Memory

I’m back in New York—scandalizing people as I always do.

And I remember bad memories. East Coast memories, specifically.

I remember a girl. She was blonde and frail. From Boston. My freshman year, she said I was the most attractive boy in our class at RISD. That should’ve been a sign…

We had some mutual friends: a blonde boy from Richmond, a blonde girl from Pennsylvania, a blonde girl from New Jersey.

We were all friends. But it was RISD. Everyone drank too much, did too much cocaine, ate too little. It was 2005, 2006, 2007…

I lived with the blonde boy from Richmond and the blonde girl from New Jersey my sophomore year. It got weird. The blonde boy from Richmond drank too much. He got pulled out on a stretcher twice in one semester. Too drunk, needed his stomach pumped…

One night he told the blonde girl from New Jersey that “God was white” and “How did she feel ‘bout that?” I wasn’t there. But I imagine his slow Southern slur. She wasn’t amused. She was a blonde girl. But her dad was from Cuba. And her brother was adopted from… Honestly I forget. Somewhere in Central America. He was not white.

We asked him to leave. Because of the puking and breaking things and weird drunken commentary.

And that was the beginning.

The blonde girl from Pennsylvania was annoyed. But we all made it through sophomore year. The blonde girl from Boston, well, she was more annoyed. How could I side with the blonde girl from New Jersey? I did not take some big moral stance. I was happy there were no more EMT’s in our apartment.

But next year it got worse. There was a rumor. I can’t say what. It’s like trying to recall a plot point from a specific Gossip Girl episode. But it had something to do with the girl from Pennsylvania.

At some point in the second semester, I was going to move in with her though. I was living with two guys from Brown on the tennis team. I was annoyed at them because they were from abroad: India and Colombia. And they kept the heat so high all winter. We had to pay for heating oil on top of rent. They liked to wear wifebeaters and keep the thermostat at 85 degrees. I did not want to borrow extra money for the luxury of not wearing sweaters in the New England winter.

The girl from Pennsylvania wanted me to move it.

That was it.

There was a new rumor. Something between the girl form Pennsylvania and the girl from New Jersey. Just stupid fucking drama. I interpret this as panic from the girl from Boston. Me and the the girl from New Jersey share the girl from Pennsylvania as a friend with the girl from Boston. It all feels very concocted.

We’re all at a party. Some ramshackle clapboard house in College Hill. I’m with the girl from Pennsylvania and the girl from New Jersey. And I am so annoyed I say, “Fuck You” to the girl from Boston. And her boyfriend violently grabs me and throws me down a flight of stairs. He grabs me so hard he rips the skin on my arm. My whole arm is bruised. My legs are bruised. Luckily, I am drunk enough I fall with grace.

The girl from New Jersey is sober. She drives me to Public Safety. And I report the incident. Public Safety laughs at me and tells me “Don’t tell someone to fuck off if you don’t want to get hit.”

My Spidey-sense goes off. When I’m home I call the professor I share with the girl from Boston. I tell her what happened. She is super annoyed. She insists I should be nicer, make friends. I am not convinced…

On Monday, when I go to class, the girl from Boston brings brownies. I am asked to leave the class. I freak the fuck out. Because what the fuck exactly is happening?

The girl from Boston reported I hit her. The girl from Boston reported I sexually harassed her. (For readers who don’t know me I’m gay.) I am asked to meet with the Dean of Students.

I call my parents in a tizzy. I’m out to my parents. But kind of. I’m out but we don’t talk about it. But today we talk about it. My arch-Catholic stepfather says, we googled a lawyer for gay people. This is the first time we all talk about the fact that I am a gay man and that means sometimes people treat you differently.

I call the lawyer before my meeting. She is really understanding and kind. But she says she can’t help me unless I am harmed.

I go to the meeting with the Dean of Students. I’m scared, but still young and hot and full of fury. I remember my outfit: Doc Martens, a cut-off bellyshirt made out of some dirty Hanes tee, a big silver cross, pants so tight you can see my dick, a grey blue Swedish military jacket.

The Dean is ready to fuck me up. He wants to expell me. He wants to take away my scholarship. He wants me to never go to school again. And I dick him the fuck down. Where is my report? Oh you and your friend were drunk. Why did they let drunk students drive away in a car? He pauses. The only sober person on record is my friend…

There is a fly in the ointment.

He turns it on me.

Why are you so angry?

Because someone made up a lie about me.

He’s frustrated. A little bugman. I tell him about my lawyer. About how I don’t trust the school. About how I don’t think they would like a bunch of article about how their progressive little utopia is homophobic.

And oh, I hit her? Show me the evidence. I have plenty. I took photos. I agree to change classes and for this to never be spoken of again.

He is fucking pissed.

And I storm out like the little disrespectful queen I am.

My teachers tell me: Forgive. Hey! We’re all young once!

Fuck that.

It all disappears.

Kind of.

Not for me.

This is my real coming out.

My parents didn’t like that I was gay. But class solidarity trumps anything like that. My parents think: FUCK RICH KIDS. And they were right.

Fast forward to a year later. It’s graduation. My mom tries to trip her. I have never loved my mother more. We stare them down at some event. Her and her mother scatter.

The professor I told—before anything went haywire—she is annoyed. She is a feminist and queer, too. Her lessons were all garbage. She knows I called her because I knew in my gut something was off. She has to choose. She avoids both of us forever.

The blonde girl from Boston and the blonde guy from Richmond, I see them sometimes still. They run like the wind. Like when I saw the girl and her mom. I just look. They just know. They don’t want me to tell this story.