Merriweather Post Pavilion
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it on here before but I have really bad, at times almost crippling, anxiety. If you need proof I can show you my prescriptions for Vistaril, Propranolol, Buspirone, and Prozac. Before I had the meds I had to get really creative with ways to overcome my nerves. When I say really creative I mostly mean snorting downers in the dingy bathroom of whatever house party I was at while the toilet bubbles and swirls as if alive. This route made me numb to everything which did help curb the anxiety, but also slaughtered any chance of ever actually having friends because there was always this wall between me and actual human connection with people. I saw people who could function without hurting themselves and I hated them. It wasn’t fair that they had the only thing I wanted. I felt envy. I was bitter and full of self pity. As the years went on and I became more sure in who I was and what I wanted from other people, interactions became a bit easier, but there was always a voice in every conversation I would have telling me all the things I didn’t want to hear.
(You should just tell them you have to leave early, they dont want you here anyway.)
(Shut the fuck up I swear if you say one more word they’re going to make you leave no one wants to listen to you.)
(Sneak away to get a little something in your system, its the only way anyone is going to like you.)
(They’re never going to love you the way you want to be loved so why even bother?)
(You know how since you were young you’ve been a little off and you sometimes wonder if you’re just fully mentally handicapped and you look like a fucking idiot all the time and everyone can see it except for you? Yeah that shit is true look at how nice they’re being to you there’s no way in hell that its genuine. Its a fucking act because they feel bad for the poor little fucked up kid that no one actually wants around. Leave now, you’d be doing them a favor.)
(All the weight you added on in jail is the reason no one wants to touch you. You should start starving yourself again and then maybe someone will want to kiss you.)
Just the normal internal monologue you know. I couldn’t get rid of that voice, I couldn’t drown it out I couldn’t suppress it, I was helpless. Then the meds came along. After being on them for a few weeks I realized I didn’t have someone in the front of my mind berating me for every little thing I did. All of the sudden I wasn’t breathing wrong, I was just breathing. My smile wasn’t hideous, my face wasn’t going to make someone puke, I was just a person. I felt free for the first time in my life. I wish I could say the voice was just gone forever, but it came back even though I stayed on the meds. But this time, it was possible for me to ignore it. I could focus on it and sometimes I slipped up and did but it was always within my power to enjoy myself. I was now one of the people who could go out with people and talk to strangers and enjoy myself without forcing it. But I still often fucked up. Anyway this story is inspired by people I love and an album I love. Some of it is true, some isn’t. I think its all true in a different life though.
Taking the train always felt like something inherently romantic. The first time I took a train was when I was just a child in New York City. I was with my family and I was young enough to still consider them my family. I was spell-bound by the idea of going underground to travel, right below all these towering buildings. It smelled of such a specific type of urine that’s just so hard to find in smaller cities. I didn’t take a train again for years, all the way up until I went to Chicago for a music festival with one of my former partners. We held hands, shared AirPods, leaned in on each others shoulders, and took pictures in the reflections. There was a certain mysticism to it. No matter what happened off the train, inside of it we would remain, sealed tight in that metal capsule hurdling towards oblivion. Nowadays I take the train alone. Its not as depressing as it sounds, I still let myself slip into romanticization as I put on an unnecessary amount of jewelry and very poorly paint my nails. I’m Julia Scott and I take the train alone. I listen to Black Country, New Road’s new live album and hear them sing about togetherness, friendship, and community, and I cry. If this was just a few months back I would be crying because those were things I thought I would never find, but things are different now. I cry because for the first time in my life I’m able to surround myself with a community of people who genuinely care for each other, and for me. Ignoring the stares from everyone else in the train car, my stop comes up and I head out. The right before moments are some of the worst these days. Those couple minutes when I’m about to pull up in my Lyft and I realize that people are already there and I’m gonna have to greet everyone and interrupt conversation or just stand there awkwardly. It's like a zero sum game in my head. I see everyone in a field of flowers dancing to the music they’re making and I think, “What if I’m not supposed to be here? What if I’m not good enough to be here? What if they don't want me here?” I might turn around before heading over to them. Find a corner to sit down in and have a smoke to try to calm my shaking hands. I might take my anxiety meds if I have them on hand. Just for the briefest moments I might even consider just leaving and making up sum excuse. But I do my best to remember I’m wanted. I walk out into the flowers and I feel better. My mind is where it needs to be, but sometimes that doesn’t translate to my body. I want to dance I really do, but its one of the things I’m most self critical about. Blame my fathers whiteness for overtaking any blackness my mother tried to imbue in me. So I’ll sit on the grass and watch everyone and while I do I picture the day when I can just leave my body for the night. Then we could be dancing, no more missing you while I’m gone. There we could be dancing and you’d smile and say, “I like this song.” You know how they say, “One a junky, always a junky.” Yeah that saying rings pretty true. In my yearning to escape the confines of a meat suit that holds me in prison I often find myself drinking too much, or smoking too much. I justify it by comparison, but compared to Oxy and Xanax, most things don't look too bad. I’m not trying to say weed or alcohol are as bad as those, but if I’m using them in the same way then I don't really think there’s a difference. The funny thing about it is, I know its going to work. I know substances of any kind won’t solve my issues yet I try again and again. In my attempts to be more present I remove myself from the picture and hope that you can at least appreciate the flowers I left for you there. I don’t really think I want all that much out of life. I could be content with just my soul and the blood I bleed. But, I want to create art and I want to be loved and to love right back. I’ve never needed a lot of money to be happy, but as I meet more people I realize I want to keep a steady job so I can help anyone out if ever the need arises. Anywhere with the community I’ve found could be home. So, it doesn’t make sense to me why I feel the need to change myself to fit in to a hole I already fit into. Within these four walls I am found. I come back into frame as the group starts packing up. For a second I’m frightened the night is over, but instead we’re all just heading for a trek through the woods. The bugs fly upon us and we take turns passing them around to each other, making sure everyone is well acquainted with everyone else. The moss dampens our steps, only to be contrasted with the twigs snapping beneath us. I wonder if this is as surreal for them as it is for me. I’ve only ever felt this way in my dreams. I hope that I’m not putting too much onto them, I have a habit of projecting onto people, or so I’m told. So when someone does something that I didn’t expect, I have to take a second to steady myself before realizing its okay. Its fucking terrifying that all of these people have full autonomy and their own lives and stories and thoughts as complex if not more complex than mine, but its also okay that all those things are true. I wonder if you get scared thinking about me being an actual person. Do you want to know me as well as I want to know you? You’re the kind of person I’d dream of on my best nights. But, I don’t have to dream about these moments anymore, I’m living them. We make it through the woods and arrive at the beach. The stars shine bright above us, reflected not only in the calm waters, but also in the sand. The bioluminescent bacteria that glimmers and gleams like carefully placed crystals guides to the waters edge. It was hot out, so hot we were all sweating through our clothes at this point. Someone had brought their speaker, and the words blasted out:
“It doesn’t really matter, I’ll go where you feel; Hunt for the breeze get a midnight meal; I point in the windows, you point out the parks; Rip off your sleeves and I’ll ditch my socks.”
So we did just that. We threw our clothes to the side, unashamed and free like we were the first people blessed enough to live off the land West of Nod. Everyone dashed straight for the water, running in further and further till we were neck deep. We splashed around and laughed and swam and jumped every time we thought we stepped on something sharp. You swam up to me and looked right in my eyes and for that one moment it was just me and you, dressed in nothing but our summertime clothes. I wanted to say something, but the rain interrupted me. You laughed a laugh that said you knew what I wanted to say, and you felt the same. The night soon came to an end, but that was okay because I knew when the sun went down we’d go out again. I wake up and try to milk the last few minutes I have in my bed for all their worth before I head off to work. Today is the same as the day before, and the day before, and the day before. I don’t mind it honestly, a daily routine helps keep me grounded, it helps me feel more human. I sing my songs to pass the time. Its hard to really care about the day when the night holds my heart. There are still some parts of it I enjoy though. When I think of what comes next I’m filled with this sort of electricity that surges through me from head to toe and I know, soon I’ll be back where I belong. And just like that, I’m back where I belong. I love everyone so much, but my focus always seems to come back to you. I get lost in your curls, and when I draw pictures on your skin its so soft it twirls. You’re an asshole sometimes, but in a funny way so its okay. Honestly, I get really happy whenever we’re playfully mean, I don’t know why. Every time you grab my hand to pull me along cause I’m walking to slow I blush. We don’t often have moments alone, but when we do I want them to last forever. I wonder if you catch me staring at your outfits. I don’t mean to, I just think you dress better than anyone I’ve ever seen. I want to drown in everything I don’t know about you, and resurface just tell you that I love it all. Your eyeshadow was green tonight, but you insisted it was blue. I think by the end of the night you had me convinced it was blue. There’s some kind of magic in that. I can’t always do what I want around you. I get so nervous that I’m gonna mess something up, or talk to little, or talk too much. I resort to old habits. Well, no, I’m not doing lines in a dive bar bathroom, but I am trying to make up for my shortcomings with things outside of myself. We pass a joint around and I know I haven’t taken my anxiety meds yet but I think hey maybe this time it’ll be different. I really want to be cool and be able to smoke without freaking out. I want to impress you by just being a normal human. For a few minutes its okay, I’m conversing with everyone like nothings wrong. Then I start to get in my head. I wonder if everyone here really knows me. I wonder if they would like me still if they really did. Do they like the things I create? Do they enjoy how awkwardly I dance? Someone says something totally innocuous to me about a song I queued up on the speaker and I repeat it over and over in my head. Did they mean something more by it? Did I do something wrong? Do they not like my taste in music? Fuck I must have ruined the whole vibe by playing something no one likes. Now everyones just talking to each other about how fucking lame I am. Goddamnit this is why I should’ve just stayed home. Now I’m high. Like, really high. Everything I’m doing is wrong. The way I’m breathing is wrong. The way I’m sitting is wrong. The clothes I’m wearing are wrong. I am wrong by the simple fact that I exist. My head is a dark jungle, and I’m getting tangled up in the vines. I feel catatonic. I feel scared. Oh God, I’m doing something illegal. If a cop came in here right now I would be going to jail again. I can’t fucking go back I just can’t I wouldn’t survive a second time. It all sinks down from my head and into my stomach and I remember I haven’t eaten anything today. The thought of food makes me sick. I need to puke but I need to look casual about it. I ungracefully stand up and head to the bathroom just in time to hurl into the toilet. I’m in there longer than I would like, and the thought that everyone else is probably thinking I took a shit is embarrassing me. My face is flushed and I’m sweating, but I rinse my mouth out and chew some gum then head back out. I’m okay. For about five minutes that is. Everything hits me again and I have to rush back to the bathroom. I should be all good now, I dont even have anything else in my system to puke up, so I rinse my mouth out, chew some more gum, then head back out. And a few minutes later I have to go back in. This time I just dry heave for a few minutes, then sit against the wall, content to stay in the bathroom for the rest of the night. I give up. I’m not cool and I can’t hang. I’m just gonna stay as still as possible for the rest of the night. I might as well by in a coma. Lying on a bathroom floor in a coma. Lion on a bathroom floor in a coma. I remember how much fun I was having before I ruined the night for everyone and I start to cry. A knock on the door interrupts me. You ask me if I’m taking a shit, confirming my fears that that’s what everyone thinks. I say no, and tell you I was puking. You step away from the door and come back with some water. I’m so pathetic. I don’t want you to take care of me, I should be fine this is so embarrassing. Its all almost too much for me and I start to panic, but then I hear you talking. You talk to me like nothings wrong. Like you’re not mad at me and don’t think less of me. It throws me off at first but I try to engage in conversation. Time passes and the fact that we’re in a bathroom I was just puking in is totally lost on me. This is what I wanted. I just wanted someone to talk to. So its there I decide, no more running to the first substance I see to try to talk to people. No more trying so hard to get people to like me. You treat me like I’m someone worthy of being loved, and I want to show you that I am. No more running. I’m back on the train, heading home again. I know I’ll see everyone soon so I try not to be sad, but instead to focus on the positive feelings I felt. In my earbuds Noah Lennox tells me to “open up your throat” and I decide I’m going to do just that. Years of being told to shut up or being belittled for talking about things no one cares about be damned, I’m going to speak my truth. Or type it, that counts too. The people in my life have begun to shape the way I do things, and for once its in a good way. I want to sort out all of my shit so I can be the best me I can be and show them that they weren’t wrong for putting their faith in me. Family is not a term I use lightly, and I think its less of a group and more of a feeling. With my friends I feel family. I love you all.