Every Friday (or at least, usually every Friday, or some Fridays, or sometimes it happens that it's a Friday) I walk to the Harold Washington Library on my lunch break to admire the huge rooftop owls-on-fire thing they got going on and check out whatever book I got on hold. I have to stop buying books and movies because I'm running out of shelves almost as quickly as I'm running out of money. Plus libraries are bastions of awe.
This particular Friday was the first day of Lollapalooza, the music festival of sweat and metal, and the sidewalks on the way to the library are crammed with drunken teenagers who are crammed into as little clothing as possible. When did tiny, tiny shorts become the norm? It's slightly troublesome, seeing them strut amongst the suits, giggling and talking about bands I'd never heard of and bands that were popular fifteen years ago in the same sentence and breath, and all I can think about is how I want out of the mob so I can get my book and I realize not much has changed since high school.
Lolla is something I'm not even remotely interested in. Too many people, too loud. You have to fight for things that aren't worth a fight: being noticed, a conversation, a breeze. I'm starting to think that living alone will suit me well because now I can officially become a lonely, battered drunk and write that novel I always knew was brewing inside, only I felt too guilty and comfortable ever to write it before.
That's a problem I have: feeling guilty for taking time to myself. There's always something to do, somewhere to go, something to see, and I love that. But I feel guilty turning people down, I feel guilty when I talk to a stranger at a bar and ignore the people I came with. Even for a minute. I felt guilty going out and leaving CrazyLiz's cat home alone. I felt guilty going out leaving CrazyLiz home alone with her cat. I feel guilty right now because I started moving things into her room and she's been gone for a week, so I stopped.
She'd been one of my best friends for fourteen years, and I think she was the hardest person to live with out of everyone. She was always fearless and sensitive and completely irresponsible - the type of person who hears "do not do this thing that you want to do" and then she just fucking does it with a shit-eating grin. Do not rollerblade down that twisty slide, CrazyLiz. Do not pay for grad school with your credit card, CrazyLiz. Do not call your ex-boyfriend, CrazyLiz.
But at the same time, she is funner than hell. She's a person you call for adventures. She's a person you call to listen to your troubles, or to help you get into trouble. She laughs harder and cries more easily and takes more life risks than anyone I've ever met. Every day she pummels herself with as many feelings she can reach. Running the emotional gauntlet. In a way, CrazyLiz is better at living than everyone else because she hides nothing. But that doesn't mean she's not exhausting.
There's a kid walking in front of me with his hat askew and he's talking to a girl wearing daisy dukes and it's weird. But they don't call them daisy dukes anymore, they call them something else. I don't know why. Like when All-Stars became Chucks, which both of them were wearing all strategically flopped over on purpose, because it makes them look alternative, I guess. I'll never understand the allure of completely contrived effortlessness. It feels like a shadow.
"This is gonna be sick," he's saying to the girl.
"Seriously. Cuz it's like, okay. Sometimes I feel like I was born too late, you know? I shoulda been in high school in the nineties. You know, underground shows were literally under the ground. And you found out about parties and raves and shit becuzza flyers, not Facebook, and shit wasn't all secondhanded and full of douchebags. Raves were epic then, man. My brother told me."
"I wish I like, knew more. About it. And stuff." The girl did that thing that pretty girls do, that thing that I've never been able to pull off properly, where you coyly look up at a boy using your eyes instead of your whole head.
And I remembered being back in high school in '95, walking to a concert with a group of friends and talking to Justin, who I found moderately dreamy. And my chin was tilted up full throttle and I was wearing overalls, chucks and a wifebeater, which was my favorite thing to wear to shows and concerts. And I told him how I wished I was in high school in the late sixties when rock was raw and unashamed and being a rebel actually meant something, and he looked at me like I was stupid and he said, "So? That's stupid."
And then Justin went over to Andrea, who wore skirts and looked like Audrey Hepburn and could do that coy thing with her eyes. I loved being friends with Andrea because when she was around boys would follow, and I hated being friends with Andrea because they only paid attention to her. And then she went to France for the summer and when she came home she was even prettier and more elegant and free, and she told me we couldn't be friends anymore because her boyfriend thought I was a dork and they didn't want me going to their parties.
All of this is glopping into my brain in thick mud pies, so I turn it off and switch back to dropping eaves on Lolla kids.
That kid's talking about Ween now, as if Ween were a force nature that shaped the hearts and minds of the teens of the nineties, and I want to tell him he's stupid because Ween was basically known for "Push the Little Daisies" and remained relatively obscure until about 2001 and then became retroactively relevant.
I don't, though.