He referred to me as “chaff on fertile ground” or maybe it was “grain on barren ground.” I can’t even remember, anymore. He once said that I was a rebel without a clue. I guess he was right because I didn’t even know what he meant by that, but I liked it, anyway. I still don’t really know what he meant. I still like it, anyway.
I went and saw a band play last night. It was this chillwave band and they had this funny name about a Middle Eastern burlesque troupe or something. I thought it was funny, anyway. My friend told me it’s postmodern. He kept laughing and referring to absurd things as “late capitalism,” and he sounded so pretentious. He calls himself a communist, though.
His name’s Hendrik. I mean, I call him a friend. I don’t know what counts. He’s very warm, sometimes, but he’s scared, too. I see it. He has big brown eyes that are yellowish around the edges and sometimes they’re greenish. They look like olives and it’s very interesting because he’s German. Well, I guess he’s German. Maybe one of his parents is from further South. I didn’t ask. He goes back and forth between being like that—all concerned about how he looks and his phone and stuff like that—and just being really touchy and genuinely kind. Sometimes, it’s so nice, and sometimes, you remember the other way and it grosses you out a little. You know that feeling you get like your intestines are trying to crawl into your neck? Why do we all have to be so fake? There’s always this little distance. I never really trust anyone. I feel like my mom could eat my baby if it came down to it. Not that I have a baby. I’ve barely had sex. I mean, I’ve had sex—don’t get me wrong—but what I really mean is that it feels like everything’s a competition and everyone’s trying to survive but survival means having a nice apartment and a BMW. People who drive BMWs are almost always assholes. I heard that somewhere. I wonder if it’s true.
There was my friend in New York, though. I mean, I had sex with her. We were more than friends. Were, I say. That was a weird thing and I don’t know how I feel about it. Actually, I do know, but I feel a little guilty for it. The thing is that we had a falling out. Well, I just blocked her on social media is the thing. She sent me an email, but I didn’t read it. The email keeps staring at me and I stare back, but then, there are other emails, so I just open those emails and I click on other tabs. But to be honest, I blocked Lily, so why is she emailing me? Maybe that’s why I’m mad at her in the first place. Not that I’m mad at her. The thing is that I realized how fake she is. I mean, everyone’s fake. Like I said, maybe I shouldn’t be mad at her. And really, I’m not. I’m just upset. And, that means that it’s me that I’m upset with. I know that. I’ve had a lot going on this semester. Anyway, she does this thing that I just find really upsetting.
Sometimes, we’ll get into an argument, and you know, I try and incorporate this Zapatista thing that we learned in class: “Caminamos al paso del más lento,” which means, “We walk at the pace of the slowest.” Basically, if you see that someone needs help, you help them. And, you always be on the lookout. Well, we were talking about this thing and she always just gets mad at me and rolls her eyes. Maybe not mad. It’s worse, actually. She gets annoyed. She assumes that I’m wrong and she just doesn’t respect what I have to say. She doesn’t respect me, which is weird to me. So, she just ends up attacking me and then shutting down the conversation. It seems to me a bit like if someone punched you in the face and then ran away and asked you for a truce, saying that they get overwhelmed and can’t deal with it. What does that even mean? Like, why did you even yell at me in the first place if you were just going to be unfair about it? If you couldn’t handle it, why say anything? Well, not yell, but that’s what it feels like. I dunno. I don’t blame her. It’s just annoying.
Anyway, I was thinking about it and what I noticed is that these things that she cares about are so fake. Like, she only dates other activists, and she wants to live with activists and she wants to run a school, but up in New York. She grew up always around this intentional community and she loves it and it’s basically all her friends, so all her friends that she makes are in these activist spaces, but she doesn’t actually care about anything except for feminism and the environment. It’s just so hypocritical. Like, she’s this rich white girl who grew up with good parents and has good siblings and they’re all nice to one another and they own a business and the dad’s a professor and some of them meditate together, sometimes. Really. Like, somehow, people are supposed to look at her and come to the conclusion that she has some moral authority when all she wants to do is hang out with her white friends in Greenwich Village and deliver soup in recycled containers from the mountaintops of New York and we’re supposed to applause or something. I don’t need friends like that. Her stockings have holes in them. So postmodern. Okay, I’m being mean. Sorry.
Okay, but here’s what happened. The thing was that she was all for Bernie, right? Like, we were all for Bernie. She was really critical of Hillary and we’d had some discussions about it, but then Bernie lost. We were all sad about it, but I hadn’t seen her or talked to her in a few weeks, and suddenly, she was saying how great Hillary was and how Hillary was going to win and how she was #imwithher. I was pretty surprised. I pointed out how there were real problems with Hillary that we should pay attention to. For some reason, she just kinda blew up at me. She talked about how she’s tired of white men telling her how she should think, but that wasn’t what I meant at all. All our mutual friends came to her defense (they’re girls), which is fine, but for some reason, I was surprised that they had to take her side instead of just trying to mediate or something. I mean, I wasn’t mean to her, but she was mean to me, and they took her side. I feel like I was right. I’m not saying that she was wrong, but why am I the bad guy? Anyway, I was a bit heartbroken that Lily was saying these things about Hillary, but I wasn’t trying to tell her how to think. I understand what she meant, but I don’t know why she acted like that. I felt a bit betrayed, even though I realize that wasn’t her intention. At one point, some stranger (to me, I mean; maybe not to Lilly; I dunno) joined in the conversation, and I pointed out how Clinton had been the most corrupt politician in American history, and this other person said that’s absolutely not true. I just said that I’d read that from this Intersectional Feminist blog I read, anyway. Maybe the author was wrong. I dunno. Something about money laundering and dictators and FGM and child soldiers. I’m sorry. That’s super-intense, but it’s just what I read. Don’t blame me. It ended with this other acquaintance of ours saying how people criticizing Hillary were just misogynists and people who want dramatic change just shouldn’t be taken seriously. I wanted to tell her about the Zapatistas, but I didn’t.
The other day, on Lily’s Facebook profile photo, I saw this photo of her looking into the camera with this big, genuinely happy grin on her face, and there was this quotation superimposed: “Vulnerable people get silenced too often. We have to fight to let them be heard.” In all fairness, maybe people wouldn’t view me as vulnerable. I get that, but that’s pretty hypocritical, right? She randomly attacks me and all her friends gang up on me, and she just lets that happen. The other thing is that I was going to be the Secretary in our Feminist group, but Lily’s the President, so she got her friends to agree to kick me out of the position. Well, that’s what it seems like happened. I can’t be sure why they started asking me to give the position to this other girl. It’s weird. Anyway, it’s a good photo of her. Sometimes, when people look directly into the camera it looks so weird and creepy. It almost looks good, but this little thing makes it so uncomfortable. It makes me feel a little sick. But, Lily looks very earnest and kind in that photo. Sometimes, I think of her that way. She can be very generous and sweet, but not in a sorority kind of way or a Georgia kind of way (I mean the state, not the country).
Someone once said to me that the wisest thing someone can do is to observe without making any assessment. For a long time, I figured I should remember that, and then I decided that I didn’t know why I should remember it. I realized that I’m not always good at letting things be how they are, and whenever I realized that, it gained some importance to me. I just think about it, sometimes. That’s how it is with Lily. I don’t know if you know it, but there’s this sad Nick Drake song and I really don’t know it all that well, but this one line always stuck with me—something like Some day our ocean will find its shore. Lily makes me think of that, but in weird ways. Her hair is like an ocean. Her eyes are, too, but in a different way. Even her nose, which is weird, I guess. She feels vast to me. I like her vastness. Anyway, maybe our ocean found its shore, but mine’s off the coast of Lisboa or Normandy or something, but hers is in stupidass New York.
She wants to live in New York for her whole life and always be around people who are just like her and who she’s always lived around. She describes herself as an activist, but she’s never really left the comfort of everything she’s ever known. She’s as active as a dog that never leaves its front porch. That’s how much she cares, even if she knows all the liberal jargon and whatever. She’s willing to save the world, so long as the world comes to her front door, so long as the world looks like and behaves like all her closest friends, and so long as the world doesn’t demand that she sacrifice or do anything difficult. I love her, but isn’t that a bit immature? She’s three months older than I am, but I still think that’s pretty immature. Maybe I’m being the immature one. It’s not like I’m saying all this to her. I’m just upset, so I’m saying it to you. Which is me. I can say it to myself. I forgive myself. I guess I don’t if I have to say it. Oh, well.
She once told me, “Never say more than you have to. But, absolutely always say what you absolutely have to.” I think that makes a lot of sense. I don’t think I’m very good at either, though.
Enough about that, though. I did this super weird thing. I’m still in Europe, you know. Yeah, it’s that time of that year (if you’re looking back at all this or whatever). I decided to just travel around a bit. I’d missed my flight back home, but honestly, I think I did that on purpose. So, what I decided to do was to just travel around by train. I’d never ridden a train. The next train was going from Paris all the way to Vienna, so I went there, but when I got there, it was such a rainy day that I just decided to leave Vienna and the next train from there went to Belgrade. This is super weird. I just decided to go to Belgrade. I was in Belgrade for a few days and it was interesting. Everyone was really grumpy and they seemed to hate me as soon as I spoke English to them, but I don’t really speak any other language. I took some Italian in high school because it was required and I figured everyone takes Spanish. But, I don’t really know Italian well, so it’s not like I could communicate with Serbians by speaking Italian.
Well, there’s this other city in Serbia called Novi Sad, so I just decided to go there and I got in another train. This train is easily the oldest train I’ve ever been on, I’m sure (but like I said, I’d never really been on a train, so maybe more important is that it seemed to be the oldest train I’d ever seen [except maybe the ones they put in museums or spaghetti restaurants]). I’d guess that it was fifty years old. It was very rickety and creaky. The whole time, I felt like it was going to fall apart. There was this girl sitting in this train car that I walked onto. I’ve never really hit on a girl, but she reminded me so much of the only girl I ever really dated—my first love and only love—the one who broke my heart as a starry-eyed, naïve, stupid teenager (I guess maybe I’m still that, but I’m just trying to impress upon you what this is all like). Lily isn’t my first love, by the way. Maybe I love Lily, but it’s not the same. Anyway, this traingirl seemed very gentle and quirky and she was very pretty to me, but not in your conventional way. She had very short hair and I don’t think she was wearing makeup, but I’m no expert, so maybe she was just going for the subtle look or whatever. She was wearing this little sundress, and it was like it matched all the flowers and corn and mountains outside. That’s dumb, I guess, but it really felt that way. She and I kept looking at each other “accidentally.” I had picked a seat right across from her, and after a while, I decided that what I’d do is write this note to her. It was something like “This is very reductive and stupid and unfair, but you give me a very spiritual vibe and I think that I’d like to get to know you, if you wanted. Also, I think you’re pretty, but in a natural way. I don’t think that’s an important thing. It’s not nearly as important as whether or not we’re just humans who could connect with each other, but it’s also true, so I thought I should say it.” And then, I put my name and email address. So, I tapped her on the shoulder and asked her if she spoke English. I could tell right away that she was a little shocked. I told her that this was very strange and I was sorry if I’d startled her, but that I’d written her a note and if she didn’t mind, I’d like to give it to her. She looked at me in this understated—but kind of terrified—look and took the note and said, “Okay,” and she put the note in her pocket. I guess there might’ve been a better way to have done that, or maybe it’s too objectifying or reductive no matter what. I don’t really know. I guess it’s either a good experience or a good story. Someone told me that once. It sounds like something that someone from rural Missouri might say with a toothy grin, but that might mean that it’s basically true or at least wise or something.