(Sweet) Dependency

Like a smoker who fingers their pack through the pocket of their jeans, I fixate on my stolen Staples pen, and the notebook that I payed for, fair and square.

I’ll use that old crutch writing to help me make sense again.

Everything I see is through a type of haze that makes real life become a dream sequence. The world echoes like a movie set. Last night as I was walking home, I saw a video playing inside of a storefront that showed a young model clawing her way out of layers and layers of plastic wrap. On the other side of the street was a real-life girl laughing with her posse, wearing a top with a scooped back so low that it touched her waistband. Even here, where the air seems so much more clear but my head still definitely isn’t, that dog has a pant that seems louder than its lungs should allow, and the woman walking it seems suited to be an extra. There are two girls in matching leopard print leggings who stop to watch it. I’m sitting next to a white haired lady, and when a plane passes overhead, we both look up- the same instant and angle. It’s comical.

What’s comical is that all of a sudden I feel completely transported. I have slipped and slid backwards in time and although I feel slightly like Sisyphus, this is exactly where I wanted to land and I’d been aching to lose my footing. Because here- here- I am in my room, that room that retained all its vestiges of childhood femininity. Tucked away in corners and drawers and jewelry chests are all the cheap beads and plastic hair clips, the sparkly Hannah Montana scarves that gleam with sewed-on sequins. This room is easy and familiar and if I could safely drown in the knick knacks and ballet clothing I would. I don’t have to let anything go, if I don’t want to.

It’s the endurance of these things that built friendships like mine. The years collected over top of one another, settling gently on talk of playground crushes and letting pink glitter leotards peek through. And when I made new friends, went to new sleepovers, those memories simply became a new layer, and they’d be stronger for the weight of time and tradition that they would have to bear.

That was the unique beauty of growing up in suburbia: you never had to move. In fact it was encouraged to sit still, and I wanted to, because it gave me time to set up intricate dioramas with Playmobil figures. I made a home at the houses of my best friends and sifted through their piles too, and we could pick out what we wanted to play with with no concern for chronology. We learned a sense of object permanence: our past and present would always, always exist.

We learned to take our town for granted, to stay safe, and happy, and still.

We learned how to cling onto each other. Like ice cream, it was unhealthy. But what’s so wrong with being sweet?

Heads and tails

Our kitchen sink was filled with bloody handcuffs.

I mean tomato juice.

From the vines that my mom grew in our backyard and the tomatoes my brother and I would pluck

And hurl at the roof of the gazebo.

They’d splat and jolt their way down the slope, mushy and perfectly funny.

My stairway was the one my brother fell down, after he was kicked.

I mean to say the sweeping spiral was padded in soft carpet

perfect for running toes on Christmas morning

And the feeling of flight as your mind lifted with possibility of a million glittering packages

Just before you rounded the bend.

My living room was for rocking on my haunches.

Because I had turned invisible.

Because he could not hear me see me feel me as inhabiting that word “daughter”

Who is a fragile thing, who shall be protected, who is a crying thing, to whom he should be gentle.

But daughter evanesced into object to hurl barbs at

An empty gunslinging

A desperate automated quickdraw drawing on anger so unquenchable it’s like it didn’t exist.

No roots.

Nothing to draw on.

No spaghetti dinners in the living room

No Christmas tree herding and frosted paned windows looking out on the world of lights like they were promising

My house was not promising.

Inside and out hands on both sides of the pane

It was a bear trap.

And the stranger stalking the downstairs was the steel sharp teeth.

I didn’t trust him when I hugged him

I hadn’t for a while.

And I wonder exactly when love left and emptied me.

The two houses made it more disparate,

two faces to a coin

But my brain tried in vain to flip over

And exist without the other side.

As it happens

When you try to rip yourself in half and purge every other week of your memory

Suck every other word of its truth like a pomegranate seed between your teeth

You get a tongue that is tired of probing.

You are left with a girl who is tired of remembering

And tired of thinking

And bleeding from the strings of the ripped flesh of each piece.