A quick reference guide to the people and places I’m talking about. This page is a blatant appropriation of The Small End of Nothing. Some, though not all, of the people and places’ names are links to posts about them!
The Apartment is mine, all mine. It has a wall of windows and a little kitchen and cheap parquet floors. It is 425 square feet of introvert paradise and is usually not very clean. I love it and it loves me, and we’ve been together since August.
School, currently, is university. I’m in the city, in my first year of the Bachelor’s of Journalism program. It’s going relatively well, thank you very much.
The City is not too big for a city, but it’s big enough for me. It’s navigable and you’re never far from the river. It’s friendly and the winters are legendary.
My Hometown is the classic narrow small town that you can’t wait to grow up and get out of. It has a dying downtown and a thriving Wal-Mart and nothing is ever done quite right and nobody ever objects to anything very hard. It has some very nice restaurants and a bowling alley and a lot of well-meaning people, but it’s bland and homogenous and no place for angry eighteen-year-old girls with no interest in ridin’ trucks and huntin’ bucks. It wasn’t a bad place for a childhood, but I couldn’t have survived there much longer than I did.
My Dad is a piece of work. He’s a brilliant guy and he is far too capable to have been laid off in 2001 and to have stayed unemployed, but that’s what happened and that’s where he is now. My Dad taught my brother and I to love music. Everything I know about rock and roll I owe to him, not to mention computers and job interviews and home improvement and editing and my sense of humour. But he has anger issues and a crippling inertia and an addiction to buying things we don’t need on the internet. Definite mental health issues coupled with a refusal to seek help have meant that my mother no longer wants to be married to him and I can no longer live in the house with them. I love him a lot and I worry, and it’s very complicated.
Norma Jean is my best friend who scooped me out of obscurity in the ninth grade, when I was a sad kid who ate lunch alone and she was the eternally-smiling Queen of Everything. She’s a modern-day pinup girl and a Pinterest addict, and she’s far deeper and smarter and much more of a badass than her customer-service voice would have you believe. This is a woman who rides tractors, watches Star Wars, bakes cupcakes, dominates at trivia, marches in protests and breaks hearts everywhere she goes. She is named for Norma Jean Baker (or Mortenson), the real person behind the iconic Marilyn Monroe.
Miss Elisabeth is my friend turned ex-friend turned friend again. She is named for a book I once read about the Austrian princess Elisabeth, a noted equestrian who later married unhappily into the Empire and dissolved into obsessions with her own appearance. We have loved and hated each other quite a lot, bonding over books and blues rock and clashing over girlhood and a certain boy. She loves horses and laughter and trucks and beer and is probably the archetype you’re picturing when you think “Girl”. She dated The Snark for a while.
The Narrator is my much-beloved big brother. Our arguments and passive aggressions on each other are something of a legend among our mutual friends, but he and I have stuck it out through a lot of domestic drama together. We experienced the full spectrum of childhood together. We hashed everything out. He is a creature of habit and sentimental to a fault, and he has a library of downloaded content and used books to die for. The Narrator is named for his habit of collecting novel experiences, his cinematic outlook on life and his mad video editing skill. He’s an idiot, but he’s the coolest, and I miss him now that I don’t live at home.
Heart & Crown is my ex-boyfriend (the one and only). We were together from April 2011 to January 2013, at which time–with great sensitivity and a metric fuckton of apologies–I dumped him. His was a narrative of delusions of grandeur. He told me a lot of half-truths and subjectivities that I, in a fantastic suspension of disbelief, swallowed completely. We saw each other rarely enough that I was able to convince myself I was in love with him, even though the image I had generated was both false and actually not all that great. He didn’t take the breakup well. He isn’t very nice. We don’t talk.
Tom Sloane is the best alias I could come up with for my current boyfriend–a name borrowed from Daria Morgendorffer’s high school romance. We met online the summer before I started university and bonded over morbid Steve Irwin jokes and a mutual reverence for coffee and Star Trek. Together we cook dinners and watch cult movies and rove about the city having adventures and hibernate in my apartment. His musical tastes continue to bewilder me. He has a special relationship with Starbucks baristas. He continues to surprise me. I like him a lot. They don’t make guys like him where I’m from.
Mercury is my childhood best friend. She is a book-lover and an artist and a manga fan and a gamer and a dreamer, and she lives in her room hooked up to the computer. We met on the schoolyard in the fourth grade, and together we wrote stories and poems and spun densely elaborate fictional worlds. I mostly stopped doing this. She still does it. She’s struggling to get her grade twelve and has a hard time staying grounded in reality. We don’t spend much time together anymore, but when we do it always feels the same as it used to. She’s not very adept at navigating the adult world and I worry about how she’s going to do it, but I envy her commitment to things I cast off because I was afraid they weren’t practical enough. She is named for the first superhero she let me help her design.
Sunshine Moonbeam is a poet and a hopeless romantic and a goddamn hippie. She is all peace and love and understanding, except when she’s all overthinking and worrying and meticulous planning instead. We met in university and bonded over writing and pretty much everything else. She has a closet full of vintage clothing, a bulletin board covered in poetry and pockets full of the sound of the ocean. She smiles at everyone. She has already finished her essay and she thinks we should go out for dinner, or maybe to Cuba for a while. She is all systems firing.
The Snark is my delightful lunatic musician friend. He has been my partner in octopus-drawing, talent-show performances and hardcore social manipulation. Throughout high school we vented our frustrations back and fourth, studied many a French verb and mocked each other mercilessly for everything all the time. The day I met him in the ninth grade I fell madly and stupidly in love with him for a year, a fact that will never stop embarrassing me now that I know what an asshole he is half the time. We’re cool now, of course. He is a wildly pretentious and musically talented lanky alien kid, and he drinks too much, and he was once but now is not dating Miss Elisabeth.
Rain Man is my self-described “mildly autistic” friend with the deepest voice you’ll ever hear and more enthusiasm for math than you’ll ever see in your life. He’s not always the most socially aware. And sometimes he’s perfectly aware but he’s just an asshole. Other times he can be very sweet and tell you exactly what you need to hear to feel better. He knows everyone. Walking down a sidewalk with him feels like being in a parade because of all the waving. He’s a drummer, and every surface is a drum set to him and you will get used to it. If you’ve disappointed him and you try to apologize, he will say, “Don’t be sorry, just be better.”
Elijah Wood is this one guy from this one time who tried to make out with me at prom. One of those guys who’s a little too nice to be hanging around with the hockey douches, but he does anyway. I don’t know any real detail about him–just somebody I went to high school with. I wish him well and I do not want his tongue in my mouth.
Penelope is an old childhood friend who moved away. She was an artistic powerhouse and a fantastic partner in imaginary adventuring, and an excellent ally in all the trials and torments of life between grades four and six. When I knew her, she was anxious and fragile and bullied into homeschooling, but she led a rich alternate life full of warriors and sorcerers. She moved away, and I find myself wondering how things turned out for her; when last we spoke, she was a firm believer in dragons and an odd haircut enthusiast, two traits for which I have only admiration.
Sk8rboi (named for the Avril Lavigne song of the same title) was the boy I liked–and hated–from the second grade all the way through the eighth. It was the very definition of a love-hate relationship, complete with musical numbers, hand-to-hand combat and 9/11-themed poetry collaboration. The story culminated in a bizarre situation in which I was asked out, ignored for three days and then dumped, which I consider to be more of a retraction of the original request. We don’t talk anymore, but from what I understand he suffers from bipolar disorder and a batshit insane family life, to which I can relate, so despite the fact that he was extremely mean to me, I hope he’s doing okay. And he has a nipple piercing, so, y’know, I’m over it.