I love new journals. When I start a new journal those first few pages are perfect. That perfection, well, it doesn’t last more than about seven pages. My handwriting gets messy and I cross out words, lines, and sentences. I put big “X”s through whole paragraphs and even might write the word SHIT in big capital letters under the X. I wish I were neater.
Some people are neat, really well put together. They’re ironed and buttoned up, pressed and lip-sticked. I want to be one of those girls, the ones that never leave the house without their lip-gloss. I bring it with me but then I forget to put it on.
Like this girl I bumped into from high school at LAX. She looked as if she were off to brunch with girlfriends in her ironed white champagne flute and perfect hair and makeup. I think her $500 designer jeans were even pressed. When we were kids we’d dress up to fly, because back then flying was fancy with winding first class staircases and piano bars in coach, but not now. I had to run into her? Now? When I had no make up on, not even my lip-gloss. My hair was greasy and it was caught between my shoulder and the strap of my travel bag, pulling my head to the right. I hadn’t washed it since my haircut and color two days earlier. I spotted her as I was pulling my hair free.
I thought she looked familiar, but everyone in LA looks familiar. I assume they’re an actor. At some point isn’t everyone in LA an actor? She wasn’t an actor. She was Trista. Popular Trista. Pretty, thin, long legged, perfect Trista. She hadn’t changed. Except maybe her chest, it was fuller, plumper. It could have been a Victoria Secret Wonder treasure.
“Carolyn, how are you?” she asked. “Come sit here.” She patted the empty seat next to her. I plopped my bag on the floor and sat down. She rambled, talking on about herself and her life. She said she was still living in Beverly Hills, that she was on her way up to San Francisco to visit family, that she was a writer.
“Wow” I asked, “what do you write?” I had been taking my Method Writing class for a couple of years but I still was shy about calling myself a writer. When I met anyone who was a writer I wanted to know everything about what they wrote and if they were they published and did they love writing as much as I did?
“I write screenplays and I’m a copywriter and …and” her eyes widened, she looked surprised, as if she had seen someone from high school that she didn’t want to see. She was glaring at my left hand. “…uh…you’re MARRied?”
“Yes.” I said, “We got married in ‘03”. It’s as if a cool breeze had blown through the terminal. Her dark brown almond eyes narrowed, they got darker. They seemed almost black. The hairs on the back of my neck prickled to attention. I could see her cheeks blush. She looked away toward the gate and her hair flew behind her. She turned back, flipped her hair over her left shoulder. Cher used to do that with her hair on the Sonny and Cher show.
“Who are you in touch with from high school?” She asked. I couldn’t remember the last time I spoke to anyone from high school.
“No one.” I said.
“Really? Aren’t you close with anyone?” She asked. “Those were the greatest years! I had so much fun. I loved high school.” She had friends, she was gorgeous, she was on the volleyball team, went to dances, had dates; of course she fucking loved high school.
“Trista,” I said, “those really weren’t my favorite years.”
“Wow, that’s too bad.” She said. “I just had dinner with Veronica Frank. You two were friends back then, weren’t you? And Jeannie, you remember her don’t you?”
“Yes,” I said. “Veronica and I were close, Jeannie, not so much.” Veronica and I had a falling out after college, she wasn’t thrilled with my choices and made it clear: ‘You’re wasting your life away in Santa Barbara slinging hash, that’s so beneath you.’ Jeannie and I were never friends.
“Oh! You know who looks aMAZing?” Trista reached out and touched my arm. “L.S.” She said.
L.S. was my big crush, from that first day in 7th grade homeroom when I sat in front of him. He’d pull at my hair; tap my shoulder, lean forward in his chair and whisper in my ear. Our teacher, Mr. Markovich would scold him. “Mr. S.,” his voice reverberated, it felt as if the windows might shatter, “How is it that life hands out bowls of cherries and with you, I’ve received a bowl of the pits?” I fell hard for L.S. Trista knew it. Hell, everyone knew it. In eighth grade L kissed me behind the double doors of the multi-purpose room. I was in love. High school was going to be great. We’d have so much fun at dances, ooooh and he’d take me to the prom and we’d be high school sweethearts. That didn’t happen. In fact, he didn’t talk to me for four years. None of my friends from grammar school did. I don’t know what happened exactly. At first, I was devastated, and then I moved on. I made new friends that I don’t keep in touch with, like Veronica.
My wedding ring must be Trista’s kryptonite, because when she looked at it, she morphed from a grown up person bumping into a high school acquaintance to a cattish high school prom queen threatened that someone might steel her bedazzled crown.
I should show her a picture of Bill and me just to fuck with her. That’s not nice. Here’s the thing L.S. isn’t my kryptonite. He hasn’t been for a long fucking time. After graduation I turned and walked down the front lawn of Beverly Hills High School and didn’t look back. That was that. High school was done and my yellow brick road adventure started. Hey, I’m glad for Lee, good for him, that he looks amazing. And Trista, well, I wish her happiness. I wish Lee happiness too. I mean, don’t we all deserve happiness?