rilo kiley. we listened to the CD on the way to a crazy night in pittsburgh. me, my boyfriend, and our two friends. '02. november, i think. had to be right before or right after halloween, bc one of the bars on carson st. still had decorations up. i have a pic of me in that bar, that night: the exposure is low and i am cast in an orange hue; i'm getting into my purse, and the side of my face and my chin-length hair are circumscribed by the fake fur collar of my vintage, straw-colored, full-length leather coat. i'd bought it from dina's store, vavoom, on high st. in morgantown, beside 123 pleasant st., the bar where all my friends hung out.
123 is where i first realized i was going to—definitely, no doubt, even though in my head i kept saying don't do it—cause my ex to cheat on his girlfriend. it was a night when the two of them came to the bar after going to a party together. she was giggling and holding on to him. they looked happy. we were young. he was 21; i was 25. soon his girl went away for the summer. i remember the night i went to their house. their house. they lived together. he was sitting on the couch. i was standing a few feet away in the kitchen, where there were pics of them together on the fridge. i remember thinking, "i've never been on anyone's fridge" or "wonder if i'll ever be on anyone's fridge." something like that. i've still never been on anyone's fridge. at least not that i know of. have i missed a rite of passage? hmm. i was wearing a skirt, flirting in the background while he was on the phone with her. when he told her he missed her, i remember cringing a little, on the inside. not bc i was feeling remorse, but bc i really liked him. oh, retrospect. it was all pretty awful.
maybe our terrible night in pittsburgh in '02 was karmic retribution. except i only use the word karma when it's expedient, bc i don't believe in karma. if it existed, life would be fair. i mostly believe in choices and consequences. it is that simple. i can feel sorry for myself at times, but that's purely expedient as well; it gets me by until i can face the part where i take responsibility.
our night in pittsburgh started out okay. it was the four of us in the car, listening to music, laughing, talking about the diner where we'd go for breakfast in the morning and my favorite vintage store on carson, called yesterday's news. i still have the business card in my wallet. they were funny guys, the three of them. they made silly, drunken movies of themselves. made art. partied. rode down the super-steep hill...3rd and grant in sunnyside...on desk chairs, the kind with wheels.
we went to dinner at kaya, a caribbean-themed place in the strip district. they had the best black bean fritters. when we walked back to the car after dinner, he held my hand. not for long. but i remember him grabbing it as i was skipping or dancing, i can't remember which. we went to see bright eyes at the rosebud. there was a chain link cage between us and the stage. it was obtrusive and ugly, but the bar had to have it to separate the younger kids for all-ages shows. i had on a ring that night. a big, chunky silver one on my right hand. my ex made a sarcastic remark about rings, something to the effect of how i should never expect one from him. i don't remember the words at all, but i remember the feeling. upset. and pissed. both at once, and i couldn't figure out which to follow. emotional fence-riding, another old friend of mine.
we went out after the show. ran into a friend at a bar called dee's in southside. he had been in a fight. he was mouthy. yappy like a terrier when he was drunk. small like one, too. we walked with him for a while, while he tried to find his other friends and while my ex was salivating over the fight story. being the amateur pugilist he was. very amateur, indeed. his fighting was for sport—thought the kind prompted not by athleticism but by alcohol and youthful ignorance and one particular close friend—who would make out with me after we broke up, even though he said he'd never do such a thing with a friend's girl. he never told. i did. it's like my mouth is the trap door that truth can't help but trip over.
we couldn't find our way out of southside pittsburgh after the show. my ex was drunk. and driving. and getting angrier by the minute. right then, i despised every inch of him, all the way up to those big green eyes. he pushed the love right out of me sometimes. add up all those times and you get forever. i kept telling him he shouldn't be driving. so he stopped the car right in the road, put it in park, and told me to drive. so i did. he and i fought. yelled. i threw my cd player into the windshield. it splintered. i didn't react. just kept driving. the boys in the back were silent. they had seen our fights before. and never got involved. i often resented them for never standing up for me. i don't know, maybe i expect too much from people.
we ended up in a huge, empty parking lot on the other side of town. the kind that has only one way in and one way out. i kept driving in circles. none of us could figure out where the exit was. another set of headlights showed up...a police car. i was driving on a suspended license; there was wine in the backseat; a splintered windshield. he let us go. for a few minutes we all forgot how miserable we were and laughed at our luck. on the way back to the hotel, my ex drove again. more fighting. in the room, the guys went straight to bed. my ex and i, to the bathroom. he sat on the toilet. i stood next to the sink. our arguing languished along with what was left of nighttime. as soon as he picked me up, i wrapped my legs around his waist and that was enough, for me, to mend the rest of our broken day. hold me, and everything will be okay. i knew better, but i am known to forget myself in the moment.
does he love you? will he hold your tiny face in his hand?
from another rilo kiley song. i listened to it earlier this evening. mostly so i could hear those two lines. something in the way her voice becomes so small and high, and almost pleading, but not sad, just pretty. and how those simple words make me think of things not simple at all.