A Little “Light” Reading


Oh.

Bwhahahahahaaha.

Fuck me.

Aside from the hefty price tag of the readers–$208 and change, the weight of what I have to read for my first semester at grad school also nearly pulled my shoulder out of my socket when I lifted the bag off the counter.

Jesus on a flaming raft.

The bag was heavy, nearly as heavy as the three-year old I look after during the week.

He’s about 35 or 36 lbs, he’s a solid kid, stocky, strong, wily, he can throw a tantrum with the best of them or snuggle in your lap like the largest, cutest, kitten on the “Meow Meow train,” all aboard.

At least when I carry him he’s resting on a hip or holding on to me, “pick me,” he will say.

“Why does he always get to ride in the stroller?” The five-year old demands to know.

“Physics, kiddo,” I say, using the apt answer that my best friends husband gave me as a pat answer to the question, “why.”

And at least with this, it’s partly, if not completely so.

it really is a law of physics, less weight for me to haul around, easier to push, much easier to wrangle, although the smart guy knows how to get his brother to unbuckle him when he gets that glint of monkey pants going in him.

Ugh.

Slight sidebar.

Just that feeling.

That one there.

When you are listening to an album that you, I, I, used to listen to when writing in Paris, but now it’s on your Iphone and sometimes when I get a text, the song will pause and I will know that I am being reached out to.

I haven’t had any one reach out to me and I miss someone and don’t know when I will hear from him again.

The heart aches.

It was not a text.

It was just the song ending.

End aside.

I made my way downtown, resolute to get the readers for school.

I ignored the fact that the universe had conspired to not actually have me be in a great big SUV with my friend heading towards the Grand Canyon on a wild and wooly road trip, rather I was to be traversing the canyons of down town San Francisco.

Wending my way through the towers and condos and banks and business high rise windows.

The streets empty.

There really is not a reason to be a Mission and 2nd on a Saturday.

I got off the New Montgomery MUNI station and rode the escalator up into the blue sky, the leaves of the trees lining Market Street pressing into the frame of light coming from the square above me, the street lamp, old-fashioned and burnished with the seeing of too many tourists and the discarded cups from Starbucks stuck into the hands of beggars and street performers.

I suddenly remember the first time I came up on escalator onto Market Street, that first time it was Powell Street, and how I felt seeing a similar street lamp and tree branches–the sky not blue that day, but a mottled March grey one with low hanging clouds and cool breezes.

I walk down 2nd Street past the closed doors of the American Red Cross where I have taken so many classes in adult/children CPR and first aid, all the re-certification and tests, the small rubber babies with molded faces that pull off so that the next bored student nurse can be certain its been sanitized before she puts her small mouth to the fake child to push air into it and thump it’s chest with the first two fingers of her dominant hand.

Then, I glance to the right, I have no idea why, and there she is, The Palace, where I have had so many drinks, one was never enough and more was always on the menu, after many a shift at Hawthorne Lane, most times extra dirty vodka martinis with three olives and pints of Sierra Nevada.

Occasionally the glass of champagne before a shift to celebrate a friend’s success or bolster another friends hair of the dog before going into work.

I turn on my travels, down Mission Street, longing to walk further, the Van Heusen sign reminds me of all the starched cream shirts I bought there for my shifts at the fine dining restaurant and how annoyed I always was to spend my hard-earned money on them or laundering them.

I think about the MOMA and wish it were open.

I would go in a hot second and sit in front of a Rothko or wander through the photography exhibit on the second floor, or climb to the top and cross over the suspension bridge, or find the secret doorway to the miniature courtyard that faces out towards the Yerba Buena Center and the park.

I think of all time terrible and awful.

How, even in the utter depths of my using I was never able to bring myself to use in the MOMA.

Although, damn it, I tried.

The best I could do was use the bathrooms to wash up and brush the tears from my eyes that only seemed to surface when I was surrounded by the house full of art, art that I could no longer access because it hurt my heart too much to admit that I was down for the count.

Then I would wash my hands, pat dry the wet circles under my face and go to the cafe and order a non-fat latte and sit out front on a metal back chair and put my feet up on the balustrade that separated the down trodden masses looking for scraps from the tourists like small black starlings with bright eyes hopping under the table legs, except held back by that small barrier of wealth and privilege that I pretended to belong to.

I mean I did wait on them didn’t I?

I would smoke my cigarette, then another, not chain-smoking, but so close as it became a game of semantics, drink my coffee, then head back to the restaurant to make more money that I would later spend, no matter how cleverly I would ration it out–the twenties in my left pocket only to go towards rent, not coke, ok?

Do you hear me self?

Don’t dip into the left pocket.

Or the bra cup, or the left sock.

Never mattered.

Once I got going, it was going to.

Didn’t much matter that brave lecture I gave my “sober” self (sober only in the sense of having abstained while working, which soon wasn’t really happening either), the money always flew, like pigeons circling in weary circles above the sunset lit buildings at the BART station.

I sat and waited at the front counter of the Copy Central store while the one attendant finished a job for a woman wearing navy blue and white polka dot slides and a pony tail that was just a touch too high up on the back of her head.

The stroll down memory lane exiting itself back outside, perhaps over to Dave’s Sports Bar on Third between Mission and Market, where we often ended up after a posh cocktail or two at the Palace, to really get it on.

Didn’t hurt that Marilyn the bartender knew all the words to Chicago, the musical, not the band, and if you sang along with her she would gladly sell you a case or bottle after hours, shhh don’t tell.

The memories were abruptly supplanted with reality, as first one, then the next, and the next, and the next reader was plunked down with a thud that was not satisfying so much as it was terrifying.

“Double check the readers to your syllabi,” the woman said.

I did.

Everything was there.

I pulled out my debit card.

I paid.

I left and walked back to the MUNI train station and as I did the days and ways of old were smoothed over, a soft hand blotting back the memories, a supplanting of this person with that person.

Eleven years ago when I was walking that same route there was no way I could have foreseen the purchase of graduate school readers.

I was too busy cursing that woman who had once again trembled on the lip of indulgence and instead of withstanding, fell over and promised herself, yet again, well since I already have started, I might as well do it up good.

I marveled at the weight in the bag as the readers thumped against my leg.

My graduate school student leg.

It was much less than the weight I used to carry on my back.

I can deal with this so much better than that.

That stack of reading sits on my table, just on the other side of this computer, and as I look around the sweet, safe, room I have nested for myself, I am grateful.

I am so very grateful to have walked down one side of the street and been able to reverse the wreckage to where I am today.

Scared.

Yes.

But free?

Even more so.

Well, I might be tied up with some reading for a bit.

But.

I think you catch my drift.

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