Death to the Valley by Alex Machado

“California, did you say that’s where you’re from? You must be crazy!”

I grew up in a desert land shucked with transplants

and gentrified because LA grew up and out.

All my friends were different and I was different,

the first time I had sex I was in a room that was dark,

not long after that I began the tally marks:

  • Nameless guy #1

  • Cute boy who drives hatchback Honda

  • Boy who slightly resembles Pharrell

I skipped class and no one noticed, I wasn’t a huge fan

of drugs or alcohol but I was less a fan of high school.

My first ‘cool’ boyfriend was also named Alex.

He spent most of his time in a dank garage wasting

his well procured talent for guitar in a dead-end metal band.

I would go to his practices and pretend to care but really,

I was just afraid of being alone and too jealous to trust anyone.

Sometimes I would drink.

This was before I discovered Negronis so

I thought Pinnacle whipped vodka was a goddamn remedy to life’s ailments.

This was also before I discovered women.

Sometimes, I would get to a point where I was able to move

without constriction.

In those moments,

I was dancing to Beyoncé and pretending

I was out of the beer perfumed garage;

using the tri-colored stained carpets as a personal disco floor,

adding to the wreckage of spilled drinks and vomit.

But it was better than home.

Home, as I remember it,

was a war scape

a darkened doorway

where people like me were not welcomed—

So I was always ‘out’

Alex Machado is a poet/writer/bartender living in New Bedford, MA with her girlfriend and cat, Luna. She has a love for cooking vegan meals and obsessively pricing flights around the world. You can follow her on Instagram @alexxmachado.