my friend did. I feel like a gunslinger, right now— a little dangerous, a little cocky, about to ride in and save some townspeople from a bank robber with a waxed mustache. I’m not going gentle into anything. I’m the rah-rah cheerleader for the losing team. I’m a deer frolicking in a meadow. It’s out of body. I’m in motherfucking space, man.
I dance the entire night, going to bed at 4 a.m.
When I wake up on Sunday, I remember that the inevitable fact about being a deer in a meadow is that I will fall in love with an SUV. I am standing in the road. Here it comes, here it comes— eyes of God flashing at me. Thump. Body on the ground. Ouch.
It changed. I really wish I could stop it. I was lucky to get almost a week. Usually, happiness only lasts a few days at most.
The mattress is basically concrete, so it does feel like I’m roadkill. It’s probably older than I am, maybe sentient— I think it’s got hands, hands that hold me to it like it’s trying to crucify me. My back aches. The room is cold. Everything is so cold, even the color of the sunlight, burning white through the windows.
Oh no, here it comes— the pity party. Boohoo, I don’t know how to be happy for an extended period of time, nothing ever stays, my friends are all scattered to the winds and unreachable, so so sad. Little tragedy girl, going away like an animal to die in peace. Nobody ever knows if you’re lying or telling the truth because you say it all like it’s a joke. Do you think you’re a joke, Miss Manic Panic?
The cat mrrps from where she’s on me. Right. Someone’s relying on me. Is this machine on? Don’t fuck it up this time, robot!
I get up and feed the cat, make myself breakfast, take a shower. The bathroom has the most insane wallpaper I’ve ever seen, like if leopard print took a time machine back to the 70s and got stuck in a disco drug den. On top of that, the ceiling is mirrored. It’s one of the weirdest places I’ve bathed, which really is saying something, considering I grew up on the road with a bunch of surfers. The vanity mirror has lightbulbs around it, like a dressing room mirror. I wrap myself in a dressing gown and pretend I’m an old starlet. The only thing I need to complete the picture of glamorous despair is a cigarette. Fucking nicotine cravings. Maybe if I can convince myself feeling shitty is the new glorious, I’d feel better.
My face hurts. I think the eggs I’ve been eating are making me break out. I’m suddenly grateful for the pity party detector that’s ingrained into me— oh, is something that you enjoy bad for you? Tragic. Kill yourself or get over it. Of course, suicide isn’t an option because I don’t want it to be an option, and because there are people in my life who also don’t want it to be an option. I do love life and living, even when I’m fucking miserable. Like now. Besides, I don’t want people going through my shit, even if I’m dead, or having to deal with my body. They can kill me, but they can’t touch me.
I miss my best friend. I’m not necessarily lonely, I just feel isolated. Here is the life I’ve always longed for, and here I am, on the outside of it. I pass the day doing nothing, and when the sun finally sets, I go for a walk in the night. The sky is so blue it’s almost black, a velveteen gag over the city. Windows glow amber. There’s that isolation again. Look at all of those people in their little glowing apartments, laughing and dancing and eating and fucking. It’s cold enough out here that my nose runs. I should go inside, but it’s so fun to indulge myself— to stand out here and long for company and stew in all of this anguish. Poor old me. Forever the guest, never the owner. Unsettled, unwanted, unaware, unpoetic. You want to be Patti Smith so bad it makes you look stupid. Well, dipshit, there’s only one Patti Smith and it’s not you.
I think about The Stranger again. I never really understood that book. Doesn’t everyone feel that way? Isn’t life like that for everyone?
I could cry. I was a child once.
I could use a good slap to the face right now, but that’s a dangerous line of thinking. I have to leave for my flight in an hour. A short flight, but there’s traffic and airport security and boarding and whatnot. No time to get into a fight right now, not that I’d know where to go. I used to do MMA and I used to know all the spots to go to when I wanted to hurt and get hurt, but those are almost 2,000 miles away. Tut, tut. Not very ladylike, you bloody little creature. I don’t have time for a mosh pit, either. Boo fucking hoo. Get better coping mechanisms. Feel miserable by not being able to make yourself feel like you deserve the misery. It all works out in the end.
We Are Young by Fun. comes on the radio in the Uber to the airport. The driver and I fell quiet about five minutes into the drive, so he doesn’t ask me why I’m crying, which suits me just fine. I don’t think I could tell him why, even if I wanted to. Something about that song, the time it came it out. Remember when things were good? Remember when you were good, and this was on the radio every hour like a fucking hotline to God, a response to your prayers? Dear God, I don’t want to go home yet; Dear Holly, I’ll carry you home tonight. Jesus fucking Christ. I’ve got enough sorrow in me to reclaim taking the Lord’s name in vain— that’s my cross to bear.
The airport is hell. They’re usually hellish to me, but this is a special kind of hell. I haven’t been in an airport since whatever the fuck is wrong with me got worse. They said it was Lyme disease, but nobody’s sure about that, and a diagnosis doesn’t really affect how the electricity burns and echoes through the air. I feel it— the metal detectors, the lights, the outlets, the cameras that I swear are watching me— in my bones like a static shock. It’s bright and loud in the same way a library is loud, so silent that everything echoes. It feels like I’m stuck inside the Paranoid Android cover.
My phone chimes. It’s an ex of mine, one of the only times I’ve really dated someone properly, awkward breakup and all. Everyone else that could be considered a partner of mine was more of a lover than a significant other. That’s how we work, this new Beat Generation. You fuck your friends and carry on, coming and going and leaving relationships like toys to be picked up later. She wasn’t part of it, though; we were 13, so young and stupid. I wasn’t away as much back then. I thought I could do it the way normal people did, date a normal girl with a normal life.
It’s not that I think that I’m above her or whatever. No superiority complex here. It’s just that we’ve lived different enough lives that we could barely relate past shallow agreements. I liked croutons and she didn’t, and we would jokingly debate it like it mattered. I was clinical and had too much relative experience for her problems to seem anything more than paltry to me, and my problems seemed unimportant and excessive to her because she didn’t understand why they were problems. It was bound to not work. I should’ve known.
been thinking about you lately, hope you’re doing well 💛 she writes.
It makes me laugh. I am sitting in an airport on a Sunday night, flying back to the city where I’ll be for probably three days or so until a friend wants to go to Wyoming or whatever the fuck, and then I’ll leave again. I don’t have a license, I don’t have actual friends, I don’t have a cure for whatever chronic illness is trying to kill me, I don’t have stability, and I’m behind in every single one of my classes. Nobody knows me— really knows me, all my deepest darkest disasters. I’m so young. I’m a fucking child, and I’ve lived all this life. Where do I put all this life?
I’m going to have to sit at a table this week and pretend like we aren’t celebrating the slaughter of my ancestors. We celebrate Thanksgiving with the non-Native side of the family, who think that the massacre that happened was justified for the birth of the nation. I could scream. I could cry. Nothing about me is really doing ‘well’ right now.
aside from being chronically ill, i’m doing good! hope ur also doing well <3 I write back. Nothing about that is a lie. Everything I do is intentional; intention is one of the most important things in the world to me. I’m not doing well, and I didn’t say that. I said I’m doing good.
That’s all I can do, isn’t it? How well I am is mostly out of my control, but despite all of that, I can do good even if I’m falling apart. Smile at strangers, give spare cash to someone who needs it, treat people with respect. Don’t deck your family members over stupid opinions because they’ll die soon anyways, if not because you shouldn’t fucking punch your relatives. Despite the paranoia and the sadness and the instability, the world doesn’t actually hate me or want me dead. It’s not about me. It’s not about anyone. The universe doesn’t care— God doesn’t care, and that’s out of my control. Morality is invented and a delusion, but harm is real, and it’s in my control to not do harm. I can’t control God or the universe or other people or the weather, but I can control my actions, and despite all this misery, I have to care enough to make up for them not caring. I have to.
Life lessons always meet me when I’m the least ready for them. I’m almost in tears, depressed and boarding a plane to go home, and a message from God comes down like He’s going to carry me home tonight. I know it to be true. I stop crying. It’s as easy as that.
All we have to do is be kind and stay alive. This is our mission, should we choose to accept it.