I went to a birthday party today over brunch. A vegan and gluten-free feast. Some of the people I knew, and some of them not. I was anxious because I hate small talk, it makes me so uncomfortable. I feel like strangers ask me questions just to hear themselves talk. I feel boring when I tell people what I do and I feel stupid when I tell them that I’m not in school because I can’t afford it right now. I glued myself to Kevin and Honey Bucket until they had to leave and I mostly had to fend for myself. I was anxious because the house was very fancy. Lots of art and rugs. Alaskana.
I went to the sitting room to put my card with the others and caught sight of the view out of the large windows. I pressed my forhead against the glass. The freezing Kenai Peninsula. It resembled the bluffs in Portland in some strange way. The window fogged with my breath. I thought of my mother. I remembered I was not in a place where it was appropriate to cry. I wondered if the tree I was looking at was a black spruce. I wondered about the foot prints in the snow. I tried to picture where I was oriented on a map. I drew a heart in the condensation and then wondered if I shouldn’t have.
Back in the kitchen and breakfast nook I submitted to the dreaded small talk and it wasn’t that bad. Emiline showed up, my savior. We sunk into a big love seat and talked about teeth and jokes past lovers made at the expense of our sensitivities. We talked about Boycations and Man Rambles and male nudity in film. We talked about our health and highschool and the journeys we made in college, physically and emotionally.
Matthew and Sarah played the banjo and accordian on the fireplace. Sarah looks like Portland, I thought. Thin flannel, thick rimmed glasses, greasy boyish haircut. She may be the only one in all of Anchorage. It occurred to me that this brunch, this vegan brunch with young people playing covers of Hurray for the Riff Raff, the beards, the flannel, the fact that almost half of the people there were queer, this might be the best of what is here. If this is all there is, I thought, at least I have found it.
Later some of the guests left, some helped clean up. I watched the lady of the house scrape a bowl full of left over cream cheese and a whole stick of left over butter into the garbage disposal. I talked to one of the lingering guests about whether or not God has lips, or any erogenous zones for that matter. We talked about wanting to visit villages but not wanting to live there. I showed him my leg tattoos. I told him about my grandfather’s memorial and it seemed like maybe his eyes got wet for some secret reason. I felt attracted to him. I made up a rule that it was ok to get a crush on someone who was a gender different from ones you normally go for if it was over the holidays.
The birthday girl opened her gifts and cards. I gave her a patch with a bike on it, a tube of glitter glue and a pin that says “I ❤ female orgasm”. Her parents gave her remote start for her car and $1000. I started to realize this friend of mine came from a class background much different than mine. I hadn’t thought much about her background before. I thought about what I could do with $1000.
My tires spun in the deep snow as I maneuvered out of the suburban winter hideaway. I passed my old elementary school. Everything looked so different. All the trees cut and a shopping center I didn’t even know existed. I put on that Des Ark CD I’ve been trying to take a break from so I won’t stop liking it from listening too much. I sang along and my voice sounded raspy and I liked it. I thought about my Holiday Crush. I thought about hating feeling stuck up here. I started to get anxious about What I’m Doing With My Life and The Next Step. But then I thought about my mom, and felt an unfamiliar a sense of calm. I realized that right now I’m exactly where I need to be.