A friend and I are both recently unemployed. Today I showed up at her apartment after a morning interview, wearing as business-y an outfit as I could muster under the post-grad circumstances and bearing a bag of cherries I’d picked up at a farmer’s market on the way over.
The girl taking cash at the stall I’d stopped at was everything you want a farmer’s daughter to be – viciously tanned, with dirty fingernails and light eyes and sullen – and I’d gotten her to smile, which felt like a personal victory.
By the time I got to this friend’s apartment, my clothes felt like a full-body latex glove, and my hair felt like steel wool on my head, and I was ready to be naked of everything but my fingernails, as God intended the unemployed to be. Luckily, she is a good friend, so I took my clothes off. Then I lay on her blue sheets in my underwear and ate my cherries. We talked about everything.
We started with men in the least metaphysical sense, because we are twenty-something women and the practical problem of men occupies a pressing, frontal part of our brainspace. Of course, as a post-feminist woman, my concern for the actions of men is consistently accompanied by its best friend, my conviction that I should not let the actions of men concern me, but it is a guilt that has not stopped me yet. We listened to each other and I offered her advice that was probably wrong, because I have never had a successful relationship, but maybe right, because naivety can sometimes hold its own form of wisdom.
After having covered that thoroughly, we moved on to our attitudes toward life, which coincide on a lot of points, and talked about where we want to live/work in the future, typical post-college-girls-braiding-each-other’s-hair type shit. And then we brought out our laptops and delved into the internet.
Being online with ——- is like when I used to go swimming with my mother as a little girl and I would cling to her shoulders as she dived down and surfaced again and again like a dolphin.
——- has a theory on Beyoncé and Jay Z’s (he dropped the hyphen last year, she informs me) marriage that is an actual theory in the scientific sense of the word: a well-substantiated explanation based on all of the data and evidence available. She is passionate about this theory. She knows exactly what happened to Zach and Cody of The Suite Life, she does not even have to Google it, but she will because there is a dick pic and she wants me to see it. Do I know who the rapper Future is? It does not matter, because the interview he gave about his newborn son is hilarious regardless. As is the Kim Kardashian videogame. Somebody already posted the new Jenny Lewis video to her wall, but she wishes that it had been shot after Kristen Stewart’s new haircut.
She is amazing. I, the child who grew up without TV, am enthralled by her.
I spent at least three years of elementary school gleaning all I could from the other kids’ fragmented conversations about Sailor Moon in order to pretend that I had seen the show. This, this riding on ——-’s dolphin shoulders, cannot make up for that, nor would I want it to. The internet is not my world.
But my world is the same.
There’s so much on the internet. That’s the beauty and the horror of it. And ——- is, in some ridiculous way (more ridiculous because it seems to be functioning) collecting all of it, stockpiling, analyzing, making sense of it, keeping track of it, understanding it.
My father turned 47 today. I don’t know how I’ll make it to 47. My memories don’t seem to be falling out of my head as I make new ones.
I still remember the exact smell and taste and the feeling of the damp earth of my last high school not-romance, and I remember this moment where I was standing outside in the dew of my mother’s garden thinking about all of the moments I didn’t remember and wondering if that one was one that I would, and the other day I walked past the most faded yellow sign advertising vitamins and the amalgamated memory of trips to a health food store came to me, the smell and taste of Ricola and undyed dried apricots and the fascination with the things that people were trying to put in their bodies, and yes it occurs to me that perhaps everyone’s internal memory operates in this fashion (which is terrifying, how can ALL OF THIS be in ALL OF US) but my problem is that I comb through all this jumble constantly, trying to make sense of it, trying to find connections that in no logical person’s mind exist, trying to write a story of it that inevitably blurs fiction and fact.*
On bad days, I think that this burden of memory will be the cause of my early death because it is too much pain and beauty for one person to bear. (I have my memories, like everyone else, that I don’t like to touch.)
On good days, my feeling is that I’m not deserving. That I’ve already had so much that I don’t understand how I could be given more. This is enough life for me, I am sated.
The inside of my head is like the internet. I lost track of that train of thought. Is that a terribly arrogant, or a grossly self-deprecating thing to think? The inside of my head is like the internet if the internet were irrelevant to everyone but me.
We analyzed Tinder, too, this friend and I. We are after all biddies of the 21st century.
*This is what I admire about Jack Kerouac, his lack of need to make narrative allowing him to write truly about memories.