This. Is How. It Works.


This is how it works:

You get drunk. At a party. A glorious, summer party, one with lots of friends and boys (and girls) and beautiful people in general. You tend to throw yourself into things, especially tonight, because it’s a night of lasts and joyful goodbyes and tears and maybe a little sexual tension because of all the (beautiful) boys and girls and yes, you’re all tan and beautiful too.

You have a drink.  You have a swig.  You have a shot. You have a toast, you’re toasted, you’re the toast of the party, because you’re that awesome and everyone loves you and you love everyone.  There’s a boy, there’s a girl, you just want to make out with everyone, kiss everyone right smack dab on the lips, because nothing has ever felt as good as the alcohol pounding in through your sun-soaked veins. 

You drink more, because why shouldn’t you have more?  The more, the merrier! More! It’s a glorious word, a possibility word, an adverb, and advert, as in “advertisement,” as in “help wanted.”  You want more.

But then more becomes too much, and that’s not as fun, because the spinning your body was doing continues even after your feet stop dancing off the ground.  The pounding in your veins becomes throbbing in your head, and throwing up seems likely—like being a little kid, with too much cotton candy and hot dogs, right before (and after) the tilt-a-whirl.  The carnival suddenly becomes Halloween town.  Something switches in your head, in your body, in your skin and you can feel the cold and the boy you were just with turns out to be not the boy you wanted.

This is how it works:

You just don’t want. You just don’t move. You just want the world to STOP SPINNING so you can get off. You don’t know what’s going on.  There’s a bed, there are sheets, there’s some nice person guiding you to the bed because you’re clearly in bad shape and for one split second, you thank god that you have such a good friend.

But it turns out that the boy you thought was just a friend, in the friend zone, the boy who confessed his gay feelings of love to you, who told you he was repressed and really wanted the cock, turns out to be the boy who everyone (except you) knew was in love with you, wanted to do you, wanted you to come back home with him, to that far away place, and oh, now he’s crying into your body and all you can do is close your eyes to the dark and ride the line between sleep and awareness because this is way too weird to be happening.

Then you start thinking about your boyfriend, as in, the real boy that you love, the boy that’s not here, and your mind starts dreaming in a wakeful sort of way, because the alcohol is lying to your brain and seducing your motor functions.  You become sort of aware of fingers where they shouldn’t be, of kisses falling all over your body, but you could be dreaming, you could be masturbating, you could be doing this to yourself, because actually, you’re not quite sure where your body ends and where the bed begins and is there actually a boy in bed with me right now?

Something starts going in and out. You realize both of your hands are encircled around something that is most definitely not a pillow.  You sit up suddenly, even if it’s hard, because you realize something is very, very, very, wrong.

He pretends to fall asleep.  You stumble the hell out of there.

This is how it works:

You call your best friend to come pick you up from the hotel, the party, the glorious end-of-summer what-have-you. 

Your friend comes. You’re still not sure what happened, if it can be called rape, if it was sexual harassment, if you’re just another dumb cliché college girl who got too drunk.  As in, “oops, haha, I can’t believe I got that wasted last night, wasn’t it funny?”

You spend the night at your best friend’s house.

This is how it works:

The next day, you go home.  You call the person in charge of the party. You call your superiors.  You call your best friend, your other best friend, your best girlfriend, and your best friend from high school, all of whom tell you to call the three people you really don’t want to talk to:

Your parents. Your boyfriend. The police.

Actually, you want to talk to your boyfriend, but he’s currently in a little village in Germany without cell phone or internet, except when he takes the bus to the village internet café.

You don’t know how to talk to the police without talking to your parents, and vice versa.  You’re trapped.

This is how it works:

You call your mom’s cell phone.  She rushes home.  She asks if you’re pregnant.  You’re not, because you’re on your period, but you’re not quite sure what happened, so you don’t know how to answer her.  You try to evade questions about what you were wearing, and what you were thinking, and try to avoid thinking about your father.

The phone rings.  Hell breaks loose.  Your grandmother, your mother’s mother, the one who lives in the Philippines and who took care of your sister and you for a year, she’s suddenly died in a gruesome heart-attack sort of way.  You find out your grandfather found her on the bathroom floor, cold.  You scream and curse and cry, but on the inside, because your mother is the one that needs the help, the comfort, the tissues, and most importantly, the embrace.

Your dad is surprisingly comforting and supportive, but he’s also retreated back into the role of comforter.

This is how it works:

You meet with the police, with the dean, with a gynecologist for the first time ever.  The first time you have to have a pap smear is because you might have gotten raped.  This is scary, especially since the gynecologist seems mostly apologetic and apprehensive.  The police tell you that since a penis was probably not involved, it doesn’t count as rape, only sexual assault.  Also, they can’t do anything, since he was a visiting student.  Also, their investigator is away at some conference, learning how to investigate.  Your mother curses out the woman cop who won’t let her go through to talk to the police with you.  You shrug, mainly because you’re well aware that your mother is way more unstable than you are right now.

This is how works:

You go to the Philippines.  You fly there, first class.  There are a lot of tour groups that resemble the tour group that the boy was in.  He’s always hovering over your shoulder, and you’re not sure if he actually knows that what he did was wrong.  After all, his roommate was there the entire time. 

This is how it works:

You block him on facebook from your smartphone, using the wireless network inside the first class lounge in the San Francisco Airport.

This is how it works:

You speak at your grandmother’s funeral. You recite the eulogy you wrote.  Your voice quavers, but it’s ok.  Everyone understands English, and afterwards, the nuns sing a hymn you’ve grown up with.  Your voice wavers as you sing along, but you sing anyways, because your mother has asked you to sing for your grandmother.  There is a lot of tears, and food, and incense.  Each one smells of the other, and each one follows the other. 

This is how it works:

You are jet lagged, and somehow, you have managed to contract food poisoning. You are still on your period.  The flight back home, two days later, is excruciating and also 16 hours long.

This is how it works:

You head back to school, still jet-lagged.  You intend to throw yourself into the new school year.  You’re excited about your dorm, your classes, your roommate.   

Your boyfriend comes back from Germany and dumps you, two days later. 

Another boy dumps you, two weeks later.

A crazy boy, and another crazy boy, and yet another crazy boy.  They all fall in love with you.  You convince yourself it’s NOT because you’re going crazy yourself. 

This is how it works:

You go to therapy. You go to class. You write a lot of poetry, because you’re an English major, and also, you’re in a lot of writing classes.  You deal with other people’s problems, because you somehow manage to always understand.  People treat you like a survivor.  You don’t want pity.  Your mother mentions something about how it was your fault for getting drunk, how you didn’t learn your lesson, when some other boy tries to do something.  You feel like somebody who died, but didn’t get the courtesy of a funeral.  You don’t want a funeral, you don’t want to be mourned, but you sure as hell don’t want to be blamed for anything that you (logically) know wasn’t your fault.

This is how it works:

You keep going. You keep partying. You go wild in retribution.  You extend a big “fuck you” to God, Buddha, your parents, and every single authority figure that should have done something, that should have said something, that should have stopped you, that won’t give you a break because the police have declared your case cold and dead and ended and pretty much unsolveable. 

This is how it doesn’t work:

You throw yourself into life and enjoy things, immediately, you forget.

This is how it should work:

You go to therapy, and after a couple of rap sessions, you’re healed. The boy confesses and is thrown into jail, or off a cliff, which ever you prefer.

This is how you want it to work:

Everyone shuts the hell up when you want them to, everyone pities you when you want them to, everyone does what you want them to, because you’re entitled to a free break after what happened.

This is how it works:

You deal. You live. You learn. You go forward.

Eventually, you move on.