Thursday, July 09, 2009

That same nausea

Actually the furniture at your therapist’s office might have been birch, and it was chunkier than your father’s furniture, a different kind of Scandinavian design. Maybe it wasn’t Scandinavian at all, but it was arranged in the same way as your father’s office. But when did I learn to carry a hairbrush like a weapon -- no longer the bowl cut, now I hold it up with mousse and spray. Fourteen and I almost look tough, an act I’m trying on. My hair glistens with the peroxide I comb into it, soon enough I’ll learn to look like I’m distant on purpose, but there’s only so much you can learn from a few pictures each year: 1988 looks rough, all these layers hiding my body kind of like a bird maybe an ostrich with my head poking out. My mother said I was vain, boys were not supposed to be vain. Hairbrush in my pocket I’m wondering about that hairbrush, first the skinny curler brush from Giant Foods with the fake wooden handle but later I traded up for the green wooden recycled handle molded so that your fingers fit one and then the next, a bigger curler brush with black bristles from the Body Shop. I always carried it around with me: this was high school, when people would say are you gay I would just say everyone’s bisexual. That would shut them up for the most part, although after so many years of harassing me you’d think they’d learn to shut up by themselves. At least now it was a question.

I needed that hairbrush so I could rush into the bathroom between periods, make sure that no hair was out of place. Here’s the thing about pictures: I’m staring at this one, 1988, and I just don’t get it. I mean I recognize the kid with the bowl cut and glasses, and I recognize later, with an attempt at a disengaged sexiness in my eyes, but 1988 just doesn’t enter into the way I remember myself then. First of all: khakis! Or something like khakis, baggy with the times and then I guess that is a black mock turtleneck -- those I remember well -- but what is that weird vest on top? But mostly it’s my face, the way my chin gets pointy and my ears stick out, I’m trying to look like I’m okay but I just look like I’m trying to look like I’m trying to look like I’m okay.

But we’re getting ahead again. That first time I drank and it was so hard to get it down -- I didn’t know yet that gin is pretty much the most awful of all types of liquor, innocently clear but when it hits your stomach everything pounds. Before it even hit my stomach I thought it would hit the floor. Still, I can’t remember if this was before or after clove cigarettes, I would transfer the cloves into a bowl like they were pot and then go to the end of the driveway and smoke until my head just needed to lean back -- yes -- but then that same nausea.

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