The House Party

I see it from outside. Always outside, just a few feet to the right. You’d think I’d be above, looking down, like someone who is dying, or maybe lucid dreaming. But either of those would have been preferable, I guess. It’s funny – it’s the second worst thing that ever happened to my body, and I wasn’t home for it. Just observing.

When I see it, the room is a vacuum. The participants are moving slowly. The (non)air is honey, but honey is sweet in its stickiness. This is just an impediment. Have I slowed it down? Do I think that on one of these visits, time can be altered entirely? Mostly, I view it with a degree of impassivity.

She is young. She’s glowing like a beacon. For those few months after 9/11, her fear makes her stand out. She vibrates with urgency brought on by current events and embroidered lingerie and impending career choices. For the first time, men swarm around her. It is too much. The second breakdown is on the horizon, but right now she doesn’t see it. There’s too much on her. He’s too much on her. She’s choking on the honey. Her mouth is sealed. If only he’d look into her eyes – why doesn’t he see?

He is heavy, a hulking mass of olive skin and tangled black locks. Beer soaks his breath, but in the (non)air between them, this has no meaning. Once, long ago, when air was still a thing, he kissed her until she was nothing and everything. He promised to be her first, though things never work out for fools of 16. Now, with four years between that moment and this, he has forgotten his tenderness.

The weight she once requested is too much. The honey is in her lungs. The last coherent part of her is screaming “NO!”, but you’d have to have her magick to hear it. He is drunk, and slow, and stupid, and soon to be cruel. She is outside now. She is me. I’m watching every second. I’m bathed in shame.

She can’t move. Her arms and legs are useless. Maybe she had too much to drink. Maybe she had the wrong thing. Maybe she was drugged. Her body is choking on fear. Outside her, I writhe with righteous anger. The shame burns away. I have nothing but hate. I will him to look down – look her in the eye. He loved her once. Now what?

He sees. Too late – far too late. He stops. He falls asleep. In a few hours, she will get dressed, then crawl to the bathroom, lock the door, and go to sleep. When she wakes, I’ll be inside again. The anger and shame and fear will braid together, cinching her gut. We will leave the remnants of the house party with best friend, clueless, in tow. We will shoot that stranger, once adored, a sad, small “goodbye”. We will fly back to Louisiana, pet our kitten, hug our friends, keep all of this a secret forever.

I see it from the inside. Who will look me in the eye? What will they see?

Day 21: Remembering

Twelve years ago is a long time. I can still remember what I was wearing that morning – my green 82nd Airborne jacket and a polyester blend tank top with a black back and a camouflage & rose-printed front. I loved that t-shirt, but it was ruined after that day. Like many kids on the Tulane campus, and at other college campuses across the nation, I donated blood for the first time that day and got a sticker for donating. I accidentally washed that tank top with the sticker on it, and forever after, its remnants clung to the fabric as a reminder of the day’s events.

What I remember most, though, is the panic that hit me. I needed to get home. Even though people were freaking out about getting on airplanes, I booked a flight back to NC for the next weekend. Once I got there, I hugged my parents about a million times, called all of my friends, and went to a birthday party where I was taken advantage of in the worst of ways. Relationships were forever ruined. For me, 9/11 represents a complete loss of innocence, and the beginning of my inability to fully trust men again.

But that’s then, and this is now. Now I’m on this quest to lose physical weight, when much of the weight I’m carrying is no doubt that of emotional baggage. I hope that, besides being a place where I chronicle my daily struggles, using C&Q as a place to finally share some of my deepest secrets is going to help untangle the knots in my brain, and let go of some of the bullshit that doesn’t need to be there anymore.

I don’t know how to transition from telling you guys about violation to writing about self-validation, but let’s just call this the transition and move on, shall we?

Today I weighed in at 158.7 lbs. Last night was kind of crazy, in that I managed to run two miles just before heading to a Bikram class. It was an intense time, but I knew I needed to fit it in somehow. However, today I think I’m going to take it easy. I’ve been having trouble sleeping the last few nights, and also haven’t seen very much of The Man. I’m going to go home, have a nice dinner, and hang out with him, then get back to Bikram in the morning.

My first “pre-weight loss” photo shoot with my friend Dave is on Saturday, and I’m excited about that. I’m just putting two-and-two together, but his shoots are always a little risque but sensitive towards his subjects’ comfort levels. It’s really stressful for me to lose layers of clothing in front of his camera, but I trust him. It’s hard to trust him, just because he’s a man, but I think pushing my limits has been helpful. I’m nervous, but the shots are going to be awesome, I know. Here’s one of the shots from the last shoot – it’s hard to believe this is me!

Anna, Leaning - by Dave Rodrigue