8/3/2018: “notes on Jumper”

I view life in stages. I am in the stage where all I feel I have to myself is my room, and even that is a messy, mostly uninhabited space that I vacuum every once in a while. I wake up after drinking and have all but torn it up because I had to open my Gap package when I got home around midnight. I am impulsive this way. I had the impulse to write today.


We listen to Jumper in the car, you do so begrudgingly. We switch the station to the song right before Stephan Jenkins says he would understand. We drove to a restaurant that’s close to walking distance and the luxury of your car provides us with an air-conditioned, serenaded commute. (I feel like using flowery language about you. It means I’m in deep.) You feign disgust while I belt the chorus.

I have such strong memories of that song. It probably has to do with how it was constantly on the radio when I was growing up. Of course I had no clue what he was talking about. People give that band a lot of shit. One of the only times I felt like a partner understood me was when Conor told me that my favorite band was Third Eye Blind, as a declarative statement. I remember him saying all the right things, it’s surprising that that’s all I remember now, considering how wrong we both turned out to be.

I remember it the first time I was gripped with panic for what felt like months at a time, right when high school ended and all my schedules were upended and I was faced with moving to a city I know nothing about outside of music and movies and the promise of money to go to more school. A stage. I remember listening to a band past its prime tell me I could, in fact, leave shit behind. The only times I’d left shit behind, before that, I had my friends drop out from underneath me, I had more people ignore me and talk about me behind my back than ask me what my day is like. Telling me I could cut ties with all the lies I’d been living in, and on that same album, talking about demons in my head I could relate to, speaking a language I longed to hear from absolutely anybody. Then coming to New York, and seeing them play at Citi Field, still alone, before I had any friends, but hearing them play that song and an entire stadium singing it along with them. Hearing an entire stadium sing along with the guitar part in the bridge.

And it just followed me around, like that, and stuck with me right up until I was, in fact, looking down at the East River one day in July 2015. People probably should not stop and do that on the Manhattan bridge but I did. Another stage. I remember that whole summer as though I experienced it in this frame of mind, which is the truth. I envisioned scaling the fence that curved off into nothing, my home and the city at opposite ends of a chain-link spiral. I was on my way to a date (it went poorly), I was in a skirt. Why would I care if someone saw up it as I scaled that fence, why would I care if I cut my hands on the way up? Who would stop me? Maybe it was the heat, I almost blacked out. It was maybe two months after Lowell died. I think the reason I keep reminding myself of that summer, trying to burn it in my memory, is to try and ensure I never get that low again. The reason that song comes back, the reason those words that are as old as I am, is so I can keep listening to it, no matter how many times the rest of America has heard it.

In stages, is how I view things. This is the stage in which I am hanging by a thread to not get so low again, in which I become more trepidatious about the emotional water I have been treading every day. How poorly adjusted am I that when my therapist goes out of town for a month, I fall apart? (It’s not just that; there’s more going on.) I cut my nails in a ham-fisted fashion, I have to make a conscious effort to exfoliate. Self-care has always come second or third or whenever I get to it. This is probably too personal. I don’t care. This is the stage in which I take everything off the wall and reapply whatever actually matters. The stage in which, horror of horrors, I tell people how I actually feel, the stage in which I have us listen to Jumper even if you hate it. The stage in which I pull out all the weeds today, in which I drag myself to the pool even after a work day that starts at 6:30am, in which I tear my room apart to clean it and not just to search for something. Even if it’s hard, even if I stare down that mortal coil every day.


But christ, that melancholy. 

Have you had a weight sit on your chest so firmly that it wouldn’t even move to let you sleep? Pressing into you, while also tightening a vice grip around the back of your neck, while also fogging your memory in a cloud that spins up your hours and days and weeks? Have you honestly ever felt so sad that moments in which there’s nothing at all to be sad about hardly feel real to you? When your sadness becomes an anchor, a home, a hole to disappear into? 

I don’t know if it was solely the sudden death of someone I loved, I think it sparked something else: I started to wonder what else there was besides the dogged pursuit I came to New York for, uprooted my life for. I stopped examining the pictures I took– I composed and tried as hard as I could, but god, so often, then, and so often, now, I couldn’t try. There are things that drive me now, thankfully, and most days are better than others, and I can get out of bed again, but remembering how absolutely, completely down I felt: it was the same kind of dearth you feel when you sink to the bottom of a swimming pool, when you close your eyes and let out all the air. 

And over time I got past it; over time I found victories and joys that did not feel bittersweet because of their infrequency; I formed friendships that have floated me past the sharpest pains; I learned to trust myself more, and grew into a person I mostly favor. Today I bought a swimsuit and a cap and goggles and am going to drag my ass to exercise at least once a week. Today I want to remember trying, so that when I can’t try (which is okay), I don’t feel like I’m never able to.


On the way to Myrtle-Broadway a couple months ago. 

Recently a friend with a master’s degree and a steady salary in a prominent industry was explaining something he thought I was unfamiliar with, how the city will open the faucets on fire hydrants during the summer “in relatively low-income neighborhoods to accommodate for people who can’t afford air conditioning.” He and his girlfriend have an apartment in Midtown. I sat where I was and looked at him, and remembered this picture, and the fire hydrant down the street that was turned on last weekend. “Where do you think I live, exactly?” I asked him. 

Home is an odd concept. I can’t think of living anywhere but my current apartment, but I couldn’t have thought up my current apartment when I was looking for somewhere to live a year ago. Some people I know would have turned down my apartment for differing reasons– the neighborhood, the bars on the windows, the long walk to the L train or any nightlife. But last weekend I got together with some friends and had a garden party in my backyard, an opportunity I am afforded in my apartment, and I felt beyond lucky just to invite people into the place in which I live.

And god do I get tired thinking about change. People around me are uprooting and changing their environments constantly. I imagine quitting my job and becoming an underwear model and I get exhausted thinking about holding poses for too long. Anyone would tell me I need to exercise more, get into a better self-care routine. All I want to do is curl up in my bed, in this neighborhood, where everything outside is supposed to be busy and loud, but somehow knows how to get so quiet that all you can hear are the leaves rustling outside, faraway sirens in the dead of night.

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