If I blow dry my hair long enough, I think I can maybe–just maybe–exorcise the memories of you still left inside of my brain. I like to stand on the cold tiles of the bathroom staring into the mirror at the void that is my reflected self for far longer than is necessary. Thinking, well, nothing. Just letting the refraction of myself slowly fade into a thousand pixelated pieces as I disappear into the nothingness and everythingness of my memories. Memories, of course, primarily of you. I can’t seem to quell them. Because it’s hard not to think about someone that’s so indoctrinated in the fabric of your DNA. Not, for the literal-minded, as a result of being blood-related, but because you got to me at such an early age. Poisoned my brain with your isms and false perspectives to the point of me not even knowing anymore where I began and you ended. I don’t know if I would change anything if I had the chance. To go back in time and warn my more naive self about you. About your penchant for the thrill of the game I eventually came to find out you were playing. The one where you win by overtaking me, toppling me to the ground by being the sole thought that consumes my mind–long after you have since left me to rot on that ground. I wish I would. Instead, I stand here, executing my beauty regime in the hope of somehow being full-stop executed.
I think next I’ll paint on some eyeliner. After I daub another layer of purplish-black eyeshadow onto my lids. I reckon, in some way, I’m trying to make myself look as bruised as you left me. To get the outside to reflect the inside in terms of cultivating the visual of having been pummeled. Yet every day, despite the wound feeling perpetually fresh, I grow more used to it. And it stems directly from the monotonous meticulousness of this grooming routine. Incidentally, the latest eyeshadow palette I bought (after staring blankly at the aisle filled with nondescriptly similar product upon nondescriptly similar product) features a color called Unrequited Love. I favor it heavily. To the point that you can almost see the makings of the bottom of the palette in that circle, whereas the others remain largely untouched. Just like me.
Yet I make myself up as though I am “asking for it.” Preparing to be defiled in some way. For anytime a girl renders herself pristine, isn’t she merely begging to be soiled by the outside world (of men) she encounters? I suppose that’s what I did with you. Even if, when you met me, I was in the gutter looking at the stars. More than just an Oscar Wilde allusion, it’s what I was actually doing. For I had just stumbled out of a bar after employing my usual Jessica Jones shtick of becoming proportionately surly to the number of drinks I had imbibed. Whereas it worked for her, it did not for me. And that was fine. My only real aim was to pass the time. Some thought that wasn’t ultimately what life was all about. That instead, one had to “find their purpose” or “make their meaning” by forcing themselves to be the societally accepted version of “decent” (you know, volunteer, donate money, feel like a failure somehow for not being less fortunate). Life was rigged to make you feel bad no matter what you did. If you were “bad,” you would be punished with judgment and condemnation. If you fell into the trap of what it meant to be “good,” you would always feel as though you somehow weren’t doing enough to be better.
But you, you were never worried about being good were you? You had no qualms about being “who you were.” What’s worse, you actually thought that was good. Even I was duped for a brief period there, after you scooped me up out of the drain and took me back to your place. You didn’t have your way with me that night in what I might have known was a calculated move of “goodness.” You waited for me to make the first move, in an act that I could soon after see exonerated your conscience when you predictably decided you were done with the abstraction called “us.” And since you hadn’t been the one to technically initiate our “tryst” (for I couldn’t imagine you would go so far as to call it a full-blown relationship), it was “on me” that things didn’t work out–for it’s not as though you were the one to start something and not finish it. No, I had started it and now you wanted to finish it.
When it happened, it was just like they depicted in French New Wave movies. You seemed, one day, to wake up and simply be out of love with me. There was no real explanation, no gradual build toward the fallout. Just a casual mention at the table over coffee, “I think I’m ready to go to India now. I’ve decided to leave next week.”
My heart sank into the cereal I had just poured, ventricle blood coalescing with milk, as I imagined it. Though I knew your plans for departure didn’t include me based on the blunt way in which you had phrased it, I pitiably and plaintively asked, “Oh. Can I come too?” Even though I was overburdened in my job as an underpaid lackey at the last travel magazine that still somewhat paid their employees (or existed at all for that matter). It was doubly ironic, then, that I suddenly realized I didn’t even have a passport. So even if you hadn’t said, “No, Jamie, you can’t. This is the end for us. I’m starting a new journey. On my own,” it’s not as though I would have been able to accompany you in a timely manner. By the time I had paid the extra money to expedite the passport process, you would have likely met someone else anyway. Still, it would have been nice for you to at least play along with my charade, to say something like, “If you think you can manage to get some time off…” Yes, something–anything–that was conciliatory enough to make me believe you still cared.
Then again, perhaps you thought lancing the boil that was me ought to have been preferable to teasingly peeling the scab off. Of course, it wasn’t, and you eventually had to stamp me out altogether by blocking me. I got too overt with my emotions, after all, and that can be quite unpleasant for a bloke doing his best to “soul search” by way of forgetting all the unwanted elements of the recent past. So I suppose, in a sense, you lobotomized me by blocking me. I, in turn, wield my hair dryer as a means to blow my brains out every time I step out of the shower.