I’m so fucking crazy this morning – my dreams are starting to have dreams, and those dreams are nightmares, with benefits.
Maybe I’m having contact hallucinations from the evil, black stains on the carpet. Mom was so anxious to get a room as close as humanly possible to the mall, that we just hopped off the MetroBus by the Toys ‘R Us and SuperAmerica gas station, and rushed into the motel like after-Thanksgiving shoppers.
Mom doesn’t want me to mention names, places, dates too much – she didn’t even let me anywhere near a computer until this morning.
“We must not be found!” Yeah, yeah, tell it to those beautiful mountains and trees everywhere on the road that kept putting me to sleep with teen-strength ultra-boredom, with extra whining.
We’ve been on the road for months, slowly making our way across the Midwest, from Oregon to Minnesota. We left Portland in such a rush that all I could pack was a few clothes and security Figma.
We didn’t tell our friends. Or my school. Or whatever. We disappeared past Mt. Hood like the transparent shadows of dead ghosts.
Sometimes we road bikes with tent-laden backpacks provoking occasional hill wheelies – bicycles, nothing with a motor or requiring a license. Sometimes we hitched a ride, but never for more than a few hours – she thought it was too conspicuous.
I don’t think she understands the meaning of conspicuous. Sitting on sidewalks and spare changing a few blocks away from ATMs, until people walk by and randomly give you a stack of twenties – that’s conspicuous.
People do that these days. Is that a thing now? Some sort of “Pay it forward just to the punks” sort of thing?
Everyone has been so nice – she just asks them for things, and they give it. She says that “America is a Christian nation, so why not take advantage?” I think it’s something else – after the first few weeks, I started to connect her far off stare that always came before random assaults of kindness, the same look that Aurora had when she hacked the TriMet ticket machines months back in Portland, to some sort of insane mind gymnastics. She must have been raised by carnies or mentalists, idaknow.
Is this even making sense? Like I said, I haven’t had fingers to keyboards for months. Every time I’d try, like when we’d peek into a public library to use the restroom, she’d always come over to the computer, touch the Esc key, and it would immediately crash.
Is that a thing now? Is there a Windows exploit where you can crash computers by touching a key? If so, someone better take care of that, pronto.
The computer we got today from Best Buy, which is just around the corner, doesn’t have that problem at all. In fact, the first thing we did this morning, after breakfast at the Perkins next door (pancakes as big as babies!), was head in and slap down a big wad of twenties in exchange for an i7 MacBook Pro. The Geeks were so nice – they insisted that we didn’t need any protection plan whatsover, and that they didn’t need to open it to install special stuff. I think they really liked my Mom, or perhaps they were over-taken by her mindroller, and pissed their pants as soon as we left.
So, now I have a computer – after torturous data thirst, and withdrawl symptoms from months-overdue, appropriately swank, sweet 16 birthday presents – and she sat me down back at the motel to give me the riotgrrl act.
“Miranda Sasha Koehler – listen.” As dictated by DNA, she only says my full name when I’m about to be in trouble. I was sitting at the table, with the laptop leaning against a phone book and black, empty ice bucket, and it was all booted up and ripe for some free Wi-Fi. “I want to protect you, more than anything in the world, but I can’t. I can’t hide you away forever.”
“Mommmmmm….” I gave her that half bashful, half kittens marking scents on legs moan, but it wasn’t working.
“I still don’t want your Dad to find you, but I can’t keep you in a box, either.” During the whole trip she’d been using a father I’ve never met at some sort of highway headless biker, the specter of which was always chasing after us. I don’t give a fuck about my father, but I also think that’s just some sort of elaborate cover story.
“I tell you what – I’m not going to yell at you any more about taking me away from my life, if you just let me back online. Let me have my sippy cup of delicious data already!” I gave her a closed, air-shaken fist for emphasis, but she was still all wound up.
“Stop it.” She sat down on my messy bed and patted next to her. I still can’t resist her mommy aura, no matter how much I might want to, so I got out of the chair and joined her on the bed. Like usual for our road trip, she was wearing something that looked like it was unearthed out of a pile of old zines. Faded band T and patched up olive drab jacket, and skinny black pants with diagonal zippers and buckles doing nothing but holding up her style.
Is that a thing now? Are all parents dressing like their teenage selves this summer?
“Dear,” she said, holding me under her arm, “we’re not in St. Cloud so you can keep your blog up to date. I brought you back home because I have a job to do – something I’ve been preparing for my whole life.”
The mini-fridge started to gurgle again. It wasn’t even noon and it was hot and humid everywhere, even in the shadows under the furniture.
She told me some things. I said I wouldn’t talk about them just yet, but it’s not like there’s much to say. There’s some sort of impromptu High School reunion going on in a few weeks, and I guess she’s nervous about seeing everyone again.
Everyone in her late 1980s punk scene, with Intruder Alert! and Suspender all of the other crazy bands? That’s what I’m thinking, but I don’t know what she’s worried about. Aren’t old friends still good friends most of the time?
Which brings me back to last night. I woke up and my t-shirt was all sweaty, but not just because of the heat. I could swear that I felt someone staring at me in my head – I was dreaming some sort of mashup between Oreimo and FLCL, with Kirino dressed as pitcher Haruko, plowing into her brother with a baseball bat when he lost at the Massive Cloud Burst semi-eroge game. However, she was actually hitting my real brother Joey, and while I’m super enthused to have him around sometimes, I’ve missed him since he went to Berkeley for college, and the last thing I want to do is hit him.
Anyway, when Joey went to the bathroom to clean up his bloody head, I could see Tokie and Aurora in the mirror behind him. At least, I could tell it was Tokie right away, but the other girl was Japanese – maybe it was her blue eyes and blonde-streaked hair that reminded me of Aurora a bit. Whatever – they were looking past Joey, right at me. Then they started to make out.
Really – is that a thing? Do your stalker-friends and ex-girlfriends make out in your dream mirrors? I fear that 4 months in internet time was enough for reality to permanently became all Spock-bearded and Bolivia Fringe.
Do people still drink soda in your universe? At the SuperAmerica down the block, you can get 32 ounces for 59 cents. Do you understand what I’m telling you? I’ve been kidnapped to a world where fountain drinks flow like water, and water can only be found in plastic bottles. I’m drinking and drinking and getting thirstier all the time.
I was reading over the earlier posts in my blog. I still don’t believe Tokie and Aurora, and all of their drama, and if the only part they’ll ever play in my life again is some annoyingly sexy mirror magic, then fine.
If it’s all a matter of faith, then I don’t believe in Collectives and locked metal boxes, in invisible skin computing and Tokie waiting for me in Tokyo. Tokie waiting for me by my bathtub. I don’t believe in Tokie anywhere, and I’m sure as hell not going to read her blog to see if she even cares that I’ve been gone. I’ve had 4 months to kindle my anger and confusion, and now it can only be quenched by 32 ounce colas.
Which is convenient – my new, temporary home has empty granite quarries full of all the soda (everyone says “pop” here!) you can drink, and Crossroads Center across the street.
Don’t even get me started about that. It’s supposed to be so terribly important to my mother, but all I saw when we went inside was huge “pop” machines around every corner, and Justice, a chain with sickly-cute fashions for tweens.
Is that a thing now? Is all the justice I’m going to find in this town reduced to halter tops that don’t fit me? Will the 4th of July parade be led by parents who flip houses just to keep their daughters in style?
The only thing I know for certain is that I’m not going to spend another night lava-jumping over the big black stains in the carpet.
We’ve got a huge pile of twenties to burn, and there’s another, much shinier hotel right down the street with our name on it.