Sunday, October 6, 2013

little memory interlude

Listening to the Smiths this morning and thinking about Chula Vista, about Jen. The Smiths always remind me of Jen, dead ten years now and my soul sister in music and teenage malaise. We were high school friends, we shared thrift store sweaters and swapped music. When I got my driver's license we drove everywhere, without destination. But we had road and tapes galore. The Smiths, Morrissey, Depeche Mode, Bauhaus. We sang along and shared secrets that I still think about. We spent hours staring into coffee cups, sighing. We confessed our loves to each other, hers I still see every once in a while and I think of everything I know or knew about him; how he had to jump out her window and over a fence. She knew mine, all the weird shames I was beginning to carry. We drifted apart after high school. The last time I saw her she was standing by her car in a parking lot, she had a "Smiths" decal on her back window. We chatted about our friend who'd recently had a baby. We made false promises about getting together. She asked about my dog, who she'd known as a puppy. I told her he was dead, hit by a car driven by a girl on my sister's soccer team. We were awkward. We hugged. The weather that day was exactly how it is today.


Santa Ana winds, almost no water in the air and the body wrinkling into old patterns. This is the time of year for it. The sun is hot hot, the air is cool but dry and spiders are trying to catch the world, leaving webs everywhere; building webs for food or just to watch them collapse into the plants.

At her funeral I sat in grief and anger with all the old friends. Her family had religion and they they were trying to convince us how Jen had come to Jesus at the end, but none of us would buy it. She was our tribe, baby anarchist and feminist, she called people out on their shitty politics. Her family said she had confessed to all the things she had done but we knew she wasn't a confessor, and if there were any stories told they weren't told in hopes of absolution, but that she was shouting out I have done this, known this. She was in half there at the graveyard, ashes torn even in death, between her mother and father.

I remember one night when there was some shit, and all of us were going down. All of the friends, without even consulting each other, banded together to protect her, to keep any knowledge of her part away from her family. We'd seen her bruises. We suffered a little more in our punishments but kept the secret she begged us to hold on to.

I remember how once we were lost and she hailed a police car and got them to drop us off at a school dance where we danced on the tables to Oingo Boingo. I remember riding in the back of our friend's Vanagon, singing "There is Light and it Never Goes Out." I remember her showing me how to pop the seam out of a pair of Dickies so they'd sit lower on the hip. She crashed my car once and we had to borrow money from a friend. We had slumber parties at her house and would listen to the same album over and over again until we fell asleep on the floor.

I'd like to think had she had the chance to grow up our lives would have somehow cycled back together and we'd still be swapping music, keeping tabs on our bad habits, laughing. I miss her.



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