Your Memories on Facebook (Will Fucking Kill You)

Monroe is informed almost weekly of every milestone he ever experienced with his ex-girlfriend. It’s been four years since they first got together, one since they separated. He doesn’t know how to turn these notifications off, though he could probably look it up or ask someone how to do it if he wasn’t such a masochist at heart. Moreover, Facebook assures it’s coming from a place of pure intent by insisting, “We care about you and your Facebook memories. We thought you’d like to look back on this post from four years ago.” Of course, when Monroe had made the post that day in March of 2013, a collage of photos of him and Valerie at a breakfast restaurant he had taken her out to for no particular reason–solely because he was a schmuck in love–he had no idea at the time that Facebook would later torture him so with it. As if to say, “Heheheheh, look how happy you were then. What the fuck’s become of you now?”

That’s what all these memories did. Served to hold up to him a mirror to the past that looked far better–more pleasant–than the present he was currently barely living in. As for Valerie, well, he would never know if she was seeing the same memories on her end of the social media abyss, or if this was something Facebook specifically wished to target him over as a result of the entity’s secret lust over making self-hating people hate themselves even more. Maybe the less you want to look back on something, the more it makes itself known to you, Monroe postulated as he took a screenshot of today’s breakfast memory for the sake of torture’s posterity.

As he did, he rolled back over onto his side in bed and thought back to that day. It was still early in their relationship, when Valerie had seemed to be the one more enamored of him than vice versa. She had taken the week off for the purposes of a staycation in Los Feliz, which she rarely found herself spending time in as a result of her agent’s assistant job being in Century City. Who knew that the strange ether that was Century City would ultimately come to represent where Monroe would rest in Valerie’s heart?–that is to say, a no man’s land rarely thought of unless one was trying to experience the throwback nature of a mall. Monroe worked enough rewriting jobs for screenplays to get by without ever having to leave his apartment on Fountain Avenue (he was pretty sure Marilyn Monroe, after whom his mother had named him) had lived there at one point, too. She really got around in more ways than one.

Valerie had delighted in this potentially fake fact when he told her about it, she herself being a sucker for Old Hollywood. Most people who aren’t from L.A. always are. Monroe was born in San Fernando Valley the same year that Valley Girl came out. It was all, accordingly, blasé to him. Valerie, on the other hand, had come from the deep recesses of Michigan, specifically its capital, Lansing. The only solace and form of creative release she ever received came in the form of weekend trips to Ann Arbor, the New York City of Michigan (or at least the Manhattan, while Detroit was the East New York), some might argue. It was there she became acquainted with the movie houses that would teach her about La Strada, The Seventh Seal, Band of Outsiders and The Apartment. It was thus that she was certain, by the age of fifteen, that she needed to be a part of film, in any way possible and by any means necessary. Her father, Joe (a real Harry Dean Stanton in Pretty in Pink type), didn’t care either way what she did so long as she brought the six-pack with her on her way back home from working her shift as a cashier at the grocery store. Her mother, Leighton, a nurse at the local hospital, felt differently. Part of the reason she had divorced Joe stemmed from his unrealistic aspirations that ultimately only drove him to become an alcoholic. She didn’t want the same to happen to Valerie. But it was too late, Valerie had already escaped into the movies, never to return again. And she would do whatever it took to stay there. This meant saving every penny from her job and applying to every scholarship she could to get the money she needed to go to UCLA.

When she achieved her goal, it was just as good as she thought it would be–even though everyone always tries to tell you that getting something you’ve wanted for so long never feels as satisfying as you expect it to. She met Monroe while he was a grad student in screenwriting. He taught her Introduction to Screenwriting class a few times before disappearing for a while. It was only the following semester that they came to know each other more intimately, after Valerie had been the one to pursue him at a party. He took her back to his apartment, forever on Fountain Avenue, and the rest was history. When Monroe asked her later what had drawn her to him so intensely that night, she admitted, “It was the fact that you used Valley Girl as an example of great scriptwriting, I think. No one ever seems to register that it’s the Romeo and Juliet of the 80s.”

Touched by her response and understanding of his sensibilities, Monroe intuited in that moment that somehow he would be the one to get hurt in the end. But things were running smoothly up to that brunch in March of 2013, after a year of being together. Things began to sour only after Valerie started working longer hours at the talent agency, going well above and beyond the call of duty for her superior, Travis Ebersole, one of the best possible agents to assist for if a girl truly wanted to expand her own list of contacts. Monroe learned just how above and beyond when she told him that she wanted to end it, that she had fallen for Travis and it had nothing to do with the promotion to junior agent she was about to get. At least there had been no photo of the breakup. At least Facebook couldn’t force him to recapture this instant in their relationship timeline.

After the day of the breakfast collage memory, Facebook was quiet for a spell, and Monroe could almost go about his daily writing tasks without wanting to hyperventilate over his loss. But Monroe felt a sharp pang in his heart months later, after a new notification from Facebook informed him of another memory he might like to look back upon. It was as though a culmination of all the constant looking back and screenshotting and recollection preserving had no more room to be contained within himself. In the midst of looking at the photo of himself and Valerie at a wedding in San Diego, he had a heart attack, the first documented case of a death induced by Facebook memory. Meanwhile, Valerie looks at the same picture, shrugs and turns back over to Travis to tell him about a potential client that could turn out to be box office gold. Funny how thoughts of the past can affect two people who experienced it together so dichotomously.

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