I am jealous of her in the way you are of a 20-year-old vegan with pink hair. You want to be her but not because she is cooler than you, rather, you were once a 20-year-old vegetarian with green hair. You see her as simultaneously a more extreme version of yourself and the exact same version of yourself, just from six years ago, when you were also 20. This is shortly after you crumbled, and thought you were building yourself back up in the beds of many men and women, only to find out that you were a building set ablaze by the architect who had such a manic love affair with his creation that he could not see it loved by another. The building was simultaneously your body and your soul, but you were also the arsonist who built you. You are god.
If you were her, if you were 20 again, and you were vegan and had pink hair this time, you wouldn’t have let this happen. You wouldn’t be in therapy for constantly wanting to light yourself on fire or stick your fingers down your throat, or both. You wouldn’t be confronting demons that should have long been forgotten. You wouldn’t be questioning your sanity, or your willingness to love, or the safety of your family. You wouldn’t want to have hard sex, with no pleasure gained, because the repetition of the thrusts feels comforting but devastating in the same movement.
You would probably have nervous sex with no sounds. Or maybe you wouldn’t care about it. You would be eating junk food, which was still vegan, like potato chips and Fun Dip. Most importantly, you would have pink hair, and be writing music with your boyfriend. Not her boyfriend. Your boyfriend. My boyfriend. If I were her, I would be writing music with my boyfriend who is not hers. I am willing to share him with her though because it honestly sounds better for all of us. This is called being selfless, and I am trying.
He is in the prime age to fall between us. The median between veganism and full-blown cannibalism, if that’s what what I am doing is called. The 22-year-old pillar between pink hair and my dry, 26-year-old, chestnut hair that has always had red undertones that I am forever trying to cover up. This is why I had chosen green instead of pink, but now I want pink. I want pink more than I want anything. Even my own boyfriend. Or hair at all.
Sometimes I think back to my last relationship, to when I was dating Sean. Not often, but sometimes. Specifically, to the time I found out he had Annie over while he was watching my house. I was at my family’s house dealing with some crisis or obligation, two words that carry equal weight in getting me to drop everything and drive four hours. “Yeah, she just called me to smoke and I said that I had your house available so we just went there. She liked your comforter. And your vanity.” Obviously they slept together and he is trying to tell me by using names of items that are in close proximity or directly on top of the bed. This is how my mind operates, in code. I wonder if he washed my comforter afterwards.
Sean told me I was crazy for thinking I had any reason to believe anything was happening between them. So it came as a surprise to me to find out that when I asked where things were going he said he couldn’t make any promises because he was too in love with Annie. Annie with the blonde hair and crop tops, and the pit bull named Rogue. Annie who liked my bedding. Annie who told me to leave Sean when he hooked us up for drinks when I first moved to town and had no friends. “He is never going to grow up,” she said. I remember I got too drunk that night and couldn’t ask her for a ride, so I walked the 3 miles home, only to stop and vomit in a McDonald’s bathroom.
I wonder if Sarah has looked me up on Facebook, the way I used to cyberstalk the girlfriends of the men I had crushes on, not that I am considering my boyfriend her crush. But he is older and worldly and the timbre of his voice makes me believe many women want him. I wonder if she thinks my haircut is cool because it is choppy, a result of having my sister cut it to save money. My sister is not a barber, but rather a florist. And hair follicles cannot be that much more difficult to trim than rose stems. It does not take a florist to determine that. I wonder if she knows that I once was vegetarian, and for a spell vegan, but that I am not now. Or that I cannot tolerate gluten, or soy, or dairy, or any food, or even air. I wonder if anyone knows this, that I was vegan for a spell, and that I cannot breathe air. I cannot remember if I have told anyone. I have heard this is crucial to living a vegan lifestyle, which is something I am not accustomed to but I must be able to properly assimilate if I am going to take this ethical living this seriously.
I met her once at an open mic with my boyfriend. She seemed so little, the perfect age to be infatuated with an older man. Perhaps, I am just thinking of myself again. I keep mistaking Sarah, the pink-haired vegan, for myself. I felt strong that day because my boyfriend’s hands were all over me, something that used to bother me before but with him I felt comfortable. I am talking about how I used to believe you just float above your body and take what was given to you. That is not the case anymore. I take any small touch or soft kiss he will give me with the thirst of a marathon runner. I am being quenched of desires I never knew I had, or was deprived of, and this man, with the beautiful mind and head ( these are two different things), has taught me to drink. Sarah sang a song with a full band. I sang nothing. This is another difference between us. I view it as regression. I have less to share now in my old age.
“Do people your age really do that? Dye their hair pink?” my mother said after she heard me explain to the stylist why I was making an appointment over the phone. I had no answer for her. “I know the teenagers in my school do that, but honestly, you are not a teenager anymore.” Another fact I need no reminding of. I had no words to explain to her my choice in hair color. This would require a conversation much heavier than cotton candy dye and why you have your sister cut your hair herself. That is okay, because in two weeks, at five p.m. EST on a Tuesday, it will all be fixed. Everything will be fixed.
Corrin Magditch is a writer from the mountains of Pennsylvania. Her work has been previously published in Rag Queen Periodical and self-published in countless docs on her Google Drive that will probably never be read by eyes other than her own. This is okay as she is a wonderful audience to herself and others. She is also the author of three self-published zines that are available to purchase on her collaborative online shop, Many Mothers. When she is not writing books for herself, she is busy knitting, reading, or watching Scandinavian crime dramas.