It was folklore, I realized, that anything could last past midnight. When the clock ticked over the one, two, and my heart suddenly paused, I felt my legs extend. Those shoes would no longer fit. My dress was ripping at the seams.
I was fourteen and my lungs were already contaminated with cigarette smoke. She and I would stand at the foot of my driveway, sneaking pulls of Newport shorts. We’d lay on our backs and watch the clouds flutter over head. They moved too quickly for me. I’d always feel nauseous afterwards.
In 2006, I graduated high school and felt the world peel apart like an orange. The sweet citrus sting of finding myself moved me in ways I’m not sure I can write out. It felt the way a green onion does when it’s plucked from the dirt. It felt the way swallowing pool water does. It felt like frostbite without an amputation.
A Brooklyn summer. The pavement sizzling hot and the soles of my Converse melting like a cherry Twin Pop. July 4 was three days away and my mom would coo to me that my skin was too brown. She’d freeze Aloe Vera and I’d run the cool cubes over my sun burns. I’d feel the pinch of having sex anonymously at night. During the day, I’d nurse a hangover in my backyard, Better than Ezra, Third Eye Blind, Incubus. I was eighteen and I wasn’t ready.
21 and I’m blacklisted from every bar in town before I can order a drink. An old classmate pours me a whiskey shot and I sip it, not ready to feel out of control, not sure if I can hold it together near the back dumpster. The stars look like ice up there in the sky. I’m thinking of how I miss the way I used to lay on my back, and suddenly I am, his hands cupping my surgical breasts and his penis penetrating me like I need conquering. Maybe I do. Maybe I’m still undiscovered.
24 and I’m married and I’m hurt and my friends are having babies. I learn the hard way that it won’t come easily to me. Spring twirls around New York but never settles.
It’s nice today. This year is the worst year of my life.
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