It's been quite a different week from the past hundred and forty or so. It's been a week of seeing your face in the faces of others. I've not been around people for a very long time. It has been a great week, but now. . . I'm exhausted. Exhausted but "back" in some way. I stood at the banks of the River Styx for awhile, but I didn't touch the water. I saw Charon in the distance, but I never hailed him. I might walk back up the bank for a bit just to see the fallen world again.
I had a visit from my new old friend last night, Mina. Not having entertained anyone in years. . . well, Jesus, I was a mess. Mina is a timeless beauty, famous for it, really. I, on the other hand, am not. Time and circumstance. . . etc. So many things to consider.
I had gotten an invitation to go out with the gymroids on Saturday. I said I couldn't go, that an old friend was coming over, so they changed our night to Friday. But the idea of me hosting a friend went viral. Why they are interested in what I do. . . I don't know. They have nicknamed me "The Shaman." Their imaginations about my supposed life are wild.
"He's got secret potions to make women fall for him."
"He knows hypnosis."
"He has a poppy seed solution and a freezer full of mushrooms."
When I walked into the gym on Friday, I was greeted with, "Did you get your hair done for Saturday night?"
"I got beautified, yea."
In truth, I felt my extra pounds and my broken bones and the weight of living so long. But life can be a magic show sometimes, so. . . I was hoping for a little. If only I could find the wizard's cap.
Saturday morning. The house wasn't a mess, but I don't know. Something smelled awful in the fridge. Clothes were lying about. Clothes! I hadn't any. All I've worn for the past--what did I say?--hundred and forty weeks or so?--are t-shirts and cheap Chinese pants. Pajamas, by and large. I didn't care. I went everywhere in them. But now, I needed a shirt, at least. I needed some hipster Mexican beachy thing, I thought. Where in the hell was I going to get that? I needed cheese and wine and olives and crusty bread. And wine. Probably more whiskey. It was already afternoon. Panic set in. No worries. This is my way. Everything must happen at the last minute. I can't plan a thing or it is ruined. I need the adrenaline. I must be panicked. My special talent and charm is being able to pull the rabbit out of the hat. I just walk onstage and hope it will work one more time.
A trip to Whole Foods. Good cheese, olives, almonds, crusty bread. . . and wait. . . candles. I needed scented candles. I went to the hippie dippy aisle. Candles with names like "Calm" and "Tranquility" and "Peace." Sure. I looked at the little spot of clothing for the Mexican hipster thing. Nope.
A stop at the liquor store. I stepped up a bit, bought wines with ratings over 94 and some beautifully arcane descriptions about how they started and how they finished.
Driving home, I passed the REI store. No, I didn't pass. I stopped in thinking they might have a shirt. No. Nope. Uh-uh. Wait. This one maybe. I tried it on. Did I look like a country music guy in this? It fit o.k. Fuck. . . I think I looked like I was going to to country bar. Whatever.
Cha-ching. I was stunned when the nice lady rang it up. I could have bought a whole wardrobe of cheap Chinese clothing for that--and I'll bet dollars to donuts that it was made in China.
When I got home, my phone was blowing up with gymroid shit. I ran around setting out candles and little heated bowls of essential oils. I cut my beard, showered, did a little shaving. The mirror was harsh. Jesus. Really? Fuck. I put on a pair of shorts and my backpacker country western shirt. There was nothing to be done about it now. I should have thought about the future three years ago.
Mina texted. She would be here in an hour. I plated the snacks. What did I put things on in the way back past? Didn't I have cute little platters? I know I did. I must have. I pulled out some handsome Italian plates. These would have to do.
The weather had been shit all day, the worst in months, hot, humid, with spots of rain. But of a sudden, there was a breeze. The humidity dropped like a rock. We would be able to sit out. I cleaned the glass table top, then thought of something. I had a round table cloth that might fit. I pulled it out. Indeed, it did. Everything was done that could be. The house was beginning to smell like an Indian whorehouse. Maybe I used too much frangipani.
I poured a glass of wine and sat down. After all the panic and adrenaline, the calm was setting in. I could only do what I could do.
"You're o.k., old sport. Whatever happens. You'll still be standing no matter what. That's what we do. Man up, you little sissy."
My mopey music stations was playing beautiful things. I decided to wait outside for her arrival.
When Mina got out of her car, I knew she had been bitten by a vampire. She hadn't changed in twenty years. Not a jot. Not a wit. I wanted to hide. I must have put my hand to my face.
"What are you doing, boo--are you trying to hide from me?"
I kept thinking of that fabulous line from "Bram Stoker's Dracula":
"Take me away from all this death."
But her name is not Mina. It is Skylar. She will not like for me to call her Mina. I'll drop it now.
I think we picked up the conversation where we left it so many years ago. . . unbroken. Late afternoon gave way to evening. How, though? I ordered dinner and we drove up to get it from the pretty little Italian place. The street was packed with sidewalk diners and the glow of soft light. We were among the beautiful throng. Skylar, incandescent and glowing.
"I have never done anything to deserve this," I thought. It was like stepping out of a tomb.
I put a candle on the table and brought the music outside. The evening passed so quickly. Too quickly. Did we eat? Did we drink? The plates were as empty as the wine bottles.
And then it was done. I walked her to her car, and with promises, she drove into the darkness.