Chloë and the Next 20th Century
ChloëI met Chloe in the winter, and to me it will always be her season. I remember how the fear of frostbite would be no match for our resolve to interlock fingers as we strolled through the town. As soon as I saw her I knew infatuation would quickly follow, but by God I did not expect it to completely take me over as it did. Chloe was a college student, studying to become a speech therapist. Her pastimes consisted of drinking, fucking white “yeah dude I’m just not really political” men, and sometimes combing the two. She insisted her taste in company was entirely based upon circumstance. I didn’t care though, she was perfect. Chloe was depressed, severely depressed. She had prescribed antidepressants and would take them for a period of a couple weeks, before deciding they didn’t work and quitting. I sometimes would venture to tell her that drinking on Zoloft isn’t going to help it work, but who was I to tell her what to do. She doesn’t talk much about the other people in her life. Theres a rumor that her best friend is in love with her, they make out occasionally, but Chloe denies any feelings fro her. It doesn’t phase me. We were together all the time, literally or in spirit. At a certain point my family started to get concerned and asked me who it was I was dedicating all my time to. I’d tell them her name and nothing more. I don’t think they’d understand her if I tried to explain, so I don’t waste my time. The more they abhor her, the more I adore her. I know I have no chance, even a glance is enough to suck me into her pitch black expanse. I loved Chloe for years, through many the seasons ever changing. One winter, I came about her apartment looking to take a stroll as we always did. I knocked and I knocked and I knocked and nothing as much as a tapping off feet on the hardwood floor gave me any indication she was there. It was early in the evening so there was a good chance she was asleep or drunk. I used my spare car to let myself in and immediately found the worst. There she was, with a handle of Belvedere in her hand and a prescription bottle of Xanax resting upon her still chest. I wish I could say I was surprised.
Goodbye Mr. BlueChloe and I always gravitated to each other during the worst times in our lives. Something about rock bottom made us want the other person that much more. Call it what you want, codependency, a trauma bond, or whatever other name you can think of, to me it was just our relationship. So, it was no surprise that when I got locked up Chloe was the first person on my mind. I managed to get her number and spent my precious few phone minutes on calling her. She picked up and immediately started laughing and told me she knew as soon as the called ID said “JAIL” that it was me. I didn’t find it as funny as she did. I asked for her email so I could communicate more often and she quickly became my main source of happiness while I was in there. I would send her poems I wrote, some about her, I’d talk to her about all the things I would do with her when I got out. And so after a couple months of living in the St Louis Department of Corrections, I got my freedom back. You would think it wouldn’t take them that long to free someone for something they didn’t do, but what do you really expect from America. I found myself shaving the beard I had grown in the mirror of a shitty motel while taking in how I had changed. The thirty or so extra pounds I had gained didn’t look too terrible, but it was still quite strange to see me no longer looking emaciated. Chloe didn’t mind at all. A few hours later when I rolled over in bed to look at her, then spoke up, “Do you swear you’re not just here cause you feel bad?” I let it sit in the air for a moment before following up with, “Actually, you don’t have to answer that I don’t think I want to know.” She laughed, kissed me softly, and curled up in my arms, tracing her fingers over all the newness that was my body. I thought to myself how funny and fucked up it was that these were the circumstances that brought us back together. Maybe if I had gone to jail sooner we would have been together again sooner. The last time I laid with her I never would have imagined that it was going to be our last time. It struck me that this time could be our last time. I drew her close and whispered “When the last time was our last time, I should’ve told you that the last time comes too soon.”
Kiss Me (I Loved You)When we were young Chloe and I were younger we played the part of friends. We didn’t do it real well, kissing and fucking anytime we were alone. Eventually we decided to set boundaries. We wouldn’t be intimate with each other anymore unless we were actually going to commit to each other. And yet…Every time we came together the same old refrain came out of my mouth: “I swore I wouldn’t do this; the wine’s gone to my head.” She tells me she’s too drunk to drive home. I tell her to stay with me. Whats one more time going to hurt? So we grew closer and closer till she could feel the hair on my arm stand up with anticipation. And then we kissed. It was slow, and sorrowful at first, like the kiss you give someone you know you’ll never see again. But we grew in confidence and began to kiss like it was the last kiss either of us would ever have. I kissed her, I loved her, and the two were not mutually exclusive.
(Everything But) Her LoveChloe wasn’t perfect. Not by a long shot. She had a tendency to focus on the worst parts of life to the point where it was all we ever really talked about. She went to work, she drank, she went to sleep, and sometimes managed to fit me in. I wasn’t the most compelling reason to get out of bed I suppose. Sometimes I would do everything but beg for some positive attention, some form of affection that wasn’t caked in sardonic irony. An, “I love you,” without a, “but I hate you too,” right after it. Sometimes it really got to me. Sometimes it felt like she would give me everything she had to offer except her love. I didn’t know if that was what I wanted or not. If I thought about it for too long it grew sort of funny.
Buddy’s Rendezvous (Lana’s Version Obviously)I have a bad habit of giving myself away too easily. Sometimes this can mean disregarding all of my values and morals for someone I’ve become infatuated with. Sometimes this means sleeping with the first person to call me attractive in a given night. I think there was some form of security I found in this. If I wasn’t worried about finding the right person, I couldn’t be let down by that person. I belonged to everybody. It also gave me the freedom to not have to care about someone in the way I would about a partner. Everyone was temporary, including me. I heard the same things from a different persons bed every night. “So you’re gonna be an artist? Well I’ll be goddamned.” I regale them with tales of what I plan to do, trying to steer away from the fact that as of yet I have not done anything. I thought things would be different when I got out of jail but I seem to have easily fallen back into all my old habits. I visit my old watering holes and drink away the fear that comes from knowing I’m no better than I was. My facial hair grows out, patchy and scraggled. The jacket I live my life in wears down and starts to come apart. I wander the streets, aimless and confused. Thats when I run into Chloe again. She doesn’t recognize me at first, or I think more accurately doesn’t want to recognize me. When finally face to face with the actuality of who I am her eyebrows furrow and for a brief second it appears she’s going to scold me. Instead, her face softens, and she pulls me in tight for a hug. We head back to my apartment and she helps me get cleaned up. I should be embarrassed that I need someone else to shave me, but with the tremors in my hands it would be nigh impossible for me to do so on my own. I shower and change into some clean clothes while she waits on the couch. I slip back into the jacket and she frowns at this but doesn’t mention it. She asks me what happened to me. She asks how I could let myself get this bad and truthfully I don’t have any answers for her. She tells me if I keep this shit up she’s going to wind up reading about me in the news. I tell her I already made the news the first time I got arrested. She doesn’t think its as funny as I do. She leaves but not before asking that one awful question, “When can I see you again?” I didn’t want her to be in my life to fix me. I didn’t want her to be in my life because my life was shit, I wanted to be okay for her. I wonder what it would be like to have her back in my life and be in a good spot. I don’t think some people are meant to get what they want though. The next time I see her is over coffee. She tells me in the kindest way she can that I’m fucking myself up. Having radical beliefs is one thing, destroying cop cars is another. She says I’ve been in the city too long, maybe its time to join her out in the country. She offers to let me stay with her for awhile, for as long as I need really. I almost consider her offer. That night I’m back in bed with someone new. The sex was as good as sex with someone you couldn’t care less about could be. She was observant enough to notice something was on my mind and asked about it. I pondered whether or not I should be honest, and decided to give it a shot. I tell her about Chloe and how perfect she was. I tell her how we were meant to be, how nothing could get in the way of us. She seemed to just take my word for it, then asked why we weren’t together if that all was true. I didn’t have any answers for her.
Q4I’m sitting here, at the Brightline train station in Miami, Florida. I just got done hanging with all my new friends and having a lovely time. I saw drag queens, a rock band, I stayed sober, it was a great time. After I visit with them I always feel inspired to write, and so I sit here writing. Normally I’ll have a piece for the website I’m working on that I’ll continue, which is exactly what I’m doing now. Though for some reason, feels almost disrespectful to be writing about Chloe right now. You see, Chloe and I just agreed that we were going to stop seeing each other for awhile. We both have this unhealthy attachment to the other that leads to nothing but a hollow longing we can’t seem to fill. And here I am writing stories about us. I guess I’m really going to just break everything down in this one because I couldn’t figure out what else to do for this track. Q4 is the story of someone using someone else’s tragedy for profit. Its got a lot more going on than that but I think that’s the main idea. I feel like that’s what I’m doing her. I feel like I take and take and take and turn people into “content.” I don’t know. Most of this shit isn’t true. I keep telling myself that people want me to create art, but is this even art? I worry that when I put this out into the world Chloe will hate me for it, and all our friends will think I’m a piece of shit for airing out everything. We shall see. Olvidado (Otro Momento)There are many moments I can look back on and say definitively, “I said the wrong thing there.” Most of the time with me it seems to happen when I’m with someone I’m attracted to. I think it started with my first crush Abby Christian, way back in second grade. I remember thinking to myself how I needed to come up with the most killer line in order to outclass my competition, Ben Ventura and Noah Manning. Both of our dads were pastors so I decided to use that to my advantage and came up with a very moving speech about how we understood each other and as such, were meant to be together. I waited for the perfect opportunity and when we were finally alone I tapped her shoulder. She looked at me with her deep brown eyes and my tongue rolled itself over and laid limp in the bottom of my mouth. After a few seconds of choking I managed to squeak out, “I think you’re pretty.” She looked at me with disgust and replied back, “My dad says I can’t date till I’m at least 16.” I was heartbroken and from that moment moving forward I have been deathly afraid of rejection. This fear leads to anxiety, and anxiety leads to missteps, and missteps lead to rejection. Its a funny little cycle. When I was first getting to know Chloe, I was a young teenager with next to no relationship experience under my belt. I barely knew what I wanted from her, all I knew was that I was attracted to her. When we would talk I did my best to drop hints that I was into her but it never came across. I wish I could remember the things I said, my attempts at flirting were probably pitiful. The funny thing is, I would have had no idea what I would do if she actually reciprocated those feelings. The static that boiled in my guts when talking to people was amplified to temperatures I never knew it could reach when interacting with Chloe. Words have often failed me, but never so completely as with her.
Funny GirlWas my relationship with Chloe ever healthy? Its a question I ask myself quite a lot. We seemed to feed off of the worst parts of each other and fall into this pool of each other’s depression we could never escape from. Those times were bad, but not the worst moments. Chloe was the first person I ever dated who was good, maybe not good for me, but a good person. As such, I didn’t know how to act in a relationship that wasn’t comprised mainly of me being abused or manipulated. I did a lot I’m not proud of. I read through texts when she wasn’t looking. I had multiple social media accounts in case I ever thought she was hiding a post from me. I could try to justify it by saying I was worried about her cheating or some shit like that but ultimately, it was just a fucked up way to act. All this shit made her larger than life to me. She wasn’t my girlfriend, she was someone I monitored and kept tabs on. I knew her schedule better than I knew my own. I wanted to tell her how funny her jokes with other people were, but how could I explain how I knew about them? All I wanted was her love, and the thing was I already had it. I thought it was something I had to constantly guard and be wary of, rather than something I could just enjoy. It was all fucked up, in a cosmically humorous way.
Only A FoolChloe and I started dating under the worst of circumstances. I was drugged out and drinking, and just so happened to run into her. Somehow, despite me saying verbatim I thought I was going to die that night, she still found me attractive. We talked the night away and I tried my best to hide my transition from high out of my mind into sobriety. She asked if I wanted to date her. In that moment I saw the next few years flash in front of my eyes. I saw us in different colleges having to deal with a long distance relationship. I saw my aversion to monogamy lead me to almost cheating on her. I saw the pain of our inevitable breakup, then the pain caused by me not being able to leave her alone afterwards. I saw it all and I still said yes. Everything in me screamed no and to this day I question what was running through my mind. The thing is though, I don’t regret it. Whether or not Chloe and I have helped each other through the years is something only a very skilled therapist could deduce. All I know is that in that moment, when I saw our future, the pain was overshadowed by the love that I would feel for her. The love that continues to this day. The love that propels me to write about her. Life could be cruel now and then, but I could never fathom way back when, how I’d long to have her break my heart, time and again.
We Could be StrangersThere was a time before my life changed that seems otherworldly to me these days. In this time I didn’t know Chloe like I do now. My life wasn’t dictated by her. I was dating a friend of hers and has only heard about Chloe every now and then. She used to live in Virginia where I was living back then, but moved away before I could ever meet her. One day my ex tells me that Chloe is coming over to visit, and it meant absolutely nothing to me. Sometimes I long for the days when that name didn’t stir my heart. It just so happened that my ex got sick the day Chloe was coming down, so it didn’t look like she was going to be able to see her. I decided to put together a little care package for my ex and reached out to Chloe via instagram to see if she wanted to contribute. She quickly said yes so we met up to assemble it. We were really just kids back then. After that I didn’t see Chloe for awhile, not till after my ex and I broke up. When we next saw each other it was by accident. She was back in town wandering through the mall and I coincidentally was doing the exact same thing. Her eyes lit up in recognition and she came over and gave me a big hug. We talked and as it turned out, neither of us had plans, so we decided to grab coffee. Talking lead to flirting, flirting lead to an invitation to her hotel room, and that lead to, well you know. I can honestly say that I performed terribly, I was young and inexperienced and not in tune with my sexual nature. I don’t know how she was still attracted to me after that. It would have made total sense for her and I to go back to being strangers after that, never talking unless by some cruel turn of fate we run into each other again. But that’s not how things went down. I think sometimes I wish it was, not that I regret being with her, but there was something perfectly innocent in the times before we really knew each other. There was infinite potential brewing and just waiting to be explored. I miss that feeling.
The Next 20th CenturyMy time with Chloe has come to an end. It feels like it was a lifetime ago. Maybe it was last century. It feels like I was a different person. Maybe that’s because I was. There was a point during our tumultuous relationship that I grew up, and then another point in which I died, and Julia Scott was born. I don’t think any of it would have happened how it did without her. The pain and the suffering we caused each other is regrettable and I do wish it could have been avoided, but I wouldn’t trade my time with her for the world. I remember telling her how much I loved her while laying underneath her weight. I think what I was really trying to say in that moment was, “I hate everyone else, and they have done me so much harm, but you’re the one spark of life I have in this dismal wasteland.” I don’t think any aspect has remained the same over my life except my undying love for Chloe. If it was truly a different time, a different era, then I will live this one out to the best of my ability in her honor, while I patiently wait, for the next 20th century.