I biked about half an hour in the misty rain today, up a hill, down a hill, and then up a hill again until I got to coast down the last slope to the old strip mall that’s just down the street from my grandparents’ house. I was feeling a great need to procure myself a long dark cloak – and I went in to the Salvation Army (ah, thrift stores, for a would-be actor, thine junk is shimmering treasure to me) and I actually found one, even though I wasn’t really expecting to. It’s great. It goes down to around my knees, and the sleeves are gigantic, and there’s a collar that can be flipped up so it juts out, vampiresque. It was just twenty dollars, and it’s really a great coat – not just good as a costume, but also for rain and stuff. It’s warm, too. When I got home, my mom was busy at her computer; I sidled up to her, waiting for her to notice my wardrobe, and eventually had to say, “Hey. Check out my Vaudeville coat.”
She glanced. Then she said there was dirt on the back, I should clean that up, and also that she wouldn’t be comfortable with me wearing it out in public because I might be mistaken for a terrorist or someone who carries around shotguns. Long dark cloaks are scary, she said. I don’t disagree, but –
Here’s where fiction is so much better than real life.
A couple of years ago, when my depression and anxiety was really bad and I wasn’t going outside, I wrote a book called Vaudeville. It’s about a mean teenage gravekeeper who smokes cigars and Gordon Lightfoot, who’s kind of his sidekick, or just his companion. The main character Vaudeville is pretty nasty indeed, and I think he’s some sort of materialization of all the issues I was having back then. In the end he gets better, and makes friends with another gravekeeper named Etta who drips water on dead people’s heads to get back at them if they were bad people while they were alive (in Vaudeville dead people can come back to life, if they so choose.) So, today when my mom and I went to get lunch, we talked about a possible Vaudeville movie. She suggested I do it in short installments and put it up on Youtube. I thought that would be cool, even though there’s a definite shortage of actors (the cast would be one teenage boy, one teenage girl, one old man who can sing and play guitar, a large number of zombies, a middle-aged man, and a woman who runs a corner store). I don’t know anybody who would want to be in a movie of mine. Nobody gets as excited by this stuff as I do. If I did somehow get the thing set up, I’d play Vaudeville – even though I’m sure there’s some guy out there who could play him way better than I ever could (even though I wrote him.) It makes sense because I’m the only person I know who comes close to what Vaudeville is supposed to be like.
So, I got that long dark cloak at the thrift store, to wear if ever I get the movie set up. (Because in the book he’s always wearing it.) And my mom says it would make me look like a terrorist. Me, though? I’d understand that more if I had a wild beard, a baseball hat pulled low over my eyes, and a big backpack slung over my shoulders – but I’m pretty innocuous-looking, I always thought. It kind of makes me feel bad because I was looking forward to wearing the coat around, and I was excited by the prospect of play-acting a character I loved writing so much. I guess I still can, but only during the movie that will probably never actually get made. I don’t know. Like, I go through life kind of not being able to stand who I am – mostly the “girl” part of it – and it’s better to not be me, sometimes. Maybe that sounds really stupid and bad. I can’t tell. I’m just looking for a way to be more comfortable, and damn, I like that cloak I found. I really like it.
It makes me wonder how much longer I’ll have to listen to my mom. I know that often she’s right about things, and I don’t really mind listening to her, because she’s my mom and that’s the way it is; but eventually I think I should get more say. Although this is different a bit because she said that she won’t be comfortable walking around with me if I’m wearing that coat, and there’s no way I would make her uncomfortable. My grandma said she liked my coat – and so did the lady at the Salvation Army. I don’t know – I don’t look at people in dark coats and think, ‘Ah yes, there goes a terrorist.’ Maybe other people do.
Maybe I’m overthinking this, and I should just hang the coat up and never wear it. But I spent twenty dollars on it. And it’s cool. This is all pretty trivial, I guess.
We also visited the graveyard today, which is what got us talking about the Vaudeville movie. For no particular reason; just because. We both agreed it was a weird thing to do, but we had fun looking at the old graves and finding the weird names. Among the weird names was this doozy of a weird name:
And of course, Joy Oy.
My mom and I were talking about how it’s a bit weird that graveyards are a thing, that when you die you get put in a box in the ground with a stone above you that says who you were. I think it’s definitely weird, but I get why it comforts people – you don’t want the world to forget about someone, and everyone’s afraid of that happening. Having your name set in stone to sit there for hundreds of years like a stubborn cry against the irrelevancy that death brings is a comfort. I understand.
Meanwhile, believe it or not, it’s actually spring. We had a lot of rain yesterday, and some today – most of the snow has disappeared, receding back into the trees, leaving wide swaths of damp, bleached grass. My grandma’s garden has a little group of snowdrops, sitting with their white heads bowed. There are iris shoots behind them, and the magnolia bush is full of buds. The little birds have returned – the twitchy brown ones are everywhere, and the other day when I was sitting out on the front step the forest was full of birdsong, probably ten or more different kinds singing discordantly. The sun stays longer and the wind has gotten warm.
On the twenty-fifth (or twenty-seventh?) of this month I’m supposed to go to a Yu-gi-oh tournament with my friends. It’ll be the first time I see them in a couple months; I talked with Josh for a little while a few days ago, and he admitted he’d been trying to call me but had been busy or shy – I told him I’d been in the same situation, (just minus the busyness.) It probably won’t be fun – a couple hours sitting stuffed into a small toy shop in the suburbs with twenty-odd other people, all unnervingly similar to me and my friends – but at least I’ll see my friends again. I really miss them. It really helps, psychologically, seeing your friends. It’s like the difference between a sunny day and a cloudy one. In the meantime, I’ll persist with this annoying transitioning business. So far, Lupron has knocked off a good deal of my girl-curves, and my voice seems to have actually lowered a tiny bit, enough so that I’m able to notice when I listen to old recordings of myself versus the new ones. I don’t know how much of that is just in my head, though. I’ve been kind of checking out those STP things (that would basically allow me to use the guys’ bathroom) but they look really finicky and I’m not sure if I’d have enough courage to try and get one to work. Never mind how I’d get one in the first place. I figure my mom, being as helpfully smart as she is, will figure out that I want one eventually – for right now I’ll just continue my lifelong tradition of avoiding all bathrooms, always.
But fuck, imagine how it would feel to walk into a bathroom and feel like you belong? Well, maybe you can’t. But if you can, then imagine it, let the wonderfulness of it sink in. You just walk in, do your stuff, and walk out again, and don’t feel any crushing anxiety or anger or fear. It’s just simple, how it’s supposed to work. Never mind that I’d be going to the bathroom with a plastic thing.
Whatever. I think I’ll probably just muddle through like always, and things will be all right. For now I’ll enjoy my graveyards, long cloaks, and pretty flowers.