Monday, February 25, 2013

I don't know. Gross.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who was really an adult by any other culture's standards with a bad "Rachel" haircut and a bunch of band t-shirts with sweat stains on the pits. She thought she was beautiful in a secret kind of way because she was a fucking idiot and had yet to be crushed by the bloody gummy jaws of reality in the grown up world.

That little girl was me once.

It was late at night or early in the morning when I snuck into Brock's lab with the key I had stolen while he slept. The lab was dark and unfamiliar. I had only been there a couple times before, to visit him, to gain his trust, to bring him lunch or a coffee, to pick him up after work and bring him back to my place so he could boss me around in bed while I pretended I was somewhere else.

That little girl went to class every day and studied in all of her free time. She loved her boyfriend and her friends with all of her heart. She wore her hair in pigtails when she danced at the gym. She cried in the movie Garden State and in any movie where a short brunette girl cries. She really liked scrabble and didn't drink or smoke. She wanted to marry her boyfriend, my boyfriend, and live happily ever after.

I got to Brock's corner of the lab and crawled into the machine. There weren't any instructions or anything but I figured he wouldn't have made it dangerous and then strapped those poor little chimpanzees in. I taped the electrodes to my temples, closed my eyes, and let go of 2013, and disappeared from existence, or rather flooded everywhere into existence, falling backward, falling away.

I saw me longboarding through the quad in baggy capris and a Velvet Underground t-shirt. Halfway through the quad I jumped off my longboard and ran to hug a tall, handsome, half Asian man carrying a pile of books. He leaned down but didn't hug me back because his hands were full. 19 year old Barbara danced and laughed and tried to jump up to kiss him on the cheek. Not being tall enough, and not getting any sort of help on his end, she ended up kissing his shoulder. Then she longboarded away.

Mike continued walking in the opposite direction without looking back at 19 year old me.

I jogged into the quad and ran right up to him. He frowned at me from far away and stared at me hard as I got closer. I stopped in front of him. His brow furrowed and he hugged his books to his chest. His lips dropped open. He took a step back.

"Mike, it's me Barbara, well from the future."
"What is this?" he said. "Is this a joke?"
"No I swear. I'm Babs from year 2013."
"I go  by Babs now."
"Kid, can we talk?"
"Don't call me kid, I'm older than-"
"Are you?"
"I don't know how this works."

We went quickly to the art building and entered an empty classroom. The classrooms were mostly on the basement level and the galleries were on the above ground level. This one had a bunch of long wooden paint splattered tables and smelled like old clay. I turned to face Mike as he adjusted his hoodie strings.

"I really came to warn 19 year old Barbara about you," I said.
"Why? Wait I don't believe any of this." Mike put his head in his hands. I gazed at his dark wavy falling over thick eyebrows. Under his eyes on his cheekbones were a sprinkle of freckles that I had missed. I paced hurriedly around the art room.
"You're going to break her heart into a million pieces. You're not that into her, but she's in love with you."
"I love her too."
"You what?" I stopped short, pivotted and looked back.
"I love her." Mike was staring at me intently with dark chocolate eyes.
"You never told In three years you never said..." I breathed heavily.
"I never told her... you... that I did because I was so scared of losing her..."
"Well you push her away to the point that she has a nervous breakdown and doesn't eat for a week," I said pointedly.
"Hot." He walked toward me seriously.

I laughed in spite of myself. I didn't know what to do with this newfound information. I gazed at my college boyfriend. He was looking at me with sweetness and care in his eyes. How could I have never realized how much he liked me? I guess my low self esteem was getting in the way.

"Barbara..." He said, choking a little on the words. "I love you. I think you're wonderful and a genius writer and super weird and special and I do want to spend the rest of my life-"

I reached for his hand gently to comfort him. He grabbed my hand and pulled me into his chest. With his other hand he grabbed my cheek and kissed me deeply. My heart fluttered like it hadn't in five years. He lifted me up and I wrapped my legs around his waist. He sat me down on the wooden table, kissing me, and began undoing his belt. I maintained eye contact while I awkwardly yanked my pants off. Within seconds we were one, together again, in love, and feeling every emotion and tactile vibration in our bodies and minds. He kept kissing me while I came hard in a room where I had once done a presentation about pictures of goldfish, or maybe that hadn't happened yet. He kissed me really hard and passionately and I felt more wanted than I had ever felt in my life. I could feel myself losing grip on reality and I could feel the time space continuum getting really annoyed at me. I looked up into his eyes and ached to tell him something, to beg him to do something, I struggled to cry out to him, but nothing happened and I just kissed him.

I slowly dissolved from the past, fading from Mike's arms, and reappeared in the future, crying in Brock's basement.

Mike gasped and fell forward, losing his balance on the empty table. There was nothing but air in his hands. He coughed and put himself back together.

Outside the art room door, a little girl sat listening through the wall, with her knees pulled up to her chest. Next to her sat a longboard and a backpack. She wiped her tears with her Velvet Underground t-shirt, got up, and ran away.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

the perfect everything

The second bar we went to had red lights and portraits of angry dogs, which on some level puts people in the mood. I wasn't drunk, but it's not like I needed to be drunk to be okay in this social context. It was so loud that I couldn't have really spoken anyway. The band played another poorly derivative sad song replete with too many guitars and slightly ahead of the beat drums.

"Want to dance?" I squeaked. I pushed my glasses up my nose. Then I fidgeted, taking them off, rubbing my scarf with them, and then placed them on top of my head so he could see my eyes. I don't know if my eyes are my best feature but I think they convey the most vulnerability, which is probably my only attribute.
"No. I don't dance," he said.

I just smiled at him. Whether or not he was dancing with me, my heart was clearly dancing in my chest. He gave me a quick dimple heavy grin and looked above my head. He smiled and nodded at a friend across the bar. I reached for him, aching to be held. He rubbed my lower back with one strong confident hand absentmindedly and took a sip from his beer. I leaned into him, fitting the top of my head under his chin, and looked up. 

"Do you want to get out of here?" I asked. My voice was so high and annoying. I coughed. Think about Scarlett Johanson! I told myself. Deep and sultry. Think cleavage but for your voice.
"Joe just got here. You really want to leave?" He said.
"Um, sorry,  I meant, like no, but maybe later maybe go back to your place together..."
"Nevermind," I said. "I'm uh easy going."
"Because that's what easy going people say."
"Yeah. No. Sorry."

He left me at the bar for awhile and talked to a couple of his friends. I replayed different scenes from Pride and Prejudice in my head and fiddled with my hair, or in other words, was awesome. After a while, he slung his messenger bag over his shoulders and stood up. He looked at me over his shoulder and beckoned his head. His black hair slid over his eyebrows with the confident toss. He smiled a little bit with just his lips, raising one eyebrow.

I hurriedly pushed the two books I was reading into my purse, grabbed my wallet from where I had dropped it clumsily on the floor, like an adult, and hopped up to follow him. He was looking down at his phone and slowly walking out the door of the bar. I jogged to catch up at him and he didn't say anything. I reached for his hand. 

Stammering, I added, "Just-to-be-clear-I-was-inviting-myself-over-to-have-um-you-know-like-sexual-intercourse." 
"Gross! Dummy," he said. He kissed the top of my head. I loved how tall he was. He was like the perfect height, the perfect everything.

We got to the bus stop and waited in silence for a minute. I reveled in how much I liked this guy, maybe loved him. I reminded myself not to say anything like that in bed. When we got to his apartment he unlocked the door and let himself in first. I made a note that that was a thing guys who were into equality probably did. He was probably a super big feminist  I followed him in. Once inside, I ran to him and threw my arms around his neck and tried to kiss him.

"Wait here a sec. I need to go clean my room," he said.
"Buddy, I don't care if it's messy," I said, kissing his neck.
"I do. I just... I have to put some stuff away, okay? Stuff I don't need you to see..." 

He pried my arms away and went into a room, closing the door behind him. It shut hard and I jumped a little, even though I was expecting it. I walked around his living room. The shelves were filled with various stacks of books, videogames, and movies, haphazardly organized. The top shelves where I couldn't reach were lined action figures, little robots, and various toys. I pulled a book from the shelf. It was Eugene Mirman's book... not that this detail is important. I just don't want you to think I was trying to put on any airs here. Like I coulda grabbed that Dostoevsky book, but that'd be like an intellectual push up bra, right?

After about twenty minutes, the bedroom door opened. He came back out. I shut the book and hopped off the couch, twirling toward him with a giddy grin.

"Heeeeey-" I stopped short and immediately dropped the flute-like trill from my voice. "Wait what's wrong?"

He was looking over my shoulder, above me. He looked scared and confused. His eyes were wide, red rimmed, and twitching. Tiny droplets of tears streamed from the corner of his beautiful ocean blue eyes. He didn't say anything. He stared hard away from me.

I ran to him and threw my arms around him. "Oh my god what... are you okay?"
"I just... I don't know what I'm doing with ...anything..." he said, his voice high and shaky.

I stood on my tippy toes so I could try to caress his head. He stayed motionless like a really big tree. It was so hard to hold someone who was taller and didn't want to be held. "C'mere," I said. I tried to lead him to the couch and he reluctantly obliged.

"What's... what happened?" I said. I realized I was trembling. He wasn't. 
"I don't know... I can't do this." He wouldn't look at me. He started crying again.
I sat on his lap. "Can't do what?" I dragged his arms around my waist, linking his hands together.
"This... I'm sorry. I don't know. I think I just need to be alone tonight," he said.
"Wait what? I'm sorry. Did I do something wrong?" I ran my fingers gently through his hair.
He wiped tears from his eyes. "Can you go?"
"Do you um not want to um have sex first?" I asked.
"Um, maybe a little bit of kissing?" I kissed his lips but he didn't kiss me back. I wiped a tear from his cheek. He brushed my hand away.
"Sorry. I'm sorry if I made you mad. I'm really... sorry."
"You did nothing. I just need to be alone."
"Can I do anything?" I was crying now too. "I want to help. I'm so sorry. I feel awful." I kissed his hand.
 "You know, buddy," I said softly. "We're friends. You can talk to me about whatever is... going on. If you want to... I mean. I'm here for you. You can tell me anything."
"I don't want to."
"I know."

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Reflections of a boyfriend of a manic pixie dream girl

Week One: Today I met the most amazing girl! She’s so quirky and weird. She has glasses and wears clashing hats. I want to marry her and sleep by her side forever! Wow, she has a high pitched stuttering nerd voice! She’s so accessibly vulnerably hot. I’m head over heels in love! And it’s all genuine; nothing about it is a character!

“Hi, my name is Steve, I couldn’t help but notice you rode a bicycle awkwardly and fell down getting off of it. Would you like to go to dinner sometime?”

Week Two: This has been the best week of my life, that I can conceivably remember! We sang karaoke! Outside we danced in the streets under a lamp! She’s always giggling, playing ukulele, and running around like a fairy. It’s so sweet when she kisses the back of my neck when I’m working. I really am falling in love with this girl.

Week Three: This week has been great! She made me a cute mixtape on a cassette. She does things like cook food in her underwear and leaves her shoes everywhere. I mean, it’s fine, but like, everywhere. It’s adorable. She talks a lot in her sleep, which is childlike and endearing, not too annoying. I really like this girl.

Week Four: It’s going good. Well. I don’t know. She still plays her ukulele and kisses the back of my neck when I’m really trying to get work done. It’s like she’s from another planet where she doesn’t understand that Earth money is made from work, not drawing pictures of cows with stars for eyes. It’s so eccentric and charming... But when I sort of snapped at her for not giving me space she cried sitting down in the shower for an hour. She is really sweet. I think I’m starting to like this girl.

Week Five: Honestly it’s been really hard. It’s difficult to sleep next to someone crying in their sleep like an out of tune Bjork song on loop. She is in her late 20s and still acts like a kid. I don’t wanna fuck a kid! She wanted to sing karaoke the other night. Who likes karaoke? Idiots who wear cat cardigans to job interviews, that’s who. We were walking down the street and some bar was playing a song and she tried to make me dance with her outside in the cold. I told her I just want to go home and watch Game of Thrones, like an adult, and she asked me if I loved her and when I said I don’t know she just got on a random bus, a random one, without looking at the number. What a dummy. How does she even get her shoes on the right feet? I guess sometimes she has mismatched shoes, but, oh god, is that on purpose or not? Ugggh. No, I mean, I do think she’s cute.

Week Six: What kind of fucking adult makes cassette mixtapes? Everything is on spotify now and this grown woman gave me a fucking cassette tape wrapped in flowers and weeds she stole from a neighbor’s garden. I hope she got poison ivy. Just kidding. I think.

Week Seven: Stop talking to birds!

Week Eight: Oh. Oh, god, I’m so tired.

Week Nine: Are you serious? Nothing about this is a character?

Love Letters I'm sure got lost in the mail

From the Comic Book Store Clerk:

Hey, you. Let's stop fighting this. We both know how we feel about each other. We both have glasses and awkward cardigans. Let's just sweep these magic the gathering cards off this sticker clad counter and see where the night takes us.

PS. I'll make sure you're facing the Marvel rack.

From My Literature TA in College:

Dear Barbara,

I am writing to inform you, I am so utterly, completely  and hopelessly in love with you. I know we haven't spoken in four years, but alas, your thoughtful prose and clever use of wordplay slayed me eternally. I shall never be able to forget you. You are an amazing writer.

From My Therapist:

I like your personality.

From the guy I liked in college:

Hey, I'm so sorry for all the things I did and said. I clearly was totes in the wrong. I'm sorry I called you thunder thighs and left you at your doctor's appointment, driving off because I thought it was funny. It was funny, but in a mean hurtful way. I miss you so much. You are the most beautiful girl in the world and I know I don't deserve a second chance, but if you were altruistic enough to give me one, I would do everything I could to make you happy for the rest of your life. Also, you still have my Pixies hoodie. You can keep it.

From the guy I like now:

I was such a fucking idiot not to notice how special you are immediately  Let's have a picnic and do kisses in the rain to a Belle and Sebastian song and be in love forever, K?

From the last guy I intercoursed:

Yes, I left that t-shirt in your bedroom because I WANT you to smell it.

From the guy on the bus who looked like a bespectacled Michael Cera:

Yeah, I did just touch your leg with my leg. It wasn't exactly an accident.

From the barista at my coffee shop:

Hey kiddo, every day when you come in here to write, I try to get up the courage to tell you that you're gorgeous and interesting. I want to read everything you write and support you in your art. Here's a free latte.

From anyone:

You're really hilarious.

From my roommate's dog:

Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff! Ruff!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Morning after

The sun barreled in and woke me up from my night of empty flirtation with sleep. I rolled over in the strange bed and looked at the human being laying next to me. His long black eyelashes laid down over cheekbones, vibrating as his eyes rapidly moved like a hummingbird's heart beat. A tiny droplet of eye water leaked from his tear ducts and I gently wiped it away without waking him up. I pulled the Star Wars sheets up to my chin, closed my eyes, and sighed. I couldn't believe we were finally here after so much wistful doodling his name in notebooks and making mix cds for him that I never gave.

We laid there together, not in each other's arms, but close enough. Outside, cars drove by, and a train yelled at us from the distance. Eventually, Evan's alarm went off. He groaned and shut it off. I took this verbal exclamation of discontent as my cue to curl up and wrap my arms around him. I kissed his warm neck and snuggled into his shoulder. Evan rubbed his hand through his thick black hair. I caught his hand as it was coming down and wrapped it around my waist and then pulled it down farther. He opened his eyes and looked at me.

"Hey!" I beamed.
"Hi," he said.
I inched forward, contracting my body like I was doing a sideways worm and kissed his warm full lips. He kissed me, and then rolled onto his back.
"I can't believe we finally... um... I'm just so so happy right now," I said.

Evan's cell phone rang and the Doctor Who theme song echoed through his tiny room. I giggled, even though nothing was funny, but just because I was so full of bliss I couldn't hold it in. He reached across me and grabbed it from the nightstand along with his thick black rimmed glasses. Shoving the retro frames over his nose, he looked at the phone and  then looked over at me. His eyes looked bigger behind the lenses, like a weird anime boy character. I involuntarily looked at the screen and saw the picture of a girl blowing a kiss over her shoulder.

"It's Joanie," Evan said.
Evan looked at me with big blue eyes. His lips curled into a grimmace.
"I didn't realize you guys were still, um... oh, nevermind," I said.

He sent the call to voicemail and put the phone down. I smiled, thinking, oh this is because he likes me more, because I was an idiot. I crawled on top of him and kissed his neck and ears. He let his hands reach up to my waist.

"You're so handsome and wonderful," I murmured.
"No. I'm not."
Do you want to...?" I whispered.

Evan pushed me gently off and sat up in bed. "I don't feel very well. Kind of hung over."
"Oh," I smiled. "Wanna go get breakfast? My treat!"
"I think I'm too hung over even for that."
"You don't regret anything crazy you did last night, do you?" I teased with a giggle. I kissed his shoulder.
"I don't know, Babs."

I looked up at him. He grabbed his phone and stared at the screen a while. Then he started texting. His face was strained and lined with worry. I liked forehead lines on guys. It made them seem like a little bit older and smarter and brooding like a hot Charlie Dickens. I'm not like attracted to bad boys, but a little bit of misery seems to make for a lot of passion.

"You, um, okay?" I asked.
"Want me to look up the bus for you?" He said.
"I.... um... I mean.... would you want to go somewhere and work together, like maybe sit on your couch and write or draw or something? You don't have to talk to me, um, it would just be uh...."
"No. I need to get some things done."

I hugged him tightly. I just wanted to be held. Why didn't he lean into me? He continued staring at his phone. His messy hair stuck up like a cockatoo.

"I... I've liked you for so long," I whispered.
He didn't say anything.

I climbed out off bed and grabbed my bra from the floor. I always felt self conscious hooking bras in front of people. I do it upside down and then flip the straps up. I don't know if that's normal. I don't watch a lot of girls put on bras. It's not on my youtube fave list yet. I pulled on my panties. It's weird how many men have told me they hate the word "panties." I think it sounds childish, not dirty. Maybe that's the problem.

"I'm falling in love with you," I said.
"Jesus, Babs." Evan pulled on a t-shirt.

I looked over at him. This was the part where the guy takes you into his arms and says it back, right? The part where he quotes Mr. Darcy and his pacman shirt gets gets drenched in your tears when he tells you you're amazing and that he's never met anyone like you? This is the part where the Wilco-esque music starts playing and it cuts to a montage of the two of you laughing on a beach and riding bicycles and kissing in a park? ....Right?

I got dressed and waited outside for the bus alone. The wind was cold and I tried to calculate if I could walk home faster than the bus would take to come and how many calories that would burn. The sun laughed at me while I checked my phone again for text messages. By the bus stop, lying against the curb was a dead wet mouse. I screeched a little when I saw it, you know, like a grown up. I started walking, my feet numb and damp from a sneaker penetrating puddle. It was kinda raining, just enough to moisten my hair and face, but not enough to make a sound. I pulled my i-pod from my purse, but it's charge was dead, as to be expected.