Thursday, June 26, 2008

A night in Montenegro, but not really

It was a night like any other, and so it starts. We cross the street, all of us with our hands deep in our jacket pockets (and some in back pockets of old denims) and we skip run across the midnight street. Wild, free, and young like privileged Kerouacians. The bar straight ahead looks deserted or maybe we just kind of hope it’ll be?

This is not what I want the rest of my life to be–empty. I’ve fought hard to overcome adolescence. I’m so responsible. I’m like, so aware.

I’m like so unsure of what the hell I’m doing sometimes.

Of course we grab the booth deep in the bar. The one with the slightly torn leather seats that are vintage chic, glamorous, but still a bit depressing. I’m imagining some drunken schmuck sprawled out on it the night before, wasted out of his mind, picking out the girls in the bar he wanted to slobber all over. Anyway, I’m sitting on his slobber!

My friend grabs me a cold, wet beer. It’s got some wet, disgusting napkin stuck to it. I didn’t want the extra calories so I asked something extra light, so light that my little old allergic self can have the whole bottle sans slurring speech and tabletop dancing. Like I’d ever be that reckless. Ok, fine, maybe just once.

We sit around, blah blah blah, and we talk about the worse things. Like politics, rising gas prices, shopping, and I’ve been known to apologize for slurring (even though I hardly ever do, remember?) and I’m saying “sorry” repeatedly.

Am I really sorry about slurring? Or stepping on toes? Or pretending like I’m involved in the dialogue? Or am I apologizing for letting myself spiral into this compulsive apologizer.

Or am I just worried that when I wake up tomorrow, I’m going to feel like absolute shit? Sorry, mom.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Back in the Day"

circa when P's hair was long.

Sometimes you have to fly hundreds of miles away to remember why you’re doing it and whom you’re doing it for. Because, well, you’re never quite sure. You seem to feel like you think you are but are you really?

I’ve been playing this game of “how many airline miles can you accrue” with my long-distance but same-time zone boyfriend. The good thing is (as good things should always be mentioned first), we are always taking vacations. So what if his allergies give him the stabbing migraines on planes or if the airport parking fee ends up being 5 hours of my office-work? So what if he lives out of his duffel bag? So what? So, I’ve probably only scratched the surface of the problems that end up stewing in the cavernous underpinnings of my mind (and my heart). I’m a little fucked up over it.

Our phone conversations fluctuate from “hello how are you”s to “hey”s to “gotta go”s. I used to flash him on the web-cam for laughs (am I really admitting this?) and he still calls me to tell me he loves me. We used to do these things in person, back in the day.

I remember when we worked in the same building on Wilshire. I’d wake up on his queen-size an hour before he even started twitching, jealous that his day always began an hour after mine. We never carpooled (see previous note) and hardly took lunches together. But come 6 pm, we’d meet in the lobby, hands eagerly wanting to be held, and then like ride off into the sunset (Sunset Blvd., perhaps). We would cuddle/watch tv/eat/speak our own language all night. Productivity!

It’s easy to reminisce and yearn for everything that’s passed. It’s harder to accept that we must limit our once excessive hand-holding and butterfly kisses to a minimum of two times a month (at least). It’s so hard that sometimes I shout and think unspeakable thoughts and do absolutely nothing to calm myself. And then I drive feverishly to the airport where he is waiting with his duffel bag, and he’s wanting to be held and loved, wanting to believe that it’s worth it.

And as I pop open the trunk, I want it all too.

Monday, June 16, 2008

my bike, my butt, my cap.

I picked up my formerly dilapidated (the kids call them “vintage” these days) bike from a bike shop on Melrose today. It needed some new fixins.

I took Fairfax, racing disgruntled drivers flying back to work from expensive lunches. I’ve had many of those. Not too long ago, I ordered a sub-par sandwich from [restaurant name withheld]. My equally sub-par bill read “$15.34”. I don’t remember biting into a Kobe beef burger. Oh wait–I didn’t. I had a grilled veggie sandwich smudged with a pea-sized serving of goat cheese. Right.

Kind of wishing I had a better bike, I swerved in and out of foot traffic on the sidewalk. I unintentionally bunny hopped over bumps because my bike is that old. Wearing an old unflattering T-shirt and an even older, more unflattering shiny baseball cap, I felt like such a dork on my sorry excuse for an eco-friendly ride. Did I mention it was sweltering hot?

Only half the way left, I decided to cool off with a soft chicken taco from Frank’s. Food always makes everything better. Getting off, I heard a whistle, or more like a “whoop” than anything.

“Sweet ride”, said the scruffy-bearded man in a blue-grayish-oldish cap.

I’m leaned over now, trying to lock my bike to a meter. It was as if he was commenting on my butt, a worthy cause no doubt.

“Thanks. It’s been through a lot.” Was I still talking about my bike?

The man disappeared into Franks. I leaned against the meter, catching my breath, suddenly more introspective, and loving my bike, my butt, my cap (the T-shirt still sucks). And the best part is, an hour later when I finally ate my buck-fiddy taco, it tasted better than the best Kobe beef burger I’ve ever had.

death is a vacancy.

Death never loses its efficacy, I guess unless you are devoid of emotion. It kind of grabs you from behind, always when you’re unprepared; I guess you never can be any other way.

I saw a dead crow on my way to work today. I was still revving from my cheap, early morning caffeinated thrill; and of course, hot to cold is a terrible way to transition. The bird was motionless, lying on its side. It took me about half a minute of examining to understand. It was possibly still alive, but clearly in a moribund state. It was quite possibly dead, though.

This is not the first time I’ve seen a dead animal, or seen “death” for that matter. I saw a dead raccoon once–roadkill–that had elicited a punch in the stomach, vomit-inducing feeling. Then there was my deceased grandfather, whose open casket I couldn’t process as death, but a departure to a new home. Or vacation, a long, nondescript one. Despite all the stories and two or three dead/decaying birds later, this one still hurts. But maybe I never want it to not hurt. Because that would mean that in some ways, I’m dying too.

In the minute following my sighting, a rainbow of emotions flooded me. There was genuine sadness, curiosity (is that a feeling?), concern (is someone going to clean this up?), and more sadness (what the fuck happened?). Birds are endothermic; maybe I should check if it’s still alive? Then I shuddered. My mind went to a dark place and suddenly the wounded leg, the severed beak, and the grotesque deformities sprang out to remind me that death is jarring at any and every degree.

The night of my birthday last year, I was driving up La Cienega around 1 am and saw a man who’d just been hit by a car lying dead on the street–feet bare, face forward. Seeing this bird was no different. It should be different right?