022821Michael's fridge is empty of food, but full of multi-packs of various hard seltzers in gag-reflex combos (svedka black cherry lime, absolut mango) and vials of refrigerated skincare products. on the kitchen countertop are seven equally spaced lines of blue powder that we are snorting with a $1 bill from NASA and someone's ancient clipper card. the adderall dust glows against the speckled granite, like bioluminescent algae in a black sea. Catherine and I wear matching faux leather puffers, a necessary uniform for the sub-60 degree night. at the club everyone drops like flies—Catherine feels emo and makes a dramatic exit, Farm gets too inebriated and leaves to deal with a hookup, the rest try to help a vomiting Alex who appears to have gotten too crossed. Jeffrey and I shrug and continue to dance to the bass house DJ, Russian Paris Hiltone; him wasted, repeatedly attempting to grind on me, and me for maybe the only time in my life perfectly drunk. at the end of the night we are evacuated shortly after a waft of smoke, Jeffrey rips his moncler and we take a $60 uber home.
"So much of diasporic existence is cobbling together a sense of self, a life as accrual. There is first realization of what was never taught or told, followed by a constant and unskilled removal of the colonial plaque from our psyches. Erasure occurs through submersion, when the ocean of dominant histories and narratives swallows those of our kin. Yet within this shipwreck of memory we still search for the ancestral ruins that are without language or form. The further you endeavour down this path the more apparent it becomes that we conjure the dead with each step. The longest way home in the longest story with no end."
On Maia Cruz Palileo By Kim Nguyen
inside, past midnight, my cousin makes chai for all the partygoers, who dance outside under the patio heaters to old Hindi songs that I have only heard as an echo, mehbooba and Monica and dum maro dum. my mom slips out to run home and grab some joints, which everyone laughs and smokes together. when the chai is ready, my cousin brings it out and offers it to the aunties and uncles, instinctively skipping me til the end, as I am the youngest. when we are packing up the tables and chairs after the party, my aunt tells me to grab the tablecloths and fold them. I tell her I can bring them to her but cannot fold them. I ask them, 'did you know how to fold things when you were 24?' and in unison, my aunt, mom, and cousin all laugh out loud, so amused they were by my question. they tell me how they used to wash their underwear in the sink each day when they took a shower, and how my 85 year old great-grandpa washed his in the sink even at the hospital before he died of complications from surgery. extremely high, I am in awe of how their childhood likely has 0.00001% overlap with mine, I have a fridge and an iPhone and a nest and I couldn't fold something properly if my life depended on it. now my mom instacarts her groceries and plays phone games...
022321Darren attends the biophysics conference at moscone center after we throw a warehouse party, and we get zapatos and beer at Garaje in soma and bitch about our families. Michael and farm make a salad j and we talk about dating, plan a kiki for friday. Jeffrey is ghosted by a 40 year old former hookup and instead we eat $20 veggie hoagies and sparkling rose in the sunset in the middle of the workday. Catherine makes orzo with peas and ricotta on a Tuesday night and the cat kneads its claws into my thigh. Seven sits in his apartment and doesn’t text me back. Meanwhile, I plot to quit my job next week, unless I get fired first.
021721 (WAIKIKI)on Waikiki beach, Catherine looks like she just arrived from New York, or Berlin. we finger our coconut shrimp and a $20 salad and try to figure out whether the boys at the table across from us are 18. everything feels like a dream—like several hours ago, in the blackness of 5am, we did not silently uber out of San Francisco, across the bay bridge to the airport, as the sun rose in front of us, bleary-eyed and unsure.
on Waikiki beach, I wear my tie-dye Peter Grimm x Grateful Dead bucket hat and my second pair of Prada sunglasses, that Jeffrey bought me as a gift after I lost mine drunk at a fancy restaurant the night after I got dumped. I brought a red-and-white-striped j. crew swimsuit that I told Catherine is cheeky for the west coast, but I would never wear it in cape cod. Catherine wears ray bans that make her look suspicious. the tourists go out to sea in their outrigger canoes and when they come back we try to avoid getting split open by them in the warm turquoise water.
in Waikiki beach, you can see diamond head rising always in the distance, an eerie presence, a striking backdrop to the hyper-urban development along the waterfront. we sip mai tais with accessory orchids and order west coast oysters at happy hours at airy rooftop bars, and people-watch. we snicker at their ordinary, their commonplace. we hope the couples around the fireplace who start talking to each other won't try to talk to us; to this end, we avoid any and all eye contact with anyone but each other. it dawns on us, to our horror, that as much as we criticize them and like to believe we are above, we are actually the girls from white lotus.
in Waikiki beach, we idle down Kalakaua in search of designer sunglasses for Jeffrey. every designer has a different personality. Dior—blah. Louis Vuitton—crass. saint Laurent—dated. I fall in love with the sunglasses at sleeper Fendi, and after bottega, Gucci, moncler, Prada, balenciaga, Jeffrey does too. he buys gold Miami vice frames that make him look like a pimp.
at the Moana Surfrider, I throw up a lot. I throw up after eating bad poke from Foodland. I throw up after double-dosing my birth control after forgetting to take it in a drunken stupor on Wednesday night. I throw up after pounding drinks and Red Bull after eating baked rigatoni and spinach goop at the Cheesecake Factory. all the throw up burns my throat and gives me strep for the second time in 3 weeks.
on Waikiki beach, we watch the sunset along with thousands of other tourists. when the sun goes down, an older white woman next to me begins to clap.
in chinatown, we arrive 30 minutes late to our reservation at Senia, me wallet-less and with a dead iphone. we ask the hostess to charge it while we complain about our $20 drinks being late. outside, the moonlit alleys overflow with the unhoused, who lean against ramshackle buildings from 1908 that feel more like a movie set than real life. "at least it's warm here," we opine.
on Waikiki beach, we frequent the outdoor hotel bar that reminds me of white lotus, and we drink pina colada after Pina colada, lava flow after lava flow. the lava keeps flowing. all of a sudden we are late to our sunset cruise, and we run in perilous heels down Kalakaua to the Halekulani, out of breath after only a few short minutes.
in Waikiki beach, after a pair of vodka shots and much cajoling, we sing "stars are blind" at a gay karaoke bar. afterwards, we pay a $5 cover to drunkenly canoodle with strangers at the straight club to reggaeton. afterwards, I almost fuck a model from south jersey in the backseat of our convertible in a parking garage. later, when he DMs me, I block him out of cringe—and cuz he was a bad kisser.
at the Moana Surfrider, Catherine rolls up in our convertible Ford Mustang. we blast 2000s pop, "drop top and roll the windows up." we drive to the dole plantation, where Jeffrey buys 3D pineapple gummies that taste like they're supposed to taste like pineapple. we take a propaganda train around the fields and there is a standing cutout of two indigenous laborers smiling. outside you can put your face on the body of a brown hula dancer and have your mom take a picture.
at the four seasons, we sip hard iced teas and look at no one, because no one is there. the private beach is empty and the stunning pool is unrippled. everyone who works there is faceless, nameless, their personality buffed clean off to reveal only a gleaming, smooth, personable shell. I dip in the water just to say I did, in an impractical orange swimsuit that my right tit is always on the verge of escaping.
at turtle canyon, we snorkeled and saw a spiky black sea urchin and many nemo fish. later, we ate shrimp from a truck until we felt sick, the fat wretched flies buzzing around us, waiting for their meal.
020721as Catherine sorts out a tiff with her fake boyfriend, I decide to indulge the after-hours scene at our swanky hotel. . . at the beach bar, two women in their mid-30s down glasses of Prosecco (girls gone wild!) they sway, intoxicated, to the soft acoustic drifting from the stage. hurried kama'aina deftly manage the bar, delivering each check with a choreographed 'aloha!' as patrons pull out their iPhones to calculate the tip. two orange women chat across the bar—one pudgy, with bleach blonde hair dip-dyed a faded sickly green, like something nuclear washed up from the sea. couples sit boredly, looking opposite directions, swirling their straws in their drinks, looking for someone through whom to live vicariously, finding no likely suspects at the sparse Moana on a tuesday at 8pm. the banyan, under whose towering trunks middle-aged couples and retirees unwind, glows psychedelic colors, lit from beneath by a ring of otherworldly circadian lights. the 120-year-old tree is freakish, with several trunks extending upward and conjoining, seemingly at random, to form one writhing, massive, rhizomatic organism, haunted tentacles above the ground. against the blackness of the island night, of the foreboding pacific, broken only every so often by a single, cresting wave, white resort umbrellas glow a unnatural green. from behind my maui brewing bikini blonde, I eye a tacky couple—vaguely Australian zaddy in a thin grey hoodie, hair to his shoulders, accompanied by a fake blonde with an unfashionable haircut, red tropical print dress and a plumeria in her hair (too on the nose)—as they proceed on an ostensibly romantic nighttime walk. I cringe at their stasis, their collective unfreedom. I coyly sip my beer with a lurid scarlet manicure and delight in my slow-going youth.
020721in Dillon Beach, the scraggly head of an off-brand Mickey Mouse piñata, purchased from a local party store in the Mission, bobs to and fro, almost imperceptibly, hanging from a rope from the exposed beam of the AirBNB.
at Bitter End, a neighborhood bar in the Richmond with year-round indoor christmas lights, chris gets progressively drunker by the fireplace as we discuss Nazi fetishes and college orgies.
in North Beach, I anxiously sip a cappuccino next to my childhood friend who moonlighted as a Davis sorority girl, who now wears an XL sublime sweatshirt down to her mid-thigh, who drinks an iced almond milk latte with two scrambled eggs on the side, who tells me she always fakes an orgasm.
in Bodega Bay, a Dungeness crab scuttles to its doom, unaware of what is about to be a particularly violent end—steamed alive with butter in a tank of boiling water, then served dismembered on a metal plate to me and Jeffrey with a pair of claw crackers to be further violated, further debased.