Thursday, December 14, 2006

This Is Why I Have Trouble Sleeping

Sometimes I can't shut off my brain. I can't shut it off, and I can't shut it up. It just goes and goes and goes, especially when I pull the covers up to my chin and turn out the light for the night.

Last night I just wanted to go to bed and have dreams that were better than the dreams from the night before, where I was sitting at a board room table and two of my grad school peers were pointing fingers at me, yelling, "Liar! Liar! Liar!" for reasons that are still unclear to me. But to get to better dreams, I would first have to fall asleep. And I couldn't.

All I could think about was the day after I'd told my best friend that I'd lost my virginity. She was very angry with me. She thought I was a slut and that I was going to hell. She cried in front of the whole AP English class. All of that—the anger and the crying—happened on the day I told her. The next day, though, we started practicing the graceful art of High School Avoidance, which was difficult, since we had all the same friends and the same schedule.

That next day we had gym together, ninth period. We all dressed together in the same corner, which meant I'd have to stand close to her, my ex-best friend, the girl who thought I was on an express train, hell-bound. When I walked into the room and rounded the corner to where our group of friends did their changing, I noticed that everyone was a little wide-eyed and skittish. I figured maybe she'd said something mean, something like, "If that little slut even tries to come near me, I'm going to snap her in half."

I would've stayed away from her if I could, but here's the thing about best friends: they like to share lockers. And she and I shared one. My shorts, shirt, and shoes were in her locker, safely barricaded behind the padlock she bought with her own money.

Just as I rounded the corner, my best friend breezed past me and knocked our shoulders together, giving me a real jolt. I said nothing. I continued on. I figured she would've locked me out of the locker and that I'd have to explain that to our gym teacher who, ever since she'd gotten remarried, had lost all her humor, maybe because now her last name sounded like it could be a sexually transmitted disease or some sort of deep sea animal.

But I didn't have to worry about that. She'd left our locker open. Wide open. And it was empty.

I looked at my friends. My friends looked at me.

"Where are my clothes?" I asked.

They stretched out their arms, pointed down, way down, to the end of the locker room, to the row where the smelly girls who liked to drink pickle juice like it was shots of whiskey did their changing. I walked down there. I found one of my shoes on top of the lockers. The other was in the shower. My shirt was under a bench. My shorts had fallen on one of the smelly girls' backpacks.

"Excuse me," I said. I picked up my things like it was no big deal, like this sort of thing happened all the time, like best friends routinely lost their minds and threw fits over lost virginities.

And that's what I was thinking about last night before I fell asleep. That happened eight years ago, but last night it was the only thing in my head, and I couldn't stop thinking about how angry I was when I saw my shoe on top of the lockers. I couldn't stop thinking about how humiliating it was to pick up my clothes and retreat back to my corner just so I could change and go out and play Speed Ball with boys who liked to whip the ball at any girl just to hear her scream.

I wanted to pick the phone up, call information, find my ex-best friend's phone number, call her up, and tell her, "Thanks. Thanks a lot. For everything."

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