When Charlie first came out—and I was aware of it, instead of just dissociated and amnesiac about the whole episode—the first thing he did was change the music.
When I wanted him to come back later on the best approach seemed to be the same songs he wanted.
The parts come out sometimes when they see something they like: Annoushka pops out to wear my boots; Lana popped out this morning because I put on a brown shirt. But music seems to call up the mood of the parts.
So as I’m dealing with the parts, I try to find music they like. Verka likes classical and punk rock—not together, but separately. Sam wants Russian lullabies. Charlie is nuts over U2.
It seemed to me that there was overlap in Annoushka’s and Verka’s tastes, but Annoushka has been less vocal about it. There are some songs she doesn’t like. (She doesn’t like most of what Charlie likes. It’s all too sad and heartbroken and…well she doesn’t like it.) But mostly I thought she didn’t much care.
However, Eurythmics came up in the process of thinking about this. I have no sense of music history and my own history is a little confused in my mind, so I looked it up. Oh, playing non-stop in 1983. When I was 10.
REM came up too. And I wondered, When were they playing? It seemed later, but…
I looked it up. Yes, playing bigtime in the nineties. But.
Hit the charts in 1984. When I was still 10.
Annoushka is 10.
In reality, I don’t know why the parts settle on certain ages as their developmental stop-point. They appear in my memories earlier than the age they say they are and seem to stay active long afterwards. But maybe it’s just the mindset they couldn’t move beyond.
Or it is in some way quintessential to their being. Annoushka says she is 10 because she thinks like she’s 10. She can’t move beyond it, because she hasn’t worked out some important part of her ten-ness.
I imagine it’s something like that.
But Annoushka remembers the alternative rock scene from 1983 as it played out in small-town life in California. Which is to say, there was a radio station.
She was listening to REM and probably a lot of other stuff too, but that’s not all sorted out yet.
Nonetheless, it’s a little bit wonderful. (Don’t Go Back to) Rockville is like a rush of aliveness to me. It’s this little slice of being a child, and of being happy.
And real. It makes me feel real, and this is partly because it brings back a sense of texture to my memories of normal life—which are mostly flat and half-emptied of all emotion, like videos of someone else’s life that you aren’t even interested in.
Music seems to be, in some way, a bridge. It’s a bridge between Annoushka’s life with Yuri and Natashka and her other life, her school life, the girl next door who wanted to play bizarre and disturbing games with her. But also roller skated and played Uno and did normal things. And had MTV.
There aren’t a lot of bridges between those two lives. Everything between them had to be shut down.
When I was 10, in fifth grade, and the girls started acting weird and giggly and I don’t know what, I am pretty sure I was falling in love in a much more serious way. I don’t exactly remember this. I remember the film shoots feeling different. Not just because my body responded differently than it had before, but because I was in some way more present for it. I wasn’t just going through the motions, trying to get through it, trying to get it over with. I was trying to sort something out that I couldn’t understand.
There was something to understand.
There was a feeling to sort, something beyond this is yucky or frightening or it hurts or even Jesus, would people stop touching me? It’s been a fucking hour and I’d like to stop feeling anything at all. Anywhere.
There was a sense that this is special.
It is other things too.
But it is special. There is something about it I want. Not because it feels good. A lot of things feel good, and anyway after a while much of it really doesn’t feel good anymore. It just feels like too fucking much.
But it still special. There is still something about it that it is like magic, and I don’t know what it is, but this magic is new.
Later, there came the sense also that they are stealing something special from me, but I didn’t understand that then. Not yet. Not when I was 10.
That feeling—the specialness—only came across the bridge in a very narrow, constricted way. I never connected what I was feeling to what my friends were feeling that made them shy or giggly or I don’t know what.
I don’t remember whether I was that way too. I might have been. It passed. Natashka didn’t feel that way about me.
Not then. I was a little girl still. It would have been creepy if she had.
She felt that way only the next year. I can’t remember it exactly. I remember a feeling of nervousness in her body, and an impulse to pull back from things that might have happened naturally when we were younger.
I remember her tickling me on the bed and getting up to walk away. I remember her stopping what she was doing to look into my eyes. And then away. I remember her fiddling with something. I think perhaps it was her hair, but there is just a sense of twisting about it, not a picture to it. Just a motion.
When I was 10, I didn’t feel sad about all of this. I was a trafficked child. The trafficking was nothing new and nothing to write home about, but this was. This specialness was new to me.
And it was lovely.
It was delicious. It was something to be savoured. It was something that felt somehow like play, play in the sense that it made me happy. I had no sense of play as a child. Life was serious business. If I didn’t stay focused 100% of the time, I could die. Or lose a limb. Or my brain.
I couldn’t afford to play.
This felt like play.
Annoushka is a happy part. She’s confused about what was stolen from her and she feels worthless—or did, maybe she’s better now—but when I let her out, I usually feel happy.
I felt sad when I was older and we were lovers and I understood that my lover was sad and in trouble and I couldn’t save her, and that is Charlie. That is Charlie’s sadness.
But when I was 10, I didn’t understand all that.
When I was 10, I was, I think, in love. And I was happy. At least in some little slice of the world, I was.