I loved Reva, but I didn’t like her anymore. We’d been friends since college, long enough that all we had left in common was our history together, a complex circuit of resentment, memory, jealousy, denial, and a few dresses I’d let Reva borrow, which she’d promised to dry clean and return but never did.
She worshipped me, but she also hated me. She saw my struggle with misery as a cruel parody of her own misfortunes. I had chosen my solitude and purposelessness, and Reva had, despite her hard work, simply failed to get what she wanted – no husband, no children, no fabulous career. So when I started sleeping all the time, I think Reva took some satisfaction in watching me crumble into the ineffectual slob she hoped I was becoming. I wasn’t interested in competing with her, but I resented her on principle, and so we did argue.
I was just trying to pass the time. I thought if I did normal things – held down a job, for example – I could starve off the part of me that hated everything. If I had been a man, I may have turned to the life of crime. But I looked like an off-duty model.
Oh, sleep. nothing else could ever bring me such pleasure, such freedom, the power to feel and move and think and imagine, safe from the miseries of my waking consciousness. I was not narcoleptic – I never fell asleep when I didn’t want to. I was more of a somniac. A somnophile.
And I’d feel sorry for myself, not because I missed my parents, but because there was nothing they could have given me if they’d lived. They weren’t my friends. They didn’t comfort me or give me good advice. They weren’t people I wanted to talk to. They barely even knew me. They were too busy to imagine my life in Manhattan.
“My parents are dead.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. But I’m not surprised,” Dr Tuttle said, writing in her file. “Orphans usually suffer from low immunity, psychiatrically speaking. You may consider getting a pet to build up your relational skills. Parrots, I hear, are nonjudgemental.”
Reva could get angry, impassioned, depressed, ecstatic. I wouldn’t. I refused to. I would feel nothing, be a blank slate. Trevor had told me once he thought I was frigid, and that was fine with me. Fine. Let me be a cold bitch. Let me be the ice queen.
I needed Dr Tuttle’s unwavering trust. There was no shortage of psychiatrists in New York City, but finding one as irresponsible and weird as Dr Tuttle would be a challenge I didn’t think I could handle.
“I was born into privilege,” I told Ping Xi. “I am not going to squander that. I’m not a moron.”