Shame and Reverence go hand in hand, memory stains a sin in the white brick.
Water casts a reflective shine with dawn’s approval, the dirtied pool from last night’s skinny-dipping session has a few dead leaves and a loose pair of panties drifting by the diving board. Another party, another riff, time is absent from the halls of this place. Tearful goodbyes back to home countries, offsite orgies you’ll never be invited to, roman candles popping off the balcony when you’re trying to sleep. The land of pretend and lost toys, wall murals painted by drug addicts. A burgeoning political hive-mind.
We all had our little jobs in this Communist Complex, four hours a week of menial tasks meant to encourage cooperation, friendship, casual polyamory. I cleaned the stairs and swept the leaves outside in the Autumn, meanwhile a kitchen full of expats cooked potato-based meals that were included in the rent price. $700 didn’t feel too steep to share a room in populist utopia, that little concrete oasis.
Run by an alt-female cabal with an iron fist, thoughts and opinions expressed therein were largely dictated by them and their Lord Humongous, a nose-pierced pastatarian with the big job of booking the social events paid for with a secret fund made from illicit public parties. If you weren’t part of the union, you were a scrutinized exile, primed for deportation. It always helped increasing your social status by selling drugs and having rainbow hair, a strategy that I failed to utilize and instead opted for the danger of ambiguity. I bought Molly from a Biology major who didn’t own any shirts, only glittered star-spangled wizard pants.
It was easy to spend hours staring into the barrel-pupil eyes of another, talking of philosophy, arts, anything that fit the flavor of the moment. My Orientation Day I had a two hour long conversation with a trans math genius about the complexity of the universe. This same math genius offered me cocaine off of his iPad a few months later. Regretful, I don’t think I ever properly answered his most burning question: would I ever have sex with a Velociraptor? Well, Bishop, for the record in written word, i’d have to say no. I’d hold out for a T-Rex.
My roommate was a second generation Indian-American college student, hulking in stature, weakest handshake i’ve ever felt. Obsessed with Middle Eastern warfare, poorly pixelated xerox copies of tanks with red circle selections lined the walls of our room. He paged into Al-Jazeera once from some undisclosed location, I imagine he was wearing a suit top while wearing no pants, his usual evening attire. Aligned well with the times I walked into the room and he was passed out drunk in prayer position on his bed.
Alcoholism was a casual, celebrated affair, oftentimes money for beer kegs was collected on a nightly basis for costume parties, ranging from debutante Prohibition era dress to wearing trash bags and newspaper clippings, anything but clothes. Whip-it canisters strewn and tossed about the building. Encouraged psychedelic use — this was our access to that higher consciousness, all of us together, lying in a “cuddle puddle” on top of piled mattresses on the floor. Designated rooms for debauchery, only the attractive people got to have sex. That theory that only a small percentage of the top males get all of the women in a social pool? We would have been staunch incels if it weren’t for the fact that we’d become tortured political prisoners with the Hillary logo patched onto our vests. Tied to a crochet crucifix at dinnertime and beaten with dildos.
I long forgot my purpose while I played the court jester, the clown flouncing about the party atmosphere worth little to no regard. Always been my safe place. They nicknamed me “Baby,” my big cheeks and small demeanor. A cruel label, this tiny way of mockery into subservience, I was anything but a threat. Try getting laid with toothy Euro-Trash when you’re known around the party as “Baby.” All things considered, I had my tiny lucks. Always attractive to the BPD types, don’t know what that says about me. One knocked at my door blackout drunk every night, screaming that she just wanted to “talk.” Another strung along a sordid year-and-a-half non-relationship after holding my virginity hostage. I watched the police do nothing as she performed a magnificent monologue, convincing them she wasn’t having a suicidal episode. I stroked the Nordic contours of a Danish face nightly for an entire semester after listening to her electronic musical art pieces. I made out with a girl that had Herpes™ on New Years midnight while bottle rockets screamed into the air and burning American Flags waved next to naked dicks.
The empty Winter reminded you of the reality, the stragglers avoiding family holiday riding scooters up and down the kitchen and making forts out of the dinner chairs. Days turned into years, so many people around at all times that even when there wasn’t, you could still hear their whispers through the plaster painted grout. They all came back eventually, onset acidic paranoia. The tremulous side effect of the deepening social burden, those voices coming from the outside. One member of the community became especially brutish, only after about his second month living there — painting black eyes and blood on his face, calling the cops and blaming rape on a Tiny Tim-esque English boy who’s only real crime was being English and a boy. Now sewn into the roots of history, another member goes on the Banned Board. Something of a legend, this Jewish Puerto Rican with pierced eyebrows and hair a black pompadour wave. I believed him when he told me he lost his virginity behind a Wendy’s dumpster.
Always the apocalypse felt like it was right around the corner, mass daily decadence, I had found hippie Babylon. Shattered it felt, the day that Trump got elected. 2016, the so-believed death of common sense. I remember coming home and seeing the entire entryway, dining hall, littered with broken vodka bottles and party streamers. Couldn’t happen, would never happen. Celebrate the coming election of Lady Liberty, blonde and defiant in her ironed pantsuit. Reality hit the masses. Inside the TV room were the last few left willing to watch the news. He was marching on the stage with his family.
Behind me, I heard tears. Literal tears. “Welp, that sucks.” My friend said, drunk, likely not sure how to feel. “SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU’RE WHITE, YOU’RE GOING TO BE FINE!” erupted from the front row. Our intrepid pastatarian was huddled by her harem, snot in sob. My friend was in fact white, and he was smart. He shrugged his shoulders and continued drinking. Not the time to argue.
One of the many communes in this town, we were the only one with the pool, making us the highfalutin’ envy of the entire organization. Our neighbors were our rivals, considered a motley crew comprised of jean-short cutoff barbaric retard neanderthals, penchants for bloodlust, kicking in windows and overdosing on opiates. Every year they hosted a bicycle race, covering the entire scale of the property, bleeding into the streets, drive-through’s of fast food restaurants, into convenience stores, members’ rooms. Fraught with obstacles and play-actors: spooning a mermaid on a dirty air mattress, eating chocolate out of a cracked toilet bowl, making art with your paint-splattered ass, all culminating in a group bike orgy. It was exactly what it sounded like.
How to avoid the obstacles? Easy. In the parking lot of the commune, the other members of their respective houses would do as many beer bongs as possible, granting skips to their riders. Not much memory of this day, to be honest. But a family driving down this residential street, likely lost on the way to one of the many novelty events downtown, no way they were from this area. A mother, father, and a kid in a carseat. Looking up at this crowd, unauthorized screeching in the parking lot. Young, drunk, semi-functional members of society, the future. Some naked, some splatted with ketchup. Raising victory on the weak of their shoulders, somebody won this race, but it didn’t matter who. Welled with emotion, we all skinny-dipped in prime daylight while one of our riders hosed off a gash.
This day, and not until this day, I felt the creeping undertone pervade while I shrunk to centimeters. These selfish times, this soulless squander. Hedonism unleashed, my greatest fears realized. I wished then for a penance, remediation for the friends I wasted, the family I ignored, the time that I allowed to slip away under pot haze and tail chase. The crowd is now creating a whirlpool with speed, joining hands and swirling a bodily mass. One deep breath for a final exhortation.
In the collective cheers for nothing, we prayed for mercy.