Archive for February, 2011


In which I get up and do it again. Amen.

February 28, 2011

it’s a beautiful day here in Ventura: the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, and nothing external would seem to warrant the shaking that’s overcome me, despite this crisp Absolut greyhound on the bar in front of me. It’s happy hour, after all, so bring on the happy.

I just went to the C Room for the final time. It was empty, save two boxes of odds and ends. I packed them into my trunk, tearfully turned in the keys, and drove to Brophy Brothers for a cocktail. Strictly medicinal.

Seeing the empty room brought home the painful truth that the Captain is really gone, does not want to see me, and that it’s time to move on. It aches like a broken bone.

In a way, it is freeing. I just don’t feel the liberty yet.

Luckily, my friend Tsunami was available by phone, and my friend Sirena is coming to join me, to happy up this hour.

I’m going to drink my drink like the trouper I am, pull up my big girl panties, and soldier on. On the sound system, Grace Slick is asking the musical question, “Don’t you want somebody to love?” I do, I do. But not right this second.

And tomorrow, when the morning light comes streaming in, I’ll get up and do it again. Amen.

God, I can’t stand Jackson Browne.


In which all my instincts, they return

February 27, 2011

i had a dream last night in which I had to cross a bridge. I have this dream, or have had this dream, when I’m going through transitions in my life. Sometimes, the bridge is a high, arching highway overpass without railings, tilting at crazy angles. Last night, the bridge was ancient and formed of rough wooden beams. It crossed a bay, and rose and fell with each wave, so timing of each step was crucial, in order not to fall.

As I crossed, the bridge–in that way that dream objects will–transformed itself. It became a giant, coral-colored woolen blanket. It was hard to traverse, but I could grip it and steady myself. There were a lot of other people on the bridge-blanket with me, and I heard someone call my name. A smiling blonde girl, someone I’d known from childhood, was riding on the blanket near me. She was thrilled to see me, and reached into the neck of her sweater to pull out the necklace she wore, apparently in my honor: a beautiful, hammered gold disc stamped with my initials, written backwards and then forward, and some numbers.

As we hung onto the blanket and made our way across, the girl expressed hope that we’d make it to our destination. “We’ll make it,” I told her, and felt confident that what I said was true.

I’d gone to sleep last night, unhappily, on the day bed that once occupied the C Room. The Cyclone had come in after the bars closed, passed out on top of my bed, and thrown up on my sheets. I cleaned him up, and settled myself on the day bed under a makeshift pile of afghans. As I closed my eyes, I thought, “When I wake up, I will be back at the C Room, the sun will be shining, and I will open my eyes and see the Captain approaching with my favorite mug, saying, Coffee for you, sweet baby…

I woke instead to the sound of my telephone ringing, and a chagrined Cyclone rousing himself from a tangle of blankets, last night’s pompadour askew in a way that made him look his age–22–and vulnerable. He helped me strip the bed and pack the sheets into a laundry bag, and I dropped him off to meet his father, and continued to the laundromat.

Out of habit, I ended up at the laundromat near the marina where I used to live. It’s a notably unromantic place, as I imagine all laundromats are, but as I loaded the sheets into the machine, I started to cry. This is the kind of act that draws uninvited stares from fellow patrons, and so once I’d pressed the Start button and heard the water rush into the machine, I left the laundromat and went next door for a salad.

Unfortunately, this whole banal strip mall reminds me, owing to its proximity to my former home, of what I have lost. The Captain and I used to come to this restaurant a lot. We shopped at the Von’s next door, wheeling out carts of chips and sausages for barbecues aboard the boat in better times.

And it’s Sunday: the day I used to get in my car and drive down to Long Beach to visit the Captain on the ship where he works. He’d get off the ship, and we’d wander around town, in and out of thrift stores and consignment shops, admiring the mid-century teak. Most times, we’d end up in a nondescript motel in what we called the Mirror Room. Every time we went to this particular establishment, we’d be given the same room — number 10, which featured two walls of smoked mirrors. Very seedy. We loved it, and we’d spend hours there before he had to go back to work and I got back into my car to drive north.

This restaurant hands out playing cards as a way of tracking orders. I have a habit of interpreting the one I’m given according to its corresponding card in the Tarot. I ordered my melancholy salad and paid for it, my mind unproductively preoccupied with memories of being here with the Captain. The smiling blonde behind the counter reached for a playing card from a stack atop the register, hesitated, and fanned through them. “Let’s see… which one are you?” she said, looking them over before choosing the six of hearts, which she handed to me.

Hearts are the equivalent of the suit of cups in the Tarot deck, and the six indicates nostalgia, the past, and someone remembering you as you once were. Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” came on the sound system, and I thought of the Captain, who always considered himself the poor man’s Lloyd Dobler. I don’t know where he is on this sunny but unremarkable day, but if he’s in town, I’ll bet he’s thinking of me, and of the way we were.

I’m just going to hang onto this blanket and try to make it to the other side. My subconscious tells me I can do it, and I feel that somewhere, someone is rooting for me.