I’m not sure which shocked me more. The fact that I had slept with an Evangelical Christian woman, or that one of her favorite bands was Pierce The Veil. In the past year, I’ve bounced around from guy after guy and when Dana came onto me, I just couldn’t help but accept the challenge. Dana had made it clear to me she was straight, especially when she screamed “I LIKE MEN!” then licked Nutella off my boobs. I figured she was just using me- the crazy bisexual chick next door- to tie her up and dominate her before she played Jump Rope with her 2nd grade Vacation Bible school class. We were just fooling around, I didn’t expect the woman to bring me roses. And yet- over the course of hanging out with her for a week, I realized she really liked me.
I was walking down a crowded hallway when Dana spotted my manic panic red hair and tackled me into a hug. I looked like a total badass. Or Satan. She was wearing a grey blouse and a cross around her neck as she cupped my face and kissed me—surprisingly unashamed.
“I missed you so much! I think one of the kids from bible study gave me pink eye. I had a dream about you and I wrote you poem. Can I read it to you?”
“Really?” I said. “You wrote me a poem?”
She grabbed my hand and ran with me into the handicap stall of the Women’s Bathroom. I was drinking a large coffee and the ice sloshed as she yanked me onto her lap on the floor. We laughed then kissed passionately, Dana biting my bottom lip. I nuzzled her nose against mine.
“Were not in the closet, were in the stall” Dana smiled. I cackled loudly as the toilet flushed. It occurred to me I once got drunk and gave a guy I met in a bar head in a bathroom- but this was so romantic!
“Shh!” Dana giggled.
She handed me her notebook covered in short stories and flipped to my page, twirling my red hair around her finger. “I wrote you another note too. Read it when you get home.” Dana got up, and I clung to her like a Koala, giggling, as she lifted us both.
Recently, I found out I have bipolar disorder. I’m seeing a therapist again because my life is out of control. During the past six months, I have had days were I didn’t sleep, and migraines three times a week. I have a bad habit of drinking heavily alone, or going to bars, getting drunk, and having sex with random guys when I’m manic. I once had sex with three guys in one night, and then went home and cut myself. Somenights, I wake up at 4’oclock in the morning rithing in pain and have to sleep with a pack of Veggie Burgers on my stomach, and corn beneath my arms. One bartender saw my cuts and asked me if I was a surfer. When Dana saw my body and asked me why, I said I wanted to die. I told her how I had almost gone through with it a few weeks ago with a bottle of pills. After I cut myself one night, I took a pill and downed it with a glass of vodka. I knew if I stayed in my apartment one more second, I would swallow the whole bottle. I got in my car and drove. Dana cradled me like a baby. We wound up driving aimlessly and holding hands listening to Korn, then went to starbucks. I chainsmoked while she read me her writing- which is actually very good. I took her to the beach where I parked a mile and a half away to save $5 on parking. She told me if I ever wanted to hurt myself again to call her.
When I got home, I took out Dana’s note. Bellow a peirce the viel playlist, was another kind of list
Dear Ashley- or maybe everything isn’t such bullshit
Yes, you are my kitty kat, and I love you.
Holding icecubes, eating spicy foods, breaking things, writing angsty poems or trashing a canvas, are all ways to take out anger and pain. Razors are for shaving honey. No one has the right to your body. I don’t care how many drinks you have or how nice to you they are. You are not crazy. You simply need more help than others. You also are not fat. Please don’t hurt yourself. Want to drink? Stop going to bars. Say no. Stay home. Watch Family Guy. Eat icecream. Brush your princess hair. Somewhere, there is a golden retriever waiting to be adopted and Helena Bonham Carter could be pooping right now.
Believe it or not, I am always thinking about you and these thoughts may not be safe for web- but know that you are important to me.
A few days later, I told Dana I needed to pray. Dana came with me. I grabbed rocks and stuffed them into my Little Mermaid bag and we went on a walk. Dana carried my bag. The noon July South West Florida sun trickled down our necks and Dana filled the silence. “I love long arduous walks in the sun. Gosh this bag is heavy. If we do end up dating, I am going to be so fit!” She raised the green totebag like a dumbbell. “Everyone is going to be jealous of my abs, man.” I started running into the trees. Dana screamed after me, “Wait up! I could carry you like the princess you are” I threw my shoes into a bush, then laid down with my face flat on the ground and cried. Dana dropped my bag, spilling the stack of papers, cigarettes, reciets, redlipstick and a day to remember CD on the ground. She sat down on her knees patting my back and asked if she could hold me.
“I lost my voice.” My face was covered in dirt.
“Does your throat hurt?”
“No, I mean I lost my voice.” I sat on her lap once more and cried on her shoulder.
“God is watching you. The fact that you are still alive after car accidents, and anorexia and bulimia, and shit that doesn’t even have words means something!” Dana said.
My hands were flat on her back while I shook.
“Why doesn’t he just let me die?”
“Ashley, you have a purpose. You have survived so much! We are all searching for a place to call home to fill the emptiness inside us. For some people it’s sex, food, drugs-we all are broken. There is a reason why you are still here. You need to write, and draw! You need to break the silence! You need to stay alive! You need to use your anger and your pain creatively! Every day is another chance! Every god damn day!”
“I’m sorry you had to carry my bag” I wept.
“I carried it because I knew your arms hurt and I wanted to!” Dana said.
“It’s really heavy”
“Well, yes.” Sweat had matted Dana’s black hair, and I swept it back and kissed her neck. “Do you know how much it hurts when I am not around you? God has to love you. You are so beautiful. I know you don’t believe that because you are too close to your pain, but you are.”
I started crying in her black hair. I was wearing a t-shirt and my arms were covered in dried bloody scars, and damp bandages from the heat.
“Why do I think you’re beautiful?” Dana said. “Well, I always had a thing for artists and writers- and your funny. You’re obcessed with cinnamon in your coffee. Your writing is amazing. You have an adorable laugh. You sing in the car. You eat icecream for breakfast. You dance. You have over 10 shades of orange nailpolish. I think survivors are beautiful. You have scars and you bare them. You know you’re broken but you don’t care what people think because you want to help people overcome their pain. It’s honest and humbling, and raw and really kinda hot. You also like to walk more than any human being should. ”
I laughed and kissed her.
“I love being with you and want to hold you at the end of every day and fall asleep in your arms each night.” Dana hugged me close. I grabbed my green highlighter lying next to my A day to remember cd and drew hearts on each rock then threw them still on Dana’s lap, screaming. One rock hit a tree, bounced off and cracked open in half. Dana placed her hand on a stone and asked her to put all of her anger and rage inside of it. We threw it and screamed. I grabbed my orange marker and I drew a heart on the last stone with a small crease in the center, but didn’t throw it. Instead, I got up. Dana began shoving my things back into Ariel.
“Help me find your shoes.” Dana said, looking through sawgrass. I saw a cypress tree in the clearing and ran towards it. “Kitten! Where are you going?!”
She followed me to the tree. I had placed my hands on the bark.
“See that?” Dana said. “ That tree has been burned. It’s wet from a storm, there’s moss and shit growing on it, but it is still here!”
I took Dana’s hand and placed them on the last stone over top of mine.
“I will plant my rage and grow like the tree. Dana, you have carried my weight for me. I want you to have my heart.”
“Oh my god, the rock is symbolic!” Dana kissed me as the sun shined through the empty spaces between tree branches. Then she grabbed my hand, leaned in, and whispered into my ear.