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As I write this I am listening to Lover boys music on soundcloud. He’s white and covered in tattoos every where even on the face, the kind of boy who can’t go to school because he’s just that different. He has bright pink hair and calls himself Lil peep, nothing lil or sweet about him tho. Raymond, my lover boy is different. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw him I thought he was high or extremely socially awkward or slightly retarded, I’m not sure... He has the kind of hair always look dirty regardless whether it is or not, slightly green-ish yellow mixed with dark brown and black at the roots. I couldn't not look at him. At lunch he ate alone for days. I couldn't not look at him. He danced in class and wore a yellow Tommy shirt.
Every day he was dirty and he was crunchy and he wore one braid in his faded hair: at the end a blue butterfly bead dangles like a cherry on top of a melted ice cream. He was melted into my mind 1 day at a time.
When we started to talk to each other I noticed he only would have conversation at a surface level. He was utterly low key about himself, always one earbud pushed in, quietly signing. He asked me to give him a tattoo, so for many nights in a row I went to his dorm room, snuck in, closed the door, sat on his bed, and worked. His mattress was covered in a blue sheet with a pattern that reminded me of fish and the ocean and my childhood best friend. We started small, he let me do whatever I wanted and to me that was fine. he played me his music too, out of his cracked phone as I worked, spead out and lying down on his bed. Concentrated. He called me star girl.
One evening in his room he played me the song teen romance. One of the lines went, “Yeah I took a zan, I hope you understand” Raymond was like that to me he seemed like a man 3 inches from the surface but not yet breathing air, almost sedated when talking to others like he had taken a zan himself. Who knows, maybe he had. Our conversations were sporadic, but one night I looked up from my work and asked him, “Raymond have you ever been in love?” He looked at me, shocked that I could think the answer would be no. He said of course he had, and well, I believed him. I think I wanted to pull Raymond 3 inches up to the surface with me, sometimes it gets cold (lonely) at the top.
Another night when we were working we heard a heavy knock at the dorm room door. It was fast and urgent and we heard one of the counselors. They made rounds at night sometimes. I stood up fast almost spilling the ink and went to go stand in the closet. I heard him talk to the woman and then she left. I was grinning, I just couldn’t help it. I looked down, his gold chain lay uncoiled, deodorant and mimi hotel bottles of shampoo and conditioner. Near my feet were two bottles filled with yellow stagnant looking liquid. Raymond told me that he peed in them at night because he was afraid of the counsellor. I couldn’t blame him, they were b****y and accusatory.The urine was yellow, too yellow I looked in his eyes, they were dark dark with dirty white around the eyris. I couldn't help but look at his upper lip. The hair that grew there was soft still not prickly. When I thought about him in the part of my brain I use for everyday life, I had no idea why I liked him. I knew he made me feel small and there were things that he did and said that I would think about minutes and hours after they'd happened.
I will never forget this moment.
There were a few of us in my dorm room one evening. We were playing spin the bottle. The bottle was purple with grey lettering, it used to have my conditioner inside. I thought of all the contents soopy wight warm getting sloshed around inside. There were 5 of us in the room but only 3 of us playing. I was excited, I had a boyfriend at home but didn’t care. My hands were slight cold and I really hoped they wouldn’t get sweaty the way they sometime do when I’m excited or slightly nervous. We played for a little while. One spin this boy William who was tall with kind of a flatish face landed on me.. A lot of the other boys didn’t like him because girls stuck to him like hot caramel. He would talk to 3 or 4 girls at time but he was nice so hed get away with it. We stood up and I felt his hips gently pin me against the wall; he kissed me and all I could smell was his cologne: the moment was dark green like pine trees and like green ink that come in thick glass bottles. Out of the corner of my eye I looked down to see Raymond on the floor looking straight up at me. I met his eyes while Willam kissed me just for a brief second. What was that look on his face? He looked sad and overwhelmed and scared. Then he laughed. And then turned his dirty eyes away from me. I felt like I was saying goodbye to him in a room full of people. It no longer smelled like pine trees or felt like thick bottled ink-- it felt runny and like the bottle of leave in conditioner, just a few white globs remaining at the bottom of the container. I felt like I was the bottle and I was spinning.
At lunch I would sit in the cafeteria. I had a table of loud laughing friends, all of them I liked and was interested in. This was something I’d always wantted at school and at home. But I was 3 inches under the surface now. I was looking at Raymond who now had another boy who sat next to him. They didn’t talk, just ate their food.
In printmaking cass Ray and I would talk, we would laugh, and we would listen to music. He thought the song “That’s Not My Name” was hilarious and wanted to sample it for a song he was going to make. He had a Soundcloud account and still I listen to his songs every day. His music gives me the same feeling you would get if you had a lump in your throat but only if that lump moved down to settle on your heart. It was some sort of tension and it was some sort of release all together.
I miss him and I don’t.
I’m thinking back to a day in printmaking. We were developing copper etchings. It was raining hard and I had just ran up stairs and stood in the rain for a minute. My shirt was wet and I could feel and smell my skin, rain water, salt. To process our plates we had to put them in a hot acid bath and then let them cool and dry in the acid room. The acid room is a closet that is painted white. It is small and dingy and looks like where the janitor would hide and eat his lunch. The walls had red rusty copper and acid stains. The lights were dim and blue and ultraviolet to keep the cooling plates from drying too fast. In the blue light the grimy stains on the walls looked to be red and my skin felt settled, almost aged. Our teacher had left Raymond and I alone together in the acid room. I felt the time slow and get mushy and warm. I couldn’t help but look up at his face, his upper lip, hair still soft. The two of us stood in the closet looking at eachother until the teacher came back. Now I wish I had kissed him but I know there’s nothing I can do to go back to that moment now. By the time I had realized, the moment was over, and so was class.
The program ended.
Raymond went to Florida and I went home.
He wrote a song and sent it to me.
I knew who it was about, he didn’t need to say anything.
He wrote me two more song and then we lost contact.
Before he left he gave me the blue bead that dangled on the braid in his dirty hair.
I wore it for 2 months in my own hair and then put it on my bedside table.
I like to think I will see him again but I don’t think that will happen. I know we are farther from each other now than the distance between New York and Florida.
I thought he was beautiful.