“Blue Jets” on white brick walls, in different shades of blue.
I drop my head and watch grey sneakers wade through red-blue patterns on the floor. My heart starts rising up a little, knocking into chest bone as it anticipates the bell. I know it’s hoping I’m already sitting when it strikes.
There are voices coming from everywhere, fading in and out, and normally, they’re just there… but they’re changing now, going strange.
I jolt my eyes up in time to catch the blurry, slow-motion play of two tall bodies slamming into lockers. Someone else who’s seeing what I’m seeing laughs, sounding like a tropical bird, while several others let out gasps and shrieks. I smell iron, like a vitamin, and sweat, like my dog when it rains, and there’s now blood on the red and blood on the blue and a bright wet red on my black leather jacket.
My creative writing class was asked to write about Banks High School. The school’s been closed and vacant for I don’t know how long (five, ten, twelve years) and Urban Studios is currently researching ways of revitalizing the space. I believe their proposal (which is going up for a vote next week) is to turn it into a vocational school with a shared work space onsite (a collective of sorts that offers classes and tools for rent). Pretty cool! I’m excited for folks in that area.
“But old students of the school are sad that it’s changing… going away, in a sense,” my professor explained. “So I’d like for you write about the school as if you had been a Blue Jet. Reflect on what it was like to be there in general, or pull us right into a moment that took place within those walls…”
So I googled the school’s colors and then wrote about something I’d witnessed at my own high school: two boys beating each other up in front of a locker. And while I had gotten blood on me in real life, it had splashed onto my shoe — not my jacket. It was extremely unsettling, regardless.
Also unsettling: Dating a boy who couldn’t date just me. Growing closer to and fonder of someone who I knew would be seeing other people both before and after me (and, inevitably, comparing me to them) was just too anxiety-inducing (and demoralizing). So I called it off with Captain Kangaroo last night and then wandered around a thrift store, holding old sweaters close and trying to keep a straight face until I made it out to my car, where I cried and cried and cried. I don’t want to date anymore, you guys. It stinks. It MAJORLY stinks. I just want to hold someone’s hand and know they’re not wishing they were with someone else, someone different… someone exciting and cool and – in some way – better.
I’ve had two dreams recently that I’d like to share.
The first dream was from two nights ago. I was looking out a window when a truck pulled up, one with a trailer hitched to the back. A dad and two kids spilled out of the car — all smiles, all happy. When my eyes drifted to the trailer, I saw a deer lying sideways, a red wound on its back. I understood that it had been shot, and I also knew – from the rising and falling of its chest – that it was still alive. I cried. Heartbroken.
I left the room and entered another where someone asked me what I was doing. “I don’t want to be a distraction,” I said, thinking of my emotions and knowing they were different from other people’s somehow. I tried to drink cold water and felt like it was freezing in my throat.
The second dream was of my brother. I was in a house that was full of people — I think they were having a party of some kind. I’m not sure what I was doing there.
But when someone brushed past me, moving from this room to another, they put their arms on my shoulders as a way of greeting me. I looked up and saw those old green eyes: Bobby.
“I have something for you, sister,” he said, smiling — the sound of his voice was like magic, “and I can’t wait forever to give it to you.” I felt warmth, love, goodness, and an ancient sense of home that’s hard to describe. I also knew – intuitively – that he had been waiting to give whatever this was (information? insight? peace?) to me for a while. And then I woke up.
During my waking life (earlier this week), a close friend asked how the novel was coming.
What novel? I asked her, thinking she probably meant Jinx while also knowing that she knew I’d already published it.
The one about your brother, she said.
I was shocked; I haven’t spoken of that novel in years because it’s been years since I worked on it. Right now, it’s just a dauntingly huge draft — this long stream of scenes and memories. But two weeks ago, the idea entered my mind that I needed to revisit it; then, I dreamt about Bob having something for me; and THEN, this friend randomly asked about the book. TWO DAYS ago.
Holy shit, I thought. Is that what it is?
I’m heading up to Denver for Thanksgiving; while I love my family very much and would love to see their faces again, I also know myself: Solitude is what I need most right now.
My best friend Charlie is flying up there with me and then we’re both going to do our own thing; he’s got plans to hang out with his long-time pal (a cool writer dude) while I’ll be packing a picnic, renting a car, and driving up into the mountains. I dreamt about this river a while back and I just can’t wait to be with it.
I’m also going to work on this book about Bob and me and try to be okay with still being alone, because I’m discovering – the longer I am alone – that I am so incredibly strong, you guys… and I know that someone will eventually see me – just me – as being enough. Because I am enough, and I know that I am. I am more than enough, actually, and it feels really good to say that.
Before I go (I know — this post has been all OVER the place), there’s something else I wanted to mention about Urban Studios (that place my creative writing class visited last Thursday).
While we sat in a circle and critiqued stories, I sipped hibiscus tea and let my eyes roam a little, noticing things about the room. What intrigued me most was the idea behind the pictures and sketches that were taped to the wall.
“They’re all black and white,” the architecture program guy explained, “because I don’t want the students getting distracted by how beautiful these buildings are. Colors make them too interesting. I don’t want anybody fawning over a doorway, or a staircase, and then getting too attached to it — trying to recreate the same old design. I need them to dissect each building from top to bottom, in an objective manner, so they’re able to clearly discern what worked well and what didn’t and then create something good, unique, solid…”
I already felt like crying, because I knew what was coming. I had to take the boy with a purple-indigo spirit, grey-green eyes, and brown hair and take him apart in my mind. He was too beautiful, too colorful for clarity, and I needed to deconstruct him piece by piece so that I could see him clearly — like: you are flesh, and blood, and bone. You are smart, and familiar, and interesting, and magical, but you are also scared, and you are also hiding, and you are also looking for someone who isn’t me. Because if it was me, you’d know; you’d just KNOW. You would see it, weird and sudden and scary as it is, as clearly as I see it.
But he doesn’t see or feel what I do. And that’s okay. I took his colors away and made him black and white… taped him to a wall and then left the building, because I obviously need to create or find or imagine something else with someone else. If I were to bottle my feelings up in a song (which I did), it would be this one; but if I were to convey them using another artist’s song, it would be this one.
Still here (with this tortuously sensitive soul that I wouldn’t ever actually want to change),