Just like it had always been there on the agenda, I came back from Chicago and started treating William like absolute shit.
I’m not talking about the usual way that I might replace the word “love” with “hate” so I can be sassy and cross over boundaries, either.
“Hating you right now!” I’ll shout over at Abby while she’s working.
“Hate you more!” she’ll answer, grinning back, on her way to the warehouse.
No, this was entirely rude and unexpected. This was sickened, annoyed faces and asking for his invitation to conversations with others. This was disregarding him to the point that I eventually stopped looking at him.
At first he still went out of the way to be the one in front of me, in my face with “hello”. But as things worsened, as I became sour and unresponsive, he backed off. And that was that. Then all of the bullshit about how “you guys are the absolute cutest bestest buds” quieted and was replaced with questions like “are you two not talking?” to which I became very good at acting as though the difference was not a thing, at all. The friendship came grinding to a halt and I never did ask for the mittens I had forgotten in the back seat of his car.
Congratulations. You lost someone. And you lost your mittens.
Only a few months later am I looking back, asking myself for the answer I couldn’t give: why.
I suppose it had to do with everything I felt like I couldn’t talk about, or even write about. Maybe it was the adult toy store at the beginning of our road trip – or the fact that the reason why we tooled around Chicago’s Best Buy was for a DVD player.
No one knew, until right now, that I watched a porn movie parodying The Dark Knight. I couldn’t tell anyone comfortably – there was no territorial allowance – how the Joker had kidnapped Commissioner Gordon and only agreed to free him if Batgirl performed certain acts. When they were through, he told Batgirl to “run to papa” then took out a gun and shot her dead.
The Joker looked in to the camera with a wicked smile and said, “Looks like she took two in the back.”
There was a moment during one of the taxi rides when one boy texted a picture and I looked up at the one beside me in the cab and I thought to myself: I could rule the world.
One might argue that it had to do with the flat tire on the way home. William hit a pothole and we waited hours for roadside assistance. During that time in the cold, he pulled his hood over his head and buried his thoughts in the handheld console he’d brought along as I just sat there passenger, waiting, the weight of many unmentionables on my mind.
He looked over at one point and laughed, “I keep forgetting that you have that on.”
He kept forgetting that my face had been painted at the museum, forgetting that I had a giant-ass butterfly painted on in black and purple, all over my face.
When we got to a tire shop I had to run in through the garage and beg them to help William after closing hours. I did whatever had to be done and never thought twice. New tire? Whatever. Go ahead and insure the other three as well. How many hundreds of dollars? Whatever. Consider it…
“An investment,” he suggested. Yeah. Money spent in a time of need on him.
I remember taking a seat inside and watching him sit down all the way across the room. The walls that would never seem to come down. I fumbled through my bag pulling out shit from our trip, figuring out which pamphlet was trash and what should be organized to go back inside. Receipts, don’t need them. Hotel key, I think I’m going to keep it –
“You should come sit over here.”
Pick up the trash pile, pick up my shit and go over and sit next to him. Briefly feel significant again before he pulls out the 3DS and plays through a Kingdom Hearts you conquered months ago.
We spent an extra night on the road. When he pointed out a bar across the street from the shop the whole of my brain was gone and I was ready to have a drink. Ready to order a beer and just take things from there. Broken and at the whim of my own potential behavior.
Is there anything more sobering than the way he spotted a Panda Express at the last minute and detoured? I don’t think so. Nothing is as good as killing any chance of a buzz you may have had than a plate full of slimy, snotty fried lumps.
‘The 3 Little Kittens’ is considered to be one of the first informational pieces specifically aimed at children for pure amusement. It was later adapted as a nursery rhyme.
Three little kittens have lost their mittens and they began to cry. Oh mother, dear, see here – we fear – our mittens, we have lost.
That was the last time I ate fast food, actually.
Lost your mittens? You naughty kittens, then you shall have no pie.
Finally on the road back home, one young man quoted ‘Swiper, no swiping’ to my phone and I had no idea what he was talking about, so I asked William. The drive was clear, open, and the snow had started to dry up quickly.
He said, “It’s from Dora the Explorer.”
“Oh.” Well that’s weird. It’s a baby’s show. “How do you know that?”
“Because I used to watch it.” He answered, never taking his eyes off the open road. I turned back to the passenger window with a sick feeling in my gut about everything I’d done and everything I had not.
What world was I living in? Any of them? Was I not supposed to?
Why. As if it wasn’t obvious a long time ago. Autumn and her little perspective of the boy in the bow tie.
Have you ever been gazing in to an aquarium of jellyfish and almost lost yourself had it not been for the constant parallel between the ways they gracefully touched and the way you know you never could?
Ever kept track of someone who tried keeping track of you but couldn’t see you? Have you ever looked down a long exhibit of jellies and seen that guy standing there, the one with the bow tie, looking back at you? Standing tall, over the crowd, in his leather jacket, did you ever wish for a moment that he wasn’t just waiting for you to catch up?
Know that my hands and my fingers have frozen all winter long. That I was afraid of a reality where my mittens weren’t always suspended in that back seat – afraid of finding out what happened if I got them back and that was it.
What more of a pointless thing, that would only have spread from inside of me to others? You understand then, I tell myself, why there is no swiping and why we simply couldn’t have any of that going on any longer. The silent night in Chicago, the black raindrops on ‘5’ gum that remind you every time you unwrap a piece, how there were no umbrellas and that morbid rose tattoo on his arm…
The profound sadness, when I fell in love with him.