The ever groshing Meredith Yayanos (and now Alice and Sara) tagged me in the 16 Random Things meme, “Once you’ve been tagged, you have to write a note with sixteen random things, shortcomings, facts, habits or goals about you. At the end choose sixteen people to be tagged, listing their names and why you chose them. You have to tag the person who tagged you.” I’m no good at this sort of meme, but I love rock star Mer (and Alice and Sara) with the warmth of six suns, so for her I will try.
1. “Even your voice has changed,” he said, looking at me, hearing the wounded strawberry tears that caught all the way up from my heart to my tongue and out into the air. The freeway was so familiar I felt I could have drawn it in my sleep, divided the roads into lanes with a cunning accuracy I didn’t understand I had. It was like the promised land, green signs marking exits as well as the graves of so many dreams. “I’m not sure what it is, but you sound softer, like you’re an entirely different person here.” “I am,” I replied, “too full of history to burn.”
2. I used to write fortunes, love letters, and wishes in spidery black ink on the dried leaves I found fallen under trees in the fall and let them go in the wind to fly without watching to see where they might land. They weren’t for me, they were for other people to find.
3. Perhaps if I killed him, he would live on as a ghost, feather light and improperly dead. I woke up earlier this week, wishing I could secretly stab him in the heart with rusty kitchen scissors and open him up like he did to me with his fingers. The only thing that keeps me clear is that I don’t think his murder would change anything. You can’t erase memory like a stain. It would just mean a little less money coming in around my birthday.
4. When she speaks on the phone, I know my place is to quietly do nothing more than make encouraging noises in the appropriate gaps and pauses. She is like a colouring book with everything but the eyes filled in with religious illumination, as if someone spent thirty years merely shading in her skin. I love her, so I don’t mind. Maybe someday it will be my turn to talk.
5. There is a pile of books in my room which do not belong to me. They are borrowed books that represent less what I would choose to read and more what people think I should. From top to bottom they are: Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Mistress of the Empire, The Complete Robot, The War of Flowers, How To Not Get Rich, (which I never read), So Far From God, A Little Larger Than The Known Universe, What Colour Is Your Parachute, (which I also never read), His Dark Materials, and Brandjam. Some of these books have been with me for years, yet I refuse to incorporate them in with my own books, believing somehow, tenuously, that they will eventually be given back to their respective owners.
6. I loved him like no one else I had ever met in my life, but recently it eased back and closed over. All it took was sleeping in his bed, knowing it wasn’t mine, then driving away the next day. Now I’m absolutely stone terrified I will never care about anyone like that again.
7. For no particular reason, somewhere in my room is a birthday candle I kept from my third birthday cake.
8. Reading back entries into my journal can be like reliving the relationships I wrote about. When I started this journal, I had no idea what it would be like to have such a static essence of memory waiting at my fingertips. People I can talk blithely about now, or some that I mention not at all, are waiting for me there, frozen in time instead of (decently?) dissolved like jet streams. There is nothing in my life that can compare. My valued moments, they are not trapped in objects, they are there, freely available for the whole world to read. How I felt when that one danced or when that one cheated on me. It’s unreal, the immediacy. Photographs are not the same.
9. Sometimes horrible pop music is just going to happen in my house. Life isn’t all gamelan, mystery, poetry or jazz. Occasionally it is Blackstreet’s No Diggety on repeat for an hour. I’m not sorry.
10. “Will you sleep with me later if I ask you to?” He looks at me, blinks a moment, and grins. (We’ve only just met, though we’ve known each other on-line for years.) For a moment it’s like I’ve kissed him, then he ignores my question as if I never asked it, because it didn’t need to be said, and reaches out his hand. The girl next to him look confused, uncertain if she heard what she thinks she did, my words a spectre in the tiny industrial kitchen.
11. I dislike religion and ritualistic behavior. It is fine and wonderful and inspiring that people like to make themselves meaningful, that people try to be more than themselves, but to require emblematic props to do it offends me somehow, as if intelligent people should know better, should know they do not require symbols to attain self worth. (Also, I will judge you if you actually believe in astrology of any kind. Quietly, but it will be there. You! The offended one. Half a point. Docked.)
12. The last time I was sick, it was because of him. We had quarelled. I had walked home. It was freezing. Standing within his gravity again was sensory overload. Had it really almost been an entire year? My hands shaking as we said hello. Watching him stand at the podium, I tried to pretend I was a solid being, but my eyes tripped, caught by the enigmatic living miracle of his face. He still had me on a string. I didn’t want even a week to go by without a hello, but after the last time we’d seen each other he wouldn’t even answer the phone when I called. Instead I had to crash his party, all cameras and politicians, as if I was welcome, as if it were planned instead of a lucky accident of bus arrival.
13. If there is a book in the lavatory, it’s because I like to read while I brush my teeth.
14. Though Marissa, (who I later renamed Mishka, which stuck), and I were ten when we met, neither one of us had pierced ears. Mine because my parents thought it was cruel to do to a baby, her because her parents treated it as a coming of age. From this, I couldn’t have cared less while she could not wait for her sixteenth birthday. As it approached, she was practically vibrating with excitement about how she was finally going to get it done, so for her birthday party, I gathered all of our mutual friends together at the mall downtown to get our ears pierced with her in solidarity. (This took some managing, as one of the boys we knew, Charles, had a highly evangelical mother, who thought this was a terrible sin somehow). After an hour of waiting for her and calling her in vain, we finally got a hold of her. She couldn’t make it and had completely forgotten to tell us to call it off. Rolling our eyes, the group of us went through with one ear of the procedure anyway, with the intention to do the other one with her later. About a month after this, she went off with her mother one afternoon and had them done alone at a tattoo parlour, forgetting again about our group effort-in-waiting. As a result, I still only have my left ear pierced. For all I know, so does everyone else involved.
15. “When my husband came back from Iraq,” she said, and it struck me as it has before, completely new again, “I am in a foreign country”. Curled on the bed with my friends, it was easy to forget, the same way it didn’t occur to me later while I was away on my trip. Even when guns were involved. Too much about the USA will always feel implicitly like the word belonging.
16. I will not tag anyone in a meme. It is far too interesting to see who will pick it up for themselves without prompting.*
Where it’s gone from here: Ben Peek, Duncan Shields, Sarah Edwards-Noelle.