THIS IS WHAT MAKES US GIRLS

A murderer walks me on a leash through a Harlem brownstone. I’m young enough to not be scared, to not be ashamed, to not be horrified. Young enough to just want to be part of the prettiest in-crowd that you had ever seen, young enough to think that washed up drug addicts are cool. 

“Because you pronounce Givenchy correctly, unlike other girls from Long Island, keep it,” a twink in mesh tosses the perfume at me that I just asked to have a squirt of.

I sit on the floor with my legs intertwined with Michael Alig’s, passing a goblet of Whispering Angel back and forth. Carrie and Vito float in and out of orbit, fetching glitter and lipstick and bottle after bottle. We’re in santa hats and skimpy dresses and platform booties. “I just worry nobody likes me,” Michael laments. Everything about him is so childlike it’s easy to forget he cut up a body and threw it in the East River. Everything about me is so desperate to feel like pre-fame Lady Gaga in gritty glamour, that I forget too. 

We’re making some shitty experimental film that will premiere at some shitty stupid party but I feel more excited than when I got cast as Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray at camp. 

The roommate of the producer has the same last name as me, and so I invite her and the whole motley crew to my grandpa’s house for xmas eve dinner tonight. Sans flaming homosexual sociopathic murderer. That would be too much. 

This parade of freaks, taking the A train from 125th street to Rockaway Blvd. Two fags, two dykes, and a trans woman. We’re just missing a partridge in a pear tree. 

“I used to be ugly,” Carrie waves wildly as my aunts and multiple Cugines comment on her beauty. 

“I really can’t imagine you ugly,” I place a hand on her shoulder, guiding her away from Big Mike. (He loves the ladies.) 

Carrie leans so close to me I feel her breath in my ear. “I’m trans. I was born a boy,” she stares at me, waiting for a reaction. 

“Okay, but I can’t imagine you ugly.” 

It’s time for lasagna. 

*

We’re getting a bigger bed because the cat has now decided she would like to sleep with us. We already sleep with two dogs that insist on lying horizontally. Every day I wake up next to Dalia is the best day of my life, even if our backs are contorted to accommodate a moody schnauzer, a mentally ill Cheeks, and a designer stray cat. 

Now my life is sweet like cinnamon, like a fucking dream I’m living in.

Every day is happy, every day is beautiful, every day doesn’t hurt. So what does one do? Keep writing about the hazey drunk past of what once was and what never will be again. They say artists hate being happy, and that’s not true, but I’m so happy that I can’t even write about it.

You snort it like a champ like the winter we’re not in. 

Fuck the LIRR. I roll over and open my maps app to figure how long it will take me to get home to Long Island via Uber. The location I last searched is “coke nose bleed.” I guess I was trying to google it and confused safari with maps. Some people do drugs and party with rockstars. I do drugs and drown in neuroses as I frantically research if the little tiny bump of coke I did will somehow eventually inevitably kill me. 

Alana is sleeping beside me, drooling as her bare ass sticks out from the covers. I feel a deep wave of shame that I slept over. This is not a sleepover situation, yet here I am, morning breath and anxiety radiating out of me. The back of my throat is swollen and sore and my sinuses feel only the way NYC radiators can make you feel. My stomach feels like stilettos trying to walk on cobblestones of Dumbo. 

Alana opens an eye and sits up. She’s awake, and so am I: my cue to leave. Her sternum tattoo peeks out over a low cut oversized tank top and her long brown hair cascades right above her small, perfect nipples. She looks like a Calvin Klein model and I hate her for it. She’s the kind of girl that makes a post-bender morning look chic; I’m the kind of girl that goes to the bodega for coconut water in a summer dress and fur and gets mistaken for a homeless woman. Alana half heartedly offers me coffee but I know she wants me to leave, and plus coffee will make me shit my pants, so I fumble around for my phone under piles of our discarded clothing and sprint out of her apartment. My weave hangs by a thread and my oversized Led Zeppelin shirt looks way less chic without my stockings (there is nothing more demoralizing than stuffing yourself into stockings hungover, and there is no worse smell than the crotch of stockings after a bender at a Brooklyn rave). My fake Gucci bag is overflowing with drink tickets and lipstick and bloody tissues. Definitely a homeless woman in the bodega situation. I stampede down the stairs in my platform boots, trying to put my prosthesis and bedazzled sunglasses on at the same time. A huge farting noise erupts from the silicone socket of my prosthetic arm as I shove it on without lubricant. I swear I hear someone let out a laugh from behind a thin apartment door. When my uber driver asks where I’m coming from, I don’t realize how delusional I am until I hear “my girlfriend’s house” come out of my lipstick-smeared mouth.

* *** 

“No, the hunger feels good, babe,” Zara dots my cheeks with Too Faced peach blush at the bar. “You just have to reframe your thoughts. Enjoy it.” 

We’re sitting at North Fork Table in custom made shearling lined chairs, sipping Sancerre, and waiting for caviar. We are both trying to resuscitate long dead eating disorders from our troubled early 20s together, but after 3 years of ordering cheese plates and bottles of white wine every night, I’m not sure if we are succeeding. Let’s be honest: My face hasn’t depuffed since I was 23. I stare at Zara’s collar bones with envy, wishing I could borrow them just like she lets me borrow her collection of Chanel costume jewelry. If I didn’t love her, I would hate her. She looks like a beautiful bobble head dripping in expensive accessories juxtaposed with plastic flower hair clips from Dolls Kill. We wear frilly socks with our chunky heeled boots. Molestation chic, or stuck in the age of trauma, as we like to describe our similar styles. 

Hey lolita, hey.

My future wife picks us up and tolerates a scream-singing rendition of “Doll Parts” the whole drive home. Back at our stark white beach cottage, the pets greet us with wagging tails and dilated pupils and hysterical barking. They have codependency issues just like us. 

I empty the dishwasher, transfer the clothes to the dryer, all six of us pile in bed and I’ve never been surrounded by so much true love in my life.

****

“DO YOU HAVFF AN AUXTH CORD?” I lean forward to the Uber driver, likely giving him a noseful of cheap vodka (dark) and Ed Hardy perfume (darker). 

And we’re off to the races.

**** 

This is what makes us girls. 

“I know you were raped that night, and we laughed about it.” A waiter approaches and Alyssa’s voice climbs 5 octaves. “Can we have more coffee please?” 

She turns her heavily lined bug eyes back to me. “I’m sorry, but you did look really hot that night.” 

I promise to not fall asleep, and to let her back in my dorm after she meets up with him, but I fall asleep and she waits on a bench in a pink bandage dress till morning and then we get Frappuccinos. 

Mascara running down her little bambi eyes.

*** 

I’m making out publically at Cubbyhole (where literally every dyke knows your name). I’m starving myself to no avail and racking up my credit cards and buying things from Rent The Runway because I’m too lazy to return them and I want the instant gratification of ordering a new item NOW before 12pm to have by the next day. I’m taking Ubers to work because I’ve decided I’m allergic to the subway. I tell a psychiatrist I can’t afford that I can’t get on public transportation because I feel too ugly and fat. She asks if I’m a reckless spender, I say no, and leave with a prescription after praying my credit card doesn’t get declined. I reward myself with a solo wine lunch at The Bedford and order a red Moschino skirt from The Real Real in the Uber ride home. 

Money is the anthem. 

“Don’t stress about your order, cortisol makes you fat,” Zara lectures as burgers without the bun are placed in front of us in an airport bar. We’re in matching hot pink Kappa sweatsuits and have borderline offensive spray tans. We make the plane smell like Ritz crackers with our orangey skin. She helps me glue my eyelashes on, the only thing keeping my panic attack at bay. The whole time we obsess over our alleged weight gain. Looking back on pictures, we look like actual supermodels.  

I’ve got feathers in my hair, I get down to beat poetry. 

It’s a full moon. We’re out with Zara’s absolutely fabulous mother. She’s wearing a blue billowing dress, and Zara and I are in matching Hello Kitty clips and grey lipstick. We totally look like goth special needs children out with our rich aunt who occasionally picks us up from the group home. The waiter asks if we want to see the kid’s menu in a singsong voice. We get so drunk on champagne I tell Zara’s mother I think I have a pee fetish, and Zara tries to put me on her shoulders even though I’m like literally double her weight.

I am fucking crazy, but I am free.

My mom is making lunch for the movers while a homeless lady pisses on my stoop. “I worked my ass awff to get OUT of this neighbuh-hood, and now my daughtuh is moving back,” my mom mumbles as she spreads mayo on turkey sandwiches. Later she makes coffee for the cable guy. 

I want to be beautiful garbage, tragic, cigarette smoking, pouty-lipped, Paris-filtered, but I talk about my gas problems too much. My thighs are too big. I’m too loud and too Italian and too crass. The real me isn’t the fucked up girl in the club, it’s the girl taking a $200 cab to Lindenwood to sleep on her aunt’s couch and wake up to a Weight Watchers friendly breakfast. 

It’s you, it’s you, it’s all for you. I watch Lana’s performance of Video Games live at the Premises on repeat. My dad, like every other dad on the planet, is obsessed with the thermostat and won’t let me turn the heat on. I’m freezing but I like it because I feel like a struggling artist even though I’m a spoiled Italian princess. I’m home for my first winter break from college, and I am obsessed with my girlfriend. We curate our tumblrs all day and talk on the phone all night. She is deeply closeted and waits till night to talk to me. My cold fingers dance on the keyboard as I write her a truly awful poem and play Video Games again. It feels tragic, just the way I like it.

I wake up with a running nose and hard nipples. It has literally snowed through my window and onto my lofted bed. My dream of being a struggling artist has come true as I’m living in a Greenpoint apartment with no heat. The lego apartment, as realtors called it. My tough Italian biker cop dad burst into tears when he comes over. 

Young MA lives above us. We throw some epic parties and she says she’ll stop by but never does. No matter how badly I have to pee during the night, I stay wrapped up in my comforter because I’m too lazy to go down the loft ladder, and plus we have a defective Amazon Alexa that randomly laughs and I’m terrified of her.  

My brain can’t stop skipping. My teeth can’t stop licking my blood stained teeth slick with wine. My fingers can’t stop clicking. I fantasize about murdering my neighbors who are loudly blasting The Chainsmokers at 5 am. 

Baby, I’m a sociopath. 

She makes me forget to write because everything feels like a poem and I don’t care how cheesy that is.  We go to Versailles and hole up in our hotel room and order room service for 48 hours.  

Could it be you and me are the lucky ones? 

Everything is a love letter to you. I dance in the past because I can hardly touch the beauty of the present. Except in my Instagram captions, of course. I worry my dream sequences of drinking flashbacks make me a one trick pony, but at least I’m a Clydesdale. 

You tilt my head up and lightly smack the side of my cheek. 

“Open up,” you say. 

 You’re my religion, you’re how I’m living. Let me take you in my mouth like holy communion.

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