The Humid Maze of Life
Words By Claire Julian, Art By Mark Baird
I wanna be back where people meant so much to me that my whole body hurt all the time, just from caring.
Where Ashley smoked bowls with me in the stairwell, coughing, laughing, drawing our initials in a heart on the wall with ash, best friends forever, you know. Where Sam picked up my body, strewn somewhere in the lobby of our building as the sun seemed close to peeking out many nights (mornings?) in March, and dragged me upstairs to my room. She would sing songs because she knew that my insides felt cold the way they always did when I had been awake for days.
I wanna be back where Wes fed my ego with big deep swimming pool stares, platonic caresses, not so quiet adoration; clothed my body with huge warm sweaters, hung past my knees, baseball caps, lost every week; gave me a home in his lanky awkward arms, clanging lofted bed, beautiful imagination. Where bruises bloomed all over my body like lipstick stains from blackout nights, on my lower back, right foot, left knee, both elbows. Lipstick stains from god, life, the divine whatever—drugs.
I wanna be back where Sarah would lie next to me while I napped, brush her lips against my skin, float in and out of my life like a whisper of some deeper potential I would never find. Where I woke up with someone who loved me every day and went to sleep maybe with one less. Where my skin was golden, sun baked, always oily with sunscreen, sweat, salt water, sand; I was never where I was supposed to be, I was by the ocean. Where nights went on forever if I wanted them to, a transcendent bleeding together of time, that sour drip in the back of your throat; Charlotte was probably playing a Gwen Stefani CD in her ancient car; I was probably trying to count my heart rate because I used to do that all the time; Taylor was from Mars and she sat in the backseat.
Back where everything was moving, it couldn’t be stopped, it just went. Waking up in Sofia’s apartment in Downtown Miami, she was already gone, a quick shower and hello to the doorman then an Uber to the train station. On the handlebars of Charlotte’s bike, gliding down South Beach, Cammie had abandoned her bikini top, someone looped a flower through my nose ring; later a plate of cocaine and dark lighting, some fancy, nearly empty apartment complex, Charlotte truly dripping all over the pole, somehow, randomly, a childhood friend beside me in town visiting, of all things, the university I was enrolled in, an Uber away, several miles, lots of traffic.
I wanna be back in the everything, the humid maze of life, where I felt so undeniably real that I knew it was gonna last forever, that forever was really just one moment, that that one moment was now, and that I was going to let it absolutely swallow me whole.