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DUMPED - art and words about taking out the trash.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wicker Park

By Emma Martin

I sit in the bathtub reading quarter-life crisis self-help books on my Kindle, which sits in a plastic bag, because I’m full of American ingenuity. You work until 8 and we split a bottle of wine. 23 is Michael Jordan’s thing, 23 is not our thing.

We’re driving to Wicker Park, for frozen yogurt. It’s not raining, and it’s not cold, but it’s cold-and-raining-adjacent, and you offer to drive because you know I’ve been silent because I’m anxious. I’m anxious of every canceled plan and every silent hour because I’m young, and I'm anxious because of what you must think of me, being so anxious of every canceled plan, every silent hour. I'll grow out of it and into clawing and fighting for two nights alone a week, in perfect solitude, but for now, every moment feels empty, forever, damning.


The mix cd in your shitty stereo is Robyn. Was it just a Robyn mix? Was it Body Talk? It's skipping and you're laughing at how poor we are. I had seen Robyn last year at that festival and then we had watched that episode of Girls. I pretended not to have seen it so you would watch it with me again. We weren’t supposed to like it but we did, or I did, and I think you did too. It started low, but we creep up the volume until I'm crying. You never say anything.

We try to park and it takes too long. We skip the first 10 illegal spots and then we finally take the last one, because fuck it. We’re gone ten minutes, posted up on the tiny benches outside of the gym that was the Chicago Real World house when your sisters were our age, before Jenny had that Logan Square place. Cheetah gym. I found my boss’s receipt for her Cheetah membership in some grant files sometime that year, and was both amazed she could afford a gym membership, and was amazed that someone paid so little could still afford to have no work/life boundary. "I'm surprised there was no red wine on the application," she emailed me.


When we get back in the car, you can tell I am upset, and we are about to have the conversation we’d had 400 times before, about the high school boys I dated that you never really got to know, about the year Ben was in college and I was still at home, about that hedge fund lawyer who kind of liked me but not enough to kiss me before brushing his teeth, about the bartenders that flirted with me but found me just shy of interesting. Why me? Why me? Why me? You never say anything.


Now we’re far away from each other, physically, psychically. I did to you what I did to them. In the chaos of those years, I had you, on the porch with a glass of wine. You, my date to the holiday party. You, driving back to the city after a weekend with our families. You, at your sister’s baby shower, at my dad’s birthday party, at some friend's shitty show at that place under the Brown Line. And the wavering that I saw in you, that I saw in them, that I saw in everyone, was a wavering in me; it was the wavering I drowned somewhere along the way with that first Kindle, which I should know better than to bring in the bathtub.


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