I Remember

This was inspired by Joe Brainard’s memoir I Remember, which you should all read immediately.

I remember the first penis I ever touched, besides my own. It was abnormally large and I wondered, in earnest, whether or not I could actually fit it in my mouth. It turns out I could but not very well. Needless to say, I don’t talk to the boy or the penis anymore.

I remember moving to San Francisco at the age of 18 and thinking I was going to be swimming in dick. Unfortunately, I ended up being celibate for the next two years– which is, I guess, just one of life’s cruel jokes.

I remember taking pills (white ones) and going swimming at my apartment in Westwood. My limbs felt like jelly and I thought I was going to drown. I didn’t though. I had fun. Those white pills never felt as good as they did that day, although Lord knows I certainly tried to recapture the magic.

I remember falling in love with my best friend in the 3rd grade without realizing it was actual love. I just thought that I really liked his smile and the way his butt looked in khaki pants and everything else. I didn’t think it was weird either. Didn’t everyone want to see their best friend naked and fondle them?

I remember missing certain days before they even ended. And knowing I was always going to be in a permanent state of melancholia because of it.

I remember, in high school, my mom catching me chugging champagne in my room and not being able to say anything about it because she was wasted too.

I remember the concept of loving a man leaving me cold. When I found out I was gay, it wasn’t so much sex that scared me. It was the act of loving another man, opening myself up entirely to someone that I had been instructed not to be close to. I remember how good it felt once I did let go and allow myself to be loved by a boy.

I remember thinking I loved myself when I really didn’t. No one can trick you quite like yourself.

I remember the things not worth remembering and forget everything else.

I remember being about nine or ten and walking to See’s Candies in my bathing suit with my grandma in the Valley. The chocolate melted before we got home and I cried.

(Wait, that didn’t happen.)

I remember the day you turned away from me in bed and how it felt like instant rejection. It’s amazing how in tune you can be with someone else. It’s amazing how one cold shoulder can make you realize that someone doesn’t love you anymore.

I remember wanting my life to resemble a Nan Goldin photograph, minus the heroin, violence, and destitute poverty.

I remember a period of time when I couldn’t not leave my house without a pair of sunglasses, bubblemint gum, and a polaroid camera because I thought those things made me really cool. I still require having certain stuff on me at all times to make me feel good about myself but it’s not sunglasses, bubbemint gum, and a polaroid camera.

I remember having one of the best conversations of my life in a Jack In The Box on Sunset Boulevard, across from Amoeba Records.

I remember having lots of strained conversations in nice restaurants and thinking it all meant something super important.

I remember my dad dropping me off at college and telling me to look out for early warning signs of schizophrenia. “This is typically the age when it develops.” As it happens, I didn’t develop schizophrenia but I did spend a lot of time in my dorm room feeling depressed and watching Laguna Beach.

I remember my best friend and I both trying to seduce a boy in high school by taking him hiking in Ojai. It didn’t work.

I remember doing things for “the story” until figuring out that weirder things happen to you when you don’t seek them out. Also, doing things for the story is just a gross and dishonest way to live your life.

I remember giving someone a blowjob and watching them burst immediately into tears after they came. As weird as it was, I’ve had worse responses.

I remember having a therapist who was addicted to painkillers and would nod off during our sessions. I wanted to scream at her, “AM I REALLY THAT BORING?!”

I remember a time when I hated my mom and dad and now it just makes me sick to think about it because I’m so obsessed with both of them.

I remember the first time I planned on taking Ecstasy. It was going to be with my roommate but by the time I got home, she was already asleep. At one point, I seriously contemplated taking it without her but I figured that would be too weird. I would just end up hugging myself for four hours alone in my room, right? (Note: This happened six months ago.)

I remember taking human connection for granted and believing that I could fall in love with someone so easily. I had no idea it was this rare and special to connect with a person. NO. IDEA.

I remember spending a lot of money on things that were killing me.

I remember life before the internet. Vaguely.

I remember laying in bed shirtless with a boy and smoking a joint, thinking, “God, being gay can be so cool and sexy.”

I remember a time when I did things knowing full well that they made me miserable. (Who am I kidding? I still do that. I’ll do that until I’m dead!)

I remember falling in love with Los Angeles and hating Los Angeles and loving Los Angeles again and just generally being really annoying about Los Angeles.

I remember moments of pure happiness occurring mostly in car rides: Listening to The Rolling Stones while driving to the Camarillo outlets, blasting Ashlee Simpson on the way to Ojai, listening to that radio station that only played shoegaze after driving home from parties in L.A. Happiness is catching that perfect song on the radio while driving with your friends because we all secretly want to be a real-life car commercial.

I remember crying in an alleyway in Ventura, a street corner in San Francisco, at a family gathering in Palm Springs. I NEVER cry but when I do, it’s always in public.

I remember puking in a cab, puking in the middle of the day on a street corner in Hollywood, puking on a man bringing me room service, puking at my middle school science fair and getting sent home.

I remember thinking you could be something great and then discovering you weren’t but deciding to date you for a few months anyway because it was chilly out.

I remember a time when I wasn’t so focused on having money and a career, and getting to a place where I could possibly buy a house one day and get a dog.

I remember when the hardest decision I had to make was, “What ice cream flavor do I want?”

I remember a man jacking off next to me in the bathroom at a gay bar. He was old, maybe 60, and I was washing my hands at the sink when he started to do it. I was so stunned that I froze for a minute with the water running over my hands. I didn’t just leave.

I remember a man jacking off next to me in a stall on my 16th birthday. He placed a mirror under the divider so he could look into mine. I didn’t freeze that time. I got the hell out of there.

I remember the days that were supposed to be fun but ended up being miserable, and the days that should’ve been awful but were actually great.

I remember a 45-year-old fat balding man trying to sleep with me at a party in San Francisco. No.

I remember trying to kiss my ex and him rejecting me. This happened, like, five times.

I remember too much and too little. I have no choice over what gets kept in versus what gets left out. It’s ultimately not my decision. But I do know one thing: You can’t wrap your arms around a memory. That’s what “they” always say, right? Well, “they” are right. TC Mark

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.

Related

More From Thought Catalog

  • Ang

    This was so perfectly written!!!! Loved it!

  • http://www.itmakesmestronger.com/2012/07/i-remember/ Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com

    […] Thought Catalog » Life Add a comment […]

  • loulou

    Ahh! We had to do our own I Remember as an exercise in my writing class. This is lovely.

  • Brett

    loved the shoutout to Joe Brainard!

  • http://circlemeetsline.com Marisa

    This was great! Would be interesting to see a few writers’ take on the I remember. (Note to self: Submit Brainard-esque piece.)

  • www

    Ryan….by far the best thing you have written so far. Please write more like this…your honesty is very captivating.

  • http://duncansomerside.wordpress.com duncansomerside

    fabulous.

  • Carly Ganz

    beautiful. i love all of your work so much. i aspire to write like this. or just have the focus and patience to do so.

  • Jen

    Reading this was like eating an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos at 2am, and then looking for MORE snacks because I’m all like “whatever, man.” I’m thisclose to printing out all of your pieces, binding them with twine and keeping them on my bedside table.

  • http://themackenziemethod.wordpress.com The MacKenzie Method

    This is fantastic. I’ll probably try a similar thing in the next couple of days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/benmatthewempey Ben Matthew Empey

    I go to the J in the B on Sunset all the time and reflect, too. It’s meant for that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lauren.thorntonbrown Lauren Thornton-Brown

    I wish I was a gay man so I could be that much more in love you.

  • http://nevaquijano.wordpress.com overthatspilledmilk

    Can’t help but laugh on this. Perfectly written! You are a wonderful person, I remembered my gay friends in you.

  • http://tearingattheseams.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/the-act-of-remembering/ The Act of Remembering « tearing at the seams

    […] by this article on Thought […]

blog comments powered by Disqus