44. Expect

That giant purple eyesore.

Standing there. Staring at me. Making me feel like I’d been slapped upside the head by a grape.

I’ve hated it for two and a half years.  Just not enough to do anything about it.

I walk in at 10:30 at night.  I walk out.  I am shocked.

I’ve been wanting to paint over that purple wall since the second I moved in here, but I was broke, lost, and… well, mostly broke.  I didn’t have anything to spare, monetarily or emotionally, and just getting this cheap rent was incredible enough on it’s own.  I should be grateful, and I should shut up.  That much seemed a given.  I left the grape first because I was extraordinarily busy with simply remaining alive.  Then I was broke.  Then, apparently, despite hating it, I was used to it.  I hated it, but in a way that rarely crossed my mind.  Or in the way that only crosses your mind when you’re in the middle of doing something else, despite it being the first thing I saw each day upon walking into my bedroom.

I had always planned to wipe that wall of the face of the planet.  I finally made good on my word.  The unintended side effect of wiping off a thing that I hate is that the room no longer feels like mine.  It no longer feels like home. My biology has kicked in and all my senses are up, waiting for danger.  This is unfamiliar.  This is a bed that is not my own.  Hold tight, stay cautious.  You can’t sleep here.

Are you shitting me?  This is so obvious.  So obvious and so infuriatingly evident of my own lack of evolution I want to punch myself.  Two years. TWO YEARS on this fucking room.  No, not even this room, this wall.  One, single, hateful wall that all in all, the trip and the furniture pulling and the taping and the painting and the reputting of things…. maybe clocked in at three hours?  And I was avoiding that for three years because I couldn’t handle the psychological fallout of changing it???

I couldn’t embrace something not only good, but that I was certain I wanted, because I couldn’t invest $50, a few hours, and the metal shift it required.

Jesus.

I hate myself a little right now.  I wonder how many other things have waited two years or six years or ten because I wasn’t able to sleep under a different color paint job.  How many microscopic, unseen, unimportant, baseless biological things have kept me from what I wanted.  And me, stupid and rationalizing excuses when in reality, Darwin won.

God, I hate myself right now.

What is even more stupidly, pathetically evident, is that I’ve been wearing your old tank top for the past two days, and the teddy bear you got me is sitting on my bed.  I haven’t thought of you even half lovingly or wantingly in the two and a half years since I had to move here thanks to your disgusting habit of blowing everything up, and I embraced that fucking grape-ass wall like my life depended on it.

I am missing your mouth.  Your dirty talk in that British accent.

Because I feel out of place.  Because we were both out of place and stupidly thought (like young people do) that it made sense to find a place in each other.  Because you were where I went every last time I fell of the wagon.

The taste of you was toxic to me.  Poison.  We both thought we could somehow wring it around and turn it into something good.  But we couldn’t.  We never could.  The other day, for the first time in a long time, I mentioned the ring.  I still couldn’t bear to ask my mother what she had done with it, and she was smart enough not to tell me.

I look at the wall.  So elegant.  So sophisticated.  Everything I had hoped it would be.  Did it really take this, this to make me paint it.  Then I think on it.  Yes, yes of course it did. Because nothing short of the breaking of my body, forcing me to stay in one place would have ever made me paint that wall.  Because as much as I hated it, painting that wall was a bit of acceptance.  To change it meant I was settling in here, in the place I crash landed after the explosion.  The dust cleared, and I ended up here because the ad for the job said “Fortune 500”.  I never did intend to stay.  Yet here I am.  Nesting.  Am I mad because I’m giving in to it?  Or am I mad because it took me so long?

Swimming pools.  Movie stars.

Los Angeles, you mother fucker.  I only chose you under duress.

Dear god, get me out of here.  That’s what I’m thinking.  And that’s why I’m painting.  It’s a form of acceptance, and yet a way to exercise the only bit of control and refusal I still have left.

I walk into that room and I try to sleep, but my psyche won’t let me.  The energy’s too different.

 
What the hell did I expect?

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20. Away we go.

We’re having a beer at the pub, and me being me, I’m being an asshole. Possessing a particular knack for calling people out can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you use it.  He had facebooked me, asking if I was busy while I was surfing in Central America. “You were ridiculous” I chide him, and grin. “You knew I was going to be gone. Are you high.”

“I couldn’t” He says.

“Couldn’t what?”

“I couldn’t, you know, let you think you went to Costa Rica for two weeks and I didn’t care.”

I hadn’t expected that. I smile.

“Well,” – And I’m feeling bolder – “If it makes you feel any better I did go to the reunion with the intention of flirting with you. My boss said, ‘Really? A high school reunion’ and I said, ‘I’m gonna flirt with a guy from summer school! I have a plan!’”

He grins. “It sealed the deal for me. Abbie Cooper’s going? Done.”

There’s a blush of something, and we’re touching under the table. And I don’t know what the hell feelings are, because it’s been so long, but I think these are feelings.

And then there’s a spark. We walk down near the beach and I turn on my heels, short pressed up again him. “I think you should kiss me” I say, “I know that you want to” And he does. He does and up on my toes I feel the universe wake up again. The power lines buzz and the punks of Ventura run down main street, but there is no one else in the world, nothing but electric. Nothing at all.

“Let’s find a place”

We sit, my legs across his lap, and we can’t keep our hands off each other or our faces apart. It’s bad. We know it. “We should get out of here” I giggle “They hate us”. But we can’t stop. Whispering. Leaning in. He has a hand between my knees and I’m breathing onto his neck, telling secrets in his ear. There is nothing but electric. Nothing at all.

There is vodka and electric. There is sin in the air.

“Let’s get out of here.”

It’s too much, I think. It’s too much and it’s too fast. But I’m lost in the blur. I feel something. It isn’t love, but it’s something. It’s lurid and blinding and new. And we should wait but we can’t wait, and it’s in the darkness and – And your hand pulls behind my back, into you, and we move quiet,. Then laughing, kissing, pulling back, embarrassed, scared, unsure, but wanting.

In the morning, you ask me not to go, but I have to. Okay I don’t have to. Okay but I’m saying I have to because it’s too soon to act like I have nowhere else to be. You kiss me goodbye, and it’s only then I realize it’s the first time I’ve kissed an unfamiliar mouth in about four years.

The day moves on. I visit my friends, I have my day. But I’m bursting from the inside out. Then It’s quiet, it’s dark in my room, and then I hear my phone.

“You should be here” he says “I would like that”

And I try to sleep, but I can’t. There is neon buzzing in my veins. Electric, electric, electric.

There we go.