Katie’s House.

April 27, 2010

We decided to drink the tea at Katie’s house because she was camping in Colorado and wouldn’t be back for four days.

Brooke asked permission, so we weren’t being sneaky, which is probably for the best because I’m not sure starting a trip with that sort of negativity would have turned out all too well.

We showed up sometime after dinner, each of us experienced enough to have taken shrooms before, but it would be the first time we tripped with each other.

Brooke had prepared the tea already and paired it with orange Gatorade, my favorite flavor.

The first half hour or so involved a lot of introductions. Brooke was the only person I knew well, until Brett showed up a bit later. I had at least met Ashley before though, and everyone else seemed nice enough.

At some point, Brooke started giggling to herself and all attention turned to her. She told us she had just been remembering the embarrassing story of the night one of her friends had lost her virginity. Without any further prodding, she told us the story, which I had trouble following, but I know the girl had been 14 and the boy had been a couple of years older. Just when I had decided not to listen anymore because I could never catch up now, Ashley cut in and said, “That’s my story.” Brooke waved her off and said, “It happened to Alison.”

Ashley pointed out that she was probably the expert on the topic of her own loss of virginity, and Brooke’s eyes got wide and she said that Ashley was right and that it was almost like she had forgotten that the story she was telling was a real life event that had happened to anyone at all and she was sorry, and we all looked at each other for a very long time, unsure of what to talk about next, and that was when Brett walked in the door and said, “Has anyone ever noticed that this neighborhood looks like the Truman Show?”

Everyone jumped up and headed outside and marveled at the sight, for it really did look like the Truman Show, and this led to a discussion about who the director of our world might be, Goldman Sachs or the government or maybe a consortium of men so powerful that they didn’t even feel the need to show their faces to the public.

And Brooke announced that she didn’t want to talk about this anymore because it was too serious so she led the way inside where she pointed out that Katie’s house had a nautical theme. Something none of us had noticed before. It was odd because no one in Katie’s family had any connection to the open seas. Then I remembered I had a navy blue and white striped shirt in my bag, and I ran upstairs to put it on.

When I got up to Katie’s room, I realized that I was uncomfortable being away from the group. I could hear them talking downstairs, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. Though I knew they probably weren’t calling up to me, I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling that I needed to answer them. That the rest of the night depended on me getting this moment right.

I sat down on the bed to regroup and that’s when I saw that Katie’s duvet was changing patterns. It was slithering and expanding and contracting and the colors went from purple to black to midnight blue. I thought about what a relief it was to have something to focus on. I watched the shapes move for quite a while before I decided it was time to force the pattern to settle into itself, just to figure out what it really was. I traced a shape and was surprised to realize it was the shape of a teardrop, then I went around a few more times and my fingers sorted out that it was a paisley design, with no sadness meant to be implied.

I’m not sure how much longer I was in the room before Helen walked in and asked me why I hadn’t changed my shirt yet. I asked her if the phrase, “the green verb,” meant anything to her, and she said, “There’s a movie The Green Mile?” and I said that I didn’t think that’s what I was thinking of. Then I put on my sailor shirt, and she dug through Katie’s closet until she found a navy blue peacoat, and even though it was summer in Georgia and the coat was made of wool, she threw it on over her jeans and t-shirt and said it was perfect.

Once we returned downstairs, Brooke said she wanted to play Charades, but I nixed the idea because I was in no state to put on any kind of show. Brooke looked like she was going to put up a fight, then suddenly said I was right, and Evan said, “I’m glad. Because I need water.”

The whole troop marched to the kitchen, where Brooke noted that Katie had lawn furniture as her kitchen table, and we allowed that information to sink in, then remembered that we were in the kitchen for a reason.

Helen took a poll to see how many glasses she needed to pull down and came up with only two. She poured Evan’s glass first, then took her own empty glass and tossed it in the air like a bartender might do. A few of us gasped, but she caught it cleanly and said, “Did you see that?” She did it again and again, showing us how the glass seemed to melt midair as it twirled in circles and its distinct shape was lost from the moment it left her hand until seconds later when she caught it again, and Evan said, “I wish it were May Day because that glass would fit in perfectly.”

I was the first to hear the knock, and again as a group, we returned to the living room to see who it might be. Three mystery blondes entered, and Brooke named them in turn. They hadn’t realized Katie was out of town, and they were only stopping by to see if anyone wanted to join them at the bar. Once they saw we were having a night in, they decided to put off their departure for a bit, just to chat with us. One of the girls was from Baltimore, and I have never been to Baltimore, though I have seen every episode of The Wire, so we talked about what it was like living there and how she liked Georgia and if she might ever go home. She wasn’t sure yet because her boyfriend wanted to move out west, and if they were still together after graduating college, she’d probably move with him.

I told her that I was planning on moving out west after college, too. I hadn’t picked out a state yet, I just knew I wanted it to border the Pacific Ocean. She gave me her email address so we could keep in touch and have built-in friends should we make that move after graduation, but I didn’t have a pen, so I repeated it out loud a few times trying to commit it to memory, noticing when I did so that I hadn’t had to count my limbs in quite a long time by that point, and the uneasy feeling that had been in my stomach for the last hour finally receded.

Someone realized that we hadn’t touched the stereo at all that night, and we needed music to set the scene. Brett wanted electronic music, but Brooke vetoed him and put on a live Widespread Panic show, which is what I wanted, too. I don’t like feeling like I’m on drugs, even when I am on drugs.

At one point, Katie called, and Brooke put her on speakerphone so that we could all tell her hello and thank her for the use of her house, and we asked her if she knew her house had a nautical theme, and she said that the previous renters had designed it that way and she had never cared enough to change it. Then we teased her about the lawn furniture in the kitchen, and I got scared that we might hurt her feelings, but she laughed it off and said she was 20, give her a break.

When the three blondes decided it was time to go to the bar, Brett left with them. He said he felt fine to face the world, and since at least he wasn’t driving, I decided to believe him. That left Brooke, Ashley, Helen, Evan, and myself. Evan started getting a little emotional, missing his girlfriend who lived in Texas. I ended up meeting her a few weeks later. She had red hair, and I introduced myself as one of the people Evan had been with the night he called her from Katie’s house. He disappeared upstairs to talk to her on the phone, and when Brooke went up a little while later to check on him, she found him passed out on the floor of Katie’s room and we were glad to know we didn’t need to worry about him anymore.

Ashley decided to tell us the real story of losing her virginity, and it wasn’t as embarrassing as Brooke had made it sound earlier. A little sad, maybe, but if you imagined the story happening to someone you didn’t know, it just seemed like something that happens to some people in life, and there might be some heartbreak to it, but nothing you couldn’t bounce back from. And Ashley said she still talked to the guy sometimes, and there really weren’t any hard feelings.

Brooke asked me if I thought I could handle Charades now, and I kind of could, but I still didn’t want to play. Brooke asked if Pictionary might be more fun, and we decided to try it. But once we found a pad of paper to use, we ended up splitting the papers between us and drawing and writing and folding origami each on our own terms, and when we’d finish a piece, we’d hold it up and instead of saying, “Guess what this is,” we’d say, “Do you like the giraffe I made?” and everyone else could say that yes, they did, and I think we realized that this had been a good way to pass the time. A very encouraging activity, with none of the stress of competition.

After making our way through a couple of Widespread Panic shows, Ashley decided to put on Ween, and I mentioned that Ween was one of my favorite bands because you never knew where they were going to take their music next – even within the same song – and everyone nodded solemnly and said they agreed.

I guess it was about 5 in the morning when we decided we could try to sleep. Helen lived a few blocks down the road, so she just headed home, and Ashley took the couch, while Brooke and I shared Katie’s bed. Once we were upstairs, Brooke asked if I had enjoyed myself, and I told her that yes I had, and I could see the tension leaving her body, and I realized that she may have been a little bossy the whole night, but it was only because she had put it upon herself to play hostess that evening, bringing together friends from different areas of her life and not knowing how it might turn out, and if it went south, she worried that everyone might blame her.

I forget sometimes that she’s not as confident as she seems.

I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but various images kept popping up behind my eyelids.

First it was a little girl in a jumper climbing atop a washing machine. I mean jumper the way Americans use it – like a little dress worn over a blouse, not the way the British use it to mean sweater or pullover.

It was a plaid jumper. Like one that might be worn by an elementary school student.

I couldn’t see the little girl’s face. Just the back of her head and the soles of her shoes as she clambered up this washing machine for reasons unknown to me. The second she made it up there, the image would cut back to the beginning.

And I’d see her climb again.

Then there were the images of people bowling. I seemed to be far enough back from them that I must have been in the area where food and drink is allowed. I saw them bowl over and over. I had no idea how well they bowled, how many pins they knocked down, or even who they were. I just saw them approach the lane, bring their arm back, then bring it forward again as they released the ball at the front of the swing. Then the scene would start over.

Three to five seconds of their lives. Behind my eyelids.

I asked Brooke if she was still awake, and she was, so I told her about the images behind my eyelids, and she told me I was lucky to always have a show to watch if I wanted, and I said I hadn’t really thought of it that way before, but it was a good way to think of it, and I was glad she was my friend. She said she felt the same way, then we agreed that we really needed to sleep and if we kept talking, we’d stay up for many more hours, and we could always talk more after waking.

I turned to face the wall, I closed my eyes, and I watched the show.


One comment

  1. […] I am World Leader Pretend. « Katie’s House. Imperfections. » Nathan’s Still in the Netherlands. April 28, […]

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