Saturday, June 30, 2012

Time to pass

Late lunch at Bloomingdale's with mother, the shrimp bisque matches her Marc Jacobs purse and it's not a coincidence. She's pathologically meticulous about her appearance and knows exactly what face to put on when a familiar voice calls her name from across the cafe. It has that tone that comes with way too much money and a questionable taste in home decoration and belongs to one of mother's expensive friends from last week's dinner party. 

"Ooooh" she twitters with that fake New York accent, "we're having a little gathering on Tuesday, you simply must come". Mother knows the protocol, delivers a rapid Colgate smile and flaunts her new Bulgari bracelet with a subtle hand movement. The woman is standing behind me but I can almost feel her taking notice of the gesture and nodding approvingly.

"Good then" she says and the awkward moment seems to pass. I'm getting ready to breathe again when she stops in the middle of a step and looks at me as if I was a pet. "And one more thing". I'm staring into the bisque. "Please bring the girls".

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Abandoned places

Mother, as jaded as she became somewhere along the line, still knows how to throw a spectacular dinner party. She cares about the little things and spends hours setting the table, decorating the dining room with colorful lights and arranging fresh flowers in her Lalique crystal vases.

This past weekend she invited her most expensive friends and told Chloe and me we could stay if we would just keep quiet. After three hours of listening to mindless monologues we managed to escape out into the fresh Manhattan night air and walked to a club downtown. Chloe looked so happy in the tattooed arms of a thirty-something clothing designer, I ended up finding someone to sleep with and never call again.

I woke up on Sunday morning with his heartbeats next to mine, and I've never felt more alone. It reminded me of the boy I left behind in LA, the one I grew up with up and who still loves me for some reason. My Carl. That Sunday morning in someone's bed, between someone's sheets, he was closer to me than the someone that held me with his arms wrapped tight around me. I could almost hear his voice from across the wasteland as I put my clothes on and walked out into the sleeping streets unnoticed.

"Avy", he whispered inside my head, "that could have been you and I".

Friday, June 22, 2012

At the height of summer

I found the envelope in the trash today, but still no sign of the letter. It's getting harder to sleep in this heat wave, I wake up in the middle of the night and escape to the balcony wearing the sheerest clothes I own. It reminds me of late nights in the garden of our summer house, under the colored lights, listening to the voices of the grown ups and being close to Carl.

My father was there too, some of the pictures he left me are from the times we spent there. I would stay up late to be alone with him, the surrounding forests were pitch black after the sun had set and we would watch the stars together. He told me we would go there some day, I understood the symbolism years later and standing alone on the balcony in the dark I can feel it too: the restlessness and the urge to get away from wherever I am, hoping it would somehow make it all better.

Monday, June 18, 2012


I get scared when people tell me they want to have my lifestyle. This is not Sex and the City, this is not the glamorous journey towards a happy ending like in the fairy tales. This is a car ride in the middle of the night, in the dark, and the lights along the road are from burning forests. As beautiful as it is to watch from a distance it will kill you, either the heat of the flames or the suffocating carbon monoxide in the air.

S called me earlier in the middle of a dream, her voice like black satin. She told me about a photo album and pictures from a long lost time when everything was pretty and pink. "It was", she said, "as if I saw myself from outside my own body".

My father left me hundreds and hundreds of pictures, but none are of him. When it hurts the most I can't even remember what he looked like.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday doesn't even start

How can an apartment in the middle of Manhattan be this quiet? Ever since mother surprised me that day it's a different sort of silence, even more deafening, as if it's hiding something in between frequencies. I can feel it if I stop breathing so I try not to.

And today, the piercing sound of the doorbell hits me in the chest like a wrecking ball. I open the door but there's no one there, just a letter with my mother's name on it. The envelope is torn and has lost a lot of its color, the stamps 1972 commemoratives, her name neatly handwritten in black ink.

I put it in plain site on the counter in the kitchen and watch mother carefully as she comes home: no clear reaction. Chloe, la conspiratrice, is certain, "it has to have come from the lady in black" she whispers as we sit down to eat. It fits the narrative, I'm not convinced but after dinner it's nowhere to be found and mother has escaped to her bedroom. The dense silence returns.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday you can fall apart

Chloe gets up at 7 in the morning and leaves for work 45 minutes later. Sometimes she wakes me, purposely or not, sometimes I join her for breakfast and we talk about nothing and the weather over coffee (and a little Bourbon). When she's in the shower I sometimes talk to mother, if she's home and awake.

Sometimes, after they've both left, I get back into bed and try to fall asleep again, just to distance myself from the constantly surfacing mental images: me as a child on a tall chair in the kitchen, my feet don't yet reach the floor. I read the business section of the Los Angeles Times without understanding much, just to make him proud of me.

He sits casually across the table, my father, and he smiles at me. In a few minutes he's taking me to school and this early morning ritual, the time we spend together, will be over. At least for now, I'd think, and there was always a tomorrow until suddenly there wasn't.

"No happy endings, Avy", he said.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Where there's smoke

The weather forecasts talk about thunderstorms when mother steps into my room, her skin tone noticeably lighter than usual. "Frank is coming to dinner" she says. "Try to behave". She spends the rest of the afternoon nervously walking around the apartment in heels, changing her jewelry every half hour while loudly talking to herself as if to another person. "Does this look right? Yes. No. Yes. Yes."

Chloe has just returned from work when the doorbell rings, mother's face a nuance of pale that accentuates her Rouge Coco lipstick (#10 Camélia). With that bone white Moschino dress from the early 90s she really does look fabulous, like a movie star just before the drug addictions.

And Frank, there's something about the way he looks at me from across the table, I can't put it into words but he's tidier than the last time I saw him. Mother serves a stuffed bird and talks about how they met at a Who concert in 1979, but I get the feeling there's more to the story. The subtle tremble in her voice gives her away, I look at Chloe looking at me. She feels it too.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Misfits

Friday was Marilyn's birthday, we celebrated by watching old Hollywood movies and eating pink frosted cupcakes in bed. Chloe looks more like her even though I'm the blonde, she has that enigmatic charisma you never want to see getting poisoned and destroyed by mean-spirited people.

"The world", she says, "was never shaped by reason or truth but by delusions. How else could Rick Santorum almost become president of the United States?"

Maybe it's true. Escaping reality can sometimes seem like the only way of surviving, of not going mad or become completely paralyzed with sadness.

Chloe flips through the pages of David Wills' photo book Metamorphosis. "Imagine someone like Jessica Simpson today" she sighs, "wearing a sheer rhinestone dress with nothing underneath while singing 'Happy birthday Mr. President' to Obama. The horror".