April 25, 1996
Hung out with Dave on Monday. He’s thinking about the Prom (Brad will be here from the 8th to the 22nd. Prom’s the 30th). I had a good time. Then I got home and it was as if I just ran out of cheerfulness. It was awful.
[I mentioned David before. We talked about going to the prom together and I won’t lie, the idea attending the dance an actor who had a starring role on a cable show that had a cult following was pretty appealing. I wasn’t interested in him romantically, I just loved how insane he was and thought we’d have a blast. In the end, he didn’t end up going. I’m still not sure if he was actually expelled from Hunter for setting that fire in the hallway or he left for other reasons, but he didn’t think the school would be cool with him showing up at the Prom. Also, his girlfriend was not entirely comfortable with the idea, even though she knew we were platonic. I only met her a couple of times and she was kind of aloof toward me, but maybe she was suspicious I was trying to steal her man (I wasn’t). She actually became a more successful actress than Dave and is currently playing a supporting role on a Shonda Rhimes show.]
Since then it’s been off and on. I try to tell myself there are many things to look forward to (Switchblade Symphony at the Bank this Saturday, Valve at the Batcave next Saturday, Brad’s visit, college). I try to tell myself I’m just being a brat and have no reason to be depressed. Maybe it’s delayed hurt. My insides finally catching up with my outsides. But I don’t want to be like this. I hate it. It’s such a shitty feeling, a shitty state of mind. I don’t want to be a cliché, doom-and-gloom goth. I’ve got to stop being so self-destructive. I’m doing this to myself. I have to tell myself to just stop.
Or maybe I should have told myself to feel my feelings and stop suppressing the heartache. It was all well and good to recognize the good things in my life, but I thought Brad was the guy for me. Regardless of how unrealistic that dream may have been, it was over, and I hadn’t truly faced the reality of that. I tried to use logic to pull myself out of being depressed when I had just cause to be that way. It was the first time I had ever been in love, and while it ended fairly amicably, it still ended. I had every reason to be sad about it, but I kept resisting and trying to keep the hurt at bay. One way or another, sooner or later, it was going to keep coming out until I properly dealt with it. And I didn’t know it at the time, but it was going to take years to recover from this.
I do recognize the irony of using goth music to cheer me up. Even though at that point I was dying my hair black, the majority of my wardrobe was dark, and most of the music I listened to was gloomy, I continued to resist the goth stereotypes. Yet I was obviously drawn to this subculture because I felt an affinity to the darkness of it, on an aesthetic and emotional level. I mean, if it walks like a goth, talks like a goth, and mopes like a goth, it’s a goth. As much as I tried to smile through my purple lipstick and deny it, I was going through a depression, and while my feelings (suppressed and otherwise) were genuine, I was ticking all the boxes on the goth checklist. Luckily, things were about to get a little bit better for me. Unluckily, another emotional curveball was on the horizon.
As I hurled through my senior year of high school, I filled up the red spiral notebook I had since being forced to keep a journal in my life-changing creative writing class. By that point, I no longer felt coerced into chronicling my life; I did so willingly. I felt life was getting interesting and worth noting for posterity (and, unbeknownst to me then, future blog content).
I got a smaller, 6 1/2×9″ three subject spiral notebook for my next journal. Black, of course. On the front cover are three stickers: Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, and Skin Crawl (an East Village purveyor of gothy accessories; the shop’s logo was a white skeleton). The back cover is covered entirely in Skin Crawl stickers.
March 20, 1996
So tonight is the night I choose to begin my new journal. No quotes to start it off like the last one, just my writing. I like this notebook, its narrowness appeals to me.
[My pretentious attitude toward a notebook I probably paid a couple of bucks for at a drugstore does not appeal to me.]
Ok, on to more important things. Less than 15 days until Alaska. Ugh, I don’t know how I’ll be able to wait (silly thought, I have no choice but to wait, and besides, this will probably be the best thing I ever waited for). While I’ve mostly thought about the wonderful time I will have there, I can’t help but once in a while think about how depressing it will be to leave (“depressing” even seems too mild a word, but perhaps “tragic” is a bit melodramatic).
[Yes, “perhaps.” Perhaps there’s also some foreshadowing here.]
There are things to look forward to before Alaska, however—namely The Bank this Saturday. A whole big group of us are going (Leon, Jennifer, Ellie and Cynthia—well it’s more people than I usually hang out with all at once). I am the only one with a serious interest in the Goth stuff, the others will dress up however. I will finally get to wear my new black velvet cape. Yay. And my chiffon and velvet black dress, also new—sheesh, I’m such a girl.
A GOTH girl, that is!
A little bit about the way I operate: When I find something I really love, firstly I become deeply obsessive and immersed. I learn everything I can about said thing, collect what I can, etc. Once I have absorbed everything that I can within reason, I become an evangelist and try to get everyone I can to drink my Kool Aid. My U2 obsession was a perfect example of this. First I became hooked on their albums, then I started buying the singles, books, t-shirts, and other memorabilia, and once I felt enough of a U2 expert, I began preaching the gospel. I talked about them non-stop and made numerous U2 mix tapes for people, trying to “convert” them (yes, I used that exact phrasing).
My goth phase was pretty similar, though considerably more intensive and far-reaching. There was the music (which was first and foremost to me) but also literature, fashion, general aesthetics. And the nightlife. I did try to get friends and acquaintances into the music, but it was easier to convince them to go to the club with me. Because, unlike me, most of them weren’t music snobs.
I don’t remember this particular outing, but I do still have photos of us prior to going out, posing in Jennifer’s room, our whiteface make-up blotchy in the flash’s glare. We took exaggerated poses of gloom and despair (hand-to-forehead, that sort of thing). But the best shot was of the group of us posed on the bed, with the rope from her overhead light hanging in front of us looking remarkably like a noose. Good times.
[Background: the day after my 18th birthday, I went to my first goth club, The Bank. Imagine how excited a little kid is to visit Disney World for the first time and then multiply that by ten and make it spooky and that’s how I felt going to this club.]
Alright, I’ll finally write about The Bank. It’s smaller than I expected it to be, which was nice because I kept seeing a lot of the same people. And, oh these beautiful people. I have never been attracted to Robert Smith, but I saw all these boys with Robert Smith hair and couldn’t help but be drawn to them. In fact there was this one beautiful male with that hair, eyeliner and a Sisters T-shirt and a skirt. I asked him to dance but he said, “I would but my girlfriend would kill me!” I didn’t mind, though. At one point—during “This Corrosion”—I was dancing next to him and this other guy in a velvet shirt with fishnet sleeves and slicked back hair who Anita thought looked like Dave Navarro. Both were just gorgeous and I kept accidentally (really) brushing against them… I was ready to die.
[Let’s talk about this Robert Smith thing. I’ve never had a thing for the Cure frontman for several reasons. Firstly, he has a cleft chin, which I refer to as a “butt chin” and have always found unattractive on a man. Second of all, while Robert Smith generally does well ok the eye make-up, the lipstick is usually a smeary mess (in an interview, Smith once admitted this was because he has no upper lip but I still think it’s because he puts lipstick on with his feet). Then there’s the hair: while in looked cute in his younger years, it grew like some kind of evil Chia pet into a tangled, dreadlocked mess that would look more appropriate in a Derelicte fashion show. And while we’re on the topic of youth, unlike some other gloomy singers like Morrissey and Peter Murphy, who have aged gracefully, Robert Smith has held fast to the same aesthetic for over 30 years and it’s just not doing him any favors anymore. However, back in my heyday I came across many cute spooky boys who adopted elements of Smiths look to much greater effect. Pale face, eyeliner, big spiky hair? Yes, please! Unless your first name is Robert and your last name is Smith.]
There were two places where music was played—the main room and this side room (the catacombs), which played more of the gothic stuff. The music was excellent. It took me a little while to really get dancing, “Juke Joint Jezebel” was what really got me into it. I kept going back and forth between the two rooms, both had great stuff (a lot of Cure).
[I don’t know if it’s odd to be super-persnickety about the first song you dance to at a club, but I was like that during my entire clubbing tenure. I don’t know why that very first song mattered so much, but I treated it the way we’re taught to treat virginity: it had to be one I loved. Once I broke the musical seal, I was far less picky about what I’d dance to, especially if alcohol was involved (again, some might draw parallels to virginity here, but I’ll won’t). In any case, I popped my goth club cherry to KMFDM. Could’ve been better, could’ve been worse. Just like… you know.]
Well after the Robert Smith guy declined my offer to dance I went into the catacomb and asked another guy who I had been watching (tall, lots of black eyeliner, black lipstick). This one did dance with me. Afterwards, we started talking and ended up hanging out the whole evening Unfortunately all we did was talk, though I did give him a hug before we left. He seemed really shy. A shame, too, because he had his lip and tongue pierced. *sigh* His name was Dylan and he was moving to San Francisco (!) in a week (what is my problem?! Can’t I meet someone who’ll be in the state for a while?!). He was kind of bummed because this was going to be his last night at the Bank and it was the best time he ever had there (that’s what he said! He was pretty sweet). We didn’t exchange addresses or anything but it was still a cool night.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of the people but the ones I talked to were nice. It was great to see all these goths in a small area. There were a small group of these guys dressed like vampires (white shirts, capes, etc.) that I got a kick out of. It’s the sort of place I wish I could go back to every week. Well, at least there’s New Years (I’ll probably go back then, Mephisto Walz will be playing).
Spoiler alert: my gothy future includes going clubbing up to three (maybe even four?) times a week.
Yeah, it was bittersweet meeting two cool (and attractive) guys in one night, both of whom were passing through before living on the other side of the country. But apart from that, I was on a high from finally being among my people, dancing to great dark tunes, and feeling completely at home in the “gloomy” surroundings. To say I was elated would be an understatement. And also going against basic goth principles, but oh well. Who says you can’t be a happy goth?