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balance (2): time travel

Saturday, July 11, 2009

time travel

i can't remember how 'l' and i first became friends. we worked together, many years ago, at the neighborhood video store, an oasis to which i would gladly escape on my rusty moped, from the stark desert of family life, in lafayette- a pleasant suburb full of apathetic and bored teenagers not far from boulder. i had inadvertently fallen into the madness again (namely constant conflict with my mother), when i ran back "home", after dropping out of my first college in a northern colorado cow town (there were blood boiling days which made the stench even more unbearable than usual, and my roommate was christian, obese, and endlessly annoying).... i was too distracted with being in desperate flux to recognize 'l' as anything more than a passing coworker at that time. we had separate lives, separate friends (mine would come in the store stoned and try to convince me in sideways whispers to remove their late fees from their accounts). 'l' was still in high school. i don't think i ever said more than two words to her. but i used to watch her on camera from the office at the back, and muse that she looked a lot like me....and it's true, we're alike- though she is more light and i dark. we both have an eastern european profile, and bright eyes, and a bit of a naughty and curious bent to our personalities.

i met 'd', the dead boy of my last entry, around that time. he dj'd at our local basement club. he ran the record store. he lived in the basement of his happy friend g's family house, where they would pile up strange toys and musical instruments, watch marathons of star trek or cohen brothers films, and make stupid jokes in childish voices over their complex drinking games. i would raid d's thousands of cds and learn about the evolution of bands whose names i now forget, memorize lyrics to songs that were abandoned in boxes of broken mix tapes somewhere on the long and twisty line from then to now. 'd' often got us free tickets to loud shows with inevitable mosh pits, and backstage passes to meet big stars, who would barely glance at me while 'd' babbled his way charmingly into the center of their circles. i would check out the girls on the periphery and wonder if i should pierce my eyebrow or buy platform heels and vintage duds. i had moved out of my mom's house by that time, and was living with a nice woman and her two tiny daughters. her very sexy boyfriend would drop by on his motorcycle, and rifle through drawers or behind light fixtures for hidden whiskey bottles. by the end of most nights, he would be yelling and throwing my roommate down stairs. i moved in with 'd', and soon after we road tripped down to the steamy swampland of south florida, where we took pictures of armadillos in our plant-lined linai and rode yachts on the turquoise atlantic (i since heard that the drunk boyfriend burned down the apartment and the woman had to move away alone with her little girls).

lots of life in between, which i will save for my book. years later (or maybe before) 'l' and i would spot each other across various local dance floors, in our dark eyeliner, dominatrix bobs, and black clothing. we both were drawn like moths to the flaming 80's, and the goth aesthetic, and the slick oily energy of industrial bands and punk girls with cigarettes in dark corner booths. we both had younger sisters who would sneak out with us, to compare shoes, flirt shamelessly with the muscled bouncer, and ogle floppy haired introvert boys (and girls) who danced like homosexuals to my life with the thrill kill kult, the smiths, soft cell, bauhaus, siouxie... we danced too, with abandon, with ourselves.

somewhere along the line i think i realized i had my first ever girl crush on 'l', and was both devastated plus intrigued (which equals obsession) by the fact that she had acquired an actual girlfriend! so i contrived to be near her, with emails inviting her to glasses of wine, over which i would try to keep my greedy stares unobtrusive, and my prodding for details casual. i didn't think (and still don't) that i could ever have an actual relationship with a girl, i just found them yummy. 'l' was so plumply sensuous and pale. i couldn't believe she lived with a lesbian lover, slept beside her, shared the mundane details of their lives together, had jealous spats. i felt surprisingly prudish at these revelations. by this time 'l' (a drama major) had begun what was to become a long career of burlesque dancing and vaudeville acts. she was a traveller too, and had stories of russian boys and french mothers. none of this helped dissuade me from my secret adoration of her, but my blurted suggestions of naked pillow fights went unrecognized, as lesbians, apparently, were mystifyingly loyal to each other, or at least these two, at that time. still, i was able to always keep 'l' on her pretty pin-up pedestal in my mind, and to miss her over the years, as we dropped in and out of contact.

now 'l' is back again, in this month of retro reminiscence, in lafayette. fresh from a messy divorce and a life of warehouse clubs in dreary seattle. still girlie, still dancing. still travelling. still like me. we drove last night in her car to denver, to a basement theater under the clocktower, to drink champagne and watch 80's-themed burlesque. girls in bloomers and long gloves, swinging from hoops and peeling their tops to flick their tassles at the hooting audience with fetching smiles and fluttering eyelashes. girls in mohawks and prom dresses and boys in trilby hats with bare chests danced before the stage. a george michael impersonator did a sly striptease to gales of titillated laughter from bachelorettes. 'l' was hugged by girl after girl in corsets and knee highs, and i performed a few distracted handshakes as i twirled my noisemaker giddily. i marvelled at again, the sense that coming back to colorado was like jumping into a time machine, as strains of duran duran and the violent femmes drifted through the room and stray cuts of film flashing 80s icons flicked against the dark wall. i giggled progressively more as the champagne worked it's bubbles into my bloodstream. 'l' will be dancing again, in future nights at this theater, and i begged her to let me do a routine with her. every girl's dream is to dance onstage, and though i was a topless dancer for 2 days once (a long and other story), i am greedy for that presumably exhilirating feeling of being dressed in a tantalizing array of costumes and teasing an audience from behind the lights. perhaps this is what i will do next with my life- is 33 too old to do burlesque? we shall see.

one of my old costumes

anyway, later in the evening 'l' and i went to watch her mother play blues in a dive bar somewhere at the edge of town. we must have looked like sexy sisters, walking in, still high on fantasies of ourselves as pin-ups, and both about 20 years younger than the average patron. the bored men draped over the bar perked up. we navigated to a plastic booth to watch the band- probably the coolest band over 50 in existence as far as i am concerned. if only l's mother was my mother! she plays bass, which is the instrument i have tried and failed several times to teach myself, wanting to be a hip chick player. she picked it up when she was 38! she also has a great voice. her band mates were scraggly and stylish. i felt like they were a big family, and i tried my best to fit in. i got progressively more drunk, and when i realized i was becoming the center of conversation, in an effort to avoid annoying or embarassing 'l', i snuck outside to smoke (ugh) and tease drunken rednecks (might as well practice). when i came back in 'l' pushed my hair out of my eyes and put her hand on my leg. i nervously kept drinking long after she stopped....

i have not had such a fun night in many years- a combination of my fondness for 'l'; the hours of laughter and stimulation at the burlesque show; the heady dizziness of memories blurring with eerily similar actual events; the sense of family, adopted though it was; the nice, unpretentious people that fill colorado's borders; the alcohol.... i barely remember the drive home, and didn't elaborate on plans... but i have resolved not to let 'l' out of my life so easily this time around, as if there is one thing i need, it is some intrigue and fun, and a re-capturing of a more free and daring me, set to an 80's soundtrack.


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