Then all of a sudden it was the middle of the night and Teddy said, “Lie down with me,” and I said no but he was putting his whiny nobody-loves-me-voice on and it was annoying so I said, “Fine fine, I’ll lie down with you, but no kissing,” and so we lay down and then he started spewing all this crap about how everyone is a liar and how you can’t trust words or believe in words because everyone lies with their stoopid words and how I, in my stoney-baloney silence, got it. Got him.
Blech. I couldn’t take it. I need him to stop talking. We kiss.
After that I did my typical WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!?!?!? routine and what I should’ve done, I know, is just apologize to L. and move on. Because, despite the doubts that I had about our friendship, she was my friend, for real.
But I really liked that night—that writing and all that. And then there was this goofy week-long back and forth where I would shuttle between L. and Teddy—and Teddy would whisper to me, Be with me she’s a liar she’s just being manipulative here have some weed here have some speed let’s write together it’ll be great she’s just trying to put “prohibitions” on you are you going to stand for that? and then I would return to L. and say, “Can’t I be with Teddy?” and L. would say, “Please, Anna I am not trying to put ‘prohibitions’ on you but you are BREAKING MY HEART.” She would say, “Anna, he’s a jerk. He does this kind of thing constantly. Don’t trust him.”
Anyway, to cut to the chase, despite knowing that Teddy was a jerk who slept with lots of girls then dropped them and despite hearing L. tell me that I was breaking her heart, I told L., my friend, that I didn’t care, that I was going to be with Teddy anyway. Whatever. It was stupid. It was mean. I was probably high.
Immediately after that conversation with L., Teddy dropped me. He just started screening my calls (and I’d call like 40 times in one hour—believe me, I am shameless) and ignoring me, pretending like I didn’t exist. Maaan, I felt like a fool. I was a fool.
Hold up. If you knew he was a jerk, then why? Why’d you do it?
Aside from the writing and the free drugs?
Yes. You’re not a druggie, and you could write on your own.
A memory of Teddy, from that week-long period before I got ditched: It’s the middle of the night and we’re watching that Dylan documentary No Direction Home on his laptop in the dark, on his bed. We’re watching it for like the 10th time—Teddy was obsessed with Bob Dylan. So there’s this scene when Dylan is just starting out and he says that what you’ve got to do is you’ve gotta focus in on one person in the audience and get under their skin. I remember glancing over at Teddy as Dylan said that line: It’s dark and his face is lit up by that ghoulish light that laptops cast on faces in the darkness and I can tell from his face and his eyes that he’s totally absorbed in the movie and that everything else—this room, the rest of the world—has dropped away. It’s strange, but there was something about seeing Teddy like that that really moved me. The way he was watching Dylan, listening intently to that get under their skin line, like he was really trying to learn how to be from Bob Dylan. I thought about Teddy’s thing with words and how they didn’t matter, it didn’t matter what was said, what mattered was this getting under the words, getting under the skin. Or something. I dunno. It was most certainly not an “in love” feeling that I had with him, but this image stayed with me—his face all blue and flickery and intense and sad.
That’s not an explanation or an excuse. But what can I possibly say? Can I quote someone? There’s this line that Nietzsche says in The Gay Science about cause and effect. Here, I’ll look it up… “Before the effect one believes in different causes than one does after the effect.” Like, we come up with explanations in the aftermath that maybe have nothing to do with “reasons.” Life happens and we try to explain it later. We comfort ourselves by turning it into a story.
And you’re right about the drugs. Drugs are boring.
Then stop with the justifications. What am I supposed to take from all this? What should I believe here?
I’ve gone over how I was with Teddy and how I was with L., but I haven’t said how L. and Teddy were together. I remember L. describing a nightmare that she had about Teddy where they were having sex and he was on top of her and he was grinning down at her and then he turned into a goblin. L. was so, so frightened. This was just a couple of weeks before I slept with him.
You know, I never really saw the two of them when they were together—they were always off writing together—so it was hard for me to see and understand that she was in love with him. And after he broke up with her, she was still the same L., so wordy and polite and perfect and charming, that it was hard for me to understand how heartbroken she was. She kept saying, I’m heartbroken, I’m heartbroken, but in such a charming way that I didn’t actually believe her. Frankly, I was so into my own depression that I didn’t care—I didn’t want to put the effort into caring, into trying to imagine what she was going through. So when she told me about this nightmare, I was watching her be really vulnerable for one of the first times. She was visibly shaken. But instead of believing her and comforting her…well, I remember thinking that I didn’t believe her. The way that she described the nightmare was too pretty, too poetic, too vivid. I’ve always had boring dreams: The last one was about cereal boxes, whether to eat Special K or All Bran. So, I didn’t believe that she had really dreamed it. I thought it was just another one of her pretty stories. I thought that she was making it all up.
What should I believe?
The dream. For all that crap about words and lies and capital-T truths and language and silence, sometimes you’ve just got to trust words, take them at face value. When L. told me her dream, I should’ve trusted her. When she told me that I was breaking her heart, I should have believed her.