[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.
[As my descent into gothdom continued, I befriended Chad, a college radio DJ who had an industrial band with his friend Rick called Clamp. He invited me to see his band play The Batcave, a club I had been curious about for a while, though I heard it was nowhere near as good as The Bank. He offered me a free ride to the club and free admission since I’d be with the band, so I couldn’t say no. (And for the record, while Chad was an utter sweetheart, I had no romantic interest in him.)]
May 5, 1996
What I wonderful time I had last night.
Let’s do a Batcave vs. The Bank (Sat. nights) thing. First of all, The Bank has much better music. The Batcave was mostly industrial, though the last half hour or so was great in that I heard Sisters, Bauhaus, The Cure, Corpus Delicti, Alien Sex Fiend. Much fun to dance to. Also water is free at the Batcave (nice to save two bucks) and the people seemed a lot more approachable (though there are many more normal ones). And the Batcave’s dance floor is really cool—big checkered tiles and amazing lights…strobe, colorful pattered lights. It’s almost dizzying. I’ve giving The
Batcave a lot more points here but I still feel more attached to The Bank because they play so much more Goth.
[Goth and industrial music are quite different, though they share similarities in that both are dark and often relay heavily on synthesizers. Goths also seemed to outnumber rivetheads, their industrial counterparts, though they were essentially part of the same club scene and there was a lot of overlap in music taste. While I enjoyed some industrial (Skinny Puppy, Ministry, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails of course), my preference was for the less aggressive and more melancholy and melodic goth bands. So all the free water in the world wouldn’t have had me favor The Batcave over The Bank considering their respective playlists. And I’m sure it’s obvious by now, but I was totally one of those snobby goths who got annoyed at seeing “normals” in clubs, which usually meant jeans and sneakers. I wasn’t expecting everyone to be decked out in fishnet and leather, but come on, you go to a club like this, at least wear your black jeans and a dark T-shirt.]
As for people—at first there was no one that outrageous-looking, a few typical industrial boys. But then while dancing I noticed this guy who was almost even too scary-looking for me! He had a red velvet cape on, decorated studded/painted jacket underneath, lots of chains, a long skirt, lightning bolts painted all over his face.
I said something about him to Anita and she started laughing because she had just told this girl we had met that in a second I would mention this guy (in fact she jokingly bet her 10 bucks that I would get his number).
[Look, I know judging people favorably for their unusual appearance is just as bad as judging them poorly for being “normal” but here’s the thing. I was in my sixth year at a magnet school wearing The Gap were the unspoken uniform. I had been mocked for my… more colorful attire in seventh and eight grade, I got sick of the ridicule and wore bland clothes in ninth and tenth grade, and in eleventh grade I stopped giving a damn and started wearing what I wanted again. By the time I was a senior and doing the goth thing, I was definitely drawn to others who had a more unusual look, even though none of my friends did.]
I waited a while, mustering up the guts, and went up to him. I said something like: “I have to say, you look incredible.” He smiled and I walked away (not rudely, though—I hope). I guess I might have been a tiny bit freaked out, but I also wanted to leave a sense of mystery, have him come to me. Which he did at about 3:30 (yeah, he took his time, I guess we were both being coy).
We chatted for about 10-15 minutes (his name is Lanique, but the way) and exchanged numbers.
[And thus, my drive-by flirtation technique was born. I had the nerve to approach guys and be bold with them, but for very, very short bursts of time before I ran away.]
There was someone else, too. This stunning… industrial boy I’ll call him, even though it seems unfair to categorize someone so lovely. Tall, kinda thin, fishnet shirt, straight bleached hair (about jaw-length, pinned back) a long blond braid on the lower half of his head, some eyeliner and lipstick. Such a breathtaking face.
I watched him dance for a while. After I met Lanique, I went out on the dance floor for a while (when they played that stretch of Goth) and saw the blond nearby. Just as Anita and I were about to leave I asked her to give me a second.
I went up to stunning boy (well he was in his 20’s probably, but I’ll still use “boy”) and said, “don’t let this go to your head, but are beautiful.”
He smiled and said, “Thank you” then “you are, too.” This second part did not register for a moment, but by the time I realized it was to late to thank him so I just smiled.
Anita came over and we started to go. I was going to leave anyway—that mystery thing again, I suppose. Also, I’m not sure I could “have” someone like that.
As Anita was getting her coat and putting it on he walked by (actually she was blocking his way). He told me his name and asked me mine. I said, “Damiella” and repeated his name, “Berlin?”
He said, “Berlin” (or something like that) then “see you around.”
When Anita and I got outside we walked behind him for a block and she pointed out that he seemed to just float down the sidewalk, he moved so quickly and gracefully. He sort of reminds me of Zillah, from Lost Souls. There was something very vampiric about him… his seductiveness, really. It was sort of surreal—he is what inspires me to come up with my most memorable/intriguing story characters.
[I haven’t read Poppy Z. Brite’s Lost Souls in twenty years, but when I looked up the character—described as androgynous, slender, incredibly beautiful, but also menacing—and then found fan art depicting him, I guess I can see why I made the comparison. And it wouldn’t be for a year or two, but “Berlin” would end up being a character in a future short story.]
I have not even mentioned Clamp’s performance. Well, they had technical problems at first, and then they were ok. They definitely have potential, I’ll say that. Oh and Chad told me tonight that he and Rick decided I’m their #1 fan. How sweet.
If I remember correctly, there were maybe twenty people in the audience for their performance. They were really nice guys, though.
I was definitely coming into my own and finding a new boldness as a goth, even if my flirting style was on the childish/passive-aggressive side (hey, at least I didn’t pull guys’ hair and then run away).
There is nothing like the feeling of being somewhere you feel you truly belong, and—as corny as it may sound—I have felt than many times at goth clubs, and not many other places I can think of. Of course, those were on the good nights. There were also nights where I felt self-conscious, lonely, dejected, and anxious (because after all, drama sticks to goths like white on rice), but those feelings could be cancelled out by dancing to the right song or meeting the right guy (even if for a fleeting moment) or that greater sense of being part of the cosmic cobweb of the goth scene.
Let’s talk about “Berlin” for a moment. While it was fun chatting with Lanique (who I never called and vice versa), it was the pale-haired man I met later who I found truly mesmerizing. He was one of the most stunning men I had ever seen. In retrospect, I’m surprised I had the nerve to talk to him at all. I try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but I’ll reveal two things: 1. My stupid hearing picked up his name incorrectly. 2. Our paths would cross again, more than once.
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.