Shooting Stars and Open Bars by Alexandria Duluoz

There’s just one memory I keep going over in my head. It was early morning in California and I’d been up all night leaning on the windowsill, my mind was clouded with the haze of six hash brownies and a red stripe. I loved those one dollar and ninety-nine cent tall boy cans of red stripe. It had been six months of non-drinking so I was still decently drunk. It was also my sixth consecutive month of not having sex, at five a.m. I started to make heart shaped waffles. Supposing it was nervousness and bad habit forming but I had gotten little sleep and I continued to ponder ever so deeply. When my roommates finally got up we skated down the hill to catch the eight bus to Ocean Park Boulevard. It was another ordinary day except it was Saturday so I didn’t have class. The locals of Venice were like a secret society benefiting from their own and ignoring the tourist only until money could be heard ruffled in their subdued hands. I’m not going to get into the people or any great descriptions to allow imagery or produce some sort of depiction. The memory that I’ll keep with me always was how quiet I had become. Never a loudmouth or attention seeking but at this point in my life I really never talked. It was as if my demons had taken the gift of that flow of speech I had and turned me inward. This would soon become unbearable; we were up in the tattoo parlor and I know I felt six years old, looking at the world through glass with curious eyes. I remember the weather and even my clothes yet the faces draw a blank. The tattoo artists would become friends but I never search for anyone especially at this time when I was searching for myself. They were all talking, they always talk, and I wasn’t listening. I could tell by the oldest man’s bone structure he was from Native American descent and as the circle winded down and the artists went to help costumers I knew the blunt was finished and got up, dizzy and drilling for information on how I should spend my day. Guessing by the look on my face the man said to me, “Are you having a good time?” I replied frankly “of course I am or else I wouldn’t be here.” I’m sure my smile gave me up but the words he said after weren’t harmful in his retort. “You just seem like you’re deep in your mind but you know what, it’s alright because you can tell it’s a good time in there.” I was stuck deep in my mind, sound in my sleep, whole hearted in my own affection. Maybe those six months were tormenting my soul because I was coming off too long of a binge. It was worth it, the stories, the characters, experience. Lose myself but it’s all the more work just to get back to where I was, to who I am. I know transformation is key in joining the higher karmic thermal of life. I needed to be cleansed of my guilt of a harrowing old relationship among other daunting circumstances. A part of me left with him. In Greek Mythology, Orestes had listened to the god Apollo and was haunted by what this god had asked of him. “He had been a wanderer in many lands, always pursued by the same terrible shapes. He was worn with suffering, but in his loss of everything men prize there was a gain too…He had come to beg for help; nevertheless, in his heart there was confidence. Those who desire to be purified cannot be refused and the black stain of his guilt had grown fainter and fainter through his years of wandering and pain. He believed that by now it had faded away.” I’m not sure if I believe in self-manifestation or predestination; the innocent suffering as same as the guilty would never justify either. This memory I will carry forever, sometimes it even comforts me in my dreams. How a complete stranger helped me realize that forgetting myself allowed an awakening in me to be who I am, who I always was.