a place a feeling something he said to you
by Alexandra Naughton
It is raining in Crissy Field and you are not allowed to leave the car.
It is sunny in the Mission and you are not allowed to leave the car.
It is a warm afternoon at the Berkeley Marina and you try jumping out of the car as he’s driving around the parking lot screaming at you but he grabs onto the backpack on your back and forces you back into the car.
It is the morning commute on San Pablo Ave. and you jump out of the car at a red light and start running in the direction of your office and he catches up to you and parks illegally and gets out of the car and he’s crying and he’s screaming at you on the sidewalk to get back in the car because he’s parked illegally and doesn’t want to be ticketed and you are making a scene.
It is raining or it is sunny and you are in the car with him and he is angry about something and it never matters why he is angry, he could be upset about a comment someone wrote on one of his instagram photos or he could be upset about something you said about “Sloop John B,” a song by the Beach Boys that you like, it could be anything to make the air sour and tense and make you freeze up and force you to comfort him because you are afraid of him hurting you or doing something irrational.
Sometimes you try getting out of the car. Sometimes you are in the car because he wants you to come somewhere with him so he doesn’t have to be alone, and you must come with him even when you don’t want to and even if you have other things to do. He will just keep pressuring you until you cave.
Sometimes he will call you at work and tell you to come outside and get in the car because he has driven there because he is upset about something his father said or he is upset about an idea he had for a startup that someone else was able to actualize before he could and he needs you to get in the car so he can drive somewhere and you can buy him something to eat and comfort him so he can issue his feelings all over you.
He is driving you to your office in the morning and makes a joke about kidnapping you after stopping to get coffee and then drives to Palo Alto with you in the car and he is upset about a meeting he says he has to have with someone who he tried to start a company with and you help him craft a non-disclosure agreement for the person he’s meeting with to sign and he seems happy with you for the moment and he parks near the upscale cafeteria in Palo Alto where this meeting is taking place and you realize it’s not actually a business meeting it’s a casual lunch with someone he knows through his father’s connections and you sit quietly at the table with the person he accused on the drive over of stealing his startup idea and the guy he accused of stealing his startup idea’s girlfriend and the guy he accused of stealing his startup idea’s programmer friend who lives in Palo Alto and everyone is just chit-chatting about bullshit and you’re wondering why he had asked you to sit there and pretend to be his silent attorney or why he told you to put together an NDA if they’re just going to talk about video games and you can’t believe you’re missing a day of work to be held captive in the suburbs and you’re totally checked out by the time you all walk over to the guy he accused of stealing his startup idea’s programmer friend’s mom and dad’s house to hang out some more and play with a virtual reality game in the basement of the guy he accused of stealing his startup idea’s programmer friend’s mom and dad’s house and you’re just watching and pretending to be interested while they’re all playing with the virtual reality game and when they finally ask you if you want to try out the virtual reality game yourself you politely decline because it’s election day and you still haven’t voted and you just want to go home and you don’t want to prolong this situation but it kind of doesn’t even matter because he will make sure you don’t get to vote by delaying your departure from Palo Alto by saying that he needs to stop and eat now and later he will make sure he gets to his polling station right before it closes and he will tell you that he voted for the Peace and Freedom Party candidate and you will think about that being a poetic and ironic choice and he will take you home after he has voted and you have not and then he will use your laptop to refresh a page as the votes are counted and he will celebrate and gloat when the next president is announced.
About the Author:
Alexandra Naughton has spent the majority of 2019 in a productive writing block, writing about trauma and exploring her own trauma and reading and immersing herself in other people’s stories about their traumas so that she can eventually get back to working on her second novel. This piece is the opening of Naughton’s forthcoming book, a lyrical essay, from Spooky Girlfriend Press, a place a feeling something he said to you.
Image: GTA V, Rockstar Games, 2013