"Get Down" by Rebecca Clingman

This memory is a generic one. In my brain’s retelling of senior year, this happened many, many times, and it was exactly the same every time. That obviously can’t be the case, but still: the simple sequence of events, due to its overall regularity, has become an unexpectedly important memory. It goes like this: you text me or vice versa. We meet by the stairs behind Clark. We run down the stairs to your car secretly sort of hoping we don’t run in to anyone. You turn the key; I struggle to get the case off my phone. I try to do it quickly, because we only have a five-minute ride, which, if I can get the dang case off, will be enough for about one and a half songs. In my head, it is only ever one of these three tracks: “Warm Water” by Banks, “Chain Smoker” by Chance the Rapper, or “Power Trip” by J. Cole. We can’t even hear each other talk, because we’ve turned the volume all the way up and the windows all the way down. The car is filled with cool California night air. It is always, always night. My hand is riding the current out the window and my fingers get cold. We get to Vons, hop out, head straight to the alcohol aisle and choose drinks pretty much at random (we get something different every time, and it’s usually pretty gross), and hop back in. I struggle with my phone case again, and we listen to whichever one-and-a-half songs we didn’t hear on the way up. When we get back, we throw ourselves on my floor or on your floor, and wait for something to happen. I calmly put my phone case back on.

Another like that: I remember the lounge with the big glass windows, and the piano, and the veritable fleet of couches. Despite them I am curled up on the floor by the vending machine, being sad, but not being sad about being sad, because you are there doing the same thing. We’re wallowing. Once, at three in the morning another person finds us there, and we all play air hockey, and laugh like maniacs.

And so this won’t seem strange to you: I associate the word “floor” with comfort. For us, “getting down on the floor” is not dancing. “Flooring it” is not gunning the accelerator. Flooring it, to us, holds a closer-to-literal meaning. To us it means, Get your guts on the floor. Get your stomach and your heart and your intestines and your kidneys as close to the center of the earth as you can, wherever along its surface you happen to be. I think we started lying on the floor as a therapeutic—almost ritualistic--measure in sophomore year of college, but I can’t be sure. From then on, anyway, we brought our activities down with us. We would draw, listen to music, cry, laugh, sleep, and, most importantly, talk. It was often easier down there, below the radar. We could say anything, without even the embarrassment of another person’s gaze. After all, we simply looked up at the ceiling, and if we spilled our guts, they didn’t have far to fall. Whenever we’ve been apart, we have also “floored” over skype or text, and it’s not quite the same, but it’s not bad either. In a pinch, it’ll do. At some point, though, I’ll have to find my way back to a floor that has you on it.

#essays #friendship #friendsandlovers

 

 

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