Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Sun Burst

August 18, 2019

They left their car behind in the Pan Handle of Florida.

Broken down along the side of the road.

Tin can from a Chunky’s Chicken Corn Chowder soup barely holding

Together the rotten muffler.

Love.

Flashes like heat waves rolling up from asphalt

Pavement, as smoke eddies and drifts from a lit

Pall Mall filter Gold Light 100, grasped like a lifeline into

Another time where glorious naivety

Flexed in her 19 year old calve muscles.

Feet strong and unweary, propped on the dashboard watching the

Moss dipped trees roll along outside the window while Jethro Tull blasts from the radio.

These stories written in the power of youth and the glory of

Summers wandered through decades ago.

Her skin tattooed now with narratives and bygone memorabilia.

Literally.

She, her, I, wears her heart on her sleeve.

(Left side inside wrist wreathed with cherry blossoms)

She, her, I, has not forgotten the sunshine splash of freckles

Constellating his face and the desire badgering her heart to kiss each one.

Love rises like mist in a swimming pool at night in

Saint Augustine awash in humidity and the susurration of wind in palm leaves.

Song of flash pan memories born on the wings of cicadas,

Bark of a worried dog, crackle of fire on the edge of night,

Embers glowing on her (my) face, fronting strength under the curious

Gaze of heroin junkies and good ol’ boys with running mates and prostitute

Companions holding bent Budweiser can carburetor crack pipes.

She, her, I, will dance, never the less, none the less, dance now, dance then

Beneath the swelter of stars, amid the whispers of sexy, sexy, sexy

Spilling from the mouths of men unable to grasp her, attain her, hold her (me).

Love, lost like a plasticine slipper in the dusky playa at sunset.

Burnished with desire to kiss the bottom lip of his mouth and vanish into the

Streets of the Mission District, oh my sweet San Francisco how unexpected

Summer night strewn me with ghost kisses of fog being sucked in over Twin Peaks.

She, her, I will climb the hills back towards the sea, remember her (me) her face

Aswirl in dark curls, your face writ with awe, once again in her (my) hands.

Oh bluest eyes

Peering back into mine, this blissful fantasy a phantasmagoric feeling all

Ephemeral and moon washed will haunt you, I, me no more.

For yes, oh yes,

My darling.

This too shall pass.

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July

March 2, 2018

It’s going to be a good one.

I am going to have a lot of time off.

A LOT.

The family is going to be traveling for.

Wait for it.

FIVE WEEKS!

And.

They are not bringing me with them.

They are enlisting some friends and family in Europe and I will not be doing any travel work for them.

On one hand I was a little let down, it would have been pretty awesome to go to Finland, Sweden, Portugal.

On the other hand.

Five weeks off!

Paid.

Granted I will have things I am accountable to, my internship, for example, but I get five weeks off!

Five.

It’s amazing.

I can hardly believe I’ll have that much time off.

I could actually do a couple of trips now that I think of it.

I have a credit that has to be used by October and I really don’t see any other better time to travel than the month the family is away.

I basically have all of July off and it looks like the last week in June.

They haven’t gotten their tickets yet, but we sat down and talked about summer schedules and I got the go ahead to book my ticket to Paris.

July is not a super busy month in Paris, it’s hot, August even less so, May and June are the big travel times, that and September.

July will be hot.

But.

Fuck.

I won’t care.

It’s Paris.

I’ve message my dear friend in Paris and I’m awaiting her response on when is the best time to come for them.

Considering that my friend and her husband have twins who will be just over a year old, they have a lot on their hands.

I promised her that I would have the information by the end of the week.

I am thrilled that I found out today and chomping at the bit to book a ticket.

The ones for the dates I was looking at last night have jumped up by $300.

I was for a moment disappointed that I hadn’t grabbed the tickets when I first saw them, but I hadn’t confirmed travel times with the family and it was still up in the air as to whether or not the family was going to have me travel with them.

Now that I know.

I can manipulate the best travel dates for the best deal.

I also recognize that I am willing to sacrifice a little extra money to find a flight that best works for me.

I.e.

I want a direct flight.

I don’t want to have to transfer flights.

It’s just so much easier to fly direct.

And the time it saves is super worth the extra cost.

If I book soon I think I can get a flight for around $850.

Last night and this afternoon I was seeing flights for $760.

But those are gone.

And the dates I looked for are now substantially higher.

I’m sure I’ll get something good and fingers crossed I’ll have a ticket booked before I head into my chiropractor’s appointment tomorrow.

I am super psyched.

And once I have that ticket booked I’m going to think about whether or not I want to book some other travel too.

I could go see friends in Wisconsin–that was the original ticket that I bought, I was going to visit my best friend from Wisconsin and her brood up in Hudson.

At Christmas time.

It would have been hella cold.

Now July in Wisconsin isn’t exactly a picnic, it will be hot, but my friend has a cottage in the family and they spend many weekends up North on Lake 7.

Yes.

That is the name of the lake, Lake number 7.

Tickles me every time.

Some swimming, some hikes in the woods, some telling tall tales on the balcony that over looks the lake, sleeping in, not that I would, not that I think I could, three boys in the family–14, 11, and 7.

That’s a lot of big energy.

Blueberry picking.

I did a lot of that the last time I was there.

So that’s an option.

My other flight options with this particular airline are: Tampa, Orlando, Fort Meyers, Minneapolis (which is where I would fly in to visit my friend in Wisconsin, Hudson is just across the river from the Twin Cities), Miami, Dallas, New York, Cozumel or Cancun.

Though truth be told, I’m not super interested in going to Mexico in July.

If I didn’t go to Minneapolis I think I would lean towards Miami, which will be fucking hot as hell in July, but also, Miami.

Or

New York.

Again.

Really hot and humid.

But New York.

I have no desire to go to the other destinations.

Miami has some appeal, even though, again, hella hot, because I haven’t been since I was 19 and I feel like I owe the city some living amends.

Smoking crack in the city will lead one to wanting to right some wrongs.

Although, technically, I was not in Miami, but a suburb, Homestead.

I have no desire to go to Homestead.

At all.

NONE.

A teensy tiny pull towards the Keys, but I had some horrendous experiences there as well.

Miami I just sort of did a dreamy pass through, never really stopped, never explored.

Granted I was 19, homeless, and broke as fuck.

I was certainly not in a place to revel in the culture of the city.

I do like the idea of hot sweltering nights.

Long sun dresses and sandals.

Oh my god.

I am going to have a god damn summer.

I am going to Paris in July, which will be warm, as opposed to cold and foggy and dreary here in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco.

And I will either be in New York or Miami.

Truth be told as much as I love my friend in Wisconsin, the call of the city is alluring.

Culture, graffiti, art, beaches, museums, outdoor cafe people watching.

I am so excited by the prospect.

I love to travel.

EEK.

My friend from Paris just messaged me.

It’s 8 a.m. there.

I’ll have my travel dates nailed down soon!

I’ll keep you posted.

 

Let’s Dance

January 12, 2016

I’m always down for dancing.

Except.

When I’m not.

David Bowie has passed.

I am listening to his last album, Black Star, as I type.

And.

Thinking about the crush I had on him in high school.

Along with.

Yes.

Wait for it.

Sting.

And.

Mikhail Baryshinikov.

Oh.

And let me not forget Michael Hutchence from INXS.

Good lord.

There was something about David Bowie, though.

My first album of his is not the one most folks would have chosen.

Never Let Me Down.

From his Glass Spider tour.

I have absolutely no recollection why I bought that one, but it makes sense, time wise for me.

That must have been when I had my Columbia Record House membership.

Ha!

Remember those?

I remember how exciting it was to get that package of tapes in the mail.

I mean, talk about waiting for something with baited breath.

I don’t remember all the albums I got, but David Bowie’s Never Let Me Down was in there, also INXS; Sting’s Dream of The Blue Turtles: REM’s Out of Time; Madonna’s Like A Prayer; and I am completely unabashed to admit this one, hahahaha, Simply Red.

Oh.

Good gravy.

There were others, I am sure.

Now that I have had a moment to reflect on it, I bet I got the David Bowie after watching The Breakfast Club:

And these children that you spit on, as they try to change their world, are immune to your consultations.  They’re quite aware of what they’re going through.

Granted, that quote is from Changes, but if I recall, you couldn’t always get the album you wanted from Columbia Record House, they didn’t have the entire discography of the artist.

It was sort of, you get what we got, and that might be why I had the Simply Red Album.

Or.

Gah.

Complete honesty.

I think I saw a video on VH1 that was on somebody’s cable when I was baby sitting and I was attracted to the lead singer?

Oh.

I had my moments.

I still do.

I don’t think I was the only girl in the world with a crush on Mick Hucknall when it comes down to it, but I may be the only woman currently willing to admit it.

I also had a minor crush on Thomas Dolby.

I was lucky in some ways, now that I think of it, I got exposed to interesting music and then I also dated guys that were into music and I got a lot of exposure to bands and groups that I probably wouldn’t have.

I am thinking of one boyfriend in particular.

Although he did not expose me to any music in general, he was the person I thought of when I heard that David Bowie had died.

His name was John.

John Morgan.

I have looked for this guy a few times, owe him an amends as it were, and probably a hug.

Never found him anywhere.

But.

He was a love.

Someone that in hindsight I loved so much more than I realized and also some one whom I was not capable of being with.

I just had too much shit happening in my life.

My sister, homeless, pregnant, her felon (ex)husband, my niece, my crazy dad, my crazy mom.

And crazy me.

I had met John on State Street in front of the arcade Challenges.

It was right next to the coffee shop Espresso Royale.

I have many fond memories of sitting in that coffee shop drinking vanilla lattes and smoking cigarettes.

Gah.

I had my tastes.

Thank God they have changed.

I don’t know how I struck up the conversation with John.

I don’t remember.

I do remember his eyes were blue, he was a little on the heavy side, but not fat, just solid, big, he smoked, but he tended to roll his own cigarettes and yes, indulge in a pipe.

Affectation anyone?

But I found it adorable.

And he smoked cherry tobacco.

He was a virgin when we met.

Not for long.

Oh.

The stories.

There’s a lot of them.

But.

He was a dear, kind, sweet soul, who went above and beyond, helping me out in some tight places and also loaning my sister and her ex money.

If you know a John Morgan from Cambridge, let him know I’d like to pay him that money back.

I hated asking for it.

It was to bail out my sister’s ex.

They ended up jumping bail and leaving John sitting with the bag.

I didn’t do much better.

I broke up with him and then left and hit the road with his room mate and traveled down to Florida.

Where things got even weirder.

And all this when I was 19.

Sometimes I wonder that I made it out alive.

Living, squatting really, in a house on Monroe Street with my dad, who was gainfully in his cups and dating the daughter of the woman who owned the house (who was younger than me, ew dad) who was an alcoholic, self-admitted, who slopped around in house slippers and would drink her beer in a sippy cup with a straw.

Patty!

Oh my God.

I can’t believe I remember these names.

And the daughter’s name was Faith.

Of course it was.

And her brother Noah, an alcoholic, psychotic who would constantly bum cigarettes from you.  He was like a honing device, anyone, anywhere, in that house, from the second floor to the basement who might, might, have had a cigarette, he was there, slouched up right next to them.

“Can I bum a smoke, man?”

He was always damp, with a shank of dark hair that would fall into his eyes, and his eyes were dark, pale skin, five o’clock stubble at all times.

Yes.

Of course I slept with him.

I was drunk.

And it was one time.

And.

That never happened again.

I digress.

John bailed my ex brother in law out of jail and I broke up with him when I demanded more from him than he could give.

I had this unreasonable idea, too much reading the Princess Bride, too much, or too little, I suppose, patterning of relationships on my mom and missing dad, of what love looked like.

It did not look like this sweet kid who gave me socks for my birthday.

“Socks?!”  I was appalled when I opened the package.

“You gave me socks,” I almost hollered.

“You don’t have any,” he said baffled, the pleased with himself look fading off his face rather fast.

“I just thought, you must have cold feet all the time,” he added, now chagrined and blushing furiously.

“My feet are not cold.” I said and stuffed the socks down in my bag.

(My birthday, mind you, is in December and I was living in Wisconsin, and it’s not exactly warm there, my feet were probably always cold.)

I remember the color of the socks, I remember the feel of them, they were expensive and heavy and wool and had multi-colored stripes.

I threw them away.

(Aside, that just made me tear up, poor girl, being offered love, not knowing how to take it, spitting on it, not knowing what this was, this kind of sweet regard and tender taking care of.  I had never had it.  How was I to realize what was being offered?)

I break my own heart.

Then break his.

Then leave for months and not tell anyone where I am going.

Then.

Oh.

It just keeps getting better.

I end up homeless outside of Miami, Florida with some crazy low level hill billy mafia crack head who was nine years older than me and was named.

Oh.

God.

Billy Ray.

I do not make this shit up.

Long and short of it.

Which it was.

Horribly long and thank God, awfully short too.

Billy freaked out on me, threatened to kill me, and basically I hitch hiked to a Greyhound station with a paycheck from a gas station/convenience store I had worked at for a week in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

This blog is getting long.

But goodness, there is so much rich material here.

David Bowie.

Get back to David Bowie.

Right.

I made it back to Madison, I was crashing on the couch at my mom’s house, my sister had just had a baby, it was not good, my mom’s room mate was not happy, it was a bad idea to try and stay with my dad at Patty’s, but I did for a couple of nights, and then my sister tells me about the plan.

Stripping.

Let me just say this.

I did it.

One time.

It did not go well.

I did it to a medley of David Bowie songs.

Blue Jean.

China Girl.

And.

Let’s Dance.

By the time I was at Let’s Dance the top was coming off.

The floor was black and sticky on the stage, the lights were hot, John was there for moral support.

We got back together for a weekend.

His face in the club, a halo of blond hair, his spectacles pushed up the bridge of his nose, his blue eyes wide watching me.

It is one thing to dance for your boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, in the warm afternoon light of a flat on E. Johnson Street with David Bowie crooning in the back ground.

It is quite another to do it at Visions Night Club on East Washington Street.

I remember him mouthing “smile” at me.

I remember not being able to take any of the money being held out to me.

I remember a lot more.

But.

Like I said.

The blog.

She gets long.

All the things I used to do that I don’t do any more.

All the music, the soundtrack to that wrecked part of my life.

David Bowie.

Thanks for the memories.

And.

All the glorious music.

It made my life.

Somehow.

Less.

Tragic.

And always.

Always.

More.

Beautiful.

 

Just Got The Message

September 30, 2015

My new mattress arrives tomorrow!

Last night on this cruddy one I have had for the last two years.

I am not complaining, it’s done it’s job and I have slept on worse.

The fold out futon shenanigans that I slept on in Paris for six months was by far the worst thing I have slept on.

Well.

Not true!

I just realized.

I have slept on worse, and really, when I compare and contrast, even on a shitty mattress, it was a shitty mattress in Paris.

I had a friend once who said it didn’t matter how bad things were, if you just tacked on the end of the sentence, “in Paris.”

I was caught in a sudden rainstorm, “in Paris.”

I got lost, “in Paris.”

I overslept, “in Paris.”

I have to do my laundry, “in Paris.”

So.

Yeah.

That futon mattress, in Paris, sucked, but it was in Paris.

I have slept on far worse in Homestead, Florida.

Yes.

There.

On a piece of cardboard box that was slid underneath the thin tent floor of the two-man tent I was sharing with a friend, the cardboard scant protection from the sharp coral rock that our tent was set up on.

Even with the cardboard and a sleeping bag, I could still feel that rock underneath my back.

Imagine, I am imagining now, that for months I slept on cardboard boxes.

I have slept on plywood set up on top of milk crates.

I have slept in cars.

I have slept in the back of Grey Hound buses.

I have slept, on the ground.

I have slept on other people’s lumpy couches.

I have slept on the thin, worn out cushions in my ex-brother in-laws fathers’ camper truck bed.

That sucked.

I have slept in far worse places and on many a baggy couch with broken springs.

I have slept in dangerous neighborhoods were gunshots woke me up in the middle of the night.

I have slept on beaches.

I have slept in the woods, “camping” aka “homeless” in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

I have slept in the moldering basement of a duplex on a mattress on the floor.

I have slept cramped against my sister’s small body on a mattress on a floor.

I have slept in the bottom well of an old beater Dodge with a thin pillow braced against the door.

I have slept in far worse places on far worse beds, some which really had no right to be called a bed at all.

I am so grateful.

I have so much.

Do you see how much I have?

I have a full plate.

I have a job.

I have a bicycle.

I have this laptop.

I have graduate school.

(I have a lot to still read, but I’m getting caught up!)

I have stories.

(“Writers would kill to have some of the life material you have, Carmen,” Alan Kauffman said to me with an incredulous shake of his head, “you have had so many experiences!”)

I have love.

My God.

Do I have love.

I found myself pulled up 18th street tonight after work, my feet just knew the way and despite my brain saying, “go home, go read, go study,” I knew that I needed to be somewhere else tonight before I could do just that, go home, go read, go study.

And I found myself at Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro.

And I found myself at home.

I shared my piece.

I don’t remember what I said.

I got my God on.

I got on my bicycle and I got on the way back to the Outer Sunset.

And mysterious coincidence?

Is it odd?

Or.

Is it God?

I ran into a very dear, most welcome, super amazing and loving person on my way home.

“That’s H____________!”

I almost shouted his name.

I could see he was working with someone.

I almost kept riding.

But when you see your person, or I should say, when I see my person, I had to stop, flip a bitch on my whip, and pedal back to where he was sitting with one of my mates.

Oh.

Was it good to see him!

I got the best damn hug.

From him and from my contemporary and we just had us a great big love fest right there on the corner of Sanchez and Noe.

Thank you God for always knowing when I need to see my people.

We made plans to see each other soon and I got a brief, intense, full of love check in.

Then.

Merrily on my way.

Through the autumn turning Pan Handle, through the quiet dark of the park lit only with speculative sodium lamps and the bright white flare of tents being erected in the meadows.

There must be a concert happening this weekend.

I am out of touch.

I have been so busy in my own little world of school and work that I am not paying a lot of attention to other things.

Outside Lands has already happened, so it must be Hardly, Strictly, Bluegrass.

Translation.

Hardly, strictly, ain’t gonna be anywhere near it.

I’ll be in school this weekend.

I made good for the family already, getting them prepped by making not one but two homemade chicken pot pies for them–one to freeze and one to eat Friday when I am not there to make dinner.  Plus I made ginger chicken with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, onions, and water chestnuts to wrap up in lettuce for dinner this evening.

I’ll do more prep for them too.

And.

A little for me too.

Although, I am pretty set as far as groceries go since my dear friend helped me out with the pick up and lift back to my place last weekend from SafeWay when I was having my near panic attack.

I do have to do a little more reading.

(A lot, but who’s counting)

But I’m kicking through it.

Every morning before I leave for work I have been reading.

Every evening when I get home I have been reading.

Add to that I have managed, don’t ask me how, to continue with my morning writing routine and my evening blog.

I don’t have to know how it works.

I just know that it does.

And it’s going to work even better.

Even sooner.

I’ll be sleeping on a brand new bed as of tomorrow night.

My life.

It rocks.

And it’s not because I’m sleeping on any.

Rocks that is.

It Was Good

January 15, 2014

It was hard.

But in the end, it was good.

Now, it’s good to be home again.

Home in San Francisco.

“Next time, I will come to you,” my mom said, “are there any hotels around you that are reasonable?”

There are.

And I am happy to have her.

It will be some time, she’s older and aging and that was hard to see, my mom, moving so slowly, her hips and knees kaput.

She informed me that she has to have a double hip and double knee replacement.

Jesus, lord.

That is a lot of surgery.

But when it’s done and she has had some time to be convalescent, then yes, a visit.  I would love to have my mom for a visit.

There was a time, and not too long ago that the thought would have had me running for the hills.

But people change.

I changed.

And now I want to continue having a relationship with my mom.

I would even like to travel with her.

There are things, in Paris, I would love to show her–her favorite artist is Monet–like the Musee Monet de Montmarttan in the 16th.  Or the Orangerie with all the Monet Water Lillies and scenes from Giverney.

That is off in the future and hazy as all get out, but there and I feel a nice there, like yeah, this could happen.

And the gift of perspective is huge, she and I have both changed.

My sister has changed too.

And I did not let myself acknowledge it or pay tribute to the emotions, but they did come out a bit when I was chatting with my housemate about the trip.

It was hard.

Hard to see where she and I separated, went our own ways, had our own challenges.  I felt like I was just sort of a witness, a bystander to a drive by hit and family run, that I got a little bowled over by it all.

It was a lot to pack into the two and a half short days I was there, down in Florida, down in golf cart land, senior citizen play land, with all the pastel ladies and white-haired gents, socks and sandals and little dogs running about, and yes, the pink flamingos on the lawns.

It was good.

Good to hug my sister, see her growth, hell, see my growth, and just be a witness.

It felt tender and sweet and fragile.

But I feel just like my roots grasped new soil, so too are hers, and that is a wonderful thing to witness.

Even, if after a while, I was done with it and ready to go back to where I belong.

I was so excited to be home, the sun shining, my friend picking me up at the airport, a cold apple on the dashboard waiting for me, which was eaten immediately!

“Help yourself to as much as you want,” the stewardess said as she walked along the aisle with a box full of foil packages of salted, sweet, crunchy, crap for snacking.

“Thank you, I am fine,” I said and went back to my Naked smoothie and apple I had procured in the airport.

Then I nodded off, my computer battery had died, midway through the movie I was watching and I was done with reading my magazine.  I snuggled into my head pillow and dozed off.

Only to be awakened by the screaming child throwing things at his mother a little while later.

Ah, yes, that was a fun time.

I stayed out of it, but if I had heard the woman threaten to take the child into the bathroom and spank him one more time I was going to get up and spank her.

“Do you want a spanking?” She demanded, “sit down!”

The child sniffled, whined, and then screamed some more.

Oh dear lord.

Not my place, not my place, not my place.

I just did my best to ignore it and spent a lot of time drifting in and out of nap land, periodically waking up from a holler, a shoe kick, a thrown cup ( and a batman doll, robin figurine, Woody the Cowboy toy, phone, and shoes), thank god you’re not mine, kid, I thought.

Then, well, she’s just doing the best she can.

Not a fan of people who use spanking as a tactic to punish their children, but well, it’s not my business, now is it?

Actually I am really opposed to people who hit their kids, but what was I going to do?

Give her a lecture on the plane.

Explain that her lack of boundary setting was the reason for the child’s outlandish behavior?

Nope.

But as I watched the dynamics between my mom, my sister, my mom’s partner, and myself, I see how those dramas play out over time and where they can change and perhaps develop into something less than a drama and move toward healthy, loving, relationships.

Today’s principle?

Patience.

Patience with the kiosk at the airport that wanted to charge me for checking in.

Patience with the lines at security.

Patience for the tired mom and weary child.

Patience for the tired mom and the weary child, me.

Love for them all.

Sister, mother, self.

Hard work.

Yup.

Worth the effort?

Abso-fucking-lutely.

Will I be headed down to Florida any time soon for another repeat?

Probably not, I won’t rule it out, but I feel like this trip was worth it, the suiting up and the showing up.

And as I sat watching the family eat dinner, the niece sitting too shy on the couch to join us at the table, my sister and her husband, my mother and her partner, I saw that, yeah, life is messy, and hard, and difficult.

But when one person starts showing up, others do too.

I can join in the mess.

I don’t have to sit in it, but I can partake for a little while.

Then, get up, dust myself off, hop a plane, and remember that I did it for them.

Not for me.

This was not about me and that was a good thing to recognize.

Hard.

But yes.

Good.

Too Busy Being Present

January 13, 2014

To think about myself.

That is until I was falling asleep in a metal folding chair snug between my mom and my sister.

Whoa.

I really almost did nod off there, losing complete track of what was being said or where I was, except, there, in between the two of them, no need to be anywhere else, no need to go anywhere, be anything, aside from present and accounted for.

Which I managed, somehow, despite the long delay at the gate in SFO.

Despite the seating I was in, smack dab in the middle of the row just in front of the emergency exit, ie, according to the stewardess who I flagged down passing like a ghost ship in the night, lights just so dim on the plane.

“Oh, no, those seats don’t recline,” she said in a whisper, “exit aisle.”

Oof.

And new babies.

Poor little babies who don’t know how to pop their own little ears when the plane descends from above the sky to circle down to the landing.

One little girl, couldn’t have been more than three weeks, maybe four, and the wailing so piercing.

But I did drift off, in and out, absurdly grateful for my little velvet neck pillow wrapped around my neck, giving me something to snuggle into and fall into sleep with.

Why have I gone so long without?

Never again.

That freaking pillow is coming on all planes, trains, and automobile that I happen to travel in.

I was able to sleep, despite the non-reclining seat and the howling missives of babies, hungry or tired or overwhelmed by the turbulence.

I nodded off.

Until I was awaken again.

This time with the announcement, “is there a doctor on the plane, is there a doctor, please raise your hand now, your assistance is needed,” urgent and disembodied from the flight deck over the speakers.

Did I just hear that?

“Is there anyone with medical expertise on the plane, any doctor, nurse, EMT, please raise your hand, there is a medical emergency on the plane that needs addressing,” the voice continued in a more urgent manner.

We are all going to die.

The pilot is ill.

The plane is going down.

And I thought, you know, I can accept that.

I’m cool.

Just a little tired, don’t mind me.  Can I take a little disco nap before we descend into the inferno?

Then, we were really descending, but in actuality, and the sun was pushing in under the window shades, a bright, limnal light that shaved away at the sleep in my brain and woke me up enough to deplane, groggy and needing the bathroom in the terminal.

Bypass that first bathroom always flocked with the newly de-planned, please, folks, don’t you know to go to the next bathroom in the next terminal, no lines.

I took care of a full bladder, washed up, straightened up myself and went out to forage in the land of food that is not the best for me to eat, but since I have to be here for another two hours, I better get some sustenance.

One Naked juice later, a banana, and some cashews and a large coffee, I was ready to sit and attend to my morning routine.

It may not have felt like a real night of sleep, but it was morning and in the morning I write.

I felt a bit anachronistic sitting there with my Claire Fontaine notebook and my ink pen, scribbling away while surrounded by the Iphones, Ipads, Ipods, smart phones, androids, tablets, cords and chargers and other effluvia of the technological set sitting out the delayed flight connection as well.

But I did it anyway.

Then I opened up my own laptop, pulled out the charger and check my schedule on-line, noting that it still said  I was on my way to Orlando and in fact, was just about to land.

Uh no.

But I did get there and I did sit in the back of the car, warm, with the windows rolled down, grateful to be moving in another plane of motion other than up into the sky, rolling down the Florida parkway, hitting the tolls, heading North ward, avoiding that great suck of a black hole, Disney World, by a few miles and exits, until we hit Leedsburg and I saw my sister.

Pretty good that.

“You’re so little!” She said to me engulfing me in a hug.

“I don’t remember you being this small,” she said with a smile.

Hahahahaha.

REALLY.

I am the shortest in the family and no one, no one believes that.

Here, home, with family, the only family I feel comfortable wearing platform shoes in, because I still won’t be the tallest.

Mom and sis and her husband and youngest daughter, my mom’s partner, and I, a friend of mom’s and the smallest little dog I have ever seen, really when did mom get into tea-cup dogs? Pile into two cars and I really am not the tallest and it’s pretty funny.

Well, ok, my eleven year old niece is not taller than me, but you know what, she’s going to be.

My other niece, who is 21.

21!

“Can you believe she’s twenty-one,” my sister said, showing me a recent photograph.

“Yes,” I said, but honestly, it feels like yesterday she was this high and we were going for a ride on the carousel at Ella’s Deli on East Washington and eating ice cream Sundays in the main parlour, sitting perched on the old-fashioned chairs, watching the marionettes float over the tightrope wire that raveled just under the ceiling.

That niece.

That niece is 6’2″.

I really am the shortest.

But we all fit.

All together now, like a pair of gloves you think you’ve lost that suddenly, magically appear out of now where in oddest place, the bottom of an old utility drawer and you take them out and they fit, molded to your palm, a forgotten friend.

Maybe they are a little dusty, a little frayed, but they fit, soft, smooth, and perfect on your cold tired hands.

Her hand, in mine, in the dark, we both sat in the back seat of the car returning from an evening with fellows celebrating anniversaries.

I had all the celebration my over-tired self could handle.

And it was there.

Just there.

In the palm of her sweet hand in mine.

Nice to see you again.

And though I may be shorter.

You still are my little sister.

You always will be.

Love you.

Always will.

Never stopped.

More Will Be Revealed

January 10, 2014

She told me many years ago, perhaps seven?

Yes.

That feels about right.

More has been revealed and I am sure there is more revelation to come.

I am thinking about my imminent trip down to Florida.

I fly out on a red-eye in a couple of days, leaving SFO at 11:56p.m. on Saturday night to fly to Atlanta, brief layover, landing in Orlando, Florida at 9:30 a.m.

“Get up really early on Saturday so that you sleep on the plane,” my friend suggested to me.

Yick.

I will try, but I am doubtful that I will get up earlier then I have already planned.

I have a few things to take care of before I fly out on Saturday.

First is to get that photo from PhotoWorks tomorrow.  They called me up earlier this week and said that they needed more time to work on the restoration, it would be ready Friday evening.

Tomorrow.

Which is perfect, I end my work week in the Castro at 4:45 p.m.

I also have another errand to run tomorrow.

I have $1350 in cold hard cash in an envelope in my wallet with Barnaby’s name all over it.  He will be in the Castro tomorrow at the tattoo shop he does work out of when he is in town and I will be walking up to it at some point in my day to hand over the money.

I am super happy to have it and I am super grateful that I will get to repay it and then go back to having no outstanding debt.

Well, except for my student loans, but they, though they count, don’t really count.

ACS Student Loan Services is just a nameless entity that I send an automatic payment to every month.

Not a personal face with a history that I have to, I mean I get to, engage with.

It will be nice to see Barnaby and not feel that I owe him anything besides gratitude for the experience and the promise that I too shall  play it forward when the time comes.

Take some one in, help them on their adventure, buy them a meal in a cafe, help someone else with a dream.

I also want to talk to Barnaby about a small tattoo I would like.

In a few days I will have to add a few stars to my neck.

At least that’s what I am thinking, two more to go with the seven I have.

Hard to believe that 9 years ago I was heading back from London preparing to go on my last crazy cocaine run.  I was just going to meet up with a friend at Blondie’s No Grill and Bar in the Mission, down on Valencia between 17th and 16th.

I was just getting away from the week of being with my mom in London.

I was just going to have one.

Oops.

As was the case I had more.

More always being the magic number.

More last three days.

Until I did not have more to give, could not take anymore, gave the fuck up and asked for help.

I got it.

In spades.

And I have not turned back since.

It has not been easy, but like anything worth having, hard-won, and I do not regret a single day of the work, not a one.

My life is pretty outrageous when I look at it.

Oh, the places you’ll go.

Fuck.

What about the places I have been over the last few years?

I can’t imagine what comes next.

This Florida trip will be my first for the year.

Other places I will go are Minneapolis/St. Paul when I fly into the airport on my way to Hudson, Wisconsin to see my best friend this summer.

Don’t have the ticket, but it’s not far in coming and as I await the best dates for my friend I am happy to sock some of the money away that I would have been channelling to the debt I owed Barnaby into the plane ticket back to the land of dairy, cheese, and currently bone chilling temperatures.

But that’s ok as I will be there in the summer.

I will probably fall over from the humidity, but I will welcome the warm nights and the hanging outside without three layers on in July.

I will, of course, be going to Burning Man.

It was fun to watch all the silliness as the theme was finally announced.

I loved getting excited for my friends who will be going for their first time and I will get to go for my 8th year in a row.

I am also thinking about going to Coachella.

Not sure how, but I have always wanted to go and I never have.

I don’t have experience with Indio, California, how to get there, what to do when there, or whom to go with, but I feel that if it’s in the mix, and it does feel that way, that it will happen.

Just putting it out to the Universe, I am willing to go.

That’s three little trips to look forward to this year.

I am pretty ready for the Florida trip, only a few things to do to prepare.

Get the photograph and the prints I had them make from Photo Works and frame and wrap the ones for my mom and sister.

Get a manicure and pedicure.

That I always do before travel anywhere.

Even if it’s cross city travel.

Ha.

Then figure out my way to the airport.

I think I am just going to MUNI train it to the BART.

I will of course, have to pack, but since it’s a short jaunt, the packing will be quick and I will do it same day as travel.  In fact, I have the majority of what I am taking already going through the wash cycle now so I don’t have to worry about doing laundry right before I leave.

Really, like so much of my life in recovery it’s just about showing up.

Show up.

Take the next action in front of me.

More will be revealed.

Lovely.

A Walk On The Beach

January 6, 2014

A phone call with a friend.

Poor friend who is in Wisconsin where they are declaring schools called off tomorrow with expected temperatures at -50 degrees Farenheit.

Yeesh.

That is cold.

I, meantime, was walking barefoot on the beach, a balmy San Francisco January Sunday stroll, with my pant legs rolled and just a button up and a tank top on.

We compared notes, caught up, and yes, laid out some tentative plans for me to come back to Wisconsin and have a visit with her, because it’s been too damn long.

She will be e-mailing me some dates that will work best for the family, having three boys takes some juggling, and I will be looking at going back either in middle May or late June, early July.

I said I cannot come after mid-July, nor in August or September.

Nope.

I will be getting ready to go do Burning Man and I suspect I will be working a lot more for the families as the event gets closer, I won’t be taking time off during those months.

So, Wisconsin in late spring or in high summer.

Either way, it won’t be winter.

Brrr.

The day really was gorgeous.

I sat outside and did a nice long, for me any way, twenty-minute meditation and got some nice sunshine on my face.

I chatted up my mom for a minute going over my flight itinerary for my trip next week, and I made plans to do nothing.

Well, I had a commitment tonight at 5:15 and another at 6:30 down at Church and Market, but other than that, nada.

I was going to beat myself up for not getting out into the surf and being in the water, but I reminded myself that the ocean is not going anywhere and there will be other days to thrash around in the tides.

Instead, I did something novel, saying out loud, “I forgive you for not going surfing today.”

I don’t have to improve every god damn day.

I could, I don’t know, like fucking relax and let the day happen.

Which, well, what do you know, it did.

After I had the long walk on the beach and the long, much-needed catch up with my best friend, I came back to the house and made lunch–so grateful for the grocery shopping trip I did–cooking up some savory oatmeal and having a nice mug of tea while I contemplated what I wanted to do with the rest of the day.

I wanted a book.

I also wanted to swing into Therapy since they were having a crazy clearance sale.

I got my stuff together and took the sweetest warm weather bike ride through the Pan Handle.  A bicycle ride that was not replete with bicycle commuters and people in a mad rush to pass by you and make the lights and get to work, just sweet warm sunshine, a soft breeze, and the delicious smell of eucalyptus trees perfuming the air.

It was gorgeous, which meant it would be even nicer in the Mission.

It was the perfect day to be in the Mission.

Normally a sunny day in the Mission would be crawling with people, but as it turns out, lucky me, there was a 49ers game happening and most everyone was inside getting their football on.

I got to Therapy and it was empty. I spent an hour combing the racks and got out of the shop with a new pair of shoes, a tank top, and three blouses for $117!

Sweet.

Huge score from the store.

The shoes alone were originally more than what I spent in toto.

Now I have some fun new clothes to wear down to Florida.

I checked the weather before speaking with my mom and despite them going through a slight cold snap, the weather is supposed to be in the mid 70s to low 80s while I am there.

High heeled sandals and a soft creamy new blouse, just meant for trotting around the golf cart community.

Or at least sitting and having ice tea with my family.

And if the weather continues to be as lovely as it was today, perhaps even I shall be sporting sandals about the city.

I will certainly have them for my summer jaunt to Wisconsin.

Though I am fairly certain flip-flops will be more my style when I am there.

Nice to have a trip like this to look forward to.

I priced out tickets recently and I not only can afford it, I feel that I cannot afford to not do it.  I just want to spend more time with the people I love and not seeing my best friend in years just doesn’t do it for me.

Aside from my score at Therapy I also got a fantastic “new” frame from Harrington’s on Valencia and 17th, for my copy of my grandparents wedding photograph.

Very excited to see it restored to its “original” self.

Then, with my messenger bag loaded with goodies I left my bicycle locked up and took a walk down the block to Clarion Alley.

It is an alley connecting Valencia Street with Mission Street and is notable for its many murals.

There were two artists working on pieces and the lack of tourists and natives, for that matter, holed up in the bars rooting for the home team, left me with the perfect time to pull out my camera.

I took a slow walk down the alley and looked at the murals.

With Much Respect

With Much Respect

Saint

Saint

Artist Working

Artist Working

Clarion Alley

Clarion Alley

Marilyn

Marilyn

Enjoying having my camera out and the quiet of the streets.

For about another ten minutes, then the hooting and hollering and honking began, and well, I ain’t no dummy, I guess them footballers were celebrating a Niner win.

So I gathered my things about me and got back to my bike.

It was time to make it over to Church and Market any how and I wanted to avoid the revellers that were spilling out of the bars and the cops that showed up out of the blue to watch that the drunken party not get out of hand.

The sun dipped quickly behind Twin Peaks and I was grateful that I am a true San Franciscan, not lured by the lull of luscious afternoon sun, I know it’s going to cold after the sunsets, and yup.

Sure did.

I grabbed my sweatshirt and jean jacket and got cozy for the ride.

And it was much needed for the ride back to the ocean by the time I finished with my commitment it was officially cold.

The ride home was just as satisfying though.

Little traffic, crisp air, the indigo sky blushing a late slip of coral as the last kiss of sun fled this side of the hemisphere.

I felt comfortable and rode my bike down the middle of the road breezing along happy in myself, my life, my city.

Didn’t hurt that I had a new pair of shoes in my bag either.

Ready for the week ahead of me and looking forward to a little trip down South.

Life is pretty grand.

Especially when I get out of my way.

Get Messy

January 5, 2014

She told me today.

Stop trying to be perfect.

Work on acceptance, read this one story here.

Write about what I want other people to think of me.

What?

No.

I don’t want to write about that.

Then write about what I want to get from them, what I want them to do, how do I want to look and what is my idea of who I am.

I tell you what, none of these are my idea of fun.

Fuck me.

However, I am ever willing to do the work.

Even when it means re-applying the eye make up and getting vulnerable.

Even when it means showing up to get hurt.

I am going to fail, you are going to fail me, no one is perfect, which means I don’t have to be perfect and if I want to be in an intimate relationship there’s going to be pain.

“I am willing to get hurt,” I said, and something shifted.

Holy shit.

I am willing to get hurt.

I mean I get hurt all the time, I go through pain, things happen, life shows up, people are not who I think they should be, I get expectations, and then something completely weird happens.

I just don’t know that I have been in a place before in my life or my recovery where I was able to vocalize that, I am willing to get hurt.

Most of the time I am working pretty hard to not get hurt, to not connect, to stay safe by playing it safe.

I say I want intimacy, then I run the other way, I get a little, A LOT, scared, then I don’t want to deal with it.

Today, for whatever reason I was able to say it and mean it and it went from head to heart to gut.

Now to get messy.

Not quite certain how that looks, but I feel like it means living and trying and making mistakes and yup doing things differently.

Maybe it’s time to try a new direction with my writing.

For instance.

Get me out of my shell a little.

Writing on one hand connects me with myself, a creative force, and with others, especially when I blog.

Yet, I am completely by myself when I am doing it.

I am alone.

Aside–pet peeve–“Yeah, I know, I read your blog.”

I am not my blog.

It has my voice and there is loads of me here, but I am more than the sum of these words and there are some things I don’t write about, or can’t write about, or frankly don’t care to write about.

I am more than this summation of ideas and images.

Oh, it’s all me, but it’s not all of me.

Social media creates a false idea of connectedness wherein we are all in our rooms peering into the well crafted lives of others on facebook and okcupid and tumbler and twitter and linkedin and whatever else that we do tweeting and poking and posting and liking and commenting.

However, despite knowing what you posted last night on your facebook feed, nice pix of your cat, FYI, I haven’t actually seen you since before I left for Paris, which was over a year ago, and you don’t actually know what’s going on in my life.

Nor I in yours.

Oh, I get a little peek, but I don’t get you and you don’t get me.

What was suggested to me was to check out The Moth, a storytelling event that arose out of New York and is now happening here in San Francisco, where basically you tell true stories out of your life.

I like the idea.

The next event is going to be held at the Rickshaw Stop on January 13th.

Which has some special meaning to me as an important anniversary in my life.

However, I will be in Florida celebrating with family, not in San Francisco.

The events are slams.

I have done slams and I like them.

True, they are nerve-wracking, but I seemed to do well and I believe I am a decent performer and maybe that I could try a little something outside my comfort zone.

Ie my blog.

Which I am not about to give up.

It was also suggested a writers group and or a class on performing.

Had not thought of doing that last one, but why not?

Things that I can do and be a part of a creative community, not just where I am sitting by myself in my room writing.

I am pretty good at sitting by myself in my room writing.

Things to do to get me out there, rather than in here.

Here being my head, my ideas about where, who, what, when, the list of all my shortcomings and I am not enough.

Because I am enough and I am willing to do the work.

I am shocked sometimes at those who are not and devastated to watch what happens when people drift away.

I cannot afford to drift.

I know where I will drift to and it is not a pretty place.

Softening to this way of life, easing into it, allowing myself to be hurt, risking the mess to get to be beautiful, accepting that I am exactly where I am, that I don’t have a good idea of what’s best for me and that it really is ok to accept that people love me and care for me and respect me and what I do.

Who I am.

That I can acknowledge and accept that as well.

Let in the love, so to speak.

So much to keep learning.

And re-learning.

Not even judging that this blog is drifting into self-affirmation, Stuart Smalley land.

So what?

I can be alright with that as well.

Tomorrow I get messy.

I make mistakes.

And I allow the light in.

I will write a story to tell the Moth and go to the website and record my bit.

I will try to do something new and let myself not be good at it.

And be perfect and happy in my silly self willing to get hurt to get love.

The love is the better for the pain.

Richer, deeper, fuller, sweeter.

All things I wish for in my life.

So get ready for messy.

Baby Girl–Chapter Four–Meet The Neighbors

May 12, 2011

Meet The Neighbors

It had been another hot, sweltering day on The Lake and neither Elliot or I had found work.  Granted, Elliot was the only one looking.  I would stay back and keep an eye on our camp and gear.  We had no money.  We had no food.  The burger satiation was long gone and the rations truck had not returned.

“What are we going to do?”  Asked Elliot.

“I don’t know, I am completely out of ideas, Elliot.” I said and sat contemplating the fire I had built up from scavenged ply wood.  It had a particular green chemical, almost chlorinated smell to it.  The wood had obviously been treated, but I figured as long as I was down wind from it, we would be alright.  The flames wicked over the wood and would frequently change colors.  It was almost like being on acid.

Elliot sighed, “I just have to find work.  I just do.  If I can find work then we can get the fuck out of here.  I’m beginning to get creeped out around this place.”

I nodded, but did not add anything to the conversation.  I was too busy enjoying the last draws of nicotine I assumed I was going to be getting in some time.  Maybe now was the time to quit.  I drew down on the cigarette, brushing off the stray crumbs of tobacco and saw a silver Honda Accord approaching our camp.  It slowed, and its occupants clearly took Elliot and I in, but I could not see what they looked like, all I saw was the carnival colored fire light reflected on the car.

The Honda eased into the “front yard” of the abandoned hooch next to our site and two men hopped out of the vehicle.  Their voices sounded rowdy and slightly intoxicated.  I could not hear what they were saying to each other, but they appeared to be in high spirits.  One of the men was stocky, about my height, with shaggy blonde hair and a thick brush of a mustache–it would have made Tom Selleck jealous.  The second man appeared about the same age, but much scrappier; his hair was dishwater brown mixed with dirty blonde and his profile was distinctly like that of a weasel.

“Hey there, neighbors,” called a voice from beyond the circle of fire light.  “How y’all doin’?  Care if my buddy and I join your fire?”

“Sure, said Elliot gesturing toward the fire, come on over.”

The two men ambled over, between the two of them they carried a red Coleman cooler with a white flip-top lid.  They set it down opposite Elliot and myself.

“My name’s Billy, and this here is Leon,” his eyes glittered a wild sapphire blue and his grin was wide and toothy undeneath the thick mustache.

“Hey there, I’m Elliot and this is Carmen.”

“Hi,” I said and smiled.  Billy’s smile widened and he looked me up and down appreciatively.  I felt a blush blowing over my skin.  I looked at Elliot and wished he would look at me the same way this strange man was.

“Y’all want anything to drink?”  Billy asked flipping open the top of the cooler.  He fished in it for a moment and came up with a Budweiser which he tossed to Leon.  Leon caught it, cracked it, slurped the foam off the top and sighed in contentment.

“That hit’s the god-damn spot,” Leon said as he took another pull off the beer and sat down on an over turned milk crate.

“Sure, I’ll take a beer,” I said and smiled.  Elliot looked at me and raised his eyebrows.

“You got any soda?”  He asked.

“Ah, yup, got some Sprite in here,” said Billy.  “But are you sure there sailor, nothing says Friday night like a Bud.”

Elliot paused and looked at me.  I shrugged, pulled back the tab and popped open the beer.  “What the fuck, yeah, I’ll have a Bud too,” Elliot said.

Billy chuckled, “there ya go big guy.”  He handed a beer off to Elliot.

I sipped from mine.  I did not really care for beer, but it was cold and it was not 7-Up.

“Where y’all from?”  Billy asked settling down on to the only empty milk crate left.  He stretched his feet toward the fire and sighed contentedly as he drank a long pull from the beer.

“Wisconsin,” said Elliot.

“Well, sheeeit, what the fuck you two babies doin’ down here,” asked Leon.

“We were looking for work with one of the cruise lines, but nothing’s been turning up,” replied Elliot.  He was very cautiously drinking the beer.

“Y’all too young to get work on them ships,” said Billy.

“Well, doesn’t matter, it turns out that we would have had to apply at the head offices which, for whatever reason, are located back in the Midwest,” Elliot said and drank a little deeper from the beer.  He wiped the back of his arm across his mouth and quietly belched.

“How old are you two?” Asked Billy.

“I’m nineteen,” I piped up.

“And a mighty fine nineteen at that,” Billy said and smiled across the fire at me.  I felt my blush coming back.

“You just turned nineteen,” said Elliot with some contempt.

“So, what of it, Elliot, you’re only seventeen.”  I said and tossed my hair and crossed and uncrossed my legs.

“Jaysus H. Christ on a raft!”  Leon exclaimed.  “You too are way too fuckin’ young to be down here, ain’t I just said that?”

“Damn straight,” said Billy.

“Well, we can take care of ourselves,” I said a little self-consciously.  I had finished my beer pretty quick, it was so cold it just sailed right down my throat, and was fiddling with the can.

“You want another beer?”  Billy asked me.

“Yo, pardner,” said Leon as he crumpled up his empty and tossed it toward the Lake.  “Don’t forget about me.”

“Sure, sure, here, Leon.” Billy chucked a beer to him and then turned back toward me.  “And for the lady?”

“Ok.”  I planned on drinking this one much slower.  The two men made me nervous and the beer was a riot in my empty stomach.  But the alcohol was fuzzing out the protestations of my gut and I felt sassy, it was something to be getting Billy’s attention.  He tossed me another and I deftly caught it.

“Nice catch!” Billy grinned at me then flicked his eyes to Elliot who was still nursing his beer.  “So you two boyfriend-girlfriend?”

I froze up.  The can of beer was half-way to my mouth and I almost dropped it.  I shot Elliot a look.

“Yeah, you could say that,” Elliot said after a brief pause.

“Hmmm, said Billy.  Y’all seem more like brother and sister to me, but that’s cool.  That’s cool.  You know, Elliot, you got one fine old lady sittin’ next too you, you better watch her close down here.  There’s lots of predators and the like who would be very interested in your woman.”

“Uh huh,” agreed Leon, “she’s a damn fine lookin’ girl.”

I was flattered by the compliments but uneasy about the amount of attention that was suddenly being paid to me, regardless that it was complimentary.

“I can handle myself,” I said.

“I’m sure you can, Baby Girl, I’m sure you can.”  Billy said.  His tongue poked out the corner of his mouth, flicking away a bit of foam couaght on the bottom edge of his mustache.  He smiled at me and winked.

“Hey kid, he said, looking over at Elliot, “you ready for another yet?”

Elliot tipped back the beer and I watched him drain the rest of it, a small trickle sloshed out the side of his mouth.

“Whoa, easy there, said Billy.  You don’t fuck with the King of Beers, don’t be wasting any of that sweet nectar down your chin now.”

“Sorry,” said Elliot and belched again, this time not doing anything to disguise it.

Leon cackled, “boy ain’t nobody ever show you how to drink a beer?”

“Nope,” he replied in a serious flat toned voice.  “I’ve never drank a beer before.”

I looked at him dumb founded.  I had smoked pot with Elliot and my ex-boyfriend John.  How could some one have smoked pot and not drank a beer?  I failed to remember that I had tried LSD prior to having my first drink.

“You two really are babies,” said Billy in wonderment.  “Y’all should really go on back home.  Leon, these kids should go on back home.  They ain’t got no idea what kinda shit can go down around here, do they?”

“Nope,” Leon nodded his head sagely.  “All sorts of crazy ass shit go down here.  You kids don’t need to see it, it ain’t good.”

Billy went to the cooler and got himself another beer.  He stood contemplating the night sky.  “I know I’m gonna hear a bell ring when you two get home, and you know, that means an angel’s got its wings.”

“We’re not going home.”  I said defiantly.

“Dang,” said Leon, shaking his head.  “You are one stubborn girl, ain’t choo?”

“I’m not stubborn, I just know that we are supposed to be here.”

Billy, cocked his head at me, “that so?”

I nodded my head affirmatively.

“Now, let me get this straight, you’re supposed to be here, this Lake, here?”  Billy shook his head, “girl are you crazy?”

“No.”  I said quietly and drank my beer.

“She stubborn hoss,” said Leon.

“Shut up,” I said to Leon.

“Ooooh, you hear that, she ain’t stubborn, Leon, she’s sasssy!” Billy said and slapped his knee, “I like a girl that’s sassy.”

I stopped talking, what was I doing?

“Well, well, so you got everything here you need?”  Billy asked.  “I mean, I’m lookin’ around and I ain’t seein’ no kitchen, or bathroom, y’all had a shower any time in the last week?”

“No,” said Elliot.

“A shower, that would be nice,” I agreed.  “But a shower is not worth going back to Wisconsin for.”

“Well, you don’t have to go to Wisconsin to take a shower, we got access to a shower, y’all want a shower, eh?”  Billy looked up at Leon and Leon shook his head no.

“Yes,” said Elliot, “awfully good, but what we really need is a job, got one of those too?”

“Boy’s got bigger balls than I thought, Leon,” Billy said with a dark chuckle.

“I mean, I won’t turn down a shower, a shower would be nice, but a job, well, I really need to get a job.”  Elliot said, blushing deeply.  I could not see the color of his face in the firelight, but I could hear the blush in his voice.

“I could take ‘em back over to Mike’s place,” said Billy glancing again to Leon.

“Nope, uh uh, dude, I ain’t gonna go back over to Homestead, we just got done with work, man, it’s time to party!”

“You party,” said Billy.

“What, without my running mate, man, no way,” said Leon.

“Listen here, Leon, these kids’ way in over their heads.  I’m gonna take ‘em over to Mike’s place, get them a shower and see if I can convince them to go home.”  Billy said.  Then he tipped back his beer, drained it and tossed the empty toward the Lake.

“Come on, follow me,” Billy said getting up and going to his car.

“You ain’t really gonna leave me here are you?”  Asked Leon.

“Dude, I’ll leave the beers with you, you go holler atcha girl ‘cross the way and we’ll be back before you probably will.” Billy said.

I had gotten up quickly and felt all the blood rush to my head, I was definitely intoxicated.  It had only taken two beers, but those two beers were on an empty stomach.  Elliot followed my lead and also swayed a bit, but steadied himself quickly.  He had only one under his belt, I figured he could drive, or maybe we would be riding with Billy.  Although that was not perhaps the best idea.

“How far away is it?”  Elliot asked.  “I don’t have that much gas in my car.”

“Just around the corner from here, maybe a half mile down the road,” said Billy.

“I think we can make that,” Elliot said, but he sounded uncertain.

“No, I’ll drive y’all over,  Let’s go.”  Billy said and rambled over to the silver Honda next to the little grey hooch.

Elliot looked at me, I nodded affirmatively.  “Hang on a sec, let me get my bath stuff.”  I said and dashed toward the tent.

“Just like a girl,” said Billy grinning.  “They got to have their ‘bath stuff’.  You need anything there Elliot?”

“Nah, just running water and maybe some soap” said Elliot.

“We got that covered.”  Said Billy and he got into the Honda and started it up.

I ran quickly back, waved to Leon and Elliot and I climbed into the car.  The drive to the house was quick, less than five minutes and we were there.  Billy lit up a cigarette and had just finished it when we got to the house.  It was in a gated community.  The car slowed down to five miles an hour to navigate around the many speed bumps that were scattered throughout the housing units.

“Where are we?” Asked Elliot.

“This here is Coral Gables, this is where my boss Mike lives, but he ain’t livin’ in his house right yet, he’s living in an RV trailer out in front of his place.  His house got pretty damn wasted by the hurricane.  Leon and I been helpin’ him get it back together.” Billy said as he angled the Honda into a parking space next to a very large maroon rv who’s generator was humming loudly.  It was running air conditioning and the flicker of a television set could be seen through the blinds in the middle of the trailer.

“Come on, let’s go,” said Billy and he popped out of the car and headed up the steps to the large pink stucco house in front of the trailer.  It was dark, but there was a lot of moon light.

I grabbed my bag and followed Billy and Elliot up the stairs and into the house which was dark and smelled of water damage.

“Careful now, there ain’t no light that works in here yet.”  Billy said and opened the front door.

Elliot and I followed him into the maw of the house.  Billy walked briskly a head of us and rapidly climbed a staircase to the right of the front door.  He led us up the stairs, then down a long hall way, and into a room that must have been the master bedroom.

“Shower’s in there,” said Billy pointing to a door.

“Lady’s first,” said Elliot.

“Thanks,” I said and walked into the bathroom.  Fortunately there was a window there that let in the moon light.  I could see well enough to maneuver my way around.  I quickly stripped down, self-conscious, even with the door shut and grateful for the dark.  I could hear Billy and Elliot talking as I got into the large bathtub and reached for the water faucet.

“Ah, fuck!f”  I said under my breath.  It was cold.  There was no running hot water here.  Of course there wasn’t, there was no electricity, how could there be.  I was briefly mad at Billy for allowing us to believe that there would be hot running water here.  But I was grateful for running water and I braced myself and got in.  My goose bumps made it difficult to shave, but I did none the less.  Who knew when I would get access to a shower again.

I shivered mightily and climbed out once I had finished my legs.  I did not have a towel, nor did Elliot.  I shook as much water off my body as I could.  I brushed down the sides of my arms and my legs to get off the excess water.  Sighing I climbed back into my dress which clung to me.  Well, there was an upside, at least I looked sexy in my dress.

I opened the door and walked out into the room.  Billy and Elliot were sitting on a couple of wood chairs next to the window on the far wall.

“Well, that was mighty quick for a girl,” said Billy with a big grin.

“There wasn’t any hot water,” I said.  I tried to keep my voice as neutral as possible.  I did not want to look this gift horse in the mouth, but Elliot should at least get a head’s up.

“Well, shoot!”  Billy said, “I ain’t even thought about that, sorry Baby Girl.”

“It’s alright,” I said demurely.  I stood standing in the middle of the room.

“Come here, sit down, Elliot go on and hop in there, at least it’s running water.”

“Anything is better than washing up in that Lake,” Elliot said and went into the bathroom, handing off the half-finished cigarette that Billy must have given him.

Billy did not say anything as I sat down on the vacant chair Elliot had just been using.  He shook another smoke out from his pack and lit it from the one he was finishing.  I enjoyed the last few drags from the one Elliot had given me, then I pulled my brush out from my bag and started going through my hair.  It would snarl up really badly if I did not brush out the tangles before it dried.  Billy watched me do this and smiled.

“You have some pretty hair.”

“Thanks,” I said.  I could feel the blush creeping back in and I lowered my head to avoid looking at him watching me.

The sound of water came on and off quickly from the bathroom and Elliot emerged less than five minutes later.

“Damn, you both are quick,” said Billy getting up.

“Well, I figure you don’t want to be kept waiting on us,” Elliot said.  His hair hung in wet heavy ringlets around his face and his glasses had a few droplets of water on them.  He pulled them off and rubbed the lenses down with his t-shirt hem.

“Ain’t no skin off my nose, like I said to Leon, I wanted to help you kids out.  A shower and maybe some convincin’ talk about gettin’ you back home,” Billy said standing up and flicking the cigarette butt in his hand out the back window.

“We can’t go home, we don’t have any money to leave the Lake,” I said quietly and put my brush back into my bag.

“Ah ha.  Kinda what I thought,” Billy said.  “But you should get home anyway, angel’s be needed their wings, and I know an angel’s gonna get a pair when you guys get back to Wisconsin.”

“We need jobs,” said Elliot.

“Well, I’ll see what I can do about that,” Billy said.  “But for right now ain’t nothin’ happenin’ but us gettin’ back to my cooler and Leon at the Lake.  It’s Friday and it’s my weekend.”

“Thank you for the shower, Billy, it was really nice to clean up.” I said and caught myself about to curtsey.

“Ain’t nothin’, a lady’s got to bathe, ain’t she?”

Billy turned and walked out to the hallway.  Elliot and I quickly followed.

Leon was not at the camp when we got back.  And it had started to rain.  The fire had sizzled out and the site was dark.  Billy turned off the ignition to the car and hopped out.  He went over to the Coleman cooler that was sitting next to the fire and hauled it back to the car.

“Well, alright, you two, I’m gonna go catch up with Leon, here’s some beers for the road.”  He handed us each one as we got out of the car.

“Thanks, thanks for the beers and thanks for the shower, it was awesome, I really appreciated it.”  I said and smiled.  My smile disappeared when I turned back to our tent, it had blown over in the wind and rain.

“Shit, Elliot, look,” I said pointing out to the collapsed fabric.

“Ah, fuck, I so don’t want to deal with that right now,” Elliot said.

“You two get your asses out of the rain and sleep in my hooch,” Billy said pointing to the shack to the left of the Honda.

“We can’t do that,” I said.

“Baby girl, you can and you will.”  Bill said, “Now scoot in there before you get drenched.

“Thanks Billy,” Elliot said and ran toward the shelter.  I followed close on his heels, the icy beer can slipping through my fingers.  I dropped it and hastily bent full from the waist to pick it up.

Billy whistled softly under his breath, “night, night, Baby Girl, I’ll be sure to be seein’ you soon.”  He got in the Honda, revved it up and drove off.

“He say something to you,” Elliot asked as I ducked through the door.

“No, ah, good night, that’s all.”  I said and took a look around at the hooch.  It certainly was not the Hilton, but it was dry.  There was a bed platform made up of plywood raised up on milk crates and wood slats covered with some egg foam and a dirty looking plaid sleeping bag.

“Well, I guess this is it, nice to have had a shower, even if it was cold,” I said and cracked the beer open.  It foamed heavily and I licked it off the sides of the can.  Elliot cracked his and drank it down rather quickly.

“Whoa, hey there, Mister-I-Ain’t -Never-Had-A-Beer-Before, slow down, you’re gonna get the burps real bad from doing that.”

And on cue, Elliot belched.  “Ugh, I don’t feel so good.”  He stood suddenly and swerved toward the door.  He stumbled out into the rain and I could hear him vomiting alongside the hooch.   He came back in five minutes later, and it was hard to tell with the light, but I would say he looked pretty green.

“Here, I said, patting the dusty sleeping bag I was sitting on, lie down.”

Elliot sank down heavily and rolled up against the wall of the hooch and promptly passed out.  I finished my beer and placed the can on the floor of the shack.  The rain beat down and the wind picked up.  I had barely drifted off to sleep when I realized that the roof was beginning to leak.

“Ah fuck, really?”  I sat up and as I did the roof dropped in on us, drenching us completely.

“Shit!”  I hollered and stood up looking at the hole.  There was no way I could fix that.  I did not even know where to begin.  “Elliot, wake up, c’mon, we got to get out of here, we can sleep in the Datsun.”

Elliot groggily turned toward me and swung his legs over the side of the bed.  He stood up, swayed, grabbed my shoulder and steadied himself against me.  We staggered over to the Datsun in the down pour and climbed in.  Elliot curled up against the side of the driver’s door and fell right back into sleep.  I reached over and lowered down the seat so he was lying flat.  Then I grabbed a coat from the back seat and wrapped it around my body.  It had not seen any action since we had left northren Illinois.

I fell asleep to the wind shaking the Datsun and woke to the sun pouring through the windows.  The car windows were all steamed up from the heat we had generated through the night and the warmth of the tropical sun beaming through the windshield.  My head hurt, my body ached, my stomach was sour and empty.

“Oh my god, why do I feel so bad,” Elliot asked slowly sitting forward.

“Hang over, welcome to being a man,” I said and opened up the door to climb out of the steam box and into the bright unreality of another day on the Lake.


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