This August, a garage in Old Monroe, Missouri burst into flames. There had been more than a dozen similar fires over the past year, a suspiciously high number for a town with a population of 265. When police reviewed security footage, they spotted a white Chevrolet Lumina parked outside the building minutes before it caught fire. They traced the car back to local volunteer firefighter Dustin Grigsby, the 19-year-old son of a fire district captain. Grigsby told police that he set the fires because he "needed a release."
The day my friends and I moved into the warehouse, we found cat shit in the corners and a cat skeleton in the sub-basement. The former tenant’s graffiti tags covered every conceivable surface, and the anarchists who lived upstairs made strange sounds, rendered uninterpretable by their floorboards, our ceiling. Whenever they dropped a heavy object (what were they doing up there?), a fine film of dust drifted down onto our heads. The door of my new room was red, and someone had spray-painted it with dripping, silver letters: SLUT ROOM.
None of us had ever smudged a house before, but this one seemed in dire [...]
I like to plan ahead, so by the time I turned 30 earlier this year, I was already preparing for old age. I have a problem with rounding up, is the thing. When I was 27, I’d read about a 39 year old who went bankrupt, or a 45 year old who had a hard time conceiving, and think, Well, I’m practically 45, so I should probably start inuring myself to the hard truths life has in store for me.
I understand that this is ridiculous. I’m not old; I’m older. And of course “old” doesn’t necessarily mean what it used to. My parents are getting oldish (sorry, Mom)—enough [...]
In eighth grade, Mary liked Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily liked Paul McCartney, and I liked Gavin Rossdale. We probably didn't say liked, though, or even loved. We were obsessed, we were crazy, we swooned, we fantasized. We liked the mall, and love was a word for grandmothers on the telephone: they loved us, they hoped to see us soon. The feelings we had were much more gigantic and upsetting. Crush was good. It implied force, and pain, and the possibility that we might not make it out the other side intact.
At the time, I was pretty sure I had every picture of Gavin Rossdale ever published taped [...]