Monday, November 16, 2015

“Love is a story told to a friend; it’s secondhand”

I don’t know how I used to stand it, because I can’t stand it now, and have not listened to Neil Young on purpose for years. Sometimes I bump into him in boutiques or the far reaches of T.V show soundtracks, but it never goes well.
When I was young, I was strong and could stand to hear a voice that fragile. Now when I hear him, it hits me like a twist in the pleura, a sort of center-of-the-body twist that also affects my stomach and even, vaguely, my butt.


I gave my best young self to Kieran when I was a teenager, and came over to his house with my record player. I brought him a strawberry plant that I had grown over the course of a humid June; we drank Negro Modelos and ate strawberries and inhabited our naked eighteen-year-old bodies while Out on the Weekend played. It was my idea and he was only half-interested in being there. This relationship continued for a few weeks which felt like years, both “anticlimactic” and “cataclysmic” in nature, which is maybe the nature of teenaged affairs.

I can’t remember if his house got robbed first, or if he broke up with me first, but either way, my record player was stolen from his bedroom, (along with the weed plants in his backyard, and the puppy Pit Bull that tried to eat everything,) and Kieran broke up with me. I emailed my dad about it; he was in Costa Rica. I think I said that I was sad, and my dad said, never forget that men are fools.

This was a long time ago now. Kieran is turning twenty-eight next month and we are friends again. He lives in the flower fields of the central valley. I live in Oakland and wake up cold every morning. I don’t even listen to records anymore. They used to mean so much to me. I listen to Spotify now, or podcasts. The other day, This American Life started playing on my phone as I shopped for a duvet cover at Crate and Barrel. I thought,

I’ve become one of those really normal people.

I can’t remember very much about that affair with Kieran. As I have mentioned, I was young and innocent, which means that my own somewhat extravagant drug use came later, wiping memories from my brain as if by squeegee. I was scandalized by the cocaine on the coffee table, ambivalent about the Pit Bull puppy, alarmed by the screeching of the stray cats outside. I doubt Kieran ever said anything noteworthy, as I seemed to take note of none of it. I just remember his body (creepy, I know,) his single tattoo, his John Lennon shirt with holes in the armpits. I remember driving him to work and trying to get him to like the mandolin solo in Maggie May.
I can’t believe I’m moving to Los Angeles. My plan, and desperate desire, has always been to never live nearer to my hometown than I do now- about six hours away. It’s not because I dislike my hometown, although I do. It’s because I hate everybody from my hometown. Except for the one or two people that I love. And although I love them, I can’t seem to bear to see them.
I carry either a myth or a true dose of sorrow. It means that I cannot see ex-boyfriends. It means that I have to carry on and pretend that I have forgotten even more than I have.

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