“‘Cause we came here to set this party off right, let’s bounce tonight. And if they don’t let us in through the front, we’ll come through the side.”
She had me drive her to her mother’s apartment so she could steal money; behavior I never endorsed outright, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t complacent; an accomplice, if we ever got arrested, which we wouldn’t, her mother was a dingbat. She’d keep loose cash in the drawer next to her bed, and every few weeks Marisa would dip into it like a broken ATM. Hundreds of dollars missing; thousands over time. Her mother had alimony coming in from Marisa’s lawyer father- when shit hits the fan, everyone’s a thief.
She’d take enough to get a half-ounce from our dealer and have some left over to go out to dinner with. Sitting next to a Family Dollar listening to “Waiting for the Man.” He’d text you that he was “just pulling in to the parking lot” and show up an hour later- he knew you weren’t going anywhere. First thing you learn is that you always have to wait…
Brought a bagel sandwich and bag of chips back with me- the indie label, kettle-cooked kind that you pay a dollar more for but is more heavily saturated in a higher quality oil- saffron, which is less likely to cause heart disease; something I can only appreciate in retrospect.
We’d get high and watch the Casey Anthony trial.
Casey had a luminous screen presence. She had an emotional range that Hollywood starlets had to envy- that corporate types spent late nights trying to come up with ways to exploit for the millions she’d be worth if only the public found their method semi-palatable. They knew there’d be backlash, but some amount of that is a good thing. With too much, heads roll and jobs are lost. Finding a way to use Casey was like dismantling an atomic bomb, but with rewards high enough to make solving the riddle worth the risk.
She had an understated sexuality that was ever-present. Casey was beautiful- dark hair and large breasts- with the disheveled look of a woman in need. Part of you wanted to save her- part wanted to punish her; emotions that somehow co-existed in an intoxicating swirl. She killed her daughter for cheap sex- she was lost, she was overwhelmed, she was scared- but you’d feel comfortable pulling her hair until she cried; until she begged for forgiveness, which you’d reluctantly grant and she’d be grateful. She’d love you.
Her story existed at the intersection between moral condemnation and empathy. How could a progressive culture rightfully find outrage in any of this while using “health care” as an awful nomenclature for abortion, something that even the most ardent baby-killers roll their eyes at behind closed doors… but you were still able to get that fuzzy feeling in the back of your skull as Nancy Grace barked about the monstrous Casey Anthony, with her dark hair and big tits, as you finished your blunt just past noon and fucked your hormonally-altered fiancee on your broken, black couch.
Another wonder of the modern world- she couldn’t get pregnant. Nature disrupted by science; sex detached from meaning. She’d let you look at bikini pictures of her old sorority sisters posted in private Facebook groups on her MacBook Pro as you fucked her, which you thought was hot. Take every situation to its peak- push every sensory experience to its breaking point with drugs and tech and food. This was the future we deserved- the organic tension of our first kiss felt distant and obsolete. Everything escalating to parody- she’s blowing you as you talk to cam-girls, you’re watching Carmella Bing get fucked while she uses her industrial-grade Hitachi magic wand to get off- next she’ll need a chainsaw. This was life’s purpose- you kill to party.
After things fell apart, I’d tell people that I only thought I was in love with Marisa. That I was clearly wrong- that somehow love is this objective truth, that we haven’t quite developed a blood test for yet, and is something that only exists in eternal form, written in all-caps and bold type.
But there were these momentary flashes, like feeling the tingles of an acid trip peaking, where things couldn’t be described with anything less than capital letters and bold type. Sitting on my couch, well past midnight; emotions swirling with the force of a Gravitron spinning at a local church carnival- dangerous enough rattling where you could rightfully close your eyes and believe you’d take off into outer-space; suspension of disbelief not needed. Yes, I want to marry you. Her tears came harder than a chainsaw induced orgasm. This was our moment- private and meaningful. Let’s keep this our secret. Let’s build toward it and earn it. No ring; not yet- just know that I’m in love with you, and I want this more than anything, and I’m serious.
But she was engaged now. She had to tell her parents. Just her parents- who wanted to know why she didn’t have a ring. They didn’t understand private and meaningful, words seemingly not in their vocabulary. If he wants to marry you, he needs to pay your bills, this was more their speed. I picked out ebay’s finest- a hundred-forty-nine, postage paid. A token- which her mother rejected, and if I wasn’t going to do the right thing, she’d take Marisa ring-shopping herself and send me the bill. Opening non-stick cookware at the engagement party- how thoughtful, thank you. My parents, or anyone else even remotely related to me? Well, they couldn’t make it…
If there were luck in any of this, it was that it all fell apart before I could render the first payment. Marisa has lost her job too- something about a boy with an emotional disability getting loose on her watch, running through the neighborhood shirtless, found urinating on an herb garden- which wasn’t exactly her fault but it didn’t matter. You’re staring at the chess board, and you don’t want to concede defeat, but you don’t see an apparent next move, so the trick is to take as much time as you can between turns.
I’ll never forget the night we met. The moment I noticed her. The kind of full-body electricity you feel when you first get a look at someone you’re inexplicably drawn to- as if you’ve found a way to tap directly into a hidden wavelength making you extremely physically attuned to something you don’t immediately understand, but if you close your eyes and let the current take you, you’ll end up being carried by invisible forces in the direction of all that is beautiful and true.
I thought she was beautiful- the only girl I’ve dated that I consistently jacked-off to throughout the entire relationship. The actress who played Punky Brewster grew-up to look nothing like Punky Brewster, but if she had, she’d have looked like Marisa. Freckles and big brown eyes. A childlike naivete that bordered on stupidity- a mystery that never needed closer examination; one that could just be. Like everything she did that was pushed to its breaking-point, she was always on the far-end of any emotion- always emoting with screeching intensity. Up all night on ecstasy, navigating bouts of crying, fending-off bouts of screaming- intense bouts of sexuality.
There wasn’t a next move to make- only moments where I knew things had to end. Moments that I wanted to soak-in and crystallize- that I wanted to hang in suspended animation and expand far out into the galaxy. My parents were healthy. My dog was alive. If I got stoned enough, I wouldn’t have to think about the mess I’d made- and at my weakest, I’d rather have ridden the flaming balloon down to a fiery heap rather than figure out how to pull myself out of the grave I dug.
And one Sunday morning, I woke up and told her it was over.