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List of Things I Didn’t Expect to Be Doing on the Last Day of 2013:
1) Being too afraid to play a song I wrote for the person I love
2) Writing a letter in which I apologize for how my violent sexual assault may have affected an acquaintance who lives in another state
3) Dwelling on said assault
4) Unpacking my bedroom after 4 months of living in this house
5) Playing Arkham Asylum for the first time and actually being pretty okay at it
My general feeling about 2013 is that it was the single most terrible year of my life, with some exceptional high points, and after tomorrow, the worst will be behind me. If I have any resolutions, they are to focus on fixing myself and my damaged relationships, to make the happiness of my loved ones a top priority, and to write more. To never stop writing.
On that note, here is another piece of the boy/dog story.
When we were really young, like pre-public school, Jameson and I would play this game. We played tons of games, obviously. I loved legos the best, but he preferred to be outside, in the sun, in the grass, on the concrete. The winter became my favorite time of year because all the rain meant that he was forced to stay inside with me and act out another story through the rocket ships and space stations we would build out of legos. The shitty part was that he was even better at my game than I was. I would invent a few characters, I’d assemble the ship’s captain, and I’d give him all the guns and the biggest and best room, I’d make him the most important so that the game, the story, would be dominated by my imagination. Jameson, even stuck with one of the green, weedy alien characters, would somehow turn every part of the plastic make-believe world into something real.
I would build an enemy ship, and as it approached, my captain would prepare the laser beams to fire on it. I could already see the little black lego fragments exploding off the approaching cruiser, my stomach tight and hot with anticipation at the fiery chaos that would ensue, but at the last second Jameson’s alien mechanic (who was also a doctor, and could kill people with his mind, since I wouldn’t let him touch any of my captain’s guns) would “sense” that something was wrong with our ship, and then it was like his ideas just invaded my head and pushed my plot into the dust. The laser beams misfired. The enemy ship collided with ours. We were losing life support. I started to fear for my captain’s life. The bridge had shattered. Jameson’s alien managed to give the captain the last bit of oxygen and the last spacesuit, so he could sneak onto the enemy ship and exact revenge. The alien died nobly, a hero, and I suddenly didn’t care about our game anymore.
Jameson’s favorite game was more exciting and less tangible than any of the stories we played out with legos. It could start at any time. Sometimes it would be when were inside, and he’d drag me out into the yard with him, no warning. It could happen when we were at the grocery store, and Dad was inspecting produce or Mom was discreetly sniffing every single bottle of shampoo, and I’d see the glimmer, the terseness, in my twin’s eye, and I’d know the game had started.
Nobody taught us this game. Jameson seemed to have invented it, but I played along readily, captivated by my brother’s urgency and fervor. I liked the game because we were partners when we played it, although I got to be the hero, the warrior, the ninja-pirate-Jedi-cowboy champion. I saved the day and it made sense every time.
Jameson alone knew where our enemies were hiding, and when they would jump out and attack, only he could see them. He would point one out to me, yell, “Behind the watermelons! It has no eyes and a bunch of squid-arms!” and I would improvise a weapon on the spot. I had to announce my choice, “I have a gun that shoots salt! It’ll melt him like a slug!” and I’d imagine myself just spraying this creature with jets of hard salt rocks, and I knew it’d been vanquished when Jameson finally relaxed.
Sometimes the monsters would appear in our bedroom, in the middle of the night. Our parents hated the noise that would ensue, pounding clashes of war that echoed throughout the house, but they seemed to miss the very real relief that it brought to Jameson. Gradually, as we got older, the game happened less and less, but that terse glint of anxiety that the creeping monsters caused in my twin never stopped.
1. Was told by my Advanced Composition professor that it would be a waste of my time to complete the teaching prerequisite classes, and instead I should just take the CSET because we apparently need teachers “like me.”
2. Got a pentagram tattooed on my bicep
3. Made my first batch of pot brownies
Yes. I am ready to become a teacher.
I make myself crazy. I imagine and play make-believe. I tell myself what your life used to be like. I have a slim foundation upon which to build my pretend stages. Bright paint, winking lights, cherry wood. I met you around this time, this perfect time I’m imagining for you. I only saw you once, but I elaborate the rest for myself. You used to be animated and happy and invested and interested. You fell in love with girls and you played music with them. You yelled and stomped and poured your heart out to crowds of admirers. You had a gleam in your eye and a laugh on your lips. You gave your heart to one girl and even though she went on to pull it out of you, slowly, you kept giving it back. You were a thundercloud. You roved and adventured, your heart big and your sounds bigger.
I break myself on these thoughts, but I promise I try not to. I tell myself I’m only imagining these things in order to get the bigger picture of you. Really I’m afraid. That part of your life crumpled and less than two months later, there I was. I think, you were just grateful to have a pair of arms around you again. The gleam in your eye is gone. You’re going through the motions and I’m your momentum. I think, I can put that smile on your lips, I can put that gleam in your eye, but it doesn’t happen. I look through you to the previous version, the one that laughed and screamed. I look for him. He was happy. He was alive. I don’t know if I can hear your heart beating, now. I hold you in my hands, against my body, and I try to smooth your feathers, mend your bones. I breathe into your mouth and I put my ear onto your chest. I’m waiting for the flutter. I hold my breath and watch your wings, waiting for them to stir. I don’t blink. I just want you to fly.
Because when something ugly and violent is done to you, you won’t be the same
Because the people you trust will be gone
Because your definition of “painful” will be irrevocably altered
Because you’ll forget how to be around humans, or because keeping up the pretense will be exhausting
Because everything, your neighbor roughing up a drunk girl, your coworkers talking about assault like it’s a disease against which you can inoculate, some bro in a bar saying he totally got raped playing Call of Duty, everything will make you want to scream until you’re out of breath
Because you won’t scream
Because you’ll feel like he left a wall around you and you’re choosing to hide in it
Because you’ll feel like a pussy and a ghost
So the only thing left to you will be the words
So you’ll try to write them the right way
So you feel like you should paint, because you have this thing thrumming in your body and it doesn’t have a name but it is like excitement and patience and like laughing and crying and like rage and breathing. It is raining all around, through the gaps in the garage, and you make the perfect playlist for how this feels and for how the air should sound for painting, like a mix of sad soft voices and rain. You think about love and you feel love and you think it would be good to copy a poem by hand, and you dig through books for the perfect one and even though you always say you don’t care about poetry, e. e. cummings makes you cry and smile the more you keep reading, and Sylvia Plath and Stephen Vincent Benet and even fucking Robert Frost, kind of. This poem by Carl Sandburg feels right, because it isn’t for you, which is funny because the poem is called “For You.” You paint some shitty jar and try to make it like fireflies making light but this paint is cheap and your hands are too cold, everything is cold and a little damp, you live in a garage, idiot, and painting is hard but it makes you feel peaceful and also insanely vibrant, this weird mishmash of calm and so happy it’s almost supreme rage, no fucking name for it, like too much caffeine and smiling while you break something and all of that like meditating. And now you won’t sleep, you’ll lie there and you’ll feel like you are vibrating and glowing. Tomorrow you will be tired and shitty but tonight is good.
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