Monday, September 19, 2016

The Other Coast



Last week, I went to LA for the fifth time, a place where I had no history for nearly 30 years but for which I now have a quick but unpredictable sympathy. Some of my friends have ended up there. Some of them have already come and gone. Another is deleting the Midwest from her system with each flight over the desert. For myself, I don't know about all that. I don't know about second homes. A long time ago I made my body my only home. I'm never not at home, except when I have a seizure, when I black out and my body jerks like it's cursed, but who knows where I go? Maybe I rest somewhere deeper and quieter. A dog under the bed during a storm. Even when I sleep I'm active. I always dream. Joan of Arc had visions some historians attribute to epilepsy. I have no such visions during a seizure. I just go.

I haven't had a seizure since January. I've been to LA twice since then.

Near the ocean, I hear a drone, the soundtrack to time travel. My friend suggests a past life as a sailor. I think more like a shipwreck. The sibling to a car abandoned in the desert. Josh and I ride to Venice Beach on our last day and are fooled by the breeze into neglecting sunscreen. Later on the plane home we turn pink in the dark. Our cooked bodies instead reading raw. We do what we can not to rewind into our basic parts, but then two nights earlier on the freeway after the Beyoncé concert our driver avoids another driver and we slide across lanes toward a concrete wall. Our unbuckled friend flies sideways into our other friend. We don't meet the wall like in Venice the knife thrown low across the boardwalk by a stranger doesn't meet our legs. But we glimpse the usually invisible thread, the thinnest thread there is.

A gull pulls out what's good from a washed up skate, the cousin to a stingray, the shark flattened into a triangle with an eel's tail. Josh stands back so his shoes stay dry. I pick up empty shells for Shawn. His history is Santeria and his present is squirming between a future with us and that original history. He's a quick collector slow to jettison the unnecessary. We part with a little liquor in the yard if we spill a sip while laughing. A sign of upset spirits. Even ghosts could use a drink. Other belongings are more solid, more permanent. A placemat Josh and I drew on during our six month anniversary dinner with Shawn is kept safe under a bell jar in Shawn's apartment. We joke he's saving these pieces so he can cast spells on us. The truth is he doesn't need charged ingredients to make us love him.

Out to dinner before the concert, our friend, Roxane, orders a cocktail with Hendrick's, but the bar only serves California spirits. Whatever comes out tastes good, but can't be replicated. No one remembers what's in it. Some actors you've seen on TV are with us. We talk about tattoos and weddings and the Industry with a capital I. I hug someone I've met several times but who's never needed to remember my name. The restaurant is new but the circumstances are familiar. I email a friend that some days I'm content to be at the table, but others I want to be the reason people are at the table.

That night, I'm content. Most nights, I'm content. Today, I write to keep the drink in the glass, to feed the ghosts without getting them drunk. Tonight, Shawn comes over to do laundry. Tonight, Josh tells us about a comic he received in the mail. Tonight, I make dinner and ignore the invisible thread. I sit down and follow the other threads, the ones I can see.

And I thank you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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From the mouths of beasts.