Saturday, December 31, 2005

Eloise Absolutely Loves

I haven't had a best friend since first grade. And then, she was my only friend. These days I have piles. I need someone to be best. Someone completely different but just like me. I need another soul that fits my skin.

So I'll tell you what we'll do. We'll go to a supermarket and buy baby carrots, ranch dressing, Capri Sun, and sugar cookies. And then we'll get on a train and go to Saint Louis. It'll take hours, but you're my best friend. Skater K said rent a car. Maybe that. But I've loved trains since I was little, platinum-blonde and blue-eyed. I always wanted to sit on the second level, hand down my ticket from above the condutor's head. They would give me boxes of Good & Plenty.

We're going to the hotel nestled in one end of Saint Louis's Union Station. It used to be the busiest train station in the country. It's a shopping mall now, huge, with marble floors and brick walls and big windows. Would they let minors check in? We can say we're older and laugh our heads off afterwards, in the elevator. You can push every button.

Here's another thing Anna loves: subways. Like trains, but dingier. Down-to-earth, as it were. We'll fix our makeup and promenade all the way back through Union Station and take the Metro to the riverfront. We'll duck into another train, the tiny tram that goes sideways and up to the top of the Arch. Don't think too hard. We're on top.

And we'll do all the normal stuff. The Historical Society. The Old Courthouse and the Old Post Office and the Old Cathedral. What makes a church a cathedral? We can walk - better, skip - to City Museum. I'm growing up too fast when I envy the little kids but wallflower for the sake of expensive jeans. Wear some that don't fit right, and we'll crawl through every tiny dark tunnel like seven-year-olds.

We'll stay up every night and have pillow fights and watch TV. We'll leave wet towels on the bedspread and nose smudges on the window and powder on the bathroom counter. We'll wash our hair and dry it and hate it and re-soak it and do it perfect. You can pick the music, because we love all the same songs.

And oh, expensive jeans! We live in a mall this week, darling, and we're going shopping and buying everything. I do wish I liked coffee, because Starbucks would be like a small heaven. But my best friend is everything I want to be, of course, so we'll sit in the window and watch all the people and I'll buy you any configuration of coffee chemistry you like.

We'll link arms and speak gibberish and laugh because we're looking at each other and fix each other's bra straps and trade clothes and trade names and you're mine. When it's time to leave we'll find the lipstick you thought you lost and my other shoe. We'll stock up on sugar cookies and Creme Savers and go home and never forget. You're my best friend and completely imaginary and we'll be young forever.

You could be my best friend,
Stay up all night long
You could my railroad,
We'd go on and on

- Oasis, "Guess God Thinks I'm Abel"

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Four Thousand "I'll See You"s

I don't know why it took a week short of six months to happen, but today I went down the same street that took me to the airport the day I left for Britain.

Surely I must have travelled that road between then and now, mustn't I? Tell me I must. I've ridden down it so many times in my mind, looking out from the collar of my polo, beneath my I'm-going-to-South-Carolina-let's-buy-a-hat hat. For a June day thinking of July, there's air conditioning and I'm cool. There's excitement in my heart, heavier than the pile of books I dropped on that librarian last spring break, lighter than the little girl who couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve.

It occurs to me now that there's nothing, except all that was part of that trip, that I wouldn't give to do it over again. Of course, because what wasn't part of that trip that I love? Friends and music and late nights and sheer joy.

A world without golden friends could only be as lonely as one of nothing but evergreen. Let me touch green into each dead leaf and put every one back on the trees. I'll breathe on an icicle and scrub every bit of slush from under my fingernails in the melting trickle. If my heart is the only cache, I'll paint the street with blood.

I'll swim, or swallow the ocean and walk. I'm licking my wounds and I'm used to the taste of salt.

She's gone two thousand miles, it's very far
The snow came falling now,
Gets colder day by day, I miss you

I hear people singing,
It felt like Christmastime

- Coldplay covering the Pretenders, "2000 Miles"

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gingerbread Men

To self:
Don't walk,
To Starbucks,
In ballet flats and legwarmers,
Through mud,
Snow, and slush,
In a thin skirt and bitter cold,
When you've always hated coffee.

Hot chocolate does just as well. The partially-decorated Christmas tree is heavy on the front bottom section. My brother is taking a metal detector to his unopened Christmas presents. Cookie-Baking Day, the reason that the Ex-Guyfriend's mother never knew me as any more than "cookie girl", is Monday. Finals are over, as I remembered when I caught myself factoring differences of cubes in my head. Save that for when you're penned up in a pew Christmas morning.

Your friends won't ever hear your prayers for them. I love not being able to get from my locker to the cafeteria without being handed three different kinds of candy canes. No matter how much I aspire to have none, religion affects every part of my life. Just once every year, the least it can do is give me stuff.

In another sense, it's vacation. I've never actually had all three volume controls on my guitar amp all the way up simultaneously. I've got heaps of podcasts I haven't listened to. My closet floor is an explosion of ribbons and hangers. I'm going to fulfill a months-long urge to bake gingerbread men. (The recipe said "gingerbread people".) I'm going to listen to "Hung Up" two or fifteen more times, eat quesadillas, and watch The Return of the Jedi.

Cherish the things you love, right? I'd rather be walking under bright lights in a big city, but when my mouth tastes like egg nog and stollen I can't be quite so bitter.
Oh, when the sunshine beckons to ya,
And your wings begin to unfold,
The thoughts you bring and the songs you sing
Are gonna keep me from the cold

- Oasis, "She Is Love"

Monday, December 12, 2005


I have hair dyed red. I have No. 2 pencils, erasers, and my choice of purses to pack them in. L.A.M.B.? Gap? My British bag? My Taiwanese bag? I haven't studied enough, but I do have peppermints and a library copy of Elephant. Finals week? I am so totally set.


This isn't anything like where I truely want to be. You know I know. Every second I pass through brings me closer to my dreams and death. But everyone is living, all the time.

You know where to find, if not an A+ student, at least a heartfelt hug and a peppermint.

And that ain't what you want to hear,
But that's what I'll do
And the feeling coming from my bones
Says find a home

- The White Stripes, "Seven Nation Army"

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Perhaps you heard me on Friday, griping about the other high school's having a team of Australian basketball players staying with them. Alison had invited me to see a game after school, but walking there in 20-degree weather wasn't appealing.

Hence the impromptu Saturday-night arrangement to see a game between Alison's school and the Australians. This game was being held at yet a third high school, half an hour away. So, Alison, her friend Angela, and I, waited in Alison's room. We read Seventeen, talked about Australia, dogs, matricide, nail polish, and that crazy sign I made for Skater K on Monday night.

Sherry and Dana arrived at last, Sherry's mother being our ride to the distant school. Sherry's mother's van is modified for a wheelchair. Alison and Sherry rode on the floor, an arrangement that did not please the righteous Dana. The van's GPS system guided us to our destination ("Half mile, right turn").

Figuring we'd manage to find the gym, we ducked out like a group of secret operatives and tried some doors. They looked like the school's main doors, but were locked. We got ourselves back into the van and drove around the building. "Maybe those weren't the main doors," reflected Sherry. "Maybe that's just where they like to put their signs."

So we tried some more doors. And then some more. No dice.

More. And some more. Still no dice. So we tried some more.

Alright! It was almost half over.

Halftime. This kid standing around doing nothing started talking to us. He said he was half-Australian, the only the half-ethnicity in his school, no, the only half-ethnicity in the freshman class at his school, no, the only half-ethnicity among his friends. Then he told us that, no, he was "a nobody" and didn't have any friends. He also wasn't sure if he'd been born here or there. Creep. It must have been Sherry's Nerds Rope. Yuck.

In the end, only Alison actually got to talk to an Australian, and hers wasn't much interested. But those other four or five girls - the ones sitting with them, stomping their feet and yelling "whoosh" with every free throw - they created a publicity mĂȘlee after the game. Even though the Aussies lost by some fifty points.

So we waited for our ride home, talking about Shelby on top of a parking garage, hobos with laptops, and why distant vacuums sound like emos singing. The Australians and Americans went out to their buses together. None of the adults looked at us, but almost of all of the players glanced our way. Sherry called, "Bye!" at the Australian team.

One of them said something back, either, "See you" or, "Cheers".