It Was 1976…

December 15, 2014 at 11:11 am (On the road again..., Sweet sticky things, Waxing Nostalgic)

…All over again.

Just spent my first weekend alone in a long, long time. You know, without a girlfriend to answer to, or a date to keep. Just me.

Suitcase 2It’s weird how I’d stopped doing things for another person, things I’d loved before. Also, things that hadn’t bothered me were starting to. Rain has been leaving clothes, makeup, worldly possessions, etc… at my place for years, but she used to take them when she went away. This time I am left with a monolith of a suitcase that only fits if sitting on the edge of my bed, braced against the wall a foot away. Hey, it’s almost like sleeping with her…

It goes with the rolling suitcase at the foot of the bed. I can tolerate the five trashbags of clothes hidden around the room, or the dozens of shoes under my bed. The makeup and body lotions on the nightstand add a sense of femininity to the room, and make it seem less like a Florida motel room where old men go to drink themselves to death.

Yet, without a woman there to use those things, clog up my TV-watching with her BET shows and eat half my dinner? I get lonely as hell. So I go out for walks. And bus rides.

Long bus rides.

Rain had been calling, hinting that she wanted to come over and be cozy, you know… She was also wondering if I had any money for party favors? Sorry. While it’s easy and cheap to get her in the party mood, keeping that mood going gets expensive. I was trying to be strong, not let the little head do the thinking. I had a point to make, goddammit!

I rode the train downtown, through Old Town. I looked for her. Not to chase her down, but to get a look, to make sure she’s all right. If I see her out talking in a group, I relax. If I see her sitting in a doorway, rocking? I let the phone go to voicemail, because I know I’m in for a tearful story that ALWAYS ends in a request for money. I have seen her turn the tears on and off at will, so that trick doesn’t work anymore. She was nowhere to be seen, so I rolled up the mall.

I walked through Pioneer Square, heading for the West End. As I walked past the old Governor Hotel I caught my reflection.

Holy fuck. Time travel! When I was fifteen, I looked just like I do now!

Okay, there were a few differences. I was 5’11” and weighed 300 pounds at age fifteen. Now, at 53, I am 5’10.5″ and weigh close to 200 pounds. The long red hair, mirrored aviator sunglasses and green field-jacket were staples at that age. Now, I am wearing an olive-drab Starter jacket, with five times the pockets and weatherproofing. It’s true, you get better as you age. So do your clothes. My sunglasses actually cost less now than they did then.

I felt a wave of nostalgia as I looked at those mirrors. I remembered the day way back when, as I walked down Alder Street that the redheaded Korean prostitute approached me, kissed me on the lips, and said, “Hi! Where you going? Can I go?”

I told her I was going to the movies. “You take me to a fuck movie?” Then she kissed me, tongue and all. My fifteen-year-old head about assploded!

“Sure!” We went back to the corner on Alder, where the mirrored storefront held a porno theater and video booths. Signs screamed “21 and over” everywhere. My exotic friend didn’t need ID. I did. Sorry, kid.

So I took her out for a bowl of noodles, where we almost got kicked out of the restaurant for making out while waiting for lunch. Once fed, we went to Meier and Frank shoe department, where she told me she was looking for a host-husband, and she would curl my toes so many ways if I could help.

“I’d love to, but I can’t get married for three more years.”

“Why? I thought you single?”

“I am, but I’m also only fifteen. Hey, HEY, where you going…?”

I wouldn’t see her again for about 25 years. She was downtown, looking for a mark. I wonder if she’d remember me as much as I remember her? I doubt it.

So I went home, and watched Three Days of the Condor. I’d forgotten how Joe Turner was such an idol for me back then. He had a job reading novels for the CIA, but when pressed into action he became a gun-toting survivor who got to fuck Faye Dunaway. Sounds like proper goals for an Oregon youth, right? He seemed a better choice than Travis Bickle, my other favorite male role model. Guns were a big thing with me, until I started smoking weed on a regular basis. I credit marijuana with saving many lives. I was too pissed off at the world back then.

I also dug out my old CD bootleg of Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. I’d not heard that album in years, and suddenly had the itch. It was my last favorite Elton John album. (I’d kinda lost my taste after I found out he was singing all those love songs to dudes.) But it put Elton into a better perspective for me, and also gave me the shove I needed to listen to non-Top 40 stuff. Hello, Black Sabbath!

My first apartment, the first song that played on the little portable radio, was Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy. It made me cry, and feel like such a grownup. I was a bit scared, but grateful to my mother for being brave enough to push me out of the nest at seventeen.

As I listened to Someone Saved My Life Tonight, I remembered the one time I contemplated (seriously) suicide. Even then I knew I couldn’t do it. I have been given one gift: LIFE. It is mine to do with what I will. Every day I wake up, and thank whomever gave it to me. It’s been 35 years since I’ve even had the notion, and I still wake up grateful, every fucking day.

As I return to the present, I pause in amazement of the fact that I am still here, more vital than ever. I have a family, albeit a fractured one. I have a home, though it’s borderline ramshackle. Little by little I am becoming an old man.

But I ain’t done yet. Not by a damn sight.

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