[Originally written on this date in 2005]
Who needs extensive planning to enjoy a birthday? Okay, there was some planning for the hair and outfit, but that’s it, I swear. Special thanks goes to Wal*Mart for having an oh so perfectly tacky pink ‘Birthday Girl’ button.
Drove up to my grandma’s house in the late afternoon for some great conversation and a light lunch, not to mention picking up a card and birthday wishes from Dad. It was nice to visit but a bit sad as well, because the town hardly ever changes and is just a reminder of why I feel so disconnected from that part of Jersey. It’s a place I lived for several years that seem like they are millions of miles away now, but that is the way everything feels since I have gotten back from traveling. Perhaps life on the road has effected me more than I care to admit, because if I get caught up in silly notions I will get distracted by them and believe that is the way things are. Or maybe I am just thinking about things way too much.
With the evening coming fast, I returned to the house, showered and proceeded to assemble myself for the evening. Rocked some red and white eye shadow to compliment the freshly touched-up colors in my hair, which was styled in Bettie bangs and loose curls. Decided to wear a newly purchased circus-style black coat, grey and black pinstripe corset-style halter top and a black pleated skirt that just touches my knees. Clipped some red bondage straps that I have had forever [they came from a shop on Saint Marks in NYC many years ago] onto the D-rings , slipped into black pothole tights, accented them with ed ankle socks and then strapped on a pair of black leather Mary Jane’s .
While hiding in the car to smoke a bowl the other day, I was startled by the ringing of my cell phone. Ordinarily I do not pick up unknown or private numbers, but something in the back of my head told me I wanted to answer. That instinct came in handy, because there was a familiar voice that greeted me from the other side.
It was Jon and my heart skipped a few beats — we have not been in contact pretty much since I left Jersey to go on tour with the carnival. Then again, I did not really have the time or desire to talk to anyone, but that is not the point here. After discussing the things we had been doing, Jon mentioned that he was back in the Garden State himself and said he wanted to give me a birthday to remember.
Jon asked me to meet him down in Philly, which I have only really visited when I was a young child. We have designated spots where we usually meet, so the request was a bit strange. However, it seemed to be part of whatever scheme he had up his sleeve, as I know him well enough that I always have to prepare for the unexpected, so I decided to play along. Grabbed directions from Mapquest and took my first official ride to the City of Brotherly Love.
There was a smile on my face when I pulled into the parking lot, my sides about to burst from excitement. How many days had passed since we last saw each other? They were not worth calculating and at that moment totally meaningless. No matter how much time spans between our meetings, they unfold as though it never existed. Jon had shaved his head when we parted ways over the Summer, and when I saw him with the Mercury, immediately I noticed that it had grown in, molded into a flawless pompadour. The trademark white streaks were prominent under the lights that kept the parking lot from being dark. He looked absolutely stunning in a black on black pinstripe shirt, his favorite patched-up pants, blue snake-skin boots and red leather jacket. His entire face lit up when he saw me and as he slowly approached my heart swooned.
Our embrace seemed to last forever and could have spanned the entire collection of Hollywood Moments we built over the years. He smelled like the ocean, black licorice and whiskey; the scent of his leather jacket was fresh with cologne and the colors of his tattoos stood out against the blackness of his shirt. It would have been easy to lose myself in that moment, but the night had just begun and he pulled away to light a smoke for us to share. Before we leave the lot, he gives me a little gift that we make use of while walking up a flight of stairs, across a pedestrian bridge where we emerged onto a place called South Street. This random girl in platforms wearing black, green and yellow dread falls sees me and says: “I love your hair. You’re beautiful honey…fucking gorgeous.” Hooray for compliments from strangers!
Mako’s is the first bar we visit. The door man wished me a happy birthday and instructed me to tell the bartender to give me a shot. While he had noticed the date on my ID, Jon made sure he pointed out the fact as well. As we make our way upstairs, he nudges me and jokes that I better be able to handle what is coming. That ‘shot’ wound up being a Long Island Iced Tea which was 100% alcohol; Jon did shots of whiskey and laughed while I slowly drank the wicked brew. A second was purchased as we watched people play pool. While I had plenty of money I was told that spending it was out of the question. The scene was not really my taste, or maybe it was due to the fact that all the people seemed to be hanging out downstairs. We were upstairs with really bad music and easily grew bored with watching pool, so we decided it was best to head elsewhere, but not before we raced each other drinking a beer.
Even though it was fairly dark outside, I could see the illustrations clearly painted on the outside of the next bar we went to — a place called Tattooed Mom. They were sideshow banners. Well, perhaps not in the traditional sense, but the aesthetic of that kind of artwork was certainly there. At that point I was beside myself with glee and we had not even gone inside yet. Jon explained that it was one of his favorite bars to visit when he was in Philly so he thought I would enjoy it as well and so far he was right.
Inside was far more awesome than I could have ever expected. There is tattoo flash in frames on the walls, creepy action figures and Bleeding Edge Goth type dolls on shelves hovering high in the air. People are heavily tattooed and display prominent piercings. There’s some rocking music that’s blending into the multitude of conversations around me, yet I felt so totally comfortable that it was almost ridiculous. We did shots [my first one being free] of whiskey and snacked on a huge mound of nachos ‘n’ cheese while chatting about what we did over the Summer. On several occasions I found myself rambling because I was so captivated by him and probably made a fool of myself. Something made my heart flutter, but I told myself it was a result of all the things I was putting into my body.
Jon wants me to check out the upstairs, so I follow him up a narrow flight and am thankful that I was wearing sensible shoes because my legs were feeling a bit rubbery. The walls upstairs are covered with graffiti in vein of CBGB’s, so it was cool to have a NYC flashback for a moment. There were bumper cars and an old wood roller coaster car just sitting up there as well. No idea where they came from, but I totally wanted to steal them.
Jon and I managed to squeeze ourselves into that wooden sled and toasted my birthday with a shot of whiskey. At that moment I became aware that his arm was around me and he was holding onto me tightly, seemingly distracted by the mass of people around us. Then he turns to me and plants a small kiss square on my lips, a sly smile following as he stands up and helps me out of the coaster car. The bar was becoming increasingly crowded and it was a hassle to get any more drinks, so we decided to head out.
We wandered down to street and find ourselves at a place simply called 218. At this point I am nearly delirious with excitement – the best I can describe it is to associate it with the same feeling I get after being pierced or tattooed. It was a little overwhelming but I managed to keep things together. Jon and I sit down at the bar where I have another free shot followed by rum and pineapple juice, while he has a pint and some shots of whiskey. Then I find myself to be beyond drunk and not really sure how I made my way into the bathroom. The call of nature may have guided me there for all I know. However, I did recall leaving a tag in every bathroom I had visited, with that one being no exception. There was also a chick who was not shy about hoisting up her skirt to show me her tattoo, and much more. It amused me that there was no door to the stall, just a shower curtain, and an ugly one at that.
When I returned to the bar, I just had to share my bizarre bathroom experience with Jon, who laughs and says he is bored with the people there. Next thing I know, we are walking down the street searching for another bar to go in. Worth mentioning here that he held me close during this walk, almost in a protective way. It was nice and felt comforting, which was needed since I definitely stumbled a lot.
By the time we made our way into a bar it was last call, which is always enough time for a free shot. There was some dude that could not stop staring at Jon, and I guess he sort of has that presence about him. Jon almost confronted the guy but was more concerned about getting us back to the parking lot.
All of that is a blur as we are climbing into my car and he instructs me to head towards a diner. Jon was certainly in no condition to drive, but the place was too far for us to walk. Calling a cab would have been a better idea, but in our heads we had found the best solution as I was sober enough to man the wheel. We make it to the diner without incident and have a bit of a wake up call before going inside.
Driving may have been accomplished but I failed at walking. All I remember is that we were crossing the street one moment, and then I was lying on the ground. Jon is standing above me and I burst out laughing, drunkenly rambling about how I fell down. He laughs too and hauls me to my feet. Our eyes locked for a moment, and I was so close to his face that I touched my lips to his. We continued to the diner and I had to put the momentary kiss in the back of my head. Got some nasty marks on my knee, but that’s cool. Now I have a reminder of the evening.
It was good to have breakfast in the form of a Western omlette on toast and cup o’ joe with tons of sugar — always a favorite after a long nite of drinking and needing something to settle the stomach. It was an all too familiar scene for me. So many times we had found ourselves on either side of a table with our minds soaked in alcohol and rambling as we stuffed our faces with breakfast foods before awkwardly parting ways even though neither of us ever wanted to. This time it was different. This time there was no boyfriend waiting up for me, wondering where I was and then accusing me of cheating when I did not explain. This time I could stay with Jon for as long as I wanted.
In any event, I was in no condition to drive back to the house, so he insisted that I crash at his place. When we get there it is a direct route to his bedroom where gave me something to change into. He politely invited me into bed, taking me in his arms and holding me close the way he always did; one friend sharing comfort and security with another. Then came the moment where something else happened that made Jon’s earlier prediction come true, though those details will always be locked in memory and not written words.
Everything had been different since the minute we had met in that parking lot. It only built up for the rest of the evening, and as we laid there in our most vulnerable state, I could no longer deny the fact I loved that man despite the baggage he comes with and the nagging drug problem. He has told me numerous times that he loves me more than he needs a fix, but that night he finally proved it, and there is no question of where his dedication lies.
Although I had slept well, my body was still weary when I woke up. Had some fruit and tea with Jon as we blazed and watched some cartoons. If I had not already made plans to visit my Dad, I definitely would not have left and part of me was definitely fighting against having to do so. It was hard to say good-bye, especially since Jon almost refused to let me out of his grasp. Every second I had spent in his arms was filled with safety and comfort, and I certainly do not feel that way at all now. Thinking about all of this makes me miss him terribly.
The entire trip to and from my Dad’s house was absolutely horrible. My body needed more rest, as I kept drifting off while driving, had a nap while at his place and had to pull over while on the highway driving back so I could vomit. Suffice to say that drinking in excess is not something I really want to do again any time in the near future. Sure I can use the excuse that it was my birthday, but I felt awful and wished I was still with Jon.
Was able to smoke a bowl which helped make me feel better, and I decided against going out for New Year’s Eve because I just did not need to. Jon called earlier to check in on me and we wound up talking for a few hours, which certainly helped me feel a lot better. As I wait to fall asleep, I am promising myself that the new year will bring a new life for me. There needs to be a change and I know that I am going to have someone by my side every step of the way.