Friday, September 5, 2014

[I wrote this piece in February of 2013, after finding out that my friend from high school, Mary, died of a heroin overdose. I'm deciding to publish it now because it made me realize I should be writing and sharing as much as I used to.] I keep looking down at the scar I gave myself in Ashley's family's kitchen, days after the new year in 2001, with her mother's serrated knife, the way I watched the wound go from whitewhitewhite and then the white dots went red, red dots little by little and then more and more like an invasion, and I spent the rest of that night with my forearm covered up with paper towels and a cloth towel over it. Mary disappeared soon after with Pat, my cut was so extreme that it kind of killed the buzz of the night, and so Mary and I never got to be blood brothers. And now she'd dead. And my forearm has this scar, permanent enough to be any kind of tattoo. Not my only scar, but it's still my only tattoo to this day. And "blood brother" was such a thing the year prior to all that with me and my Syracuse friends because I was obsessed with the idea after watching The Butcher Boy, which I only wanted to watch because Sinead O'Connor played the Virgin Mary in it, of course. And now all this. Mary not making it is making me feel so out-of-control and almost suicidal. I won't do it, but it's just the idea that I'm doing any better than she was that makes me feel awful, that the world is truly chaos (which it is). And in the backdrop of the chaos, all around us friends are getting married and having babies, landing "grown up" jobs that pay them well to live in apartments that aren't little run-down low-income studios like mine, working so hard towards fame that they'll almost get there - if not soon enough, and then there's us, me and Mary. Then again, I say this having not the faintest idea what Mary's life looked like in Buffalo before her death. She could've been a high-powered attorney for all I know. What I really only know is that she was found in her apartment by her mother and landlord. I keep aligning myself with Mary. I never got into drugs like she did, what ultimately killed her, but I did come from a single parent home, which none of our other friends besides Pat experienced. In some ways, that was enough to have an unspoken bond. But with Mary and I, we were dramatic and theatrical. We were often different in how we presented it, but to many of our friends, we were just fatalistic and fucked-up enough that when we weren't so and were actually being shiny and happy (Mary did, after all, get the "Sunshine" award at the 8th grade banquet from her teachers, just like my sister, Aisia, received eight years prior), our friends didn't feel like they were hanging out with the wrong people. And in Mary's case, the pain was stronger. I felt that every time I learned about how drunk she got on a night I wasn't there, or if she mixed alcohol with pills, or whatever it was. I can feel that time of separation from Mary like it was yesterday, when I knew I was too afraid to cope the way she did but wanted to believe I could so she'd have someone going through it with her. I am so sorry that I didn't know how to help Mary. I am so sorry that I didn't know how to help myself then, but that I made it this far and don't think I will die the way she did. But I can't lie and say that I think it was "such a waste" of a life as a friend said, or to even think of her as so "off the path" as the rest of us. Because Mary, I am still in a lot of that pain. And when you died, you reminded me how it feels to be one of the ones who no one really sees growing up because you don't even really see it yourself. Because maybe, you really are out there on your own more so than your friends. And I would give anything right now to talk to you 'cause I swear I'm not mean like I was as a teenager anymore. And you were a good friend to me in the times when we could be that for each other, you really were, and any memory of when you were that feels so precious to me now. I listened to PJ Harvey's Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea yesterday and as soon as "Big Exit" came on, I cried. I lost it so hard when she sang, "I'm immortal when I'm with you" just thinking of you and I singing that song in my parents' kitchen during that same visit when we failed at doing blood brother together. I cried so hard, my cat no longer recognized me, so scared that he hissed at me when I came near him. And you never liked cats. And it was hard for me, but it was also strange because you were a Libra, October 9th just like PJ Harvey (and my sister, Allegra, whom you called "Aggie" like you were family and "kiddo" like she was somehow younger than you), and I always read that Libra women were most complete with a cat companion. But you deviated from that. You said fuck that. You didn't like cats and I can't even remember why, I think I blocked it out because it, again, upset me. But I loved you anyway. And I love you now. And I am gonna think about you when I look at my scar for awhile, and then I will forget or just not be fixated like I am right now, but you are with me till I go. And I can heal from all this, and maybe it was wise that we didn't do blood brother after all, as though maybe you knew that you wouldn't be around as long as me even then, but I just want a chance to sing with you again, just one more time to be ourselves when we were dramatic and fun and singing like we had all the time in the world.