[Previously on The Diary Project: I met a boy in a bookstore, Bradley. He lived in Alaska, I lived in New York. We wrote each other letters. We got all smitten. I visited him in Alaska. I came home to New York with a broken heart. Great, we’re all caught up now.
Here’s the thing. Brad and I had a close friendship before things got romantic. And when things didn’t work out in Alaska because he wasn’t ready for a serious relationship or whatever, I told him how important it was we maintain the friendship. I even told him, “I’m going to need you to get over you.” (Yes, I said those actual words out loud; I was a melodramatic 18-year-old goth, what do you want?)
We stayed in touch after my Alaska visit (which was in April), and he had a trip planned to New York in May. We were supposed to hang out and possibly try to get tickets to Saturday Night Live because The Cure was the musical guest. It all sounded like a decent consolation prize considering my broken heart. I was actually really excited for his impending visit, despite its platonic implications…]
May 11, 1996
Saturday. I’ve been hanging out at home by myself. Hopefully, I’ll go out tonight. I’ll call Chad in a couple of hours to find out if he can go to the Batcave (a friend’s band is playing).
Brad was supposed to arrive on Wednesday. I wouldn’t know if he actually did because I haven’t heard from him. (And tonight The Cure are appearing on Saturday Night Live—he mentioned how he’d love to try to see them).
At first I was extremely upset and angry. Well most of the depression is gone now (thanks mostly to my mother, her healing powers got rid of a lot of stress and negativity). So it’s predominantly anger now. I’ve tried to reason that maybe he didn’t bring my phone number, but I realized that he knows my address by heart, so he should have tried to track me down by now. And if he does have my number, then he is purposefully avoiding me.
[Let’s talk about Mom’s psychic and healing powers… I do believe they’re real, to an extent. Sometimes I believe more than other times. In my late adolescent and early adult years, I believed in them a lot more. I needed to, especially when at the mercy of a big, bad broken heart. I don’t recall exactly what this ritual involved, but there were definitely candles, and possibly an egg.]
The more I think about it, the more pissed off I get. I hate the feeling I get every time the phone rings (at this point I don’t even know what I’d say if he did call or show up). He has never been this inconsiderate before.
I don’t know if he understands how much this has hurt me. Now I’m not hurting anymore as much as seething. I don’t care what personal shit he has to work out, this is just incredibly rude. Especially after I flew all the way out there to visit him. I even made him an in-flight package a couple of weeks ago. And in his last e-mail to me he wrote: “see you in a few.”
[Before I flew out to Alaska, he sent me a package for the long flight, with a couple of books, and I’m not sure what else—probably candy and a mix tape. So I did the same thing before his trip to New York. While we didn’t make a concrete plan stating when/where we were going to meet, in my mind, there was no question that we’d see each other.]
True, he didn’t specify days. It could be months, years. This thing is, he knows how much I care about him. If that freaks him out, fuck it. It’s not right to say he owes me, but there is a factor of having decency, common courtesy.
It’s upsetting to know I’m not a priority, it fucking hurts. At least it did. I don’t want to let it hurt anymore, he’s the one in the wrong, he should have the pain. I have never before wanted to call him a bastard but I can’t help it now.
It’s awful because I held the trip to Alaska in such good light, but this… turn of events has tinged it with bitterness. It’s sort of tainted the beauty of those memories.
I’m not going to rationalize this further or make excuses or anything. The only thing that scares and infuriates me more than my inner debate of whether I will forgive him or not is the very realistic possibility that he may not come asking for my forgiveness. We’ve dealt with everything so openly up to this point. I can’t take this bullshit. It makes me want to throw things. Bastard.
And this is where I recall that thing 18-year-old me said: “the person capable of making you feel great joy is also capable of the opposite.” Welcome to the opposite.
Being stood up is the worst. Because at first, you’re not even sure you have a right to be upset. What if the person standing you up got hurt? What if there’s some other kind of emergency? At first, you’re worried. And that worry never fully goes away if you don’t hear anything, but it’s mixed in with a cocktail of other emotions. There’s disappointment, of course, and varying doses of anger, maybe embarrassment. Sometimes there’s even a dash of shame, that you must matter so little to the person standing you up, you don’t even merit the flimsiest of excuses. Unfortunately, this wouldn’t be the last time I experienced being stood up, but it was the first, and by someone I cared about, so it hurt like hell. It was like being rejected by him all over again. And it wasn’t even the regular sick feeling of being stood up once, at a specific time. He was in town for at least a week, so it was like being stood up for days on end, over and over again. I was crushed and questioned what I might’ve done wrong (did I miss signals that he didn’t want me in his life any more?). I even visited the bookstore where we met, on the off-chance he might show up there at the same time again (he didn’t).
Looking back on it now, maybe it would’ve been worse if we saw each other again during that time. I was eagerly anticipating his visit, but maybe too eagerly. Maybe in the back of my mind (not that far back, even) I was hoping it would reignite something romantic. But even if it didn’t, he was an important part of my life and having our friendship continue meant a lot to me. Having him disappear on me like that was like having the floor drop out from beneath me. It took my heartbreak to this whole other level. Maybe because that thoughtlessness removed the bit of hope I nursed that we’d get back together (if you could count us “together” in the first place, considering the distance). Maybe because it opened up a delayed reaction to dealing with the end of our relationship. In any case, while I vented a lot of anger in my diary, there was still plenty of grief, too, and dark emotional issues I’d be dealing with for a long time to come.
April 2, 1991
Nobody understands me! At least my parents don’t. They don’t understand that some things I want might seem minor to them but are important to me.
I really hate being so restricted! I know my parents love me, want the best for me, etc., etc., but they just don’t understand! (I know I’m being repetitive, but it’s for emphasis.)
It’s really strange, but by restricting me, they just force me to rebel. I don’t even feel guilty when I rebel, because I feel this is what my parents brought me to, so I feel justified.
Let the teenage clichés begin! The post above undoubtedly had to do with my parents infringing on my freedom in some way. At one point, when my grades started slipping, they forbade any social activity during the week. What they didn’t realize is that my grades started slipping because I was unhappy and lonely and thoroughly unmotivated to excel at school. They didn’t know that I was being teased by my classmates and getting into fights on the bus. They just knew what the report cards told them. Luckily I had my journal to vent my frustrations. Which I did with posts like these:
April 12, 1991
MY FUCKING PARENTS ARE MAKING MY F$%*ING LIFE A F#^&ING PRISON AND I DON’T EVEN F@*$ING DESERVE IT!
Wednesday, Jan. 16, 1991
I can’t believe this is happening, but a war has begun. The middle east is involved. I am so thankful that I have no relatives or friends fighting in this war. God, I really want peace for our world. I don’t want people to die. I don’t think that problems should be solved with death or violence.
[Trite much? Let’s be honest. I did not follow the Gulf War, and was one of the least political teenagers you could have known in the early 90’s. You want to know what inspired the above paragraph? Hearing George Michael’s “Praying For Time” playing over recorded messages to the troops from their families on the radio. No, really.]
I am such a hypocrite! Here I am saying that problems should not be solved with violence, when I go around hitting people all the time. Sometimes actions speack louder than words. Maybe war is the best thing for us after all. My father said that the only to have peace is to be prepared for war. Maybe he is right. I hope this war is over soon.
[There was a second, much smaller war going on, taking place on a small yellow bus during trips between Brooklyn and Manhattan. To be exact, the private bus my parents made me take because they thought the subway was too dangerous for their 13-year-old daughter (insert eye roll here). There were a handful of boys on the bus who teased me, and the verbal sparring became physical sparring. I’d punch or scratch them, they’d punch me back (never in the face, mostly in the arms). While I was still sharpening my acerbic wit, I had my trusty nails which were plenty sharp. Since I couldn’t reciprocate the mental anguish back then, I had to work with what I had. Considering all the violence I was wrapped up in at the time, how could I resolve these conflicting feelings about war and its role in society? I really couldn’t, so the safest thing to do is to go back to talking about boys.]
Well things are so-so for me right now. Nothing too bad (excluding the war) or good is happening to me right now. I have no idea who I like. I think that I don’t like Tyler, but I just like to flirt with him, and smack him around a little.
[There, isn’t that much better? And as much as I might sound like a bully, I have to stress that this was all self-defense (against mostly verbal attacks, but still).]
Danny is a different story. I have no idea how I feel about him. I feel very furious with him at times and my heart melts at others. Right now I am SO MAD at him! First of all, I have only begun to realize what a major ego problem this guy has. Not to mention what a wannabe he can be sometimes. I really get annoyed by people who try to act cool. Usually they end up looking and acting like fools. Either you are cool or you are not. There is no in between. Sometimes the way Danny acts ticks me off. He can be such a putz! I guess I don’t like him anymore. Then again, who knows? -Bye-
I think we all know where I stood when it came to acting like a typical teenage boy. The only thing worse is when that typical teenage boy is one you have/had/who-the-hell-knows-anymore a crush on.
Being cool is such a subjective thing. I thought I was so cool in elementary school. I was the first girl in my grade to get a perm, wore edgy outfits like giant button-down shirts as dresses with wide belts (a trend which has since returned, I’ll have you know), and had a collection of big colorful earrings to go with my big colorful personality. Within the first few months at Hunter, I went from being a big fish in a medium pond to a small fish in a tiny pond… full of piranhas. My big personality diminished by kids who all looked the same, acted the same, and dressed the same (Gap, Banana Republic, etc.) and made it clear that I was different–and not it a good way.
Guys like Danny started out different but tried to assimilate with the “popular” crowd. He was one of those borderline kids who was friendly with some of them, but wasn’t truly one of their own. Seeing his efforts to belong infuriated me. Back then it was the phoniness that ticked me off. Now I can look back and admit that part of it was probably jealousy, too, that he was closer to being popular at Hunter than I ever would be.
My big hair, odd outfits, and Brooklyn sass seemed to have no place in a smartypants school on the Upper East Side, but I wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
May 15th, 1990
Sometimes when I have a lot on my mind, I write a letter and it usually makes me feel better, so here goes:
Lately I have been thinking a lot about us. I thought about our dating, then our break-up and you going out with Emily.
I know that hating you for breaking-up with me was the wrong thing to do and so was trying to break you and Rose up. I did the wrong thing and I admit it.
The only reason I felt so angry was because I felt that you used me and when you got bored you’d just go on to another girl (which in this case was Carmella Louise, even though she said no when you asked her out.).
I know that we didn’t take any trips to the alter or anything and I’m not even sure we were going steady, you tell me if we were.
I think that during the last few months (and this may sound corny) I have learned and matured quite a lot, because only know am I ready to admit that we really broke-up and I finally except it.
We are going to be graduating very soon and I don’t want us to part being enemies (or whatever we were), so if you just want to be friends than we’ll just be friends.
Next year we’ll be at different schools, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t keep up a friendship.
One more thing, if you got the impression that I hate or resent you, I don’t. Please don’t show this to anyone because this is how I really feel and I don’t want anyone to read it.
Let’s see here… Writing “except” instead of “accept” showed some Freudian slippage in retrospect. And the “trips to the altar” line seems falsely flippant and self-conscious. There’s also the fact that I never actually apologize for trying to break up him and Rose, just admit it was wrong. And okay, okay, I realize how phony and ridiculous it was to try to suggest a friendship after graduation when we never really had one to begin with. Still, I was aiming for closure and resolution on my end, and I like to think I managed to attain it.
Even though I never sent that letter to Mitch, at the very least this shows a nice departure from my evil conniving ways and maybe even a bit (a teeny tiny bit?) of personal growth.
April 21, 1990
I have LOTS to tell you!
[This is the beauty and also the danger of keeping a typed journal: it’s easy to write quickly and to produce a greater volume of words…which is maybe not always the best thing for a twelve year old.]
Let’s start with Thursday. Well Chen-chi said that she didn’t want to do it because she didn’t want to hurt Mitch and Rose, so I told her that it was O.K. and not to tell ANYONE.
So we told Rose and I guess that she believed it and she said that she just wanted to date him for fun. (SLUT!!!)
[A. I should have had misgivings the second Chen-chi backed out. Half of a revenge scheme is no scheme at all. B. Yeah, I don’t know why I considered Rose a slut when Mitch was the one asking every girl in Brooklyn with a pair of acid washed jeans out on dates. And heaven forbid a pre-teen girl want to go out with a boy for fun. Not like I was still bitter or anything.]
Anyway, we didn’t tell Mitch about Rose yet because we couldn’t really think of a way to tell him so that he would believe us.
Well anyway, in the afternoon a lot of us had to go to the gym for “Jump Rope for Heart*” and afterwards I found out that Chen-chi told sleaze EVERYTHING!!!
I was (and still am) FURIOUS! That Bitch has such a big mouth!!! I hate her!!!!!!!!!!!
[Hm, karma much? Somehow I had conveniently forgotten ratting Chen-chi out for that egg on Halloween. Not that she knew it, but I absolutely had it coming.]
Well on to Sam’s surprise party. He was SO RED when we all yelled “Surprise!”!
It was SO much FUN! His parents even ordered a five foot hero! And later we played “Spin the Bottle”! (Sean’s mother even offered it!) I couldn’t believe it but I even had to kiss Mitch 3 times! 2 times on the cheek and once on the LIPS! And Elaine even had to go with him (as in French, tongue to tongue!)! If Rose found out about it she would be SO mad!
Sam was really nice to everyone (as usual) but I think that he was being especially nice to me. I really hope that he likes me because I’m beginning to like him more than I ever did before!
Nothing says “fun party” like a sandwich you need two people to carry and impromptu smooching games. I don’t know what kind of liberal mother Sam had that she would actually suggest a game of Spin the Bottle to a bunch of kids. I’m no parenting expert, but isn’t that, you know, the exact opposite of what you hope happens at your child’s party? Don’t you want your little boy to stay one for that much longer instead of throwing him into a circle of prepubescent girls with a bottle? I remember Mrs. P even went into the other room when we started playing, to give us privacy. I can only imagine what she organized for his thirteenth birthday (strip poker?).
Also, the irony wasn’t lost on me that Mitch and I did more kissing after our break-up than during the entire time we went out. Maybe Mrs. P should have tagged along at one of our dates.
* For those who never participated in a Jump Rope For Heart fundraiser, it is just like a race or walkathon or whatever way folks physically exert themselves for a cause nowadays. This fundraiser involved spending an afternoon jumping rope in shifts after going around the neighborhood pestering everyone we knew to sponsor us. Our meager proceeds went to The Heart Foundation and the entire thing was a nice way to get a yellow t-shirt and make us feel like we were making a significant contribution to society. One jump rope at a time.
Mitchell R is such a two-timing sleaze-ball!!!!! I hate that f#$%ed-up @#$hole!!!
He asked Rose out and she said “Yes!” At first I was furios but then I realized that it was Rose who was getting the raw end of the deal! He’ll just go out with her for a few months (maybe even less!) dump her, and then find some other girl to chase after!!!
She’s going to learn her lesson the hard way!!!
That’s what she said.
I was learning some lessons, too, about how unfortunate it is to date in such close quarters. While I may have made a mistake in assuming things with Mitch were more than they were, working his way through my female friends like that before my body was even cold was pretty tacky.
Oddly enough, at the time I think I was angrier at Mitchell than Rose, which makes less sense to me today. Mitch had already proven himself to be a jerk, but Rose was allegedly a good friend. And yet she blindly agreed to go on a date with Mitch without even asking if it would upset me (which we can see it did, in the most melodramatic way). Either she didn’t realize how utterly heartbroken I was or didn’t care or both.
Oh well. At least I had a good nickname for the boy-who-done-me-wrong. Never mind the fact that it’s up for debate whether he really two-timed me or that our dates. This type of anger and heartache defies all logic.
Luckily, I was about to hatch a plan, one I was sure would bring me vindication against my transgressors…
Today I had a fight with Tolya and then somehow I got mad at Tina.
It was all through swimming and I felt mad and sad. I don’t know what I’m going to do.
Luckily, I was able to set my anger toward Yanmei, Marcela, and George long enough to develop hostility toward not one but two new targets. Tolya and Tina were a year older than me and the children of two Russian families my parents were friends with. For a while, they were like the older brother and sister I never had. They probably didn’t feel the same way, because whereas I was an only child, Tolya had an adorable younger brother and Tina had an older brother who was a jerk (he once set his t-shirt on fire with hairspray and a lighter to freak me out gave tedious soliloquies on how R.E.M.’s Green was the best album of all time). For the most part I got along well with Tolya and Tonya, and the three of us took weekly swimming lessons. Mostly these “lessons” meant listening to the instructor for the first 10 minutes, and spending the rest of the hour splashing around with my two friends and pretending to be a mermaid.
Naturally, I don’t recall what they said to me during our swimming that set me off, but if I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with my height. Tolya and Tina, being ahead of the puberty curve, had their growth spurts early and enjoyed gloating about how they towered over me. Even though I would grow up to be nearly 5’7″ (three inches above the average female height), at the time, I was self-conscious about my smaller stature and found it offensive when those two freaks of puberty called me short.
Whether it really was about my height, whatever it was they said or did burned me up so much that it brought out the vengeful poet in me:
I made up this poem about them:
Tolya and Tina you’re going beserk,
Some people may like you, but I think you’re jerks,
Teddy and Tanya, you think you’re so hot,
I used to be you’re friend but now I’m not.
Move over Byron, Keats, and Shelly! There’s a new wordsmith in town…