Sep 17, 2010

A Night Alone

I turn the lights out, turn the stereo up, fuzzy guitars and smouldering, hypnotic beats. I slip my panties off, inhale the musky post-menstrual scent of myself on them. I am wet. On the couch here in the dark, I slide my fingers into that warm slickness, feeling the heat spread. I am on fire. Thinking of nothing, of no one, thinking only of myself, and then not thinking at all.

I change into my pajamas, black boy shorts and a thin, tight black t-shirt with a hole just over and slightly to the left of my left nipple. I look at myself in the bathroom mirror, in the half-light provided by the bedroom lamp. I admire the curves of my inner thighs, my smooth pale skin, the flatness of my belly, the shape of my breasts beneath the t-shirt. And I dance, seductively, teasingly, in the half-light, in the mirror, dancing for no one, dancing only for myself, and then not dancing at all.

The Troll

A troll lives in my belly. Sometimes he tries to escape. But I have grown accustomed to him and I want him to stay. He growls from time to time, frightening me and the people around me who must bear unfortunate witness to his existence. Down boy.

I am so pale tonight, in the mirror. Dark hair and red lips, wide eyes. Like Snow White. With a troll in her belly. Where do you come from, troll? And why do you plague me so?

Banshee laughter escapes me. I howl and rock back and forth in the corner, aching in the hollow under my ribcage. Fight or fuck, it's really all the same, isn't it? We can do both, maybe.

Come here, shoelace boy, grocery boy, tell me your stories. How do you keep your shoelaces so white? And why do you stand all alone in the shadows in your buttoned-up shirt and blazer, glancing at me out of the corner of your eye? I know you're watching me. Don't be afraid. Be afraid. Down boy.

Lights and Music

Lights and music are on my mind/Be my baby, one more time -Cut///Copy

I am quite drunk. My body is like bees.

Lights and music and a crowd of pretty gay boys. Tight abs and tighter jeans. I order a rum and coke and somehow manage to choke it down. It's too strong and I'm pretty fucked up already. It's the only drink I buy all night and even so there comes a time when vomit is pretty much inevitable, although I somehow manage to avoid this body-rebellion. Later, I dream of puking my guts out, thick hot strings catching in my dream-throat.

But for now, lights and music. House and top 40. Not really my bag, but when in Rome. The dance floor is gyrating pelvises. Everything is hard: the beat, the bodies, the boners. Nine o'clock shadow darkens too-strong jawlines from beneath layers of heavy makeup. Drag-giants lurch around in platinum Marilyn wigs and six inch heels.

I find respite in a glass of water and a red faux-leather couch in a dimly-lit lounge area and strike up a conversation with two pretty twenty-year-old boys with cool haircuts. One of them wears black leather motorcycle gloves. Later, we dance together and promise to meet again in the lounge should we become separated. I want to protect these not-so-innocents, protect them from heartbreak and bad hair and AIDS and their own insecurities and later, in the lounge, I offer what little drunken wisdom I have. They even seem to listen, and when we say goodbye at the end of the night, I hug them both fiercely and they claim me as one of their own.

More lights. More music. Many of the boys are now shirtless and sweating. I dance with them, smiling. From my view onstage, I look out at the sea of bodies pulsing with sex and shame and desire, pulsing beneath the lights like some sort of weird homogenous underwater creature, and I feel an odd detachment. I am a stranger in a strange land.

Back in the lounge, I sit cross-legged and alone on a black faux-leather loveseat. A tall dark-haired woman collapses beside me and laughs in a lovely eastern-European accent, "Oh, I am so drunk! I cannot drive home yet!" I laugh with her, horrified because she is even drunker than I am, and offer her cabfare but she just laughs and lays her head in my lap. I stroke her hair. Her friend arrives, swarthy and similarly-accented, and sits beside her and takes out his cell phone and she admonishes him, "Ooh, darling, put that thing away! So ugly!" and we have a deep philosophical conversation about cell phones and blackberries and they are shocked to learn that I don't own either. She sits up and I offer her a sip of my water, which she accepts with a lilting laugh. Before I leave, I make her promise me she won't drive home, but she laughs and promises she won't drive just yet.

Lights and music and at the end of the night the club empties and I am left almost alone on the dancefloor in a sea of empty plastic cups and beer bottles and condom wrappers and my body is still like bees and the only way I can get rid of them is to dance and so I do.

This is what happened...

This is what happened to her: On April 17, 2002, in the late afternoon, my mother was weeding the front garden when a weakened blood vessel in her brain ruptured, leaking blood onto the surface of her brain. Like battery acid on skin, the blood corroded brain cells in her left frontal lobe, sending her body into a defensive coma so that her brain could deal with the more immediate problem at hand. Approximately 10 minutes later, a neighbour saw her lying face down in the dirt and called 911.

This is what happened to me: I get home from wherever I've been and the phone is ringing. It is my brother, telling me that our mother has had a seizure or something and has been taken to the South Street Emergency Room. I tell my boyfriend what my brother has just told me and we get back in the car and he can't drive fast enough for me, I'm calm but panicked, and that feeling you hear about in the pit of your stomach, it's there, not metaphorical at all, like lead or butterflies or both. And we get to the emergency room and I tell the attending nurse my name and my mother's name and she tells me that nobody has been admitted by that name. And she is so calm and assured that I want to fucking punch her in the face. So I repeat it and I can hear my voice getting shriller and another nurse appears behind the glass and asks where my mother was picked up and I tell her the street and she looks at the other nurse and says, "That's the Jane Doe."

I am led into a white room, but not as white as you see on tv, and my mother is lying on a steel gurney. She looks strange without her glasses and her bare left breast is exposed. I come to know her body, its intricacies and functions, very well in the coming weeks, but right now my mother is lying dead in front of me and her breast is exposed and this is somehow a violation of something so I pull the sheet up to cover it. She is a stranger.

At this very moment, her body is defending itself against the blood, sending reactionary but suicidal fluid into the brain which causes it to swell, like a sprained ankle. But, unlike an ankle, the brain can only expand until it hits the skull. When it has nowhere left to go, the brain will push itself down into the spinal column, crushing the nerve stem, resulting in immediate death. The doctor explains this to me and I listen. Strangely, there is nothing they can do in this situation; the body will either defend itself or die.

There are no tubes hooked up to her in this room, she lies naked and still and alone on the metal gurney and we onlookers are oblivious to the war waging within her brain. And somehow, suddenly, this is all terribly funny and we laugh, my brother and his girlfriend, my boyfriend, and me. We laugh, joking that she really didn't want to turn 50, that she didn't want to attend the birthday party next weekend, it's kind of drastic but effective, having a ruptured aneurysm to get out of turning another year older.We laugh until the tears flow and whether they are from laughing so hard or from crying is irrelevant. I am given a clear plastic bag with her effects: urine-soaked shorts, a tank top cut in two, one sandal, her glasses. There is no identification. I keep the glasses and throw the rest of it into a garbage can.

They transfer her to the intensive care unit at University Hospital. Here she gets hooked up to all kinds of tubes: tubes to monitor breathing, heartrate, blood pressure, and urine output, tubes to keep her hydrated and fed. They are taped to needle punctures in the backs of her hands, clipped to her fingers, inserted through her nostrils and mouth. Before I am allowed to enter the ward, I must cleanse my hands with a water-free antibacterial gel. There are nine other critical patients here and each time the nurses need to perform a test on one of them, I am asked to leave the ICU and wait in the waiting room. I wait a few minutes and use the phone on the wall to call to ask to be let back in. I wash my hands. After this happens a dozen times, they let me stay, drawing the curtain around us. I sit on a chair beside the bed and hold my mother's needle-bruised hand, realizing that it doesn't really matter how much bacteria I have brought in here. She will die or she will live.

And sometime during that endless night, a part of me dies, and the death goes unnoticed.