Sometimes I stay up too late, writing. I tell myself at least it’s not Facebook and that gives me a righteous few minutes but it is late at night and my face will bear testimony to it tomorrow. And what can I tell my co-workers? “Yeah, stayed up real late. Writing and shit, you know. Real cool stuff.” No, I mean – no.
Ever stay up way too late and look like a panda the next day? I texted Elsa.
Maybe the morning is a fresh start and maybe it’s the greatest purveyor of vapid untruths the world has ever known, but either way it feels fresh and hard to deny. Sure, I think, everything can be okay so long as there are mornings that look and smell like this one, and if I’m lying to myself it isn’t injurious to my emotional health, at any rate.
This is fun, I told myself. Maybe not fun in the orthodox sense but a type of fun. This is the sort of thing that happens when you’re young, I continued.
Sometimes there is no hot water, and you wash your hair in the sink, and you know . . . It works. It’s not ideal, and if I spend too much time thinking about it I probably will start to feel like a trapped and grimy small animal.
“I don’t know why everyone talks about your hair,” Marina’s new assistant told me. “It isn’t really that thick.” I nodded, fascinated by the salon’s backlog of Japanese magazines. “Sure. Lots of hairs are thicker.” She pulled it taut. “Like, all my cousins have thicker hair than this,”
“Okay,” I said, because I didn’t know what else to say. “It isn’t really that shiny, is it?” She asked, frowning behind her glasses. I shrugged. “Maybe, um, not?”
“No it isn’t shiny. And it isn’t thick. Or long. Like everyone in this salon was all ‘Oh look at Lola’s hair,’ and I was all ‘You think that’s good? You haven’t seen much hair.’ ”
I wish I could say that I said something to her, that I didn’t just stare with widened eyes for a second, shocked, thinking I am not misinterpreting this, am I? I am pretty sure that I am not misinterpreting this and that there are a limited number of interpretations and I think I’m getting the point. But all I did was look down at the magazine, while my mind turned itself on its tail, and everyone I told the story to scolded me and told me what I should have said, should have done. Didn’t do.
Sometimes I don’t want to go to sleep because it just means I’ll have to wake up what feels like immediately afterwards. As if staying awake for five minutes more of hazy night is somehow better than hearing the dreaded alarm.
But then it’s night and sense-making has been done away with and my apprehension of the next day keeps me from falling asleep.
Or delays it, I guess. I’m not ruling insomnia out as a lifestyle choice but I’m too young – sleep still hijacks my body when it wants to, black bag over the head and hello Siberia.
“Oh Lola I haven’t seen you in so long!” she exclaimed, lips slowly pulling apart over her spotless teeth. I smiled weakly, tried telling her ‘Well why could that be!’ but it sounded like a half-hearted laugh. I shrugged. Look friendly, Lola! This is a client and you are not allowed to be afraid and after all she is a woman and you are hardly about to get raped in school in front of everyone. “So long . . . ” I trailed off, nodding and smiling like mad and trying to ease backwards.
But the woman was not to be deterred. Her smile every widening, she followed me step for step as I inched back and away, telling me what a wonderful role model I was and how lucky the children were to have me. Finally I felt a soft thud behind me and I knew I’d hit the wall. I pressed myself against it. No one would corner their child’s teacher, right? But she did, of course, hugging me tightly, like a long-lost relative and kissing me tenderly on the cheek. “We just love you so much, Lola,” she said through clenched teeth. Why is she hugging me so tightly?! Why are her teeth clenched?! Does she really like me or really hate me?!
I peeled off my layers of clothing that night. They were still stuck to my sweaty skin. “I smell like fucking two-week old turkey,” I told Havana, who sits on my bed and cocks her head at me when I speak. No one wants to hear about how often I have to wash my bras unless they’re perverts or sadists.