I can’t stop crying, just like I can’t write. I don’t know what this is I’m doing now. I’ve written next to nothing for damn near a year. I’m eating the rest of the Milky Way Midnight candy bar I got from the 7-Eleven in my neighborhood last night. I felt high. I was high. I floated back in time to when I was twenty-four, when I’d get stoned and walk down to the gas station for a six-pack of Hostess mini donuts. I lived on the westside then. It was before her. That was the marker my mind found as I walked home last night. Before her. I could’ve thrown a stick and hit the house she grew up in. Fortunately that thought didn’t cross my mind until now. I feel her past behind me as I face south, toward the Santa Monica Mountains. The Post-it note on the wall in front of me says, “As it turns out, Love hurts just as bad when you don’t believe in it. 10/15 9pmish”. I have no idea what I believe in this moment. But thanks to the Post-it, I know what I did on October 15, around 9pmish. Or maybe I just wanted to write something, anything.

None of this changes the fact that I feel her behind me now. Maybe it’s because I know she’s in town again, the town that’s apparently not big enough for us to share. I’d quit Twitter in July because of her, for me. Then I saw her face on the wall of a restaurant out in the desert. I realized it’s really all for not. I’m back on social media. On Twitter last night, I saw she was trending. I felt proud. Now I feel nothing, just the candy bar settling into my otherwise empty stomach. She had blocked me on Twitter after my suicide attempt last year. I was still unconscious at the time. I’d like to believe she at least waited until she knew I had survived.

Sometimes I still want to get out of the Valley, and by sometimes I mean always. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but there’s a gravity that always finds me, some throbbing force that keeps me behind the Hollywood sign. When I moved earlier this year, I mostly just wanted to get out of the neighborhood where she grew up. Los Angeles is too big for this. I’d moved here unknowing in 2018. I‘m still here now in 2021. In the spring I moved only a few blocks south, and a few blocks west, just a short walk from the 7-Eleven, and the house she grew up in. I threw up in front of it once, while out for a run. I tend to avoid it now. Even if there’s no avoiding her. At least I’ve stopped crying. And maybe someday the gravity will just be rent control.

photo: the San Fernando Valley from Mullholland Dr. June 2018.

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