Willful Solitude

August 12, 2007 at 10:41 pm (Waxing Nostalgic)

It’s been a serial-killer weekend. Tonight’s episode of South Park is about Satan’s sweet-sixteen party, and is catered by The Three Stooges in the forms of John Wayne Gacy, (Curly) Jeffrey Dahmer (Larry) and Ted Bundy (Moe). They’re hooting, booping and slapping their way through a cake-baking session.

Then, while clicking around, I watched an interview with Jeffrey Dahmer on a Dateline special from the early ’90s. Earlier, I’d been pondering solitude, and how much I enjoy it. But only if it’s my choice…

Saturday was quiet early on. I slept in, as did the rest of the house. By early evening, I was ready to face the world. Mizelle, the Frenchman and I had made plans to see the late showing of The Simpsons Movie, but it didn’t start until 10 PM. Mizelle works at the airport, so I met her there.

I used to spend a lot of time at PDX. I’d MAX out there for Mizelle’s extended breaks, and we would play Scrabble while sipping Coffee People’s highly-caffeinated beverages.

In my younger days, I loved strolling through northwest Portland just before dawn. Garbagemen, cops and the occasional (and prized) drunk hippie chick were all you’d see. No dog walkers. Fewer bums. No crackheads waiting for their next victim or fix. If you went to Couch Park, it would be yours alone.

The south end of Waterfront was undeveloped, except for ship repair and such. I slept there during one five-day homeless stretch.

Nowadays everywhere you look, someone’s going somewhere. It’s like living in an ant farm. There are a few places left; some on the trip to the airport.

I love the MAX ride out. Views of Mt Hood, the airport, even the paper mill in Camas. The sunset can be glorious.

I skipped the first train, content to sit in the cold steel easy chairs on the Parkrose MAX platform. I watched the cars zoom by. The blaring squonk of a freight train horn, then the train clackety-clacking. Ten minutes was enough; I was on the next MAX.

This was my first trip out since they’d opened Cascade Station. IKEA has opened, and I figured I would go take a look. At 7:30 on a Saturday evening, it wouldn’t be too crowded, right? Au contraire! There was a line to get onto the escalator! I looked at the checkstand/exit. At least ten, all packed.

I’ll check out the Swedish meatballs another time.

The next MAX stop is my favorite. Out in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around it. I used to sit and watch the planes land and the sun set. I’d see coyotes, rabbits, herons. But no people.

Before MAX, the Sandy bus would go out there. There was a stop at an intersection, again around nothing, and I would sit there with a can of beer and a flask, watching the planes come and go. This was before I’d met Mizelle. I’ve always loved watching the planes. As a kid, I’d fall asleep while singing Space Oddity or Rocket Man in my head.

I spent an hour, sitting quietly. Several Horizon flights, then a couple Southwest arrivals. One departure in the distance. I caught the MAX for the last leg of the outbound journey.

The Frenchman was on the train behind mine, and we found Mizelle without use of the cell phones. (How do you say “Where YOU at?” in French?) We hopped the outbound train, and amused ourselves with stories of butt-hair, Speedos and other highbrow topics.

The movie was “Exxx-cellent…” (Picture Monty Burns rubbing hands together.) The Frenchman and I were particularly happy to realize that, by watching this, we’d probably get a pass on ever having to watch the Al Gore movie.

On the way home, at one in the morning in my lower middle-class Felony Flats neighborhood, no less than six people passed me on the ten block walk. They were all friendly, but don’t you people ever go home?

It dawned on me a while ago why so many serial killer references are being bandied about. A couple of days ago was the 38th anniversary of the Manson family murders.

Or maybe other people are feeling as crowded as I am?

Well, you can relax. My knives and weapons of mayhem are put away, and I’m about to find some solitude, without carving anyone up or involving incarceration. I have an overgrown back yard, and it’s the night of the Perseid meteor showers. I might run across a neighbor’s cat, or, worst case scenario, a raccoon or opossum.

A tweaker taking a short cut? That’s what the dog is for…

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