Sometimes I do really feel like I am a Sim, and that my body is being controlled by some acne-faced pre-teen on a game room couch somewhere, and that is why I feel myself walking around to certain places and doing certain things with very little sense of why. (If this is true, I’d like that kid to know about the :rosebud: cheat code, I could use the cash!!!)
Last week I walked to Sephora after work to get a small bottle of this cologne (hot brag that I only really wear scents for men!) that I buy almost every year in the fall/winter. It’s a crime to wear perfume in the summer, when your body heat and sweat just turns it putrid on the subway platform. But when the weather drops below 70, it feels appropriate to smell like something more substantial than deodorant and laundry detergent.
I bought this cologne for the first time in 2015, in that cursed period of time when both Alex G and Beach House were releasing albums (!!???!!). I remember I bought it before going on my first ever Tinder date (which was…exactly four years ago today), an experience I predictably blew way the fuck out of proportion. I ordered this silk shirt for it and remember putting lipstick on while I waited for the G. I was 22 and that was young enough to do things like buy cologne before dates, and believe a person when they say “I’m sad you have to go out of town” as you stumble out of their SoHo apartment at 5 a.m. to catch a train.
I put on some sprays of this fresh bottle on Friday, before what ended up being a too-late night out with friends. When I first put it on, I felt the little tickle of thrill: it smelled comforting and like a promise, like the night was an Easter egg I was about to crack open. I kept pushing my wrist up to my nose to get little hits of the vibe. By the time I was in bed and the sun was coming up, it just smelled like naivete, and like shaky hope that’s falsely sweet like bubble gum and pops just as fast. I kept getting stale whiffs of it in bed and it smelled less musky and more powdery than I remembered, or maybe it’s my body that smells different now.
Two days later, on Sunday afternoon, the cologne had been washed off in the shower and I’d slept enough to be normal again. I got an urge to paint my room and it quickly felt like, if I ignored it, I’d be stuck with white walls forever.
I bought a gallon of paint, moved my furniture around, taped my room, and started actually putting green on my walls around 10:30 p.m. The first time I told my ex-boyfriend that I loved him, we were rinsing paint rollers off in the tub at my old apartment. It was summer and the sun was coming in hard through the little window. We’d spent the whole day painting my tan walls white, the only time I’ve ever painted a bedroom a non-color. He did something funny that I can’t share too many times or, I don’t know, pieces of the memory might come loose and fall off. But I looked at him and said “I love you,” and it was terrifying and good, and then we went to a party with too many boys and ate plain burgers outside.
Sometimes I’ll put on a particular song on purpose, just to see how it makes me feel (usually: sad). Or I’ll scroll back into my own Instagram and look at certain pictures and think, “how do I feel about this?” But other times these certains and particulars tap me on the shoulder like, “yeah bitch, it’s me” and I guess that’s what therapists mean by “triggers.”
Maybe this is how everyone is, likely it’s just how some people are, or perhaps it’s just me that had my brain scrambled so bad by that anomie time in high school, that now I have this problem where I can’t tell how something’s going to make me feel until I do it. The worst times are when I don’t even know I’m doing something until I’m all the way in it, painting my walls green and trying not to cry. Is that…just how things are? Sometimes this feels very chaotic and isolating; other times I’ll admit that it’s fun.
My roommate Natalie came home right after I started painting and she got down into her undies and a tank top with me and helped me paint until the room was mostly done at 1 a.m.. She brought us two glasses of red wine and queued all this ABBA and Electric Light Orchestra, and we make stupid, obvious jokes about how “this is how a porn starts!!!” and otherwise cracked each other up by being absolute tools. I couldn’t have known living with her would feel as nice as it does but I’m glad I tried it to find out.