I’d pass my days staring at the ceiling, full of anxiety, afraid to speak to anyone. I had actual fear at the mere thought of speaking. I dropped all my seminars and took only lecture classes, because in lectures I wouldn’t have to speak, even though I missed out on a lot of classes that I wanted to take that way. I’d often find myself tearing up when called upon to speak, even to people I was close to, like my friends or my parents or L.; I’d obsess over the sound of my own voice, and it’s like I couldn’t just talk, I would hear myself talking and think about the sound of my voice before even opening my mouth, and when the time came to say something it felt impossible because I had obsessed over the sound of my own voice for so long. So I’d continue being silent. I felt like L.’s clunky Silent Bob friend—I’d go with her to parties and conquer my fear of speaking by getting trashed on booze, dancing hella hard, and spinning spinning spinning like I was some sort of mystic twirling in the woods…
I was depressed. I felt blank. Not empty—not like some vessel waiting to be filled by some spirit—but bitter and blank and full and solid like the white noise and bright flickering of a TV screen. I was not a mystic. I was a depressive blob. I felt like very, very soon I would break.
When L. told me about that story she’d read, the one about the man who is an empty vessel waiting to be filled, I was silent. I was not listening. I was focused on how I’d respond to her—as usual, I was putting all my energy into dreading the moment when she’d stop speaking and I’d be expected to open my mouth and reply… I do remember feeling hate towards her when she told me that, though, I didn’t want to hear about people who are empty inside. I wanted substance. I wanted that full feeling. Why did L. feel like a man with no insides? Go ask her. I certainly was not listening.
A Conversation Between Teddy and Anna
Where: Teddy’s basement bedroom. Dull red light. Cigarette ash rubbed into the wall-to-wall carpet. Bare mattress with come stains. Multiple posters of Bob Dylan wearing dark sunglasses. Scattered bottles on floor. Scattered books on floor.
When: 4 AM-ish. Immediately following the Mistake. Teddy and I have been kissing on his bed. I had to start kissing him because he kept spewing all these lies about how everyone was always lying and it was getting annoying and I needed him to shut up. Plus, it was already too late. I am stoned outta my head, pebbled. I am asking him what I should do, I am freaking out about the fact that I just kissed the one boy L. is in love with. He tells me to tell her sorry and continue seeing him.
A: But…that’s not sorry. If I was sorry I wouldn’t have done it. If I was sorry I wouldn’t keep doing it.
T: Sorry, what is sorry? L would say “sorry” in the same way. Nobody means what they say, they just say what they say to get what they want.
A: She is my friend and she loves you!
T: She doesn’t love me. She says she loves me because she wants power over me, she wants to possess me, by claiming to love me. She doesn’t know what love means. Anna, if she tells you not to see me, she’s just trying to hold power over you, too. We haven’t seen each other for MONTHS and she is getting all these girls not to go near me because she’s trying to have some claim over me. She’s manipulative, Anna.
IV. The Mistake, Part Two
Wait. This is THE MISTAKE, yeah? Tell me more! Juicy deets! Whys! What happened?!?!
Nothing happened, it was stoopid. I don’t wanna make excuses for why I did what I did, but I will say that I was at this super-low point in my life, and I was beginning to see that I could just walk away from my values or nonvalues and it wouldn’t even matter and I felt sick and tired of feeling depressed and sick and tired of everyone I knew, including, most of all, myself. I didn’t even like Teddy. I dunno. I didn’t care.
It started because I had to go over to his house for some dumb reason or whatever and when I got there he handed me a piece of paper and a pen and an Adderall and a joint. I rarely did drugs, and I never wrote. That’s the big one. See, I’d always wanted to be a writer since I was a li’l girl, and I used to write a lot, but since coming to college I had stopped completely because I’d started feeling dumb. And Teddy said that he would write with meee. Teddy was a writer, and so was L., and L. would always gush about the fact that they were always writing together. At Teddy’s house that day I felt guilty, like I should not being doing this very special intimate thing—writing—with L.’s boyfriend. But I took one hit of that joint and I was effed up and wired, and so we wrote together. I wrote about Teddy and L. and how annoying they were. It was the most fun I’d had in as long as I could remember. I don’t know if it was the drugs or the writing or probably some combination of the two, but I felt free as a bee and happy as a clam and fast as a cheetah and no longer like a depressive blob and I was writing, which is what I’d always wanted to do but was too damn scared to, and it was just great.