When I'm going through any major transition in my life (either good or bad) there are always two common denominators, music and underwear.
Music There is always a singular album (just leaked or something old that I've fallen back in love with). I can pinpoint entire albums that helped me get through shit. The Initial Friend EP Rilo Kiley got me over my first real heartbreak. Owen's I Do Perceive was the catalyst for my first real breakup. Land of Talk's Some are Lakes helped me when my mom went to rehab, and now it's Beach House's Teen Dream that has been easing me through this hard MOTHERFUCKIN time. But woe is life, and I always get through it, but I'm thankful that I've got music there, always backin me up.
Underwear I always find that buying sexy new underthings never hurt anybody. There's something refreshing about picking out a little lace here, maybe you'll stumble across a 5 for $25 deal or something, you never know. I read somewhere that when every relationship ends you should treat yourself to all new panties, throw out the old ones along with the old memories. The french have an entire concept about underwear and perfume being the very epitome of femininity. Personally, I like the feeling of knowing I've got it going ON underneath my BDBG jeans. Even if nobody is going to see them (let's be real here) it's still cool to know that if Mike Rowe just so happens to be waiting in a utility closet, he wouldn't be disappointed. /End sexual fantasy.
I serial-dated girls with dark hair and brooding temperaments who rolled their eyes at the slightest of irritations. Normal boys longed for golden-0haired girls in stonewashed jeans, Not me. I was turned on by pale-skinned women who talked about death and would likely grow up to shoplift.
I bought this book as an early Christmas present to myself. It arrived two weeks late. The book is a compilation of a few writers talking about mix tapes from their past lovers. Each story is unique and interesting, bittersweet with a track list posted on the side. My own similar "mix tape from an ex" is a little complicated, kind of embarrassing, but in true Erica Moreno fashion I'm not one to pass on an opportunity to make fun of myself.
I was almost always the mix maker. I would sit at my computer for hours trying to put together something so beautiful and perfect, something so special that the person on the other end would fall madly in love with me. I would spend hours on the track list, perfecting my fancy cursive, cutting out scraps from magazines and drawing little swirls with sharpie paint pens.
There was a mix I made for an older lacrosse player at my school. He had shaggy hair and kind of a wide nose. For some reason I was crushing pretty hard on him. I made him a mix with all this "obscure indie" (think the entire Garden State soundtrack and like, two or three Metric "Old world Underground" jams.) I slipped the mix into his locker slot (romantic, right?) and waited for him to sign onto aim instant messenger to profess his love to me. Instead, he imed me to say "hey, that one band The Shins is fucking cool," I bit my lip, placed my fingers on the home keys, I typed "yeah, ha, they rule!" This was the list time we ever spoke.
Then there was the mix I made for my "first real boyfriend" in high school. This means this boy actually muttered the words "hey.. will you be my girlfriend?" on New Years eve, actually. I shook my head of curls and smiled, "Yes! Of course!" I would make him barrels of mix tapes during our hot n heavy two week long relationship. We mostly talked on the phone and hugged each other in the hallways. He slipped me the tongue ONCE. I introduced him to The Magnetic Fields, Metric, Modest Mouse, and The Good Life. I remember "Album of the Year" by The Good Life was "our song." A few weeks after we broke up I overheard him talking about "how The Magnetic fields are so fucking cool" in our homeroom.
I wanted to vomit and call him THE FUCK OUT, I introduced him to all that shit! Before he knew me this clown listened to Dave Matthews band, but instead I just went back to chewing on my nails or something.
The pattern (as you can obviously see) was always me trying to trap boys into falling for me, via music. I never thought that my personality or undeniable charm would do the trick, no, no it was a piece of plastic with a ribbon and something witty scribbled on the front in sharpie.
I would make my girlzz mixes as well, but those were less thought out and usually thrown together by chance. I don't think either one of those bitches necessarily enjoyed or appreciated my talent either.
The saga continues..
But then there was one boy. George. George was a year younger than me (I was sixteen) and he was fifteen and a half. He was taller than me which was why I noticed him in the first place. He went to a private school and had conventionally good looking features, freckles and green eyes. Black hair. My mom really liked him, which still to this day is a world record.
We were introduced by a friend of a friend, and took to chatting on instant messenger after school. And then, during a conversation about how much I loved Rilo Kiley George asked "hey, would you like me to make you a mix?" I remember starring at the screen and thinking "ohhh shit" no boy had ever so much as handed me a pot to piss in at this point, so of course I typed back "yeah! of course!"
I think we met up at a local show or something, exchanged mixes. His was perfect, track list and everything, all this new indie music that I'd never heard of. This would start off a month long relationship of mix making. He would make me about one a week and somehow find a way to give them to me. I could feel that he was sort of falling for me, but I tried to just write it off as us being friends. I had my eyes cast on someone even taller, some guy who was way older. George was just too sweet, did too much for me, he was just a baby. But his mixes, goddamn, they were perfect.
Spring came and George told me he was going on a trip to Europe. I pretended to be excited for him. One day after school I had a headache and decided to lay down. I was mid-dream when my mom came into my room and said "Erica, George is on our front porch wearing a suit." Cranky and frantic I ran down the steps, and sure enough, yeah there was George, wearing a fucking suit.
"What are you doing here?" I shouted. I know the words came out more cruel then they were intended. I wasn't used to be surprised, I didn't like surprises. I was the one who surprised people, not wearing a suit, but none the less this was reversing the roles for me. His eyes were cast low "I just wanted to give you some stuff before I leave, to let you know I'll miss you." I felt my stomach drop to my toes, I was such a bitch to him. If you're somehow reading this George I'm really sorry.
He handed me two mixes, some of my favorite paint pens and some other miscellaneous things he knew I liked, because unlike every other guy he'd actually taken the time to listen to me when I talked. I hugged him goodbye, told him I'd miss him and thanked him for coming. His shoulders were stiff and the polyester of his collar rubbed my cheek. He smiled half heatedly but he now knew how I felt, he didn't even have to ask.
I went up to my room and popped the one mix in, the lyrics You remind me of home: the paint cracks when the water leaks from the rusty pipes that are just beneath my feet You remind me of home: the heater's warm but fills the room with a potpourri of dust and gas fumes Ben Gibbard's voice made it all so clear to me, I fucked up a good thing.
But it was too late, he'd already left and I felt awkward. My skin felt itchy. I later apologized to him, told him how much the mixes and him showing up really meant to me. He seemed ok with it, but I knew he wasn't. He left for Europe and I received two postcards, One from Barcelona, Spain and another from somewhere in Paris. The Paris postcard was written entirely in French, as the Barcelona postcard was in Spanish, so I had no idea what either of them said.
When he came back we set up awkward small talk here and there, but deep down I knew I'd broken his heart. Maybe not in the way you break someone's heart when you're a little older, but I was his first real crush (so I felt) and I wasn't every nice. I still feel kinda bad about this.
Anyway, the mixes live on. I still have countless track lists and cassettes/cd's stuffed in an empty wine box under my bed. When I stumble across them I always end up smiling. The last time I facebook lurked George he'd found a really nice girl, hopefully one who appreciates him for the musical mastermind that he truly is.
There comes a time in a young woman's life where she begins to reflect on all her past lovers. All the people she's kissed, dissed or even held hands with. There are other things people do when they're a bit older, but we won't mention those things here. I keep thinking about how for some reason the ones who chose me, were never good enough. They were too boring. The boys who brought me mix tapes and ice cream to my front door, the boys who told me I was beautiful and to keep my curls, those were the boys I never bothered with. I tossed them aside like a bra with a broken clasp.
I pursed my lips out to the men who told me I should change my hair, the men who told me I talked too much. The men who watched my mouth move and never noticed the gap between my teeth, they were focusing in on my glittery chap stick. I put on too much makeup for these men, made them mix tapes that they tossed under their beds. Their stubble would irritate my chin, they would kiss my neck too hard and always asked me why I had a curfew. They never wanted to buy me limeade or hear about my childhood.
There was one guy who sticks out like a sore thumb. We'll call him E. E was a tortured soul from the wrong side of the tracks, he loved Elliott Smith (ha ha) and listened to Bright Eyes. He was 6'1 and thin, wore skinny jeans and was in some local band. He had big green eyes and wore thick black Buddy Holly glasses. All these things would classify this dude as a straight up dork, but he somehow inherited one of the biggest egos (still to this day) of anybody I have EVER met. This guy thought he was gods gift to women. It didn't matter that he was terribly awkward in social situations, that he could barely work up the courage to grab my hand when we were alone. His tongue was clumsy in my mouth and his lips were chapped. It didn't matter that he often wore band t shirts that were too small for his long torso, he thought he was the shit so I damn well believed him.
So the night when E asked for my number, as you can only imagine, I was a puddle. I took to his bullshit like a kitten with a saucer of milk. After all I was only 16, and nobody told me that if it sounds too good to be true, it fucking is. I found out the hard way that he had about 3 other girls (a blond, a brunette, and even a redhead) who he was recycling around to entertain himself. When I called him out, he of course denied it, told me he was "falling in love with me" (ha ha) and tried to string me along some more. After a few sappy aim conversations I decided this was just too exhausting for my own good. I reminded myself that he had buckteeth and wasn't that great of a kisser, all of this reasoning helped, but I still couldn't help but feel this little bolt of electricity whenever he looked over at me at a show. I'd keep eye contact for a few seconds then break it abruptly, letting him know that I wasn't going to change my mind.
Attraction is such a tricky little bitch, you honestly never know. I've had men who I wouldn't think for a second I'd want to jump into the sack with, but once they give me this little look and suddenly the pilot light is on and your cheeks are rosy. At 21 I still don't understand how this works, maybe one day I'll figure it out. If I don't I'll just remember it all and keep writing it down, Kiss by Kiss.
I've been finding reasons to stick around at work longer. Cleaning the floors, gathering the dog towels. Sometimes I'll sit on the floor and clean all the dog brushes, one by one until they're all neatly stacked in the drawer and there's a huge pile of multicolored dirty hair in a pile. I'll read a book on the front couch while the sun is warm on my face, my dark brown eyes melting between the pages. My jeans are itchy with dog hair but I still can't go home, not yet. It'll be obvious to my mom that I'm stalling and she'll remind me what time it is, Oh yeah jeez I just got wrapped up in my book, and I'll grab the car keys and drive home.
I keep counting down the days until I'm back in school. Surrounded by books and people who won't ask me how my family is, people who won't judge me based on my brother's actions. Away from the condescending emails of my biological dad, away from the sad text messages from my step dad saying he misses me and hates working nights. I really love him, it's funny to think that at 21 we're finally becoming close. At night I drive around and listen to familiar songs that make me feel warm. They fill my blood like hot chocolate and leave my mouth feeling sweet. A song reminds me of a boy who held my face so close that I thought he was going to swallow my breath. He brushed my cheek so gentle, and kissed me very soft, the song Slumbering Heart by Rilo Kiley was playing on his dashboard and my hands were shaking. I had fruity gum in my mouth and he didn't have any, but he didn't need any either.
I look at all the Christmas lights and wish we had a tree. I could put up my own hello kitty lights in my room but those remind me of something I'm trying not to think about right now. So I turn my space heater on and I write, or I read. Sometimes randoms will text me and this is a nice distraction. I don't get phone calls anymore, so I usually read to the point of exhaustion so I won't have to think about this.
All my dogs snuggle up against my legs and I scratch my scalp, my hairs getting long and I'm looking washed out. My mom tells me my hairs too dark. When I'm stressed out (which is often these days) I bite down (hard) on my bottom lip. While brushing my teeth I notice my peppermint tooth paste is stinging the inside of my lip. I lean into the mirror for inspection, I count tiny indentations from my crooked top teeth, I make a mental note to cut this shit out.
You remind me of home: the paint cracks when the water leaks from the rusty pipes that are just beneath my feet You remind me of home: the heater's warm but fills the room with a potpourri of dust and gas fumes
You remind me of home: a broken bed with dirty sheets that creaks when I am shifting in my sleep You remind me of home: in a suburban town with nothing to do, patiently waiting for something to happen But the foundation is crumbling and becoming one with the ground while you lay there in slumber... You're wasting your life.. wasting.. your life.
You remind me of home: sitting on a thrift store couch, I'm trying to get this all down
When I think about my childhood a few things come to mind; cream dried beef on toast, waking up cold, the big bathroom on Main street, and walking to school every morning. There were high ceilings and the radiator clanked and spewed black smoke in the winter. Fights echoed through the wallpaper next door and our landlords daughter was once found wandering in the middle of the street, at 2a.m with just a diaper on. The smell of coffee in the morning and my mom always working late. My step-dad brushing my hair and always putting in a bow my Nana had snuck into his back pocket, specifically for me. Our neighbor, Kris, who practically raised my brother's and I with her chubby face and shirts tucked into her high wasted jeans. She had a huge St. Barnard named Charlie, he wore a baby's bib to catch all his slobber. We would play video games when it was cold, and walk to the general store on the corner when it was warm. I once bought my mom cigarettes when I was 9, nobody cared in that neighborhood. The same corner store got robbed and the bread prices went up. Sometimes my brother Ian and I would take a shortcut through the graveyard on our way to school, he'd hide behind the tombstones and whisper "this is where Grandpop Joe sleeps." I would look out my window at the busy street at night and hope to see my mom walking home, but most of the time I'd just catch the neighbors fighting in the streets. My best friend, Ashley, lived with her grandmother at 343 East Main. Her grandmother was very small and had a toilet in the living room. I once choked on a tic-tac in their living room and her grandmother screamed from the couch, with a bottle of wine between her legs, "Just fucking swallow it!" She smelled like mothballs and always baked diabetic cookies. Her kitchen had a very low ceiling. They crushed cans in their mudroom and had a huge garden, this convinced me that they must be rich. Her grandfather was the Mayor of our town, and his power scared me. He was named Oak and had a mean, crinkly face. His heart stopped in the bathtub and Ashley didn't speak for a few days. She told me her grandfather was a ghost. I asked her grandmother if he was buried across the street, with my Grand pop, and I made her cry. Ashley and I would hide in the attic whenever her grandmother cried. She'd become sad and turn the tv up too loud. We'd run up the cracking steps, coming to a curl at the foyer where we'd open up the attic door. We'd both scream "HONEY, I'M HOME!" There was a bed (reminded me of the bed from Bed knobs and Broomsticks,) and a few boxes as well as an old television set. The boxes had all her grandmother's old clothes, beautiful feathered hats and antique gowns. We used to pretend this was our apartment. I once kissed a framed picture of her half brother. Ashley told her brother (he was about 20 at the time, me being 10 or 11,) and her brother blushed, kissed my cheek and whispered "you're going to be a stunner when you're older." He was my first *kiss* and we found out years later that he was a heroin addict. He's buried across the street, with Ashley's grandfather. 334 East Main Street.
I haven't been able to write for a few weeks. Whenever I get sad my fingers freeze up. I get frontal headaches that make my heart race. My anxiety starts to trickle out in unconventional ways, at work when the phone's keep ringing, when the trash starts to pile up in my bedroom. I can't sleep, music has no sound, and nobody can hear me when I say "something's wrong." I've been saying this for a good year now, this isn't how I wanted it to be. I feel like instead of progressing, I'm just slowly deconstructing. Sometimes I wish I could be the girl who just goes to a party, has a couple of drinks and feels better. But I'm not that girl. I'm not even a girl anymore, I'm a motherfucking WOMAN which freaks me out even more! I'm trying to make plans (in between working constantly and drinking tons of DARK chocolate hot coco,) and with each setback I just keep getting more pissed off. I'm throwing my hands up to the fates and hoping this will work out, that I'll figure all of this shit out. I need to stop worrying about hurting other people, they're the ones who aren't giving me what I want.
Sometimes I really want to get married. I want the white dress, the ring on the left hand. I want to smile in all my wedding pictures showing all of my teeth (even the front left tooth that's a little crooked.) I want to wear a wedding dress without the itchy kremlin underneath, I want my best friends to cry because I look like an angel. Suddenly after years of convincing myself that I'd never get married, never have a wedding, officially at 9:32PM on December 2nd I have changed my mind. I want everything a story book can promise/ end delusions.