Everything splinters over a time. Sometimes it's a gradual shaving, and sometimes an explosion. Whether beautiful or troubling usually depends on where the splinters land. A kaleidoscope of colored wood on the floor being much preferable to a single blade of tarnish lodged in the plantar.
When I was living with Celeste, Sora, and Sir Trick in Mission Hill, our front door was the only door in the house that wasn't splintering. It was solid and brown, while the rest of the doors flaked paint on the floor, and wore at the hinges.
Divine moved in in September. And the other doors continued their slow wither, and the front door continued to be, well, a door.
In December, Sora let me know that he was going to be in town, and he wanted to talk. And the talk was uneventful, and uninformative. He was, as always, late. I was, as always, forgiving. I bought the meal, and we parted company when he realized he was half an hour late for meeting some of his other friends.
I traveled home without incident. Opened the door to the house, which was never locked, got into the tiny lobby, and the door...the door to my apartment, solid, brown, sturdy, had been thoroughly decimated. The hinges were ripped from the wall. Huge chunks of splintered wood lay in ideograms on the floor. Each one reading something to the effect of "theft", "loss of trust", and "holy shit".
I plodded to my room, because the house was empty, and what good would running do? Everything appeared to be in order. Nothing ruffled through, nothing missing.
I went into Divine's room. Everything appeared to be in order.
Nothing missing in the kitchen, the empty bedroom (though they could have easily taken nothing from nothing and I wouldn't have known), the bathroom, or the pantry.
I called Divine who asked me, right away, if there was a Raspberry Records bag on top her TV. There was not. "Oh no!" (S)He said. "That's where I'd put the rent you gave me."
(S)He stole my money and broke down our door to make it look like a theft. (S)He then used my money to pay the rent to the Landlord and make me look like a rube for not having it. I wasn't sure of it at the time, but after another four monthe of h(im)(er) not paying any bills, my trust was was splintered into ideograms which read "(S)He is a fucken thief who would concoct any story necessary to keep h(er)(is) drug habit going."
A year and a half later, I'm sitting on a couch in a different apartment with Bacchus, surrounded by my roommates, watching The Roast Of Bob Saget when someone starts pounding at the door. I imagine it exploding inwards, so I rush to it, and open the door, and...and it's Asterisk. He's tanked, as per usual, "What's up motherfuckers? I was coming down the street and saw your lights on and OH MY GOD, IS THAT CLORIS LEACHMAN?"
It was. And Asterisk gracefully stumbled over to the couch (he's had a lot of practice stumbling, he's very good at it), and sat to my left. A befuddled Bacchus sat on my right, leaning into me whenever Cloris said something hilarious. And every time she said something scathing, Asterisk dug into my left leg with his right hand. And so it was that her humor was bruised into me for days.
Asterisk left at the end of the roast, and Bacchus and I surrendered to my room. "Asterisk was very..."
"...drunk?" I offered.
"touchy with you."
While he was, surprisingly, hands on "There wasn't anything romantic or sexual about it. Asterisk and I have never been and will never be anything more than friends."
And I reached my arms around him and "Not tonight." He said.
And this is where my memory splinters.
I remembered the restaurant correctly. A Japanese place with excellent soup. I remembered him seeming more awkward about halfway through the meal. I remembered a guy sitting at another table recognizing him, walking over to our table and saying he was surprised to see him there. "I thought you only came here to break up with people. " Then turning to me, and saying, " I'm sorry, I hope you two aren't here on a date."
And I saw any future we had, tearing at the hinges.
What I remember is him growing distant. I remember him saying he wasn't all that interested in me as anything more than a friend, and me saying "I already have friends." or something snarky that devalued our relationship for no good reason other than I wanted to hurt back.
But, after a few months of not seeing him, I ran into him in Cambridge, and he invited me back to his apartment to watch The Bourne Supremacy (which wasn't about Cape Cod at all), and when it was over, and he invited me to stay over, I asked why he hadn't wanted more out of her relationship.
And he tried to give me a funny look, but failed. He only looked hurt. "You broke up with me." He said.
I didn't want to argue, so we talked about other people we were seeing, and I stayed the night, but nothing happened.
Back at my new home in Brighton, I checked my old e-mail and instant messanger conversations, and sure enough, I'd asked him if we were going to continue just fooling around, or whether we had a future as a couple. And he had said he needed some time to think about it. And I'd told him that wasn't good enough.
It should have been good enough.
The first time my parents came to visit me at Torpor Heights boarding school, my dorm adviser told my parents that I had the sort of personality that adjusted well to change. "Everything that happen. It is like nothing to him. Is just. Day." And, broken English aside, she wasn't wrong.
Wherever I wake up is where I am, and there's nothing that can be done about it. Oh, I can make sure I'm somewhere else in a few minutes, an hour, a day or so. But that's the future. The present is completely beyond your control. It's like the past, but harder to ignore.
In my current present, I'm sitting in front of a fan in the living room of The Yoda Louise Vader Memorial Cafegymtorium, which is the name I've given to the house I've been living in for the last year and a half. Tomorrow,.I work in both the comic book store, and at the bar. Thursday, I interview potential new roommates: a pair of friends from Mission Hill, a poetry reviewer (no shit) who already lives in this neighborhood, a "free-spirited artist", and a 21 year old gay kid on disability for psychological problems. The last one is just like Sora, but with an income.
Any potential roommate has a lot to live up to. My most recently previoused roommates: Don, and Ms. Gibbons were roommates you're just going to have to read about to believe. Not only were all our bills paid on time but we never had any epic battles over dishes or thermostats, and Ms. Gibbons didn't even steal my TV on the way out like that awful Thai tranny drug addict, Divine, that I lived with on Mission Hill.
"Frankly," Bacchus said, as he sprawled across my chest, "I don't know how you can trust trannies anymore."
I wrinkled my eyebrows at him. "It wasn't the trannie part of him that stole my TV. It was the drug addict. Or possibly the Asian part."
It was Bacchus's turn to shoot a funny look. Unfortunately, he was not gifted with the proper genetics for facial grammar. "Then I guess you'd better keep an eye on me when I go home tomorrow."
Bacchus was the man of the moment. It was the summer of 2008. I was living in Somerville, and had spent the winter dating and then not dating and then dating and not dating Sora, among other people. Spring had much the same feel to it. And I spent July preparing for August, where I drove to Madison with Mazarine and did some poetry things, and some insafemodey things. And when I came home, I found an e-mail reply to a hardly used personal ad that sounded promising.
Like all solid relationships, ours began when Bacchus pulled his car into my driveway at 2:30 in the morning. We talked, made out, and tried, unsuccessfully to reproduce. But we had enough fun that we tried it again a couple of times for good measure.
This ritual went on for a couple of weeks. And while we confined our recreational activities to my bedroom, we often cuddled on the couch in the living room, watching American Gladiators with my roommates or just hanging out by ourselves watching the shadows charcoal the wall.
"I like him." The least combative of my roommates, Byrne, said. "He's a refreshing change of pace from Sora."
"How so?" I asked.
"I dunno. I guess it's just nice that you're dating the God Of Wine now, as opposed to the God of Whine."
The following night was the premiere of The Comedy Central Roast Of Bob Saget. The entire household: me, Mike, Byrne, and the other roommate were all going to watch it together. I invited Bacchus to join us, and about ten minutes before the show was about to start, I saw his car pull into the driveway. I tried to hide my goofy grin when the front doorbell rang. "The back door is open." I said. "I don't know why--" and I opened the door to see a Chinese man holding a paper bag. I had been hoping to see a Vietnamese man holding a bottle of vodka. "Huh." I said. "Wrong Asian."
Bacchus was in the kitchen, and he was trying his damnedest to give me a dirty look but his face was refusing to cooperate.
Byrne paid the Chinese guy n the front porch for his bag of fried food, and we all sat down for the comedy stylings of Jeff Ross, Greg Giraldo, John Stamos, Gilbert Gottfreid, and Norm Macdonald. During one of the commercial breaks, Byrne excused himself to go to the bathroom when a series of explosions went off in front of our front door.
"HEEEEEEEEEEY!!!! HEY YOU FUCKEN FUCKERS!!! OPEN THE FUCKEN DOOR!!!!" Then the crash of fists being drunk driven into our front door. "OPEN UP!!!"
The room froze. Bacchus sat up with a face that nearly expressed concern. Byrne appeared in the hallway, staring at the door. Mike let out a "What the fuck?" And I, because the moment was now, and there really wasn't anything else for me to do but be present for it, stood up, and walked over to the door.
The problem with jumping out of a plane and into the middle of an ocean is mainly about perspective.
One: I can't gauge how far away the water is from my point of entrance in the sky. I'm wearing a parachute, but not entirely sure that pulling it is going to do me any favors.
Two: The ocean is fucken vast. I don't know for certain that I can't swim to the nearest island, jetty, or continent from this middle point, but I'm probably going to wish I'd packed a raft, and possibly some crackers.
Three: How exactly did I get to the point of my life where I'm jumping out of planes to begin with? Into an ocean no less? Which ocean? I've got no idea, which further impedes my perspective problems.
Four: I can't see the damned coastline.
They tell me distance helps with perspective. You don't write about the shit currently going down in your life, you wait a while. Realize that maybe the problem wasn't the person you've been blaming for the past several months, but, perhaps you. YOU may be the problem. And maybe being left crying in your kitchen wasn't a major moment in your life. Maybe it was no more important than that time you were halfway home from the grocery store before you realized you'd forgotten the toothpicks, which were the whole reason you went to the grocery store in the first place. Allow time to remove you from the events and they somehow seem less important. Or at the very least, less dire.
Ryan was dead over five years before I started writing about him. Elvis was a couple years gone. Beckee Krackow was a distant memory. And then I started writing about Ben when he was sitting almost directly behind me in the apartment his parents paid for. We began fighting over the way I was portraying him, and grew incredibly distant, which really didn't help either of our perspectives at all.
And then Sora happened. And I'm writing about how in love I am with this person I barely know, who moves into my house somewhere around the third date. And do you know what happens next?
No you don't.
A computer crashes. An account is hacked. A relationship falters. A friendship is ruined. Many, many people have sex. A job intensifies. A family stops speaking to each other. A fuse is blown. And I'm standing on the edge of a tiny little biplane over God knows what ocean, ripcord in hand, trying to figure out when to jump, and which direction to swim in. Knowing that every direction is uphill, and how the fuck do you swim up hill?
You swim up hill like your knees are bleeding and your feet are made of sharks. You swim up hill like the crest of that wave can launch you past the horizon. You swim up hill like you took lessons, even though you know you're self-taught at best, ignorant at worst, and...is it just me or does everyone I've ever fucked turn out to be emotionally retarded? What does that say about...where did that metaphor go?
The problem with perspective is that I delude myself into seeing things a certain way. I'd known Sora less than two months when we were talking about love. He'd lived with me less than two weeks when he said "This is never going to work. We're impossible." And I held him, and told him he was wrong because I knew he was right, but that knowing the truth wasn't going to make either of us feel any better.
And do you see how giant Sora and the ocean are in this entry? Enormous, right? It's as though all of these things I'm finally going to write are going to be about our relationship, and how I got to this point where I was too baffled by our lives together to form a coherent sentence to describe it. I stopped blogging. I threw myself into so many men, I stopped naming them. I let all these emotions wash over me without committing them to paper because of Sora and ocean and...really, it's a false perspective. He's not nearly as important to my story as all these strung together sentences would lead you to believe. He's a dot on a horizon that's going to turn out to be driftwood. And I'll cling to him, untl I realize that all this time I've been able keep my head above water and still touch my feet to the ocean floor. I just couldn't see how shallow the water was around me, so focused on finding the shore as I was.
So...this just happened:
Thirty-something year old woman walks into the store, and says "Where's your Hannah Montana section?"
Fine. "We don't have one. She doesn't really fall into our demographic. We mainly sell comics. Also some Hello Kitty stuff."
She drops her voice into the obviously not interested octave. "Nah." She wanders around the store for a bit. "Vertigo comics? Is that, like, Coldplay Vertigo or U2 Vertigo?"
"Neither. It's a comic book company that puts out--"
"Look, I KNOW it's a comic book. Is it a Coldplay comic or a U2 comic?"
Dropping my voice to the clearly uninterested octave. "Coldplay."
Giant sigh. "No."
"So U2 then?"
This one didn't actually happen to me, but to a coworker, who immediately called and relayed it to me:
Customer: I'm looking for a kids' book. Nothing too simple. Something for a kid about twelve or thirteen.
Stephen: Well, there's a newish series of books out called Diary of A Wimpy Kid. It's a memoir with illustrations about a kid who...
Customer: It's not a Gay Comic is it?
Stephen: Uhhhh. No.
Customer: Because I don't want to start him on the gay stuff too early.
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN???
Jim Silverman: “So, my roommate and I are going out for coffee to look at hipster chicks.”
Jim: “Diesel Cafe.”
Adam: “You know that’s a lesbian cafe, right?”
Jim: “No, it isn’t.”
Adam: “Yes, it is.”
Jim: “No it isn’t. You’re fucking with me.”
Me: “It’s called DIESEL cafe. Think about that. What words do you associate with Diesel?”
Jim: “No it isn’t. It’s just a coffeehouse with a lot of really cute girls.”
Me: “…who wear flannel, have short hair, and have cool framed glasses?”
Me: “Type “Lesbian Coffee Boston” into your phone and tell me what the first ten results are.”
Jim: “That makes so much sense. Oh, God, you’re going to tell everyone, aren’t you?”
These things always seem to happen in Qughincy. Which speaks volumes about why everyone hates working in this store.
Probable Child Molester: "Ummm...do you guys have the red, yellow and blue Pokemon cards that come out tomorrow?"
Me: "Well...no. It doesn't come out until tomorrow."
Probable Child Molester: "But you have them right? I just...I just came all this way from Hingham because I need to have them for tomorrow."
Me: "We don't have them. They're not out yet. And, honestly, I'm not sure if we'll even have them tomorrow. We haven't been restocked on Pokemon cards in months now."
Probable Child Molester: "But...I mean is there any way you could get them for me today?"
Customer Loitering By Back Issues: "Your kids bugging you to get them?"
Probable Child Molester: "I don't have kids."
Customer Loitering By Back Issues: "What are you forty-five and you still collect Pokemon cards? Why don't you stop wasting this guy's time and go spend your money on some online classes or something. Pokemon's a children's game. Are you a children?"
Probable Chld Molester (ignoring him, and talking to me): "Could I have a pack of Yu-Gi-Oh! instead?"
A good Rule Of Middle Finger when applying for an apartment: If you have to use the phrase “I’m not a judgmental bitch or anything” in your opening e-mail, you are probably a judgmental bitch, and probably not going to get the apartment.