The Last Week Before Normalcy

by VICTORIA MARTINEZ

My boyfriend is thirty. He is also kind of my best friend’s boyfriend. He and I kiss, but they talk. They get each other. We sleep in the same bed, the three of us. Clothed and usually there is no need for blankets because his apartment is so warm. If I sleep in the middle I touch both of them. If he sleeps in the middle he and I cuddle while her and his feet touch.

On Monday, Liora and I dropped acid. This was the second day of our three-way relationship, as far as it was no longer three friends and morphed into this specific triangle. Michael watched over us and smoked pot. Liora drove his car, and being in the car made me taste blood. They made jokes that sometimes would have made me laugh — dark, horrible, images wonderfully absurd — and I hallucinated vividly our deaths in a violent, crushing car accident.

Snakes hissed out of Michael’s eyes.

Michael and I were in bed with the blankets as a tent and we were kissing and talking. I said I felt more relaxed than was usual. He said he couldn’t relax because he was thinking about lust. And intelligence, and curiosity, and love. I had nothing to say. He’s a rather fantastic writer, which I find intimidating. Michael is always intimidating, with his constant watching and psychoanalysis. He is, however, pretty cute.

Liora and Michael have conversations I wish I could be a part of. Then sometimes they talk about his friend who she likes and then our comfortable situation seems strange. On other occasions, they talk so calmly about sadness and hurt that I get sad. We all do it. It hurts more to hear them. When we were on acid they made my world dark. She, wobbly and uneven; he, deep purples and blues. They are probably more sensible than I am.

In the bed in the studio, where the window faces east and our lives centred in those few days, I was often snug between the two. This was especially odd since Liora and I rarely touch. This was especially common since Michael and I rest well together. At other moments, when I took on all our sadnesses, I curled at the bottom with the soft blanket his grandmother made.

Michael turned 31 in August. He is a Leo. I turned 20 in July. I am a Cancer. Michael thought I was a Leo when we met, but now he notes that I am terribly guarded, and lack the confidence I try to project. Liora turns 21 in June. She is a Gemini. In the Chinese calendar, we go Dragon-Snake-Horse, which is the same order as our Western signs.

The bed was full of our books. All readers, often for hours flipping pages and tiptoeing the spaces outside the bed. One was the Love Signs. A towering dance of imagination and fact in our everyday.

Geminis and Leos are supposed to be very compatible. They are supposed to have engaging conversations and positive adventurousness. Theirs is not a pairing of jealousy. Cancers and Leos are supposed to have tumult in their relationships, with a great risk of one crushing the other’s ego and joy. Either that, or the Cancer will learn from the Leo, give the lion the spotlight, and be encouraging and comforting. We learned these things.

Michael says things that resonate, but he thinks too much. His inner life is his primary, thus he not only thinks too much, but looks like he is thinking about Life even when sitting in McDonald’s with drunk girls two thirds his age who spend that time berating him loudly. He decides courses of action with minimal input from myself or Liora, but she is better at ignoring him completely.

Liora makes me laugh more when she and I are alone, and Michael makes me sad more when he and I are alone. They both make me laugh.

When Liora had to leave, we picked Michael up to go to the bus. In his car. We went to the mall so she could get a video game and I went to buy her food. Michael told us that in five years, we’d be older than him, since he refuses to age. He is infuriating; telling me that two years ago he was cooler than I was. It is petty but I am angry.

Well, of course you were. I was in high school (twelfth grade, come on) and not particularly cool at that. You were living in the world, starting a career, and done a good deal of interesting education. Really, Michael? You feel it necessary to say this to me?

His car has a steering wheel lock. It is a challenge.

When Liora left, he gave her a big, long hug. He prides himself on his hugs.

The second time I hugged Michael, he made me put my head to the right, rather than the left of his head. That way our hearts would line up. He was right that time, and I will remember this rule for every next goodbye.

When Liora left, she and I pounded fists and gave each other awkward waves. We made fun of him for his hugging and because ours is always from the heart, yo. We said yo. Then Michael and I went for lunch at the English pub and had beer and sandwiches.

Michael wanted to get high with Liora, since she gets paranoid when she smokes pot, and he thought he could fix that. She did eventually. It turned out OK. She still gets paranoid. With me, he wanted to smoke pot and watch Pulp Fiction, whether I was high or not.

So on my last night in town, I sent him a text:

Let’s go out with a bang.

We picked up the movie and bought strange and horrible looking snacks. This is a favourite thing of mine. We tried to eat them later, and they were in fact strange and horrible tasting. Rainbow licorice dispenses with everything good about licorice, except the name, in case you wondered.

On Michael’s countertop were 5 bobby pins from my head and various occasions, laid out ceremoniously parallel one another next to a raspberry button as its full stop.

I think we all think about creativity in different ways, and with varying seriousness.

So, we went to Michael’s apartment, and he made himself some food. I realized I had no wine, and since we were celebrating, this needed remedy. Off on a journey to the liquor store, with my funny shift dress and loose bun. He told me that the men at the movie store had been watching me, that:

If they could undress any woman in the store, not knowing her personality, in most places, they would pick you.
I doubt that’s true. Do you watch Flight of the Conchords?
No.
Damn. That reminded me of this song, The Most Beautiful Girl in the Room, and now I can’t make a joke about it because you won’t get it. But it’s all like, if you were on the street, depending on the street, you’d definitely probably be in the top three.
He told me then that I was like a pretty French girl home in Saskatchewan.

He smoked his pipe and I drank my wine (whose label featured a wire bicycle) and we watched Pulp Fiction.

When Uma ODs snorting heroin, I saw myself thrashing and I heard a quiet scream disembodied but it was me and the unconscious feels a nightmare. I came to clawing his leg, and he acted like that was the most normal, sensible thing I could have done.

I slept for two hours that night, and we didn’t finish Pulp Fiction. Christopher Walken’s face onscreen watched us for hours while we talked until the sun was high outside, and at sunrise I suggested turning the movie back on. He said, I like this, and continued on. I made him let me listen to his piano. Michael records everything he ever plays, and says what they will be about prior to playing, so he can order his thoughts. He showed me the cassette called Victoria.

Liora went back a couple days later and went to a movie with he and another friend. She said she might date him, and I said that would probably be good.

When we sleep, it is after the sun has turned the sky blue. Sometimes we wake during the day. Sometimes Michael has work to do and sets an alarm that he turns off too many times before getting out of bed. Those days he comes back to nap with whomever is there still napping. Sometimes we sleep almost solidly until five in the evening. Sometimes there are naps throughout the day and night, and we have a perfect ignorance of time.

There was a nearly imperceptible rift when I left the city. I sent letters, and he sent one with a typewritten poem. The poem was about Halloween a year prior, when Liora and I first encountered Michael. He was dressed as Bob Dylan but didn’t know the words. It was the only sign I ever got of what he thought of us.

Years later, he will still be thirty.

All of Michael’s clocks are wrong.

Victoria Martinez is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Montreal. This is her first appearance in these pages.

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“Don’t Be Afraid, You Have Just Got Your Eyes Closed” – múm (mp3)

“We Have A Map Of The Piano” – múm (mp3)

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