Read from the Beginning!

“One can’t complain. I have my friends. Someone spoke to me only yesterday.”

- Eeyore

Winnie the Pooh

A. A. Milne

October 3

Today’s death was an accident- light, uncomplicated and bloody for aesthetic purposes.  I saw myself trip on an assortment of motivational rocks inscribed with quotes claiming that I’m “a survivor”.  I smoked my head on the granite kitchen counter and blood poured like gravy from its boat.

Now, I know we just met, Diary, and Dr. Quacks-a-lot forced us into this friendship for therapeutic purposes, but I beg you, don’t get the wrong idea.  Death is not an obsession.  Sure, little moments throughout the day may strike my fancy; maybe lift an eyebrow or two.  It’s possible that I’ve considered driving over an overpass while listening to the calming sounds of “Inspiring Thunderstorms” on my IPod every day at 2:46pm, but who hasn’t?

I admit that the visual of flying off a freeway and crunching into Spanish-styled houses is mildly graphic, but you’ve got to love the 21st century.  One can truly test their creativity when imagining the inevitable ending.  If only I were a celebrity with the potential to pass tragically and beloved by millions, but unfortunately, I’m commonly referred to as, “What’s-her-nuts, you know, the tall one”, by most.  Not like it matters anyway- logistics rule out my celebrity death as I have horrible gag reflex and can barely down my birth control pills.

Side note: Any ideas?

I suppose I should warn you that this is my first attempt at journaling since New York…  Oh, and those ‘Polly Pocket’ diaries when I was 8.  Let’s just say the joyous times of a scalawag puppy named Benji, Hubba Bubba bubble gum, and freckle-faced, Matthew Beck – who inadvertently caused my first lady pulse – won’t be discussed.

To state the obvious, I’ve changed.  Though my brazen Judy Attitudey is as clear as a frat boy’s intentions on St. Patrick’s Day, I was oblivious of my downward spiral.  Subtle disappointments lost their importance early on allowing a walloping failure slide in unnoticed- much like said frat boy.

There’s an unsettling comfort in being able to accurately identify the person whose sneeze first started the plague.  I blame David Kellen.  He broke my heart at my 6th ice-skate-o-rama birthday palooza.  Apparently holding hands with a girl who believes in “safety first” and has a Winnie-the-Pooh pillow duck taped to her rump does something to one’s reputation.  After my mom yelled at his mom, David was forced into reuniting with me at the pencil sharpener where I was none the wiser.  You’ve got to love those delightful hoodwinks that live in childhood fantasies.  What’s even better is 21 years later and you still don’t realize they exist until you’ve basically been featured on A&E’s “Intervention”.  Surprise.  Hoodwink.

I agree with you, Diary, I’ve thrown out a couple red flags.  However there’s none more hazardous than admitting your age while living on the Californian coast.  I only do so because I believe you should be fully aware of the dame clicking your mouse.

Ready for my second deal breaker?  I’m Canadian.  Like many a’ Canadian, I may apologize for walking into a room, but I’ve got a potty-mouthed hockey player living inside ready to throw down her mitts.

I’ve been dealing with, “You’re Canadian, EH?” from smart-mouthed Americans since I was 20.  Guess what, guys?  I’ve heard that joke before.  With 7 years experience in the States I’ve managed to convince several people that 1) yes, I do know “Paul from Canada”, 2) you bet I ice fish, and 3) I used to feed the neighborhood caribou Cheerios every morning from my veranda.

Wild animals! There’s another way to go.  I have this reoccurring nightmare where I’m a forest nymph that brings peace among the critters.  Then, as he would, Smokey the Bear mauls me.  I assumed a grizzly was my power animal, but maybe it was just God expressing what’s meant to be.  A cougar could also work, plus bonus points for wearing my birthday girl party pants today and inching up to that dreaded word myself..

Well, Diary, we’ve gotten this far.  I guess I should tell you how I became such a pus-filled blemish.  Let’s start like all good fairy tales.

Once upon a time…

Nope.  Scratch that.

It was a dark and stormy night…

Fuck it.  His name was John…  Oh, and I’m getting deported.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

7:16 AM.

Happy Birthday Ellie! Oh shoot- I should have sung to you.  I wanted to, but now I can’t, can I?  Crap.  LOVE YOU!  It’s your Mom.  Call me back. 

 

10:01 AM.

Happy Birthday Ellie!  It’s Bonnie.  What’s the plan?  9:30 at Ye Rustic Inn?  Who’s going to be there?  You, Nick and me?  Is that it?  Jesus.  We need more friends.  10 bucks we’re the only people that call you today.  Oh, I wonder if John will call.  Call me back!

 

11:33 AM.

Hey Sister.  It’s your sister!  Happy Birthday!  I refuse to sing the Birthday song unless it’s the New Kids on the Block version.  Even then, we both know I’ll butcher it and Jordan Knight would never forgive me.  I can’t risk it.

 

12:55 PM.

Happy Birthday, honey!  It’s your Mom.  Oh CRAP!  I forgot to sing again.  I’m going to get some blood work done.  I’ll call you when I’m out.  Did your dad call yet?

 

1: 35 PM.

Happy Birthday sweetheart!  It’s your daddio.

 

2: 03 PM

Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to you.  Happy Birthday to Ellie.  Happy Birthday to you! Hooray!  I did it!

 

9:18 PM.

It’s Nick.  I know… I suck.  I was supposed to pick up the cake.  Oops.  Can you grab it on your way to the bar?  See you in a bit.

 

9:43 PM.

It’s Bonnie.  Where are you?  Are you talking to John?  Hang up on him!  By the way, I’m guessing it’s been 4 days since Bartender Barry shaved and holy be-Jesus.  He.  Looks.  Good.  I think I just pulsed.

 

10:27 PM.

Hey, it’s Nick again.  And I thought I was late.  Where are you?

 

10:40 PM.

Ellie!  It’s Bonnie!  WHERE ARE YOU?  Should I start calling hospitals?

 

11:03 PM.

It’s Nick for the last time.  Okay, you win.  We’re leaving.  I’m on my way over.

 

11:47 PM.

Hey…  So, hey.  Well, I guess I figured if there was any day to break the silence, it should be today.  Anyway, it’s John- in case you… well anyway, Happy Birthday.

***

October 4

I spend most days in my head.  The lucid moments are bombarded with palm trees, children’s car seats, and staring blankly at a computer screen, much like Doogie Howser.

Today I had a solid 5 minutes in the real world as I drove down Pacific Coast Highway to work.  I could hear myself breath and noticed it was a struggle.  Thick, healthy exhales were accompanied with an occasional groan.  I sounded as if the act of breathing was a chore; I equated what kept me alive with vacuuming.  I chose to turn up the music and tune myself out.  Thank God for Queen and ‘Somebody to Love’.

I rolled down the windows and acted like I was singing on top of a building, Bono style, while John- my John- admired me from below thinking, ‘Dammit! Has she lost weight?’

Life is good inside my head.  Come, stay a while.

Unfortunately, “Inspiring Thunderstorms” was next on my playlist and we all know where my imagination went from there- it splattered violently on a beautiful, Malibu bungalow.

I realize now that I may have gotten ahead of myself and the children’s car seat blurb could have confused you, Diary.

Let me explain.

I’m a nanny for a young married couple, only three years older than I.  One would assume their jolly holiday attitude would frustrate me as much as someone sucking food from their teeth, but regrettably, there’s more.  All of the other Santa Monica nannies are lovingly referred to as au pairs, whereas I’m still considered “the babysitter”.

I thought it would be beneficial to surround myself with pure, childish love during my time of crisis, but instead I’m gawking at a life I no longer see for myself.  Taking kids to kindergarten; playing with floatable letters in the bathtub; one, two, buckle my shoe and all of that crap doesn’t sound appealing anymore.  Especially not since I discovered that the little terrors (Bert and Zoe) revenge-poop on command.

After babysitting last night, I was supposed to go out and celebrate my age spots and inevitable loss of hair pigmentation, but any ounce of motivation to speak, smile or move dripped off of me like sweat in a Bikram Yoga class.  I seriously considered telling my two best friends about how Zoe’s ass exploded and that I needed to shower for the rest of my life.  One would assume that the moment I lied about being pooed on would be my Oprah’s “ah ha, so this is depression” revelation, but sadly, no. That had happened long ago when I attempted to suck my thumb because Bert made it look so comforting.  Instead I said nothing to the best people I’ve ever known: Bonnie, my brunette doppelganger and Nick, my go-to wedding date.

Nick burst through my window last night after my bust of a birthday party like he does every Monday, Thursday and Sunday.  I’ve always held issue with the fact that he very rarely gives me Saturdays, but I suppose flying separately on date night provides some solace.  Should a time come when we’re snuggled up watching ‘Saturday Night Live’, we might need to reassess our situation.

I find myself constantly surprised at how beautiful Nick is.  When I picture him I see a gangly, 16-year-old boy-genius wearing a bunny suit at his brother’s Halloween party.  When I actually see him… I find myself wondering more and more what he would look like on top of me.

3 months ago, after John and I broke up for the 47th time, Bonnie forced me to make a list of all the qualities I’m looking for in a main squeeze.  It started the same as it did in the 8th grade.  Cute.  Funny.  Smart.  But then I got so specific it frightened me, for example, playful, but not like a lost kitten; more like a kangaroo where it’s unclear if flirty fun will turn into feisty fisticuffs.  Most importantly, NOT AN ACTOR.

Now, this is a moment of shame for me, Diary.  I’m a struggling (out-of-work/never made it out of the gate) actress myself.  What a poisonous cocktail it was to swallow when I finally discovered I wasn’t one of the 0.2%, and would never step onto a red carpet with, oh… I don’t know, Marshall from How I Met Your Mother. 

It was probably the 15 years of rejection that should have tipped me off that the road I was heading down was just a bunch of dirt, but no.  The tidal wave of failure hit me like a cruise ship gone to hell when I was an extra for a European Chevrolet commercial.  I was so excited to step into the Marie Antoinette wardrobe they had set aside for background talent.  The themed commercial was my first bucket list check off.

Shoulders back, I stepped into the trailer to gaze proudly at my corset when the woman in charge of wardrobe said, “Oh sweetheart, you’re not the right size. The last thing I would want for you is to embarrass your size 6 self and bust the hem of a 3000 dollar size 2.  Not to worry, you can be the Butler!”  She then shoved a tuxedo in my hand and pushed me through to hair and make up where I was fitted perfectly with a Hungarian mustache and powdered white wig.

Untitled

It wasn’t long after that moment when I decided to steer clear of dating “industry” people in general.  I have an irrational fear of running into anyone who’s recently referred to me as “shim” (she/him).

After completing my lost list (love/lust), Bonnie pointed out that I was describing Nick.

Nonsense!

I refuse to believe that my mythical love life won’t end up like Meg Ryan on top of the Empire State Building.  And I’m telling you right now, Tom Hanks never peed in her backyard to help potty train her puppy like once Nick had.

Nick and I dated briefly as teenagers and instead of breaking up, I told him I needed to figure things out.  I needed him to wait.  Of course, instead of stepping outside of myself and seeing Nick for who he was, I saw John instead.  Then 4 years ago Nick said something that should have registered as a 7.8 on the frictor scale (friendship/frictor).  Nick called me on a Friday night and said he would love me until the very end because he believed in my size 6 self.   He said I asked him to wait when we were 17 years old and that he had never stopped waiting.

I’m shocked that the friendship we built wasn’t wiped out with his tsunami of honesty, but we did have our setbacks.  Nick moved to LA a year and a half ago after 2 years of silence.

Nick was wearing a shirt that said “Happy Birthday, Grandma” as he made his way into my bedroom last night.

“What happened?  Who doesn’t show up to their own party?  Are you okay?  How are you?” The questions shot out of his mouth like a machine gun.

I would normally respond with some type of pop culture, passive aggressive quip, but I honestly don’t know how to answer anymore.  How am I?  Bad.  Is that enough?

Side note: Before I continue the story of how Nick made shit not just hit the fan, but infiltrate the whole ventilation system, I should give you a quick Ellie Friesen history lesson.

May I have a megabyte your time?

After triumphing over puberty in Vancouver and deciding that criminology wasn’t my type of –ology, I went to New York City for a summer semester at theatre school.  When my 6 weeks of happiness came to an end, the school’s director invited me to study with them full-time.  Only two people were chosen and I was one of them.  With only weeks to decide, I went back to Canada, packed my belongings (a snow globe and a copy of my favorite book, Ender’s Game) and left.  20 years of being alive and I had finally started living.

Bonnie and I gravitated toward each other at Theatre School over yam fries, Emack & Bolios Ice Cream and Chekov.  One would think that it was her bright green eyes and snappy, one-liner sass that won me over.  Or possibly that it was her carefree, subway strip-teasing temperament to launch our best friendship, but that one would be wrong.  I knew Bonnie was the one for me when she said she would like for me to be her inferior half and would henceforth introduce herself as my better half.  She continued saying, “I’m assuming we’re a team now.  Our color will be Periwinkle Blue and we’ll call ourselves The Pixies.”  She’s the exact personality I always wanted to be.  The part of me I always wished I could be.

After I graduated, my off and on, long time, long distance, Canadian love, John, told me he had finally decided on me and that he finally wanted me to be the one he ate corn nuts with.  He wanted me to be the one watching his beer-league hockey games.  He just wanted me.  Finally.  I moved back to Vancouver, but quickly grew resentful when I realized I had given up everything for corn nuts and hockey.

I was desperate for a second chance.  I applied for a 0-1 Artists Visa and after convincing John it was his turn to sacrifice, we moved to Los Angeles together.  Only after our final break-up did I look up “sacrifice” in the dictionary and see that some of its many synonyms are, “surrender, abandonment and ritual slaughter”.  Not exactly the beginning of happily ever after… but he was John.  He was my John.  He was 8 years of maybe.  He was the epitome of hope, possibility, dreams and twinkle twinkle little star.

It wasn’t just that living Los Angeles was difficult, being the cause of our many ups and downs.  The city of 17 million angels and aliens was lonely…. but then, as all children’s tales say, there was a light at the end of the freeway.

Fairly early on in my LA adventures I got an amazing job at a production company with a director who actually found me intriguing- this was a first.  I was being treated with respect… in the entertainment industry.  This man, this accomplished talent, thought I had something to offer.  6 months ago he got me an audition for a bit part on a network show and I actually booked the job.  Me.  Ellie Friesen booked something worth bragging about on Facebook.

After the I-can’t-believe-this-happened-to-me day on set, network lawyers called claiming I had immigration issues.  Don’t be ridiculous!  I was appalled.  I wasn’t the alien, illegal or any other kind.  But the truth of it was, the goalposts had changed and what I needed when I originally applied for my Visa wasn’t enough anymore.  It wasn’t just 20 reference letters from producers, directors, casting and agents.  It wasn’t just a petitioner or contracts.  It wasn’t just playbills and a cringe-worthy admission to my acting stint on TLC’s, I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant.  I needed letters from multiple unions that I wasn’t apart of.  Hoodwink.  I would have thought my Hugo Boss wearing lawyers would have informed me about this before my big break broke, but you know what they say; life is a bowl of cherries soaked in wine and overrun with fruit flies.

Someone needed to take a hit and seeing as I cost a certain three-lettered network thousands of dollars, this sweet blue-eyed, blonde haired, never been sent to detention, dreamer started living a nightmare.

After losing my job at the production company, being blacklisted by one of the three major television networks and no longer having any chance of getting a Greencard, I was given until December 31st to decide the rest of my life… another life… elsewhere…  Once my present Visa expires, I’m no longer welcome.  I’m out.  Booted.  Extracted.  Banished.  Deported.

I had been this little twig bending for over 15 years.  It’s like that fib your parents tell you, “don’t make that face or it’ll stay that way”.  At 27 years old, I’ve finally stayed that way…  until last night.

Nick sat down at the edge of my bed.  I knew it was serious when he asked permission first.

“John’s married.” He said it quick, hoping that the faster he said it, the less important it was.

I think a full 30 minutes passed before I could finally breathe again.

I could feel myself blink.  It was heavy and strained as if blinking wasn’t ever meant to be a reflex.  When my eyes began to feel as calloused as a nail file, I had to remind myself to shut them.  Opening again was a whole other struggle.

It wasn’t possible.  John and I had been off and on for 8 years, long distance, living together, moving to different countries for each other, we did it all and worse we broke up 3 months ago!  He was Mr. Darcy to my Elizabeth Bennett, Dawson to Joey, Tom Hanks to Meg Ryan.

John watched every episode of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ accepting my unhealthy addiction.  We would drive an hour and a half just for an excuse to sing “Journey” at the top of our lungs.  We made “this was my day today” videos for each other every day while separated.  We were peas and carrots.  We were baths and bubbles.  We were the adorable models in stock picture frames.  We just… were.

Of course, we had our disagreements.  For instance, he really enjoyed Tom Cruise whereas I still couldn’t get over the whole Matt Lauer thing, but our love was exactly that, love.  Deep affection that you read in greeting cards, hear in Taylor Swift songs, and see in penguins.

John and I met 9 years ago at my girlfriend’s house party.  We didn’t experience fireworks per say, but my God I heard Celine Dion serenading us for the first 20 minutes.  For the rest of the night we were inseparable and when it was time for John to leave, he bid adieu with a weak wristed wave.  My 18-year-old self was certain I had missed my opportunity to be with my very own Prince William (this was back when Prince William had hair).  I ran out to my Pontiac in hope that John had left his number on my windshield and shrunk 3 inches when I found nothing.

The next morning, of course, was a different story.  He had driven 45 minutes to his house and then turned back around in the middle of the night to take a chance.  On the back of a parking ticket, sitting against my wiper, shining against the blazing sunrise was his phone number.  I knew it would be there before he did without any hint, reason or hesitation.  I knew.

3 months ago John said, “I don’t think I’ll ever be able to say goodbye to you”.  Of course, he also said, “You’re good, Ellie… I just wish you were great‘” but I choose not to remember that part.

“I don’t want to know.  Please don’t say anything else,” I begged Nick.  I didn’t want to know why I’m not the kind of girl who’s ‘more’ let alone ‘enough’.  I don’t want to know how for 8 years he couldn’t decide on me and in 3 months he couldn’t imagine himself without someone else.

My twig just snapped.

John and I breaking up and getting back together was so common that I started to feel like our relationship was a Jenga game.  After the wrong piece was pulled I would break, but he would always put me back and play again.  I will now remain an un-played Jenga game, and who in their right mind wants to throw back to the 90’s when they have games like Cards Against Humanity these days?  I’m screwed.

Lightning!  Maybe involving a kite or a key?  Now there’s a dramatic way to go.  Unfortunately storms in Southern California are few and far between.

It’s official.  This is bad.  My creativity is lacking and I’m contemplating stealing “accidental” death ideas from Benny Franklin.  Okay, Day 1 of “getting better” starts tomorrow.  Don’t ask for more than that right now greedy little Diary. Saying I have a problem is half the battle- OH scratch that!  Tomorrow is a How I Met Your Mother Marathon!

Okay, the day after tomorrow is Day 1 of “getting better”.

Side note: Any ideas?

***

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***

Subject:                    need your opinion!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                        October 6 12:48:22 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Ellie,

I need you to immediately stop over-plucking your eyebrows and pay attention to me.  I left Owen a voicemail the other night and this about sums it up:

“Hi, I’m pretty sure you’re still at work, but I haven’t heard from you in a while.  Just wanted to make sure everything is ok.”

What was his response?  Zilch.

I was going to wait until at least Friday (that would be a week since we spoke) to send an email, but I couldn’t sleep again last night. (I really need to stop listening to the ‘Dracula’ audio book – it’s is NOTHING like ‘Twilight’)

I drafted the email below.  It’s not even a quarter of what I would love to say, but I think it’s important to neither attack nor play the victim.

___

Owen,

I suppose a smarter girl would just take the hint.  I guess that says a lot about me.  Let’s call it endearing, shall we?   

I know how much stress you’ve been under and please know that I don’t want to add to your burden, but watch me do it anyway.

I’m just really confused and am hoping you’ll at least tell me what happened.  I can think up all kinds of theories, but it would be much more effective if you would just let me know.  Not too long ago I made you pretty happy, it seemed, and being with you made me happy.  We had a setback, sure, but one that was proven to be neither of our faults.    

I would be lying if I said that I wouldn’t like to start over, clean slate if you will.  But that takes two of us.

My little sister’s wedding is December 17th and I would love it if you would be my date.

I know it’s risky sending this email, I hope it’s not coming across as pressure because that is certainly not my intention.  I probably should keep my mouth shut, but since I’m not technically talking… I’m just going to type it– I think you’re worth the risk.

Bonnie 

___

What do you think?  I tried to add moments of brevity.  For the last line, is that too dramatic?  Should I say “And frankly, so am I”?  Should I get into the details of the “setback” or would that just embarrass him?

I think it’s best at this point to not be too emotional and that includes telling him what an absolute dingleberry I think he’s being.  He has a piece of paper taped to his laptop that says, “Are you listening to God?” CLEARLY he is NOT.

Anyway, I really need a date to Diana’s wedding.  I can’t go alone.  I’ll die.

PS Why aren’t you picking up your cell phone? I’ve left a couple messages and nada.

Bonnie

***

Subject:                     Re:      need your opinion!
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 6 6:14:56 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

BONNIE!

Why is there so much apologizing in this email?  I would swear you were a Canuck.  You’re going out of your way to make him feel better for being a fraidy cat cockwad. Stop it!  I think you should end things immediately and then go straight to Ye Rustic and tell Bartender Barry that you think he’s scrumptious.

Here’s a little email tweak for you to nibble on.

___

Owen,

Obviously this isn’t working because I’m clearly not a pussy and you’ll clearly never see one.

___

You’re welcome for blowing your mind with awesometown advice.

PS I’m not getting any cell phone calls, voicemails or texts. I lost my cell and am too lazy to figure out how to check messages from another line. Just call the house line- yes, I still have one of those.  How dare you judge me!

Ellie

***

Subject:                     Re: Re:           need your opinion!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 7 10:15:49 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Though your advice is superb, you seem to have forgotten that we’ve already been to Awesometown.
Let me remind you that Owen and I dated casually for 3 months before he actively started ignoring me.  As you recall he’s very Christian and I’m very understanding.  When we finally slept together we had a… complication.  He had an allergic reaction to the lubed condom and unfortunately decided to pin it on me.  He claimed that I was riddled with disease and he was convinced his bumpy, baloney pony was atonement for his sins.  It’s now three weeks later and he knows it was all a ridiculous misunderstanding and that I’m not a tart.  We should be moving along with our jubilation by now.
I still like him, Ellie, and I deserve someone so untainted.  He’s respectful.  He owns two suits and a wine rack, but I don’t know.  Am I settling?

I get a kick out of him and how different we are. He’s fascinating and his ears are so teeny and his head is so oval.  He’s like an abstract painting and I don’t want him at the auction anymore.

But… I hate to say it, I’m verging on the “give-up” – which, by the way, is a terrible idea because my mom has threatened to take $5000 from my wedding fund and spend it on a matchmaker.

Sigh.

Bonnie

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re:    need your opinion!
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 8 11:12:52 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Settling is always depicted in such a negative light.  Accepting what’s comfortable may not necessarily be the most exciting BUT settling can also mean putting your roots down, “to make one’s home in”. When I think about it like that, settling is definitely something I wouldn’t mind settling on.

Ellie

***

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***

October 8

Today I received a letter from Nick that looked something like this…

Kasey Note

***

Subject:                     wow… thanks
From:                         NICHOLAS ALLAWAY
Date:                          October 9 10:27:03 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Please don’t tell me that you purposely didn’t call me after getting my note!

You better not tell me that you went out of your way to pick up a handwritten plea that I slipped under your door and threw it away with your rotten bananas.

I ran into your neighbor yesterday as I was knocking on your door- not realizing you were with Sesame Street.  This funny, smart, beautiful vision of a nurse actually asked me to drinks while sticking her key in its slot with an extreme amount of sexual undertones.  She said, “pick me up at 9:30, you know where I live”.

I didn’t think it was cool and casual to say, “Yes, potentially flexible woman, I know where you live, but unfortunately, I have NO IDEA WHAT YOUR NAME IS!”

I can’t believe you didn’t call me back!  Get a kick out it, did you?

I showed up and made a real dick of myself.  I tried to steal her wallet.  At one point I asked a stranger to steal her wallet.  I called her a wealth of nicknames including “sugar” and “yum yums”.  She thought it was cute and asked for something cleverer.  I ended up mixing shit up and calling her things like “rainbow bright eyes”, “my little pony express” and “peanut brittle bones”. I felt like I was playing before and after on “Wheel of Fortune”.

She ended up saying, “What about Sunshine Band-Aid?”

She was so insulted that I didn’t give her a gold medal for coming up with that gem and do you know why? IT TOOK ME ANOTHER HOUR AND A HALF TO FIGURE OUT HER NAME WAS KASEY!

Thanks a heap, you fucking asshole!

Nick

***

I realize I’m a couple days late for my first day of “getting better” and I’m sorry.  But little Diary, your unshakable confidence in me – even after I fill you with empty promises – is what makes you my BFF.

This morning started with an alarm clock zapping me from sleep paralysis at 7:15.  I might consider changing the “Beetlejuice” theme song wake up call to something a little less extraordinary for tomorrow but I must admit, Danny Elfman did the job. I was propelled into my vanilla day with a Weight Watcher’s, frozen breakfast sandwich and forced smile.

After leaving the house for the first time (besides to babysit or to walk my neighbor’s 15 year-old teacup poodle) in 90 days, I went and pulled a Felicity. I cut off my waist length, blonde locks to just above the collarbone and died it chocolate brown.  When I made the drastic suggestion to the Tony ‘n Guy Hair Academy student, she touched my shoulder delicately and asked, “are you going through a break-up?”

Bitch.

Set back 3 steps, I left the Academy and ran to Wetzel Pretzel on Third Street Promenade for a swift pick-me-up.

Nick and Bonnie are pressuring me to “make it up to them” for turning into a flakey LAlien on my birthday.  After babysitting tomorrow night, I’m getting all scarf and sweatered up and heading to Universal Studios for ‘Horror Nights’.  The theme park gets decked out for the entire month of October and their infamous horror movie villains stalk you throughout the backlot.  Back in the day, one would say Halloween was my favorite time of year.

Side note: My claim to fame costume is a baked potato.  It was thrown together with skin colored leggings and my dad’s XXL Vancouver Canucks Sweater wrapped tin foil.

Once upon a time the haunted houses and tours through the Bates Motel parking lot really made me tingle.  Now I fear the scariest monster at the park will be me.

***

October 11

Apparently the haircut was a bad idea.  The first mention of this was from 4-year-old Bert and his genuine curiosity about whether or not I liked looking like a boy.

The second insult came from Nick when he tugged on my tresses, mistaking them for a Halloween costume. After realizing his inaccuracy, he said something along the lines of, “At least it can’t get any worse”.

Rule # 1: (I’m embarrassed, Diary, for the banality of the statement directly following this parenthesis- with that being said, I would like to honor this feeling with a sprinkling of clichéd remarks for the rest of this entry). Never say that it can’t or won’t get any worse.

The final slap in the face happened when Nick, Bonnie and I cut in line for hot chocolate. It was as cold as a witch’s tit out. I heard the sound of chainsaws rapidly approaching from behind, most likely from one of the actors dressed as Hellboy. I instinctively nuzzled into a stranger’s back standing in front of me.  I should have turned to Nick in such a state, but he was busy ogling Slutty Krueger.  Bonnie was worse.  She was elbow deep in a s’more travel pack eating her feelings (Owen turned down her scream dream invitation maintaining that Halloween is more of a trick than a treat).

You always imagine what it’s going to be like when you first see the one that got away, after he got away.  I should have been singing on top of a building and him commenting from below about how I radiated brilliance.  It shouldn’t be when my hair hadn’t settled into the cut yet or I still smelt like dye.  I should healthily be over John when I see him moving on for the first time and not growing a skin farm from my lack of moving all together.  I really wish this were the night I opted for the “I can’t go, I was pooped on” excuse.

When John turned around to see who the fool was asphyxiating herself in his fleece, the first thing he did was touch my mop. I could tell that he knew he was the clear winner of the break-up, doing much better than I.

When he lifted his hand, it was as if his glistening wedding ring had a little mouth with little vampire teeth mocking me: “you don’t know how I proposed”, “you don’t know what beach we took our sunset wedding photos at”, “hooray for Americans, I’ve got my Greencard now”, “she’s so much funnier, smarter and thinner than you”, “golly gee, I love her so darn much”, “3 months! 3 months! 3 MONTHS!”

John and I didn’t talk about taking the leap much, but he did let me know how he would have proposed.  We would be out renting a movie at an endangered Video Rental Shop and as we scoured the aisles (myself in the TV on DVD, him in comedy) I would say, “So, what will it be?” He would then answer, “I don’t know.  Why don’t we just get married instead?” I would whip my head around in complete surprise and he would be on bended knee next to “Frasier”.

We would have had a simple weekend wedding at a lake in Kelowna, British Columbia.  Guests would play on sea-doos and dance on a twinkly-lit porch at the backyard-barbeque themed reception.  The grand finale would have been a drive-in sized movie screen where guests would munch from the popcorn machine as John and I cozied up for some 10 foot tall Kelsey Grammer.

I suppose I thought about it a little.

I looked at John with his hot chocolate in hand and it didn’t occur to me to catch a glimpse of the woman standing next to him.

“Ellie, look at you”. Ironic, as he barely was doing said verb.  My friends held their position as loyal bosom buddies and were immediately at my side shooting him the obligatory stink eye.

As painful as it is to admit and if later I regress to hate or despair, at this moment I understand why he left me.  People always say in hindsight, “he was never mine to have in the first place”.  I don’t believe that.  He was mine.  John Gillespie will always be mine.  The problem was, I was never his.  He never felt that ownership over me as I did for him.  He let me go time and time again for 8 years, subconsciously waiting for her to come along.  He was my lungs and I was his air, but I guess there’s a lot of air to breathe.  Unfortunately, we only have 1 set of lungs.

I couldn’t stop concocting all of these ridiculous ways he could have proposed to the woman I completely ignored at his side.  It made me ill.  It had been 3 months and he wasn’t missing me, he wasn’t dating, or even engaged.  He had fast-forwarded through the process and was married.  And here I was, an un-bathed babysitter.

A life altering moment one usually doesn’t realize they’re experiencing is knowing that this is the last time you’ll ever see the love of your life.  I watched John walk away from me for good and didn’t even crack a smile when a horde of serial killer clowns swarmed him and his bride.

***

October 12

I have huge issues with the play “Chicago” because it reminds me of my high school nemesis, Keri Summerfield.  That bitch nailed the performance of a lifetime as Roxie Hart and even though I was Velma Kelly (the more glamorous murderer), Keri got a standing ovation from her peers while I had miniature Snickers Bars catapulted at my head.

Jay Leno!  That’s another.  I refuse to watch Jay Leno due to caricatures drawn on my locker in the 8th grade.  I have a broad chin and my mom says that I should thank my biscuits for it.  She says I would never have to worry about a chicken neck rearing its ugly gizzard later in life.  But guess what mom?  Middle School doesn’t care about your 60’s.

They say it gets better and they’re right. The differences that are mocked while younger are celebrated the second you graduate.  All of a sudden you aren’t “weird”, you’re “unique”.

The outcasts have it rough, it’s 100% true, but do you know who else suffers?  Those who have no label at all.  I wasn’t overly intelligent.  I wasn’t popular enough to be apart of any committee.  I can’t sing.  I can’t dance.  I’m not overly athletic or artistic.  I can’t paint, play the clarinet or dare go near a transmission.  I’m not fashionable or gothic.  People complain about being lepers, but at least they had their own colony.

If you excel or are special in any capacity, weird or wonderful, you will never be alone.  There’s Chess Club, Glee Club, sports teams, debate teams.  What about those who are none of the above?  Where do they belong?  I suppose I can technically do all of these things just fine, but what a wonderful standard to live up to. “Fine”.  An earth-shaking teacher once told me that F.I.N.E. stood for “Fucked up. Insecure. Neurotic and Emotional.”

Side note: I haven’t always seriously considered drinking 23 bottles of nail polish remover, but how many times do you have to get kicked in the face before a boot mark appears?

The thought of being someone else brought hope.  The bear trap of make-believe my mind supplied me with, protected me and the act of pretending became practical.  False hope was created the second I debuted as Recycle Girl in my 6th grade Earth Day school play.  Sadly, that performance is still highlighted on my resume.

It wasn’t the crocodile tears on command that was the problem.  I blame my failures on the fact that my Frankenstein height put me taller than every hypersensitive “parent” I was paired with at auditions.  I was deleted from casting’s mind the moment I walked out the door.

Then this year, 6 months ago, I finally catch a break (they say you only get one) and what happens…? Well, this.

The only purpose I’ve ever had was to be someone else.

I believe that I exist to live a thousand lives that aren’t my own because being a character is the only time I’ve ever felt like myself.  Acting, pretending, however you want to call it -living anywhere but inside my body isn’t just my passion anymore; it’s my identity.

“It’s the only thing I’m good at!  I’ll never give up”, is what I would wail to my concerned family.  I was too busy wishing away, lost in my head to notice that my pride was suffocating me.  And where did it leave me?  Severely depressed, heartbroken, jobless, incomprehensibly lonely and abnormally tall for the city I dwell in.  I’ve failed and been rejected in every facet of life; love, work, even by the country I call home.

I’m officially out of options.

The government has given me until December 31st to pack my bags, say goodbye and begin again.

I say no.

I choose not to let anyone treat me like cottage cheese and give me an expiration date.  I’ll do that for myself.  Once my milk has soured, I’ll be the one to decide if it’s worth getting another carton.  If the life I’ve fought for is going to end then it’s up to me to decide what beginning again really means.

How do you look at New Years, Diary?  Is it the start of something or the end?

I don’t know what kind of fireworks there will be on New Years Eve, but the choice is made.  When life takes an unexpected, sometimes paralyzing turn, the only way to avoid becoming a victim is to make a decision.  Then whatever the outcome, at least its yours and of your choosing.  I’ll either drown or finally learn to swim and by December 31st, no one will make that choice, but me.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

11:33 PM.

Hey… It’s John. Um, I’m sorry if I… well, I didn’t know how to be when I saw you last night, I was a little caught off guard.  Can you call me when you get this?  We should probably talk.  There are some things that need to be said. 

***

October 13

Today I asked my mom if she thinks I’ll be able to afford a new computer in three years.  She replied, “Are you asking if I think you’ll be able to buy yourself a computer when you’re 30?  A computer?  When you’re 30?”

I almost hoarfed at my own inadequacy.

Side note: Hoarf is my special word for “super barf”.

I continually compare myself to Bridget Jones, but at least she had a job– on television, no less.  Bridget Jones, the epitome of the down-and-out sad sack, is able to skip the PC station and move right along to the good stuff.  She may be fat (far from at 130lbs) and lonely (the greedy slut kisses both Hugh Grant AND Colin Firth) but at least that well-heeled bitch can afford a MacBook Pro.

Then it hit me.

While eating my daily caesar salad I realized I needed a life jacket. All of these romantic comedy movie and television characters that I liken myself to have a moment in the third act when they may as well be building sandcastles in the clouds. Life collapses around them, but they always manage to pull an epiphany out of their ass and come out on top.  Never once have I experienced a manifestation of Christ or had a light bulb turn on over my head because I’ve never had a trustworthy third party intervene.  Both Elizabeth Bennett and Bridget Jones find out the truth about Darcy through an unbiased source.  Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks finally get together in “Sleepless in Seattle” because of his meddling son.  There’s always an outside observer pointing them in the right direction at the 11th hour.  There’s always a life jacket.  In my life, I’ve attempted the breaststroke of happiness, but the immediate defeat that follows has forced me to doggie paddle.  I’ve never enjoyed a good float.

Boom.  Epiphany.

Maybe Dr. Quacks-a-lot was on to something by introducing us, Diary.  In just nine days I’ve discovered that the world has pulled a Bill Murray on me and Groundhog Day’d my life.  Every moment is the same as the one before.  The last 6 months of darkness has been as if my head is living an Alaskan Winter and apparently the act of chronicling my lack of bustling doesn’t change that.

If I need a delicious lifesaver to help me swim, why not let it be the characters I love so dearly?  Hell, it worked out alright for them.  I’ll merge my mediocre life with that of my favorite movies in the hopes of finally creating my own story worth telling.

If by December 31st, I choose to take the life jacket off and drown, at some point I would need to put one on in the first place. So, this is me trying.

The experiments start today.

MISSION ACCEPTED.

The investigation of ‘self’ will start with my closest and dearest, feigned friends whose stories all had their own Cinderella ending.  If Julia Roberts can make prostitution fun, then I can make destitution stupendous.

Tonight Bonnie and I will hit the streets “Pretty Woman” style.  However, if a billionaire offers to take her to the Beverly Wilshire, I will maim her dimpled smile.

***

Subject:                     Operation: “Pretty Woman” aka Shady Lady
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 13 4:14:58 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Hey Bonnie!

What are you doing tonight?  Let me tell you!  I have this idea and I’m going to be vague because I know you like surprises.  My only request is that you please bring your spunk and Victoria Beckham Wig.

Ellie

***

Subject:                     Re:      Operation: “Pretty Woman” aka Shady Lady
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 13 6:11:52 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

What makes you think I have no plans tonight? It’s 6 o’clock and Match.com has been very welcoming.  I’ve rejoined and in the last 24 hours I’ve received 11 messages. Unfortunately, none of the gentlemen callers have proposed marriage yet, but I have seen two ripe penises.

How’s this for a dynamic profile?  Ready?  Steady?  Mate!

Hello Boys, I’m Bonnie! 

If this isn’t World of Warcraft then there’s been a gargantuan mistake.  Alas, I kid.  No, I don’t have a kid… it’s just something I do.  And if you have a kid then you’ve made a gargantuan mistake.  Basically I think they’re assholes and I guess there’s no part of me that wants to be a mother.  I could care less about explaining what the word ‘medium’ means and don’t wish to laugh at, “Knock Knock. Who’s there? 59 trees. 59 trees, who? 59 trees down the street.”

Here comes the lightning round.

- I auditioned once for “Jeopardy” but with the sole purpose of showing Mr. Trebek my giraffe impression (it’s dynamite.)

- I am deathly afraid of rats, spiders, State Beaches and linguine.

- I LOVE to travel… to my local Trader Joe’s Grocery Store.

- I’m looking for someone with a name beginning with the initial       

   “E”. Preferably Edward and if you happen to be “afraid” of the sun, I understand. *wink

 

One final gobbet for you to chew on, please take lots and lots of shirtless pictures of yourself in the bathroom… but make sure I can see your phone in the mirror– those are the bestest!

Lots of love… hopefully.

Ellie, I fear NONE of them have realized how cute and charming I am… with my JOKES.

I’ll be at your house in an hour with wig in tow.

Love you!

Bonnie

***

Subject:                     I HATE YOU!!!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 13 8:02:43 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

ELLIE FRIESEN!

I.  Am.  So.  Mad.  At.  You!

Did you know that it was OWEN who honked at us?  You remember Owen?  He’s potentially my John!  And I THOUGHT I still had a chance.

He finally called me back and what was the first thing he said?

“Hey Bonnie, so after seeing you last night hooking on a street corner, I’ve decided to get tested. Before I get a needle in my penis is there anything you need to tell me?”

I’ve convinced him to meet me in person so I can explain for the second time that I’m not a trollop.

I’ll help you climb out of whatever well you’ve fallen in, just like Baby Jessica, but the next time you decide that walking the streets is where you’ll “find yourself”, I won’t be offended if you forget to invite me along.

Julia Roberts you are not.  You don’t have her legs.

It’s not just Owen that irks me.  I thought I was going to DIE!  I thought we were going to be top story on Nancy Grace, but this is even worse… You’re turning into a ‘Dateline Special’.

***

October 14

So, I may have crossed the line last night.

If Bonnie were at all aware of the fracas we were about the cause, I wouldn’t have known it.  We dressed like courtesans wearing multicolored wigs masking our future shame.  I wasn’t as brave as my redheaded hooker hero and instead of sashaying along Sunset we headed to the well-lit, upper class, trendy city of Brentwood (the suburb OJ Simpson terrorized).

It was one of those nights that smelt like October, which is rare in Los Angeles.  When I lived in New York, the sharp Halloween breeze would sting the back of my throat like peppermint razorblades; I loved it.

Last night was one of the handfuls of nights in the City of Aliens where mist fell from low, ceiling clouds. It was like the horizon was streaked with an aluminum spray can and it wasn’t from smog.  I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic of the two vastly different lives I’ve already lived: my Manhattan one and my Vancouver one. A fleeting hope of finding the nearest DeLorean and traveling back in time passed as quickly as a hiccup.

Bonnie was confused at first as we lingered in front of a Whole Foods Market. We weren’t stepping into an 80’s themed nightclub with our neon, boots and glittery wigs… this was new.  Dressing up in a plethora of outfits and going out on the town wasn’t abnormal for us when we lived in the Upper West Side, but Los Angeles had us shy.  She thought we were finally stepping out of our hikes and yoga safety-bubble and transitioning back to the world of masked balls and martinis.  She had assumed the “pretty woman” subject line to my email was merely complimenting her and had no idea of my true intentions.  Come to think of it, neither had I.

“What are we doing here?” She asked so many times she was starting to sound like a parrot.

Side note: The following exchange might be a little fuzzy, but I believe it started with something along the lines of, “Bonnie, I need you to prostitute with me.”

After she slapped me, I continued. “People find inspiration in odd ways.  It comes to some in a dream about an 8 year old fighting a centaur with a magical cape.  Others may say it came while being berated for an eggnog stain under the holiday rug.  Everyone else says heartache.  I found inspiration within a girl I never knew, a girl I was desperate to be, a girl that became my friend and a girl that killed vampires.”

Bonnie’s eyes lit up when I mentioned the v-word.

“It was after watching the final episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” when I realized I would never rush home and slam my bedroom door on Tuesday night’s again.  A rush of sadness overcame me as the lives I became so acquainted with were over.  It was then when I discovered that television and movies truly affect people, universally, on a daily basis.  Why not?  It affected me.” I felt the power of my campaign.  “I became a part of the rivalries, friendships, romance, thrills and escape.  I had the life I always wanted… in a television show.”

“But what does that have to do with being a Hooker?”

“I need to be my own hero.  I’ve been pretending my whole life whether it’s daydreaming about adventures that have never actually happened or fading away into someone else’s script.  I’m joining both forces.  I hope that if I do, if I act out some fictional character’s happiness in my own reality… I don’t know, maybe my life will become it’s own romantic comedy.“

“And what does that have to do with being a Hooker?” The parrot was back.

“I need out, Bonnie.  I need to try someone else’ survival techniques because mine aren’t working anymore.  Tonight I’m choosing a leggy redhead to lead the way. Plus, Richard Gere and a super soaker bath tub sounds pretty damn appealing.”

It took Bonnie 3 minutes to agree to become a whore.  She’s a good friend; I’m very obviously a bad one.  It’s not like I wanted someone to pull over and offer a “good time” and I promise you, I didn’t think it was actually going to happen.

It started out fun, which was the point of the experiment.  Bonnie and I switched wigs a few times and literally spent the whole night sitting on a bike rack gossiping about Owen, John and Nick while drinking a health shake.  We would occasionally cat call the Abercrombie and Fitch models that passed and lost ourselves in laughter when they considered our advances.

We binged on kettle corn and scuttlebutt and for a second, I couldn’t feel myself breathing anymore.  It wasn’t painful to blink.  It was working.  The self-indulgent, permanent pessimist had been silenced.  I was smiling – big and toothy – I dare say, much like Julia Roberts.

Though I was giggling at my own ridiculousness, the last time I remember laughing without force was 3 weeks ago.  I drove past a 7/11 in Santa Monica and witnessed a teenager asking a police officer to cuff him for the purpose of a photo.  The on-duty officer was 100% committed and even bore an intimidating grimace for the tot’s Facebook profile picture.  I let out a blast of a laugh and when I inhaled, I felt a fragment of my former soul suck back through my breath.  I thought my spirit had the same fate as the dinosaurs and Video Rental stores and in that Whole Foods parking lot, I felt that misty inhale once again.  Tonight, before the silver 4-Runner pulled into the parking lot, I forgot I was depressed.

The driver of the 4-Runner said his name was Cole.  He parked next to our feet and purposely stood uncomfortably close.

Side note: At this point we were sitting on the curb chatting about whether or not Bonnie and Owen should have lilies as the focus flower for their wedding.

Before introducing himself, Cole thrust his hips forward with his arms folded to reveal a very snug portion of his pants.  His eyes were forest green under the streetlight.  He seemed put-together and somewhat handsome- very Jeffrey Dahmer.  It was when the passenger door swung open and a man, announcing himself as Derek, stepped to Cole’s side that I realized my mistake; they were clearly the Menendez Brothers.

I could tell Cole took a fancy to Bonnie.  Whatever lay inside his tights pants swung like a compass in her direction.  He was the outspoken one of the two, calling her “baby” immediately.  Derek stood silent by my side but breathed on me like a congested 3-year-old.

When Bonnie and I stood to leave, we became very aware of the bystanders hurrying past, avoiding eye contact with the harlots and assumed patrons.  We were alone.

It wasn’t long before they got hands-on.  Cole kept tugging on Bonnie’s hair and though I was trying to shake him off, Derek had been thumbing my skirt.

At first we politely refused the pigs, trying to explain the purpose behind our outfits.  But foul language caught up with us when they started referring to us as “bitches”.  When Cole grabbed Bonnie’s b-cups, he was not expecting her right hook to be so powerful.  She slugged him across the face without thinking.  Her knuckles were throbbing, I’m sure, and a sense of pride washed over her caked-on makeup.

The relief lasted 45 seconds.  I screamed when Derek tugged at my skirt and Bonnie took another swing at Cole’s jaw as he lunged toward her.

It was as if the handsome stranger appeared through fog.  He later called himself Brian, but when he close-lined Cole and almost severed Derek’s arm with a single twist, he was nothing short of a knight.

‘I’ve already called the cops.” His voice was low, strong and had the weight of an oak tree.  I’m pretty certain he tossed out some expletives, but I prefer to remember my Lionheart as pure.

After Derek and Cole took off I remembered my wardrobe.

“I swear I’m not a slut,” was the first thing I uttered.  I said it so quickly I practically hoarfed it out.

We told him the whole story about my unhealthy obsession with make-believe and my belief that if I act out famous fictional stories, my own would manifest.  I almost fell over when he responded by saying, “Well, there has to be some truth to it.  You met me.”

 

(About 20 minutes from the end of “Pretty Woman”, Evil George from “Seinfeld” attacks our beloved Julia.  But fear not!  Sexy, salt and peppered Richard Gere saves the day and wins the girl.) 

MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDish.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

9:32 PM.

It’s Nick.  I heard about your escapades last night and I’m a little peeved I wasn’t invited along to pose as your pimp.  Ellie, I’m being serious, don’t do that again.  Ever.

***

October 16

Let me tell you about Brian.  First, he’s beautiful.  There’s no denying that.  He has thick, blonde, curly hair that he traditionally shaves every Christmas with his brother, father, uncles and cousins.  His eyes aren’t exactly blue or grey or green. They’re a combination of all three with hazel peeking through fine cracks.  His body is toned, but soft in the right areas.  Are you ready for the clincher?  He’s taller than me.  Only by an inch and I can’t quite wear heels around him, but that inch is just so damn lovely.  He’s embarrassed by his smile so he keeps his lips tight and head down when I toss out disappointing jokes.  And he’s funny!  We went for a thank-you-for-saving-my-life-and-giving-me-your-phone-number coffee yesterday and he asked what kind of cupcake makes me cheery.  When I said chocolate or vanilla he brought me back two halves of each smashed together and called it an “Abraham Lincoln”. Example # 2 of his delightful sense of humor: he told me that he figured I originated from somewhere north as my skin tone is practically alabaster.  I corrected, “I prefer porcelain”, to which he responded, “you mean like a toilet?”

Other important Brian-isms include: he’s from Ponderay, Idaho but moved to Los Angeles with his family at the age of 11 AND he’s a Junior Literary Agent at one of the biggest Agencies in the Country.  Ding dang dong, he’s not an actor!  Please hold as I celebrate…

I wonder if he would come to my funeral?

***

Page_1***

October 17 (12pm)

I’m midway through an experiment today.  I wanted to see if I could go the whole day without saying one word aloud.  Not because I thought it sounded fun, or because my cell phone is still missing and I haven’t received a single phone call at the house, but purely for scientific purposes.

I wondered if my kisser would have the same feeling it does after a long nights sleep.  Would my teeth feel like they were snugly wrapped in tightly knit sweaters?  Would I acquire morning breath simply from an inactive mouth?

Stay tuned…

***

(3:30pm)

What happens at this point if Brian calls?  Do I pick up the phone even though I’m so close to the climactic ending of a successful bacterial study?  I’ve continued my quest and haven’t spoken a single word all day.  This is when I wish I had the energy to find or purchase a new cell phone.  I miss texting.

Side note: I look forward to the day humans evolve into mouthless aliens with crazy long texting fingers.

What if Brian needs to tell me that he would never wait 8 years to propose to someone else?  What if what he has to say is exactly what I need to pull me out of my Chilean mine?

Alas, I can’t regret choices that haven’t yet been made.  I’ll just pray that I continue to receive no phones calls from a living soul. Or that there isn’t a knock on my door with a little Gnome standing on my welcome mat urging me to speak in order to save 10,000 garden elves from dying.

There are only 5 people in the world that call my house phone on a regular basis:

My Momsie; a charming beauty who told her Elementary School counselor that all she wanted to be when she grew up was a mom.

My Daddio; a delightful man who fought his way from a post-war housing scheme in the east-end of Glasgow to become a health care professional.

My Sissy; a happily married success story who, as the first born, stole all the good traits from my parents giving me the leftovers.

Bonnie; the only successful long distance relationship I’ve ever had.

And Nick; he’s never said that came to LA to become a blood technician at Cedars-Sinai Medical specifically for me… but I refuse to ask.

***

(5:02pm)

The phone rang.

Diary, why do I always manage to walk on the awkward side of the tracks?  As the bell toll, the call display mocked me with the name, “BRIAN ADAMS”.  I’m sure you understand that as a Canadian, I couldn’t help but immediately assume it was thee “Everything I Do, I Do it for You”, Rock God, Bryan Adams.  Shame washed over me after I picked up the phone and remembered that the famous hoser spells his name with a “y”.  Apparently I knew practically everything about my Whole Foods hero except his last name.

Though it was instinct to pick up the phone, I kept to my bacterial experiment and didn’t say a thing.

This is how the conversation should have gone:

 

Me: Hello?

Him: Ellie, It’s so good to hear your voice.  Listen, there’s something I need to say and if I don’t say it now… I’ll live the rest of my life filled with a thunderstorm of regret.

Me: But Brian, you hardly know me-

Him: I know you’re on the rebound, but luckily I’m very good at basketball.

Me: I imagine you are- you’re very tall.

Him: I felt something with you and if you’d let me, I would like to be the one to help you feel something again.

Me: Can you give me an example of what exactly you’d like me to feel and where exactly you’d like me to feel it?

Who knows where the conversation could have gone.

This is what was actually said:

 

Him: Hello?

Me: …

Him: Ellie?

Me: …

Him: Hello?  Was there a beep?  Umm, it’s Brian?

Me: …

Him: Okay, I don’t know if I’m leaving a message or if your phone cut off, but just incase, I had a good time with you and wanted to make a proper lady out of you and woo.  I was wondering if you wanted to check out ‘Steel Panther’ on Monday? They’re an 80’s rock, cover band that play on the Sunset Strip.  If it’s a bust we could always watch the trannies from that Denny’s  on Gower.  Anyway, I thought it could be a fun first date-

Me: *gasp

Him: Ellie?

Me: …

Him: … Hello?

*click

Assface.

***

Subject:                     Sorry I missed your call.
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                         October 18 11:42:22 AM PDT
To:                              BRIAN ADAMS

Hey Brian,

Sorry about phone-gate yesterday. I was having a connection problem and then I got caught up with this experiment-type thing and got crazy busy. Anyway, though you couldn’t hear me, I could hear you… I would love to see Steel Panther.  I won’t embarrass you too badly.  I’ll only request “99 Red Balloons” or that last song from the movie “Pretty and Pink”.  I only have two rock-dreamy dreamboats that I’ll willingly admit to– Jon Cryer as Ducky in the record store, and Jon Bon Jovi.

Ellie fact: When I was 17, I traveled 4 hours to see the Jovi’s tight pants in person.  It was everything I ever wanted.

Monday it is!

Ellie

***

Subject:                     What’s the story, morning glory?
From:                         NICHOLAS ALLOWAY
Date:                          October 19 11:11:00 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Hey pretty lady,

I realize that I could call the apartment, or just stop by, but then I know I wouldn’t be able to say everything I wanted.

Let’s face it, and please don’t be offended, but you’ve really been invested in all things Ellie lately.  I miss being the center of your attention.

So, email time.  It’s disconnected, new age and perfect for a cowardly confession.

I miss you.

I was rummaging through some of our old emails and I guess I just wanted to remind you of a few things.

Nick

___

From: Ellie Friesen
To: Nicholas Allaway
Subject: Hey Nick… long time.
Date: June 11 2011

Hey Nick,

It’s been longer than I ever intended since I last spoke to you, so I apologize now if this seems out of the blue.  I couldn’t help myself.  I guess I wanted to drop in, hopefully not as an interruption to your life, but just to say hi.

I’ve been living in LA for quite a while now and am starting to forget why.  I’m pursuing what every other doofus pursues here and claim to be an actor — 14 hours of my day are dedicated to my job as a director’s assistant.  I enjoy it, surprisingly.  It’s for the meantime (I’m beginning to get concerned that my life is filling up with “in the meantime”).

I hope you’re well and happy and all of the above.  Okay, here she blows.  I guess I feel like after two years, you may have forgotten about me and I suppose I’m looking at this email as a reminder for us both.  I miss you.

 

Ellie. 

___

 

From: Nicholas Allaway
To: Ellie Friesen
Subject: This is a surprise…
Date: June 13 2011

 

Hi Ellie,

I have to tell you, this is a surprise.  It’s a happy surprise but still… a surprise.
I’ll start with two apologies; First, I’m not quite sure how this email will come across.  Even though I’m typing, I have a not-so-funny feeling it’s going to sound something similar to the mumbling adults in a Charlie Brown special.  Second, for how long it may be.  Read in chapters if you like…

I didn’t think education was something I could categorize as “in the meantime”  but the it’s looking more and more that way every time I sign up to be a tutor, Resident Advisor, Teacher’s Assistant or whatever else that keeps me from spending the holidays at home.

I’m finishing up my thesis in Corvallis, Oregon.  It’s around 50,000 people and isn’t as beautiful as Vancouver, but pretty darn close.  I still play lacrosse and frequent the pubs (not much has changed).  There’s lots of hunting, fishing, ATV’ing and biking but I can’t afford a $12,000 ATV, $2,000 gun, or a truck so I keep to my ‘student life’.

As for dating (if I don’t bring it up, it’s almost more awkward), I’ve had 2 lady friends since we last saw each other.  The girl I’m seeing now, Sarah, is nice but…  this might be a little weird to bring up, but the timing of you and I getting back in touch was pretty weird in itself – I’ll explain later.  

I basically have a “Price is Right” showcase showdown coming up. I have to decide if I should pass on the first showcase without knowing the details of the second. Plus, there may even be a wildcard third.

I’m not like you, Ellie. I admire you for your flight rather than fight tendencies. You’ll never have a black eye and your legs will always stay toned.  It’s impressive.  It still blows my mind how you left for a summer workshop and ended up saying goodbye to 20 years in 2 weeks.  Do you know how ballsy that is?

Maybe this is my testicle time.

Option #1: stay in Corvallis get a great job at the University, make lots of money, and settle down (Sarah still has 2 more years of school).

Option #2: leave Corvallis for Vancouver.  I’ll be with friends and family, but no guaranteed jobs.  With no set income and the distance between us, things with Sarah probably wouldn’t work, not to mention I have horrible communication skills.

Wildcard Option: apply for a 1 year Practical Training Visa. Once it’s expired get my N-1 or Greencard and work anywhere I wish in the States. Boston. NY. LA. Philly. San Francisco. D.C. Austin.  The list goes on and on.  Downside of the wildcard… it’s a wildcard, and getting said Visa is pretty difficult and a massive pain in the ass (as I’m sure you remember).

Here comes an immediate topic revision. The reason why I said the timing of you and I getting back into touch was weird is because you really made me re-evaluate my situation at a time that I needed to.  

When I got your email, I was in a computer lab preparing to do a ‘psychological profile’ for a company that wants to hire me.  I was supposed to be in a calm, relaxed and composed state when I wrote it.  As it was loading, I decided to check my inbox and wa-pow!  New message from Ellie Friesen.  Needless to say I was no longer in a relaxed and calm state.

After getting your email, I got a little short of breath, and I couldn’t sleep for 2 nights.  You’d think after almost 2 years, getting back in touch with your best friend shouldn’t have that kind of affect on someone.  Not to say that things ever would have worked out between us, but hearing from you forced me to compare my situation now to experiences I’ve had in the past.

It’s time to revisit that second apology. I had no intent of writing such an involved letter.  I heard through a vine of grapes that you’re back with John and I think that’s great, I guess.  I would never try to screw up your relationship with him- I’m sure that’ll happen all on it’s own.  

I know that’s mean, but the reason why we haven’t talked for 2 years is because I wasn’t completely honest with you.  If we decide to do this “friendship” thing again I’m going to tell you what I think and how I feel, and you’re going to be okay with that.

Nick

___

 

From: Ellie Friesen
To: Nicholas Allaway
Subject: Imagine something witty here.
Date: June 16 2011

Nick,

Well, quite honestly I don’t know what to say and it might be because I don’t completely understand.  Do you miss me?  Because I clearly said I miss you and couldn’t find the obligatory “I miss you, too”.  

Just be happy, Nick.  Options 1 or 2 sound fine but a teacher once told me what “fine” really means… it isn’t pretty.  Option 3 sounds like an adventure. Right now you’re in a position where you get to decide what kind of person you want to be, not need to be or have to be… want to be.

Things with me have been very confusing, so, you’re not alone.  John and I are complicated, as you’ve very accurately predicted (way to be a penis-stump).

As you know, I was living my life in New York and let me tell you, the ol’ NYC and I were like Mary Poppins together, practically perfect in every way. When John begged me to take him back for… God, I don’t even know, the 10th time?  I chose to give it all up to be with him.

I moved back to Vancouver and was resentful the moment I stepped off the plane. I had abandoned my identity to fit into his template. After moving in together, I decided to use the last 2 months on my Practical Training Visa and travel the States.

The half-assed American experiment came to an end quickly and I had come to terms with my decisions.  My ticket was booked and I was coming home.  When I had 4 days remaining of an amazing existence I was prepared to step away from, he left me… as he always does.

I had left people who came to be my best friends and family, lost my Visa, lost my apartment, lost a lot of rent money for a home that I could no longer come back to.  I had finally become whole, I had purpose in New York and I gave that up… I gave you up, Nick, and I’ll forever regret that.  I basically lost my future 4 days before it was supposed to begin.

A month later, John showed up at my parent’s door saying he made a mistake and I took him back, as I always do.

I’m back again in LA with a miraculous 3 year, O-1 visa. I have no idea what hat I pulled that bunny from, but I guess I’m one of the lucky ones.  

John came with me and it’s been difficult, but we work at it everyday. He’s not a bad guy.  I’m sure there will be a moment down the line when I’m finally free of the pain he brings me, but pain is a by-product of happiness.  

I guess I’m trying to forgive myself for the choices I’ve made.  I think I’m desperate to prove to myself and everyone who judges my decisions that I wasn’t wrong.  I want so badly to have one amazing moment where I can say, “see! That’s why I’ve taken him back all of these times.  I haven’t spent so many years of my life being wrong.”  

I’m looking to make amends to myself and the first step to that is bringing you back in my life.  It’s very cliché and I know I’ve become one of those girls, but I think about you all the time.  

Here comes my immediate topic revision. Whenever I’m feeling like a girl, you’re the boy I talk about.  I’ll give you 2 of my favorite Nick stories. 

1.   Houseboating: when that blonde hussy kept on harassing you for a massage because you were wearing the “Canadian Men’s Massage Team t-shirt” and I pushed that little bitch overboard.

2.   On vacation in Disneyland: when that bird flew into my head in Tomorrowland. You didn’t want me to panic so you screamed, “IT WAS A NAPKIN! IT WAS A NAPKIN!”

Anyway, talking to you makes my day brighter.  And I don’t really know how to stop writing… always been a little bad at that.

 

Ellie

PS That was abrupt! Sorry, I’m crap at this.

 

___

 

From: Nicholas Allaway
To: Ellie Friesen
Subject: (none)
Date: June 18 2011

 

I miss you. Better?

In all honesty, I did hear some rumblings about all of your drama.  I’m not going to say much on the subject because, yes it makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like the guy.  Just make sure you end up with someone who adds to your happiness rather than gives you the reason for it.

As for the memories, I remember hearing “Hey!!! That’s MY Nick!!!” before the splash, and I thought lying about the bird was the best course of action instead of, “Yeah, a flying fowling just crashed into the side of your head.  Let’s get some churros.”

Anyway, Ellie, I’m happy you got your second chance with the Visa.  I had a look at some of the pictures you put up on Facebook and there’s one of you holding a sign on the Brooklyn Bridge that says, “I did it.”  I couldn’t agree more.

 

Nick.

___

 

I know that recently things haven’t been roses for you, Ellie, but it hasn’t all been weeds.

It’s unfair that all of this shit has landed on you twice; the loss of the Visa, the loss of John… but it’s another second chance for you.  Once upon a time you did it.

i did it (bridge.)

Do it again.

I know you’re on a mission to find your happy place… and this movie thing you’re doing – acting out your favorite heroines or these movie moments you want so badly to be your own… but you know what I think?  You don’t need to do these cockamamie experiments to find yourself.  I’ll find you.  As proven from above emails, if you want to know who you are, Ellie… just ask me.

Nick

***

Subject:                     Re:      What’s the story morning glory?
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 20 2:00:45 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Nick,

What can I say?  No one will ever compare to you.

When I’m an old spinster and if that Houseboating hussy doesn’t come back to haunt me, I see no reason why we wouldn’t marry.  Think of how great our speeches would be.

By the way, I have a new go-to Nick moment… When we were 17, dating and on our way to Metro-town Mall for some Deck the Halls shopping.  Alice Deejay’s “Do You Think You’re Better Off Alone” came on the radio and you screamed, “MAYYYBBBBEEE!!!!”

Love you, boob-a-loo.
Ellie

***

Subject:                     You’re an idiot
From:                         NICHOLAS ALLOWAY
Date:                          October 21 1:50:23 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

What are you doing tonight? Want to watch some Antiques Roadshow and/or Twitches?!

Nick

***

Subject:
From:                         Ellie FRIESEN
Date:                          October 21 2:00:23 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLOWAY

I would love that, but tonight I’m going to see these guys in concert…

images

and then I plan to “Summer of 69″  with a guy named Brian Adams.

#truth.

***

October 22

When Brian rapped on my wooden apartment door, I was hoping to see flowers on the other side.  Knowing that this only happens to sweet old couples wearing polka dot skirts and bow ties, I didn’t hold my breath.  What I did see when I opened the door, however, was a miniature rubber ducky.  I stuck my head into the hallway and saw Brian crouched over a boombox.  Yes, an MC Hammer, too legit to quit, 1991 boombox.  Before I could make a sarcastic comment he yelled, “I’m not ready, get back in there” and shooed me away.

From the tinny speakers, out blasted Otis Redding’s “Try a Little Tenderness” (the song Jon Cryer’s most delicious character Ducky dances as he semi-professes his love to the enchanting Molly Ringwald. This, of course, is the best scene in John Hughes’s motion picture masterpiece “Pretty in Pink”).

As Brain moonwalked down the hallway toward my shocked, gaping mouth, he tossed a brilliant red wig onto my head.  My God, it was happening.  He was Ducky and I was Andy and this was an atrociously awesome reenactment.  He then continued to mimic the entire Ducky Dance that once took place in an 80’s record store.  The smooth jam was breathing new life in my hallway.  He sang along with Otis 100% committed.  His feet and thrusts were quick and engaging.  His eyes were squeezed shut like someone had just squirted pickle juice in them.  Let’s face it, the boy must have practiced all day because it was practically identical to the original, theatrical version.

During the surprisingly long 2.5 minutes, I couldn’t decide how I felt about the display of affection.  My confliction stemmed from this heroic stranger saving my life and dignity on a street corner, versus someone I recently mistook for rocker darling, Bryan Adams.

When the song was over, the red wig sat crooked on my head and I was frozen, not necessarily from fright, but definitely from something other than any normal sensation.  He was huffing like a Broadway dancer and felt it was necessary to clarify.

“’Pretty in Pink’.  You said you liked that one right?”

I nodded.  There were no words.

“I figured you could cross this off your movie mission list.”

Needless to say, we did it.

Immediately.             

I couldn’t help myself Diary, I literally grabbed him by his Flock of Seagulls hairdo and had barely closed the door before my sailboat panties hit the floor.  Now this isn’t normal behavior for me seeing as I’ve only slept with barely a handful of men in my 27 years, but since, for the time-being, I’ve decided to try living, I may as well live it up.

I was perfectly happy with abandoning our original plan of seeing Steel Panther and spending the rest of the night in bed, but he’s a go-getter. Zipper up, hair slicked, back in business and we’re out the door for our first date.

The only thing that would have made my night complete was rain. There are few things that I refer to as my own and rain is number 1 on that list.  Lays Ketchup-flavored potato chips is a close second, and Nick, a distant third.

I’ve loved rain since the first time John dumped me.  We were just tots living in Vancouver and he worked as a hotel valet.  Let me tell you a secret, Diary; there’s a lot of rain in Vancouver and woebegone John became nothing but a crankpot the second a drop dripped from the sky.  His loafers and tube socks transformed into trapped puddles as he jumped from one car he could never afford to the next.  After our first break up, every time it rained I knew that he was having a worse day than I. Snap to many years later, I find rain immensely comforting.  It gives me soup belly because I know that rain belongs to me.  I’m 100% certain that my day outshines 96.3% of the rest of the LAliens, including John.

I suppose if I mention the good aspects of the night I should skim over the “not exactly sure”.

  1. I have a serious problem with Brian’s remote controlled car radio system.  What’s the point in a remote if your arm reaches the radio without stretching?
  2. He asked permission to kiss me. Though some people may think it’s sweet to inquire, “can I kiss you?” usually, in those circumstances, you have yet to see your partner’s penis and don’t already know that it’s as straight as a rainbow.

Should this Diary be read by a gentleman after I die (perhaps in a mosh-pit stomping because my goodness those punk bastards are scary), please know that dammit, just kiss the girl.  I guarantee you she doesn’t want your first canoodle to be polite.

Should the gentleman that reads this Diary (that’s you Nick) pass it along for chuckles.  It must be said; the best bit of the Steel Panther show is when the lead singer, Michael Starr brings up little ditzy timbits to join him on stage.  Though they’re always drop dead gorgeous, most likely rich, married and self-assured, he makes sure to poke fun at even the skinny ones.  I can laugh comfortably knowing that I would never be pulled up on stage and gutted like my Little Miss Cherry Cheesecake friends.  My manager reminds me on a daily basis that I’m more of a “sidekick” than an “ingénue”.

By the end of the night, Brian left an impact.  He wow’d me with creativity and gumption, our below bits said hello, he kissed(ish) me, he accidentally grazed my nipple while bringing me a drink, and then told me that I broke his brain.

And so it is said; if I decide to perish on New Years Eve, I’ll be relinquishing my damaged heart to Brian Adams… that, and my “LOST” DVD set.  Hear that Nick? Hands off!

***

Subject:                     HELP!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 23 4:20:06 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Ellie!

HELP!

I’m supposed to see Owen tonight.  I called around 1 asking the usual, “What time? When?  Do you want my ring size?” and I haven’t heard back yet!

We planned on something after work and in “real person land” that’s about 40 minutes from now.

Do I call again?  Do I text?  What do I do?

Bonnie

***

Subject:                     Re:      HELP!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 23 4:51:11 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

It’s 10 minutes before we’re supposed to meet and still nothing!  What the f?

I made the leap and texted him suggesting a craft beer place.  Since he obviously isn’t interested, I’m thinking somewhere close to me would be convenient so I can get home in time for a glass of wine and a good cry.

Don’t be surprised if I come over later.

Bonnie

***

Subject:                     Re: Re:           HELP!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 23 5:12:02 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

How long do I wait before I call it a night?

My boss is crazy.  He’ll think I’m trying to outdo him with my dedication and oomph. We all know what he’s capable of when he has a little time on his hands and employees looking like they’ve got time to kill.  He’s already brought out his 10th grade keyboard and I can hear him from the other room fucking up the words to Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight”.

PLUS, I can’t hang around work after hours with Emily the intern.  She’ll think I’m her friend!

WAIT!

Okay, he just responded: “I’m on my way.  Call you when I’m outside”.

Oh man, I don’t even want to do this anymore.

I still might come over.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re:    HELP!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 23 5:32:52 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

JESUS CHRIST!

My phone is acting up and needs to reset!  That’s going to take 10 minutes!!!

It’s already been 20 since he said he was on his way.  When Owen finally gets here and calls, it’ll go straight to voicemail!!!

WHAT DO I DO?

Do I call him AGAIN to tell him that I won’t be answering when he calls?  Do I wait outside looking like an eager beaver?

Fuck, this is embarrassing.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re: Re:         HELP!
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 24 1:24:10 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Umm… Bonnie?

WHAT HAPPENED?  It’s 1:30 am.  I haven’t heard from you, received a pissy/excited phone call and you haven’t popped by- where are you?  I can only assume you’re still with him?

Ellie.

***

Subject:                     well… that’s that.
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 24 9:20:09 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Owen was… well, fine.  Obviously uncomfortable at times seeing as I practically forced him to see me and recognize that I’m clean, cute and captivating.

We went to see a sketchy sketch comedy show in the valley and he was pulled up on stage.  Of course the audience (5 people including us) prompted him to make out with a character named “Muffy Tits”.

There was an interesting hug at the end of the night.  He half-heartedly pulled me in and placed his cheek on mine.  It was trés bizarre.  The sides of our faces were kissing for the longest 10 seconds of my life, but give me time.  I’ll open that jam jar.

On another note, my sister’s maid of honor, Thora, is insisting that the bachelorette party be in Palm Springs.  You HAVE to come with me.

Lastly, I have two ideas for our second mission.

1. How about “Girl Interrupted”?  We both know it’s not far off from our own reality and it could help us get into the Halloween spirit.  I bet there’s a ton of paranormal activity in a Psych Ward.  Your neighbor’s a nurse at UCLA right?  Doesn’t she have a thing for Nick?  I call Angelina Jolie!

2. I know it’s SUPER 2008, but have you heard of a flash mob?  I’ve done it once and I would LOVE to see you bouncing up and down with a group of strangers.  Basically, it’s a dance team that invades a public square, park or shopping center to do a choreographed dance among unsuspecting pedestrians or shoppers.  Pretty good definition, right?  It’s awesome!  At first it only seems like one random people is dancing around like an idiot but then, before you know it, 200 people are hip hopping around you like a music video.  Is there a flash mob movie we can morph into a mission?  G-dammit Ellie, I want to play!

Bonnie

***

Subject:                     Re:      well… that’s that.
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 24 1:19:10 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

1. My neighbor, Kasey, always has some good stories.  She once had a patient throw poisonous, invisible darts at her.  Let’s just say, it didn’t go over well when she threw them back.

Kasey’s great, but I don’t think she should be a part of our missions; the whole Nick thing didn’t work out… No idea why. ;)

2. Yes.  Thanks to Oprah and the Black Eyed Peas, I have heard of a flash mob, but as you said 2008.  I thought that fad had faded?  Why don’t we just stick the simple rom-com classics and stay away from being inventive– you’re kind of a live wire.

***

October 24

It’s the same every night.  I have a reoccurring John nightmare -lovingly referred to as a John-mare (pronounced John Mayer).  He screams at me for what seems like hours, “WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST LIKE TOM CRUISE!?” After I wake up shouting some one-liner from either “Top Gun” or “Days of Thunder”, I fall back asleep and dream of Dixie, my neighbor’s ancient, matted poodle that I walk twice a week.  The peace that cataract attack dog gives me as she accidentally walks into bushes eases every John-mare I’ve ever had.

Last night was different.  I died in my dream and it was so authentic and detailed that I’m convinced I was reliving an experience from a past life.  It was nearing the end of the 19th century and I was stuck in the hub of what seemed to be the Civil War.  A confederate soldier upon his steed dashed toward me with sword in hand.  I saw myself no older than 15, my mousey blonde hair draped past the curve of my back and danced in the wind as I ran.

I knew my fate before I saw it.  I knew that I was going to trip over my ragged, long, white dress as I sprinted through a naked field.  I knew the Boogieman’s broadsword would decapitate me just above the collarbone with one swift strike as he galloped past.  I felt like a busted, less scandalous, historically loose version of Anne Boleyn.

When it happened I didn’t wake in a sweat or with a scream.  Instead it was black and cold.  I felt like I was blind and imprisoned in an infinite cave.  I had experienced every sensation.  The sound of the sword slicing through my bone was similar to chopping a watermelon.  My body slumped like a marionette doll with no master.  I panicked when I felt the blood clot from my neck with my weakening pulse and pour into the spindly grass.

When I finally opened my eyes and saw my water-stained ceiling staring back at me, I thought about death differently.  My dad’s friend had a near death experience and described it as if he was being introduced onto a soccer field.  The world was waiting for his debut in the premiere league.  White lights. Announcements.  Peace and calm.  There are too many similar accounts to just dismiss the thought of what lies beyond.

But then, at the same time, Hypnagogia exists: the interim between being awake and asleep.  Many who experience these vivid hallucinations during this state often see the same creatures- frightful eight-legged spiders dropping from the ceiling.  Why are these uncontrolled, lights-out experiences universal?  Do our synapses merely misfire to a stock location?  Are near death experiences just another hypnagogic, mind-awake-body-asleep phenomena?  If the majority experience similar sensations in both occurrences, who’s to say that the toll bridge to the beyond is truly divine?  Maybe it’s just another stage of consciousness before it’s nothing at all.

When I imagine myself dying, it’s often very dramatic and woeful.  There’s occasionally an entertaining scenario that would make a decent headline for the late night shows to jest about. And more often than I care to admit, it’s whimsical with the aid of a troll or dragon.  I always imagine the moment of and shortly thereafter, but those moments wouldn’t be something I would necessarily partake in.

In very stereotypical fashion, I wonder about my funeral.  Would the picture by my casket be an acting headshot or candid?  Would John be there?  Would his wife?  Would Nick and Bonnie sit with my family?  These insignificant details would fade with time because two months later, Nick and Bonnie would find comfort in each other.  I would become a sad story that John wouldn’t bother telling his children.  And my broken family would eventually learn to smile again when my sister has her first child.  These, among others, are things I don’t think about.  I don’t think about the selfishness of suicide or the grieving thereafter.  I especially don’t think about the world and those among it continuing on without me.  Most importantly, I don’t think about what happens if you don’t see the light when you die.  What happens if you see something else?

God and I have a complicated relationship.  I admit that I’m the one making things difficult seeing as I don’t visit very often.  I’m truly jealous of those who believe without a doubt that the proverbial He or She is the reason.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe in a higher power.  I just haven’t figured out where the watts come from yet.

This has led me to my next mission.  Now follow closely because this could get a little confusing.

Dreaming of death and where one goes afterward makes me think of the magnum opus film “Ghost”.  Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg once had me taking up pottery and falling deeply in love with ‘The Righteous Brothers’. We were shown both light and dark in the beyond but this depressing yet overwhelmingly optimistic movie might be a little tricky to duplicate before I decide to suck myself through an airplane toilet.

Due to the Patrick Swayze connection, “Ghost” lets me follow the yellow brick road to “Dirty Dancing”, which not only is a dream of a chick flick, but who doesn’t want to recreated the moment where Johnny Castle pulls little Frances Houseman out of a corner to dance?  Therefore, my next mission will take place in 1963 “when everybody called me Baby and it didn’t occur to me to mind”.

MISSION ACCEPTED.

***

Subject:                     Operation: “Dirty Dancing” aka Grimy Grooving
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          October 26 10:01:03 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF, NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Hello friends (that would be the both of you).  It’s your beloved Ellie speaking!

Well, it’s that time of year again and we have displeased his master.  The werewolves are crying, the goblins have lost their will to snack on children’s fingers, and Lord Voldemort is extra pissy toward that pesky Potter boy.  But fear not, loved ones!  I’ve been bubbling with my caldron since dusk and have discovered an antidote to the Halloween blues.

With the aid of online shopping, I have purchased some costumes.  No need for a thank you, your participation is more than enough.

I’m sure you’re both aware of “Dirty Dancing”.  I’ll be sporting the Frances “Baby” Houseman infamous “I’ve had the time of my life” pink dress.  I’ve purchased a hula skirt with coconut bra inspired by the character of Lisa, Baby’s big twinkie sister and for the grand finale I spent $80 on a leather jacket for Mr. Jonny Castle.

Nick, I won’t be insisting on any particular dance, but if you’re well versed in the Merengue, I might consider a goodnight kiss, no tongue.

***

Subject:                     Re:      Operation: “Dirty Dancing” aka Grimy Grooving
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          October 27 1:23:57 AM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY, ELLIE FRIESEN

Ellie,

Thank you for your unflinching confidence and I look forward to the mission, however, I refuse to go as your sidekick.

Bonnie

***

 

Subject:                     Re: Re:           Operation: “Dirty Dancing” aka Grimy Grooving
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 27 10:11:42 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF, NICHOLAS ALLAWAY,

Bonnie,

You okay? I didn’t mean anything by it.  I thought it would be fun to go as a threesome.  You can be Baby if you want… I guess.  Well not really, I mean, it’s my mission, but Lisa’s character is super funny and cute and a coconut bra, huh?  Pretty good stuff, right?  It’s a delicious snack for both you and whoever ends up with his face in your tits that night.

I love you.

Ellie

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re:    Operation: “Dirty Dancing” aka Grimy Grooving
From:                         NICHOLAS ALLAWAY
Date:                          October 27 1:10:21 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF, ELLIE FRIESEN

You’re right, Ellie, it would be fun to go as a threesome.  IF WE WENT AS THREE’S COMPANY!  What happened to that?

I suppose I’m in, seeing as you bought me a jacket and there’s the potential for a dry, tight kiss.

In all seriousness, seeing as you two are bringing some gents, I’m bringing my own plus one.  So, Bonnie, if you’re certain you wont be wearing the hula bra outfit, I might pass it off to a third pretty lady.  Hooray for coconut boobs!

Nick

***

Subject:                     ???
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 27 6:31:32 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Who’s the girl?

***

Subject:                     Re:      ???
From:                         NICHOLAS ALLAWAY
Date:                          October 28 12:05:35 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Wow, Ellie!  A brand new email thread just for me?  Is Bonnie not privy to this information?  Do I detect some jealousy?  It’s not a big deal, doesn’t need to be a secret conversation.

Her name is Hannah and she’s a patient’s daughter at the hospital.  Anyway, the only thing I have to lose is my job so I figured what the hell, I’ll ask her out.

I know you want to hear the bad before the good, so… she has this winking thing.  It’s not as if she can’t stop, I just don’t think she wants to.  Oh, and she’s a model… and a volleyball player… and volunteers her Fridays to a old people with yellow teeth and a skin conditions.  Basically she’s better than you.

:)

Nick

***

Subject:                     Re: Re:           ???
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          October 29 4:14:19 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Get over yourself.  I was just curious.

Will you still be my Johnny?

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

8:00 PM.

I’ll always be your Johnny.

***

October 30

Things have been… interesting… lately.

It’s all started 2 days ago with Jesus. I’ll explain.

2 Days Ago

Remember “Beverly Hills, 90210” before it went HD?  Back when Kelly was burned in a fire and Brandon had a gambling problem? There was a character by the name of Ray Pruit.  His Elvis looks masked his tortured musician/abusive pumpkin farmer soul when he became unhealthily obsessed with Donna Martin.   Nub of the plot, he was a stalker.  I reminded Bonnie of this when she showed me her improvised Mary Magdalene costume in hopes of matching Owen’s Moses.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that this could add to the whole “whore” complex he’s displaced on her.  Instead of mustering up the energy to call her scary, I pulled out a newspaper, rolled it up and smacked her nose.  Besides being impressed that I still get my current events via paper products, she didn’t appreciate my course of discipline.

Side note: Dylan McKay. Is. Still. Amazing…. He’s no Pacey Witter, but still… amazing.

Side side note: Steve Sanders? WAAAAAY underrated.

Much like me, but on a smaller scale, Bonnie’s been searching for her identity within the fourth estate ever since she read her first “Sweet Valley High” young adult novel.  Every night before Bonnie went to bed, she hugged her stuffed glowworm, listened to Cyndi Laupers’ “True Colors” and wished wished wished for her first kiss to be just like the trampy twin, Jessica.  Color Bonnie surprised when it came from two boys in 8th grade Social Studies placing a five-dollar bet to pop her cherry lip balm.

In the realm of love, Bonnie doesn’t equate fantasy with unrealistic expectations.  She’s seen 1 too many Disney movies and because of that she awaits her prince with a sweet smile while secretly perfuming her undercarriage. Aladdin and Prince Eric combined would be preferable- Heroic with an adventurous side. This delusional side to Bonnie’s delightfully sunny disposition is the exact reason why she’s my best friend and the perfect ally for my movie experiments.

Side note: Nick, this one’s for you.  If ever you wish to bed Bonnie, befriend a talking animal.

Love is a tender subject for my beloved Bonnie, but as proven earlier, the girl can handle her own.  She moved from NY to LA to pursue film and television, but by her 3rd casting couch proposition she decided that being a sales associate for Neiman Marcus was good enough.  Besides the crash and burn of her childhood dreams (what else is new?) the one downfall of her “adults only” job would be her paranoid, bipolar boss, but the obvious perks of stylish belts and shoes make up for his imperfections.

Bonnie was never one to pound the pavement.  If the concrete hadn’t hardened she would happily find another route.  I, on the other hand, would beat the soft cement with my kitten heel, leaving permanent dents wherever I went.  She says she floats through mediocrity with a smile, but I know Bonnie.  She’s the shape of a triangle.  She begins very focused, small and simple but will always widen to accept her greatness.  It’s only a matter of time before she’s CEO of a discount department store called Bonnie’s Bin, star of her own commercials and married to a man who I sincerely hope is more King Triton than Prince Eric.  No offense “Little Mermaid” but no princess needs to severely alter her appearance, abandon her family and sacrifice her only skill in hope of wooing a cartoon hunk.  Although, she does become a daft mute who combs her hair with cutlery all in the name of love.  I suppose that’s a good trade-off… right, Disney?! RIGHT??!?!?

“I’m your partner, Ellie, not your sidekick!  We were both Julia in the last mission.  I don’t see why we can’t both be Baby!” Bonnie isn’t usually one to pout, but I think her red lipstick had her spoiled.  I’m surprised she didn’t throw her hair in pigtails, stomp her foot and scream ‘I want a pony’.  “I’ll go only as your equal and that’s the end of it.  Otherwise, I’ll be dressing as one of Jesus’ most celebrated disciples.”

I looked at her in her make shift Mary Magdalene costume that sadly resembled a toga with my mouth hanging open.  I fear her search for her Disney Prince is only going to get worse.  She’s recently started test-running pick up lines on Barry the Bartender.  Some of the best so far include: A) I’m having a party by your ankles.  Should I invite your pants down? B) Did you fart?  Because you just blew me away. C) Want to play train?  I’ll sit on your face and you can chew chew.

She seems to think these are hilarious and can’t imagine someone actually taking her seriously.  I, on the other hand, watch Barry’s face go numb when she falls off her stool in hysterics.

Before I steamrolled into frustration at the thought of the world not rejoicing from Bonnie in a coconut bra, Nick stepped in between us.

He slinked his fingers underneath her bed sheet and through her jean belt loops like miniature elephant trunks. He shifted on one foot and then the other and before another second could pass, they were swaying as if to their own acoustic rock soundtrack.  He said something that I couldn’t hear but whatever it was, was funny. She started giggling like a buffoon.  I could even see her attempt to sink in her dimples extra deep like she was sucking a creamsicle, making her face all thin.

Umm.  Excuse me?

They were having a moment?! WITHOUT. ME?!

Nick, Bonnie and I were a ship.  If any one of us were ever the anchor, it would be me.  I was the linking friend that had solo ventures with both of them.  As far as I knew, they couldn’t just sail away on their own without pulling the anchor on board.

No.  This was not happening.

I was moments from spontaneously cock-blocking with an odious attitude when Nick loosened his grip on Bonnie and swung around to me.  He slipped his fingers through MY jean belt loops. Same move, two minutes, two girls.  I was terrified Charlie Sheen and his porn stars were about to storm in with a pizza boy and stanched dialogue.

When he pulled me forward, my eyes immediately went to the soft scar on the right side of his head.  I gave it to him during our senior year in gym class.  A friendly game of baseball went foul (pardon the pun) when I was up to bat.  He had been telling me for 2 years to not let the momentum of my vicious swing carry on behind me.  “Don’t throw the bat, Ellie!”  He warned me every time.  For our final game together in Stanley Park he was in his “I don’t need a catcher’s mask“ phase, which was unfortunate because that was the only time I’ve ever thrown the damn bat.

I could feel his thumb press into my pale skin as he tightened his grip on my pant loops.  My eyes rose to his when his smile curled up to a crescent moon.

I didn’t know what was happening.  I could feel myself yearning to recite poetry, but since Edgar Allan Poe is the only poet I can spout off, I figured I’d best not.  Maybe it’s his sudden erratic, devil-may-care attitude that’s starting to turn me on.  He certainly would be a snug little life jacket to wear on a regular basis.

Side note: I’ll do my best to remember his exact choice of words that instantly had me agreeing, “Yes, there should be two Jennifer Grey’s; that ‘Dirty Dancing’ would be much more enjoyable”.

“Hey.” His smooth voice was like grounded coffee.  He apparently had experience in coaxing impressionable cinemagoers. “Who am I to you?”

“Nick.” I wasn’t budging.

“Who am I to you, Ellie?”

“You’re a habit.” I budged.

“I’m your sofa or your bathtub; your luxury that you love to indulge yourself with. It would be tragic if your sofa was gone, but you would move on and eventually sit in a wooden chair.  I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s possible.  What’s Bonnie?”

“A coffee table?”

“Your air conditioning.  She’s something that you don’t know how much you love and need until it’s gone.  The three of us together make a nice little apartment.  We’re a team.  So we’re going to this Halloween party as a team.”

“Well Bonnie and I technically already have a team.  We’re the Pixies and our color is periwinkle blue.”

“You’re strange.”

“Do you want to be a Pixie?”

“I want to be Patrick Swayze.” Nick then tugged on my belt loops and I don’t want to get into too much detail here, Diary, but my jeans hit a certain area at just the right angle with exact precision.

“If Bonnie’s the air conditioner and you’re the bathtub, what am I?” I questioned.

“You’re the bed.”

Pulse.

 

Yesterday

Brian offered to make me dinner and I assumed that this was an automatic invitation to bring a shag bag.  I’ve been assured among single folk that the third date is widely known as the “do you prefer the right side of the bed or the left?” date.

I was warned this date follows a very specific pattern that I must adhere to should I wish to engage in a successful relationship. Aren’t you glad you have me to take notes for you, Diary?

Universally accepted 3rd date itinerary:

1. Lady must arrive demurely.  Head down, allowing for hair to fall in front of eyes.  When asked to come in, be sure to delicately place hair behind right ear- keep pinky separated and stiff.  Nod.

Side note: Secure shag bag in the backseat of car.  Don’t bring it in with you but always be prepared… to not look like an enthusiastic slut.

2. As lady enters, Man must be in the midst of preparing a thinly sliced Genoa salami and Camembert cheese platter.  He sips on a Californian Red Wine while promptly offering her a glass.  Share a smile.

3. Underground Indie Rock music popularized through YouTube renditions should be playing quietly in the background.  A comedy program plays muted on the television.

4. Engage in an endless amount of waggish questions.  Example: werewolves make you think of a) shirtless, oily underage delights b) American Werewolf in Paris… oh, Paris… I’ve always wanted to go there c) the infamous “Teen Wolf” penis freeze frame d) I told you already! TEAM JACOB!

5. Uncomfortable couch dry humping that leads to the bedroom.  An awkward exchange once both parties acknowledge the shift in locations.

Side note: This “awkward exchange” can be softened with light humor (a “Snuggie” or a “Shake Weight” is always effective).

6. Shag.

7. Man retrieves bag.

8. “Do you prefer the right side of the bed or the left?”

All was going as planned.  I was checking off my list one after the next and was thrilled beyond belief when the Underground Indie Rock music was replaced with the smooth jazz sounds of Canadian he-man, Michael Bublé.

Brian touched me like a knife melting into delicious Camembert cheese.   His insecurities dropped with his clothes and all of a sudden he was once again the man that engulfed me in my apartment days earlier.  We connected the way women dream about.  We moved in unison, as easy as clouds in the sky.  He dragged his tongue along my ribcage up to my neck and I could feel myself dissolve into the sheets.  I wanted him so deeply inside me that his skin became my own.  Then something unexpected happened.  I saw John.

I was with Brian, but my mind teleported through time and space to many years earlier.  John and I weren’t very experienced when we first made love.  In all honesty, we were quite clumsy as we fumbled for each other’s bits.  Where we lacked in experience we made up for in the pure joy of being with one another.

John and I played a game where we would point strangers out and discuss their sexual aggressiveness and/or passive nature.  We often brought this game to our bedroom.  Always smiling we would switch our style to how we imagined those we observed earlier that day.  I would state apathetically, “Oh yeah, that’s the stuff” and we would giggle about how disappointing the world must be. Of course, our laughter subsided when we locked eyes and remembered we were of the select few who actually knew what it was like to have a soul mate.

I was brought back to Brian’s bedroom when he reached for a condom.  When we were back into the swing of things, grabbing each other’s things that swing, I hallucinated again.

I saw John moving my hair from my face.  Not because it was tickling his cheek or getting caught in his mouth, but because he actually wanted to see me.  He brought his hand toward me for the second time and I saw his wedding ring flash against the light.  It was at this point that I knew I was daydreaming.  I decided to take it a step further and imagined myself sucking that damn ring off with extreme vigor.

Seeing as I was blurring reality with fantasy, I ended up sucking Brian’s finger as if I was extracting cream from a Hostess Ding Dong…  I possibly took things too far.  As I *purposefully and painfully* arched my back like a McDonalds sign, I whipped my head back and hallucinated that John’s wedding ring ripped off his hand and lodged in the back of my throat causing me to choke and die.

My friend, the Grim, never seems to be too far away, does he?

Brian and I lay together for a while as I waited for #7 and #8 on the 3rd date itinerary to come to fruition.  It never did.  Instead I continued with more ridiculous questions like, “do you prefer curtain, blinds or shutters?”  When I realized that I wasn’t getting an invitation to curl up in his Snuggie and stay the night, I gave him a quick kiss and stumbled out to my car.  As fate would have it, I’m not an experienced wino and had passed my threshold.  I looked back at my shag bag and remembered that I didn’t have a cell phone.

Fuck.  Me.

I reclined my seat and hoped my “Les Mis 10th Anniversary” CD would drift me off to NeverNeverland.  Nope.  “On my Own” and “I Dreamed a Dream” are NOT good songs to listen to whilst in a state of depression.  I turned on old faithful and blasted “Inspiring Thunderstorms”.

In the morning, my car battery was dead.

Awesome.

Sans communication, I was forced to create a new walk of shame… I limply knocked on Brian’s door at 9:30 AM and pretended that it was totally normal for me to sleep in my car while parked outside of my date’s house.

What.  A.  Catch.

Nick was there to pick me up with a smug smile 20 minutes later.

***

October 31

It’s Halloween.  I don’t need to say much more than that other than, please don’t hold me accountable for my actions tonight.  With that being said, I do give you permission, Diary, to get angry should the emotion seem applicable.

***

November 1 (1:43 AM – READ ME – C’EST IMPORTANTEv[p)

It’s Ellllllllie speaking.  Tonight I enjoyd som beveragess.  Beer beveragess.

Wine before Beer youre in the clear.  Beer before liquor youve never been sicker.

Guess what I drnuk Dirty little Diary- Beer then liquor and it was a kicker.  Then wine and then beer and then a fuzzy navel and then someone asked Bonnie if they could shoot jagermeister from her dimples, oh yeah… that’s was ME!  Gotta go.  I SAW A CAT!

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

8:35 AM.

Hey, it’s John.  I heard you had a nice time last night.  We should probably talk about what you did.  Call me back.

9:29 AM.

It’s Nick.  So, I’m calling because there’s a safety net in knowing that you don’t listen to these messages… I just left your apartment and I don’t know how I’m going to play this when you inevitably pull a girl and sit me down for a “talking”.  I might pretend I don’t remember.  Plausible deniability… Jesus.  Okay, well… Let’s just say, it’s nice to have finally seen you naked.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  I’m actually not really kidding, but that wasn’t a nice way to put it, was it?  It’s a good thing this phone is lost in Narnia. Okay, I’m hanging up now.  No more speaking…  probably for a little while.  I just can’t let this… this just can’t happen, not when… well, anyway.  This just isn’t going to happen.

***

November 1

So… I may have gotten drunk last night.

Let’s start with Sesame Street.

Sesame Street was waiting for me by 4:30 looking adorable in their Halloween costumes; Zoe was an elephant and Bert a circus ringmaster.  It became apparent that their parents were going to be reluctantly joining us after I heard audible sighs accompanying every ding-dong doorbell.  They need not fear for their children though; I played the part of efficient guard dog with pluck.  I noticed some chocolates already opened and therefore deemed too dodgy for Sesame Street to eat.  I took the hit for the team and ate as many damaged materials as I could in the slim chance that razor blades were imbedded into a pack of sullied M&M’s.  I think Bert started catching on to my scheme when he noticed that all of the “dangerous” chocolate bars happened to be full-sized.

Halloween was once such an innocent time.

- Toilet papering houses.

- Eggs.

- Parents walking their children with baseball bats because “Teddy Bear” (the overweight, wandering eyed, neighborhood pervert) was on the loose…

At the end of the night, I gave Bert and Zoe each goodie bags filled with fake spiders, ladyfinger cookies and miniature skeletons.  As they snatched the bag from my hand, I saw an opportunity to educate.  I nicely said, “Say thank you.”  Bert tossed out a ‘thank you’ followed by a very commanding, “say you’re welcome”.  Proud of himself for one-upping me, I was taken aback.  His parents looked at me oozing with disapproval for not initially putting my manners first.  Matching his sneer I clenched my teeth, “you’re welcome”.

Dickhead.

Brian was surprised to see me already dressed in my Baby Houseman/Dirty Dancing get up – fake nose and all – when I arrived at his office.  I think I can safely say it wasn’t a good surprise.  He turned a deep shade of magenta as he introduced his new whatever-I-am (sporting a Barbara Streisand glued to my face) to his co-workers.  I knew he was embarrassed, but I didn’t grasp how much until after he tried to slyly take my nose off.  He claimed that he was merely inspecting its quality.  Hoodwink.

After two near car crashes due to Brian changing into his 30 pounds ALF costume in my backseat, we made it to the boat cruise with 8 minutes to spare.  The smell of pumpkin spiced candles and charred firewood jammed into my nasal cavity the moment I stepped onto the ramp.  I assume the festive aroma was recreated through some type of holiday themed cleaning materials as the lack of decorations was more than disappointing.

The party was a sad sight to see.  100 plus costumed “adults”  mix-matched it up with poorly planned gypsies and cowboy costumes.  Even one rando Gumby bumped along with the rest of the 20-somethings while “Monster Mash” boomed through an ill-suited base.

When I saw Nick and Bonnie my mouth dropped.  Nick had his hair and cool-guy swagger perfectly greased.  The nerd can do dangerous. Bonnie looked exactly like me, but much better.  Not only did the pink Baby Houseman dress hug her Brazilian babe body, the fake snout didn’t look like it came from a $2 witch’s costume.  The horse nose was actually adorable on her AND it appeared as though she had splurged for a short, curly wig.

They looked the part, and were certainly acting it.  For the second time in our friendship, I was witnessing a private moment.  They swayed under lit jack-o-lantern lights as if they were at Junior Prom.  It was Brian who got their attention.

“You guys look way better than Ellie!” He screamed from across the boat as if the rinky-dink faux yacht was as big as a Caribbean cruise.

I don’t know if it’s jealously, abandonment or loneliness possessing me, but feeling my lungs collapse at the sight of Nick and Bonnie being affectionate is not something I’m used to.  Something was happening between them or to one of them and for some reason, I wasn’t allowed to know about it.  I could feel my skin blotch and burn.  Whatever their secret, they can keep it.

That’s when I downed my first shot.  Bad decision.

To state it bluntly, I got drunk.  Quickly.  I’m sad to announce that it was messy and nothing like ‘Dirty Dancing’.

Bonnie and Owen seemed quite distant, but she still maintains that’s their romance is going as planned.  The only assumption I can make is that he’s a fan of 18th century Jane Austen novels.  He’ll be aloof for the majority of the courtship and then shock us all when he admits to having been painfully in love the entire time.

Nick and his date Hannah, who unfortunately filled out the coconut bikini like a Hawaiian Tropic model, seemed to be enjoying each other.  She certainly liked it when he joined the band and sang INXS’ “The Devil Inside” with a popped jacket collar.  Nick’s rock star fantasy being played out for 100 strangers, two big nosed lookalikes, Moses, ALF and a half naked bombshell reminded me of when I serenaded him long ago.

We were 17, it was Christmas and in the midst of our first fight.  I drove to his work where he was dressed as Santa for the “Kids Christmas Skate” at the local rink.  Once his shift was over, Nick walked through the parking lot where I was waiting, hanging out of the sunroof of my mom’s truck.  When he saw me I pressed play.  Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You,” blasted from the speakers and I did my darnedest to sing along, declaring my love.  The fact that I sounded like a whale being speared didn’t matter.  He climbed up the side of the truck and kissed me in front of a small crowd of 10-year-olds and their parents who politely golf-clapped for our love.

It seems that Nick is the one with talent.  His INXS was spot on, so much so that I could tell Owen felt uncomfortable with the song’s subject.  Nick was so good (and I was so drunk) that I felt it appropriate to end his set with a bang and run for him.  I had hoped that he would lift me above his head just like the famous lift Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey do at the end of “Dirty Dancing”.  It didn’t work.  I sprinted face forward with my arms outstretched and took out Brian with one arm and a lovely guacamole display with the other.  I fell at Nick’s feet, misjudging how top heavy I apparently am while drunk.  I then touched my face and screamed thinking I broke my nose.  I didn’t.  I just forgot about my fake one.

When Bonnie picked me up, I saw her and Nick exchange a look.  What the fuck?!  They were laughing at me!  This ship was worse than the Titanic.  I hit the iceberg and the band is playing the theme from “Jaws”.

Back in the thick of it and pretending I wasn’t as hosed as I was, the rest of the cruise was humdrum.  A few people were seasick.  A few more were blitzed.  Owen drank a bit more than expected and cupped Bonnie’s boob- that was exciting.  Nick pushed Hannah’s hair away from her collarbone so many times that I offered her a hair elastic.  Whatever.  I have NO IDEA what Brian was doing because as far as I could tell he just stood there in his sauna regretting his choice of outfit.  And me… Well.  My mind wandered to the land of John.

The rest of the night I sat in a trance.  I thought about last year’s Halloween where John dressed as a Barrel of Monkeys and I was his Banana. That was the night he took my mood ring off my index finger and slipped it on my left ring finger with a smile.  It wasn’t a proposal, but it was a promise.

After the cruise docked Nick and Bonnie said goodnight to their dates and promised Brian they would get me home in one piece.  I had other plans.

So here it comes, Diary, the good stuff.

I know your nosey ways.  None of this interests you.  You want to hear the pulpy juice about how I embarrassed myself like most teenage girls when they have their first taste of the devil’s blood.

I should have known better.  Nay, my friends should have protected me!

It appears that I’ve learned the art of the tantrum from my little puppets, Bert and Zoe.  I was told that when Bonnie and Nick tried to convince me that seeing John in my condition was a bad idea, my screams sounded like feedback from a speaker.  Apparently I stole both of their phones to text and/or call my former darling, but it seems as though memorizing phone numbers is as rare as chivalry.  I couldn’t remember John’s digits, but holy Jesus, that would not stop me.  I made friends with a partygoer named Bruno who had covered himself and his lady in tattoos and body paint.  She was an angel with a garnishing of wings, eyes and halos, blending with a frosty finish against her skin.  Bruno was the devil and had fire inked all the way up to his eyeballs.  Their costumes truly were incredible and worthy of their first place finish.  I looked at the unholy couple and saw an opportunity.  Knowing he was a tattoo artist by trade, I drunkenly asked Bruno to tattoo a nipple in the center of both of my ass cheeks, giving myself a second set of boobs.  He drunkenly agreed.  We then told Nick and Bonnie of our plan and I said I would only back out if they chauffeured me around town for the rest of the night to anywhere I damn well pleased.

I forced my dear friends to drive me to John’s house at around 3 AM.  Once we had parked comfortably in his tiny driveway, I plugged in my IPod and blasted Michael Jackson’s epic song about love, friendship and an innocent rat named “Ben”. I changed the lyrics to fit the appropriate occasion and switched “Ben” to “John”.  Much like my high school self, I proceeded to stick my body out of the busted skylight and sang to the sleeping one-story home.

I thought I sounded like a nightingale.  Bonnie and Nick heartily disagreed.

There was one problem with my plan to confess my every desire to my married, ex-soul mate.  He wasn’t there.  His wife was though.  The newly dubbed Mrs. John Gillespie didn’t seem very happy when she opened the door in her jammies- or so I was told.  I really have no idea because I was too busy emoting to open my eyes and see her staring at me with a horrified expression.

Once I finished my grand performance and realized I was singing to my nemesis, I dropped my head and hoarfed through the skylight onto Nick’s head.

Fine diary, but just this once, go ahead and judge me.

It was a long time before another word was spoken.  Nick dropped Bonnie off at her apartment and then parked in front of my building.  I didn’t argue.  I let him come in and use my shower, towels, toothbrush and deodorant.

After 30 minutes of scrubbing away my vomit, Nick found me in the living room playing the instrumental “Unchained Melody” theme song from the movie “Ghost” on my computer.

“What are you doing?” It was the first thing he said to me since ‘the incident’.

“I picked the wrong movie.” The haunting mixture of piano and strings seemed fitting and would have gone harmoniously with a slow motion montage and/or bleeding out.

“Ellie, what are you doing?” The words were the same, but it was a different question.  I didn’t answer.  “That was our thing.  You sang out of a sunroof and that was our thing.”  I didn’t know what to say, so he continued.  “When was the last time you asked how Bonnie is?  She needs you too, you know.  Well, I guess you don’t know because you can’t see past your big fake nose right now.”  Nick concluded that my silence was an offering for him to be brutally honest.  “You’re leaving, Ellie.  In 2 months, you’re leaving.  What do you think is going to happen with Brian in 2 months?  Is he going to need you so badly that he won’t be able to let you go?  You’ll get married, get your greencard and expect life to be grand?”

That was exactly what I thought.

“This thing between you two isn’t real and isn’t going to work.  And when it doesn’t, you’ll throw your arms up in the air like the world is against you, but you’re doing this to yourself.  History only repeats itself when you stop listening to it.”  The depressing theme music was working wonders.  “It’s not just LA you’re leaving in 2 months.  You’re leaving Bonnie.  You’re leaving me, Ellie.  Again.  You’re leaving me, again.”

I thought about telling Nick about the deadline I had given myself.  About choosing to either sink or swim and what that really meant.  About searching for a life jacket that fit and prayed it was the shape of my favorite, fictional characters.   Any shape but my own.  I thought about telling him that living scared me more than dying and that though it was so easy for me to imagine my death, saying the words “contemplating suicide” was physically impossible to articulate.  I thought about telling him how on the drive home I imagined him speeding into a semi and wondered if I would get decapitated.  If the entire roof ripped off into a convertible, would my head go with it?  I thought about telling him how I didn’t want him having secret conversations with Bonnie anymore.

It was when I could feel Nick breathing against my hair that I remembered he was dressed in a towel.  I could feel the steam off his body and found myself leaning into him.  An electric charge shocked our goosebumps when our arms touched.  I couldn’t look him in the eye because if I did I would remember whom exactly I was sitting with.  Nick.  Nicholas Allaway.  He was my first kiss… well, tongue kiss at least.  He was the first person to pull me from my imagination.  Nick was one of the few to bring me to the present.  Our teenage tension taught me how to enjoy silence– he made my mind silent.

In one moment, I felt like I was 16 all over again.  I was hyper aware of Nick’s hot skin grazing my arm hairs.  His pinky finger started dragging against mine and I knew what was happening.

Holy shit.

After the song ended.  He leaned forward and skipped through my music to the “Dirty Dancing” soundtrack.  He played the overly erotic “Cry to Me” by Solomon Burke- the exact song that Baby Houseman and Johnny Castle have sex to for the first time.

HOLY.  SHIT.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDish.

He put his hand to my face, pulled off my ridiculous Barbara Streisand before lifting me into his arms and pressing himself into me.  We danced together like our feet were rooted beneath the floorboards and our bodies were lost in a windstorm.  He threw my head back in a dip and it didn’t surprise me when his mouth started roaming my neck.  Before I knew what was happening he was kissing me like he had never kissed me before.

No matter how close we were, it wasn’t enough.  I couldn’t squeeze him hard enough; it had to be tighter, it had to last longer.  I had so many memories of holding John in this exact way.  I knew exactly what it was like to kiss John.  Hell, I knew what it was like to kiss Nick, but this was uncharted territory.  It was as if I had never had someone taste me before, never had someone feel every contour as he lifted my body under his.  It was primal.  It was hungry.  It was TO DIE FOR. And it was Nick.  My Nick.  I don’t know if it was the alcohol, the unthinkably soulful vibrations of Burke’s heavy voice, or our 10 years of foreplay, but there was nothing abnormal about this moment between two best friends.

I needed to feel his weight on me.  I needed to know that I had someone willing to dance with me, someone to love me and fight for me, someone to finally depend on and I needed it all in that very moment.  Then it dawned on me.  I’ve been searching for my Meg Ryan movie, but I didn’t know I already had one.  I was looking for Tom Hanks. I don’t need Tom Hanks.  I have Billy Crystal!

The moment of truth certainly told no lies.

He blamed what ended up not happening on stage fright.  He apologized and hid under my covers like a teenager who was caught masturbating by his parents.

I agree, it was the wrong thing to say when I said, “at least we smell like sex” but what else do you say when the hottest sex you’re ever meant to have doesn’t happen because little “Harry” to your horny “Sally” stops cooperating.  I guess there’s always, “do you prefer the right side of the bed or the left?”

I hate myself. 

The second I opened my eyes this morning, Nick shot out of my bed like a cannonball.  He mumbled a couple of excuses as he put on his shoes and ran out the door like my carpet was made of lava.

Something dropped from his pocket on the way out.  A note.

 Halloween note from Nick

Umm… Are you fucking kidding me???

***

Subject:                     Really???!!!
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          November 2 11:23:58 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

You wrote me a note?  A note?  Me?  You wrote me a note?  I’m sorry if I’m repeating myself but seriously, Nick, you wrote me a note?  And you can’t argue that it slipped out of your pocket and you didn’t mean to leave it BECAUSE YOU STILL WROTE IT.

It’s nice that you bucked up the courage to eventually nudge me awake and say good morning, but when you woke up that’s not what you wanted to do.  You thought to yourself, “I’m hungry. I need a shower.  I wonder who’s on ‘The View’.  I guess I should go home.  Oh, but first I’ll leave Ellie a note saying thanks for a fun Halloween.

What… the fuck?!

All I can do is sit here and picture what kind of panic attack you were having as I slept beside you.  I’m surprised I don’t have skid marks on my bed from when you woke up and shit yourself.

We need to talk.

Ellie

***

November 3

I haven’t heard from Nick since Halloween.  Is it considered unhinged to leave 23 messages on his answering machine?

***

Subject:                     Hello?
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          November 3 11:22:57 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Nick,

The stress I’m getting of you and I not communicating since our encounter is starting to make me physically ill.  I’m breaking out with eczema on my neck and food isn’t moving normally through my esophagus.  I’m having difficulty swallowing.  One would assume that losing weight wouldn’t be bad thing, but unfortunately the weight that I’m losing rests on my head; 422 strands of hair a day.  I’m now using Rogaine for women and am severely concerned I’ll be ending my 20’s with a bald spot.  Can you please call me on the house phone when you get this?

Ellie

***

November 4

Nothing…

***

November 5

… In the slightest.

***

Page_1***

November 6

I’ve been singing and dancing about in my bedroom like a 1987 cliché since Debra Gibson went by Debbie and first teased her blonde bangs.  In middle school, I enthusiastically “Got Jiggy With It” to Will Smith’s tune so aggressively that I broke my ankle.  I assumed this hobby would settle with age, but the older I got, the older my imaginary back-up dancers became.

I find myself lost on stage more now than ever.  My neighbors from across the dog walk always manage to spot me from their porch while barbequing.  I sing silently into my fist for an hour every night.  During the entire concert, I see a stadium filled with family and friends, ex co-workers, bullies, lovers, and strangers.  I can see them all seeing me.  Some cheer me on and some are in shock.  Some sing and dance with me while others cry, overwhelmed by my glorious timbre feeding their emotions.  They’re happy.  I’m happy.

I know what I really look like with my headphones on as I bop about by myself like a buffoon.  I know that when I’m dancing, all that exists is a sweaty, lonely girl huffing away.  I know how I must seem to my lunching neighbors.  They’re mortified, I’m sure, as they watch me convulse.  I even occasionally pop a couple grunts out while trying to restrain the blast of soprano that desperately wants to escape my vocal chords.  I know that I’m alone when I force myself to think about it.  But when I don’t, when I don’t concern myself with reality, I’m somewhere else entirely.

I conquered a mission all by my lonesome today- inadvertently… at first.  There was no advanced planning and I didn’t even realizing I was missioning until half way through.  During my very predictable living room concert, I found myself dancing with my bedroom door.  It works perfectly.  It lets me lead.  It can swing with me close by or at an arms length away.  I can press myself into it or push it away.  There’s no better dance partner than a door.  And then after realizing I was feeling up the wrong kind of wood, I thought there just might be something better.  Not a human, silly.  A cardboard cut out of one.

Everyone remembers little Macaulay Culkin’s immortalized “Home Alone” face-slap.  The young’un looks at his freshly shaven mug in the mirror and the stinging aftershave created a simple reaction, a small scream that’s known by millions.  But this isn’t my favorite part of the holiday classic.  It’s not Kevin McCallister taking on the two burglars with his house of horrors or his crowded family ruining Christmas.  My favorite “Home Alone” movie moment is when Kevin dances with mannequins and cardboard cutouts.  He sets his house up like its overrun with loved ones enjoying a jovial jamboree.  I decided to do the same.

Unfortunately I’m not as handy as my muse and I don’t have mannequins lying around or toy trains to give my cutouts movement.  This is where I came back to the doors.  Now all of my doors have poorly painted people cluttering them.  To add to my crazy, I hung 15 strings from my ceiling that held pictures to meet me at eye level and sang an energized diddy silently to my glossy fans.  I’m sad to announce that I most likely disappointed my adoring admirers.  I merely dazzled them with snapping jaw sounds instead of my songbird voice, as I was too afraid my snooping neighbors would hear.  But the people I danced with?  They liked it.  Or at least that’s what I imagined.

***

November 7

(it’s pretty early in the morning- around 5AM. I almost feel like I’m cheating on November 6th because sleep hasn’t separated us yet.)

After taking my dancing socks off, I laid under my suspended photos.  Time had passed and it was the moon, leaking through my blinds that made them dance now.  I love the moon.  I’ll add it to my favorites list somewhere between apparitions and blankets.

Something in me was determined to see the moon tonight, and by the time I realized how badly, it was gone- hidden behind a soupy overcast.

I drove for 6 hours through the night as I chased the moon.  It was as if the clouds were spreading like poison through Socrates’ veins.  My eyes were barely on the empty roads and my foot was heavy.  Whenever I felt the clouds thinning or could see pinches of light, Big G exhaled his icy breath against the atmosphere and my moon was gone again.  I assume God was laughing at my miserable adventure and called me a stupid twat along the way, but like I said, I was determined.  I was going to drive until I reached the moon, until the moon released itself from the cloud’s grasp and spilled over the edge.  Or until the damn cloud’s parted so I could at least catch a glimpse of the thing.  I blasted Shania Twain’s “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” and raced my Toyota Yaris along the I-5 freeway.  I drove as if I was tailing an ambulance and could hear my mom’s voice imprinted on my conscience.  She screamed to me, “You don’t have health care. The car is covered under our insurance.  Americans sue.  If you were in an accident we ALL would be screwed.” I replied silently to the voice, “Shut your face, mom.  I want to see the fucking moon!” then gased it toward San Diego.

I would have continued into Tijuana, but 5 minutes before the border, the wall of clouds slipped into a translucent film, then dispersed to nothing.  There it was, delicately hooked like in every picture book I had read as a child.  It smiled at me.  I swear it.  It smiled.

After just over 3 hours of driving, I had conquered the misty clouds.  I won.  I did it.  It was the first time in years that I set a goal far beyond my grasp, almost impossible, and accomplished it.  I couldn’t stop the tears from falling when I finally parked at a desolate gas station.  I cried for about 10 minutes.  I got out of the car and watched the fishhooked moon until it no longer smiled (probably another 10 minutes) then turned back around and went home.

During the entire drive back the moon followed me.  It was as if the overcast had been spontaneously constructed through my own imagination.  The moon watched me from my rearview window like those optical illusion paintings in haunted houses where the eyes burn through your skin from all directions.  I could feel it laughing at me.  Its witch’s cackle and the disappearing clouds were proof that my endless obstacles are created solely from my own disastrous decisions.  At that moment all I could imagine when looking at the moon were all the souls its sharpened tip has skewered over it’s billions of years of existence. Suddenly Shania’s “I’m Gonna Getcha Good” had a whole new meaning.  I was reminded of a fairy tale my dad used to read to me as a child about MoonMen.

Side note: Here’s the first page to the story of Bernard, an anal little MoonMan elf who finds himself stuck on earth.

Book of Maybes (dragged)

I used to love this story.  I thought it was beautiful how Bernard’s teardrop accidentally crashed through the roof of a little’s girls house.  The little girl couldn’t have been happier.  Seeing Bernard dangle from her ceiling, stuck inside his parachute, enacted the magical rule that since she was the first human to lay eyes on him, he belonged to her.  They become best friends and she teaches him about love, friendship, how to properly play and cause mischief.  When his visit was over, when the time comes for his little bouncing ball body with twig-like limbs to float back to the full moon, I was always surprised that he actually left.  He loved her so and I never understood why he would go.  Every night I asked my dad to re-read this tale in the hopes that the ending would change.  It never did.

Tonight when I looked at the moon at the gas station, I saw Bernard waving to me and I was at peace.  I saw only him and me existing together, and a calm washed through my body like it was made of warm bath water.  But when I drove home, I saw something very different. The Man in the Moon was soaking in Bernard’s blood.

My overactive imagination has me ricocheting between hope and despair at any given moment.  I triumphed tonight.  I celebrated a quiet victory when I captured the moon and for a moment, I had never been more proud of myself.  I reminded myself of the girl I was, of the person I mourned.  I remembered exactly who I wanted to be before I had any knowledge of how badly I could fail.  And in less than 10 minutes, Bernard turned his back on me and was swallowed within the crater he lives.  The moon’s Mona Lisa smile turned into a devilish grin and then disappeared completely.  Because I made the decision to change what I saw, I felt my happiness flutter through my pours like midge bugs, leaving my body.  I could almost see the gnats slip from my skin taking my peace with them.  It was then when I realized that I sabotage myself in even the smallest of victories.  At this point, at least it seems, I’m more afraid of being happy.  There’s no falling if you don’t stand… but then, there’s also no view.

Of course there’s no view from a prison cell either, which is what the police officer said to me when he pulled me over 3 blocks from my apartment.  He didn’t like my speeding.  I don’t think he liked my joke either when I said I wasn’t the one driving.  He grimaced at the cardboard cutouts I brought with me.  The cast of “Twilight” (the only life-sized poster-boards available last minute at the dollar store for my “Home Alone” mission spectacular) sat foul-faced and brooding in the backseat.  Thank goodness I’m at the age where police officers might find me cute because nerves got the best of me when he pulled out his flashlight and I attempted to blow on it thinking it was a breathalyzer.

 ***

Subject:                      confessions
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          November 8 10:56:44 AM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Nick,

Did you see the moon the other night?  It looked exactly how it’s supposed to at any given time period.  I imagined Shakespeare tucked away in a moonlit corner inspired to write about star-crossed lovers destined for tragedy.  I imagined that we were watching “Star Wars in concert” at the Hollywood Bowl.  I was engulfed in your arms and you promised me that 27 years of not seeing this movie was going to be worth it for this very moment.

There are a few things that I know for certain.  I know we’ve loved each other since before we didn’t know that was allowed- especially after it wasn’t.  I know that time heals all wounds: emotionally (like love) and physically (like virginity).  And I know that I live most my life in my head.  Only now, instead of getting lost in a daydream, I’m choosing to hide there.  I like myself better there.  I’m telling you this, Nick, because I want you to come with me.

Let’s pretend we’re in Santorini, Greece.  We’ve been separated because you think I’m obnoxious and stubborn, but really it’s because the Picasso blue sea mesmerizes me.  My legs are moving before my mind can catch up.  Like a zombie, I’ve refused to listen to anything but my instincts, which are screaming for me to wash myself away in the Mediterranean.

You’ve been racing through the puzzling streets looking for me for hours, terrified that I’ve clung to a Grecian God with jet-black hair, steel eyes, and a marble body standing a full head taller than you.  Of course, I’m not.  I’m floating face down in the water.  I’m completely oblivious to the scene I’m causing as I watch miniature jellyfish sting my toes.  When you eventually see me, instead of your usual eye-roll response, you step into the water, fully clothed, and join me with a smile.

Can we be there?

Or let’s pretend that none of this had ever happened.  I never came to Los Angeles.  I never went to New York to start with.  We never left the safety net suburb of Burnaby, British Columbia.  We didn’t meet at 16 years old and our siblings never set us up.  Let’s instead pretend that we met by chance when we were little kids.  You were at a hockey practice one Wednesday night and you saw a little girl skating around at her 6th ice-skate-o-rama birthday palozza with a Winnie the Pooh pillow strapped to her bum.  You thought she was a genius and though most teased the mess-of-a-thing, you recognized something in her that you saw in yourself.  At that moment, you knew I was the “one”.  Maybe I was a different kind of “one” but a “one” none-the-less.

I pretend every day, Nick.  I pretend that I live in a world other than this one, every single day.  It’s fantastical, grandiose, yet sullied and more often than not I’m a hard-knocks superhero.  In the world I live, I matter.  I’m needed.  I’m important.  My existence has a well-defined purpose.  I exploit the grey areas with an emotional soundtrack that’s cemented every image, every impression with song.  I connect more with these hallucinated strangers, inanimate objections and disfigured, shadowy faces of loved one’s (whose details I haven’t memorized) more than any other.  Even John has become a murky silhouette in my mind.  His smile is eclipsed with darkness and his laugh is muted because I would rather remember no laugh at all than the wrong one.

When I’m not soaring through archaic fields with crossbow in hand, falling in love in Italy, battling dinosaurs, repeating past events in the ways I wish they had happened, or imagining 175 possible ways to die, I wonder how much time I’ve wasted.  1 year?  2?  Half of my life?  More?  How long have I been so well hidden that I can’t find myself anymore?

And when I can feel the memories seep from my mind like coffee from its grind, you appear, Nick.  I see you.  All of you.  Perfectly.

There’s a myth about hummingbirds that I’ve fallen deeply in love with.  It’s widely believed that because of their small frame and rapid flutter, hummingbirds are thought to be messengers between worlds.

You are my hummingbird, Nick.  You find me in both worlds.  I see you every day in mine and I’m asking you to please bring me back to yours.

Ellie

***

November 9

Sill nothing… is this the moment when 9 days of waiting for someone magically evolves into 8 years, 20 pounds and crow’s feet without my noticing?

***

Subject:                     (no subject)
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          November 10 9:12:13 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Okay.  You win.  I’ll stop.

***

November 11

I’ve been spending a lot of time with John lately… in my head, of course. There’s something terribly tragic and ironic about keeping this journal.  There’s a part of me that finds it impossible to write.  If I were to fill all of your pages, if I were to finish this diary, I know consciously that he should be finished as well.  This is his final chapter and I just can’t bring myself to the moment where that last sentence is written.  In my mind, John is still with me.  I see him every day.  He watches me write. We take breaks and listen to music together.  We sing together.  He dances with me more than anyone else.

Sometimes John and I just look at each other- for hours.  I see him now sitting at the edge of my bed.  He’s a bit fuzzy around the edges, but his stormy blue grey eyes and sad smile (that slopes at the sides) lingers for me.  As tangible as our first meeting and last kiss, I can feel my heart expand and push against my ribcage with every breath.  There isn’t enough room in my chest for my whole heart still belonging to him, so it bleeds through my bones.  I ache for John.  If that were to stop, when there’s nothing left to say, when my writing is complete, he won’t be with me anymore.  You, Diary, bring him back to me every day.

I wonder if this were a movie, would I root for myself or would I look at me the way Nick and John do?  Bored.  Losing interest.  A whinny skankle who’s not worthy of a Jane Austen happy ending and more likely doomed to suffer Miss Austen’s real life unwed, short-lived fate only without her bravery, intelligence, talent, and critical acclaim. She persevered as a pioneer during a time when being a woman was unacceptable.  I choose to spend my life staring at empty space.  I’m no Elizabeth Bennett or Buffy and I certainly don’t belong in the Gryffindor house.  These iconic characters – characters that I dream of embodying – don’t save the world because they want to or because they have to.  It’s because they were born to.  They fight knowing it’s the harder choice.  They fight for love and more than anything they fight for friendship.

Nick was wrong.  Bonnie’s not the water main.  She’s the water.  She isn’t the air conditioner.  She’s the cool breeze it releases. She encompasses the entire room and fills it to comfortable temperatures.  I’ve been stifled into a sweaty mess because I have yet to turn her on.  As the saying goes, friends are meant to sing your song when you’ve forgotten the words.  I’ve barely spoken to Bonnie in the last two weeks as I’ve wrapped myself in nonexistence. And though she’s spoken to me, I don’t remember what was said.  I’ve forgotten her words.

No.  I wouldn’t root for me because I don’t root for them.

New plan.  New mission.  How does an unlikeable, selfish pissface do an about-face?  With a partner.  And what unruly tag team, deemed by society as unworthy of a hoot and holler get a hoot and holler anyway?

Thelma and Louise.

Those best buddies flee, kill, rob, all together spiral out of control and yet we yearn for their freedom and cheer on their criminal antics.

Now before I undertake this estrogen adventure on, it must be stated that this mission will consist of three absolutes:

1) Bonnie and I will NOT encounter a sexual attack (again).

2) This will NOT end with adrenalized suicide (… well, you know what I mean).

3) I will steer clear of Brad Pitt as I fear a couple of his characters and I might have a touch too much in common (examples include: “Meet Joe Black” – he plays death. “Fight Club” – he plays a hallucination). There’s no need to confuse myself even further.

Side note: “Interview with a Vampire”… yum.

***

Page_1***

November 13

With vinegar in my steps, I’ve set out to convince Bonnie, Owen and Brian to play some Connect 4 and Mouse Trap for an 80’s themed game night spectacular tonight.

Brian was easy.  I told him to not worry about bettering my night with cunnilingus.

Side note: Nick?  Please send this Diary to Brian for a quick second…

Brian?  Are you there?  Hi sweetheart.  I just wanted you to know that when your past girlfriends said, “No honey… it’s okay if you don’t like doing it- I don’t really like getting it”  THEY WERE LYING TO YOU.  Just go for it, Brian Adams.  A for effort.  Don’t beg for approval.  Don’t delicately manipulate us like you would whilst rolling a joint.  Just pretend you’re a Hungry Hungry Hippo and enjoy a good marble now and then.

Convincing Bonnie was easier than Brian. I promised her I wouldn’t tell Owen about the formal letter she sent me back in August.

If Owen Asks

Bonnie’s brought Owen on board by promising tacos.

***

November 14

Brian was the first player to show up for the evening and let me tell you this… it was NOT what I expected.  Much like he did on the night he played out the Ducky dance from “Pretty in Pink”, Brian arrived with reinvigorated knowledge of my movie-life-jacket-reenactment quest.  I guess he had just watched “Love Actually” because when I opened my door, there he stood flipping through 5 poster boards.

Poster 1: Will you be my partner…

Poster 2: For tonight’s game night?

Poster 3: Your mind and body mixed with mine will make us unstoppable.

Poster 4: You look beautiful, by the way.

Poster 5: Love Actually.

It was an anti-climactic grand gesture and this time around I wasn’t as impressed.  I can’t judge.  I can’t say he’s the king of romance, nor can I say he has NO IDEA what he’s doing because he’s proven that he’s a baffling medley of both.  Whatever it is I’m doing with him, it was brought to my attention that it needs to be defined quickly.  When he finished his signage, he leaned in for a googly-eyed vagina grab.

“It doesn’t work that way,” I dismissed him easily.

“I didn’t know there was a right way to love you,” was his shocking response.

Ummm… exsqueeze me?

Brian’s spurts of oceanic depth clearly catch me off guard.  In one instant he’s merely a sand dollar fish, futile as he putters about in his ALF costume.  In the next, he’s a marlin, the summit of offshore fishing, the most sot after catch of the sea as he smushes together my cupcakes.  He surprises me constantly with little reminders why I initially liked him.  He’s charming, quick-witted and disarmingly handsome, but the second his fingers intertwine with mine, he’s not John.  He’s not Nick.  I’m becoming rapidly concerned that no one will ever be more than simply ‘someone else’.

Side note: I never thought I would be a girl with baggage but Bonnie assures me that at least it’s Louis Vuitton.

Bonnie and Owen arrived seconds after Brian’s display of affection.  I was still a bit shaken.  I think my slacked jaw silence tipped them off.

Who said anything about love?  Well, Brian Adams did, apparently.  I thought about all of the sneaky ways I could avoid deportation, but I didn’t think bamboozling an American into falling in love with me, marrying, shacking up, signing the papers, getting a quaint little summer house in Leavenworth Washington, Greencard, baby Buffy and baby Angel could actually be attainable.  I thought about it, but plausible?  No.  What’s after “happily ever”?  On my wedding day in my lacy Vera, would I be pretending that it was John’s sloppy smile greeting me at the end of the aisle?  Could “happily” be “ ever after” with a “someone else”?

No.

All of a sudden this newbie will have ownership over me at my funeral.

Speaking!  Will Brian want to speak at the wake or give the eulogy?  Will he grieve over how he loved me so?  I don’t want a stranger having the right to be consoled over those who actually matter.  Actually matter?  What a terrible thing to say.  What am I doing?  All of these questions rushed into my mind as fast and as suffocating as a hot flash.  Before I could answer, Bonnie bulldozed into my apartment- my cool breeze. “Oh, thank God,” I mumbled loud enough to be overheard by Owen.

“You okay?” He was the only one to notice that I wasn’t.

“Yeah.  Of course.”

Owen stared through me like my skin was a screen door trying to keep the flies out.  He was on me, following me, Robin to my Batman and whenever I looked to him questioning his motivation to stalk, he smiled kindly and knowingly.  It was sort of sexy and I did not appreciate it.  I see now why Bonnie wants to pop him like a can of Pringles.  He’s got that little something extra – I assume Jesus had it, too.

The rest of the night went easy and without surprise, much like a young girl on birth control.  I was acutely aware of Brian’s eye contact.  He also started answering most questions directed toward me.

Bonnie: “Ellie, your nails are horrific!  Do you still bite them?”

Brian: “Everyday.  It’s like she’s chewing turkey jerky.”

No one else would have noticed such insignificant details, but to me Brian stood out more than a chicken in an ant farm.  I couldn’t decide if he sounded like he was gnawing on gravel or like a triceratops when he ate, and his Johnny Depp-looking facial hair needed more sunlight and water to grow.  It bothered me.

“He’s looking more rugged everyday.”  Bonnie admired Brian while helping herself to my Trader Joes boxed wine. “He’s going to be great at Christmas!  I can see it now, calloused knuckles and axes, fires and big trees.  I said it before and I’ll say it again, Lumberjacks are the new cowboys.” Bonnie’s rant wasn’t even close to being over. “Is it wrong to want someone to strap on a pair of boots and chop me down a tree?  Is it wrong to yearn for chest hair that twirls like a poodle’s perm?  In a world where men order cocktails and bundle up in blankets because ‘it’s nippy out’, I urge you… drink beer.”

“You urge me?  What did I do?”

“I miss flannel.”

Personally, I didn’t see it.  I only saw the virgin skin spaced out between sporadic tufts.

“I really like him, Ellie.  He’s funny and sweet- he’s good for you.“

“I don’t know where he lives.  I know it’s Hermosa Beach and I’ve been told it’s past the bark mulch path, but beyond that, I have no idea.  That’s a flag, right?  He’s also argued the benefits of sleeping in separate beds… fiercely.  He even sent me an article about how they’ve saved marriages.”

“Oh…”

“When we kiss, it’s like he pushes his chin into his collarbone and I almost always have to dip underneath for proper suction.  I mean, I’m a tall girl and he’s too used to kissing small girls.  I might slip a disc bending in the wrong direction.  And he ALWAYS makes these innuendos about “playing the skin flute” and “slurp offs” yet neither of us ever get our faces in there.  Oh!  And one time, we had a condom issue and immediately after dismounting he “joked” about where the nearest staircase was to push me down!  And I’m sorry, but Bonnie, have you noticed the remote control for the car radio?  Because I hold serious issue with that.”

Bonnie stared at me, dumbfounded, before asking what the hell was wrong with me. “About a month ago you were enamored with him.”

“He spells all of his friends names that have an ‘s’ in them!  WITH A ‘$’!  An actual dollar sign, Bonnie! Like Ke$ha!”  In the end, I think my argument spoke for itself.

“You’re right, Ellie.  That repulsive.”  Some may think her tone was patronizing, I personally believe it was a subconscious admission of defeat.

Side note: Owen kicked all of our arses at every single game: Kerplunk. Monopoly. Operation. Trouble. Sorry. Mousetrap. Battleship.  The kid is good, but I’m calling foul.  It’s an unfair advantage playing in pairs, and recruiting God as your teammate just seems unsportsmanlike.

***

Subject:                     Weird and stuff
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          November 15 2:54:13 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Bonnie,Was the other night weird and stuff?  I got the distinct feeling that I was annoying you and the last thing I want to be like an annoying boogie trapped in your nose and causing a whistle.

Was I the villain?  Do you ever wonder that?  I wonder if this were reality show or a movie or something from HBO, would I unknowingly be the baddy?  I mean they don’t always carry a cane, monocle and top hat.  Usually the really evil assholes look just like everyone else.  I’d like to reference Bloody Mary.  No, I’ve never said her name three times in a mirror and she’s never technically appeared before my very eyes, but I would imagine her as being quite lovely in her aristocratic, 19th century fashion.  I see her as someone attending balls with the best ribbons in town laced into her curls.  Or Jack the Ripper?  Who was he?  Someone skilled and handsome, obviously.

So, what was it then?  Was something happening last night with Owen that I wasn’t aware of?  Or was it really just me?

Ellie

***

Subject:                     Re:      Weird and stuff
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          November 17 4:10:58 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

It was you.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re:           Weird and stuff
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          November 17 10:16:19 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

What’s going on?  Are you mad at me?

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re:    Weird and stuff
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          November 18 11:42:09 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Ellie,

Did you know that we’ve barely spoken since Halloween?  And even now, the only reason why you care about what I have to say is because it’s about you.

In the last 18 days I’ve had three anxiety attacks.

My boss decided to act like a Hollywood director and demand that we take part in an “intruder alert”. Apparently he thinks a madman will one day storm through our offices demanding some Ben Sherman turtlenecks.  He forced 3 co-workers and myself to jump from our desks when the FedEx guy came through the door (we needed to practice, you see).  I had to scream “intruder” at the poor old man as I “punched” him in the face in an attempt to incapacitate the “potential lunatic”.  Of course, the intruder would be determined, so I had to act as if he “took me down” with his “impulsive upper-cut”.  As for everyone else, Emily the intern had to throw herself in front of my boss, “protecting the company’s true assets” and the rest of the office had to fire-roll to the exit.

The poor delivery guy was so upset and confused by our attacking him that he’s requested to no longer work our zip code.

(I obviously didn’t really punch him in the face, but to make it look “as realistic as possible” my boss gave us boxing lessons before hand!)

I’ve been having nightmares about this event for the past two weeks.

What else?  I’m being harassed by someone on a damn dating website with the tagline, “slippery when wet” and, Owen… I think at the end of the day he just doesn’t like me enough.

I know you’re going through something right now, Ellie, but we all are.  It’s called our 20’s.  My answer is no, I’m not mad at you, but the fact that it’s taken you this long to recognize that I’m not happy with you is reason enough for you to see why.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re: Re:         Weird and stuff
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          November 19 2:50:44 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Bon,

I don’t know what to say… I’m ashamed. Can you come over after work?  I’m with Sesame Street, but it might be nice to talk over fish sticks and bath time.

Ellie

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:  Weird and stuff
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          November 20 11:02:01 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday.  I’m very busy and my time means something. I’ve Freed Willy and swim about important oceans now.  I’m no longer in captivity and can’t be baited, prompted or trained with fish sticks anymore.

Bon

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:       Weird and stuff
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          November 20 3:11:03 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

What can I do to get you to come over tonight?

I will… French kiss a lamp or an object of your choice.

Or

I will… eat a full stick of butter.

Or

I will… let you knife me.

Or

I will… put on “SpongeBob SquarePants” so we can enjoy humor of all ages.

Or

We can… sign up for a flash mob.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:            Weird and stuff
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          November 21 12:41:32 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Fine.

Flash mob and knifing.

I’ll see you tonight.

***

November 22

By the time Bonnie came over to help me with the kiddies they were already in their jammies- tucked away like little pistachios locked in their shell.

I love their room.  It’s my favorite thing about the little Muppets.  They have framed animal pictures hanging on the wall, stencils cut through their light shades, picture books, sleep CD’s, and a constant smell of baby powder and honeydew wafting through their humidifier.  I often go in their rooms hoping for bittersweet nostalgia.  I look out their bay window and try to remember what it was like to be sent to bed before the sun went down.

In Vancouver, the sun lingers in the summer’s sky until 9 PM and twilight can roll in as late at 10. I remember hearing kids still playing in the cul-de-sac well after my Archie comic bedtime story.  I find myself wishing for those days again more often than I should.  Which is funny because even as I lived through them, like now, I spent my time wishing.

I wanted my life to mirror the television show “The Wonder Years”.  I wondered what it would be like to be the girl-next-door so much that I forced it upon poor Matthew Beck who didn’t even live in my neighborhood.  I saw him every day during my summers spent at the golf course and he raced through my mind all winter long.  I would slip his name into conversations accidentally, changing “I could just imagine” to “I could just a-Matthew” and playing footsies was a very real adolescent phenomena.  I remember the first time his foot pressed into mine.  We were in the 5th grade and playing a card game with a group of junior golfers inside the clubhouse.  By the grace of God, the bumbling boys, all a head taller than Matthew and I (the resident youngsters), left us alone for 3 whole minutes.

Matthew looked up at me and asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?” To which I overlapped excitedly, “NO!” I remember him refusing to raise his eyes from his Crazy 8’s hand while stammering, “… Because I don’t have a girlfriend.”

I could feel his spiked golf shoe hugging mine.  I became very aware that the only thing between us was metal, leather and socks. Then one of his stupid brothers interrupted, asking if we wanted a hot dog.  No we don’t! Fuck off!

I remember thinking to myself at 11 years old, “I’m going to prom with Matthew Beck and then I’m going to marry him.” I didn’t end up going to my school’s prom with him… but he asked me to his.  He called me one night after years of growing apart and said, “I was thinking of who I would want to go with and you’re really the only girl that’s always been there… you know, in my life.” I went assuming my childhood prediction had turned into gospel and expected for my foot to pop as we kissed under the disco ball.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if we had decided on our china patterns by midnight, but as I’ve said before, life is better inside my head.

It took me 18 years to realize I wasn’t Winnie Cooper.

I look out Bert and Zoe’s window to the next-door neighbors and wonder if they’ll have a girl or boy-next-door.  Will they ride their bikes around town and cause trouble?  Will they fall in and out of love, or sit on the bleachers during school dances?  Will they make angst-ridden, starry-eyed promises of unconditional love, completely unaware of the pain that follows when that promise is first broken?  Will Zoe get the chance to be the girl-next-door? Maybe… Will Bert be someone’s Kevin Arnold?  Of course he will.  Because little girls, too willing to daydream, will force it on him.  I only hope that in this online age, his Winnie Cooper isn’t found through a role-playing video game and doesn’t go by the handle “Queen Boob-a-looze13”.

Bonnie and I sat among Sesame Street’s cats as she proceeded to tell me how lousy I am.  I freezed Bonnie out of 50% of the time I had left in Los Angeles.  I wish I could share with her the unwarranted sadness that lives within me.  I can’t.  I wish I could understand it myself.  I don’t.

As I write this, I have this guilty conscience telling me to preface my thoughts with “I know I’m one of the lucky ones and I’m grateful for the love/family/life that I’ve had” but these happy thoughts are obscured.  They’re drowned in maple syrup only moments after I’ve had them.  Even when I reach down and pull common sense back from the dense glucose it’s lost in, pain latches to my reasoning as intensely as an IHOP breakfast.  I can scrape away the surface syrup, but the pancakes will still be soggy.

The disappointment I felt for casting aside not just my life jacket but also my best friend hardened my blood.  I could feel my heavy body lumping toward the cheese stained carpet in shame.

“Where did you go, Ellie?”

I don’t know.

“I can’t find you anymore.” Bonnie exhaled more amount of air than I thought possible. “Do you know where you’re going to live when you go back?  Have you made any plans?”

“I can’t talk about this.”

“You have to talk about this at some point.”

“Bonnie!  Stop.”

Bonnie knew that when I danced it was offbeat.  She knew that I was voted “most unique” in the 8th grade, which by definition meant “weirdest”, but what she didn’t know was what that really meant.  I did everything I could to run away from being the crazy-faced, proverbial black sheep when I moved to New York.

Bonnie had no idea that when I bled I imagined that my blood was ribbon pulling from my body, unraveling my skin as if it were a fraying sweater.  She didn’t know that I saw dragons wrap around tall buildings every single day, or that I pretended tornados were fallen angels being exiled to earth.  She didn’t know that when I showered, I saw my skin as a casing.  I imagined peeling my shell away to only find another layer and then another and I could never ultimately get to what really needed to be cleaned.  Bonnie couldn’t find me because she didn’t know this version of me.  This version of me that is both very true and very false in equal measure.

“I was thinking about our next mission.” I averted my eyes and the topic. “I was thinking it could be part of your sisters Palm Springs Bachelorette thingy? Like a whole, ‘if Thelma and Louise had friends’ thing.” I didn’t want to tell her that a large part of me wanted to reenact “Weekend at Bernie’s”.

“Maybe,” Bonnie hesitated, “but don’t you think it’s time to create your own adventures?  Like a flash mob… or we should go to London!  Or Scotland and finally see those hills, sheep and taverns everyone gushes about.”

“Maybe.  I was hoping the adventures could create themselves, though, with a little push.” My eyes magnetized toward the ground.

“You’re pushing too hard, Ellie.  Let’s wake up one morning and do something completely unplanned.  We’ll just get up, put on some periwinkle blue, get on a bus, or a subway or jump in a cab or just drive and go somewhere.  We won’t think about where we’re going and we’ll just go.” Bonnie’s smile was so wide and full of hope.  I had to end it.

“I’m excited to meet your family.”  I avoided the thought of stepping into a life unknown like a germaphobe avoids gas stations.

“You know the ones that count already.  The extended members are just excited to have an excuse to travel to the land of the Beach Boys and bikinis.  My parents, however, aren’t too thrilled about paying for a destination wedding.” Bonnie scowled.

“It’s not destination.”

“For them it is.  Everyone is coming in from New York.  Anyway don’t get too excited- they’re my relatives, but they’re not my family.” – Finally a truce.  I felt her love once again wrap around me, safe and secure. “I’m having Thanksgiving dinner next week and I’d really like for you to come… but there’s a catch.  Your invitation is contingent on you bringing Brian. You’re one foot out and I don’t even know why.  You need to give him an honest chance like you originally planned.”

“Deal.  Is Owen going?”

“You betcha.” There was another smile from Bonnie, but worry sat at its edges.

I knew I wanted to say something at that point and I did.  Something I had wanted to say since well before Owen entered our lives and  I had practiced this little speech many times.

“You’re the iceberg.”

“That’s nice.” Placating bitch.

“No.  Let me say this.  You’re the iceberg.”

“I still don’t get it.”

I needed to start again.  I took a deep breath and did just that.

“Don’t you just love the snow.”

“Umm… yes. I do?”

I could work with this. “It’s born from ice crystals that are the size of a speck of dust and they grab hold of one another and sink to the earth forming snowflakes.  No two snowflakes share the same shape and a single snowstorm can drop 40 million tons of snow, bearing the energy equivalent to 120 atom bombs.” I felt my eyes roll to the back of my head as I tried to remember every last little detail from Wikipedia.

“Yes.  Amazing.” Bonnie sensed my research and rehearsals.  Her eyebrows darted forward, inquisitively.

“Owen’s the snow.” I said it very carefully. “He’s pretty and sometimes dangerous, but he’s just snow.  He doesn’t break you.  He adds to your grace.  He’s a lovely trimming to your already established, powerful and profound importance.  Don’t just look at the snow because it comes and goes.  Look at the iceberg.”

“Please stop saying iceberg. So, I’m an air conditioner.  I’m plumbing.  I think I’ve been compared to either a mirror or a pocket watch at one point.  I’ve definitely been called a harpy and now this?”

“That’s correct.”

”Did you practice that little speech?”

“Yes I did.”

“That monologue was straight up Shonda Rhimes.”

“I’ve been watching a lot of ‘Scandal’ recently.”

“Well that’s nice. So are you coming?”

“I’ll go to your American Thanksgiving, but please remember that us Canadians have already enjoyed our turkey. Who else is going?” I pried.

“If you’re asking if ol’ Whiskey Dick Nick will be there, the answer is yes.”

Nick. It didn’t cross my mind.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I had already written Nick a note reminiscent of the one he left me that fateful Halloween night.  I had hoped the sting of its snakebite would at least make an amputee out of him.

letter for Nick (Thanksgiving)

What do you think?  Not bad, right?

***

November 23

My favorite daydream today was so bloody vivid that I decided the only way to truly remember its glory was by writing it out as a screenplay!!

Oh, famous actresses of the world! Looking for work these days?

____

EXT. 10 FREEWAY, LOS ANGELES

Establishing shots of Los Angeles. Flashy, bright, exotic, everything you hoped it would be – minus the Disneyland.  A tiny Yaris has taken the lead of an over-the-top HIGH SPEED CHASE.

The song ‘Black Betty’ overlays the action. Please feel free to take a listen -> 

6 police cars follow closely behind as the Yaris masterfully overtakes LA’s most expensive cars.

ELLIE (V.O)
Today’s death was a tad dramatic, I’ll admit.
But I can’t help that something uncontrollable
happens when I hear Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’.

INSIDE THE YARIS –

We meet ELLIE FRIESEN (late 20s) with the wind in her hair. She’s laughing as she whips her head back to find the onslaught of police cars speeding behind her.

ELLIE (V.O.)
Normally, this song fits perfectly with one of my more
fanciful daydreams. You know, the one where I take
down a group of terrorists?

                                                                                                                                                  CUT TO:

EXT. A DESERTED CITY CENTER

A group of crazy terrorists, straight out of Homeland, surrounded Ellie. Innocent children cower in her shadow. She’s their only hope.

The TERRORIST LEADER stands nose to nose with Ellie. She doesn’t back down.

ELLIE (V.O.)
All that’s stopping him from conquering this
great land that is America, is a girl.
A girl with a secret…

TERRORIST
Any last words?

The terrorists laugh maniacally.

ELLIE (V.O.)
…She’s Canadian. And she’s watched one
too many Buffy the Vampire Slayers.

ELLIE
(dramatic)
I’d like to thank God.

TERRORIST
Thank God? For what?

ELLIE
Adrenaline.

Ellie violently HEADBUTTS the terrorist leader, CRACKING HIS SKULL WIDE OPEN.

As he limply falls to the ground, his army steps up to the plate. Ellie quickly takes down each terrorist in hand-to-hand combat. An obscene amount of blood spatters as she dislocates jaws and crushes skulls. She uses the TREE standing beside her as if she were a competitive gymnast to weave and battle multiple men all at once.

When only ONE MAN REMAINS, Ellie SNAPS a THICK BRANCH from the tree and JAMS THE STAKE INTO THE HEART OF HER ENEMY.

The children, covered in blood, cheer!

***

November 24

I saw John today.  I tried to not watch him meander through the aisles of Whole Foods, but there he was. He was on the phone.  I’m assuming he was talking to his wife because after receiving what seemed like strict orders, he picked up ground turkey, lemons, peaches, cranberry salsa with cream cheese, walnuts, toilet paper, dishwashing liquid and paper towel.  I swear, I wasn’t stalking!

If it had been only 6 months ago, I would have run up from behind and teased him for taking so long to pick out some nice juicy cocks.  Instead, I just watched him toss his head back and laugh ardently into the phone.  He looked happy.  I did not.  I felt my face solidify.  Though my eyes were blinking, I didn’t feel them close the whole way – they were moist enough without the added sloshing my lids would have provided.  We both moved in molasses and I could hear the second hand of my watch tick like a turtle’s heartbeat.  Everything slowed allowing me to inspect him as carefully as I do my Bioré Pour Strips.  I stare at those strips and the nastiness it pulls from my nose for an unhealthy amount of time and now, I was watching John in the same way.

I was curious to know his daily routine again.  Had it changed?  Is he going somewhere for Thanksgiving? Are they seeing her family?  Is she cooking?  I bet she can cook.  She’s probably taken lessons – they’ve probably taken them together.  I looked down at my bag of pre-washed romaine lettuce and Caesar dressing.  Depressing.

He didn’t see me.  He didn’t feel me.  When we’re in the same room together, whether I know he’s there or not, I sense him.  I know when he’s near.  I feel him.

They say certain people light up a room.  He didn’t.  He dulled the light that lived around him.  He stole it and cast a shadow over the bystanders that surrounded him.  Strangers were desperate to hold real estate by his side because his presence was enough to warm their soul.  When John entered the room, you didn’t just know it, you felt it.

He wouldn’t have noticed me even if I were his checkout clerk.  I would have been standing directly across from him in a bright red apron with a beeping scanner and he still wouldn’t have looked up.  His nose was scrunched.  It was my favorite part about him.  I knew his smile was real when his nose scrunched and his eyes squinted.  My bedroom was once cluttered with the glow of that laughing face.  I would sit behind the camera and come up with absurd remarks so I could capture his best side indefinitely.  And there he was, in Whole Foods less than a week before Thanksgiving with a fucking scrunched smile as he laughed lovingly into the phone.

I continued shopping after he left, in a haze, and wondered where the closest “wet floor” sign was to crack my head open.

***

November 26

After picking Bert and Zoe up from day care today, we threw goldfish crackers at the cats.  Zoe was snug in my lap like a cabbage in her patch while Bert launched himself off of the soda-stained couch, shooting cheesy rockets out into the ether.  I sat cross-legged with my chin cupped in one hand and like cats make me do, my nose tickled.  I tried to keep my germs from the Muppet as best I could, so I twisted my head.  I could feel my neck crack and snap along with my violent sneeze.  Could you imagine if that’s how I went?  After all of this?  An ill prepared expulsion of air!  Not only would it be a fantastic safety article for the Huffington Post, it would teach Sesame Street a thing or two about the evils of cats.

Side note: I’m 100% certain that cats are reincarnated souls of dead convicts.

Now that we’re both certain I’m crazy and that my mind wanders to places unknown as much as a Santa Monica hobo, I want to make something perfectly clear to you, Diary.  It would be ridiculous for me, in my position, to not even play with the idea of medication.  Now, I’m weary to express my opinion on the subject.  I would never doubt or downplay another’s experience, which is why I’ll be brief.  I believe properly proportioned and subscribed medication is important and saves lives. It just isn’t going to save my life. The last thing I am is a professional in any walk of life, but in my own understanding – as an uneducated, emotional Assface with absolutely no qualifications and shouldn’t even open my trap about the subject – the thought of an external source altering my brain chemistry, simply stated, gives me the spooks

Though my twig has, in fact, snapped, I’m clinging on to both halves as tightly as Bonnie to her Match.com profile.  I fear that with drugs, my twigs could feather away to dust.  I can’t be dust.  Not yet.  That’s reserved for the cremation.

Along with this pathetic justification, if I were to be honest with you, Diary, the no holds bar acknowledgment of a shattered soul terrifies me.  What if I agree with the general consensus, admit I’m broken and still decide to split on New Year’s Eve?  I just don’t believe that a shattered soul on earth would magically become whole again in heaven, should there be a heaven. That’s probably why they say those with “unfinished business” stick around as disgruntled spirits, puttering about without purpose.  Their pieces are so splintered that putting them back together again is absurd.  They’re eternally unfinished, like my Jenga game; unable to advance to whichever direction they’re meant for.  I’m a snapped twig, but my solace lies with my pieces, easily spotted and attainable should I need to make a quick getaway.

***

November 27

I figured, I’ve lived in the states this long… why not try naming them?
Happy almost Thanksgiving!

201311271217

***

November 28

 I arrived at Bonnie’s “Geographically Orphaned” Thanksgiving Feast and it was none other than Nicholas Allaway who greeted me at the door.  Well, that was fast.  I thought I was arriving early enough to give myself an hour of prep time before his stick of dynamite exploded on my pretty blue dress.

“Oh.”

Yup.  That’s what he said.  OH!

“Happy Thanksgiving,” I sneered.

“I don’t really know what to say.” His immediate tone was hostile.

“Hi, would be nice.”

Thank God for Bonnie and her tuna dip. “Ellie!  Great!  Okay… good.  Where’s Brian?  Is he coming?”

“No.  He’s with his family.  He’s not exactly geographically orphaned.”

“You weren’t invited along to his parents place?”

Lock that shit down, Bonnie.

“She doesn’t know where he lives so why would she go to a family dinner,” Owen popped up from behind Bonnie’s furrowed brow.  Someone clearly doesn’t know how to keep secrets.  I shot a look to Bonnie that subtly screamed, Tighten up those loose lips, Lucy!

“I brought the salad,” I said before Hannah, Nick’s Victoria Secret Model, Halloween date came to see who was at the door.  I pushed through to the kitchen, turned on the gas and shoved my face in the oven.  Well… I thought about it, at least.

I was the 10th wheel on the Bonnie, Owen, Nick, Hannah, Diana (Bonnie’s sister), Darren (Diana’s fiancée), Thora (Diana’s friend), and Luke (Bonnie’s random neighbor) bus.  Unfortunately, I missed the mass bonding while I was busy contemplating what exactly would happen if I injected gravy into my blood stream.   By the time the tuna dip was empty everyone was chummy with their inside jokes.  Nick and Owen did a hand slap thing and said “Doug Pitt” (as in Brad Pitt’s brother) whenever someone seemed to make a poorly conceived joke or distasteful comment.  Bonnie, Thora and Hannah would cringe and say “Sharon G” when Diana and Darren showed obscene amounts of PDA.  Luke, like me, just sat there.

“Get it?  Like, ‘watch out you’re putting your foot in your mouth.  Just keep on digging.’ – Doug Pitt? You’re Douging a Pitt. Get it?” Diana giggled.

No.  I didn’t get it.

“Or… you’re over-sharing.  Sharon G?  Sharing?  Sharon G.  Get it?”

No.

Moving on.

The rest of the night was exactly as expected.  Owen led us in prayer and Luke ate off my plate – that was fun (let me introduce you to sarcastic italics). Bonnie and Nick whispered to each other and shared private laughs – also fun.  Hannah placed had her hand on Nick’s upper thigh every time she spoke.  Oh, and there was football– Huzzah!

I should say though, the night’s highlight was like any other traditional Thanksgiving- the obligatory round of “thanks”.

Owen: Heavenly Father, I’ve never been a wordsmith so I’ll turn to another on this day of thanks.  Ralph Emerson said it best.  Thank you- “For each new morning with its light, for rest and shelter of the night,
for health and food, for love and friends, for everything Thy goodness sends.”

Bonnie: Thank you, Owen.  That was beautiful.  I want to thank my baby sister, Diana, and her fiancé, Darren, for coming tonight.  I know you could have easily gone out with your hippie crew to blow bubbles, but you picked me over the trees and that means a lot.  To my friends… I took a lesson from Ellie and thesaurused the word ‘friend’ and though they’re just a bunch of synonyms, I wanted to give each one of you your own perfect word for who you are to me.  Thora, I don’t know you that well so I’ll go with ‘pal’. (Bonnie’s smile was wide.)  Luke, we aren’t super close either so ‘homie’ it is. (They shared a tee-hee.)  Hannah, you’re a new ‘chum’.  Owen, my ‘companion’.  Ellie, you’re my ‘kindred spirit’ and Nick, my ‘confidant’.  Thank you all for defining what it means to be a friend.

Nick and Bonnie shared a look when she dropped that “confidant” bomb.  Oh my God.  That was it, wasn’t it?  The stolen glances, the unnatural touching… were they screwing?  Were they ‘in like’?  Were they ‘in love’?  Is that why he’s been avoiding me after the failed missile launch?  Is that why he shifts and quietly clears his throat when Hannah picks lint from his shirt?

I think I’m going to be sick.

Hannah: I’m just so thankful for everything, be it friends, lovers, (She winked.  It was that winking thing he had mentioned only it looked more adorable than offensive.) metabolism… Just kidding, (She had the whole table laughing.  It was fucking ridiculous) Seriously though, to health and kindness.

Diana: I’m thankful for my future husband.  I’m thankful for his trust, understanding, compromise and love.  What kind of guest would I be if I didn’t thank our host?  Bonnie, my dear sister, you’re warm, beautiful and pure of heart… and of disease… (Diana eyes drifted uncomfortably in Owen’s direction.)

Thora: I’m just thankful for being invited tonight. (Thora giggled in Nick’s direction. I wasn’t the only one to notice.  Both Hannah and Bonnie shot looks in her direction.)

Luke: I’ll jump on that train.  I’m thankful for being Geographically Orphaned right now because this looks delicious.  Thank you all for allowing me into your lives for one night.

Nick: Bonnie, of course. And Owen. (Nick raised his glass.)

What.  Was That?!

Me: I’m thankful that I’m getting the fuck out of here. (I raised my glass high into the air.)  I’m over it.  Over.  It.  (I looked directly at Nick and I could feel Bonnie’s temperature rise.)  Los Angeles is confused.  What time of year are we in LA?  Why, Ellie, I have no idea.  I know you don’t know, LA, because you’re fucking confused.  You’re always the same temperature and you’ve got flowers blooming and leaves falling year round.  Ahhhh!  You’re right, Ellie, I’m so confused, said the city.  Or is it a city?  Or is it an obscene amount of overpopulated suburbs smashed together pretending to be a city?  The people here are confused.  They come in the hopes of being someone other than who they are because LAliens are nobody until others tell them that they are, in fact, somebody.  Nobody knows what’s going on.  The men all look like women and the women all look like each other.  There’s no heartbeat….  Every county just has a weak pulse and then a 5 mile radius of nothing but a blip of camaraderie.  (I scoffed before I paused.)  Confidant.  (I could feel myself sucking in the tears I held back).  Nick.  I’d like to thank you for being my confidant. (I mimicked Bonnie.)  It just means so much to me to have you as a synonym for the word “friend”.  (Each individual word of that last sentence came out as if I was spitting poison from my lips.)

I needed to say it.  I needed to know that he read my email, an email where I admitted to hallucinations and a genuine fear of “losing it” and he chose to not respond.

Nick: What “mission” is this, Ellie?  I mean there are too many movies to choose from when it comes to the unoriginal, public Thanksgiving fight.  Live your own goddamn life and stop trying to live these lives that don’t exist.  They’re not real, Ellie.  Are you even real?  What part of this display is Ellie Friesen?

Me: This is me…  I’m being me…

Nick: No, you’re not.  You’re a liar. (I felt my lungs collapse.) Just stop lying – to yourself and to everyone else!  If you want to live in a world other than this one… (I knew that sentence.  It was from my email.)  Just know that you’ll be the only one there.  You’ll get lost, Ellie.  And people will eventually stop looking for you.

I had stopped breathing.  Nick once said that if I wanted to know who I was, to just ask him.  He said he would find me.  I don’t know the exact moment when Nick stopped looking.  I don’t know if it was our “Dirty Dancing” sex accident.  I don’t know if it was my neurotic behavior afterward or my emailed admission to lunacy.  I don’t even know if he knows that he’s not just a mission to me.

Is that how he feels?  Convenient?

Owen: In your heavenly name we pray.  Amen.

Darren: Wait.  I haven’t said my thanks yet.  Not all of you know this, but Diana and I grew up together as children.  We loved each other and hated each other 100 times over like only the best love stories.  I got glasses and she got a training bra.  She dated, and I didn’t.  Then one day when she was 16, Diana ran out of gas on the freeway Upstate New York.  She called me to come get her, and I did.  She broke my heart 4 more times in all sorts of ways, but I always took her back like a goldfish constantly swimming into a glass bowl.  I want to thank Diana.  Thank you for always giving me something to swim toward and for teaching me how to swim in the first place.

I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I stared at Darren in shell shock.  I wanted to call him a fool.  I wanted to give Nick my note.  I wanted to run and scream and more than anything, I wanted to cry.  I did the only thing I could do.  I ate potatoes.

***

Subject:                     I’m sorry.
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          November 29 11:40:12 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you.  You have to go to them sometimes.”

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

***

Subject:                     It’s okay.
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          November 30 8:52:01 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

***

Subject:                     Re:      It’s okay.
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          November 30 8:55:39 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

I would love to meet you for lunch, Bon.

Let’s say 4 today at Ye Rustic?  I’ll treat you to some beer, wings, stories, gossip and apologies.

But first…

On a scale from Little Red Riding Hood to The Big Bad Wolf, how mad at me are you?

Ellie.

***

Subject:                     not mad… something else
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          November 30 12:24:18 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Once again, I’m not mad, Ellie.  I’m officially worried.

Granted, you did come to my party on a conditional invite and your condition wasn’t met. Oh, and you were heinous.  So, maybe on the fairy tale scale you’re sitting at the Witch from Hansel and Gretel… or a 4 on the frictor scale.

Brian as a no-show, and the showdown between you and Nick were not something I was thankful for, but Holy Hot Sauce, Ellie, it’s apparent there’s a whole lot more going on than a simple “my soul mate is married and I’m getting kicked out of the country” crisis.

I feel like I shouldn’t be agreeing to these missions anymore because I worry that the false sense of accomplishment may serve more harm than good.  Make-believe can have its moments, but there comes a time when you just have to start believing.

My problem stems from thinking these missions are fun.  I selfishly get a great sense of joy from our madcap, tag-team behavior which is what keeps bringing me back to the “what’s wrong with pretending you’re a prostitute” theory.

Do you see my struggle?  It’s of blockbuster proportion.  I’ll see you at 4.

Bonnie.

***

December 1

It was Bonnie’s and my second bare-faced conversation in only a few days.  I would have called it a heart-to-heart if the valves were leaking.  I didn’t get into any particulars.  We mainly talked about how in your early 20’s it’s acceptable to tootle through life directionless.  You’re still seeking the meaning of it all and you can still – without a hint of sarcasm – dream about what you want to be when you grow up.  A few years later and you’re 30.  You’ve grown up.

It’s as though every adult on television is emotionally dysfunctional or romantically scarred and yet they all seem to be surgeons, detectives or lawyers by the time they’re 25.  The tube tells us that once you hit adulthood it’s universally acceptable to malfunction in social situations, but if you can’t put yourself up in a New York City steampunk apartment… well, you’re shit out of luck- too unrealistic.  Apparently we relate more to the accomplished fish out of water folk when let’s face it- there are a lot of bartenders out there.  I have friends back in Vancouver that have become “Digital Creative Account Executives” and “Technical Business Analysts”.  Really?  When the fuck did that happen?

I’m a 27 year-old babysitter, Diary.  Not a nanny, not a governess or a caregiver… a babysitter.  My title is shared with young girls all over the world who are still afraid of tampons.

Bonnie asked what I was going to do when I got back to Canada.

I thought long and hard before saying, ‘Well, that’s a tough one.  I was thinking about shaving my legs and accidentally cutting off a mosquito bite.  It would cause a pretty severe bacterial infection. This, of course, would lead to blood poisoning and eventually I would die of pneumonia.  So, there’s always that.”

Bonnie sensed my hesitation to “get into it” so we dug around her nuts and bolts instead.

“You and Owen certainly seemed cozy and couple-like the other night.  If I didn’t know any better I would have thought he’d have done your laundry at least twice.  Maybe even on spin cycle.  With fabric softener… in your pants.”  I prodded.

She pretended to not hear me.  “I wish I was a kid.  There’s no fear when you’re a kid.  I pushed through fear in search of something… anything, really, that I had never experienced.  I guess, in general, I just don’t feel that way anymore.  I’m really trying, but I don’t.”

“We’re not young anymore.”

“Said the babysitter.” Cheeky little brat, she is.  Bonnie laughed before continuing, “Now I know why fear exists.  I guess that happens when you get old.  You just stop searching.  Passion kind of becomes nothing but a deserted street sign and tumbleweeds.  And who would want to live in a ghost town?”

“Casper.  King Hamlet.  The Bell Witch.  The Vanishing Hitchhiker.  The Ghost of Christmas Past.  Dan Aykroyd… because he’s a Ghostbuster.”

“You would live there, too. I think that’s part of the reason I love you so much. ”

“You want to come over and play?”

“Thelma’s the one who rides shotgun, right?” Bonnie asked with a smile.

“Yup.”

“I’m in.”

MISSION ACCEPTED.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

1:20 AM.

Hey Ellie.  It’s John.  I think this might be the last time I call because you obviously don’t want to hear from me.  Anyway, I hope you’re well and you’re, you know, doing your thing.  Basically I just want a chance to explain myself.  Not that you’re looking for an explanation or that I should defend my decisions because I wouldn’t have made them if I didn’t believe in them wholeheartedly.  I shouldn’t even feel the need to say that, but I suppose I feel like I owe it to you.  Not that I’m going out of my way to repay a debt or anything… This isn’t coming out right…  Why haven’t you called me back?  Just call me back.

***

December 2

Things to remember:
1.  Sometimes “p” shouldn’t sit next to “o” on a keyboard.  But then again, everyone loves a miscommunication.  And a typo.

Instant Message chat with mom:

MOM: Hi sweet pea.

ME: Hellp.

MOM: OH MY GOD! I’M CALLING THE POLICE!

2. Your eating habits may need to change when you get an “I’m proud of you” from your sister after telling her you bought carrots.

3.  Turn down the car radio at red lights.  Today a police officer on a motorbike cranked a U-turn, flipped on his lights and pulled up next to my window to find out “what tune I was jamming to?”

4.  Don’t leave wet children unsupervised.

I’m not normally an alarmist, but today was an exception.  I was with Sesame Street all morning and after a romp on the tricycles, I figured I would toss them in the bath to wash the mushrooms growing from behind their ears.

I had already started lunch and completely forgot about the sizzling hamburger patties in the frying pan while we were busy splish splashing, but by the time I smelled the smoke the kids were lathered up.  I couldn’t leave them unattended in the bath and I couldn’t gas all three of us out either so I did the only thing I could think of; I pulled both kids out of the tub and ran to the kitchen.  Unfortunately, the zip in my step excited the Muppets and they decided to take off after me.  It was Bert who went down first.  His slippery feet and the vinyl were a disastrous combination.  His feet kicked up from under him and WHAM went his head on the floor.  Not one second passed and Zoe went down in the exact same fashion.  WHAM!  Their soft little heads started shaping into cones and off to the hospital we went.

Rule #1: There’s no “hoping for the best” when it comes to being responsible for someone else’s kids.

I was sacked immediately.

Bert and Zoe ended up being just fine and that’s all that matters.  Plus they got heap loads of attention from the ones that mattered AND they were promised McDonalds for the drive home.  All in all, it ended up being a half decent day for Sesame Street.

I needed to quit by December 31st anyway so being fired wasn’t too much of a bee sting.  What I didn’t realize was that I would actually end up caring about the little asshats.

I said goodbye in the emergency room once their parents arrived.  Bert’s eyes were wet, but only because I think he thought they should be, and Zoe ran for me with her snotty fingers forward.

“Bye, Zoe.  I’ll see you around okay.”

“Otay.”

“Can we watch Chutty Chutty Bing Bong?” Bert puppy eyed me. ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ was his favorite movie and I feared he was a lot more like me than I hoped.  He loved it when I sang and danced along with every song. His favorite was “You Two”.

“You Two”
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
“Someone to care for; to be there for.
I have You Two!
Someone to do for; muddle through for.
I have You Two!
Someone to share joy or despair with;
whichever betides you.
Life becomes a chore, unless you’re living for
Someone to tend to, be a friend to.
I have You Two!
Someone to strive for, stay alive for
I have You Two!
Could be, we three get along so famously,
’cause you two have me, and I have You Two too.”

“I’m not coming back with you, buddy.  But, I bet you already know all the words and can sing along without me, right?”

“Where you going?”

I took a moment before answering, “I don’t know yet.”

“Okay, goodbye.  I love you.”  He said it so matter of fact- completely unaware of how powerful simple words can be.

“I love you too, pal.”

As I walked away from the Muppets, I could feel my jaw tense.  I could feel my blood clot.  Every pump my heart squeezed felt like it was pushing heavy stones through a waning creek.  I was sad.  I couldn’t believe it.  I would miss them.  I would miss playing hide and seek and seeing their surprised faces every time they found me in the exact spot as the time before.  I would miss watching the Nickelodeon channel after midnight for dependable family programming in the off chance that they crept out of their rooms from a nightmare.  I would miss smuggling in Archie Comics to read as bedtime stories the way my dad did for me.

I walked away from those kids the way I did everything else.  I made my way down the hall like I was walking in dense, sloshy snow.  It was cold and gloomy against the florescent lights.  Then something… someone in the distance clouded my tunnel vision.  I was at Cedars-Sinai and Nick, dawning his white lab coat, was standing 20 feet away.

We stared at each other, unmoving.  Without saying anything at all, we were saying goodbye.  I’ve known it many times.  My Peter Pan syndrome has found me escaping anyone who matures, anyone whose life is heading in a direction different from my own.  Besides my family, I’ve never met a person I haven’t said goodbye to.  I’ve moved.  I’ve moved again.  And again.  I’ve moved anywhere I could to avoid the unavoidable: growing up- change that I can’t run from.  Relationships evolve, dreams subside and eventually reality becomes nothing but long hallways with one exit.

Only moments before, Bert threw out one of the most important sentences in the English language like he was ordering “fries with that” but the only thing more powerful than words is silence.  Nick and I just looked.  We looked at each other until our eyes grew heavy.  And then I left.

***

December 3

I came back to my moldy apartment yesterday after seeing Nick to find my neighbors from across the balcony barbequing Beerwursts and rancor.  I’m sure they were waiting for my daily musical number (which was meant to be a private viewing for my hallucinations).  Each day there were more and more “neighbors” on the deck across the lane and they all pointed their attitudes in my direction.

Though I kept my patio door open, I shut the blinds and plugged in my music- so predictable.  I played the British Band, Keane’s 2004 hit “Somewhere Only We Know” and started swaying on my couch as if I had the orphanage rock.  The piano hammering, emotionally driven, power anthem screams of longing and regret.  I let it boom throughout my apartment and I’m certain it startled my neighbors (especially since this time of day is usually spent with my headphones on).

It was 1 minute into the all-consuming song when I rose to face John.  His foggy face and figure sharpened and he was standing in my living room.  He was standing in front of me, watching me.  Behind him was Nick.  And then Bonnie.  My sister and her husband.  My parents.  Matthew Beck and the entire Vancouver Golf Club was there.  Casting directors.  The cast of my 12th grade school musical “The Lion King” was there.  My entire 8th grade and the boy who pushed me down the stairs.  Circle in the Square classmates.  My old boss.  Bert and Zoe.  I think even Jason Segel was there.  Everyone was there.  People who loved me.  People who hated me. Everyone.

Staring them all down and with an energy that I can only remember from childhood, I started step-touching. My arms rose above my head and the step-touch transformed into a dip and a bob and a shuffle and a snap and clap.  I danced for them and then as quickly as they appeared, I wished them away.  I didn’t want to dance for them anymore.

I closed my eyes and the song’s lyrics slipped from my lips.  I was no longer huffing about in the land of make-believe.  When I opened my eyes again I was singing.  I was alone… and I was okay with that.  I’m sure my singing devastated Keane’s art but I didn’t care.  For the first time in a long time, I was present.

Deeper and deeper into the song, the louder I sang, the harder I stomped. And when I couldn’t live with the song inside my heart anymore, I pulled my blinds back and faced my audience.  I stepped out onto the patio and showed these strangers my soul the best way I knew how.  I didn’t get through two stanzas before my neighbors, staring at me with wide smiles, broke into cheers and applause.  I belted out the flicker of spirit that hid beneath my skin and sang and danced for only them, for only me.  And it was real.

***

Subject:                     Ye Rustic?
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 4  3:20:35 PM PDT
To:                              BRIAN ADAMS

Hey Brian

I was curious to know what you were getting up to tonight?  I’d like to see you for a minute or two.  Bonnie and I are heading to Ye Rustic for around 9.  What are you doing?  Are you busy?

Ellie.

***

Subject:                     Re:      Ye Rustic?
From:                         BRIAN ADAMS
Date:                          December 4 9:44:16 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Hey El,
Sort of busy.  Next time?

***

December 5

I bought myself a Christmas Advent Calendar with Santa Claus, flying reindeer and disproportionately large snowflakes.  My own personal countdown, which happens to coincide with many antsy adolescents and anxiety-ridden adults, seems less ghoulish when chocolate’s involved.

I went to Ye Rustic the night after my moment on the balcony and the encore was all Bonnie.  Owen walked in to meet us and ordered himself a sensitini to drink.  It was probably the rock band serenading Beelzebub or the fecal matter in the peanut cup pushing him off kilter, but the cat needs to learn how to play with some string.  Owen’s soulful mystery keeps you locked on him in search of “why” and “how”.  He’s basically your perfect woman.

Now Bonnie has been nothing but considerate and approachable toward this lovely angel.  She coddled him after soiling his innocence.  She created a bullet-point presentation to prove she was disease free.  She’s done everything right and yet she’s still not right.  His apathetic demeanor toward Bonnie finally got the best of her tonight.  After over a month of reverting back to only frottaging (Bonnie’s becomes dignified when discussing her dry-humping style with Owen), and the breast caress (he literally holds her boob up like a bra), he still refuses to re-take that big, sexy step.

“I used to sleep with a glowworm.  Remember those things?  Their face would light up green and they would sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ as you fell asleep.” Bonnie lit up like a glowworm talking about it.

“Bert and Zoe have a glowworm.” I smiled thinking about my little Muppets.

“I didn’t even know they still made them.”

“They sure do.  Do you ever sleep with anything, Owen?” My unintentionally loaded question was met with faces of pure terror.  Oops.  “I mean have you ever… slept with anything… else?”  It was a sad attempt to correct my mistake.  It’s only now that I see the error in my ways.

“Once or twice but it was never really for me.”

Bonnie and I both looked at him with puzzled expressions.  The kid embodies ‘vague’.

“Not for you, huh?”  Bonnie kept the fire alive.

“Nope.”

“Don’t like anything in your bed with you, huh?”

“No.  Never have.”

There was that puzzled expression again.  Does he know what conversation we’re really having?  Does he not remember poking his parts into hers once upon a time ago?

“So, would you say you’re an advocate of sleeping in separate beds?” My eyebrows perked as I looked toward Bonnie, reminding her the conversation I had with Brian.

“Umm…”

Uh oh.  Not a good sign.

“’Umm… ‘What do you mean ‘umm’?”  Suddenly, Bonnie was on my side.

“Go ahead and call me a puritan, Bonnie.  I know it’s what you’re thinking.”

“A puritan?  So it’s not just your beliefs that are archaic, it’s your language too?” Bonnie popped a peanut in her mouth.  All Owen could see were the bits of poop now stuck to her teeth from the person’s unwashed hands that were in that communal cup before hers.

“I don’t need to take this.”

“I’m not knocking you down, Owen.  I respect you for your ancient beliefs.  The differences between you and I are what make us interesting.  The fact that two pieces from very different puzzles fitting somehow excites me.  But there hasn’t been one day where I’ve felt like I excite you.  Not once.”

Owen’s posture loosened while Bonnie’s rigid spine sprung stegosaurus plates.

“What can I do?” Owens softened immediately and crooned against her neck.

Where the hell was this coming from?  It had always seemed like Owen barely even liked Bonnie, now he was nuzzling her?  I felt like I was watching them in the privacy of their silk slips and boxer shorts.  This was the Owen she craved and saw teeny glimpses of.  This was the Owen that kept her coming back.  It appears that he only gives Bonnie samples of his delectable edibles whenever they seemed fit.

“Something Disney?” He knew what buttons made her pulse.

“I would like that.  Pinocchio in particular.”

Oh god.  I knew where that wood joke was going and shockingly enough so did Owen.  He laughed.

“Come on, Grumpy.  Let me get you a drink.” He pressed his hand into Bonnie’s collarbone and kissed her delicately on the lips.

WHHHAAAT?  This was new, at least, for me.  They took off into the direction of darkness.  With or without them it was a good night.  It was a sad morning, a hopeful afternoon and a good night.  I can survive with that combination.  I really think I can.

I spent the next 20 minutes sitting at the bar and not one time did I picture myself somewhere else.  The seat beside me sat empty and I didn’t fill it with figures and faces of people I once knew.  I didn’t manipulate my moments so they matched the bar’s music, creating my own personal soundtrack.  I reminded myself that this is the person that I’m stuck with for at least 31 more days. If I can be with her 20 minutes, if I can float, then maybe one day I can swim.

When Bonnie came back to her seat, without a drink in her hand, she proudly announced, “He let me blow him in the bathroom.”

***

Subject:                     Where’ve you been?
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 6 11:11:43 PM PDT
To:                              BRIAN ADAMS

Brrrriiiiiiiaaaaaannnnnnn

Okay, I get it.  You like me on my toes, which is hard for me to understand since I’m so uncomfortably tall anyway.

When you catch a moment, I’d like to see you.

Ellie.

***

Subject:                     Here and There.

From:                         BRIAN ADAMS

Date:                          December 6 4:27:39 PM PDT

To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

I’m on my way over.

***

December 7

I had every intention of breaking up with Brian last night.  He’s the type of guy that would feed a dog chocolate.  His intentions are pure and I’m sure he would think, “awww, but it’s chocolate”.  When really… it’s chocolate (please note how my voice drops with that last “chocolate”).

He came over and the first thing he said was, “I have a mission tonight.”

“Go on…” I hesitated.

“Let’s make our own movie.”

I actually gasped and I didn’t think anyone did that other than soap opera stars.

“Okay, Kimmy K.  That is NOT happening.”

“No! I mean… I don’t want to act out another movie.  I want us to have our own.  Our own scene.”

He pulled out his backpack and from the bottomless pit he showed me:

a)    My costume: A headband and Tootsie Roll t-shirt.
b)   The location: A black, flimsy bed sheet covered with holes
c)    The genre: A box of chocolates (I’m assuming romance but as previously stated if this were an animal movie it would be categorized as horror).
d)   The plot: When you’ve got nothing else to do, touch each other.

We lay down and he taped the black sheet over two chairs that barely canopied the top half of our bodies.  It was a tight, hot, dark and uncomfortable, but we could see the apartment’s bright lights peaking through the holy, moth-eaten fabric.  From the outside we looked ridiculous with our feet hanging out of a makeshift, bed sheet box tent but on the inside, we were star gazing.  Tonight, Brian not only entered my lost world of fantasy, he wanted to be there.

“Meet Orion.” Brian pointed up to the three holes that formed faux Orion’s belt. “As a hunter he always believed he would snag Andromeda, but that little tease refused to show him her goods.”

I smiled then pointed to a thick grey streak that leaked past a large opening. “Meet Windy Wendy.  She always loved Bernard who was stuck in the moon.  Little did she know, Bernie was a peeping tom and spied on millions of women every night as they changed into their jammies.”

Brian took his eyes from the sheet and placed them firmly on me. “And who’s this?” He asked while holding my stare.

“This is Ellie.  She’s a little nuts, she’s been a little rude and she’s sorry.”  It was something he wanted to hear.  “Who’s that?” I asked him, honestly wanting to know.

“I’m Brian Adams. With an ‘i’… It makes a big difference.”

I burst into laughter and before I could finish, he kissed me.  We ended up making a mess of the fort with tape sticking from inappropriate places, but I don’t remember the foul ups.  I don’t remember bumping my head into a chair leg or the nonexistent flow of oxygen.  I don’t remember ironically staining my tootsie roll shirt with chocolate bits or occasionally clanking our teeth together.  I remember being held under the stars.  I remember Brian touching my face as we kissed.  I’ll remember this night as one to never forget.  Maybe because of how caring Brian was.  Maybe because he gave me a rare gift- a moment I could call my own.  Or maybe because I knew it would never happen again.

***

December 8

Bonnie and I went to Ye Rustic for 10PM.  It was one of those nights when you would think we were breathing the exact air that dinosaurs inhaled.  It wasn’t LA’s dry, chilling winter air that I was used to.  Similar to the Vancouver climate, it was damp and I could feel evening dew set on my skin as we walked.  It felt like we were walking at the bottom of the ocean.  I imagined Bonnie’s hair floating above her as we walked through the water and I saw bubbles escaping her mouth as she laughed.

“How old do you think Bartender Barry is?’ I asked Bonnie curiously.

“33 maybe?  He would look good for 33.” Bonnie looked at the beer and wine list unaware of my horror.

“What does that mean?  I get that sometimes and there’s nothing more infuriating.  ‘Oh. 27?  You look good for 27.’”  I parroted.  “I didn’t realize 27 was supposed to look bad!  I’m telling you, no one said that to me last year, but now I’m supposed to be looking grizzled and knobbly.”

“I wouldn’t know, being 26 and all.”

What a bitch.  I shoved her playfully and accidentally knocked over a neighboring drink.  Bonnie’s previous life as a waitress kicked in and she caught the Bloody Mary moments before it turned into a bloody mess.  As she twisted her body back around, something caught her eye- or more accurately, someone.  Owen was seated in a corner booth and a beautiful cougar with inky, slicked black hair was by his side.

“Owen?” Bonnie’s opened mouth could fit a whole bird in it.

“Oh my God.” I could see the moment before it happened.  When Bonnie doesn’t like what she sees on television, she throws her sock at it.  When Bonnie doesn’t like what she sees in real life, she … well… I’ll let you find out organically.

“Owen?” She called out louder this time and when Owen saw her, his face mutated.  Her initial reaction was to take off her earrings. “He’s on a date?” She was stupefied. “Oh my God, he’s on a date.”

“I’m going to say it so one of us says it.  You said he’s the one and you’re still on dating websites and listed as a single.  Plus, you two never specified-“

“If you continue that sentence I will paper-cut your eyelids with a cardboard box.”

“I understand.”

Bonnie was on her feet faster than a comic book character and before I was out of my bar stool she was seated next to the raven-haired beauty.

“Hi there friend of Owen. It’s nice to meet you.” Bonnie didn’t let the woman or Owen respond. “Let me tell you a little something about myself.” The stranger leaned in and Owen leaned back. He was in trouble. “I have fucked sooo many men.” I could hear Owen’s heart stop. He looked like he was sitting in a lecture about evolution. Naturally, Bonnie continued, “My last serious relationship was with a street fighter named Knox. He was 49 with 5 adult children, so, for his 50th birthday I got him a vasectomy. I mean, why not have unprotected sex, am I right?” She nudged the girl playfully. “Anyway, that’s long over. He cheated on me with a TON of prostitutes,” Bonnie kept on smiling, “but you know what they say… you sleep with one guy and it’s as if you’re sleeping with every single notch on that belt.  It doesn’t matter how long ago that was and how long you’ve been celibate since. Ha! Anyway, I get my tests back tomorrow! EEEE! Fingers crossed.” Bonnie shot a toxic look in Owen’s direction and before walking away she snapped, “I’m the damn iceberg!” She had so much oomph you would have thought she was Beyoncé.

I wanted in on the action. “Also…” I stepped in to continue Bonnie’s tirade after she already left. “Owen won’t go down on a girl without a ziplock bag and marmalade,” I sneered in a sophisticated fashion.

“As his Aunt, I’ll be sure to give Owen the proper magazines and films to educate himself.”

Umm… what?

“I’m sorry, what now? Aunt? That’s your name, though, right? It’s short for… Antonia? And you’re nothing but a tinpot barmaid?”

“Are you Bonnie?” She inquired politely and I can only assume she was moments away from finishing that sentence with, I’ve heard so much about you.

Holy Hell. She was his Aunt.

“Okay, so I’ll see ya. Bye Owen!”  I was practically hyperventilating when I ran out to meet Bonnie. She, on the other hand, was euphoric.

“Did you see me in there?” Bonnie beamed. “I officially understand the ‘woman scorned’ lollapalooza. Oh my God. I’m going to be replaying that moment in my head for the next 2 weeks. Did you see me in there?!” Bonnie wasn’t looking for an answer. “I was amazeballs. I felt strong. I feel good. That felt good.” She was moments away from literally patting herself on the back. “I wonder what they’re talking about right now.”

“I honestly have no idea.”

Bonnie’s eyes were wild. I knew this thrill was enough energy to pull her past the grieving stage and directly into the condescending, and all but necessary, ‘what a fool’ stage.

“What a couple of fools.” She aimed my thoughts at the wrong two people as she snickered away in the moonlight.

“Totally.” I had nothing else to say.

***

Subject:                     New Match Profile
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 9 5:56:33 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

I have a surprise for you… A new Match.com profile! TA-DA!

Hello Boys, I’m Bonnie! J

First, I think you should know that I was once background talent (a professional television extra) for TLC’s cult hit, “Extreme Couponing”. I really don’t like answering questions about it so please restrain yourself from the obvious: “did you cross in front of the camera?” “Were you stationary?” “Did you get the chance to coupon?” It’s my past and I’ve done so much more since.

You can see me currently sitting in Judge Judy’s courtroom and when I go back to New York (where I’m from), I can be found on the right hand side of Kathy Lee and Hoda’s window at the Today Show.

Uh oh…. Not another lightning round!

-  I don’t like eye contact – probably because I have something to hide.

- If you think you’re funny, I probably won’t.

- I have 72 ceramic pumpkins in my apartment.

- Every picture I’ve ever taken is of a door…. And one day, maybe you’ll be standing on the other side. *wink.

 

Lots of love… hopefully.

***

December 10

It’s happening. This is it. Bonnie’s sister, Diana, has been counting down to her Palm Springs bachelorette party and wedding since she was a flower girl. Bonnie and I have been forced into a couple of weekdays (super cheap) with gaggling girls, wine coolers, nail polish and a bevy of blue-hairs.

Palm Springs here we come.

***

December 10 – Palm Springs

And so it begins. Bonnie and I drove up to Palm Springs in my itty bitty titty Yaris. We were Thelma and Louising the whole way. Bonnie bought a printed scarf and wrapped it around her hair. We got 80’s styled sunglasses and I’m embarrassed admitting to the hint of twang in our conversations.

Side note: Don’t only pack a bathing suit, cover up and sundress when you go to Palm Springs in the winter. The city’s name is deceiving. It got cold fast with those windows down.

Minus the gun, we’re prepared for our mission.

Side side note: I’m going to take it easy tonight – no need to wreck my weekend on the first night. There will be no hasty decisions, no premature trigger pull like our dear friend Louise.

You believe me?

***

Subject:                     palsm springsss
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 11 1:30:11 AM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Hi Brian Adams!!!

Wats up boyfiend? Listen, I love looking at stars with you and I thnk its super cool that we play with each others things and I think your so super cool and amazing and nothing but a sweet as pie candy guy.

But listen, I’m thinking we need to stop doing sex.

Here’s the thingg. Yu’re not him. Okay? I’m sorry but youre not. Youre someone’s ‘him’ because youre sooo ‘him’. Youre just not my ‘him’.

Okay? Cool beans.

***

Subject:                     Re: palsm springss
From:                         NICHOLAS ALLAWAY
Date:                          December 11 9:24:02 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Ellie,

You sent this to the wrong person. This is Nick. Not Brian. I definitely would not recommend you resending it to Brian, though. Just a thought.

Nick

***

Subject:                     Re: Re: palsm springsss
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 11 12:13:34 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Wow. I’m sorry. Won’t happen again.

***

Subject:                     Re:  Re: Re: palsm springsss
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 12 3:13:34 AM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Omg NICK! Remember that time I emailed you?? This is like an nepisode of Gossip Girl. So much back and forth!

Listen- now that were talking. I’m sorry. I miss yu. I do. Youre so much to me and I think abut yu every day. Every time I watch Family Fued or Wheel of Fortuen, somehow the answers are always NICK ALLAWAY or something else that reminds me of yu- like ‘ally way” or “all the way” or “needles and hay”.

I think about yu when I’m sleeping.

Okay? Cool beans.

***

Subject:                     Wow.
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 12 12:21:45 PM PDT
To:                              NICHOLAS ALLAWAY

Nick,

So I just looked at my email and realized I did it again… I am horrified- by a couple of things actually.

1) The content

2) My spelling

3) I didn’t realize I was an “OMG”er.

It’s Diana’s weekday bachelorette party and wine coolers got the best of me. Sometimes they just taste too much like pink grapefruit juice and you know I’m a sucker.

If it makes you feel better, you weren’t last night’s only blunder. Apparently I tried to break into William Asher’s estate (the man who invented the sitcom – director of “I Love Lucy” and “Bewitched” among others)… He’s a legend… and has also apparently passed away recently… So… yah.  Seems like I was “looking for Marshall”, from “How I Met Your Mother”?  And figured Mr. Asher’s house was a good place to start.

I’m sorry if these email alerts woke you up these past couple nights. I didn’t mean to pop in unwanted.

I hope you’re doing well.

I do miss you, by the way.

Okay? Cool beans.

Ellie

***

December 12 – Palm Springs 

Last night… well…

It went a little something like this:

Diana is perfection as a flower princess. Though she floats in a sea of wannabes, she’s a one-shot pop.  She’s completely unique as an emo, hippy, supermodel all rolled into one.  She should have a one woman show on Broadway, as she’s that spectacular to look at.  For obvious reasons, her and Bonnie make quite the team. Then there’s Diana’s best friend, Thora.

You remember Thora, right?  Now I don’t want to come off sounding a certain way, but Thora’s a slut.  There I said it.  First off, she was a unicorn for Halloween.  I mean, is there really any other argument needed?  Proud as can be, she passed around her IPhone displaying her furry white boots, white mini, white camisole and a sparkly, purple headpiece that looked like a donkey’s dick.  Oh… and she asked every question under the sun about Nick.  She took a fancy to him at Tanksgiving and was wondering if she could (and I quote) “get it in there?”

There were a few other girls crammed into the party bus with names ending all in the letter “a”.  Mona.  Jenna. Silvia.  Tamara.  Felicia.  Topping off the how-do-you-do was Thora, Diana, Bonnie and myself.

Bonnie and I didn’t have a “Thelma and Louise” plan per say besides a couple of cute scarfs, a cowboy hat and then another cap to wear for the ride home.  We decided to let the trip take us where it may like our criminal, balls-to-the-walls heroines.  The trip took us directly to the mini bar.

Apparently Thora, as Diana’s maid of honor, shared our decision to not plan anything.  We spent the first 3 hours deciding whether we should go shopping or not, seeing as every single girl had the same misconstrued idea of a desert winter.  We were all in our bathing suits (Bonnie and I matched with Pixie Power in our periwinkle blue suits) and cover-ups.  Instead of shifting skin tones to a unhealthy shade of violet and spending our money on anything other than senior citizen strippers (the oldies run rampant is Palm Springs), we took to the booze and warmed up our livers.

We all know what happened next.

The long and the short of it:

THORA: Met a man named Chatsworth. Bing, bang, boom. By 2 AM she had peed on 4 pregnancy sticks.

MONA and JENNA: Started touching each other.

SILVIA:
 Cried. All night. No idea why.

TAMARA and FELICIA: Went missing by 9 PM. We found them on a golf course stealing balls at midnight. They were determined to play with a couple sets of balls one way or another.

DIANA: As the bride, proved to be the ringleader and what a cartel it was.

- Diana had 3 lap dances by a “firefighter”, a “pilot” and a “scientist” though she couldn’t enjoy any of them because too many stray hairs found their way out of their metallic panties.

- Don’t know why, but she was just as excited as I was to help me find Marshall from HIMYM.   We Googled famous people in Palm Springs and determined that those remaining at the dearly departed director of I Love Lucy ‘s estate were more likely to be “in the know” than those at Bob Hope’s house.  It was 2:30 AM and I didn’t even get to the front door before I started crying, “I’m not a criminal. I’m just in love.”

- Diana also decided that we should find a way to dunk ourselves into every type of swimming pool ever invented (or at least that we knew of).

Success stories:

Play pool with vegetation.
Geometric pool.
Freeform lagoon style pool.
Negative Edge pools.
Perimeter Overflow pool.
Failed attempts:

Lap pool.

- Finally, Diana called Bartender Barry for Bonnie (whose number was curiously in Bonnie’s phone) and said, “Meet me in Palm Springs and I’ll treat you like Kings. No need for Rings cuz I likes me my Flings.”

BONNIE: Not much else to say besides Bartender Barry. Pulse.

ME: I’ve never had so much fun.

***

December 13 – Palm Springs

After a night of belligerence and war-like behavior, yesterday and today we did nothing.  We all wrapped ourselves up in blankets and spent the entire day and night by the fireplace.  We talked.  We cried.  We laughed. We cooked.  We ate.  We drank.  We rolled our eyes at Thora.  We screamed.  We sang.  We danced.

When Bonnie and I got into my Yaris this morning for the drive home, we put on our Thelma and Louise hats and looked at each other before holdings hands. After our grip was firm and our fingers were locked, we drove.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHEDish.

***

Subject:                     SOOOOOO TIRED!
From:                         BONNIE WENTOF
Date:                          December 14 8:21:08 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Dear: My inferior half,

Thank you for an incredible weekend.

From: Your superior half.

***

Subject:                     SOOOOOO VERY TIRED!
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 14 10:21:08 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Bonnie,

I think it’s important for you to know that my favorite word is “lamp”.

Oh, and I love you.
Ellie.

***

December 15

I came back from Palm Springs feeling warm. It was like my innards were congealed wax after a candles flame was extinguished.  Only, I was still burning.

I knew that I needed to end my relationship with Brian. He was the perfect distraction. Maybe he wasn’t my life jacket but he kept me from looking at the sharks.  The problem with that theory, of course, is that the sharks still swarm.

I went to his place (for the first time) and was I honest.

I told him that people affect us; people change us. There are some people we’re meant to forget, and some we’re not. I told him that he will always be a part of me because he was a part of the biggest part of my life- my decision to live.

After Brian, I went to see Bonnie. She wasn’t home. I guess she was running around, picking up last minute wedding items with Diana, like sandals for girls with sore feet or Christmas lights to toss about like tinsel in trees. I played with the idea of sticking around until she got back, but then I saw a piece of white paper sticking out from under her door.

Thanks for your help

***

Subject:                     Had to ask
From:                         BRIAN ADAMS
Date:                          December 15 10:21:08 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

Hey Ellie,
I guess this means I’m not going to Diana’s wedding anymore?

Brian.

***

Subject:                     Re:      Had to ask
From:                         BRIAN ADAMS
Date:                          December 16 9:03:45 AM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

No. I don’t think that’s a very good idea.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re:           Had to ask
From:                         BRIAN ADAMS
Date:                          December 16 2:20:31 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

You know, I looked past a lot of things and I think you need to recognize that. You’re kind of a mess. Not only are you leaving the country in a matter of days, but there’s something in your noggin that just isn’t cooking.

Your self-worth is dependent on validation from others and your desire to play tea party with a table full of invisible people is unnerving. Oh yeah, I’ve noticed. You smile at nothing as if it were something. Sometimes when I walk into an empty room that you’re standing in, I feel like I’ve interrupted something.

I sit at 7th place on your smile list behind pomegranate-scented candles.

Then these past couple times I’ve seen you… it’s like I finally get to meet the Ellie I’ve been waiting for.  Your cheeks were rosy and your heart was full and soft. You were delicate and lovely. I’ve waited for you and like I said, I’ve looked past a lot of things.

It feels I’m the last loose end of a life you want to leave behind and I guess the bottom line is… it’s not nice.

Brian.

***

Subject:                     Re: Re:           Had to ask
From:                         BRIAN ADAMS
Date:                          December 16 4:00:21 PM PDT
To:                              ELLIE FRIESEN

I’m just mad. That’s all. I’m just mad.

I don’t really think your brain isn’t cooking.

I just think your special, Ellie. The way you look at the world… its almost like you think it has the potential to be magical.

Even when you’re at your worst, you’re still the most.

You’re just “the most” and being near someone who is “the most” makes me feel like I’m “a good amount” too.

I like your world. I like spending time there and I’d like another chance to play in it with you, if you’d let me.

Brian.

***

Subject:                     …
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 16 5:07:38 PM PDT
To:                              BRIAN ADAMS

I’m sorry, Brian, I really am. The thing is, I need to give your world a chance.

***

December 16

I had a to-do list today and it got shot to shit when I went to see Bonnie at her final bridesmaids dress touchups.

I needed to ask her about Nick’s letter. I needed to know if the wind sang to her when they were together. I needed to know if she pretended and more importantly, I needed to know if she didn’t.

I showed her the letter with more shame than a child who peed the bed. She looked at it and then she looked at me and simply asked, “Why are you so afraid, Ellie?”

I haven’t talked about leaving Los Angeles much. I think I’ve been pretending that it wasn’t really happening. I’ve been pretending that when I walked onto that plane 16 days from now, I would step into a portal taking me back to the Mayan era. Or maybe it would take me into the heavens where I would become a small, trifling star in the Aquarius Constellation. The truth is, I don’t hate Los Angeles. I was California dreaming about Palm Trees, the walk of fame, badly bleached hair and surfers since I was 12 years old. In Vancouver, I was a body doubles to the young actress in “Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco” and my path was fixed. My first day back at Parkland Elementary School (after a month of craft service, wigs and trailers), I wore my first training bra. I was a woman and I had direction. My dreams gave me reason. They didn’t just point the way; they gave me shoes to walk in. I went to see that movie with my parents and we were the last ones in the theatre as we watched the credits roll… We never saw my name.

In her beautiful, gentle lemon, deep v dress, Bonnie asked why I couldn’t let that dream go. My answer was exactly what I dreaded. It was the same answer as to why I couldn’t let John go. I didn’t want to be so wrong. So much time wasted, so many lost opportunities and so very wrong.

“You weren’t wrong,” she tried her best. “If you make decisions based on the information you have at hand you’ll never be wrong at the time you make them.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever made a decision based on information.”

“What are you going to do when you get back to Canada?”

There it was. The question I refused to answer.

“I haven’t thought of anything past LAX airport.” That was a lie. I thought of many things and they all had sharp, pointy bits. I could feel myself choking again. “I’m going to be all alone, Bonnie.”

“Do you know when I fell in love with you?” She smiled.

“Something, something, something, Disney?”

“During one of our first classes, everyone had to tell a story about themselves. Remember? It was theatre school so we all had our game faces on and we were all over-the-top expressive, trying to encourage laughter or any type of reaction really. You sat there completely deadpan and said, ‘I’m Ellie from Canada. I’m not going to tell you a story; I’m going to tell you a fact. If you see a mountain lion out in the wild, it’s been stalking you for 45 minutes.’ I immediately wanted to be your friend.”

“You need to up your standards.”

“There was nothing fake about you. No excuses- you were who you wanted to be and how you wanted to be. But that wasn’t when I fell in love with you.”

“Was it… something, something, something, Disney?” I teased.

“About 2 weeks later, you were sitting by the lockers and I was watching you for… I don’t even know for how long. You were staring into space and you had this smile on your face. It was so knowing and so sad. You even laughed a little bit. At first I thought you were silently working on a scene or monologue for acting technique, but I eventually figured it out. In that moment, at those lockers, you didn’t care who saw you. You were who you wanted to be and how you wanted to be. In that moment you weren’t in New York anymore.”

“You think I’m crazy.” I started peeling off my nail polish.

“I do not.”

“I think I might be.” My head felt empty. “I just… I get really lonely.”

Sometimes I think it’s just that simple. A simple feeling that can propel a series of events and turn into anything. Sometimes it’s self destructive, sometimes it’s addictive and sometimes it’s enough motivation to keep you running from it for the rest of your life. People aren’t difficult. They just want their existence to matter. They want to know that they’re thought about, that they could never be forgotten. That no matter how small amount of time you spent with them, they touched you.

“What is it that you do when you go away like that?” Bonnie searched more than she normally would.

“I keep myself company,” I answered her quietly. “I remember that day by the lockers. I was with John. I mean, I know he wasn’t really there and I wasn’t really with him but-“

“Yes you were.” Bonnie interrupted.  “I saw your light that day and I realized how much I wanted to shine too.”

“I’m really going to miss you, Bonnie.” I could feel my eyes wet.

“No you’re not… You’re not going to be alone, Ellie, because I know how capable you are of bringing me with you whether I’m there or not.”

In all of our years of best friendship, it was the first time we cried together.

***

December 17 (Diana’s Wedding Day)

Today is Diana’s wedding… dear lord in heaven.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

7:57 PM.

*click*

***

December 18 (2:00am)

Though I was there before the rose petals were scattered and the twinkly lights lit, the garden for the ceremony was magical all the same. I don’t normally like weddings because I’m usually focused on how much the dowry would have been if this were 1875. Would the bride have been traded for one cow or two? Not this time. It was as if Diana had picked through my most exotic hallucinations and concocted a wedding where the only thing missing was periwinkle colored fairies. The twinkles were tacky and intermixed between Christmas lights and chilly peppers. The lawn was uneven and flawed yet absolutely exquisite with how much it tried. The town of Los Feliz is the hipster part of Los Angeles and a perfect setting for a skinny ties and bare feet. Much too trendy for someone like me but I enjoyed pretending for the night.

Bonnie had told me that Diana’s fiancée, Darren, (who was hosting the unconventional wedding) had planned on having a “newlywed christening” in his pool and hot tub and I prepared with a bathing suit under my fire engine red, 1920’s flapper dress, just incase. Even a bevy of dogs, accompanying dateless owners, were lapping up chlorine as if it was a summer’s day. I was focused on a chocolate Labrador named Norman Bates when I saw a familiar hand reach down for a pet.

When I met Nick’s eyes, my heart sank as if it was a stretched water balloon dipping toward the earth. My go-to wedding date was someone else’s. Bonnie’s.

Besides random weddings, the only time I’ve seen Nick in a suit was at my school’s senior prom. He was my date and that was when our “being each other’s fallback date for big events” tradition began.

Two years before prom, I told Nick that I dreamed of dancing like how people used to dance. I wasn’t interested in the modern high school rub-up, her arms around his neck, his arms around her waist as you press your privates into each other. I wanted someone to hold my hand while we swayed. Press it against his chest. I didn’t want to feel his dick; I wanted to feel his heart. Real dancing, just like in the old movies. Just like proper adults who were properly in love. I wanted to dance in an elegant embrace where a soft touch felt forbidden as the rest of the graduating class humped each other. At prom, I did. It was the single most special moment of my life. Nick remembered. What I had said mattered to him. To be heard is truly a gift.

No matter what she says, no matter how much of a fight she puts up, she wants the movie ending, the movie romance, the movie bickering, the movie drama, the movie lovemaking and the movie dancing. When Nick and I danced at prom, the world blurred like oil on canvas. That night I accomplished my first mission.

Needless to say, he looks good in a suit.

“Costume party?” He fiddled with my red tassels.

“I wanted to fit in.”

“You’ll never fit in, Ellie.” He sat in the chair next to me and that was the last thing he said to me all night long. Those two short sentences were the only ones he had said to me since Thanksgiving and like he knows how, he pummeled me with 5 simple words. As it often does, silence strengthened our bond more than the excessive amount of words we had shared over the last 11 years. When I danced with John, I lost myself in him. I lost my words. But with Nick… in our silence we were extensions of each other. John was half of me, encompassing my essence. Nick reaches past my fingers and continues on. He makes me more. 5 simple words and he made me more.

This was when I decided to have my first glass of wine. Before the ceremony even started I was hailing the waiter like a cab.

Bonnie looked like a firecracker as she walked down the aisle. Bright, buoyant, and she lit up the room more than the chili peppers. She was beyond gorgeous. She Pippa Middletoned the shit out of that wedding and though Diana looked beautiful, she wasn’t Bonnie. As happy as the little multipoo pooping on the rose petals, I found my spirit warming as if a firefly buzzed about my ribcage.

After the ceremony, each guest grabbed his or her our own chair and lined them around the perimeter of the garden creating a makeshift, grassy dance floor. It was perfect. I had hoped Nick would ask me to dance. He didn’t. Instead I danced with Bonnie and Nick looked on from the sidelines.

“Why do women always hide their bra and underwear under their clothes after undressing at the doctor’s office? He’s going to insert duck lips into your hoo-ha and you’re shy about your panties? It doesn’t make sense.” Bonnie bopped up and down to the old school jams and continued her train of thought. “And do you wear undies to bed? Because I don’t and yet, I don’t wash my pajamas after every wear. Is that gross?” My firefly was dancing again. This is why I loved her. I was counting down to her rant about Disney. “And if that same stream of consciousness were to apply, why don’t we wash slippers after every wear? They aren’t any different from socks.” I sounded my first laughter horn of the night and she immediately snapped out of whatever tangent she was on.

“Do you think we each have one perfect someone? A matching puzzle piece?”

“No.” I answered as honestly as I could. “Not anymore. I don’t believe in only one. If there were, what are the chances of meeting him? Statistically, it would never happen. I think there are thousands of people you can be happy with and it’s just a matter of who you choose first.”

“Technically, you chose Nick first.”

“No. I just met him first.”

The 90’s pop blended carefully into 90’s soft rock and then onto the classics. I hadn’t danced to a slow song in too many years to count. Bonnie looked at me and opened her arms wide, ready for romance. Sometimes I really wish she had a penis.

“What do you think of Darren?” I asked as we began our slow dance, catapulting an immediate topic revision.

“He’s good. I mean I’ve known him since he was a kid and he’s always loved Diana.”

“She’s his Winnie Cooper.”

“He reminds me of Harry from ‘Harry and the Henderson’s’.”

“The Sasquatch? Oh, he’s not that bad,” I laughed.

“I don’t believe you, you know.” Bonnie said quietly as she hid her tiny face in my giant shoulder.

“About what?”

“You think John was the one. Now you’re scared as hell because you think you’ve used your ‘one’ up. Well, I think you’re wrong. You believe in the one. I have a one-“

“BARTENDER BARRY?!”

“No!”

“Nick?” I didn’t want to hear the answer.

“You, you stupid twat!” I would have cried if she didn’t keep speaking. “We’re a team, you know? Our color is periwinkle blue and our name is the Pixies. You’re my one. I might not be yours, but you’re mine.”

“I love you.” I meant it.

“Of course you do. Sometimes I wish you had a penis.” She smiled as we continued to dance the rest of the song in silence. I think everyone got the wrong idea but neither of us cared.

By the time the sun went down, the party was barreling toward epic.  Between Bonnie and I, we drank an entire bottle of champagne and snacked only on dry ribs. Nick either kept to himself or nestled up to Bonnie and when Bonnie wasn’t dancing with me or chatting up Nick, she was busy holding Thora’s hair back as she puked in the bathroom. Thora blamed the caramel apple martinis but I bet on pregnancy.

I kept looking at the abandoned pool and hot tub hoping that at one point someone would be brave enough to make the move. I didn’t think it would be me, which means, of course, it was.

I blame Michael Bublé. I’ve caught the Bublé flu-blé. That Vancouverite jazz musician sings through my skin. When his cover of “Feeling Good” hit the speakers I found myself ‘feeling good’ after downing some Bublé Bubbly. I thought it only appropriate to follow the theme and make my way toward the foaming, sizzling bubbles.

Hot tub here I come.

I’m fairly certain there were looks of horror as I dropped my dress but luckily my one-piece periwinkle blue swimsuit saved the day. I stepped into the hot tub and I couldn’t control myself. My body was vibrating as if my blood was pumping through a tuba’s sound wave. Initially I was completely oblivious to the disdain I was receiving from the groom’s family as well as a scattering of Mulholland Drive residents. But once reaching the crux of the song, where the orchestra inflates and rumbles with full-bodied resonance, I recognized that I was the only one swirling about the steam and being violently judged.

Everyone was watching me. I could feel their disapproval pour from their scowls and I feared people, once again, were going to throw Snickers chocolate bars at my head then laugh at the paper-cuts. I immediately felt every drop of water press against my skin with their hardened stares and push into me like a trash compactor. I was seconds away from losing my swagger when, like Moses, Nick parted the disparaging seas.

With a cocky smile, still dapper in his suit, he adjusted his shining orange tie and stepped down the steps of the hot tub to join me. It was like my email, like my fantasy of us in Greece. Once again, he remembered.

The hot water rose up his pant legs but his stride never slowed. He moved to an inch of my face as the bubbles forced our bodies together. Of course, I looked like an idiot, but Nick… every single woman at the wedding became completely enamored with his saturated charm. We barely moved at first as the music and water swelled around us. Our eyes were locked and though it sounds simple and trite, there’s no other way to say it; I melted. It was in this exact moment that I knew he was mine again. He placed his forehead on mine and started rolling his body, swaying to the sultry, throbbing beat.

If I thought life couldn’t have any more meaning than in this split second, I was wrong. Bonnie joined us in her flawless bridesmaids dress. She strutted down the steps and sank into the jets as the entire guest list and wedding party watched us frolic in the tub. We finished off the dance as if it was our last. We held each other, laughed and spun in the circles of our whirlpool.  We pounded our fists on the surface of the water as if slamming our souls into bongo drums. We were just as we should be. Together.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

5:41PM.

Ellie… It’s Trina Wentof, Bonnie’s aunt. Please call when you get this, sweetheart. Something’s happened…

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

8:00 AM.

Hey, Ellie, it’s Joanna. I’m so sorry. I heard and well, I’m just really sorry.

8:12 AM.

Ellie, it’s Emry. Oh my God. I’m sorry. Will you be coming to New York?  I hope to see you. Anyway. It’s been a long time and I don’t really know what else to say. I hope you’re okay. I love you.


8:22 AM.

Hi Ellie. I honestly have no words. Please call me back when you get this. It’s Lynn.


9:42 AM.

Ellie. It’s Auden. Ellie… How are you? Well, that’s just a stupid question. Call me when you get this. I need to know what’s going on. It’s Auden.

11:45 AM.

Ellie. Call me back. It’s Tom.

3:02 PM.

Ellie. Malcolm. Wow. I’m sorry. I guess I’ll see you soon? I wish under better circumstances. I really am sorry.

3:06 PM.

Honey, it’s your mom. Call me – oh I forgot about your phone. Your dad, sister and I are calling you back at the apartment. Answer the phone please.

11:51 PM.

Ellie. It’s John. I don’t know what to say. I heard about Bonnie… I don’t know what to say. Call me back.

***

December 21

Bonnie died.

I didn’t think I would actually be able to write that down. She was hit by a car- so simple and mundane. Bonnie died in a car accident.

When she got home from the wedding, she parked on the street outside of her apartment.  As she got out of the car, the driver of a Toyota Camry going 30 miles an hour swerved a little too far to the right… and hit her. They said there was no alcohol involved.  No phone calls.  No texting.  He wasn’t even fiddling with the radio.  It was just a “tragic” accident…

She never parks on the street. Why would she park on the street? They said it was her positioning in between the two cars. She was crushed. They said if she was aligned differently or even a few steps away from her door she might not have been pinned- it might have been different. I wasn’t supposed to be Bonnie.

I can’t breathe.

***

Subject:                     (no subject)
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          December 22 4:00:28 PM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

I’m supposed to be following the Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief.  Everyone is telling me that right now is denial, soon anger, followed by bargaining, depression and then acceptance. Apparently everyone knows how I’m supposed to be right now except me. A book told them so.

I don’t know what mission this is, Bonnie?

Where did you go?

You’re just not here.

You would be laughing right now if you could see all of the Facebook status mourning going on from people that barely knew you.  It’s ridiculous.  It’s just the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever known.  Everyone is claiming you. They’re pissing all over your memory, marking their territory as if you belonged to them.  I hate them.  You are turning into an excuse to have a reunion.  It’s going to be an event, a gala for Christ’s sake and instead of recognizing that you are dead inside a fucking box, we’re all going to small talk and find reason to brag about our last fucking audition.

How can you be so stupid, Bonnie?  You’re so fucking stupid. When have you ever parked on the street outside your apartment?  What were you doing?

What the fuck were you doing/!?

I guess this is anger, huh?

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

 

8:37 PM.

It’s John. I just wanted to tell you that I’m flying to New York for the funeral on Christmas Eve. I’ll stay away though. I won’t go to the reception or anything so you won’t see me. You won’t even know I’m there. Unless, of course, you want to find me then I’ll let myself be found, I guess… Ellie, I’ve been calling you for months and nothing. Where did you go?

***

Subject:                     (no subject)
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN,
Date:                          December 23 7:51:22 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

“’We’ll be friends forever, won’t we Pooh?’ asked Piglet.

‘Even longer,’ Pooh answered.”

– A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

Your mom asked me to speak at the funeral… I said no.  I’m sorry.  Nick is doing it instead.  I just… I can’t do it.  I think the only thing that I could properly contribute would be incorporating an excessive amount of Disney quotes. It’s something you would love but fall on deaf ears for the grieving. I can’t say the word “Pooh” in a church. I can’t quote Peter Pan and say, “all of this happened before, and it will happen again” or “What does an actor want with a conscience, anyway?” from Pinocchio.  That wouldn’t go over well with anyone, but you.

Who’s funeral does it become anyway, you know?  It already doesn’t feel like yours.  It’s for your family and I get that, I really do, but come on, a slide show?  Really?

I suppose some people are comforted seizing the roll of the organizer- your Aunt Trina. Some comfort themselves in the belief that you’re in “a better place” and we’ll never truly understand “God’s Will” – Owen.  He’ll be there, by the way.  It turns out he was Mr. Darcy and cared about you far more than what he showed or either of us knew.

But apparently NO ONE understands that every single word they say is the wrong one and it’s better off to just shut their face and watch “Little Mermaid” with me in silence.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

9:58PM.

Hey… It’s Nick. You’re not going to hear this message so… well, I think the only way I’ll be able to say goodbye to you is if I don’t hear you say it back. I lost my best friend this week. Bonnie became… she was my best friend. It wasn’t you. It was going to be hard, but we were going to be okay when you went back to Canada because she and I would still be she and I… I lost my best friend this week. Next week, I’m losing you. 

***

December 24

There’s an exercise in a book called “The Artists Way” called “morning pages”.  You’re to write 3 full pages every day starting the second your eyes open.  It’s not meant to be a journal entry. It’s not meant to evoke depth or purpose. It’s sometimes not even meant to be legible. You write continuously, barely lifting pen from page, to unscramble the words running rampant through your mind.  I’m going to do the best I can to remember and describe Bonnie’s funeral just as so.

I flew into JFK airport last night.  It was the first time I’ve been back to New York since Theatre School.  I didn’t have any friends there anymore.  I couldn’t go to my old apartment where my old roommate lives to shoot the shit because there’s no shit to shoot between us.  These people were once my family.  I was bound to them by circumstance, and the sharing of a common experience. Now they’re nothing, but strangers. Like John, I lost the right to know them.  I inadvertently severed every relationship or friendship I had when I chose John over them; Everyone, but Bonnie.

I spent the night at the Bedford Hotel with Nick’s back pressed against mine. I don’t think either of us slept, but neither of us spoke. With every inhale, my chest opened and I could feel my breath reverberating against his. I could feel his lungs accepting my air as it traveled past our spine. I was so present at that moment that it proved to be evidence of my own existence.  For the past few months I knew I was alive because others told me so, because I can smell oranges and pineapple, and because I can feel every raindrop patter against my skin. I knew I was alive, but feeling Nick and I fill each other’s lungs with each other’s presence proved that I existed.

We had the same idea the next morning. To the funeral, Nick and I wore exactly what we wore the night Bonnie died; the night of the wedding; the night of the hot tub; the night the three of us stopped surviving as individuals and fused together as one. He was in his suit with that bright orange tie and I, in my red 1920’s flapper dress. For whatever reason, we didn’t sit together.  I was buried between gossiping cousins and teachers whose breath smelt of sour yogurt. Nick was just behind her family, I’m assuming for easy eulogy access.

I couldn’t take away my eyes from the casket.  It just looked like a fancy box.  It was no different from a jewelry box or the containers under my bed holding clothes I’ll never wear.  I couldn’t stop myself from thinking there was no place for her anymore. No one wanted her body so they had to put her away in storage.  I looked at the graveyard like it was a ‘Public Storage’ for people.  I imagined her confined inside.  Not moving.  Just… dead.  All of these funerals I had imagined, even in the few I had been to, it was never like this; so painfully absurd.

These events when fantasized are fantastical. At the church, I waited for the stained glass windows to spark with life. I waited for a moment when someone stands from the congregation to proclaim their love for the deceased, “I never got to say it before and I need to say it now”.  I expected dipping willow trees to engulf the grieving gathered around dew-dropped gravestones.  I expected the sun to pierce through overhanging clouds when the body was lowered.

None of these things happened.  Nothing happens.  There’s just a box.  I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around anything because I don’t think I heard anything. The night before, I existed. Today, I didn’t.

Then as he does, Nick brought me back.  After Bonnie’s dad left the podium, Nick took center stage.  He held his speech in his hand, but he didn’t look at it once. He didn’t look at anything or anyone, but me.

Bonnie's Eulogy

In the second Nick stopped speaking, a projection of the Disney movie, “Bambi”, played against the back wall of the church. It was the scene where the little fawn prince and his rabbit friend, Thumper, met a tiny skunk lost in a flower patch. A friendship was born.

I didn’t notice the picture slideshow of forgotten memories begin when the “Bambi” video clip ended. My wet eyes locked on Nick’s and though disobedient tears streamed down my face, we both broke out into laughter, echoing that of the cartoon animals playing in the forest.

Nick and I were on a flight back to Los Angeles 4 hours later.  Not a word was said.  I placed my head on his shoulders and our eyes lay dormant on the miniature television screen that tracked the flight’s progress. —

That’s the doorbell.  I’ll be back.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

 

7:22 AM.

Merry Christmas, Sweetheart. It’s your mom and dad here. We wish you had taken the ticket and come straight to Vancouver from New York. We would have loved to be with you today but of course we understand. Oh dear, I forgot about your phone again – we’ll call back in 2 seconds.

 

10:10 AM.

Merry Christmas, Sister! It’s your sister. I hope you’re doing okay and I’m thinking about you. I love you, Ellie. I wish I woke up to your heavy breathing this morning but I guess the days of running to our over-stuffed stockings together are over. Screw that, we’ll do it next year!  I guess I’ll see you in a couple days?  We’ll be picking you up at the airport with mom and dad- Happy New Year indeed.  What time should our webcam date be?  I want to see your stick tree. 

***

December 25

“Hey.” Nick and I had barely spoken since Thanksgiving so seeing him standing under a sleeping moon late last night came as quite a surprise.

“Hi.” Was there really anything else to say?

“Can I stay?”

His eyes were bloodshot, half closed and it looked like cream filling sat under his skin. He paced in my living room like a hyena circling a dead carcass waiting for the lions to retreat.

“Do you want a shower? Or sleep? Or toast? I can get you toast. Or I can… do you want to watch a movie?”

When I reached for the remote he grabbed my face, cupping it in both hands and kissed me. The force that pulled my entire body toward his was as violent as a rip current. We seized each other as if we were one another’s last meal. Even as I write this, I can feel his eyelashes brush against my cheek, our heads dip and curl organically into each other. It felt the same as that first night with Solomon Burke’s smooth sound thumping in the background, as in the hot tub, as the night before the funeral and now, our skin was meant to connect.

By the time we realized that our clothes were off, he was already deep inside me. He tossed me onto my couch and pulled his body over mine like a fleece blanket, settling perfectly into my curves. It felt like I had no skin. He pressed passed my casing as if it was simply another layer of clothing and plucked my nerves sweetly like violin strings. Along with my mouth, he kissed all over my face, my slight freckles, my nose, my eyes, my brows, he was determined to find untouched territory and make it his own. He held me confidently and when I couldn’t make out my limb from his, he finally spoke.

“I love you.”

I didn’t say it back. He already knew.

We didn’t sleep Christmas Eve and spent the entire day today watching “A Christmas Story” movie marathon. We smiled and laughed as we held each other under my moth-eaten, burgundy blanket. There was no moment when he wasn’t committed to keeping me safe and warm as he enveloped me in his arms. It felt unnatural when small amounts of empty air lay between us, so we refused to let there be any.

The day went too quickly and once night fell we dined on Caesar salad and store bought lobster bisque.  It was when the piano heavy, soul-driven song “I’ll be Home for Christmas” played along side a pet adoption commercial, that Nick stood to leave.

But before the inevitable goodbye began, he held out his hand and pulled me onto my feet, straight into his arms. We swayed for only a moment, holding each other tightly before he took my hand and placed it on his heart. I was immediately brought back to fictional flashbacks that all stemmed from one very real memory. I saw Nick holding me at prom and I remembered exactly what I was thinking at the time of our infamous, sloppy waltz.

The haunting yet hopeful yuletide melody helped my hallucinations flicker into each other as calmly as candlelight. I saw every cliché. Nick and I dancing under a tree with falling burnt orange, red and yellow leaves. I saw him as a soldier and myself as a nurse as we danced amidst a shower of bullets. I saw myself with long brown hair, and a bright yellow dress and him in a royal blue jacket. We were dancing as “Beauty and the Beast” in a ballroom filled with jealous spectators thinking, “I wish I had a talking teacup”. I saw us dancing at our wedding. It was simple and snowcapped. And then I just saw him.

I knew I wouldn’t see Nick again for a long time. The friendship we shared since we were 16 was over. I was leaving and my life wasn’t a movie. He wasn’t going to chase after me in an airport, or kiss me in the rain. Nick came to my door this morning like John once had, and though second chances may exist, thirds are rare. They won’t come to my door any more because soon I won’t have one. Yet I’ll wait, looking through an imaginary peephole while the world shrinks around it, becoming nothing but a little, unopenable, one-way window. Sometimes that’s just the ending and there is nothing else.

“I’m not him, Ellie.”

“Who?”

“The one you think I am. The one you’re looking for.”

“Yes you are. You’re a ‘one’. We just don’t know which ‘one’ you are.”

“Maybe.” There was little hope in his voice. “Thank you for finally sleeping with me.” He joked, lifting the room’s heavy air.

“Sorry if I gave you a complex.”

He laughed softly as he slipped into his shoes. He was leaving.

“Wait!” I surprised him with that unexpected exclamation point. I muted the TV ran for my IPod. “Wait! Shit! I was going to surprise you today but then you just showed up this morning. I forgot, I guess. Well anyway, I was going to come to your place and – hold on.” I plugged the IPod into its speakers, as he stood at the door motionless. “I was going to drive up to your apartment and roll down my windows and well… you know it’s Christmas and it’s you and… well…” I turned on Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You”. I had planned on recreating our moment that was once in an ice skating parking lot. I had planned on a lot of things.

“I was going to sing to you…again.” I was out of breath by the time I finished my attempt to describe the declaration of love that would no longer take place.

The inappropriately cheery tunes rang throughout my apartment as I looked at him with what I can only call desperation. I wondered if he would ever find me again in the suburb of Burnaby where we once began. I wondered if I would look back on this life and replace John’s face with Nick’s.

“I do, you know. What I said earlier.” His voice was as smooth as caramel. My heavy heart submerged into a pile of warm goo. His confession of loving me had been my only cloud to dance on.

“I do, too.”

When Nick turned to leave I called out, “Aren’t you going to say goodbye?”

His smile was faint, and sweet, but he said nothing as he closed the door behind him- leaving me with Mariah.

***

December 27

I wrote two letters last night. Instead of placing them in the hands where they belong, I’m keeping them in my journal until they find themselves there on their own.

Nick's Letter

John's Letter

***

Subject:
From:                         ELLIE FRIESEN
Date:                          December 28 2:33:19 AM PDT
To:                              BONNIE WENTOF

Bonnie,

I’ve never really been a good friend. I realize by this point I should have had a “save the cat moment” where as the star of my own T.V. show, I would do something important or kind enough to gain a little bit of sympathy from the viewers.  I should have been a meter fairy and slipped 25 cents into every expired parking meter I’ve ever walked past. Likeability isn’t something that can be forced, though.  I can put on wings and sneak into children’s rooms claiming to be the tooth fairy, but at some point, all kids turn into teenagers.  By the time they’re fitted for braces, my farce would be exposed as nothing more than plastic wings and a wedding dress I wouldn’t otherwise get to wear.  Then not only would they hate me and develop an immediate stranger/trust/afraid of the dark complex, but they would inevitably gallop down the path of questioning the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, God, their parents for lying, and themselves for believing in such abstract ideals.

No. I’m not the likeable one.  I think it was always you.  I think I’ve had it backwards this whole time.  I’m not the star of my own T.V. show; my life is better served as the sidekick to yours.

When I was in high school, I claimed that nobody liked me.  Being thrown down the stairs and spending entire dances in the bathroom “applying my makeup” had me brainwashed into believing that no one cared.  I was so wrapped up in my own adolescent, boobieless pain to notice that someone probably did.  I just didn’t care enough to notice that person.  Maybe I hoped that that person was someone else.

Maybe all along, I, unknowingly, was the bully, pushing away the few that tried.

Or maybe, I was just waiting for you.

Every time John and I broke up I would have this reoccurring John-mare.

I dreamt that you would come up to me in a karaoke bar with the news that John had died.  You told me that as he took his last breath, he looked up to his wife, and said, “I love you.  You’ll always be my wife… But she’ll always be my soul mate”.

I hated that dream.  I hated myself for dreaming it, and I loathed the warmth that coated my heart for a brief second after waking.

Like I imagine my own death, I imagined his.  I imagine his funeral and see his beautiful wife surrounded by his friends, love and memories of a life I wanted for myself.  As I listen to stories and look at smiling pictures, I realize that after years of knowing every inch of someone’s soul, he’s now someone else entirely.  When did the moment pass where I no longer knew him?  I would watch myself at his funeral go unnoticed; an epic love that once wrote it’s own poetry become forgotten.

For every death I’ve ever pictured: every snapping neck, every overdose, every mythical Giant’s hammer, every dangerous staircase, every headphone chord strangulation, every sniper or every car wreck… for everyone I had ever imagined, it had never been you.  You were the one who held my hand at their funerals, or held my parents’ at mine.

I was never a good friend because I was waiting for you to teach me how.  And you did, I hope.   And when I die if that ends up being on New Year’s Eve or 60 years from now, I’ll look up to the person looking down on me and say, “I love you.  You’ll always be my friend… but she’ll always be my soul mate.”

***

December 30

Change happens when you expect it and even more so when you don’t. You can never be over or under prepared, and you can never become its enemy as it will forever live by your side.  Before December 18th, I may have been on a dysfunctional path, but at least it had direction. I was in control of my own destiny, positive or negative. Death is hard, surviving through change is harder.

I found my cell phone today.  My apartment is nothing but boxes, pillows, I have a lot more mirrors that I realized, and one lost cell phone buried behind the ironing board.

I stared at my phone for 5 minutes before throwing it in the toilet. I might have 20 voicemails, urgent, funny, heartfelt… I don’t know.  I might not have any.

Being off grid for 3 months was unintentional, but I made the choice not to check my messages from another line. I blamed lack of motivation and depression, but every action I’ve created with its equal and opposite reaction was a decision. Conscious or subconscious, it was a decision.

When I looked at my lost phone, I didn’t imagine John calling me like I used to. I wasn’t reminded of how many times it used to ring. I don’t need to be reminded of who doesn’t love me anymore because I know now who does.  I don’t need to hope to hear John after every deletion anymore.  I don’t want to hope that I will hear Nick’s voice or Bonnie’s voice one last time. They’re burned in my mind just as they should be. The voices of my past should be left as memories the way I wish to remember them.

Today I spent my entire day looking back on this Diary and I’ve realized something. All of the events I’ve written may not have happened as I declared them to have happened. Moments were forgotten; moments ignored. Some moments were stored deep in my soul, bubbling for a life they will never be given. Some moments were so real, so exact, I felt myself relive them. Some moments were probably pink elephants, simply fantasized; moments I wished existed until I believed it so. But to me, in my heart of hearts, Diary, everything I’ve shared with you happened exactly as it needed to, exactly as it should have, exactly as it was, kind of was, wished it was, and wished it wasn’t.

***

Hi. You’ve reached Ellie’s cell. Sorry I missed your call but please leave a message after the beep.

8:02 AM.

Hey Ellie. It’s John. I told myself that I would stop calling after New Years Eve, a resolution to finally and properly say goodbye.  I guess I’m glad I’ve been talking to your answering machine these last few months, but this time I hoped for a different outcome.  I saw you today.  You were in a cab pulling into departures at the airport.  You were wearing that shirt I love with the pockets and you looked different, Ellie.  For the last however many years we were, you know, together, you’ve had this look like everywhere your eyes landed, you hoped they were landing on me.  You were looking for me. Today in the back of the cab, I was there, but you weren’t trying to find me anymore.  Maybe you found something else to look for, or maybe you just stopped looking.  I wish for many different things.  I wish I had many different chances at life or many different lives all together.  Maybe one of them would have been with you.  Maybe it was supposed to be this one… But it’s a new year, almost. It’s the end of the old and the beginning of something entirely different.  Anyway… I guess this it.  A bunch of rambling to eventually say, I’m sorry. I never thought I would ever say goodbye to you, Ellie but today I think I noticed that you already have. I think — 

You have reached the maximum time permitted for recording. Thank you. Goodbye. 

***

January 1

This morning I woke up to a flock of Canadian geese flapping past the same window I looked out of as a child. They soared through the overcast like a pod of grey whales breaching the chilled skies. I could see the heavy clouds carry them to new adventures, new lands. As the ashy fog whipped past their regal, elongated necks, they honked like an excited children’s choir. I wondered which goose was the black sheep. Which experienced daily disappointments. Which believed in a better world beyond the horizon and which was unfortunate enough to know that the horizon wasn’t penetrable. Once the flock of geese disappeared behind the safety of their misty blanket, silence flooded the air. Crisp. The winter’s breeze stung the back of my throat for the second time in my life, like peppermint razorblades.

It wasn’t Los Angeles. I didn’t wake to the force of helicopter rotor blades thudding on my balcony or to the sound of my neighbor shuffling down the hallway on her crutches. I didn’t even wake to the sound of Danny Elfman’s inspirational orchestra like I had for the past 7 years. I woke, for the first time in a very long time, to the sound of absolutely nothing. My head didn’t buzz like a broken air conditioner and my thoughts had emptied into nothing. My trickling stream of consciousness floated away with the flock of geese. The geese took my spirit with them that morning. Together, they flew past logging sawmills, Douglas Firs and Maples, glass towers, crowded streets and sports stadiums to the rocky beaches where the city of Vancouver ends and the ancient oceans begin.

I placed my feet on the soft carpet and rose without a sigh, without a groan, without any type of acknowledgment. Life was happening, but I was no longer actively participating in it. There was no time. It was time. Midnight had come and gone and nothing had happened. I hadn’t taken my life, but I hadn’t given myself one either.

Without thinking, I put on my one-piece, periwinkle blue bathing suit and pulled out a life jacket from my father’s garage. I didn’t say goodbye. Like John, like Nick, like Bonnie, I just left.

I know I looked ridiculous in hiking boots, a swimsuit and a life jacket as I sat on the skytrain. I knew this because it was as if I was floating above, watching over myself like I would an insignificant spider. I could see myself lost in a barn covered in my own spun silk. It was beautiful.  The patterns in the fine cotton candy silk was my story up until this point and my little spider stood petrified by the door. I was terrified to leave the faces and failure that proved to be my only constant. But if I didn’t finally make it out of the barn door, my past would suffocate me.

I saw people look at me, rolling their eyes at my seemingly desire for attention, but my gaze was fixed on the sky. Though it looked like I was staring blankly into the temperamental clouds, I knew I was looking for the geese. I was looking for Santa Claus. I was praying for Pixies. I looked for a portal back to 2003 when I provoked the moment before I lived it. I looked for an airplane that held Nick’s smile. I looked for Bonnie.  I looked for a time when life didn’t scare me more than death.

When I reached the Burrard Street skytrain station in downtown Vancouver, I followed the excited crowds dressed in tracksuits as they headed toward English Bay beach. It hadn’t dawned on me that every January 1st, Vancouver holds a Polar Bear Swim. Thousands of students, grandparents, architects, artists, single moms and dads, construction workers, teachers, everybody and anybody plunge into the icy seas. Dressed in bathing suits, bathrobes, sweats and crazy costumes, the energetic crowd swarms the beach, ready to wash away the year before. Friends, darlings and families surrounded me. Frosty picnics flooded the hardened sands as loved ones cheered the insane on. Lined against the shore and looking toward the frozen Pacific, hundreds of people held hands with nervous energy. The crowd was prepared to dunk and dash back to the safety of fleece sweatshirts that awaited their hypothermic bodies. Then there I was, the only one clutching tightly onto a yellow life preserver.

I still hadn’t decided my fate when the countdown began. I hadn’t even heard it finish when the herd burst into the ocean accompanied with cheers and laughter.

I stood.

I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to step into the waters and float like an anonymous, undisturbed iceberg. I imagined what it would be like if I wasn’t alone at all. I imagined myself splashing about like a sea otter, holding hands with another like the ones I once saw on a YouTube video.

When I opened my eyes again, most had already finished their icy swim and whipped past me as they rushed into arms holding outstretched towels. Only a few remained in the water as they raced toward the lifeguard in hopes of a first place finish. What for though? I didn’t know. I suppose they were just winners of life, the kind of people that registered for things or wrote thank you notes. The kind of people that didn’t stand and wonder what kind of person someone else was.

I was surprised when a drop of rain then fell on my nose, then another drop and then a third. I looked out to the ocean and could see a spatter of rain dancing on the glassy surface. It jumped from the sea’s skin as if it were playing a game. They belonged together like dance with song.

The merriment of the spectators halted immediately and in an instant the crowd scattered like mice. Though most were already wet, it was as if the rain was acidic. A panic rushed the coast. Blankets were ripped from the sand and children’s arms from their sockets. The wild cries headed for cover and the beaches were quickly becoming abandoned. The rain was rejected by every soul but my own. It began pelting the waters like the beat of a folk song beckoning me forward. I listened. I obeyed. Rain was one of the few things I called my own.

I unfastened the buckles of my bright yellow vest once, twice, three times, then slowly unzipped it before dropping it against the sand. It landed with a heavy thump. My lifejacket was gone. I didn’t have anything to depend on, but then again, I never really did. The storylines that inspired me were never my own. The characters I drew from never lived passed the credits. The tale of my life had come to an end the moment I stepped on that plane. The moment I looked to the empty seat beside me and replaced a person’s presence with music. When I slept, I searched for a face to haunt me.  There was nothing but black. It was like that dream I had. I once dreamt that I died and never awoke. I could feel the blood clot from my neck with every diminishing heartbeat. I could hear the sounds of horses gallop past my limp body. I could feel the needles of thistles press into my face as they grew ever so slightly. Life lived but all I saw was darkness.

I looked out to the ocean, past the sea and beyond the land where Pixies exist as I stepped toward the water. And then, as life proves to continue whether you do or not, I heard a honk. My flock of geese flew in the distance like kings and queens heading to court. Their royal wings flapped gracefully as they dipped through the rain.

I stepped into the foaming salt water and my foot sank, as if that exact spot had been waiting for my toes all along. I stepped again and again and again until my feet had lost the ocean’s floor. I pushed my whole body under, letting the water envelop me, control me, surprise me. The glacial temperatures shot through my spine and I shuddered like an accordion. Tears squeezed from my eyes and my lips curled into a smile before my head went under.

After that, I don’t remember much, but I know one thing for certain… I swam.

2 Comments on “Read from the Beginning!

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