Sunday, October 21, 2007

A New Dawn Fades



While riding my bike last Friday night, I rode through the wake of women's perfume intermingling with cigarette smoke. I was so startled by the feelings brought up, I didn't think to look for who may have left it behind. I was reminded of the excitement of anticipation of a night out with my friends, the importance of it, and the thrill of new experiences. I still crave those feelings, but find them now by other means: traveling out of the country, acting in a play, or riding my bike for hours at a time.


New Year's Eve, 1987, my friend Delhi drove down from Wisconsin to spend the holiday with me in Chicago. She was running extremely late, so I had many hours to kill waiting for her. I was going through my 'purse and skirt' phase, fashion-wise, at this time, and I would comb through the thrift stores, or my roommate's closets, for just the right 1950's handbag. A 1950's handbag and a black leather motorcycle jacket, to me, is still a great look, for a woman or a man, and that's what I wore that night. Erin hated that I would carry such a purse, and I think I did just to hear her yell at me about it. During the day, I would wear a smaller purse with a long, skinny strap over my ankle length wool coat, with my 1950's men's hat, much to the disdain of the guys who stood next to me on the train. I guess I like it when people yell at me...

God, I hated riding the train Saturday mornings to work. I got on at the Addison stop around 8am, and it would usually be full of people, unsavory types, still partying from the night before, or people just plain uncomfortable to be around.
I always had a story to tell my coworkers each Saturday morning.
One winter morning, the kind of still, sunny, crisp winter morning that always reminded me of the winter days of my childhood in Wisconsin and Connecticut; the kind of day that used to send me racing for my coat to take as long of a walk outside that I could, to soak up the snow laden beauty, a man was sitting on the train, dressed in all white, though not warm enough for the weather, and was swabbing iodine all over his clothes and skin with an old rag, the whole time I rode with him.
I could tell by the look on his face his behavior was compulsive, and he didn't want to be doing what he was doing, but what was odder still was the body language of the people slouching around him: as long as he's doing that to himself alone, I don't care what he does. Unlike the morning I was on the subway in Manhattan in the mid 1990's, when the people in the half full car stopped in their tracks and stared at the man in the Santa hat who dropped his briefcase in the middle of the car and slowly bent over to open it and pull something out. Everyone but I held their breath to see what it was. I didn't care, because I had such a shitty time on that trip to New York, one more disaster wouldn't matter, and I could tell by the man's face he was just an ordinary guy, and it was December after all, and the something he pulled out of his briefcase was a piece of paper.
(More on that trip later. Chronology! I could write page after page on just that subway ride, let alone that trip.)

Delhi finally showed up at my apartment at 10:30. 10:30! I was furious! I wanted to be at Limelight hours ago. And really, I wanted to drink. It's New Year's! I want to drink, I want to be drunk right now. Where is she! I want to drink I want to drink I want to drink.
Delhi was big and loud in every way, and she came storming up the stairs to my apartment with some wild tale about getting lost on the drive down. But she came bearing a twelve pack, and champagne and raspberry liquor, to make those raspberry-champagne-twist-of-lemon drinks we liked so much. This was my first time seeing her since I had moved here, but we picked up where we left off, doing what we do best: helping each other drink and get into trouble. We drank every last drop of booze she brought with her, in an hour, and raced out the door for a cab to get us to Limelight before midnight.
We made it with minutes to spare, and caught up with Consita, my boss, and my Limelight friends who were always there. Consita, as I have already told you, was not the greatest boss in the world, but did we ever have fun when we went out. Tony kept the shots and Long Islands flowing, so all I really remember of that night are flashes of a swirl of noise and color, fake hellos and insincere new year wishes, and obnoxious affected behavior for the yuppie couples that seemed to be taking up way too much space in my playground. By 2am I had had enough, and wanted to leave. I stacked a pile of a dozen donuts like they were plates, and headed out the door with Delhi and Consita for a cab. During the ride, I chucked a donut at Delhi, and Consita laughed, so I thought she may enjoy a donut or ten chucked her way, too. I thought she was laughing, and I took glances at the driver, but he was just sitting there like this was his fiftieth donut fight that night. Consita kind of yelled at me when we dropped her off, and Delhi and I did our best to clean up the mess, and gave the driver a big tip, sadly knowing my hang-over lunch bag from 7-11 would be a lot lighter the next afternoon by doing so.
I was so furious at myself when I got home. I was mad at myself for mashing donuts into my boss's new winter coat, I was mad at myself for drinking so much in that short period of time, I was mad at myself for not having a boyfriend, I was mad at myself for wanting nothing more than to be wasted out of my skull, and having no control over that feeling.
That night, I tore apart my room in my anger, and smashed everything made of glass; I ripped up my artwork, knocked over my dresser, and threw things against the wall, all the while getting madder at myself because I was destroying my possessions, anger fueling even more anger, knowing I couldn't stop, knowing I couldn't stop any destruction that was going on in my life, and not being able to tell anyone why I was doing this, or how I felt.

The next morning, Margie, my roommate asked me how my night was.
"Didn't you hear me smashing up my room? I think I got fired, too." I said.
"Oh, I thought I heard some noise. How did you get fired?"
I told her my pitiful tale through the worse hangover of my life. Even though I had only drank for three hours, I was sick for days.
Me and my roommates laid around the sofa all day, thinking of ways I could get a new job fast, and I was secretly relieved I wouldn't ever have to see Consita again.
I didn't get fired that night, because they forced me to call her to make sure I was fired, after I confessed to them I didn't remember actually hearing those words.
She was mad, and expected me to have her coat cleaned, but I still had a job, during the crash of '87.

For years I hated to ever think about that night and the terrifying, utter powerlessness I had over my behavior, but now I know how important that experience was for me; It was the day I finally learned the truth about myself.


Link: Joy Division

6 comments:

Aaron said...

I hope I learn this truth soon, too...!

David said...

You wasted perfectly good donuts?

bloopsy said...

Do you know the name of this wonderful woman ?
I remember she was a famous actress, but I forgot her name...

Could you help me ?

thank you very much ! ;)

(I'm a french girl, sorry if I made mistakes!)

BC said...

That is the beautiful and tragic, Gwili Andre.

bloopsy said...

Yes ! thanks :)

FAPORT International said...

Looks nice, nice blog:)