The disasters of yesterday still hung fresh and sharp against the back of my eyelids when I awoke at seven this morning. The rain outside tap-tapped against the window, finally come after all these weeks of draught. I attempted to rise, pulling my Crystal Castles t-shirt from a hanger, some loved jeans, knocked into the door frame, sleep still clasping its fingers tightly around me. The clouds and the dark and the rain were too much comfort, pulled me back to bed, away from the cheap fluorescent lighting and beige accented walls of my eight o' clock government class.
The midterm was yesterday, and I spent six hours studying over twenty pages of notes the night before. I've made an eager effort this time around, assuring myself all those opinions people crowned as fact were true: I'm too smart, have too much potential not to do well. Thus I showed up each day, armed with a protein shake and a pen, nodding along to lectures, asking questions, participating, studying each evening so long that I had little to no time for writing, for Patrick, for even my music. There was a tinge of pride that began to grow slowly inside me, a tiny strength I had never captured from the likes of schooling, of graded academia.
Imagine my surprise, my downturned lip, the sigh of my eyes pointed, urging themselves not to cry when Griffey announced, "Time's up! Tests in." I had over thirty questions left. I felt my hands begin to vibrate, my throat struggling to hold itself upright as I asked him, "Can we go to the testing center, if we're not done?" Something of a cold irritation flickered behind his eyes before he told me no. And so I stood, defeated, and placed the blue test booklet against his desk, walked slowly from the room and never stopped.
Once home I flickered past Patrick into the overwhelming darkness of our room, curtains pulled, stripped my clothes and fell between the sheets as a sigh, the howl and lament of my grievances silenced as a small flutter of my heart. I was but a breath, the forgotten exhale of mine efforts, my words mere wind. They had all lied; the product of my potential evanesced, vapor struck against a stove. I allowed myself to cry for a few moments, feeling pathetic in the sogginess of it all, became soft, the barbed edges of self-loathing threatening on all sides. I considered quitting, wondered if going back to school had been the right choice, if this was all a severe waste of time and talent. What did government have to do with being a musician, anyway?
My history professor's cartoon voice echoed through my head, the dissertation over big business, middle class, women of the nineteenth century. My mind had stretched during those speeches, venturing toward new topics of space I hadn't considered before. The college experience, originally, was not for monetary gain as now, but for the rounded experience, shaping minds toward intelligent thought, intelligent conquest, intelligent influence over all facets of life thereafter. College was for those who hungered, and so I had thought, well, I'm starving, so why not? The issue I'm facing is not a lack of understanding, a deprivation of memory, attitude of disinterest or anything in between. I'm so genuinely enthralled and inspired by the feeding of idea and fact and theory that I come home buzzing each day, stiffing back a "did you know" every few minutes, lest I be found exasperating. No, the trouble is the testing, the constant accounting of my learning. I read articles across BBC and Frontline and wonder how our government is getting away with these things so outlined and restricted across Enumerated Powers in Article I, negative powers in the Bill of Rights, the idea of state sovereignty and the Constitution being supreme perplexing as an oxymoron in my sleep. I get it, I do. I apply it. And yet, I fail.
I flipped through the mental pages of memory, seeing each lecture's title scribbled across sheets of notebook, reciting them back to myself. Nothing of the morning's blight made sense, and I felt so tired then, my body weakened by too many facets of my world moving me in directions I didn't understand, didn't feel fully in control of. I rose suddenly then, pattering in my underwear across the apartment floor, opening a bottle of Spanish wine, its deep crimson label and golden letters speaking to me in foreign phrases I couldn't understand, made me giggle as I poured a glass. Then another, between hits off O'Ryan. Lit a cigarette, closed my eyes, soared. Was left among the sky, vapour trail.
Patrick crept between the sheets as I finished off another glass, his smirk brushing across my face, charmed and amused. "You smell like Amy Winehouse," he grinned, moving in stealthily for my neck, his fingers pirouette and twirl gracefully across my thigh. "Let me in, Amy," he murmured against my ear in that deep, thick voice. I inhaled once more against my pipe, poured another glass, shut my eyes and felt his tongue.
What was it Samson once called me? Oh, yes. Queen of Vice.
It only got worse, awoken from sleep by Patrick's thin caterwaul. Half drunk, I stumbled into the doctor's office with him in the late afternoon. His ear they had lanced and drained earlier last week was twice the size again. They handed him more prescriptions, tentative plans for an operation, come back in three weeks. Attempting to fill scripts without insurance was of the most dejected experience I've been witness to, the prices of each pharmacy higher than the next. Worse than the price of the medication, a woman at Walgreens told us the pharmacy only fills prescriptions for their "established customers." Well, excuse me for not being a pill-popping drug addict. I apologize. I recalled then James Verone, arrested earlier this week after robbing a bank for one dollar following finding a growth on his chest; not having any prospect of insurance, Verone told the officers that going to jail was his only chance at treatment, at surgery, at life. How defeated the small of this country have become.
In the middle of all of this, I received a text message from my director, Roy, informing me that the hospital I had secured for filming on Saturday called and canceled. I tutored the CEO's daughter for about a year, so when I originally called him about using a room in the clinic he was quick to say yes, assuring me that whatever I'd need, he'd make happen. Not only did he cancel days before shooting, but never called to inform me, only left a pithy e-mail in Roy's inbox.
I crawled back into bed with my pipe and a glass as soon as we entered the apartment. I didn't want to see anymore, draped myself beneath the sheets, sunk into the jersey sheets and felt myself go warm. Patrick pulled me from the bed a while later, tossing my swimsuit over his shoulder at me. "Grab the tequila," he commanded, forcing me toward the pool, so I did. The sun had almost set and the sky was a smooth sapphire ceiling with not a break or cloud in sight. We lounged in woven henna recliners and listened to the slaps and bristled panting of the palm trees, ridiculously placed in Houston, and let the night fall over our bare skin. We both closed our eyes as the wind flew against us, so rich and overwhelmingly effluent I imagined it filled all the spaces of the earth, so nothing else was ever empty.
"To Wal Greens," we toasted, the bottle of Hornitos already nearly empty. "To my government midterm, and to Professor Griffey," I slurred slightly as we each poured another shot, "who said on our first day of class that it's perfectly okay to be loser, because you get to drink a lot more that way." I don't remember so much after that. Only the cold water and the shower, his skin, always warm, next to mine, like the comfort that comes from the echoes of the ethereal about a cathedral.