What I wanted to do was sulk in bed, but was in fact too tired to do so—too tired to index the shapeliness and heft of my woes. They were more like agitations. The tip of the iceberg account might look like “punctuality” is a humungous emotional trigger for me, and bobs up at the slightest change of plans, thus my seeming-rabidness in the fifteen minutes before a movie begins. I hate being late to theaters, I hate missing trailers, I don’t want to be subject to an incomplete experience. This is only an example from last week: I rushed my housemate to see Dark Shadows—a film that, in the end, I felt like walking out of two-thirds deep, mostly because I was bored. To be fair, she was also very bored. Why should we hold our attention spans hostage like that? We had skipped frozen yogurt in our haste, and the guy selling us pretzels at the theater was in his forties, it was his first day on the job, he was anxious to say so, he smiled tremulously. We gathered under a pall. Later my housemate corroborated this, experiencing it as a temperature drop. We wondered if in our mid-life we would have to take a vending gig at the local multiplex. I don’t have a thesis. She doesn’t have a dissertation. The months are against us. He gave us the thumbs up as we staggered away from his impeccably depressing service. The sea-hidden berth account might look like I need presence and regularity in portions dictated only by me, to sustain romance or friendship. These buried themes are not mysterious to anyone who has been in a long-distance relationship, where time is of the essence in a boiling way, or a freezing way, to continue the metaphor.
I flickered in and out of ambient disappointment while dozing through upbeat dreams. One such had me taking down numbers and times on an obstacle course. My steno pad was in serious danger of having mud and grass flung on its pages, and, like officiates from my high school days on the cross country team, I clutched a clipboard to my chest with one hand and held the stop-watch at my waist in the other. I was an involved spectator of the sport in a non-integral way, still I was integrated for statistical purposes. Purpose, in the dream, gave me a great deal of puffed-up ego. The athletes were lean but nondescript, and I think the dream realized them in a breathy, blurry way, as though recycled from a sports drink commercial. The sun beat down on my visor, the air was bright and muggy, my legs felt wrapped in warm blankets. This was so. I was sweating in bed when my brother texted me to come pick him up. He was at a small get-together for groomsmen. The wedding is this afternoon.
They were very drunk when I arrived. Arriving was a mini-adventure. Under Todd’s direction, I had ambled through an intersection and proceeded down a dead-end country road, onto gravel. This was going on two in the morning. I slept many nights on my parents’ bedroom floor as a boy, having read too many stories about unclassifiable beasts with talons. So fog was acting on my superstitions, especially in the way it submerged animals in the glens I was then trekking. There was the usual-unusual streaky carrion—animals painting the bleached macadam skull-wise with their gray-red guts—but also the menagerie of skittish possums, over-confident raccoons, and the flank of a deer here, just passing through the mists and behind a tree. The number of shredded pelts on most Indiana backroads should be enough to convince anyone of a live and active Mothman contingency, or some other blood-sucker from cryptozoology. I kept one eye on my rear-view mirror lest a visitor grapple onto my trunk. My boyfriend was still texting me little apologies or inducements that were impossible to read while driving, but were nonetheless sending me into paroxysms of self-righteousness. Todd called as I was about to call him, to give me updated directions. Of course I was lashing against a paranormal attack when I went into the barking fuckety-fucks which is what always happens when I feel minimal geographical misfortune. Getting to Bath from my house involves crossing into Franklin County, a place with too many drownings not to be accursed. I didn’t want to run into the lake. I didn’t want to hit a coyote. His phone was on an MP3 dock and broadcast across the yard and among the revelers, “I don’t want to be in this fucking shit pit of switchbacks, get me the fuck on black top. Fucking Christ, are the fucking taxpayers holding out for cross-wise street names, why are the fucking intersections fucking unmarked? Is this the fucking third world?” It was farmland and ravines. I was on Hetrick Road. Taking an immediate left would set me west again, and once I had the water tower in view I could right myself on Bath Road and follow it north into the town.
The last time I was on any of those roads was eight years ago when I skipped Senior Prom. More or less the same group of guys stood in the driveway (leaner, still Busch-drinking), excepting Kevin, who was my year, and did attend prom that night, and with a lunatic. My enduring love for Kevin somewhat shades my perception of that time. And also his girlfriend, his ex-, rather. Things went south when she started forging letters from his guy friends. She compressed her dreamy loops into what she desperately believed were a man’s angular scrawls. She thought Kevin was spending too much time with his guy friends. If she could convince him that they were in fact in league against him, somehow, she might win a little more of his time. This was before Facebook and also text-messaging, technologies that have since made these schemes doubly ludicrous. Maybe this is an example of a water-shed moment: the last enfeebled, quasi-adult, hand-written tragedy of self-deception. While her deviousness was pathetic it wasn’t completely incomprehensible. Kevin made girls sick with lust. He was a paragon. Something about his gait, his weight, the blocky-ness of his trunk, his jawline and prissy full lips; I can’t locate it anymore: why I’m listing anatomy. This, despite just-average performance at football. He was also catcher for varsity baseball and did so cup-less, which his admirers found nerve-wracking. The lot of us pining for him were genuinely concerned about his genitals. I worried that a fast-pitch would bounce off his shin-guard and deform him in the way of Jake Barnes from The Sun Also Rises. He still has great skin, bronzed, with soft dark moles on his neck. His eyes have a blue depth that really belies the number of women he’s inured to fart jokes, farts generally, wet ones. Kevin stood on the driveway’s edge when I passed through the night, the telamon come off his temple. He waved solemnly.