“GO HOME, LAUREN.”
Thursday May 6, 1996
I always feel my workweek ends on Thursday night.
I don’t know why, because I cannot remember the last time I could actually take time off, to work on my own books on Friday.
I m always behind on my freelance work, and work weekends too. Sometimes because I have a deadline, but more often because I didn’t get any paid work done during the week.
I try to make at least 32 paid hours a week, but at the expense of publishing my own books.
The Friday “off” to work on my own stuff, is a concept, a dream that has never been a reality. It’s something that only works in theory or until I become more productive.
Another reason I still see Thursday night as the closer to my workweek is because it’s Guns N’ Roses night at the hard rock cafe. I can justify going there way more if it’s “my Friday night”, even when it’s obviously not.
So I went to the hard rock cafe but it was relatively quiet. Maybe because it was raining.
There were maybe half of the people I usually meet there, and not the guy I always flirt with and with whom I suspect to one day end in bed with.
It gave me a lot of time to think, and as the girl I talk to the most went to the bar to get us a beer, I started contemplating all the areas at which I seem to be failing.
My paid work.
Publishing my books.
Writing. I hardly write anymore because I m daunted by everything that I’ve already written and that I want to print. I don’t want to add more to the pile.
And I fail at losing weight.
Months ago, I really tuned into how I lived when I was 16 and was so motivated to use that as a recipe to get the body and the productivity back I had then. I called it Project 88, because I turned 16 in the Summer of 88.
But like I said, despite the cool title, nothing much came of it.
I never got it rolling.
It was a good idea, but I still weigh the same, and as I just explained my productivity is also nowhere near that teenager that just crushed it.
I wondered if there was a different way of viewing this failure of getting my shit together.
An explanation, of why I was failing at something I had done right without any effort, years and years ago.
If I was that 16 year old Lauren right now, what would I be doing right at this moment?
I would be home.
I would not be standing in a bar on a Thursday night.
It is already too late to call it an early night, and I did have two beers.
But that light bulb moment made me go home as soon as I could. At least an hour and a beer earlier than usual.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I did realize that wondering what 16 year old me would do, at any moment, any situation, how she would tackle my current life;
That, was always a great question to ask myself.
DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. WITH BELLS ON. 👹
Friday May 7, 1996
Around 2 AM, but I can’t remember I had actually slept although I had not been fully awake either, I “woke up” with pains in my body that I only have when I m stressed.
The type of pains that you ve read about, that you should have them checked out because you may be suffering from a heart condition.
The type of pains I ve been, well not “ignoring” since I was 16; But I have always refused to give them the medical attention a sane person would have given them.
I think they’re a sign that if I don’t want to die, I should get my shit together.
Not that if I don’t want to die, I should go to a hospital and get some scans and other tests and then get medicated.
I ve never seen them as a sign of that, and even though the pains woke me up at 2 AM, took my peace of mind, worried me sick, and I did not fall asleep until dawn;
I do not intend to start caving in now.
If I die, I die.
But if God wants me to publish my books, and become a published author, then he better keep me alive.
We’re in this together, and I m not going to do all the work of undergoing all kinds of stressful tests or treatment to stay alive.
Not when I was 16, and my boyfriend broke up with me, and it was the first year I felt these pains.
Regardless of how often you ve felt this, you never get used to it. It’s loneliness, but amplified by being alone at night. It’s fear of dying. It’s the pain itself, that is so unsettling.
It mixes together to a monster that I would round off to “fear”, but then again it’s too big, too multifaceted to be called by such a simple term.
It’s a monster, that what it is.
And it comes at night when you’re all alone and were not feeling too good to start with.
It comes to feed on your fears and then on your soul.
I m sure of it.
I’m postponing getting to bed tonight. Going to do some dishes, hopefully that helps me to calm down a bit.
But then I m going to bed.
Hoping tonight will be better.
16 GOING ON 23
Monday May 10, 1996
It’s almost 11 P.M. and I only have time for a very small entry, because this is no longer “Me” who is typing this.
It’s 16 year old me, and “she” would go to bed on time.
Not open a new entry 11 P.M. and then have the dishes still waiting for her as well.
I am experimenting with giving my life back to the 16 year old me, since she was absolutely nailing life in every area you can imagine.
And also every area I have been failing at since summer 1994. Right after graduation.
I can’t think of a good reason to struggle with that stuff when I rocked it as a teenager.
She and me are the same person.
I m sure there is a way around this.
So I “summoned” her!
And I even gave her her own diary, although I must admit I (flaky 1996 me) have not been that consistent letting her (the one whose help I want) write.
But I want to get better at it, and give her free reign to take over my life.
She earned it.
Here are some of the things she has written in her diary ever since arriving in my current body and life:
– surprisingly quick adaptation to being teleported 7 years into the future
– curious to meet the friends in my calendar and confidently does everything that I would not know how to do.
– happy to find that although her 16 year old heart was broken around this time (May 1989), I am/ she is doing fine in 1996.
– From the calls she receives from Bear and the diaries she’s found, she has concluded they’re in some sort of relationship and she s looking forward to it.
She’s unbothered to be the other woman.
16 Year old me is totally into being in 1996, and does not miss being heartbroken and still a virgin.
And in the meantime she fixes my life.
I like this girl.
A GOOD FRIEND TO BEAR
Sunday May 23, 1996
It was a note on a worn-down notepad next to my bed, the paper block that I had torn out of a notebook I had never used, that looked extremely cheap and shabby because the stitches or threads were still sticking out of it;
But it was that notepad that brought me back every night to the only thing I could do.
And the only thing of value that, despite feeling like I was disintegrating, I still knew how to do.
“Be a good friend to Bear.”
Must have been late last year or early this year I wrote that.
And it saved me.
Or at least it kept my head above water until Sara really saved me.
So, what had happened? What had caused this meltdown where I needed to be saved every night by demolished stationary?
I saw Bear, and everything was absolutely perfect.
First of all, for the first time since he moved in with his girlfriend and no longer has his own house, we were not at my place.
It was not a clandestine, sneaking away from work to visit my college sweetheart, drop by.
He was house sitting for a friend who was on holiday. Taking care of the house but mostly of their dog Snoopy, who needed to be taken out for regular walks. And although him staying in this apartment didn’t have anything to do with his girlfriend, it felt like old times.
Him and me.
He called me Saturday morning, I think he was making a shopping list. And he asked if I’d like red wine or something else. And I already knew he’d make us Pasta Carbonara.
He checked if I knew how to cycle, and offered to place my bike in the basement storage.
He also repeated his offer to sleep over, and when I declined, he repeated he would cycle with me on my way home until I was past the bridge.
Even before I had set a foot in the apartment, everything already felt like a warm blanket. I don’t think I ever felt so loved.
It also made me realize that this Bear, this type of attention, had been long gone when he broke up with me. That there was more that had been lacking, than just the months and months he hardly contacted me, prior to him breaking up.
The downfall had started way before that.
I recognized this type of love from the first years we were together. But because we were so much younger then, still teens, it wasn’t the same as it was now. He had been talented, skillful, sweet. A charmer. A womanizer. And as opposed to me, definitely not a virgin. But in terms of innocence and sometimes still feeling insecure or quirky, we had been the same.
Our arrangement had been based on guts and gusto!
Not on any, I would say “formal training”, in how to make dating work.
I had never seen so clearly how much he had grown, since then. And I imagined it was largely due to the girlfriend who is at least five years older than we are. Perhaps more.
Bear was always good with Pasta Carbonara, but now he was more confident in his actions.
If you’d asked him for how he had set up this date, I m almost sure that (after a little thought, because to him it would come natural) he could have come up with a checklist, as if it were a wedding.
I found my way to the address he had given me, without needing the map I brought in my bag just in case. I rang the bell, and after a “Hello?” the door opened.
On an ice-cold walkway I passed a kitchen window, where I could already see Bear. We waved, at which Snoopy started barking loudly.
Bear gave me a long hug and kisses in my ear, before I even got my coat off.
We drank red wine in the kitchen, while he cooked our pasta, and Bear opened the windows to the walkway to let all the steam and cooking smell out, which turned the kitchen cold.
But we were too happy to finally see each other, to really notice.
We ate our Pasta Carbonara on the couch, just like the old times when we both lived in student rooms.
I don’t think we ever had dinner at a table, in all those years we saw each other.
And even though he, and I guess me as well, had grown and our date felt like we were pretend playing we were adults, we still automatically bypassed the dinner table to eat.
And we would also bypass it for sex.
This was the first time Bear had a separate bedroom to offer me. Again, when you re a student and your bed and couch are next to each other, it makes it arbitrary which one you choose.
But now, after dinner, when we were cuddling up on the couch, Bear asked me:
“Do you want to go to the bedroom?”
I don’t know if he remembers that it always turns me on if he asks me what I want, or for permission to do something sexual.
Tonight “Do you want me to (fill in something sexual)?” was “Do you want to go to the bedroom?”
Although it was used many more times after.
We had sex in the most intimate way. There was a deep physical desire for each other. There were no fantasies, no memories, no talk about future sex and what I would like one day;
Because everything was now.
We stared into each other’s eyes, for connection but also filled with wonder at how horny we were.
I remember at one point sitting on top of him, and I could feel his dick was so incredibly hard, and it only got harder. It moved in me, or waited patiently.
But it surprised me, how it felt. So powerful yet contained.
Being together felt like nothing we’d ever done and not comparable to all the years we were students and saw each other.
We did things I m not going to talk about, maybe one day.
I know I can’t keep saying it was the best time ever, every time we have sex. But it was the best time sex ever.
The big difference was that it also felt really romantic.
He didn’t say I love you, it was not that cheesy.
But I felt loved.
Until the days went by and I was not asked to come again, for the remainder of his stay. And it was in those days that I realized that the only reason I was not feeling totally miserable, like I usually do after having sex with Bear knowing he has gone back to his girlfriend, was because I thought he would choose for me.
That him being in that apartment, tasting freedom, tasting me!, would either lead to him becoming single.
Or part of me thought that he had already been single.
That he just didn’t want to bring me the news, because it would have placed pressure on me being there.
But I was convinced that what I had felt, was not Bear cheating on his girlfriend.
It was Bear starting a new life.
Or so I thought.
And then day came, that Snoopy’s family came back from their holiday and Bear would move back in with his girlfriend.
And I heard nothing from him.
And my heart broke.
It was more painful than it had ever been. There were days when I couldn’t stop crying. But also days when I couldn’t stop blaming myself for this. I knew this. Why was I falling into the same trap over and over again?
Why couldn’t I just enjoy Bear on the moments he did have time for me?
I knew he was the one I wanted, and that I didn’t want sex with other men.
I like the guy from the hard rock cafe.
I fell in love with the painter guy who looked like Slash, in 1994.
but it never took flight. Maybe it will one day, but with Bear and me, things are in such different stage.
We have a legacy.
I was ultimately saved by my older friend Sara. She explained to me that what I had felt with Bear was a freedom he had created himself. That it didn’t matter if he was or had been single, because what I had felt was something he had created.
And that I had wanted.
That Bear could not give me the sex life and the adventure I was longing for. I had to go get that myself.
What she explained (if I understood correctly) was that I wanted to be Bear. Not be with Bear.
And ever since I know that, I m recovering.
Sara was right.
I wish I was that person using all the space, the house, the skills, the time, the love, the way he uses them.
So I m good now.
But that blow when the post-sex backlash came, had been a bad one. And there were multiple times when I thought I could not go on seeing Bear as the other woman. That it was breaking me.
I was heartbroken.
Yet every night I found the note:
“Be a good friend to Bear.”
And it saved me.
That, I could do.
An unexamined life is not worth living
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