Archive | Past Matters

To Sleep Again

Eleven years ago today I broke my neck and foot and sustained a severe concussion at a Boston production of Sleep No More. I was taking in this annoyingly avant-garde staging of Macbeth (yes, the cursed play) with my best friend and first boyfriend, all of us reunited for our 20th high school reunion, when I pushed through one of its many mysterious curtains to….fall in the darkness onto a hardwood floor from a stage 15 feet above. The Punch Drunk players had been too punch drunk to safely rope it off, apparently. Continue Reading →

The Coldness of Strangers

I’ve never been the type to pick up strangers and bed them. When I was younger, my approach was to take numbers—flirt copiously, then drift away. The occasional follow-up dinner, the potential plus one. But bedding someone—taking them inside myself in some way—always seemed so invasive that I reserved it for people I’d inspected closely, actually loved a lot. Perhaps it was the former anorexic in me. I used to joke that bulimics went through sexual partners like water, but we “restricters” hardly ever let anything inside. God knows I never swallowed when I gave blow jobs—too many calories.

Only once did I fuck a complete stranger. I picked him up at the coffee shop where I have met so many of my lovers over the years. Usually when I met someone there, we would commence a long, slow courtship that would take months, if not years, to consummate. Sometimes these people would become friends afterward, more often they never became anything but friends. Friendship really is the highest form of human relationship, anyway—the most elective, the most gracious.

Part of why I slept with this man was I’d just ended it with someone who didn’t deserve any mourning. He’d been my boss—was still my boss, in fact, and wielded a great deal of power over me. So my goal was to get over him as soon as possible—to get the taste out of my mouth, so to speak. 2011 was doggedly pre-#metoo. Continue Reading →

Grasshoppers in the Refracted Green Light

Does anyone remember a 1983 film called Independence Day? It costars an impossibly lanky and fresh-faced Diane Wiest as an abused wife in a dinky New Mexican town, and I’ve been trying to find it online for days. Scenes from it have been surfacing in my mind’s eye like a half-buried trauma, and I keep thinking if I could rewatch the whole film maybe I’d better understand why. All I remember is that I saw it when divorce had just been finalized for C, my mother’s best friend–a tall brassy woman with big plastic glasses and an unflattering short permanent. In an effort to cheer her up, my mom had taken her, her daughter K, and me out for a night on the town–first sundaes and lime rickeys at Brigham’s, then the West Newton Cinema for this very aptly named film. Only the plot grew darker and darker until its ending, resulted–I think?–in murder and suicide. The credits rolled, and K and I sat shocked, my mother gnawed at her thumb, and C, who usually radiated this aggressive, weirdly hostile cheer, remained motionless in her seat, huge tears shining in the refracted light of the screen.

Boy o boy do I wish I could see that movie again, because something in that moment sealed my pubescent self’s determination to never become a wife; no never, thank you very much. I was 12, so it took another 30 years for people to believe me, maybe five more for me to believe myself. But why am I remembering that moment now, o why? There’s something about grasshopper cocktails and burning houses that just keeps flashing fast. I think I’m digging into this mostly to better understand the 12-year-old girl who saw it, but if you have any memory of the film itself I’d be grateful. Even the online reviews are scant.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy