MIX TAPE MEMOIRS: BJORK AND TEENAGE HUMAN BEHAVIOUR
This was written for and performed at Red Dirt Poetry Festival in Alice Springs for the event entitled Mixtape Memoirs. Artists were asked to choose a song and write and perform something in response to that song from high school age years.
Last night I dreamt we were friends again. Even closer than before. Closer in the way you used to say you would like us to be. We were in the bedroom I shared with my sister who is six years younger and loves the band Hanson. She is not here for once so it is just you and I both sixteen years old and alone together. It feels like we are the only two people left in the world and we like this feeling.
Your mouth is on my mouth and we are kissing slowly and deeply. One of your hands is in my hair and the other hand is up under my shirt. There is no bra even though I am starting to need one. You pull away for a tortuous moment so you ca smile into my eyes with soft shiny lips. My knees have gone weak, I whisper. You lean in again and when we start to kiss you slip your tongue inside my mouth and I groan into your mouth. It seems fitting that this dream takes place where it does.
When I wake from this dream I am back in the present and being sixteen is over fifteen years ago. A little shaken I reach for my phone.
I notice you have started following my facebook presence. I wait for the friend request that never comes. Your profile picture shows you and a man smiling. You have a small child held in your arms.
I remember seeing you in art class and after a few days we end up sitting together and talking about books.
I remember living with my grandmother so I could go to this particular school with all the subjects that I wanted but couldn’t get at the school where my class size was 14.
I remember being so lost and overwhelmed at the size of this new school and crying in a stairwell on my first day.
I remember walking all the way to your house from school on a sunny afternoon and feeling like my chest would burst at how happy and nervous you make me.
I can remember you giving me a mix tape with some of your most loved songs on it. Music I had never heard before. You are so much cooler than me. There is one song on side A that I rewind and play again and again because I love it so much. It’s a song by Bjork called Human Behavior. That particular song choice with the lyric
If you ever get close to a human
And human behavior
Be ready, be ready to get confused
didn’t feel like a warning until later.
I remember you reaching for my hand after lunchtime ended and we made our way to class. We walked there hand in hand through the crowds of students.
I remember you telling me I’m foxy. That it was a shame that I wasn’t into girls. The thrill ran through me head to toe. The thrill of the danger and intensity of my feelings for you that had to go unsaid. My religion said such feelings are a sin. I wish I had not been so firmly tethered to family and the constricting suffocating confines of faith.
I remember you drawing an illustration in black pencil of a young woman masturbating in a forest and showing it to our male studio art teacher.
I remember a Saturday night sleep over at your house. I remember you lived within walking distance to my church. We talked almost all night.
I remember you waking up and telling me you had a nightmare. That the nightmare was you went to church with me.
I remember wanting to be just like you. Wanting to be as confident and smart. I got my hair cut short just like you. I remember getting a jacket similar to yours.
I remember spending lots of time with you in the drama space at school. Where you tried on my jacket. ‘’You’re a scorpio so that means you’re very sexual.’’ You tell me.
I remember feelings.
I remember you giving me a hand written letter after drama class. You told me to read it at home.
I cried myself to sleep that night.
I remember I didn’t have a proper sense of identity and didn’t like what was already there.
I remember you telling me that my complete and utter naivety scared you.
I remember your house smelled of cigarette smoke because your mother smoked inside.
I remember you telling me how much you hate your Dad.
I remember having other friends that never managed to be as bright and vivid as you. One had painted Daria and Jane on her bedroom wall. I remember waiting alone in the kitchen while you and her and some other girls had a séance. My religion forbade me taking part in such pagan rituals.
I remember having my 17th birthday at your place in your parent’s garage. A male friend tried to trick me into drinking lemonade with vodka in it. You stopped him and got very mad. I remember feeling so loved by you.
I remember you telling me that a boy in our drama class had a crush on me. He had the same name as my brother though. That was weird.
I remember our last phone conversation. I was chatting away and you were being so quiet and distant. I remember inviting you to come and sleep over, watch movies. You were so evasive. Don’t you even want to hang out with me? I asked. No. You said.
I remember doing my final exams with us no longer speaking.
It is 11 years later when we cross paths again for the first time. I am walking towards the corner of Smith Street and Johnson. I’m hung over and on my way to see a friend’s band play an afternoon show. You are still beautiful and your hair is still short. You fall into step beside me. We both stop walking when you ask if I’m Jess Knight. You say who you are but I already know it. I am in such shock at this random meeting that my heart starts to palpitate and pushes blood quickly through me so I am ready to run if I need to. You hurt me so bad last time I saw you.
I laugh in shock after saying that I am who you think I am and that yes I remember you. I stare dumbfounded into your hazel eyes. It hits me as I stand there. I was not over you. I was not over you dismissing our friendship and actively cutting all ties of communication with me. You tell me you have just moved to Melbourne.
I allow myself to bask in a brief feeling of superiority at the fact it took you so much longer to leave that small country town. I want to give you my phone number and ask if you want to come with me to my friend’s show. I want to offer help in settling into life in the big city as I know how scary it can be.
I want to show you all my new friends and my new life. Instead all I manage to do is laugh and ramble on and on, as we stood waiting for the red man to turn green.
When we cross the street you go one way and I go another.