The Member of a Wedding-Creative Person Reflection
Without connections to others there is no me
It almost feels like velvet; like the infinite impact of milky
fur against skin. I don't really know how to describe it any
other way. It is, as Jeffery Eugenides would say, elusive. Like a
butterfly, unable to be pinned.
Consider it this way: 'have you ever seen a person that afterwards, you remember as a feeling rather than a picture?' It is hard to imagine such a philosophy I know, but that is truly how I felt the day I met Wesley Brown. She was, in a lack of better words, a character.
Within the materialistic mess of private education, there are three streams in which to belong to: the perpetual cliché of malicious and sickeningly attractive people who go to parties and hide away at the bottom of the oval, smoking and discussing their unknown pleasures. The burning cherries of each cigarette stay mirrored behind their eyes, like hidden beholders of their superiority. Then there are 'the others,' a cluster of loners who sit awkwardly on the outskirts of the social torrent, too isolated to really belong to anything. They clutch their paperbacks to their chests and keep their heads down, experts in invisibility. But the best stream, the ones who scorch the ground with their intensity, are the blissfully quirky delights of Wesley's group. A wonderful mix of intriguingly queer people; wasting each day together beneath the watch of a monstrous lavender bush that caves around them, creating a beautiful nook to in which they lay in the grass. Each day I stare, longing to loose myself inside the lilac hollow, sharing in the mysterious fun. It almost 'gives me a kind of pain to think about them there;' the members of a private unit that I could not quite join, and can never understand how. I guess I am just 'an unjoined person,' someone who 'hangs around in doorways,' trying to belong to something. I am quite sad really. Sad face, sad hair, sad skin. I 'wish I was somebody else except me.'
The last time I belonged to something was in the seventh grade. My mum, a peculiar lady with unruly curls and very olive skin, introduced me to painting. I adored the way the colours drip across a canvas, settling in to each other like fresh love. The idea that each colour went together so wholly, so seamlessly it made me question who I am, and what I am for. I remember one particular Sunday; it was early, so early in fact that the sun was still missing from the sky. I came downstairs to find my mum, alone wearing nothing but a thin shirt, much too large to protect her from the crisp air. She was painting on the windowsill, painting me. Stroking in detail to the soft waves of my shoulder length hair, brushing on the edges of my cheekbones, the delicate lines of my red lips against pale skin, a lost in time expression in my ocean green eyes. I looked different somehow, prettier. It was like she sore me in a different light, a light of beauty. I knew at that point that as long as I belonged to my mum, I would be happy. That to be happy, I had to have someone. And as these realisations sunk in through the cobwebs, I felt real for the first time. I felt infinite.
My mum died later that day, sitting at the kitchen table. Brain aneurysm. She was gone, gone along with all the other colourful things.
And then it happened, that green and hazy summer day, the kind where there is no separation between your clothes and your muggy flesh. The kind of day where the sun bounces through the dizzy trees, playing through flaws in the clouds. Where the acid sidewalk appears glazed and glitters like spring. The world is black and shrunken under the glare of the light. And even through this Wesley Brown's face was neither blurred nor blemished. Her skin, like lavender, very dark, charcoal even; the silhouette of her figure was sanded, the rough edges smoothed out. She was more than just a person, but a daydream, someone you wish to be part of, wish to be like. A black crown of curls protruded from her hairline, a delightful mixture of bounce and youth. She reminded me of something, like a prayer for which no words exist. I watched her walk, slightly slower than I had seen before. I wanted to join her, to share one of the head phones cramped into her ears, to laugh and share things that nobody else knows. But she doesn't know me. She doesn't think about me. She is a raging storm and I am a pathetic drizzle. So I walked behind her, both going in the same direction but everything between us.
Things changed when I met Wesley. I wasn't plain old Billy Addams anymore, I was someone more. Someone who felt connected with all she saw. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time but somehow, I felt included. It was beginning to get late, the subtle giveaways of nightfall becoming clearer. I stayed late after school. My dad never finishes work before nine so there wasn't much point rushing home to a lonely house. Instead I lost myself inside Carlson McCullers's 'The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,' nestled in the sour corners of the library. As I eventually dawdled out the front gate, the final hints of summer were hidden in the air and a still image of Wesley floated through my mind. She seemed so real, so pristine, like a pool of settled water that I yearned to sink into and be a part of. She is so much of me; she is in my veins, in my muscles, thrusting in my chest. She is sprouting like vines around my organs, my intestines, dribbling her petals as she goes. She is me; she is 'the we of me'. Taking comfort from my thoughts of her I waited for the images in my head to fade away like the day, but they remained still. I blinked and shook my head.
"Do you need a hand?" My own voice startled me, as well as the real Wesley Brown, crouching on the pavement collecting the ginormous stack of scattered books. She smiled at me like lavender, her face a shy pearl. And at the moment I knew, amongst all the hypnotized chaos where I fit in.
"Thank you so much," she replied as I handed her the books.
"The Virgin Suicides, I love that book,"
"Oh really?" she smiled, "me too! I've reread it so many times!" I stared back at her, holding the words in my eyes. The endless times I have daydreamed about us meeting could not match up to this. I feel so real, so infinite, so connected. And with those thoughts rippling through my head we walked, together. Laughing and lost in our own little world. "The hull of the old Billy left somewhere far behind."
I always pictured my graduation from high school a certain way, a virgin experience of beauty and flourish. Isn't it funny how things are? How before me the tide is unfurling and behind me the planets are exploding. How up in the universe somewhere, my mum is dead and soulless yet out in the crowd watching is my proud father, tears brimming in his eyes. How I am waiting up at the stands, certificate in my hand, feeling linked in so many ways with someone else, and with myself. I am feeling like a real member. A beautiful and queer member. And isn't it funny how whilst I stand here, I am listening. Listening to my best friend of two years Wesley Brown, sharing her bloodlust and thoughts with the entire school; sharing a story at the podium about how I saved her life. About how she finally felt connected with someone, in a way that she did not go home on that Summer day, a day where any hints of warmth were being hidden by the wind. A day where she stayed back after to school planning her own death and I stayed back in the sour corners of the library. Isn't it funny how I saved her, how my words, my actions, my being stopped her slashing away at her flesh until she runs dry. I think it is. And as I stand before the stunned crowd, watching my best friend I realise that I have been infinite all along. I realise that as long as I am connected with others, I will always be real. I will always belong. I will be a character, elusive, unable to be pinned.