The horror took hold of me last night. I couldn't stand the night, the inside of my head. . . none of it. There was pain in my body and despair in my heart. It was a horrendous and savage night.
But let's back up a bit. The day had been fine. I went to the gym and felt good and strong. Indeed, my shoulder strength, if I can still call it a shoulder, continues to return now long after the accident. There are still movements I cannot make, but I am surprised by what I can now do.
My ribs are another story. They get worse all the time. Arthritis, I assume. But that's another matter.
After a shower and some Whole Foods sushi (not so good), I headed out for the Cafe Strange to get some green tea. When I stepped in line, I was behind four kids, two boys and two girls, who were ordering some very complicated drinks. They seemed like nice kids, but this was going to take awhile. Something was weird, though. It was the music. They were playing an '80s Country Music CD. I thought to myself (for to whom else would I think?) that the kids in front of me would hate it, but as Ronnie Milsap sang, the girl immediately before me began to wiggle her shoulders in a sexy, country girl way. I was stunned. It was more than funny.
As I waited, I looked around the room as I usually do, and my eyes lit upon a free poetry zine. This both broke me up and delighted me. I hadn't seen anything like this for decades, it seemed. It reminded me of something far away. I reached back and took one out of the rack.
Look at that, I thought--Issue 6. Somebody was dedicated. I opened the zine to the table of contents. Well, now. . . this was a throwback.
W.B., I thought, has been reading Bukowski.
The kids in front of me got their orders, and I told the woman behind the counter that I would like a hot green tea.
"Do you want the Premium Blend?" she asked as she pointed to a box.
"You don't have any of the mediocre stuff?" I laughed.
"No, no. . . you wouldn't want that now, would you?" She was grinning and moving a little to the music.
When I got to my table and settled in, I pulled out my phone. I wanted to look up the song the girl was dancing to. I was sure it was James Taylor. When Ronnie Milsap popped up, I kept scrolling sure that Taylor had done the song. I was wrong. I don't remember ever listening to Ronnie Milsap, but I guess I must have. The 80s was a long time ago, back when people had their hair cut like that.
While I was looking at my phone, the kids began to line up in the little alcoves to pose for pictures. It was cute. They were completely comfortable with it. I could see the phone as they took pictures. I watched how they framed up their shots. Many shots. They held the button for continuous shooting. I never do that, but I thought that it would make a good little gif.
In a few moments, they were finished and then they were gone. I made some notes in my journal, but I was kind of digging the music myself. A song came on I had never heard. The lyrics were funny and made me think of a woman I know. I jotted down the words and then looked it up.
Yup. I knew her. The girl can't help it. Ha! I was tearing up.
Just then, the room went dark. I thought the electricity went off, but the music was still playing. I turned around to look out the plate glass window and saw a black sky and a tremendous storm.
And so I rolled.
I'm worried about my mother. She has not been doing well lately, and of course, I can't fix it. I try to keep things normal. We talk about our day, our meals, her relatives, my friends. It is the same every day. We talk about the garden and the work I need to do in it soon. She has a big lavender bush that is beginning to bloom, and so we marvel at that.
"I was thinking about getting ice cream," she said.
I didn't want her driving, so I asked if she wanted me to get some for her. I had to go to the grocery store anyway, I said.
"What flavor do you want?"
She changed her mind several times before she ended on Neapolitan.
When I got home, the buzz I had earlier was gone. I made a Campari and soda and sat out on the deck. I internalize my mother's condition. My body ached. I could feel myself fading. I remembered, however, a text I had earlier, just as I pulled into mom's, and it made me laugh.
"The girl can't help it."
I didn't feel like cooking much, so I cut up an avocado and some garlic and put an Amy's frozen organic pizza in the oven. I fried up a couple of eggs to put on top. I sat in the t.v. room and turned on YouTube. Some of my younger friends laugh at me when I say that I watch YouTube.
"My father used to watch YouTube all the time."
I don't care. Sometimes, as I eat, I will have it read a short story to me. The night before, I had watched a marvelous documentary on Georgia O'Keefe (link). New Mexico was a Mecca for strong, independent women, especially artists, and it is one of my favorite places. Ili fell in love with it and wanted to move there. I had never, really, seen her as happy as she was there.
Last night, I watched a documentary on Dashiell Hammett (link). When it finished, the YouTube algorithm suggested this (link). O.K. I let it play. James Elroy is the first thing on the screen. He defines Film Noir. Kaboom! I was hooked.
I had switched to drinking water long before bed and was determined to try to sleep naturally. That, in hindsight, seems to have been a mistake. Thinking back, maybe it was watching all the hard boiled noir stuff that did it. It could be. That and worrying about my mother. But, as Elroy says in the opening sequence, there is one message--you are fucked. Yes, yes. . . that must be to blame, because that was my night. I was fucked, and I was to blame. Everyone creates their fate, I thought, and I have created mine. I wanted someone, anyone, even a femme fatale, to hold me. I would open my eyes, look at the clock, get up to pee, drink some water. . . rinse, spin, repeat. . . .
And now I feel like death. I have a beauty appointment at noon. What to do? I could go back to bed and get up later and go, or I could go to the gym now, come back and shower and go. What I'd like to do is check into a clinic for awhile. Maybe I've been wrong. . . you know? About the therapy thing. I am feeling overwhelmed. Crises are piling up. I don't want to deal with them. I don't think I can cope.
I guess it might be best to go to the gym. I can't just lie around and think. I will be beat, but when I get home later, after the gym, after the beauty appointment, and after stopping at my mother's, I can crash. It is Friday night. Tomorrow is the first day of autumn. I need to be ready.
For what? I don't know, man. . . I don't know.