"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison


Laundry Weekend

Laundry Weekend

Currently: Thursday, 1:20 AM:

Could be notes but I have never been one of those. (A notetaker.) 

I think this is for the best: if you do not notice me. 

The reason: if you notice me you will know me. Because I think my mouth is an open wound. That requires stitching. 

If I do not say it, I will surely suffocate. (I have experimented with suffocation before, and it just hurts.) 

 

 

There is something wrong; I think it is the way they treat me. 

So don’t leave. I don’t think you should leave this dorm room. Never, ever leave this dorm room. If you leave this dorm room they will attack you, and please: do not attack me.

Not here. On this campus. Not here. In front of everyone. 

No, and stop. 

So I am maintaining the suspicion: they think I’m something like him––something like a babysitter’s boyfriend. 

Something like an attacker. 

But I am not like him. I am not a babysitter’s boyfriend. 

I am not that. 

I am not the image of predation forcing a body to clutch onto shower taps in the middle of the night. 

I am not keeping the shower curtain closed. Like him, like he did. 

Oh, wait: I am him/I am becoming just like THAT, and it’s way too late to change anything. 

In my advanced creative writing course.

They are writing about me. I am in the stories, their stories.

I am totally seated in a sea of mostly brown eyes. So I withdraw.

In my theatre course, they are performing scenes from my life. So I withdraw.

And in my philosophy course, they just hate me. So I withdraw!

And the small campus becomes smaller. Much smaller. 

Everything is closing in––I think I can see everything that exists. 

But a bed, a bookshelf, a desk, a chair, and a dresser. All for me, all supplied by the college. This is what I want to see. 

(This is my life.) 

An American flag is on my wall as well. And all the stars are moving, slowly. Sometimes quickly. All before I can gain motive to blink. 

Also, I am not eating. Subsequently losing some weight, for sure. Too skinny. Because the dining hall is just not a possibility anymore. Too many pairs of multi-colored eyes there. 

And my door is always, always, always locked. And I hurry to the restroom across the hall once a day. 

(This is war.) 

During this period in my dorm room, I make a very half-hearted attempt. 

I swallow every pill in sight and wake up in the middle of the night with the worst headache of my life. The worst headache I will ever suffer. I promise.

 

 

But I will go back there. (I will go back to Bennington. That’s in Vermont.) 

Because I think it’s the drawings from my father. My dad draws for me, on our family week. And I think this is what does it for me. 

He draws me/he draws my friends. We are just stick figures to him, my dad. We are supposed to be having (sober) fun: we are playing (like kids) on commons lawn. And I’m surprised he remembers my college. 

He knows my college. Mom does too.

And I love him. And I love her too.

So my parents are sleeping in a hotel.

And sure, I am near them. But I am also so far away, too.

They are going to remember this. In arguments they will use this. 

Because they are sitting next to people in pain. Because they are sitting across from people in pain. Sitting next to, and sitting across from all those people in pain. I am putting my parents through H-E-L-L.

Molly does not meet my parents; Molly does not hear/see my parents. She’s sick in bed. 

Molly used to prefer longer hair––now wears it short. Molly also prefers grown women to boyfriends.

Molly was born in Eastern Colorado and raised in East Africa but attended an art college back where I’m from but you can’t know which one (because confidentiality). 

After college, Molly relocated to Los Angeles. She was bullied by her coworkers there. So she came here. She wants tattoos to cover her left forearm. She wants tattoos to cover the scars. 

I hope Molly is still alive. I really hope so. 

Sydney is related to her mother and sister. They all look so alike! I meet that small family on her week. They are disappointed she is here, with us. And apparently her room at home is a mess, apparently. Sydney is the depressed person with the most rewarding laugh. 

I hope Sydney is still reading, on the beach. I hope Sydney still hopes for something. 

But Carly only shows up when she feels like it. 

Carly is here because she swallowed like sixty pills. Or maybe more pills. I forget how many pills. 

All the men say they wouldn’t even take Carly home on a bad night because she’s ugly as sin. (Alcohol/alcoholism, men; bad nights. You are aware, most likely.) 

I hope Carly is still painting her nails, and taking Hallmark cards very seriously. Rick is also in my process group.

Rick is a sweetheart from Memphis who has spent the last decade smoking very low quality marijuana (handyman supplied skunk), alone, in his car, his wife sometimes watching him from the windows in their apartment. 

Do they ever think of me? Do they ever remind themselves? I kind of think of them often, kind of.

 

 

I think my greatest fear is this: being forceful. 

I do not want to be that. 

I do not want to be that but I (desperately) want you to imagine this: two boys wearing their bright red swimming trunks in a sun drenched backyard. In Los Angeles. 

I’d like to stand on that driveway one more time. I’d like to drink up that smaller refrigerator next to that much bigger refrigerator. 

That big backyard, that very cold pool, to just be with my terribly confused roommate in his bright red swimming trunks too. 

To share my cigarettes. To crack jokes about really dirty things. To lay down (he will not share a bed whenever we screen horror films from the nineteen-seventies because boundaries ). 

All with him, my roommate.

We both share cannabis use disorder. We do not share his pectus excavatum (there is something wrong with his chest). 

And he still buzzes me. And I still accept the calls. He is in some trouble. 

His new roommate is not me. His new roommate is breaking glass. His new roommate is bleeding in their apartment. His new roommate is shooting up speedballs in the bathroom. In other rooms, too. My roommate does not appreciate this. My roommate does not value speedballs. 

He calls from Boulder. He calls from the University of Alabama. He does not attend the University of Alabama. In every new location he suffers. In every new location he calls. He calls about the suffering. 

And what to tell him about suffering? 

One evening I am taking a shower and he calls to tell me he should just do it. 

But I am naked, dripping onto the bathroom floor, and my family hates a wet bathroom floor. 

I contact the authorities in Boulder but I am forgetting his last name. I am forgetting his last name.

And I don’t know his address, in Colorado, either.

 

 

So I’m home. 

And my parents remove all the liquor from the kitchen and hide it in their bedroom like college students. 

My father is not shaking gin and tonics. My mother is not unscrewing wine bottles. This does not happen in front of me. 

In the month of April everyone is telling me I have a problem. Everyone is saying the drugs were a part of my breakdown. 

I am saying the drugs were apart from it. I want to be a college student again. I want Bennington back.

 

 

I had seen alcohol before last summer. I had tasted alcohol before last summer. I just fell in love with alcohol last summer. I was alone/why I fell in love: I was primarily alone. 

To be honest: I am not a bartender! By any means! To be honest: there is something wrong. Like twelve-step wrong. With me. But I do not want to believe it. 

Some drinks are simple to fix. (Gin and tonics––easy to fix.) However, whenever I fix myself a gin and tonic I can usually imagine a gin and tonic of a much higher quality.

My father can fix a wonderful one. You should try it. If you get the chance. 

But my father will never ever fix me one. Cause it’s harder than beer or wine. 

But I am not a child anymore, dad. DAD! 

Sometimes I worry I cannot fix myself anything. I worry I cannot survive. Here (at college, at Bennington). Or even at home. Or anywhere else, too. 

So I moved to the country. 

After my collapse in Vermont. After rehabilitation across the country. After I returned to the city. 

I moved to the country. 

This is when I fell in love. I fell in love with swigging it to the bottom of the bottle. 

I fell in love with how cigarettes feel when swigging. I really fell in love with everything. 

Life begins to feel private; no one is admitted. Plus: nothing, and no one, can attack you.

I like sleeping too. Sleeping is very similar. To alcohol. I think. At least. 

My first beer. I was a freshman in high school. It was my birthday. I was always thinking about sex. But I was so ugly! Had a bad haircut, and Zack says I look like a peanut.

I shared a birthday with two older soft-spoken blonde girls that were already having some sex in beds, and showers too. 

Lauren (a sophomore) had sex in eighth grade but couldn’t finish with Zack because she felt the baby kicking, already. 

Julia (also a sophomore) had sex on the beach in the early morning but doesn’t remember the summer sex. And Zack wouldn’t tell her. If it happened. 

An unfortunate one ( a fact ): Zack would later attack Julia in the school gymnasium. 

On this birthday, my birthday, we are on our way to Lauren’s birthday. Lauren’s birthday party. She is turning fifteen. Or sixteen. Or some age. I suppose I forget what age she is turning. 

I am concerned I will be denied entry. I do not know how impromptu high school parties function. 

I have the worst acne/dandruff of my life. What is going to happen? To me?

Do they attack you at parties?

But in the country. 

I spend my days drinking. Alone. In an apartment that does not feel like mine. (Nothing like home.) With some sunlight that will hit my eyes occasionally.

And I become friends with the woman who lives downstairs. She tells me the man I live with lays on her bed and will not leave. 

(I cannot live with him, anymore. I just can’t.) 

I need to leave. And I need to stop doing this. (I’m drinking too much cheap beer from the corner.)

 

 

Currently on my bed. A pile of (clean) laundry next to me. 

Currently: struggling with a cocaine nosebleed. There is blood on my white pants. 

And currently: attempting to discuss the state of my dorm room, on my mobile phone, to her. 

I am not supposed to refer to her as “her,” or “she.” 

It is dehumanizing, she thinks. 

My mother is telling me about the neighborhood tragedy. And I hate my room. 

Because I want a bed that I did not sweat in the night before. And I want these hardwood floors to be swept and mopped, daily. 

I do not want this cough anymore.

My parents are driving to campus on Sunday. (Which is tomorrow.) They are going to help me make my room a lot better. They are going to bring me nice things. Like a lamp. Like a chair. 

Like anything they can fit into the car. 

I am trying to communicate this to her: please do not tell me about what happened to the babies near the house.

But she does not hear me.


Right now, I am looking at blood. On my pants. There is a lot. I am so grateful she cannot see me right now.

I am so grateful she is not here. 

So blood on my pants, blood on the sheets, and an almost paralyzing cough but the driver fell asleep (apparently a new medication the body did not agree with, apparently) and the little bodies were crushed by the tires. 

No more blood from my nose but there is still very much laundry to fold and the babies are gone.

 

 

Currently: Thursday, 2:30 AM: 

I think I tried. At least I think I did.

This, writing this , was trying.

To gently consider some bathroom tile while being attacked, is trying. And for me to attempt to begin to love myself, is trying.

When you think of me, I want you to think this: someone who tried. 

 

 

These were just some notes, because I had to.


Myles Zavelo attends Bennington College, in Vermont.

Cover hoto by Jan Kahánek on Unsplash

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