Dusty and Jess and I spent hours collecting ourselves. Coming our bangs and teasing our hair and adjusting our bangles before Dusty picked us both up in her car. Listening to Azure Ray and Bratmobile and smoking clove cigarettes as we drove around town. We bought green pink and blue bottles of Boone's Farm Wine and drank them underneath the bridge. The official curfew is 10pm and now it is after midnight but we didn't care because in two weeks we were all leaving town. Dusty and I would go to New York and Jess moved to San Francisco and all the arguing we could do about whether or not Bikini Kill saved the world didn't really matter. I kept saying that the records and the zines did mean something because they kept other young white middle class punks from killing themselves cutting instead. Jess said that if it didn't happen in the 1960s then the revolution Kathleen tasted in her kiss was never going to happen. So what, then, was she tasting? I know that for my part I tasted smoke and fake fruit and a little bit of malt liquor and we all tasted boredom. Choking with it.
Walking through a gated community we laughed about boys. They are so transparent. We are. Automatic security lights flick on as we stumbled from one expensive driveway to another. It would be another six or seven years before the world confirmed what we knew already: these mansions communities and moneyed lives were fictitious and as Buddha said dying that all conditioned phenomena are subject to decay. Dusty had a boyfriend who would flip out and get really aggro and start fights with her even in front of her two best friends Jess and me. We'd tease her about it but now I see that that was the wrong way to go about it. Just cause it's wrong and just cause it hurts-- these aren't sufficient reasons to stop. Nothing gathers as much inertia as a young person realizing the horrible fact that the distances we've placed between ourselves and our dreams slsh futures are false. That every rock star every famous poet and movie actress all doubt themselves and the pessimism is contagious and terminal.
Laying down in the middle of the street I don't remember but I am fairly certain that we promised to never stop being friends even when separated by the continent. Dusty dropped out of school and when she moved back to California I think she and Jess were friends again. They never spoke to me again, that is for sure. By then I was in college and living a bourgeouis life I had no right to. A drag act that takes me up to the current day-- I'm still fake. Lying on well-manicured asphalt we all swore up and down to heal ourselves of our teenage wounds and like our supposed best friendness we knew this was never going to happen. The mean boyfriends racist sexist homophobic punk jerks who ran the nightclub who wouldn't let us in or hold hands, who grabbed our hair and made fun of us, threw empty bottles at us-- we prayed that they'd get their own karmic retribution but knew we could never stick around to make sure. We can't heal our young tiny virgin selves we could only wait for scabs to become scars and pray that underneath there'd be muscle.
Dusty said it was time to get back in the car to go home. Her parents were really sick. They might have died since then-- I don't know. She finished her bottle of basically dyed green beer with sour apple effects and hurled the empty bottle as high as her babydyke arms could manage and we all looked away and covered our heads. Shattering in the middle of the nicest street in the nicest little suburb that had it's creepy old white guy fingers down all three of our throats at once. Lights in every house on the block lit up and though Jess and I were mortified of being arrested Dusty just kept laughing. We all know now that just acknowledging it doesn't make it go away. We've all spent years (I'm sure though no correspondence can confirm that) fingering the little golden chains. Describing them because to measure something is to change it. We all hoped that the cartography of our own deceit, our basically empty little heads would make The Thing That Hurt smaller. It didn't.
I ran into C.T. on the street in New York years later. He was the one big bullethole of my adolescence and he did not care even a little bit about that. SO much ink I had spilled in my high school fanzines about it. I saw him in Union Square while I was having a screaming match with someone possible my parents on the phone. I was wearing a business suit and he was still dressed like a gutter punk because his parents had raised him to know that no one had the right to limit him and I wish I had been able to be convinced of this. But seeing him and feeling no hard thing or hurt thing reminds me of the feeling I'm having right now which is that once we've locked something away from ourselves we can keep it there but it takes more and more effort. Like the centrifugal force of fucking waking up.