Collaborations of Abstraction

Archive for the ‘Memorys’ Category

I’d rather spend the day with homeless strangers than Christmas with my family.

It dawned on me slowly, smudged in guilt, rather than coated in it, as I’d expected it to be. I set the heaping platefuls of food on the white, tablecloth-clad table.

The restaurant I worked at was serving Christmas dinner to homeless families, and I was one of the waitresses. Last year I got to use the excuse that my husband and I were on the brink of divorce. I couldn’t pretend to like him for a full day. Now my appetite for authenticity had grown. I couldn’t pretend to like my parents for the few days. And feeding the homeless seemed more honorable. An honorable excuse.

I wasn’t alone thankfully. My friend Jennifer couldn’t make it back to the East Coast so we drank wine and opened stockings the night before. I may have even abandoned her to sleep with Nathan the previous night. I couldn’t remember. Maybe that was why I didn’t feel coated in guilt. The alcohol from the previous several days had left my brain feeling slippery, unable to hold onto anything. It’s OK though. That’s how people get through divorce. And Christmas.

After Jennifer and I finished our shifts, her in the kitchen dishing up plates and me waiting on loads of very grateful, very sweet people, we headed back to her place on the north side of town. It was quaint, with a nice kitchen table and some chairs. We drank hot cider and chatted. It was growing dark, even at 3:30 p.m. Thank goodness the Winter Solstice had passed, I thought.

My phone rang. It was Nathan. He invited me to his parents house. Some of his friends would be there, he said.

Maybe I could bring Jennifer, I asked?

Of course. The more the merrier. Jennifer enjoyed the O’Brien family. Nathan had a few brothers who drank about as much as he did, told great stories and flirted with her mercilessly. They all had girlfriends, though. Still, it was flattering.

I felt tense. Maybe it was all the coffee. Maybe it was the endless days of curing a hangover with another glass of wine. Perhaps it really was that the holidays suck for people like me. I never really did like Christmas. I was trying though. That was more than I’d done in years past.

Although Jennifer was excited at the prospect of another amusing evening, I shared my worry. Nathan had been hinting at his interest in wanting more from me. Well, hinting wasn’t exactly right.

He’d been jealous when I stood outside smoking with his friends at an ugly sweater party. A month previous when we first met, he barely looked twice at who I spoke to. He told me he thought I really wanted to make a home and have a family, even if my bitter demeanor suggested otherwise.

Spending Christmas evening with him at his parent’s was a step toward the girlfriend direction — a direction I had no intention of going. I didn’t know where I was heading, but girlfriend wasn’t the destination. Hell, it wasn’t even on the map.

Jennifer convinced me that it was a party, that I would just be one of many females there, and I should consider it. Christmas night is always a weird time, she said. And she was right. It was either that or go to a movie, and that was a Watson family tradition, something I wasn’t eager to remind myself of.

We drove the 40 minutes into the suburbs and pulled up in front of a ranch style home, snow-covered lawn sprawled out in all directions. Nate’s car was already there. Not one other vehicle, not even his brother’s car, was in sight.

Maybe we’re early? Jennifer said, not sounding very sure of herself.

We knocked and Nate let us in. Family pictures hung on the walls as we walked into the split level entrance. I took off my snow-covered shoes, left them in the hallway and tossed my coat on the bed as instructed. That’s where coats go in Minnesota, you see. On the bed.

We headed into the family room, where his parents were watching Agustin Borough’s Running With Scissors. Nate’s brother nursed a beer on the corner couch. He must’ve driven with Nate. Nate’s mom jumped up to meet me, eager to size me up, sweet as pie in the Midwestern way.

Nate’s dad set the mood by making a mildly inappropriate comment about my hips, and we settled into the couch to watch the movie. When offered a beer, I immediately accepted.

The movie didn’t sit well with either of the O’Brien parents, so Jennifer suggested we play a board game. Jennifer is always suggesting games, and this time I was grateful for the distraction. However, Nate picked Life out of the bunch. Yes, the one where you choose a degree, a spouse, a number of children and go on to buy a home and achieve mediocrity.

When I celebrated getting past the child-bearing stage unscathed, Nate’s mother seemed concerned. Don’t you want kids dear?

I needed a cigarette. Now.

Jennifer stood outside in the cold and got me to laugh at how uncomfortable the situation was. I took a few deep breaths of cold air. Then I took a few more nicotine-filled ones.

OK, I’d go back in. But only for a bit. Then we’re leaving.

Of course.

It was time to have a snack. All that beer was making us hungry. Nate’s dad pulled out some pickles and olives. I started to notice the alarming amount of Catholic garb covering the walls. I tried to calm down by reminding myself it was Christmas, a perfectly normal time to have shitloads of Jesus paraphernalia around.

When I floated back into the conversation, it was just around the time that Nate’s dad called Jennifer a communist. For what? Who knows? Maybe belonging to a newspaper union. But more likely I think it was because she was a woman who had the nerve to have an opinion.

To change the subject I asked about the pickles. They were good. What brand? In Minnesota, this was a perfectly legitimate question because pickles were a legitimate side dish.

Oh, you like them? He was pleased. Nathan, you’ll have to get her involved in your business.

Business? I wondered. Are you in the pickling business? I thought you were an insurance salesman.

Oh no, my parents sell Amway.

Stunned silence.

You’ve heard of Amway, right?

Well, yes. But I thought it was like, illegal or something now. I mean, that still exists?

Of course. You’ve probably seen commercials for it before. Late night TV?

I shook my head. I didn’t have a TV. But I suddenly was the proud owner of a brand new stomach ache.

We left, with two jars of pickles as our parting gift. So nice to meet you, everyone said. So glad you could make it. See you next year.

I’d rather spend Christmas with a bunch of suckers than my own family. Or was that just another version of my family? Another nightmare film entertaining me while I kept digging the same hole?

After reliving the evening’s most shining moments, Communist Jennifer and Childless Rebecca drove in silence back to North Minneapolis.

At one point, a lot of the homeless folks we’d served that day had lived in this neighborhood. When they could still pay rent. Before they’d lost their jobs. Now that was a hole to dig yourself out of. Maybe my Amway Christmas wasn’t so bad. Maybe it was exactly the gift I needed.

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It’s Thursday afternoon and Amanda Fairchild is on the phone for me. This makes my palms sweaty. Not because I want to date Amanda. Or even have sex with her. I’m straight.

Nope. It’s because she is a popular girl and I am not.

I’d see her in the hallway with her long dark hair hanging in a perfectly straight curtain down her back. She’d run her fingers through it in a way I’d imitate as I walked from band down the hall past where all the “cool kids” would hang out.

Somehow in the four minutes between class they’d congregate there. I would’ve if I was asked, but I’d have worried how to get to debate class on time, as it was at the other end of school. I’d never had that problem though. Until today. Maybe. When Amanda dialed my number.

I sat with my phone to my ear for a minute, not fully listening as she invited me somewhere. Her house maybe. It all seemed so surreal. I accepted in a haze. Sure I’d be your friend. I saw us laughing as we walked down the hall, trading hair-styling tips. How did I get my hair so smooth and curly? she wondered.

But Amanda had another question for me. Now, in real life. The one where we are on the phone together. I try to pull myself together. Popular girls never talk to me. The guys did sometimes. There was even one who flirted with me in our advanced math class. But the girls? Nope. Not even a breath in my direction.

I would answer Amanda’s question. I would do everything in my power to be her, be one of hers.

“Do you have, like, any experience with guys?” she asks.

I am stunned. What did that matter? Then I think I catch the sounds of silent (well, almost silent) laughter. My whole body feels wrapped in flames.

I take a breath and reply, “You know, I just remembered, I think I’m grounded. I don’t think I can go to your party.”

The rest is a blur as I rush to get off the phone so my tears can have some privacy. But when I hang up they don’t come. And I push the shame and embarrassment away as I pick up my notebook and remember: Tomorrow is Friday. There’s a geometry test.

To be fair, and I do like things to be fair, let me tell you something I did a few weeks before (or was it after?) this unfortunate phone call.

It was just before school started and I was standing outside the cafeteria. Since this was Minnesota, there was no sunny veranda where kids spent their time, like in the California movies. No, we lingered in the darkness of a sub-basement, lit dimly on each end with the natural light that strained through the decades-old frosted, yellowing glass.

I stood this particular day in front of the old tunnel that connected the west building to the main school — a tunnel built because the winters really are that bad, but closed because no matter how terrible -35 C feels, asbestos cancer feels worse.

I was angry that day, about what has long since slipped my mind, but this I knew: Danielle would pay.

I stalked up to her and her friends as they stood chatting in front of their lockers. I was a year older than them, so I immediately garnered something like respect. There I was, an eigth grader drunk on her power.

“I’d watch yourself girl,” I spit with all the venom I could muster. “I can make your life here a living hell.”

She looked at me with a knowing. I wasn’t fear, just an understanding. I walked away thinking, A living hell? What kind of a cliche is that? I was a writer in edit mode, even then, wishing I could go back and delete those words and insert something more clever, less tired.

I have no idea now why I’d want to make her life hell though. And later I would approach her and apologize for that comment. We laughed at my ridiculousness, at my dramatic proclamation only a junior higher or a character from a bad movie could believe.

I’d like to believe that Amanda would’ve apologized for her phone call. We talked a few times as we got older and she was always pleasant.

I know that I might have an overly optimistic idea of folks, but I think most of them are just doing their best and trying to meet their needs. And, judging by my sweaty hands and pounding heart at the very prospect of talking to one of the popular crowd, at the idea I may be accepted, I can only imagine the intoxication of actually being in the middle of it.

And if I know anything about being drunk, it’s that you’ll often do anything to keep that buzz going, even if it might make someone else feel a bit bad. That’s the last thing you’re worried about when you’re chasing your next fix, whether it be booze, drugs or approval.

I’m wearing my skinny jeans I bought in Norway, with sky blue socks pulled over them. Padding down the sidewalk in my red ballet flats, I head down  a dark tunnel toward a dark sea and grey sky. It’s like a reverse sort of Wizard of Oz.

Sante’s with me and we hear the whales before we see them. They click like dolphins do, and I coo back to them. That’s when they start to breach. Sante runs back to grab his camera.

whales

I walk down the tunnel, understanding now it’s a boat landing with a very deep harbor. Folks kayak around with all of their worldly possessions heaped in their little boats. The whales erupt from the water around them.

I coo again and again, walking closer and closer to the landing. The sand and cement meld together and disappear under the dark liquid of the ocean.

My stomach lurches as I hear an answer to my calls, much closer than I expected. A duck-billed whale leaps into the air and up toward the sky. I shake my head, trying to clear my eyes and run closer.

The great sea creature lunges out of the water again, this time right at the end of the landing. Too close, I think as I back up from the water. But I know it’s too late. I edge backwards, leaning into the cement, praying the sand will give underneath.

Its great body leans up out of the sea and toward me, its duck-billed face bearing down on my frightened figure. I  stop fighting, knowing that I can do nothing but wait for it to crush me.

I watch and see now the real beauty of this giant coming toward me. I smile, reach out my hands and greet it.

The bill washes over me, along will cold salt water. It caresses me, and coos at me in a much more beautiful, haunting voice than I could ever imitate. It slides down the landing and back into the dark water.

I lay there, heart beating in my ears and my chest, staring at the grey sky. This key from the sea, it will be my salvation. I race away to tell Sante.

beach footprints

Counting invisible calories.
The regression begins.
My hometown returns to find me acceptable.
Refuse to use the toilet until it can’t wait.
Fear of the bathroom at night.
My hands live in constant fists.
Bottles empty without any satisfaction.
Journals filled with impossible questions.
People I love may appear further away than they appear.
May November 26th just effing get here.

If you ask most people who have known me for a long time, they’ll tell you that I have an extraordinary talent for forgetting the past and letting go of people that don’t suit me at the moment.

It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s true. I’ve definitely thrown people away like they were used tissue.

Because of this, I’ve spent the last three or four years being very conscious of the choices I make, who I surround myself with and most importantly, learning lessons from my past instead of forgetting them.

rebecca watson young

Like I can NOT pull off bangs. Don't let any stylist convince you otherwise.

Of course, in my typical fashion, I’ve swung from one extreme to the other and I now am worrying how on the goddess’ green earth I’m going to let go of all this crap from the past: This residual shit.

I want to move. Life is bleak and cold; it’s lifeless out there half the year. I work to pay my bills; my work drives me to eat Dairy Queen every Tuesday. I don’t know how to accept love and give it in return. As soon as I start to feel, I reach for a bottle of something. I love music but am embarrassed to express myself. My dog ate my identity. I wish I could travel somewhere. Anywhere. I keep meeting the same people. I don’t have time or energy to cook. No one wants to eat it anyway.

There isn’t much room in the life I have for the life I had.

I live in Santa Cruz: Paradise. But more importantly, Home. Life is beautiful on the ocean. My garden grows and I’ve got so much I’m giving it away. I own my own business; my mental health is as important as its bottom line. I’m surrounded by people who have taught me how to love and how to be a good friend. I happen to be married to one of those beautiful people. I hike every Tuesday. I’m editing my novel. I love music and sing all the time. Biking as a form of transit is a big part of my identity. I’m planning my next trip to Utah, followed by a dream trip to Brazil. And I’ve got a batch of cookies baking in the oven, eagerly anticipated by my hubby and my friends.

So why? Why can’t I let go of that sad, awful, boring life? Part of me wants to hold onto it so that I never take the life I have for granted. OK, fair enough. But can’t that live in one tiny part of my brain? Why does it have to pollute every single thought I have?

Why can’t I think about going out to a good meal here without comparing it a restaurant in Minneapolis? Why do I still say, “Oh you have that here?” as if I’m a frickin’ tourist just appreciating the quaintness of this beach town? I want to smack myself for this.

Do you have this problem? Or are you able to let go? If so, HOW? I feel as if I overcorrected in my hope to be more connected with the people and things in my life. How do I strike a balance without living in the past?

It’s night time. I’m riding toward Scotts Valley, about to take Highway 17 over the hill, which in Santa Cruz-speak, means over the mountain to San Jose. I’m riding in the passenger side of an ’89 Ford F150.

Except it's not quite this one.

It’s the old truck I learned to drive a stick in. It’s my dad’s. The steering wheel is in front of the middle seat and my mom is plopped in front of it. Don’t ask me where the stick shift is. I think my dad is sitting next to her, where the driver’s side should be. It’s a little hazy over there though. I’m not quite sure I recognize him; he’s more of a phantom.

We’re headed over the hill because we’re trying to escape a dangerous rain storm. Things are flooding, I’m told. I’m in danger.

But when I look up at the sky, it’s clear. In fact, it’s awe-inspiring: the kind of night you only see when you’re camping up in the mountains, where human light hasn’t reared its ugly head.

The stars are so crystal-clear, I feel like I can almost touch them. The night is crisp. The sky would be black, but it’s more of an indigo because of the breath-taking full moon rising from the horizon. It’s about two-thirds of the way up the sky, and next to it is a beautiful planet, so close I can see its surface.

Another Earth, perhaps? It was so lovely, and I looked at it longingly. It was then I realized I had seen this before. I leapt with excitement as I said, “I saw this in a dream a week ago! Isn’t that so cool?!?

I was bouncing up and down like a child, when it became obvious I was one. My feet no longer touched the floorboards; they were swinging freely the way I loved to do when I was about eight. I looked up at my mom, expectantly. (I mean, how rad is that? Right?!?)

She didn’t look down. Her eyes were on the road and she sighed.

“OK,” she said in an exacerbated tone that meant shut the fuck up. Even eight year olds know that one. The phantom next to her said nothing, but looked at me and shook his head in a combination of disbelief and disgust. I sunk down into the seat, feeling defeated.

Suddenly the sky started to look really weird, like I was in a one of those fair games where you shoot the ducks on the water. Everything was wooden and painted. The clouds went past the moon, but on an electronic roller in front of it. My eyebrows furrowed. This couldn’t be right.

What alarmed me more was when I realized my mother had rolled to a stop. I could sense danger, what felt to me like mortal danger, right outside my window. I tried to communicate with my mother, GO! but she didn’t seem to hear me. She was still looking straight ahead, as though she was still driving.

The phantom to her left finally spoke, in a stern loud voice, although I’ll be damned if I could recognize a word of it. It seemed to have the desired effect on my mother though, because she snapped out of her world and said, “Oh silly me! I forgot to turn the road on!”

She pushed a button on the dashboard.

Like a carnival ride, everything came back to life, but not quite at the correct pace. From the music to the bumps in the road, everything was in slow motion.

I became aware now that the danger that I sensed before was out there again, and my mother just said  “Crouch down,” and in the same breath said “Look.”

My heart was beating wildly. The car door was locked but I knew that didn’t matter. I realized suddenly that I wasn’t wearing my shoes. When I crouched down, I found them on the floor of the truck. Shoeless and vulnerable, I had to make a choice: stand guard with my hands in my shoes or risk attack while I was putting the shoes on my feet. I froze.

I’m wrapped in a blanket and big awful human hands were grabbing at me. I tried to fight back with my hands, which still had the tennis shoes on them, but I was so small and even if my coordination was better, I doubt I could have won the fight. My arms were flailing.

“Leave me alone!” I screamed. “Don’t touch me!!!”

Those words were still dripping from the air when I realize I have a choice. I’m dreaming. I can open my eyes and look at who I’m fighting, or I can keep them closed so tight maybe this will all go away. 

I open my eyes. I’m alone. 31. In my own bed. Gasping for air.

I walked into the church basement of my youth. From the painted gray cement floor to the serving kitchen in the back, it was all the same. It was set up like a group was getting ready for a pot luck. No, not quite. Something fancier.

The reason I know it was fancy is that there were flowers on every table. Not fake plants, but the real fucking thing. Orange tulips to be exact, although I was pretty sure it was well into the summer and tulips in this climate were a rare breed. Someone was spending money.

orange tulips

I know this because tulips happen to be my favorite flower. Also, I enjoy the orange ones immensely, along with yellow ones.

Suddenly I’m drawn out from outside myself and I realize I’m an adult. I’m 30 years old and I’m standing in my childhood church basement looking at my favorite flowers.

Oh, Jesus. I’m getting married.

Suddenly everyone appeared now that I had gotten the memo. My sisters both bustled around, putting everything on the tables just so. There was china and silverware.

Laura looked up at me with her soft brown eyes begging to be acknowledged and her glistening blond hair laughing all the way to the bank.

“What about this?” she asked earnestly as she adjusted some babies breath in the vase alongside the tulips.  “How does this look?”

I realized that she was asking me. 

Me. The me that had been living in an alternate reality up until this time. Me: The woman who just walked out of Santa Cruz and into my Minnesota church basement. Me: the human being.

Me. The sister who took care of her since she took her first breath. Me: the sister who called her Leidala when R’s weren’t in my vernacular. Me: the sister her eyes know.

 I shrug and turn away, hoping that I can fake Bridezilla while I get a grip on what the fuck’s going on. My shrug and turn lands me full on conversation with Heidi, my other sister.

She. She can decorate a wedding cake. She can raise more children than I can plants.

“I’m so happy … ” Heidi stops and her eyes glisten. She smiles and pats the flowers Laura so lovingly arranged.

“We’ll see you soooon,” she swoons and mischievously eyes the nursery door to the right. Both of my sisters exit up the back stairs and I hear organ music. Piano music. Trumpets. 

To some, this music means a symphony or at the very least ceremony. To me it means cousins, grandmothers, parents. 

 Great.

I shake my head, and for the first time catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. 

Wedding. Dress.

Fuck. 

I look to the door on my right. Someone (presumably the someone I’m going to marry) is in there.

FUCK.

I need a cigarette.

But in my reality I quit smoking a few years back, and I quit wearing white wedding dresses too. 

 Suddenly this seems like nothing more than a misunderstanding.

The overwhelming Oh shit feeling I had was quickly leaving me. This could be easily remedied. Suddenly I was feeling a bit perky, like maybe I could get outta here with enough time to catch the red-eye home.

Home.

Sante.

I marched into that nursery prepared to do my worst. But when I saw Jeff on the other side, all I could do was tell him this:

I don’t know how we got to this point. I’m sorry you got caught up in all of this. I can’t marry you. I’m sorry.

He smiles the sweet smile he’s had since the day I first met him. The day I first adored him. My heart warms and I smile back. We hug. And I walk out that nursery door and follow my sisters up the back stairs to the ceremony already in progress.

The stairway is dark. There is no light switch. I always wondered if the church didn’t really care about their organist, if they like piano players better. Piano players didn’t need their feet. I grope for the door handle.

Light. Lots of natural light and high ceilings painting an obsecene white. Ceiling fans covered with dust. Stained glass and indoor/outdoor carpeting. My eyes squint. I breathe a smell that makes me want to forget.

But I remember.

The organist stops as I walk past her. The congregation’s attention slowly moves toward the front. They were expecting groom, not bride.

The pastor moves to get up. I sit him back down with my eyes.

My feet moves across the blue carpet, my chiffon swishes (good lord what was I thinking?). I stand behind the pulpit. And I look out at everyone’s faces below me, expectant.

So this is what the slimy fuck sees every Sunday. I make a mental note not to curse him, knowing too well the rule of threes. I raise up my hands like The High Priestess and I smile.

“I’m not getting married today,” I say. “I’m sorry you came all this way.”

I take a deep breath and it’s then I see Sante in the congregation. He’s smiling at me. I sigh and smile back.

“Now is the time for this to stop. It is done.”

The organist breaks out into jubilant postlude and the trumpeters quickly follow suit. I dance down the aisle, doing cartwheels and singing. As I approach the door, my hips jiving to the rhythm of the postlude, Napoleon stands in my way.

But he’s no match for my charm and my siren song. After all, who can resist the seduction of the truth?

Somehow I have managed to get myself into some rooftop party in L.A. where I could care less about what is going on, but the view is spectacular. It has that sort of odd purple hue to it; the word effervescence comes to mind. Since the drinks are free and the music was decent, I decide to stick around.

213 Purple

I sit for a long time listening to what is probably some of the best classical guitar I have ever heard, being played by a guy who looks like he might spend his afternoons at an intersection with a cardboard sign. Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven. Even Clementi. His repertoire matches mine in the other life where I was a classically trained pianist. I haven’t played in years. I certainly couldn’t keep up now.

I try to breathe deep but something sits on my lungs, discouraging any such notion. Despite the smog, or maybe to spite it, I lit up a cigarette. Someone is coming for me. I desperately try to melt into the cement tabletop I’m leaning against.

I realize that what is worse than being hit on at a party you don’t belong at is being recognized at a party you have no business being at. Mitch walks up to me smiling that shit-eating grin I would have liked to wipe off his face several times in high school.

He caught my eye, recognized me and was now entering into the traditional dance of How are you? and What have you been up to? These encounters nauseate me, because no one cares what the answers are. Probably because they are such carefully constructed bull-shit.

I saw myself turning around, putting on a real evil smile and saying something like, “I’ve been married more times than one would expect at my age, but that’s probably because I didn’t get enough attention at home. I’m not sure if that’s better than ending up a stripper. You look like you’ve put on twenty pounds or so, which means you’re either married with children or you’ve just given up and decided to die a slow death of drink.”

But in addition to the dance, I also recognize something that can’t be disguised by six Stoli martinis or a good story: sadness. His eyes welled with it. In that instant my heart melts and I decide I can’t be even a shadow of the bitch I had prepared to be. God, it’s such a pain in the ass to be compassionate.

We go maybe five minutes into the conversation when I know I’m either going to need another drink, or I’m going to have to figure out a way to get out of here. I don’t care about where we are, who is here and what they do. What am I doing here?

It’s right around this time that we got to discussing my life and divorce when Mitch wants to know why.

“Why did you leave him? he demands with an intensity that makes me immediately suspicious. “Did he hit you? Cheat on you? Was he not funny enough for you?”

“Oh he was funny,” I say, my mind wandering to the bar which was conveniently located next to the closest exit. “I miss that sometimes.”

OK now I’m just lying. But something about him wanted to desperately to hear an answer, and I felt compelled to say something. He shifts his weight back and forth, looking around nervously in the silence that follows my lie.

For the first time I look around. At these parties I try hard not to look at anyone, to just get through them. As faces start to come into focus, I realize they are all people from high school.

For god’s sake, it’s like my high school reunion got transported to California and nobody had noticed. Well, maybe the bartenders noticed. Drinks were notoriously expensive in L.A. and some Minnesotans might have decided tipping was optional.

Instead of falling into some sort of panic attack as I only assumed I would, I remain insanely calm. I’m now suspicious of myself. Was another part of my personality sipping cocktails when I wasn’t looking? Didn’t it know I was planning on driving?

(Not having a car in L.A. is like not having a winter coat in Minnesota. People assume you are so far below the poverty level they just might give you one out of charity.)

But no, I check my wallet. All my funds and credit card are intact. (Clearly I have forgotten that drinks are free.) I’m just OK with this, I guess. Or maybe my other personality has moved onto something harder. Xanax, perhaps?

It’s then that I say to Mitch, “You wanna see what’s really going on here?”

I say it in a way that’s impossible to resist. I’m surprised these words come out of my mouth. Hell, I wanna see. He has to say yes.

He nods dumbly.

I walk to the door marked with a red EXIT sign and walk down endless flights of stairs. I’m barefoot and make no sound.

Somewhere along the way we pick up two horses from a woman in a white lab coat. She asks us to be sure they get their medicine. Mine is chocolate brown; his is white with black markings, spots. They clomp loudly as they obediently follow us down the cement staircase.

The air gets colder and I’m certain at this point we’re in the basement. This is where we’re meant to go. We see a doorway ahead. I can see my breath now; this is familiar ground for both of us, even if we’ve never been here before.

The doorway is dark and above it is a hand-painted sign, white paint on wood. “HIV-free horses only” it reads. I stand there, head cocked to one side. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t this. I don’t know if my horse has HIV. Hell, I didn’t know horses could get HIV. I looked at Mitch, who seemed to be on the same page as me.

I shrugged, took a deep breath and led my horse through the black doorway. It has to get it’s medicine after all. I don’t know if Mitch followed.


Collaborations of Abstraction

Two close (though, unfortunately, not in proximity) friends – a Welsh man living in Ireland and a Minnesotan woman living in Germany – come together to share musings, wit and random things of interest in this journey called life

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