Not to interrupt the fluidity of this corner of cyber space, (though by the aforesaid "fluidity" I mean rationalization in my head that these ramblings connect to each other in some vague way that makes their revealing nature softer and less awkward), I feel it is about time I address this topic and, attempt at least, to speak plainly.
I know some of you personally know me, and most of these writings contain information far more personal than is appropriate for our relationships. Most of you have had the politeness to have never breathed a word of this to me, and for that I am very (very) grateful, both for the sake of my own embarrassment and the confidence to continue writing. Honestly, I would have never realized anybody I actually knew was reading this until my biological Mom decided to make a sarcastic comment in my Christmas card this past year. I would have been angry, but she apparently gave out the url or a link of some sort to all her friends before reading and realizing that I have no shame in my past and make no attempts to gloss over any gory detail. It was never my intention to purposely embarrass her, however, it definitely brought the cheer to one more scaring Christmas experience. (Hi Mom). But more relevantly, it also revealed to me that yes, people I know are actually reading this. My initial reaction: Uh oh. My second reaction: Fuck it, its to late now.
Yes, I realize the link is RIGHT THERE on my Instagram, and as I continued with my Braddock urbex series, and later, a sporadic record of my way ward life, my personal friends began following. In my defense, I was one of those children who smashed the cylinder in the X hole instead of finding the circle shaped one, I am also a firm believer that The Nile is no more than a river in Egypt. Basically, I refused to put two and two together… or I did and came up with 5, who the fuck knows. This collection was originally intended to be nothing more than a diary of sorts, to help pass the time and relieve some of the uncomfortable emotions I was going through after my transition to Braddock. (I know, many of you who have been reading with me for the long haul know that there are many other ways than "transition" to describe that incident, some sad and some hysterically sarcastic, but I don't feel like talking about it today.) You could ask, why then would I decide to publicly broadcast my personal diary? Because simply, when your going through hell all alone, sometimes its nice to hear that the words you use to describe hell are beautiful at least, and to know that somebody is listening, even if that somebody is on the other side of the world and will never see your face. Sometimes too, that fact just makes it even nicer, because you don't have to worry about what they will say to you next time you meet, or be afraid of worrying them. Sometimes you just have to take what small niceness you can get when theres nothing else but cats, dogs and coffee cups, and the scenery looks like something out of The Road. (That pun was intended.) That's how I saw it at least.
And there was a shinning moment when this all began. When the only people reading were strangers behind glowing screens in far away states and countries. There was a moment, and perhaps thats how I created something almost delirious and brutally poignant from my sometimes backwards and often absent brain. I'll blame those fledgling months, for summoning the courage in me to spill it all out like the gruesome and gritty disaster that my life has been, then frame it like a ruin porn photograph, like burnt up, shattered, molded and falling abandoned buildings, beautiful abandoned buildings. But alas, that time is over, and as public things are indeed public, it is time I acknowledge that yes, you are reading, and hell, that's okay. Also I realize this disclaimer may be alarming for a different reason to another person, the person whose kindness and work is behind all this, so i must also mention that while I've had to adjust my nonexistent social footing, the tool that was provided to me has arguably been the most helpful thing to ever grace my musical and all other things creative career. (ThankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouCameron) And so it has all changed in a Starbucks in Homestead a little more than a year ago, Hugabear was imitating Yinzers, I was soaking wet, and none of the patrons were amused.
THE FORTUNATE ACQUAINTANCE OF CAMERON BENTLEY
"What the fuck…." I trail off, staring at the screen unsure if there's a glitch in the webpage or I've really lost my mind and am hallucinating. [C] looks up at me curiously from across the table, making a questioning expression and lowering his own laptop screen a little bit.
"You're netbook acting up again?" He asks finally.
"No, well…. I think its okay." I say, shaking my head no, sending a spray of little droplets on the floor and chairs around me. "I don't know."
He gives me that same questioning expression again, than leans forward very seriously. "You just realized," He starts slowly, in barely a whisper so that I have to lean forward too. "That you may have stuck your head in a fountain."
"Aww fuck you!" I say a little too loud and flick some water at him from off the front of my t-shirt, much to the dismay of the patrons around us. He grins at one of them and I start giggling into my coffee cup.
"Now deez jag offs," he says in a loud mock Pittsburguese dialect that sends my muffled giggle fit quickly spiraling out of control, "think its perfectly fi-ine, ta climb in dis 'ere fountain, then wa-alk in Starr-bucks, and use the internets. Yinz ought, get back, on der own side of the river." Some well dressed yuppie type looks at us and grunts, which makes my ill concealed laughter turn into snorting, which then sends [C] off too.
To be fair it must have been quite the sight for everyone in Homestead Starbucks that early summer day: A red headed bearish looking dude and a tiny drenched girl, both wearing clothes that screamed homeless, smelling like beer and goat piss and laughing hysterically like children with, contrastingly, fairly expensive laptops in front of them in the back corner of Starbucks. It took us a full minute to calm down before I even remembered what I wanted to point out to him.
"Oh yeah!" I gasp breathlessly, excitedly pointing at my laptop screen again.
"Lemme guess, you forgot the keys again?"
"No…" I start to say and catch him grinning, realizing he's making fun of me and it went over my head again." Stop it!" I almost yell trying to look mad between residual giggles. "Your gonna make me forget again."
"Okay," He says seriously, "Let me see." I jump up and turn my laptop around to him.
"It looks fine." He says, obviously confused. I shake my head again, sending out another small shower on everything around us and point to the Page Views number on the screen. "Huh." He says and sits back. "Think its a glitch?"
"I don't know." I say quietly. "But there's no reason for it to jump up like that. Nobody knows about it."
He nods his head and refreshes the page. When the number is the same he shuts down Internet Explorer then runs it again. I put my password back in and bring us back to the page, this time the number is one higher.
"You pay for an ad or something lately?"
I laugh, "Definitely not."
"How many's normal?"
"Bout 10 to 20."
"Huh." he says again then shrugs his shoulder. "over a hundred yesterday."
"What??? No." I stare at the screen incredulously. There were even more yesterday.
"You check your email?"
"No!" I say, surprised I hadn't thought of it and whip the computer back around towards me. [C] shakes his head and laughs, then goes back to what he was doing earlier. About a minute later I'm flailing my arms for his attention again.
"Got an email did ya?"
"Oh my god dude, check this out." I say and spin the laptop back to him. He reads it through then nods his head.
"You were talking about making a website, weren't you?"
"Yeah, I bought teamunderdawg.com but I couldn't figure out how to program it with this fucking thing." I say, gesturing disgustedly at my netbook.
"Oh yeah," he says laughing. "I can't believe that wasn't taken."
"This one too."
"Yeah." I say, then smile proudly. "Pretty red cars…."
"Sell off the photographs?" He asks.
"That was the original plan." I say, then re-read the email. "Looks like he's got everything put together here though… Says he likes my music, I didn't think I had any recordings."
[C] shrugs, "There was the Occupy jam with Dublin."
"They posted that?"
"I think so." He says, then starts looking it up.
"And my writing…" I say, reading the email once again. "But my blog used to be linked to my photos, before everyone started instagramming. Maybe it still is…"
"Yeah they posted it." He says without looking up. "You know you could just go on the page and check it out for yourself."
My eyes go wide and I shake my finger at him slowly making what I think is my "Ah-ha!" face and gesture, but judging by his varying reactions I'm probably always pretty far off the mark. We don't talk about these things. He smirks and we both set to tapping away again.
"Ha!" he suddenly yells and spins his laptop towards me. "I saw your own website before you did."
"No fair my laptop sucks!" I complain while it slowly loads on my own screen. But there it is in front of me on his. My pictures in a neat little banner scrolling across the top, and an old profile blurb I wrote from somewhere. Some videos of drunken jam nights with Don Carpenter. My pictures all put together and up for sale. Then my fledgling blog on the far right, ready for the world to listen.
"Ha!!" I chime proudly, echoing [C] and smacking the table. A few people look up startled then try to ignore us again. I laugh through my grin and dance in my seat, clicking on all the links. "I got a webbbbb site! Fuck yeeaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!" I announce to all of Starbucks. Im sure they thought it was porn.
I woke up to pain. I couldn't tell what kind of pain at first, all I knew was it was pain as my eyes blearily opened to the small room with the falling sideboard in the back of the shack. The pain was moving. It was moving really fast, burning up my leg. Then suddenly there was a tug on my left hand and… Im being attacked!
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!" I screamed. "Ya-ya! FUCK!" I kicked off the blanket and scrambled to the back of the bed, a giant white cockatoo chasing after me across the blankets.
"What the fuck??" Crystal groaned beside me, then suddenly became alert when she saw Ya-ya in the bed. "God damn it Ya-ya!" She reached for the bird then pulled away when Ya-ya's beak snapped at her too. "Rick!" She yelled, but he was already stumbling into the room and snatched up Ya-ya in one quick motion. "Sorry girls." He muttered groggily. He held her under his arm for a second while he stared at the two of us, obviously confused, then shrugged and left the room, quietly reprimanding the large cockatoo under his arm on his way out. Its only then that I noticed both me and Crystal were in bikinis and everything was covered in shaving cream.
"What the fuck did we do?" I asked, slumping back down into the blankets.
"I think we thought we were going surfing…" She said and lied back down too.
"Oh." I said, still not remembering.
"And peppermint schnaps."
"What?" I asked.
"Oh yeah… you'd never had it before. The minty stuff."
"Ohhhh," I said remembering music and a clear shot in my hand. Lots of clear shots in my hands. "I liked that stuff."
"Yeah you did." She giggled, then frowned and rubbed her head.
"Those surfers." She explained.
"Oh…." I moaned dismally, everything coming back in a flash. Last call, getting frisky with some tall dude, hopping fences, faking an accent, barefoot in the gravel. Why the fuck were we behind the house?
"Eh, might as well have lived it up. You can't go back." Crystal said, pulling me back to the room again, that had slowly begun to spin.
"Huh?" I said, alarmed. I didn't remember getting into any serious trouble.
"Your passport, they knew you fudged it…. I told you not to do that!"
"Aw fuck." I mumbled and pulled the pillow over my head. "I can't get a new one for three more years."
I was just starting to wallow in my self pity and regret when Ricks voice suddenly boomed through the wall, breaking my thoughts. Crystal winced.
"Violet!" I heard from the other room.
"Huh?" I yelled painfully, wondering how bad it was that while the morning was admittedly a crazier one, it was all perfectly normal to me.
"We gotta be at the booth in half an hour!"
"Seriously!" He yelled. "And don't give me no - I'm hungover - shit. We're pirates."
"Okay!" I yelled again, exasperated. Then rolled off the mattress and onto the floor with a dramatic thunk.
"See ya on the beach." Cyrstal yawned and pulled the rest of the blankets around herself.
I rubbed my face with one hand then dragged my feet over to my hat and plucked it off the ground. "Bean-bean" I said softly as my little kitten strutted in the room with a stretch and rubbed against my leg. "Whuz up my do?"
I shook the shaving cream off my hat and re-shaped the wire edges and my long white feather, after carefully inspecting its plume for left over shaving cream flecks. Then I adjusted it on my head and stretched a long, exaggerated stretch before setting out to find my boots and sword. Within a few minutes I was dressed and had my corset laced up enough that I was ready for Rick to cinch me in. Lastly I tended to Sabina, and fitted on her tiny black and sequined harness before scooping her up onto my shoulder and lazily leaning against Rick's doorless door frame. I watched him hang a chain from his nose ring and straighten out his boots before he motioned for me to turn around so he could lace my corset shut and hand me a beer, the mid morning sun poured through the window, forever burning it into my memory.
I was 19.