[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.
[Two important things to know going into this post:
1. I was deep into the goth scene and frequented a club called The Bank.April 28, 1996
Went to The Bank last night.
[…Inconsequential stuff about logistics and getting there in time for Switchblade Symphony…]
Then I saw someone about 6 or 8 feet away who looked like Nathan. I kept looking over (and noticed him glancing in my general direction as well) until I realized it was Nathan.
He was with some people, but in any case I decided I would stay right where I was. Less than a minute later he came over and started asking me, “Are you Damiella?”
I gave an affirmative reply and greeted him smilingly (he looked better than I ever remember). He said hi (happily as well) and hugged me (yes hugged me and yes I enjoyed the hug).
I said, “I can’t believe you recognized me with this make-up on” (I had the 3 spikes drawn under each eye). He replied “you look good” in an appreciative voice.
He said that he thought I misunderstood what he said in the store that day (when I confessed) and that when he said it was unfortunate he meant that if he didn’t have someone he was already happy with, he would have done it and that it probably would have been fun.
I got to meet the girlfriend, too (don’t remember her name, must’ve blocked it out). She glared at me and Nathan had to take her hand and put it in mine before she would shake it.
[I still remember this so vividly. I have never been introduced to someone who showed me this much outward hostility before and actually refused to shake my hand. For the record, I had no idea Nathan was in a relationship when I called the talk show, and never would’ve done so if I knew he was. So this girl’s frigid attitude was a bit extreme.]
I always thought if he wanted to get in touch with me he could call or write. Turns out there was a fire in his apartment. I asked the all-important question: was much of your Cure stuff ruined? He said the firemen messed up some of his magazines with the water.So we were chatting about the Cure and he mentioned something about the “Staring at the Sea” video. I said I didn’t have it and he looked at me in disbelief and semi-jokingly asked, “What kind of Cure fan are you?”
Then he started going on about how maybe he could bring it over because he hasn’t seen it in over two or three years and I said, “sure” (though we never made any actual plans nor did we exchange numbers—which is ok, I’ll just call him at work or something).
As for Switchblade Symphony, they were quite good. Tina Root (lead singer) was so smashed but sang well so it only lended a bit of humor to the show.
Another part of the story—I met his sister. Turns out she’s a girl I have regularly seen at The Bank. We talked for about a minute and then I didn’t see her (she left temporarily). But hopefully I’ll see her there again and we’ll be able to chat.
As for Nathan himself, he gave me another hug before leaving and I told him I’d stop by the store.
When I went he wasn’t there (on Monday) so I called him at work and he gave me his number (he’s staying with his parents for the time being). I’ll wait until Thursday to call, not that I’m playing games, I just don’t want to annoy him.
You never forget your first love, or the first guy you tried to bring on the Sally Jesse Raphael show to reveal your secret crush to. It was actually good to run into him at the Bank, because I had only ever seen him on his turf (the record store) whereas I considered the goth club more my turf. And I always made sure to look my spooky best, so I felt more confident than I would have in my day clothes. And it seemed like Nathan noticed, too. Of course, the pesky girlfriend was still around, but you can’t have everything.
I guess it makes sense. Things didn’t work out with Bradley, so it was logical for me to revert to an earlier obsession. And since we bonded over music, I was happy to even embark on any sort of friendship with Nathan. I mean, the whole talk show thing could have been a huge embarrassment, but the fact that he took it in stride and still wanted to get to know me was a great sign—other guys might have taken out a restraining order against me by that point. My attraction to him was always more about his lively and humorous personality than his looks anyway, so I’d be fine with just being friends. Right?
[The following was written when I got back from Alaska, after traveling thousands of miles to visit the boy I loved, only to have him break my heart. While the tone here might be deceptively enlightened and optimistic, make no mistake that deep down I was also devastated and bereft.]
April 15, 1996
Of course there is so much more to write about (damn this drowsiness!). I feel as if this trip was one large epiphany. It was definitely life-altering. I will get to that.
The beautiful thing about our friendship is how honest Brad and I can be with each other. And yes, I say friendship; he has a lot of personal things to work out before he can be ready for a relationship. He doesn’t even have any definitive plans for the fall (school, work, etc.). Of course the night we got all this out it was very emotional. But I understand almost too well. He’s not a complete person yet (as hard as that is to believe seeing how lovely he is right now).
[If I remember this terrible night correctly, he left the cabin for a couple of hours one night, a few days before the end of the trip, to talk to a friend. He made up a reason why, but I knew it was to talk about me (if my life was a musical, this is where we’d sing, “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Margarita”). On top of my mounting dread, I was uneasy about being left alone in this cabin with no electricity or running water, a quarter of a mile from the road in this tiny town in Alaska. While he was gone, in my clumsy nervousness, I burned myself on an oil lamp. It hurt, badly, but nowhere near as much as it was about to when he returned.]
I told him right before we went to sleep one night: “Find yourself” and he replied something like, “I want to.” I said, truly confident (and I am) “you will.”
One of the things he observed was how I “script” my life, meaning I’ll have all these plans for how things should turn out—things I can’t control most of the time. He, so very wisely, told me not to script my life and right now, sitting in my room in Brooklyn, I feel like I am in a very different frame of mind. I feel like I am more in the present, if that makes any sense. And to me it does, because I’m always saying and thinking how I can’t wait to be in college already and I’m looking so forward to getting out of here. But I am going to try to just diminish that restlessness a bit, enjoy things more on a daily basis.
[Yeah, being in the moment is still something I struggle with today, in between being nostalgic about the past and dreaming of a big, bright future.]
Brad also talked to me about approaching cool/interesting-seeming strangers and just striking up conversations with them (what he did with me) and asking them out for coffee or something. I looked at him with my mouth open when he suggested I do something like that. But it does go along with just going out and living life, instead of waiting for life to come to you. I’m really going to try.
I have already sort of started this “more acute” way of living, based on a suggestion Brad made. I told him about this really cool 8th grader at Hunter, the only person besides me who wears a Cure T-shirt. He’s short, pale, dyes his hair black (I think I saw roots), wears a lot of black, too. Brad’s idea? “Make him a mix tape.”
So I did (a mostly gothic mix). I feel like this kid has so much potential, not to be a Goth necessarily, but to carry on the “legacy of freakishness.” Anyway, I introduced myself, asked his name (Mike) and gave him the tape saying, “I think you’ll like this. If you do, come talk to me, I have more.”
I don’t even know for sure what it is I’m trying to do, play mentor or savior to this boy, who knows. Hopefully something interesting and positive will come of it.
[I’m pretty sure nothing came of it. He thanked me for the mix tape, but I think that was about it. Who knows, maybe it was a nice memory of his Hunter experience swimming against the current of normal while surviving the school’s hyper-competitive tides.]
Let’s see, what other details of the trip do I want to remember. Well, the last few days of my stay we ran out of water and we needed to do the dishes so he gave me this big metallic bowl and I got us snow, that he melted on the woodstove. He made his famous baked ziti with spinach and mushrooms and it was the best ziti I ever had.
[And the day after we “broke up” (since it’s hard to qualify our intense romantic correspondence as dating, per se) I remember standing in the kitchen as he heated the leftovers and trying not cry, and failing, and barely being able to eat with that big lump in my throat.]
We played Scrabble. That was fun. We would play up in the loft and once Brad asked me to bring up the dictionary and some cookies so I grabbed a big book and when I got up there and dumped it on a pillow, he started laughing hysterically. I didn’t understand why until I looked down and saw it was a book on World War II! How silly of me. I laughed so much on this trip.
[If I’m going to be completely honest, I laughed so hard when that happened, I actually peed a little.]
The drive back up to Anchorage was mostly great fun, too. We put on Achtung Baby and sang along really loudly to it. Then in Anchorage (which is pretty ugly) we went to this amazingly terrific music store called “Mammoth Music” where I’ve never seen a more impressive Goth/Industrial section.
I knew I was going to cry when I left. I was standing outside getting my suitcase checked in, not saying anything and Brad lit a clove.
[One of the gifts I brought for Brad was a tin of unfiltered clove cigarettes, and I tried one when I was in Alaska. And when I returned to New York, I kept smoking them (though I switched to filtered). And continued to do so for years, like the good goth girl that I was.]
He asked me why I’m being so quiet then tapped me on the head with his lighter and said, ‘that’s life” or something similar to what Morrissey said to that silent fan of his. Well, just as the girl Moz said that to did, I started crying. It kind of caught Brad unexpectedly. He was really nice about trying to keep the conversation going while we were sitting at the gate. And when it was time for me to go we hugged each other tightly and he said, “thanks so much for coming.” I said, “thanks for having me” and he replied, “of course” (something he says a lot instead of “you’re welcome”).
So for now we’re back to E-mail. But he’ll be back soon and we’ll have so much fun exploring the Village, going to The Bank, and doing all sorts of neat things a big chaotic city such as this one has to offer.
My biggest hope is that he’ll be here in time for the prom and will be willing to accompany me. We could get all gothed out and have a ball.
But I won’t script it. I’ll just hope for it.
Except that my version of “hoping” came with a hell of a lot of specific scenes with stage direction and dialogue. Which rarely played out in reality the way they did in my head.
While I may have tried to deflect or sugarcoat my feelings about what happened on the trip, there’s no question that I was devastatingly hurting, more so than I had ever been in my life. Things did get physical a couple of nights that we spent up in that loft together, but there was still something that felt off and distant about him.
I remember listening to U2’s song “Acrobat” in the days/weeks that followed and it trying to get strength from its “don’t let the bastards grind you down” refrain. It was a confusing, awful state to be in, as much as I tried to focus on the positive aspects of the trip. But despite being let down romantically, I was determined to hold on to the friendship. I remember telling Brad that I needed him to get over him. After having such a magical correspondence and many fun moments during the trip itself, I still needed him in my life, even if we weren’t going to have the fairy tale ending I had originally hoped for. And yes, as much as I was trying not to script my life, a large part of me hoped that once he got his life together, we’d have another chance at things and he might be ready for a relationship.
So yeah, I was nursing a broken heart, but also in denial about it. And things were about to get even worse…
I’m floating. Barely slept (less than 6 hours), tossed and turned. I was back at the Bank yesterday by my lonesome. It was packed, took me a half hour just to get inside. Didn’t take me too long to get dancing, though (I would have gone out when they played “The Blood” but it was too soon). “Christine” is what did it (I actually had woken up that day to a different Siouxsie song, “Israel,” which they played later on). I really got into the dancing (esp. during “…zombified,” “reptile,” “this is heresy” and some really good Skinny Puppy song).
[Maybe it was a little weird for me to spend New Year’s Eve at a goth club on my own, but after the super-fun time I had their on my birthday, it was my happy place, so it didn’t matter that I couldn’t wrangle any of my friends—none of whom were goth—to go with me.]
I’m getting to the good part.
I was standing outside the Gothic room [not to be mistaken with the main room which played post-punk, industrial but also goth music] when a guy that I had been watching walked by me with a girl (he had dark wavy jaw-length hair and wore a velvet cape and lots of eye make-up and lipstick — black).
[Apart from the hair, that actually sounds a lot like my look at the club the previous week.]
He looked at me as he entered the room and we made eye contact again when he turned around. About a minute later he left the room. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder.
I looked to my right and he was standing next to me. He asked what my name was (his is Morgan) and we started talking.
He said, “So you noticed me?”
I said, “Yes.”
He said, “Well, I noticed you too.”
[I am 1000% sure my little black heart did flip-flops when he said that.]
It was pretty loud where we were standing so we had to lean in really close and talk right in each other’s ears. It was nice just standing in the semi-darkness, chatting.
We were having some trouble hearing each other, so Morgan suggested we go upstairs. We did, it was actually more of a large balcony with a bar and some chairs. We were at one end of the railing watching the people and he asked how late I was staying. I said 4:00 (at this point it was about a quarter to) and he said that was unfortunate.
I didn’t know how late The Bank was open but he was under the impression that since it was New Year’s it was open until 5:00 or 6:00. So I offered to call to see if I could get picked up later. Well, I ran into a problem at the coat check (it took forever to find mine) and they told me down there they were open ‘til 4:00. I went back upstairs and we asked a bartender who said the same thing.
[“ran into a problem” is an understatement. At the time, I owned a black wool peacoat. Somehow, mine got misplaced, so I had to actually go and search through the racks myself. Imagine the coat check of a goth club on its busiest day of the year. The racks had HUNDREDS of black coats. 80% of which were peacoats. All I wanted to do was get back to the cute goth boy waiting upstairs for me.]
So then we went down this back staircase to this shady area on the floor not too far from the door. Though it was kind of brief, it didn’t take me long to discern that Morgan does not have a tongue piercing.
[My “coy” way of saying we had a brief make-out session.]
At one point he said something really interesting. Don’t remember the exact wording. Something like,
“You may not understand this. But save me.”
There were a few things I could have said in reply, but instead I just kissed his neck.
[Oh, how much bad poetry was inspired by the brief interlude with this guy…]
We talked about when we would meet and he gave me his number (he lives in Pennsylvania but is staying at his friend’s house in Queens).
I called him today and he wanted me to come over, but Mom was dead set against it. He told me I should come to the London After Midnight show at the Limelight on Thursday but that’s not possible, unfortunately. That’s all I’m going to write for now.
It was my first hook-up with a goth boy and I couldn’t have asked for it to be any more gothtastic. It had all the necessary elements: Noticing each other in a dark goth club? Check. Boy wearing lots of black make-up and a velvet cape? Check. Smooching in dark corner of said night club? Check. Boy says something insanely melodramatic like “save me” to girl, which girl finds strange and thrilling and romantic? Check and double check.
Another thing I learned that night is that smeared black lipstick takes forever to wash off. I must’ve come out of that club looking like a crazy hybrid of Marilyn Manson and Ronald McDonald. If my parents noticed anything unusual about my smudged appearance when they picked me up, I’m sure glad they didn’t say anything.
[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?
I got home and listened to the message Mr. Laurie left:
“Damiella, we have a problem. I spoke to Nathan and now he says he can’t do the show…” Major blow.
Called the show this morning to find out why. Two reasons:
1) He couldn’t get off work (probably the excuse he gave to strengthen:
2) He’s “sort of seeing someone” and at first she had no problem with him being on the show but then it started to bother her. Of course Nathan still wanted to know who it was but could not be told. This is the most interesting part. At one point Mr. Laurie put him on hold and got back early hearing him say to another man: “What about that girl who comes into store? The one who just dyed her hair black…?” So at least he did suspect me, no not at least, I’ve been hinting.
For some reason I was really upset. It was probably—yeah, “probably”—the “sort of seeing someone” part. I left school at 10:00 and began walking to the Village, listening to the Cure’s 17 Seconds and feeling very numb in the unhappiest way. But I made it to Barnes & Noble on Astor Place and spent 4 ½ hours there (skipping Poets House and Sociology) trying to cheer myself up by reading Dave Barry books (it made me laugh as I read it, but when I stopped I barely felt better).
I still remember this quite well. Hunter College High School was on the Upper East Side, and Astor Place all the way downtown, so that was a good 4+ mile walk. I know for a fact that I was wearing one of my pairs of Doc Marten combat boots, because I think I might have written a poem incorporating my footwear into the disappointment. Maybe that makes up for my skipping out on my volunteer shift at the poetry library Poets House? Maybe not.
And being the good goth that I was, of course The Cure was my soundtrack. I must have listened to that album four or five times consecutively, on my Walkman (it wasn’t until college that I upgraded that particular cassette to CD). And even though The Cure’s fourth album, Pornography, is widely held as their most depressing, it was Seventeen Seconds that resonated with me more, because of the lyrics to “M” which begin:
Sing me a line from your favorite song
Twist and turn
But you’re trapped in the light
All the directions were wrong
You’ll fall in love with somebody else
Preach it, Reverend Smith.
The truth is, things worked out the best possible way they could. I think my dream on Monday night contributed to the sadness. I dreamt that Nathan showed me these two Joy Division stamps but the photos were the most heartbreaking things and just as I needed to be consoled for being so upset by them (I don’t know why the stamps upset me so much. The melancholy photos, Ian’s suicide, etc. It made sense then) he got up and left. But not just because he needed to do something, he made a point of leaving me (on purpose). Then the next day I remember waiting for him to come back to me, and I knew I was waiting in vain, but hoped anyway. It was the saddest dream I ever had and as I was walking in the Village, every once in a while I would get that same feeling, that maybe I’ll run into him, knowing that I wouldn’t.
I used to be really into dream interpretation and even owned a dream dictionary back in the day, but (un)surprisingly, there was no entry explaining the meaning of dreams about Joy Division stamps. Go figure.
Sadness over not being on a cheesy talk show aside, I have no idea why I would have wanted to run into Nathan that day, except to see his face full of wistfulness as he realized that he wanted to be with me instead of Miss “Sort-of-Seeing-Someone.” Ok yeah, I guess that’s a reason.
But I was trying to talk about the good of this. The obvious great thing is that I wasn’t rejected on national television. And I know he’s “sort of seeing someone.” And the very best thing is that he still doesn’t know who it is. I hope this curiosity really eats away at him. I’m going to stop by the store on Wednesday (at this point it would seem suspicious if I didn’t) and do the best acting job of my life. When he asks (if) I will of course deny, but be sure to get in something like, “but if it was me, I wouldn’t tell you” (something less obvious, though).
Let’s see, I was already a prime suspect considering what that show producer overheard. Throw in my bad acting plus my lack of any tact or subtlety? What could possibly go wrong!
I can’t say this is heartbreak, because I don’t feel any actual serious pain (like when I listen to “Lovesong”). It’s more as if my heart was shot with novacaine. It’s just numb. But I’m numb in a really bad way. At least I haven’t ruined the whole thing for myself and there is still hope. But there’s also the terrible numbness.
I also can’t say this was heartbreak, because that usually requires more of a relationship with the other person than buying Cure postcards in their place of business once or twice a month and chitchatting about music. I wish I could tell my teenage self to pretend that it is ruined, to stop having hope something romantic would happen with Nathan. I wish I could also give my younger self a mild spoiler and let her know that something far more magical and romantic was right around the corner…