mourning los angeles & ryan

allowing space for the things you are missing

sara david
Human Parts
Published in
4 min readDec 12, 2013


the other night i was talking to a man who i wanted to open myself up for, like a book or a bed or a carcass. i told him i wish he knew everything about me, and he said, “tell me” but i didn’t know how. when i was twelve i buried a child. nights i was raped i sat in the tub and scrubbed my skin raw with hot water until i bled. i peeled layers of flesh off my hands but didn’t feel myself getting any smaller. no matter how much i shed, i could not disappear.

last night i told chris that i think i will always love every man i’ve ever loved before. sometimes i smell the sour love of mean men past rotting inside of me, and i wonder if it’s shit that can fertilize seeds of new love. i don’t know a thing about growing life. migrant workers like the women i come from wouldn’t recognize my weak hands and bloodless skin.

i have such a hard time sleeping. years ago, ryan and i snorted sleeping pills for their hallucinogenic effects and now i take them orally because he keeps me awake at night. today i woke up a little manic and ran to the pharmacy where i bought a basket full of anti-aging creams even though i don’t have any wrinkles. i’ve become hyperaware of time, i suppose. i look at the things i own and wonder how they outlive the people i love.

my mother has wrinkles, but she’s on her third marriage, estranged from two of her children, and on xanax. plus she sits in the sun all day without any sunscreen. i found out that she got married the other day without telling me. she called my stepfather and said she doesn’t know what she’s doing. she feels empty and unhappy. she can’t go a day without popping pills. talk about the apple not falling far from the tree. my stepmother attempted suicide three times and my baby brother attempted once. i haven’t ever, but (and i say this with no ego) i think i could succeed if i wanted to. one year, brown university police officers came banging on my door because they were afraid i was suicidal. i’ve made a list of people who would be upset if i were to die, and it’s longer than i expected.

i miss the sunshine. i wonder if i will ever be able to afford living in los angeles by myself. my library desk job pays shit. i used to make good money doing fetish modeling. this couple in western massachusetts took photos of me to put on their subscription-only site and paid me hundreds of dollars under the table.

one session, he put me in a full body cast and gently placed me on a bed. it was such a strange sensation—being lowered down without being able to move my body, trusting him completely. he took a short video and instructed me to struggle and try my hardest to break out of the cast. i tried. i wriggled and pushed and writhed until i was red in the face and tears streamed down to my ears. when i finally gave up, he walked over to me and stroked my hair. he interviewed me for the video. “were you able to get out of the cast?” “no.” “are you completely powerless here?” “yes.”

when the camera stopped rolling he kissed me on the forehead. i think his woman saw the way that changed me and she asked me not to come back. now i have to make my rent money from a minimum wage desk job, and i don’t really see it happening. sometimes i’m a cam girl and i do really benign things for men who are probably as sad as i am. one man asked me to show him who i really am, and i felt flustered. he asked me to sing him a song so i took out michelle’s thumb piano and plucked along while i sang “heartbeats.” (ryan’s favorite song.) i cried after, and the man ended up not paying me.

i listen to ryan’s favorite songs. i listen to recordings of dead people’s voices. i went to the doctor because i’ve been congested. she examined my nose and told me i looked irritated. i didn’t tell her that a few days prior i did coke with a man who said in rapid succession, “you’ve got small tits for a fat girl. you smell like an angel and have skin like sunshine.” the doctor told me that i’m probably reacting to invisible irritants. i offered, “i do a lot of dancing that involves rolling around on a dusty floor.”

“getting familiar with the floor?” she joked, “that’ll do it.”

at an improv workshop, i let my hair down and rolled my neck while i followed the top of my head to the floor. my teacher watched me move and said, “god help ghosts, and the children of ghosts.” in authentic movement, i danced with my eyes closed and cried.

when i am with men i drop to my knees, and i pull them down with me. ryan and i used to lay in his bed and whistle songs to each other as a guessing game. he was better at both whistling and guessing. we both liked to keep our mattresses on the ground. once, we rolled onto the floor and he said, “how’d we let ourselves get this low?”

i keep asking him to visit me in my dreams but since i can’t sleep, i have to take pills. when i wake up, i read the names of the people who would mourn my death. i know that i have dreams, but i can’t for the life of me remember what they are.