“There was no system to any of this. At that point Chloe Byrnes wasn't a real person to me and on that afternoon in the house on Ocean Drive a few decisions had to be made, the priority being: I would never dream of leaving any of this. At first I was confused by what passed for love in this world: people were discarded because they were too old or too fat or too poor or they had too much hair or not enough, they were wrinkled, they had no muscles, no definition, no tone, they weren't hip, they weren't remotely famous. This was how you chose lovers. This was what decided friends. And I had to accept this if I wanted to get anywhere. When I looked over at Chloe, she shrugged. I observed the shrug. She mouthed the words Take … a … hike … On the verge of tears — because I was dealing with the fact that we lived in a world where beauty was considered an accomplishment — I turned away and made a promise to myself: to be harder, to not care, to be cool. The future started mapping itself out and I focused on it. In that moment I felt as if I was disappearing from pool-side in the villa on Ocean Drive and I was floating above the palm trees, growing smaller in the wide blank sky until I no longer existed and relief swept over me with such force I sighed.”
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