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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Burning Down the House

Beep! Beeep! BEEEP! BEEEEP!

The high-pitched noise is drilling into my dreams -- wait, I'm not dreaming -- disoriented, my legs stumble out of bed, practically tripping my body onto the doorknob. When I open it and peak my head into the hallway, my mind begins to put things together-- it's the fire alarm.

But not just for my apartment, the downstairs alert system is going off as well. And I smell something burning. Not caring where it was coming from, my squinty eyes focus on my roommate, curled onto our couch. She's slept there three nights in a row already and it looks like tonight wasn't ending much different. 


"Heather!" She is still in her bartending attire, she must've gotten drinks after work. "Heather!" Leaning over her, my small hands shake her shoulder, she slightly opens her eyes -- glasses still on -- grunting something incoherent then turning away from me.

"Something's burning! Wake up! Don't you hear the fire alarms?" The beeps are so loud, my thoughts are having trouble connecting. "Heather!"

Frustrated by her behavior, I run into Keith's room. How am I the only one to hear the noise? "Keith, I need help! Something's burning! Heather won't wake up!" 

Like a cartoon, Keith springs out of bed, still in his white boxer-briefs. I hurry into the hallway which is now filled with smoke. It wasn't like that before. "Smoke! Shit! I don't know where it's coming from!" I start to panic. Why won't Heather wake up?

Keith prances passed me, straight for the kitchen. Then I see it-- why didn't I think of this before? -- the oven is registered at 425 degrees. She left the fucking oven on.

As I push every button to turn it off, Keith reveals the culprit. A frozen Amy's Pizza that has turned into charcoal. Heather wakes up now, she grabs the smoking, hard disk that was in the oven at least two hours too long and attempts to run water over it.

It's 6:15 a.m. in the morning. The beeping won't stop. The girls upstairs hate us.

I snatch the pizza box to use as a fan. Finding the blinking red lights, I wave the box wildly over my head, hoping the wind will turn off the noise. My large t-shirt I wear to bed, rising above my bum, I continue to scream at the ceiling.

Keith is laughing, already reiterating the story while Heather is mumbling apologies. After my frantic hopping from alarm to alarm, the noise subsides and things (more like, I) seem to have calmed down.

Keith goes back to bed snickering, Heather tells me she didn't do it on purpose, she fell asleep. Of course, she didn't do it on purpose, but she acted like a fucking drunk-- which is what I wanted to tell her but I didn't 'cause the shame in me knows I am a drunk, too.

She staggers back to the couch, back into a fetal position. Why didn't she just go to her bed?

I go back to my room with my heart still pounding. I had to work at the office in less than three hours.

It happens.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Missing Friendship

We were riding the No. 1 train headed uptown, back to school, after our "leap day date." My hand clasped with yours like it was an old glove. I can't remember if we bickered or if I didn't feel well but you kissed me on my forehead.

(I never told anyone this before).

Right then, my heart sank. I knew it was the last time you would kiss me (as my boyfriend, my love). I gazed into your eyes -- those soft blue eyes --  you asked me why I looked sad. I squeezed your hand -- those soft hands -- you smirked.

(My mind recalled our first date when I nicknamed you "Smirky" 'cause you couldn't stop smiling around me, but you'd try not to, forming a goofy smirk).

The fight happened back at my apartment. Perhaps, I was looking for an argument, an excuse, a reason why we couldn't be together anymore...

You shouted, "Shut the fuck up!"

(I can still hear the way you said it. A slight hesitance after "shut" and a drawn out "fuck," in a louder tone than I ever heard you yell before). 

I did shut up. Right away. And thought about how I was turning you into an awful, unhappy person. My lips pursed together, as I lowered my eyes to the floor, then whispered, "I think we should break up."

Tears followed as I heard you choke on your breath. Five seconds might've passed, maybe five minutes, but eventually, you looked at the wall and said, "I think so, too."

We both cried and held onto each other. Reciting the last "I love you's," reassuring each other when we were older and ailing we would find the other and take care of each other again.

After we wiped each other's tears, we scooped bowls of ice cream and watched an episode of Six Feet Under (our favorite), cuddling under my fuzzy blue blanket. It felt like a giant weight lifted off of us. I don't think I ever felt a bigger relief than that night.

So we had somewhat of an anniversary tonight.

A Postal Service song you used to sing to me played at the bar I went to for Happy Hour. Typical. I came home and flipped through our old photos.

Why do I still feel compelled to tell you about the artists I interview and an installation I saw reminding me of Marcel Duchamp last week? Why did I want to buy us tickets to see the founder of Black Flag and Circle Jerks, who I read about on Pitchfork yesterday? Why were you the one I wanted to call when both my siblings got engaged?

"I can't be your rock anymore," you told me, two years later when you got a new girlfriend. "I can't give her a reason to be jealous."

I cried alone tonight.