The Year of the Hip Hop Vampires is how I refer to it. My brief life with those girls, M, H, K, & T. Back then, those girls were both thrilled by and afraid of the prospect of me writing our story, or, as they thought of it, their story. M would say, “Girl, you better be writing this shit down.” K would say, “You’re not going to write about this are you?” Would I write about that time K, drunk, wearing pink gym shorts and white socks pulled up to her shins, bent forward on the spaghetti-o stained sofa and threatened to fart in M’s face. Or when M and K, Jewish and Korean respectively, told me I would never understand Mary J. Blige’s music until I fell in love with a black man. Or the time H picked up a branch off of Glenwood Ave. and carried it around all evening declaring, “I’m from Neptune!” Or the time the five of us, sometime in the early morning, did the tootsie roll and other like dances in the living room, without speaking or laughing, with the most serious of intentions, music blasting out the open window into the cold night air, as if hypnotized. (This really happened.)
I sometimes tell my husband stories that make us both laugh, sort of bemused-like. He refers to a picture of me from that time, sitting on the counter in our dorm kitchenette, with K & M, all of us dressed in black with accents of red and white, matching the colors of the Scarface poster behind us, black stilettos, tight jeans, and all of us with that same look on our faces; Wolfman calls it, with a slight upward tip of his chin, “What.” He thinks it’s sexy.
I threw up three times at Club Oxygen, once in a garbage can off the dance floor, and then twice in the bathroom, and woke suddenly with M hovering over me, laughing, helping me to my feet and out the door. I threw up again on the sidewalk and then at a red light opened the car door to vomit in the street. The car of boys next to us shouting at M, “Yo, is your girl alright?”
And then other nights ended with us walking home, to be followed by a morning of muddled, hungover slouching and lurching through the warehouse district looking for M’s car. We wore huge sunglasses that year, sunglasses that covered half the surface area of our faces. And we carried towering plastic bottles of water from Whole Foods, and carried airplane bottles of liquor in our back packs. I wore three inch heels every single day that year, usually with worn boot cut jeans and t-shirts of semi-obscure bands tight across my chest.
We ate salads for lunch and dinner, sitting together for our meals, the five of us, The Fam, trying to piece together the events of the previous night. Usually, H had kissed somebody, some stranger, and spent meal times guiltily professing her love for her fiancé. And, if H hadn’t kissed somebody, she’d peed in somebody’s car. When she drank, H used to say she was a “leaker”; there would be tears, often vomit, sometimes pee.
And I cried that one time, wearing that pink hoodie my brother ended up stealing from me, zipped up to my neck, the hood over my head, at the Ale House with M. Mommy Issues, you know. M’s idea of cheering me up was to take me to her brother’s girlfriend’s brother’s house, where I fell asleep in one of the bedrooms with my arms around a pit bull, and then off again to Krispy Kreme for blueberry cake donuts—free donuts, of course, because this sort of thing was M’s specialty—free donuts when we pulled up in the back of the shop to chat with a driver loading boxes for grocery store deliveries. The driver, at M’s request, actually went inside to snatch a blueberry donut for me, my favorite.
So many disjointed memories and images—H mixing me bloody mary’s while I caught up on overdue assignments; K confessing that her new anti-depressant had caused her to go on a run that lasted hours, into neighborhoods she was not familiar with, without realizing she was tired or that she had a schedule to keep; T buying us a crab leg dinner and teaching us how to crack the shells. And so often, I was a counselor which they resented more than appreciated.
I began to feel tired sometime after Winter Break. I still rode around in M’s car at her every whim, and I helped celebrate H’s birthday—PBR’s at the Local 506, M and I pooled some money and bought her a new pretty comforter set, which H “leaked on” that night. But, I felt less inclined to agree with M when she sneered at The Domestics on the first floor of the Res., their baking smells wafting through the stairwell. One night, I finally screamed at M, “Grow the FUCK UP!” She responded, “Don’t tell me to shut the fuck up,” and I was so utterly exasperated that she had misheard and misunderstood me, so altogether burnt out—I think that is the moment I made the decision to cease and desist with all this, this taking advantage of our youth, because at 21, we weren’t exactly that young, we weren’t children. I told her as firmly and as enunciated as possible, “No, I said grow the fuck up. Grow up.” And then, I spent Spring Break working in my grandmother’s garden, and by the time the semester came to a close, I’d decided not to sign up for residency the following year. I cited hair in the shower drain as my main reason. But, the truth was that I was over it all, the bleary headaches, the hip hop, the clubs, the drama—I didn’t even like using the word “drama” to describe situations, I still refuse to use that word. So.