(A continuation of A Guide to Depression)
I wasn’t as depressed as I was before. I wasn’t constantly thinking of solutions to making myself feel better and I stopped fucking crying all the damn time. But whether it was loneliness, family issues, or sexual frustration, I still felt like shit.
What I needed was a big change.
I quit my job at Starbucks and told my roommate I wanted to move out and find a new roommate to live with. She cried and told me she’d stop eating all of my yogurt. I laughed at the thought of her thinking that was the reason I was leaving. I’d let her think that though. It was easier than explaining that I needed big changes to shake myself out of my depression. So I said, “You always ate my food. I need to live with someone new. Someone with more respect for other people’s property.” She cried again. I told her to sit in front of my “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” poster. I told her it’d make her feel better.
What I had to do was find someone to be my new roommate. I called my friend Ron to see if he’d be interested. He said he wanted to fuck me a few months ago, but he never did anything, and the one time he was supposedly free for the day I decided to sit on a street divider in the frost-bitten dead ass of winter. But I haven’t been attracted to him ever since I saw him take his shirt off at the beach. And he has a girlfriend now, so things are strictly platonic. When I told him my situation of how grating my roommate’s personality normally was, he said he would room in with me.
Next thing I needed was a job. Since I hate almost everyone around me who can breathe, I wanted the least amount of human interaction as possible, though I shortly found this wasn’t feasible.
I applied to job after job online - supermarkets, retail chains, fast food joints, spas, tanning salons, movie theaters, and museums. I received no responses, not even from the museums. They clearly all thought a barista can’t be good at anything else, though I don’t see how much experience I need to be an illustration model at the Art Institute or a janitor - I mean “floor care worker” - at a McDonald’s.
Applying to jobs online through their respective websites turned out worse than I expected, so I took to the streets, hoping people were as shallow as I thought they were and would hire me based on looks.
I went up and down Belmont, Clark, Lincoln, and Halsted. Here was my process of applying to jobs in person.
1. Check the windows for “Help Wanted” signs.
2. Go up to the doorway whether or not I see one.
3. Pull out my resume that’s more naked than a porn star during working hours.
4. Take one step forward while the rest of my body wants to back away even though my head is telling me to go in.
5. Run away hoping no one saw me standing in front of a doorway going back and forth like someone in mid-seizure and hope they think I have a nervous tick or cerebral palsy.
I came home to my roommate coming out of my room drying her cheeks, rubbing her eyelids raw. “Crying in front of that poster really does help.” She smiled, opened the fridge, and opened one of my yogurts.
Later than night, my phone rang.
“Change of plans. I’m really sorry, but, I can’t be your roommate.”
I should’ve expected this. He’s a bit of a scatterbrain. “Why?”
“Ehhh... okay. So, I have a girlfriend.”
“I know this.”
“And we’ve been together for a while.”
“It’s only been two months but okay.”
“Thing is you’re... you’re really pretty.”
I was more confused than flattered. “So?”
“I can’t be your roommate.”
“So what you’re saying is I’m too attractive to be your roommate?”
“Well, no. But...” He said it in the same tone people use when they say, “I’m not a racist, but...” He went on to say, “But, you see, I have a girlfriend...”
“I know. You said it two minutes ago.”
“...and it’ll be hard... because you’re pretty and... I’m... I might be...”
This made me angry. “What? Tempted? You might be tempted to fuck me? Or tempted to want to fuck me? Tempted even though you had the chance to fuck me many times? Tempted even though you have a girlfriend who you made your girlfriend after one date where you guys decided not to relate to each other through the use of genitalia? Tempted even though you do nothing but spend every day with her while you put your arm around her shoulders and she puts her hand on your knee or your thigh or wherever else women put their hands on men to show both affection and ownership? You might be tempted even though we’re just friends and have been just friends for longer than you’ve even been dating her?”
There was a pause. “Well, no. But...”
I hung up on him. I called my friend Jen to see if she’d be my roommate. She agreed.
Applying online and not-applying in person wasn’t working. I was still jobless and I was behind in my rent. After my roommate came out of my room, she said she’d pay my rent to make up for the eaten yogurts. She added, sniffling, “I like crying at the ceiling better than the poster.” She scooped a spoonful of my yogurt and poked it in her mouth. “I think we should invite friends and have a sleepover! We could watch ‘Pride and Prejudice’! What do you think?” I slowly retreated to my room and found a video online where James Deen fucks the shit out of everyone.
From the classifieds, I went to Craigslist. There was an offer for surrogates. You could make thirty-five grand if you were between the ages of 21 to 36 and were in good physical health. I damned myself for being only twenty. Just six more months.
From there, I applied to be a server, sales clerk, cashier, movie extra, and a nanny. I hate kids and I haven’t babysat for one since this four-year-old bit my ankles, but for fourteen an hour, I’d treat a kid like royalty.
I needed to be 21 to be a server, I was overqualified to be a sales clerk, underqualified to be a cashier, the movie extra thing was for a porno, and the parents of the kid who needed to be babysat for three weeks decided not to leave their kid behind on their third honeymoon.
An ad for a strip club popped up, one I’d heard of. I hoped it was different from what I’d heard, that it was now a nice strip club where the strippers are sober, but when I got there, it was run by a racist Bosnian who kept asking me if I was “mulatto.” I don’t think he understood I was there for a job because after a large confusing conversation I half understood, he somehow swindled fifteen bucks from me and led me to an auditorium which was dark, the stage being an exception. I sat next to a guy while watching women stumble around onstage plucking their clothes off like picking dirty laundry up off the floor. Since there wasn’t much to do, I made conversation with the man next to me. It wasn’t the first time I’d had a conversation with a man who was masturbating.
“You come here often?”
He gave a breathy, “Yeah.”
“Do you have a favorite girl or something or do you come here for the hell of it?”
“My father used to work here in the 80s. My parents told me all about it. The coked up strippers would stumble onto the stage and he would control the lights and make them different colors. I bet it confused the women. They were drugged out of their minds.” I watched a girl roll her ankle and slip. She lied there half-naked while a stagehand came out and poked her with his shoe. “Things haven’t changed much.”
“Yeah,” he said, a glopping noise providing a background to his response. He wasn’t much of a talker.
I checked my cell and saw I’d missed a call from Jen. When I got home, I called her back.
“Change of plans. I’m really sorry, but I can’t let you move in.”
I should’ve expected this. She’s always been a flake. “Why?”
“Well... okay. So, I’ve got a boyfriend.”
I went in my room and sat at the foot of my bed. Not again. Not a-fucking-gain.
“I know this.”
“And... I’ve been with him for a while.”
“It’s only been five weeks but okay.”
“And the thing is... you’re really pretty.”
Yep. It was happening. A-fucking-gain.
“And I trust him and all that, but it’s like, put me next to you, and who do you think guys’ll rather look at?”
“They were always staring. And it wasn’t at me.”
This wasn’t happening. This wasn’t happening.
“So I’m too pretty to be your roommate?” I didn’t wait for her to say, “Well, no, but...” I went straight for her throat. “So what? You think your boyfriend will be tempted? And tempted to what? Tempted to fuck me? Or maybe that’s not it. Maybe you don’t trust him like you say you do. Maybe you’re insecure in your relationship, so insecure you determine who your roommate will be by physical features rather than whether or not they can read, write, string a sentence together, or have an intelligence greater than an atomic quark. Maybe you’re so insecure because of the rumors you’ve heard about your boyfriend, rumors everyone’s known about for months about how it takes only a bottle of cognac to get him drunk enough to sleep with anyone regardless of gender or hygiene. Is that it? Or are you just threatened by any other female with a pair of tits?”
There was a pause. “Well...”
I hung up on her. It seemed like a lot of my friends were like that lately.
I tossed my phone in the pile of clothes by my dresser and lied back on my bed next to my roommate, crying at the ceiling again.
“I’m not moving out,” I said. “Might go back to Starbucks. I don’t know. But I’m staying.”
She was still fucking crying, harder now. Thank God I kept that shit to myself back then because if I were my roommate I’d’ve killed me.
“Why’re you crying? I thought you’d be happy.”
She sniffled and wiped her upper lip. “I am. I’m glad you’re staying. It’s... I need to do this.”
She cleared her throat. “Cry.” She swallowed forcefully and gasped. “It’s nice to get it all out.” She scrubbed her eyes with her thumbs. “People think I’m happy all the time. They think because I smile and say a friendly ‘hello’ to them and hop around like a cheerleader that I’m always happy. But... I seem so happy because I think if I act happy, I’ll finally be happy.”
Fake it ‘til you make it. I’ve tried that.
“I just wanna be happy, so I act it, but it’s not working. This works though.” She wiped her cheeks. “For now.”
I liked her like this. She always acted so cheery and this made her seem almost human.
It was nice, but it couldn’t kick out the thoughts about me, my friends, the shitstain called our lives. I stayed in bed next to her, thinking. I couldn’t get a job, I still hated my brother (except I no longer have a problem with it), still sexually frustrated, and still lonely. Really fucking lonely. Then there were my fucked up friends, the ones in relationships, the ones who whore relationships through every social media platform available.
People who take their relationships at face value write comments with words of wisdom like, “Aw, you guys are adorable!” and, “You guys go so well together!” Me and everybody else think, “Aw, you guys are trying so hard!” and “You guys overcompensate so well together!” those of us who know their secrets - who’s cheated on who, who’s had a fight about what, who’s about to end their relationship - those of us who know what’s going to happen.
When a friend enters a new relationship I think, “They’re going to break up.” It’s hard not to when you’ve been right every single time. My friends are like me. They’re in their early twenties. They’re all fucked in the head. And, like me, they’re unstable. They will break up with their boyfriends and girlfriends, whether in a month, a year, or a few, because they’re young, they’re insecure, they make mistakes, they don’t learn from them, and they won’t until it’s too late. The worst part is I can’t warn any of them because they’ll just say I’m bitter. I’m going to end up that way with the rest of them, but at least I’m prepared for it.
I lied on my sides and drew my knees up to my chin. The pit in my chest, the one that hits me and rattles my ribs, that appears after weeks of suppressing the urge to scream so harsh and loud my voice goes hoarse, hasn’t been around lately, but it’s been replaced by a sick twisting, like my lungs are folding in on themselves. I just had to focus on the present. Go with whatever happens. Take things as they come and don’t ask questions. Yeah, that sounds nice.
Besides, I had something to look forward to.
Just six more months...
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Laura, Toucan Editrice
Enjoy, and Viva La Toucan
Laura, Toucan Editrice