This was written a few days ago on Sunday. I decided to take it out of the Google document and make it text… For those that missed it in its other form; this is not a funny story and is, as all with me are, a true one.
It’s 5:32 a.m. in Austin and I’m soberly finishing the book. Sober. Never thought I’d hear that word associated with my writing. In telling these tales and dealing with the reality that this whole, “Amber Demure” character is actually me is a bit too much too handle. Even typing that just now caused this weird rift in my chest, some sort of divorce from myself, this pushing… against. I don’t want to own up that it’s really me. I don’t want to own up that I let myself get “raped” or almost kidnapped. I hate it. I hate it. I hate it still. I get so nervous, my heart races, I get out of breath. Once I was leaving campus after dark walking towards downtown Austin and these gentlemen tried to park their car at a meter near me; I somehow convinced myself they were trying to kidnap me; adrenaline and all, I fled from them in terror. They of course, laughed.
I’m a psycho now. A seemingly gentle furnace of terror radiating not heat but this utter awareness at the fragility of my own human life and how fast it may be swiped from me by the actions of myself or someone else, much less those uncontrollable random acts of “god” or nature. I’m mainly focused on somebody else doing me in. I know what it’s like to accept death and baby, there’s no turning back. I’m fucking weird now. So let me finish the story about, “What happened after Paris…”
The combination of “Amber’s first vacation!” paired with “Amber was almost dead,” in this painful mix that divided me and my mind by way of knife. I was cut in two, diagonally at the heart and didn’t have a fucking clue how I felt or how to answer when people excitedly asked, “How was Paris?!” Paris was both. I saw Chanel, I almost couldn’t find my first H&M, I unconsciously got fucked for hours in a state of deep sleep by some asshole I just met, I got choked at knife-point and almost put in a van, I came to terms with my own death moments before it happened, at the last minute I was saved by strangers who only stopped to gawk at the scene, I hit the man, I flew, I ran to their car pounding their windows with my fists choking and begging that they LET ME FUCKING IN THE CAR to escape the man, I went shopping at the Champs-Elysee, I called my mom, I regretted it, I had my first taste of caviar, I walked to the tower with no map but chasing it from around other buildings until I reached the stairs, I hated stairs, I was treated rudely, I loved it, I felt lots and lots of rain, cold, a man named Dino took me to coffee, Samantha, beautiful Samantha cooked for me, I pitched a fit over calories and no one understood that I had… have. No, had. Have.
Have an eating disorder which probably caused a lot of this.
God damn do I hate writing sober.
Where was I? Oh yes.
Paris: The Aftermath. My own fucking life right now, or well… Immediately upon coming back.
There was so much to tell. I didn’t know how to say it. Every fucking time I got asked, “What was Paris like?!” I could see the dimwitted sparkles in their Spongebob eyes and I knew I could never tell them; but it somehow pissed me off inside that they waited in anxious anticipation of some sort of story about how I saw the tower (which I did), ate at restaurants, saw The Louvre, and maybe dodged a few horny Frenchmen by running girlishly down alleyways. Sure, I did all that. Hell, it was the first time I ever flew, rode a subway, left the country, and traveled. They all expected some great story and it tore me in half each time I had to tell it. Do I leave out that I am now (unknowingly at the time) completely fucking mental because I got, what I still have yet to really come to terms with calling, “Raped;” that the next day I was practically strangled, at knife-point, and VERY CLOSE to getting kidnapped and probably killed? That I know what it’s like to think your last thoughts. To come to terms with your own violent death? I know what that’s fucking like! I want to scream it sometimes. I want to yell, and yell, and cry and shout, but nobody is listening. Nobody cares. It wasn’t them in that man’s grip with his wild-eyed stare. It was me… So I tell them Paris was lovely.
A select few I tell “the real story” to, and put select parts of it on this stupid Myspace blog (remember the year). You know what I say? I say only what happened after I woke up in Rowan’s place. I give the reader one hint only, and nobody ever catches it; the first line said, “I woke up not knowing where I was. Rowan told me how to get to Montmartre, where Amelie was filmed…” Then I tell the rest, completely omitting the sex he just had with me lifeless and unconscious.
It wasn’t the only sex I left out.
I was ashamed, as I learn people in such situations often are and often shouldn’t be; so they say. I still feel ashamed even admitting it now. So what else had I left out that eats me up and degrades my ever-diminishing self-worth? I wrote poems about it. Stupid fucking poems; “Songs,” I called them. Songs I wouldn’t ever sing, that’s for damned sure, with titles like, “A Fuck for a Walk.” I remember that night. Being silly, “teaching” belly-dance to French law students after Samantha’s debate. Drunk and realizing the room had started to dissipate… Afraid. In terror of the walk home. A prisoner of my mind after what had been done to me just a couple of days prior. Not the same, ‘Anxiety-ridden-though-brave Amber.’ I was from then on, what I am now, “Post-traumatic stress disorder-victim.” Controlled more by fear and avoidance of the constantly nagging awareness of potential death than my own, original brain. I fucked a young man just so he’d walk me home (or to my hotel anyway, which is as much a home to me as any other). I remembered the dark, heart racing walk under the bridge to get to the bar we were at. I was with a group and kept silent as to my feelings of constant terror especially when we saw the bum eyeing us suspiciously from beneath the column’s shadows. “He’s going to kill you! HE’s going to kill you! Stay alive!!” My heartbeat thundered into my ear drums and my head felt dark and loud and hot and my chest expanded with near-gasping breaths. I did all I could to minimize the noticeable panic, and all I could to fit in. Just because I seem(ed) normal on the outside, doesn’t mean I hadn’t changed from a bold, brazen, intelligent young woman into a shriveling, abused, and constantly afraid near-dead one.
Every swallow I felt that fucking guy’s thumbs in my throat. Every time I pulled a high-collared shirt over my head I felt his thumbs slide down my neck. Once during sex, years later, a guy thought it’d be sexy to place his hands near my throat and I almost had a heart attack. He became him and passion became terror. I’m still pissed off that I was the never the same.
In writing this book this “memoir” I always thought I’d call it, “You Can’t Be Fat and Pretty,” and market it based on my weight loss surgery, obesity, anorexia, bulimia, and general OCD-crazies with food. I always thought that. Not anymore. I realize I have been blaming and using food issues to handle a whole host of other shit and after that “vacation” it was this. This experience in Paris that drove my life so wildly far and even to London for a night, England twice, and living almost 6 months abroad.
How the hell did all of that happen from this?
I met Archangelo. He’ll hate me when he reads that; his proper name is Gypsy.
After the crying-in-front-of-the-boss-out-of-nowhere when she asked about Paris, and a few other such slip-ups that completely blindsided me; I really had been omitting the truths and telling people only about how great Paris had been; I was awarded 6 weeks off from Apple. A mental health vacation if you will, and not something very many companies in America will ever offer. I filled the empty time with phone calls to mental health hot-lines when I felt I was being followed in midday (often I felt it, but rarely I called), crayon doodling at coffeehouses with the far-younger high school girls I’d met by accident that recognized me from online, and trying to face my fears by repeatedly drawing the man with the knife as I sat alone and trembly at Spiderhouse. One man tried to hit on/sit with me once when I tried it and my alerted gasp and jump back probably signaled to the quickly-gone man, “Bad timing.” That 6 weeks, in all honesty, is a bit murky. I remember laying in my bedroom during bright midday and being genuinely afraid; just in complete and total denial as to what. “I drew the man, I faced the man, fuck that man, I’m over it. I won’t let him scare me now. I’m done,” I breathlessly lied to myself and mentally forced it all out, a sort of terror-recess shoved in a corner of my mind. Had I dealt with it the “proper way” I perhaps would not be where I am at now, perhaps wouldn’t have made the choices I did. Oh well? Shit happens. I started fighting that fear with a violent denial and convinced myself of my own false-bravery by taking dares. I would dare myself to walk alone at night. A thing that I loved and enjoyed but post-Paris almost couldn’t do. Barbie bought me mace and I stood at our front door, ready to go out alone in the night for the first time. “If someone wants to hurt me? They better watch the fuck out!” I dramatically held the mace up right in front of my face as if to squirt a would-be attacker. Barbie made a face and hurriedly ran up to my hand and turned the nozzle; I was holding it backwards and clearly about to mace myself. Perhaps going out at night was just as bad an idea as letting me operate mace.
Trudy’s. I’d go to Trudy’s and get hammered on Mexican martinis. Stumble so drunk I’d often find myself having to take a last minute piss in the alleyway on my way home. I would leave the house, feel the anxiety one feels when handed an eviction notice and learning they may have brain cancer whilst waiting for a root canal. You know those crazy-looking fish that come from the utter depths of the ocean? They say they look so strange to deal with the pressure and have to make very special submarines to go down and see them. Vessels that can handle such intense pressure from all sides at all times. I felt like that. Like my mind was in some dark, deep murky waters and this horrific pressure was constantly pushing me from all angles. I had to drink. Just to function. But of course I drank to the point I couldn’t at the opposite end. At least I didn’t feel what I felt, at least not as intensely.
I felt popular and alone; admired but unloved; infamous and unknown; read about but never understood. I had almost 6,000 “friends” on Myspace, which had not yet crash-coursed into the virtual trailer park it is today, and most were in England. Strange, but whatever. I’d added them all myself in previous hours of cubicled time-kill at my job. I don’t remember why nor how but somehow I was spending a lot of time on MSN talking with a man called, “Gypsy.” He read my story about Paris, the self-edited Myspace version, while I was still there. I was in an internet cafe with Eric Bahn, the Chinese-Frenchman that so kindly helped me get around my many days there, and typing it out so I would never forget the adventures I just had (and very angrily pounding the French keyboard). Gypsy got online and I for whatever reason said, “Fuck it! I’ll leave Paris! I’m coming to London to meet you tonight!” Eric helped me search for trains. They were too expensive so it never happened but my random-sounding, surprise offer to go and meet this person I had been passively communicating with online stood out to Gypsy. Especially after he learned I was in the country just south and had almost not survived… After that we began talking a lot more.
The space of both internet and ocean had afforded me a great deal of freedom in my communications with Gypsy. He saw me at clever angles, heard me at pre-determined times, and read only what was put after I backspaced out the original reply. I’m not saying I was ever dishonest with him; I’m saying there’s a difference between tangible and real. We both were dreamily infatuated with each other, building up the pieces of the other person that we never truly saw. He told me every fucked up thing about himself, and I did the same. We were each other’s secret dark place that we went to sulk and brood and lie in and bask… He really was my secret place. I am only 90% sure that I really was his. We knew every bad thing about each other and being artistic we both completely got off on that. It was like sucking his fingers when I listened to and talked about our mutual eating disorder. He could have licked my clit when he confessed to me that he used to dress as a woman, despite being attracted to them. His fucked up life in Italy. The fucked up conformity of the culture; the rag-tag mafia; his mother’s concern at his withered and impossibly-thin body; his father’s diminishing health… We’d phone each other at night, well night for the other one seeing as we were 7 hours apart. His dark, Italian voice was the most seductive and soothing sound I’d ever heard or felt. He sounded like black velvet oozing out of a telephone and curling in tendrils through my hair and down my chest, spreading goosebumps over my body. No one knew the real me anymore; only him and Barbie knew the real story of Paris and things weren’t the same between me and my mom after that desperate phone call from the Champs-Elysee. I was more alone in the world than ever but got high on my conversations with Gypsy. Talking to him made me feel connected with someone, and I felt so close to him that it was almost tactile. “Ride your bicycle across the ocean, Amber,” he’d say, “I want you in my bed.” I loved the way he said, “Amber.” Aaaaa, like a delighted breath being slowly drawn out, then mmburh. I called him my “Britallion.” His British surroundings influenced his accent just as much as his native Italian. His favorite director was Fassbinder; he introduced me to “The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant.”
I would interact with his friends now and again online. I had returned to work and would kill the cubicle hours talking to them. “He is obsessed with you!” they’d say. I still felt the foamy, overflow of insecurity a former fat girl will always experience but pseudo-accepted that the person I found to be more beautiful, entertaining, engaging, enlightening, and loved… liked me as well. This literal rock star, on the other side of the world with his powerful words, dangerous mind, dark pools of eyes, chocolate colored hair, and successful eating disorder (note that I only specify that because was very thin and I felt myself very fat) possibly liked me: some pseudo-chubby chick who had a surgery and has always been the weird outcast.
Yes, it didn’t make sense but I accepted it. In retrospect I wish I had loved myself a little more, then I would have seen and felt the actual love that was there. I wouldn’t have freaked out after flying to London to surprise him…
Didn’t I mention earlier that I have flown to London for one night before?
I was getting sick of the distance and craving an adventure. I’m constantly craving some sort of excitement, trying to prove to myself that one can truly live after one almost dies and bored at my desk; instant messaging Tetsuo, Gypsy’s friend. Him and I (and Gypsy and I) had constantly spoke of how great it would be if I went to London. In fact, one could argue that Gypsy and I spoke of what it would be like to touch just at least half of the time). We said it would be like electricity and other such stuff people say when they are infatuated, in love (though generally we would wax poetic on just about everything). My chat log that day looked something like this:
Amber says: I should come to London and surprise him.
Tetsuo says: Do it! He would flip out, like you are all he talks about, man.
Amber says: Will you help me?
Tetsuo says: Oh my god you really are going to do it. I have a feeling. I just have this feeling you really will. He’s going to flip
Amber says: I have a feeling too. I am going to do it, I really will.
Amber says: Hey Amanda, I was wondering… can I have Monday off?
Amanda says: Why? What’s up?
Amber says: I want to fly to London tonight/tomorrow and all of the last minute flights have returns on Monday.
Amanda says: Wow. Sure! Bring me something back!
So I drove to Dallas to catch my flight. It was early the next day and the 4 hour trip was riddled with the last minute fears I imagine most people meeting someone they had never met but had legitimate feelings for have. I had to see for myself. I had to know he was real and the mutual infatuation had gone on long enough. Part of me was taking the trip just to prove to myself the man with the knife had no power over me, my lust for travel, and my love for Europe; to prove I was still brave; to prove I was completely unafraid. I was so fucking terrified, but the rush of euphoria (not the just one in my shorts) at the thought of seeing and touching Gypsy completely coated my mind. “What if he thinks I’m fat? What if he thinks I’m fat? He’s only seen me on blurry webcams and I can tell he’s beautiful but what if he thinks real me is not?” I had that paranoia (which I still arguably have) stabbing at the back of my mind. I stabbed it back again and again but it kept coming back like one of those inflatable punching-bag-clowns you hit as a kid. It goes down to the ground but just keeps popping back up.
“Sipping on gin and juuuuuuuiiice!” I had the song on iTunes and was excitedly producing a large bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin from my purse when a chubby, blond British Airways flight attendant asks, “Can I get you a-” he cuts off, informs me that I can’t be opening and serving myself a bottle of gin on a flight that sold/served alcohol (this was before that crazy liquid law obviously). I pull one earbud out, my always-overlyexpressive face melts; Amber sad. “What do you mean? Air France let me do it! They even let everyone get half-glasses of Diet Coke so I could mix for other passengers! I’m sorry. This is my second time ever in my life to really fly somewhere. Sorry. I didn’t know. Sorry.” He clearly felt torn on the issue and asked me what type of gin it was. I turned the bottle to show him the label. “I’ll be right back, you want mixers?” “Orange juice! Gin. And. Juice,” (just like the song). He came back with no fewer than 7 miniature bottles, an empty cup with ice, and glass brimming with eagerly awaited juice. The flight was empty. The seats were almost white, and both sunlight and blue skies filled all the windows. I was hopeful, optimistic, and completely unaware of just how radical this seemingly last-minute choice that I made was. Maybe I still am? Perhaps I’m insane…
I’d never been to any other country save for France. Here we are, just a few short months later in a foreign airport again. It’s crowded, there are all sorts of interesting smells in the air, garments on people, things I’d normally be gawking at and almost studying; as if I were an alien from another planet, and not just country; trying to figure out what might make us different. I paid no attention to any of that. I was focused on the way I would walk when I charged through the terminal exit door, and how I was about to see Gypsy. I had a slight worry that perhaps this was stupid, I mean… Tetsuo was this friend of his that was supposed to make up some silly lie to get him at the terminal but what if he hadn’t? It’s not like I was going to be able to find Gypsy’s flat on my own and with the party-lifestyle he lead I was even less likely to find him in it. What if he never wanted it to become real in the first place? “Too late for all that now,” I thought and thundered through the doors on brown velvet wooden wedges, taking gallant, confident strides when I heard it. “Amber-” in a quietly surprised voice. He knew me on sight. I turned. There he stood. This was Gypsy, and he was looking at me looking at him; we were finally face on. It is hard to describe the feeling; it really is. It wasn’t shock… It wasn’t really good or bad… It wasn’t disappointing either… It is best described as magical in the sense that if you were a child watching a cartoon, and the character suddenly leapt from the screen and became real; standing in front of you. That is how it felt. I was still pounding back that self-reviving “Insecurity Clown,” and lost every other moment of pure bliss trying not to think, “He thinks I’m fat. He doesn’t like me. I am a disappointment to him.” We touched, we hugged, he felt thin, and I hoped he didn’t lose his arms in the soft warmth of my puffed-pastry torso, and we had coffee. We were shaking; shaken. We held hands, he was astounded; I was enamored. We walked through London, it looked like I was in a postcard. The castle was right by us, the funny looking guards, the alarmingly-clean streets… “Barbie asked me to buy her a Happy Hippo while we I was here,” I laughed and we walked into a cafe/restaurant. I vaguely recall a mention of eggs but neither of us chose to eat. We ping-ponged from bar to bar, still quite early in the day mind you, and sustained ourselves on coffee and bloody marys; a drink, much like wine, that I had never really experienced enough to get into at the time but hoped I’d acquire a taste for given it’s caloric content and nutritional value in comparison to other booze drinks. If you know anything about me now, you know there’s two things I love in this world and those are bloody marys and all types of wine, and it comes as no surprise to you that I am literally drinking a self-made bloody mary right now while I’m writing this (I told you I hate writing sober).