Letter: you haven’t written about me in years by Shy Watson

Editor Carrie Ivy, Letters, March 29th, 2016

"...smoking weed by a old knotted tree because you said it would be fine."

shy watson letter you haven't written about me in years NAILED Magazine


i want to immortalize you. to go by instinct or order. you wrote a song about me when i was seventeen that i still listen to sometimes on the internet. on repeat, my stomach in knots. you wrote a poem about me when i was eighteen and included an audio recording. i sense acutely a year’s worth of deepened pitch. how 12 months seemed so long. the night you direct messaged me at the house of a girl i considered cooler than me, i was high. we were all on our phones and our laptops. mine died and i had to use victoria’s. victoria’s died and i had to use haley’s. haley’s died and i had to take a bath.

i was pained to have my voice confined to 140 characters. it didn’t suit me when i was seventeen and bursting with words. i wanted to tell you everything. i didn’t want to use chat speak because you were smart. i don’t think i got your number that night or maybe i did it was at four in the morning in the upstairs of an old victorian one hundred eighty miles away. i was awake when the sun rose. reading nervously aloud with giggles my witty replies. my friends on their tumblrs grooming themselves to emulate molly soda. we decided that you’d visit and you visited.

i had a boyfriend named waldo and everyone made where’s waldo jokes and i was not chey but waldo’s girlfriend. i told my parents i was going to his house but i went into your car mine parked in the neighborhood across from his i think or did you get me from my house i can’t remember. you probably didn’t get me from my house it was so small compared to yours, so rural. you sang blink-182 spot-on we laughed maniacally. assuming that no one in springfield would know the meaning of “oedipal” we planned to take a petition downtown for people to sign. ADVOCATE OEDIPAL LOVE, it would say. if asked, we were to be cousins. we are both tall, skinny, and pale with brown eyes. my hair was brown then but now i’m blonde too.

we even bought the paper. the stripes and stars so patriotic. stationary. we went to the mudhouse where we froze up with fear. the rush of a good idea, the planning of how it will occur, the congratulated self until it is possible standing before you and the interest dies.

i want our skin to be seventeen and eighteen. to be sitting in a station wagon scared of touch. a floral romper, a pair of khaki shorts, and shaky hands. i can’t remember what accents you performed but i loved them. i can’t remember what accents i performed but that you loved them. we drove around because driving around is both calming and invigorating with windows down and songs from middle school. we had coffee that made me shakier and walked beneath tree branches blocking street lights. you first touched me at phelps grove park, your hands on my hair, on my shoulders. my teenage stomach in knots, in floating out of me.

you dropped me off in my boyfriend’s driveway. i kissed your cheek or you kissed my cheek or a cheek was kissed but i couldn’t do more even though i wanted to. i stared at the fly of your khakis but i didn’t.

was distant with waldo in the tree house. was distant with anything before me, but my head. i gathered tender belongings for a package which i should have tied with twine but didn’t. a cd i made you, a letter, other things that i forgot. i spent a morning in the money window of mcdonalds. writing lists, saying the wrong things to guests. it’s a miracle i didn’t slip up and shout your name.

your texts took too long i had no patience. months later you sent me a picture of my face in stencil at your high school art show. i thought i was a secret. waldo and i broke up and i came to visit. met your parents in your giant house. drank the americano from your espresso machine. asked what your parents did, didn’t get it. walked around loose park it was enormous. smoking weed by a old knotted tree because you said it would be fine. walked in circles on the pathway holding hands. followed you to a nearby coffee shop and ate something. sat outside. on a bench or in a chair your friend appeared and we got in a car. something said about how you were right, that i was very hipster in my appearance. we talked about bands that pitchfork praised i think he approved.

i don’t remember where we went for a while. eventually we’re in a room upstairs in another big house smoking weed out of a window were their parents home? bored and selfish wanting you to myself, listening to your friends say things that went over my head, very high. eventually outside smoking with them on another bench or set of chairs. laughing very hard. being very high. you dragged me to a park to show me the stencil of my face sprayed onto an electrical box.

back to your house to watch into the void on your terrible couch. wanting to fall asleep there, wanting to be held but feeling removed because that film is disassociating. going upstairs to sleep in one of the guest rooms. waking up to the scent of breakfast, your mom she made us pancakes, or something.

left, tried to find whole foods because there was no whole foods in rogersville or near it. those house made tortilla chips. soft and flaky, varied in color. was still high so i got lost. ended up way the fuck in kansas. at a highway gas station asking how to get to whole foods. 30 minutes the other way and by the time i finally got there i only had enough money for the chips and rabbit-shaped graham crackers.

i don’t know how much time passed until you visited but it was after i got kicked out, when i was living on an air mattress in a 4×6 dining room in a shitty basement apartment with two horrible boys. i think you drank with us. i think we spent the day not knowing what to do. maybe we just walked around. maybe we drove again. maybe you bought me lunch.

that night my roommate was probably doing drugs so we left and we walked to the nearest public pool. i was skinny enough to slide between the fence and the wall and you had to climb. we took off our clothes behind the bathroom by the bricks. i had just finished swim season and i did the breast stroke. you dove first.

we stayed for a long time, held each other suspended, i showed off. the car with the lights in the parking lot. stayed there the whole time, i didn’t think about it. got out. walked dripping to the bricks and slid my clothes on. met by a flashlight and an officer. i shit you not and hope you remember his last name was dickensheets.

sorry sir sorry it’s something i have always wanted to do i’m going off to college soon. you pulling out your fucking harvard ID or somehow mentioning that. lets us off. probably figures your dad’s a lawyer or that we’re inherently good because we are getting the fuck out of missouri i don’t know.

on the way back laughing. walking by an apartment complex that says something about how heat is included and it’s fucking june. i can’t remember if i stole it or just talked about it. i think i stole it.

falling asleep on the air mattress. waking up at the same time because we had to. breathing heavily, touching, you on top. grasping desperately at teenage skin, knowing instinctively just what to do with it. moving to aaron’s room after he left for work. pretending to be asleep as he moved thru the kitchen beside us quickly making breakfast.

how difficult it is to express things from the night once it is morning. how to articulate it, put it into words. i only saw you once again that summer. it was awkward at a festival in chicago. i liked being near you, touching you. listening to whoever with you. being high. i had missed my ride with you because i did acid for my first time the night before with a boy i fell in love with in the following weeks.

he had told me that rolla was on the way to kansas city from springfield. it wasn’t. i caught a ride with a girl from mizzou. smoked blunts the whole way there heard her puking in the bathroom after every meal.

i stayed with you anyway one night. i don’t think we even fucked. there was something between us that i can’t remember. we had walked by gay bars on the way back from food with your friends. it was my first time seeing rainbow flags. we went quietly downstairs and it was hot out. i slept poorly.

i didn’t see you again that summer. i dated the guy i did acid with and moved northeast: you in cambridge, me in philly.

one night on the floor of my dorm’s living room you sent through facebook a poem with audio. i want to quote the whole thing but that feels wrong. you read repeatedly: “arms race arms race legs race piscine bodies.”

i told you i wanted to kiss you and you didn’t respond.

i visited you in cambridge the following spring. you met me outside of the station and we walked to a place to eat or drink. the menu was written in chalk. the walls were white. you took me to a friend’s where youth lagoon was playing on an ipod and i thought it was a vinyl. your friend was english and your other friend’s dad produced madonna’s first record. i was nervous that i was going to be hanging out with harvard students so i took nootropics for weeks prior. i kept up i think they liked me.

indianna, the english girl, talking about how she was a bad feminist for putting on makeup. noisey heels and quickly on the sidewalk toward the chinese restaurant that didn’t card. the kong or something. spider bowls or something. giant bowls of alcohol with many straws. slurping contests. walking to the bathroom texting jon. forest in his lilac sweater. your friend who would only eat food that was white. your hand on my leg under the table. your hand in the air gesturing “another round!”

drunk in your dorm building i tell the redheaded girl that redheads are the sweetest because red cats are the sweetest and i mumble something about debate and i think she loves me. i wake up with your hands on me, “i got condoms” and i’m on top.

after, my head on your chest, you singing i miss you by blink-182 and maybe i read too much into it or wanted to be loved. i woke up a lot in my sleep.

met up again with julien. watched a silent film in your tiny dorm room. french, black and white photographs. danced afterwards when julien left. still awkward the day after. went to a reading for your school’s lit journal. felt cool/dressed up. maybe we smoked inside. interesting people. interesting stories and poems.

i think we went back to the chinese restaurant. i think i ran drunk thru the lawn.

i know i woke up in the morning to walk to the showers. the walls were bright with sun thru windows. my hair looked ragged in the mirror. my skin was red.

i never met your roommate. but i pissed down the drain.

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Header image courtesy of Theo Gosselin. To view his photo essay, “Vagabonds,” on NAILED go here.

writer shy watson NAILED Magazine letter Shy Watson is a 23-year-old woman living in KC, MO. She is the author of the chapbook AWAY STATUS (Bottlecap Press 2016). Her work appears in places like Hobart, and Electric Cereal.


Carrie Ivy

Carrie Ivy (formerly Carrie Seitzinger) is Editor-in-Cheif and Co-Publisher of NAILED. She is the author of the book, Fall Ill Medicine, which was named a 2013 Finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Ivy is also Co-Publisher of Small Doggies Press.