The Weapon of Young Gods #7: Crippling Nostalgia

The wind was just starting to whip up when the boy arrived, late, to meet me on the pier at the harbor. The fucking harbor! When he got there I asked him why in the world he’d need me to show up here, in mid-December, so late in the afternoon that any remaining sunshine would bestow no warmth on anything, and do you know what he said?

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“I, um, thought it would be romantic? Sunset, you know?” Uh-huh. The evening breeze couldn’t blow away the foul stench of oil in the water, or bird shit on the pier, or the mariachi music blaring out of one lonley barbecue party’s boombox. Romantic? He wouldn’t know romance if it clocked him in the kisser. I said something like “I hated not seeing you this quarter,” but I didn’t really mean it. I also said he never wrote to me anymore- no letters, not even any emails with that free university account.

“That’s ridiculous,” he said. “Do you have any idea how perpetually exhausted I was this quarter from taking the train down here to see you every other weekend?” I didn’t tell him that half the time he’d been home, we’d either only sat around each others’ living rooms watching random rented videos or, if my parents were gone, making out on the couch, the jacuzzi, my bed. Not to mention going to Olivia Arroyo’s stupid parties. Why encourage him?

“Besides,” he continued, “why haven’t you ever come up to see me?”

“You know why,” I snapped back. “I have gym on the weekends and I have competitions every month. Why throw four hours away every weekend just to go see you get trashed with your roommate?” Why am I even here doing this? Why not just let Liv have him? Let her deal with this immature blob of wasted looks and unraveling brains. Let’s see what she does about him fucking other girls at school and drinking himself to death.

He had the sense to look ashamed of himself, but then said “You didn’t even call me for, like, the past two weeks.”

I looked across the channel at the fake island, and over the wind could hear sail lines clanging against the masts. “You had finals, and my parents bitched at me about the phone bill.”

He sighed with impatience, and was silent. “Okay,” he finally said, “then why don’t you remind me again why we didn’t end this thing when I moved.”

“You begged me not to,” I shot back. He was probably terrified of leaving home, the big baby. A lonely sailboat scudded across the sea out beyond the jetty, racing for the harbor mouth.

“Oh yeah.” He shut up again for a while. I wondered if he remembered how pathetic and childlike he looked. It was a little alarming at the time, actually, watching an eighteen-year-old boy crumble in front of me.

It got a lot colder, like the freakish, unseasonably biting storms that sometimes marched across the Black Sea to descend on Sevastopol and blight my childhood. I said we didn’t need to have the same argument all over again, and because I wanted to get out of there I said yes when he asked if we could go somewhere else, and then we got in my car and I drove up to the Ritz to see the Christmas decorations. He started babbling away about music again, and I wasn’t really paying attention until he said something about “being onstage,” so I interrupted him.

“Onstage?” I hadn’t meant to sound so irritated, but a vengeful muscle cramp rippled up my calf. I hadn’t stretched enough before practicing vaults earlier today, and now I was paying for it.

“Yeah,” he said, a little defensively. “Weren’t you listening? I was saying how I want to, like, finally learn to play my dad’s guitar, and maybe later find a band to play in. There are tons of them at school, and it just looks like a fucking blast.”

“Oh,” I said, “okay, whatever.” I shrugged and pulled into the parking lot at Creek. The cramp hadn’t subsided yet, and my left leg jerked involuntarily. He was glaring at me with this hiliariously offended look on his face.


“You don’t sound too interested.”

“Interested? In seeing you play onstage, you mean?”

“Yeah.” He wouldn’t drop it.

“Oh, well…” I trailed off, and got out of the car gingerly. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just that I’m still sore from gym today, that’s all. It is a different, um, tangent for you, though.”


“Nothing,” I said dismissively. “I just can’t picture you doing that, is all.”

He looked stunned, but it thankfully shut him up for a while, and we walked toward the hotel. The swaying palm trees at the entrance were covered in thousands of lights from top to bottom, and I was too busy taking them all in to stay annoyed with the boy, especially when he broke the silence with the lamest thing he could possibly bring up.

“Do you remember that one Christmas card I gave you?”

I did. It was a funny coincidence that became a horrible cliche, so he loved it. The Ritz-Carlton hotel used to have groups of music students from local elementary schools come to mangle Christmas songs for any unfortunate guests in the lobby. When my parents and I first came to America I wasn’t fitting in well with anyone in Southern California gymnastics programs, even though that was our ticket in- I was too good and they hated me.

My mother signed me up for violin lessons as something to do, and I was eventually roped into a Christmas card photo shoot with three other kids and a fake Santa Claus who smelled like cigarettes. There were four kids in that photo- a boy and girl each from the fourth and fifth grade. I didn’t know him at the time, but the fifth-grade boy was the same one now walking beside me.

“Well? Nadia?”

“Yeah, yeah. Of course I do.” Why did he have to mention that fucking thing?

“Oh. Well, I was just thinking- that was ten years ago. Did you know that?”

“I hadn’t thought of it.” I didn’t want to wallow in stupid nostalgia, though, and as long as I was out here in the cold, I wanted us to get somewhere tonight. I went back to the old argument and tried to explain myself.

“Look,” I said, “it’s not that I don’t like you anymore. You know that, right?” My shoes scuffed on the walkway slightly as I tried to kick out the cramp.

“I do now,” he said, rolling his eyes. “I didn’t even know there was a problem.”

“Of course you didn’t,” I sighed, and then we didn’t talk for a little while, but then I must have been distracted by the twinkling lights above us and I blurted “Liv’s throwing another party,” and suddenly I took us somwhere we didn’t need to be.

“Oh yeah?” he perked up. “When?”

“New Year’s,” I replied, then tried to help myself and added, “I think she said you could tell R.J. and Alan.”

No luck there. “R.J. has to go to my grandparents’ with my stepdad, cause he’s not allowed to go with Alan and his family to Maui,” he said. “It’ll just be you and me, baby.”

“Fine, then.” We walked around the sprawling hotel to the path overlooking the ocean. The wind was still annoyingly cold, and now without the massive hotel blocking it out, we were blasted full-force.

“I hate this long-distance shit as much as you do,” he said, looking down at the dark, empty beach below. “Do you want to make it work or not?” he asked.

I wanted to get out of the cold and go home. I should have said no but I didn’t, and then let him kiss me which wasn’t really all that bad. Roy was a silly little man-child, but he always was a good kisser.


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  1. You people probably think I’m a grade-A schizophrenic now, hmmm?

    • RiaD on February 11, 2008 at 04:14

    just wow.

    ver ver fine.

    • dhaynes on February 11, 2008 at 04:23

    The new girl gets all the love, and mine sank like a stone yesterday. 🙂

  2. made me stop my ATV.  My daughter behind me did the same.

    On discovering the scene I told her we had to turn our machines around right now.  We could see our breath on this early October morning.  We looked up the logging road to see two bull moose locking horns and sharp clacking sounds reverberated through the woods.  For twenty minutes these two fought, for territory a female we don’t know.  Moosehair covered parts of the road, they eroded ten feet of embankment trying to gain a footing advantage on the loose gravel.  Damn, National Geographic footage and we forgot the videocam.  A Toyota Camry approached and asked if this was the road to a mountain trail.  I tell him he missed a fork in the road and he best turn around right here.  I have to help him turn on the narrow road.

    We still have bags of moose hair and the memory.

    Fun I guess is in the eyes of the beholder.

  3. How embarassing. For both of us.

    • pfiore8 on February 11, 2008 at 05:56

    the anima/animus


    crazy shit. and wonderful.

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