I called my mother at 6 p.m. because it was 9 p.m. on the East Coast. I knew I had to say “happy birthday” before midnight or she would get upset. When I called she told me it was 6 p.m. where she was too. She said she was in Las Vegas. I asked her why on earth she would ever want to go to Las Vegas, and she said she just wanted to. That sounded like a good enough reason to me.

My mother asked me if I was still coming to Virginia at the end of the month. I told her I was. I told her also that I needed to see my grandmother while I was there, and my sister Tara who might be dying. Both are in places they don’t want to be—in places where people have to take care of them so they can stay alive. Neither know I’m coming. I asked my mother not to mention it to them. Maybe it will be good for my grandmother and my sister to see me. Maybe it will be good for me to see them too. I don’t know.

Apparently I will have my grandmother’s car the entire time I’m in Virginia. I guess I’ll go to Baltimore and Washington, D.C. and Fairfax and so on. Mostly I’ll wander around Nokesville at night . . . probably park in my high school parking lot and go out on foot. Walk through the cornfields and hop some fences like I used to.

I hope it is cold when I’m there. It would be nice to have the heat on at night, and to listen to music as I snake around those old roads.

My grandmother’s condo is where I’ll stay. She hasn’t been back there since she fell and hit her head months and months ago.

Recently she told my little sister that she doesn’t want to live anymore. She said she would rather be dead than rely on other people. I don’t know how to feel about that. I don’t disagree with her, though. I wouldn’t want to live like that either.

• • •

I have no great purpose, if anyone can be said to have great purpose. I have no love interests. No one loves me. I have nothing to do with my time. I have very little money. I don’t have much food. I am often tired no matter how much sleep I get. My brain is hazy and scrambled. I can barely form a coherent thought. I start a lot of things. I can’t finish anything. I don’t talk to my family. My family doesn’t talk to me. My cousin wants nothing to do with me. I feel alienated from everyone I knew before I moved to California. I don’t know how well I know the people I know in California. I feel uncomfortable being myself. I don’t know what it means to be myself. I write dumb stuff. I don’t think anyone reads the dumb stuff I write. I have dozens of unfinished and/or unpublished essays that aren’t any good and I don’t know what to do with them. I like things but I’m not sure how much I like them. I feel like I could be talked out of liking anything. I don’t feel glued down to anything.

As of yesterday I have health insurance. I applied for foodstamps. I love a few people. The sun is nice. The ocean is nice. The trees are nice. Recently I’ve been sitting by Lake Merritt at night with a thermos of green tea. I drive my car in San Francisco on the weekends to make money. No one tells me what to do. I don’t have a bedtime. My only problem is money. I’ve been reading again. My skin is clear. I bought a new axe. I chop firewood sometimes. I love my cat. My cat is my best friend. I like going places at night. I like it when people hug me. I like hugging other people. I like sitting on couches and talking. I like making friends. I have almost nothing but I would give that almost nothing up if someone needed it. I take care of the few things I do own. I have a lot of fun writing letters to people in different parts of the country.

My friend Danielle called me from a birthday party in Los Angeles the other night because she said she wanted to hear my voice more than she wanted to hear anyone else’s. I met her at a Trader Joe’s in Silver Lake the last time I was in LA. I gave her my phone number and asked her if she wanted to be my friend. She said she did. I saw the butterfly tattoo on her arm before I saw her face. Her hair was red and her skin was pale. She visited me in Oakland even though she didn’t know me at all. She slept in my bed three nights in a row. We didn’t touch each other and there wasn’t any tension about it either. I bought her lunch the day she left because she’d had a rough time with her friend the night before. I didn’t have any money. I could barely pay my rent the next week but I got her meal anyway. When she left to go back to Los Angeles I kissed her on the cheek. I told her I didn’t know her very well, but I liked her a whole lot anyway. The other night she told me she is writing a short story that she wants to turn into a children’s book. I listened to her talk about it and was genuinely interested by something for once.

None of my old girlfriends talk to me anymore. They probably won’t for the rest of my life. That’s OK I guess. I miss them sometimes. I wish they would be my friend. I wish I could be their friend. I don’t hate anyone. I am only ever this upset because it could all be so wonderful so easily. It is hard because people are bad. I don’t know why people are bad. I think it’s easy to be good. It is automatic to be good for me. I know when I’m doing something hurtful and painful and I hate myself when I do those things. And I am aware of it. I am not particularly smart but I’m not stupid either. I am hyper-sensitive to other people’s emotions. It is very difficult to live this way.

I like spending time with my cat. My cat sleeps at the foot of my bed every night. In the morning he sits on my chest and gently paws at my face. If we could live on the moon together I would.

I would live underwater with him too, like Sadko in Ilya Repin’s painting.

I would like to hug someone. I would like to sleep next to someone in a bed. I would like to kiss someone. I would like to float out into space.