newsletter #18: happy new year.
welcome to 2022.
Hello my beloved readers. I hope you’re well today and that you got the chance to enjoy your New Year’s Eve, whatever that means to you. Welcome to the year 2022. If you’re reading this, you made it through another 12 months many would consider shitty on a global scale, though your personal experience may have differed. (If you care, my year was net good.) Below, I’m sharing what I did on New Year’s Eve (warning: mundane), for your enjoyment. A vignette, of sorts.
(TW: very brief mention of ED.)
new year’s eve
I woke up around 11 AM to the Florida sunlight bursting through my paneled shades. I’m currently at a condo on the intracoastal, my family’s, sharing a bed with my youngest sister, who last night actually fell asleep on the couch after watching the entire season of Clickbait until 2 AM. I tried to stay up with her (hence the late wake up time), though instead of directing my attention to the show, I was knee deep in the morbid storyline of Lisa Taddeo’s Animal, which I couldn’t put down. When I finally walked into the bedroom to sleep, I found my middle sister in the bed across from mine, fast asleep with her phone in hand, the same TikTok playing on loop, over and over. Trying my best not to wake her, I pulled the phone out of her hand, locked it, and set it on our shared bedside table. She didn’t move at all. I left the door open so that I could hear my other sister watching TV and to let some light into the room. Sleeping in pitch black makes me feel trapped. Once wrapped in my sheets, I fell asleep quickly. (Xanax, ty.)
As mentioned, I woke up around 11 AM. I dragged my sweaty ass out of bed, feeling a sheath of oil on my face that had accumulated throughout the night. I also smelled of light sulfur, thanks to the medical-strength acne products I’d slathered onto my face the night before. I rinsed it all off in the bathroom sink. The texture of Florida tap water is gross to me. Sorry.
Obviously I was hungry. The exact minute I wake up I am starving, without failure. I examined our fridge, unenthused by the soggy fried fish tacos leftover from last night’s takeout. Eggs it was. I heated a pan on the stove, scraped some butter onto its edge and watched it slip down the curve and into the middle, bubbling. I cracked two egg shells and watched the contents sizzle upon heated contact. I popped two pieces of white bread into the toaster oven and poured my coffee into a mug, adding oat milk. My mom had made it when she woke in the morning. It was cold. I heated it in the microwave for 30 seconds.
The toaster oven clicked, signaling my bread was ready. My egg yolks were just hard enough. My coffee tasted better warmed, albeit a bit burnt. I assembled all my food onto a small white plate, crackling my toast with a knife to spread butter and jam. (Like I said, mundane.) I think about when I had an eating disorder and I’m grateful to bite into the toast. I can no longer imagine a world without bread.
I finished my breakfast and sipped the rest of my coffee while doing my “morning pages,” which is really just me puking up word vomit onto three lined notebook pages right after I wake up so that I have the mental clarity to maybe write anything else that day. (Like this newsletter.) I tell my family I’m doing my “writing exercises” so that I don’t have to say the words “morning pages” out loud, like an asshole. I wanted to shower, but I planned to go to the beach, where I’d likely get sand in my labia flaps anyway. There was no point.
My sisters didn’t want to go to the beach with me, preferring to sit at the pool, frying like my breakfast eggs. It was just my parents and I then. I packed my lime green satchel-thing with my new book (A Prayer For Owen Meany, lmk if you’ve read it), my notepad (just in case I had ideas), a lighter (a candle lighting one — it looked ridiculous but its all I have here), and some weed (which I stash in an empty bottle of B12 vitamins). I met my parents in the car (I’m slow to get ready) and we drove.
At the beach there was barely anywhere to park, and cars circled the lot like vultures waiting for a space to open. We dropped my mom off at the entrance so that she could save us a space in the sand. (And so she didn’t have to go around the lot over and over.) I told my dad to stop the car for a second so that I could roll a joint. I don’t have a grinder with me in Florida, so I crumpled the nugs with my fingers, which left a sticky, tacky residue that I wiped off with hand sanitizer. It wasn’t the best joint I’d ever rolled. I only needed a couple hits, though. It would do.
My dad and I circled the lot again (no luck) and he told me to get out and be with my mother. He pulled over again and I opened my door to walk toward the trunk. As I pulled out the folded beach chair a car came up behind me, the driver wailing on his horn, throwing up his hands, appalled we’d stop in the lane to get out. In unison, my dad and I shout FUCK YOU!
I dropped my bag and beach towel by my mother then walked to a secluded bench to smoke my shoddy joint. I cupped my hand over the candle lighter’s end to maintain the flame, then raised it to inhale. The pot tasted old, stale, almost. I left it here when visiting months ago. Like I said though, it would do. There were two guys slash boys at the bench next to me doing raised push ups using the seat. Being young is also being vain, I thought. I was high.
I made my way back toward my parents, almost passing them due to stoned aloofness. I shed my shoes then walked to the ocean’s edge, letting the tide run over my feet; a beautiful feeling sober, a euphoric one while high. I waded deeper into the shallow water, falling in love with the cool ocean on my heated skin. My feet sunk into the sand and I let them stay there, the water drawing them lower and lower. I felt so grounded in place and all the little broken shell pebbles massaged my toes. I breathed. It occurred to me that the best and the worst things in the world smelled of salt.
Wanting to keep my hands busy, I dipped them into the water, too, and started mining for shells, picking up any that weren’t completely broken.
You find anything good? I heard a scratchy voice say behind me. It wasn’t familiar, so I assumed the sentence was not being uttered in my direction.
You find anything good? The voice said again. I turned around and before me stood an old man with little hair and a blank expression, shells in his hands and carrying a full-looking bag. He was collecting them. I tried to keep my distance. (Covid.)
I haven’t found anything of significance yet, no, I said back.
Do you want an olive? He said, giving off the impression that he’d just barely made out my response. I didn’t want an olive.
I’m okay! Thank you! I said.
It’s a shell, he said. I thought he’d meant the food. Still wanting to maintain our space (Covid), I declined again.
You don’t want an olive? He asked again, more rhetorically this time. You keep it for yourself, don’t worry about me, I said, trying to walk the careful feminine line of both establishing a boundary while also conveying an apology.
Last week, he said, I found 76 olives in one day.
That’s amazing, I said. He walked away.
I felt sad for being confused.
I walked back toward my parents, but then was intercepted by another voice.
I saw him last week, a woman with a low ponytail said to me. She was laying on a beach towel. I talked to him for a bit, she said. Don’t worry, he’s harmless.
You never know, I said. With men. I shrugged and smiled. Small talk puts me on edge.
A harmless interaction with a man can turn into unwanted attention so quickly. Better to kindly shut it down early, I had thought. Or maybe I was just paranoid from the high. They were just shells, after all.
Back at my beach chair I reapplied sunscreen and tried to read my novel. The first pages of a new book are always horrible, if you know what I mean.
I took my phone out to read articles instead. (Like Michelle Lhooq’s newsletter about drugs and raves.) I posted a picture of a Kate Baer poem because I like her, and also because I have felt chronically online as of late. (Suggested treatment welcome.)
I connected my mini bluetooth speaker to my phone. It’s small, but loud, which is why I bring it everywhere. (I've attached a link to it here, so you can see how small it is.) I didn’t want to be one of those people who plays music out loud at the beach, but I’d forgotten my headphones at the condo and my ears were craving Arctic Monkeys. (Sorry.) I placed the speaker on my chest and turned the volume low so that (hopefully) only I could hear. Off in the distance someone let out a phlegmy cough, which gave me anxiety. (Covid.)
I closed my eyes and thought of New York, of my apartment, which I’ll be getting back to soon. I thought of my backyard garden, which was now likely barren due to winter temps. I promised myself I’d make time to sit in it anyway, to show that I loved it no matter the season. I wished for spring.
Reader, that’s all I have for you. The rest of my New Year’s evening was just as uneventful; drinks by the pool, my dad baking homemade pizza, me tossing a salad glistening with olive oil. We watched the Miley & Pete special which, despite my love for them both (and Saweetie), I found slightly dystopian.
I hope you had a lovely New Year’s Eve. I hope you liked this. If not, that’s okay, too. Talk soon and more to come in 2022.