Someone’s Definitely Getting Murdered
I hate the summer.
Every time I wake up to the summer sun blasting its oppressive rays into my bedroom, again, a little part of me shrivels up into a ball. Go back to bed, that part of me whispers; try waking up again tomorrow. No need to face the monotony of what lies ahead. Another day. Same old LA. Same old me. No mystery. Life still bright and stark and severe, that harsh sunlight exposing all the things that are ugly in the world. Too hot. Too real.
I realize this isn’t how most people feel about sunshine, and I also realize it’s very teen goth of me to echo Shirley Manson’s angsty proclamations about only being happy when it rains, but you try living in a near-perpetual drought for 13 years. And do it after having spent a childhood soaking up the wonder of a chill in the air on Halloween, with autumn leaves crunching beneath your feet. And snow at Christmastime, when everything is twinkling and magical. And thunderstorms. Real thunderstorms. The kind that last for hours, that good Poltergeist shit.
Rain, to me, feels like something mysterious is happening. Somewhere out there, a body’s being buried, or a child is being informed that they’re really a wizard, or a ghost is haunting some sort of spooky house with a secret passageway, made spookier by said rain.
We almost never get horror movie weather here, and when we do it’s gone so quickly that no one would even have time to bury a body. And with a temperature that rarely ventures beyond its comfort zone between warm and hot, how do you mark the passage of time? The years blur together. Everything’s just… the same as it always was. Another day, same old LA.
Same old LA, except now Trump is president. I wish I had a big, dark cloud to obscure him.
I struggle to find any sense of mystery in Los Angeles. There are some charming old buildings a ghost might like to haunt, but they’re in such separate pockets of the city — either the wealthy, inaccessible pockets, or the overly accessible, drenched-in-the-stench-of-human-urine pockets — that it barely counts. Mostly, LA is a lot of beige boxes. No trees to speak of, not real trees, unless you’re either a) rich or b) on a hike, next to 50 other people trying to get exercise. Currently, I am neither. Subject to change.
The constant sun begins to feel like an imposed happiness, a manufactured good mood, an obnoxious declaration that we are all LIVING THE DREAM but which, with no evidence to back it up, rings patently false. Like that dude who ticks off his impressive resume credits at parties because deep down he thinks that maybe, if he can convince you he’s worthy and valuable and good, he’ll be able to convince himself. When of course all he’s really doing is exposing how profoundly lonely and insecure he is. That’s what the sun feels like to me. Doesn’t the sun know that most of us are struggling? Can’t we just be honest about it? Maybe I’d like the sun more if I lived in a sprawling mansion. Maybe it would feel proportionate to my lifestyle. I somehow doubt it.
Plus I just really hate being sweaty.
The truth is that I crave the morbid, the magical, the dark, the macabre all year round, no matter where I am or what the temperature is. Summer in LA just happens to leave me feeling a larger deficit of these things than I’d like.
I fantasize about being the one to discover a dead body. It’s not that I want anyone to die, it’s just that if there is a serial killer on the loose, and if he (because it’s definitely a he) is going to be murdering a person anyway, and someone’s going to find the body, it may as well be me who finds it. Or if the serial killer — let’s call him Chad — would prefer, perhaps I could just be one of the unsuspecting friends or neighbors who tells everyone how shocking it is that Chad turned out to be a murderer, because he just seemed so normal.
I love ghost hunting, and I love casting spells with all my girl friends, but the problem is that I don’t actually believe in ghosts or magic, as many times as I’ve tried to conjure them into my reality (with a 0% success rate). So that really only leaves me with murder. Or cults but, yaknow, been there done that.
Something to jolt me out of the life I’m actually living. Something bigger. More mysterious. More exciting. Scarier. But not sad scary — no one I love can die, obviously. I just want something to happen. I want Hagrid to tell me that my life was secretly magical this whole time. But he never does (the bastard), and I seldom get to travel to the kinds of more mysterious places that might scratch that itch. Barring actually being a serial killer, that leaves me with one option: consume stories engulfed in darkness.
Unsolved Mysteries. The Last Podcast on the Left. In the Dark. Making a Murderer. The Killing. The Keepers. Top of the Lake. Happy Valley. The Fall. The Jinx. Dexter, when I still liked it. All things Charles Manson, Jim Jones, Golden State Killer. Mindhunter. The People vs. OJ Simpson. Serial killer books, movies, interviews. You Must Remember This, but only the juicy episodes. The original Twin Peaks seasons. Horror movies, too many to name. (I’m sure you’ll want to tell me about My Favorite Murder now; what little I’ve heard wasn’t quite dark enough for me, but I’m glad to know I’m not alone in my quest for blood.)
I watch and I listen and I read about death and crime with a fervor I can muster for very few other areas of my life. When one story ends, I hunt compulsively for the next. I couldn’t tell you what happens in most of these episodes/books/movies; I quickly forget everything. The details don’t matter much, as long as I am absorbing darkness.
Do I hate real life that much?
If you tracked my level of dark media consumption alongside the ups and downs of my life and emotional state (“dark media” being a term I just made up and have not googled), I suspect you’d find a correlation. It’s textbook escapism: The less comfortable I feel in my own life, the hungrier I become to disappear into someone else’s. Someone else with stuff going on that’s way more fucked up than my stress about paying my rent on time, or waiting for a root canal, or being taken seriously in my profession, or booking a role before I get too old, or overcoming my deeply rooted, multi-layered distrust of men. (People, really.)
That person whose life I enter probably lives in a world that’s cloudier outside than my sunny LA bubble. A little more rainy; a lot more mysterious. Someone’s definitely getting murdered.
Of course, the reality of murder would be a nightmare. Incredible grief, trauma, and pain such as I cannot imagine; things I’d never want to experience in real life. But through the safe distance of a screen, it feels like pleasure, because it’s not me. I don’t have to hold the burden of that loss. I play the role of shocked observer, watching the mystery unfold, involved in the gruesome details, but I get to distance myself from them. Maybe I get to distance myself from myself.
Or maybe I’m just a goth teen at heart.
Fuck summer though, am I right?