I met Dmitri the summer I did meth.
Just kidding, I’ve never done hard drugs, if you don’t count the blue Klonopin pills I pop like kids on a mat of bubble wrap.
He, on the other hand, actually did meth, which was less cool that I thought. He looked more like a coke guy to me, but what do I know about what a coke guy looks like? As a child I smelled pot on my street and wanted desperately to call 911, so I’m not exactly what you would call “street savvy”.
He was a piercer at the shop I went to for a few years to get an array of holes punched in my skin to look cool and feel the pain of bioplast metal breaking my cartilage, something I’m apparently into. I saw him and knew instantly he was hot. He had his hands tattooed before finishing his sleeve, which in the body mod community is considered a faux pas, but in that way he was an extra rebel. Even real collectors didn’t respect him, but he didn’t care. He was too cool, too nonchalant, probably too busy fucking other cool girls with hand tattoos.
This was the summer after I’d been sent home from prep school, and I was just kind of floating. I studied for my upcoming AP exams. I let my mom dress me. I watched a lot of Disney movies.
I had reverted to this cocoon like stage, mostly to avoid any depression triggers, but I had the brilliant idea one day to get my smiley pierced, which is right above your top row of teeth. It’s bad for your oral health, but I don’t brush my teeth anyway, so I kind of didn’t give a fuck. Didn’t give much of a fuck about anything, really.
I was 19; it’s basically a rite of passage.
I met up with a friend for ice cream at a local place called Wild Willies, and revealed to her my plans. Not only was I going to use the money my mom gave me for emergencies while she was away in Quebec City to pay for this piercing, but I was going to slip my number in the tip jar. “To Dmitri, from Gabby. Phone number inserted here.”
It was so unlike me; I was terrified of boys, but I always did lust after men. In retrospect I had nothing to lose. I was a woman on the loose, a woman loose, a recovering loose-er.
So I took the city bus to the shop and asked for the smiley, which another shop employee did for me. Dmitri was there though, and we made small talk while my heart shit itself. I paid with my mom’s money but slipped an extra five, with my carefully crafted note slipped in its folds. I bolted out of there, and never heard back.
Until 3 weeks later.
And then, I don’t remember much.
I vaguely remember a first date, where he cried over his brother and step dad’s tragic accident whilst chowing down on chicken wings. His septum piercing was so cute full of barbecue sauce, I thought.
I vaguely remember awkward hugs, to a sloppy first kiss, to an apartment visit where he tried to go down on me which was a disaster because I suddenly got my period. He burned me with his cigarette, calling me a tease.
And I vaguely remember a mention of “ice”, which is the lamest way to address his meth problem. I’m from Quebec, ice is everywhere, it’s the opposite of cool. It’s the reason you’re late to work or an orgy.
We watched bad horror movies with his fingers tapping away on his jeans, we went to the park, we had (bad, painful) sex when he wanted to, which was always.
Our “thing” was violent in a way I never knew how to describe. Sure, he liked knives in bed, and thought it was funny to throw his dirty needles at me to scare me, but that’s honestly not what I remember most.
In fact, I barely remember him being violent. I remember me being somewhat violent, in my own way.
I aggressively texted my friends telling them we had awesome sex (we didn’t), that he paid for dinner (he couldn’t), that he bought me a bouquet for a date once (he thought flowers were a government ploy to infiltrate us with a disease through tiny red rose bugs. I would have taken it). All the time too, I wanted them to know.
I listened to a lot of happy romantic pop songs, like any of it applied to me at all. I danced manically to those Carly Rae Jepsen classics in my bedroom until I threw up.
I drove my grandmother’s car smiling and shaking through the tears, which I thought were happy ones. I’d park on the side of Des Sources late at night and take my meds to calm me down. What a thrill to be recklessly in love.
“I’m in love. I’m in LOVE, like actually properly mentally”, I told my dental hygienist.
I thought that with every fiber of my being, except my pesky little fingers.
They were itching for razor blades, but I couldn’t. The scars I had left I said were stretch marks, which Dmitri found disgusting.
Why would I cut?! I’m so in love, he’s so nice to me the way he texts me sometimes and speaks passionately about how acid saved his life.
He’s so sexy and wild and adventurous and one day I’ll bring him to my family Christmas party and we’ll all laugh about how funny it is that he failed out of high school 6 times.
We broke up, and I don’t really remember that either.
I do remember going to the gym the next day and running for 15 minutes before calling myself an ambulance from the parking lot of a nearby elementary school. “I’m going to kill myself, please bring me to the hospital”, I said in my calmest voice.
I made small talk with the ambulance driver through the shakes of depression psychosis, and was admitted to Lakeshore, a psych ward I wasn’t familiar with.
I was a veteran by that point, so I just tuned into the sound of nurses running around trying to give their patients meds and various family members crying around us.
I was discharged when I submerged from my crying fit calm. My parents let me have a medium milkshake from McDonalds on our way home.
Later that week I tried to keep a job my dad got for me at his bank. I went home to cut, cry, or plan my next tattoo. I quit 2 days in.
And I’m going to say it now; you’re all going to hate me.
Because I usually don’t believe in happy endings.
My favorite book is The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, which people find notoriously bleak in its exit, but I find it heartwarming.
Recovery feels like brain surgery and sometimes surgeons fuck up.
Esther doesn’t know if she’s going to be ok, none of us do.
Ah the sweet sweet taste of incertitude regarding our potential suicide.
But again, you’re going to find out where live and skin my dog because this story has such a sappy ending.
A short moon later, I met my husband.
Many people ask me why I never write about him.
I don’t write about Justin because I don’t have to, he writes with me. He’s the first to read my stories, he comments, he edits, he kisses me, tells me I’m a beautiful wonderful genius, and buys me a Beanie boos and red bulls.
I would never have started writing again had it not been for his support. I would not have studied literature. I wouldn’t have the confidence to wear red lipstick, or glitter, or no makeup at all. I wouldn’t be happy, and that’s not an exaggeration, that’s just how much of my heart and healthy belong to him.
He makes me feel like eating kale, because I want to live longer.
And when I die, I want to wait for him at the gates of hell where we all know I’m going with a sign saying: miss me, fuckface?
I recently went to a different piercing shop in the city to get my nose pierced and the guy who pierced me when I asked Dmitri out was there. He remembered me, and him, and the whole incident.
He told me he hated that guy.
I said,” you know what? I kind of don’t. He was a douche, oh my god what a king of douchelandia he was. But that’s ok. Because I’m going to write about him, make 50 bucks on the story, and spend it on a Wes Anderson collectible DVD and some chocolate Justin and I will share. And I might cry, because it still hurts to feel like a used dishcloth, even after all these years.But then I’m going to have sex with my husband and fall asleep to the Simpsons. And all will be right in the world. “
The piercer was quiet, looked at me funny, and said:
“So um, what side of your nose do you want pierced?”