Before you embark into the depths of darkness where avocado toast goes to rot, you’re required to put on the MILLENNIAL UNDERGROUND SPOTIFY PLAYLIST.
Before this chapter, start the song BODEGA by YOUR NEIGHBORS.
Before Jedi was a DJ, he was Jedidiah, a boy at a bodega.
We lived down the street from each other before we had even known each others deepest, darkest flaws. Before the confessions between the sheets, the shots kicked back at the Scorpion Bar across from Midtown Wig.
Usually, when you move out here you end up in the Valley or NoHo or maybe even Glendale.
Not Jedi and me. We picked the cheapest fucking apartments right in the middle of the city. I lived in an apartment that was really just some rooms that had been walled off from what had been a full apartment. To get to my front door, you had to snake your way down a dark alley and up a rickety pair of rotting steps.
I liked it: the guts and grime of the city, the baked concrete, the corner bodegas, the pawn shops and Happy Plazas. It wasn’t Beverly Hills, and that’s what I loved about it.
Jedi, on the other hand, hated it. I met him when he tripped over a chunk of concrete being ripped up in a perpetually under-construction block of city. He skinned his leg pretty bag, and his bag of groceries went skidding — and got run over by a bus.
I couldn’t help but laugh. He flipped me off, and I yelled back, “fuck you!” but when my giggling subsided I walked over and helped him up. This wasn’t New York City, after all: we’re civilized people.
“This is a fucking waste,” he spat out. “I have to be at an audition –”
“You’re an actor?” I asked, wary. I didn’t associate with actors. They had to be exceptionally self-involved to survive. I was plenty self-involved, I didn’t want that in any kind of potential friend or romantic relationship.
“DJ,” he responded.
“Nice, I was thinking of doing that instead of waiting tables,” I said.
Jedi sighed. “People like you are what’s wrong with the city. You think spinning beats is some kinda fun thing to do for money. It’s a goddamn art, but now every genius with a spotify account calls themself a DJ.”
I laughed. I liked this boy who took himself too seriously. Nobody in LA took themselves seriously. We let our ambition wash over us like waves. Let the universe take the wheel. Used blunts to blunt our passion, our hard edges. Jedi defied that. I liked that. It was like sniffing smelling salts in a steam room. An unexpected sensation.
“I have antiseptic back at my place,” I offered.
So we walked back to my place. Darting through that small alley (Jedi making a comment about there was easier ways to lure men to murder them rather than waiting for them to fall outside of bodegas. I shot back that the road construction was merely ~a trap~ and part of my master plan.) We got to my front door.
I lead him inside, and flipped on the lights — and neon glowed from every corner of the room.
Neon signs, neon lights, neon plants. (The only kind that wouldn’t die on me.)
Like I said. In Los Angeles I’m Misty, the neon artist.
Jedi stepped inside, circling slowly as he took in all the neon.
I got the first aid kit, handing it to him.
“I know, right?”
“This is incredible.”
“Of course it is: it’s a manifestation of what I do best.”
That’s when he turned and kissed me. This, I would later discover, was partly a manifestation of what he did best.
Over the next few months, we criss-crossed like power lines, intertwined currents of energy. We were inseparable, intense — and primed to short-circuit.
He was moody, intense, brooding: I was reckless, lost, unavailable. Going to Keke’s shows and ignoring his texts, or pretending I wasn’t mad he was ignoring mine. Arguing over what we wanted. Arguing over what we didn’t. Then, I saw him out at a bar with another girl, and it was over.
Just like most LA love stories, ours was killed by misunderstandings — but most of all, governed by the number one rule when it comes to dating in Los Angeles:
Don’t let them see you feel.
So we didn’t. Escalating our battle of unfeeling until we were simply satellites passing — at the Satellite. Until tonight. When Mercury must have been in a helluva retrograde or Jedi had some reason to try and bring me back to him. Ego, loneliness, regret — maybe a mix of all of the above.
I was tipsy in a photobooth, but I hadn’t forgotten the cardinal rule of friendship in this city of angels:
Never abandon your friends.
So I handed Jedi my empty shot glasses, slipped my arm around Triggers, and walked out into the cool November night to find Keke.
Jedi watched me go. Behind him, the dancefloor lost their shit to the utterly incoherent strains of LCD Soundsystem’s Dance Yrself Clean. He took a step forward, as if to follow us into the starless night, but he couldn’t cross the threshold where his world ended. Tied to rule over a domain permeated by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and endless Robyn remixes.
He will be missed.
Eaten Alive by the Millennial Underground is a multimedia fiction series written daily by writer Amy Suto for National Novel Writing Month. Check out the rest of her blog here for more about her nocturnal excursions and writerly pursuits. Read the full Millennial Underground series as it’s coming out in the month of November at: AmySuto.com/underground, and be sure to subscribe via email so you don’t get #cancelled.