It’s 4:26am in Los Angeles.
I’ve been “home” just about nine hours.
I can’t sleep, but that’s pretty normal for flying back in this direction.
I haven’t posted recently because the last two weeks have been 100% devoted to packing, shipping, and moving our lives back to the United States from Dublin. And those are just the practicalities.
I knew there was something wrong as I walked up to the car. But I kept hoping I was mistaken. I pulled up on the handle and…
It was open.
When I looked in through the window, I saw the frayed end of the cable that emerged from the tape deck. The thief couldn’t even be bothered to unplug the cable from the CD player. So I opened the door. I figured it could have been worse. It could have been a broken window, a stolen car. Then the strangeness set in. My five favourite discs were sitting on the passenger seat.
You’ve got to be freaking kidding me.
Someone had taken the time to open my disc case and remove the five CDs that were on constant play in my car. I should have been relieved. I could have assumed it was the musical angels watching out over me. But reality kicked in. Common sense in this case dictated that the thief was someone who knew me. And didn’t just know me, but knew me well enough to know the CDs that I cared about. Don’t get me wrong. I was incredibly grateful that I still had them. But the sense of betrayal from this wasn’t going to go away easily. Suspicion kicked in.
I knew the two people that it wasn’t…
There was a cool breeze blowing bits of my hair into my face. Normally, I wouldn’t have minded, but at this moment, the last thing I wanted was the irritation of spitting fine strands out of my mouth. My fingers curled tightly around the hand clasped in mine. His hand was warm and calloused, every time I held it, I was reminded of the alarm clock that rang at 4:30am. He worked with his hands, building and renovating old houses. I could feel his strength seeping into me through his grasp. We were lying on the grass, staring up at the campanile. The clock seemed to be moving painfully slow, as we waited for it to toll midnight. Each blade of grass seemed to press into my flesh like a thorough acupuncture session. Even through my shorts and tank top, I could feel the strange little pricks to my skin. I had contemplated slightly more sturdy wear, but it was summer in California, and anything more than shorts and a tank top would have left me gasping and sweat streaming down my spine. I turned my head to face him. His long hair spread out around him like a halo.
He turned to look back at me with an impish grin. “There’s no need.”
But how do you explain to your best friend that the thought of other worlds was a bit much, even though you’d been living with it for your entire life?Read More
There’s a chill in the air tonight. The north wind is blowing. It streams down across the harbour and rattles the wind chimes on the neighbour’s balcony. The thin strand of a leafy vine trails down from above, swirling in the air. The sounds on a night like tonight leave me homesick. Not for a place, but for a time. A time when I held Hershey’s chocolate syrup in one hand, a glass in the other. My mum or dad would help me pour the syrup into the glass, one finger, two fingers. Then, the addition of ice-cold milk. As it hit the chocolate, it would dislocate small strands that would slide up along the inside of the glass. Then, teaspoon in hand, we would stir together, scraping the spoon along the sides to catch every last bit of the darkness. It would swirl into a sweet, chocolate treat. Every time it rained.
I’m older now. And the wind is howling. The rain streams past the orange globes of light that illuminate the plate-glass wall of my living room. The wind means that the rain doesn’t fall down, but flurries against the light, like tiny insects striving to be free. The wind traps them. I hold a glass of wine instead of chocolate milk.
And I long for a different time.
A time when chocolate milk was enough.Read More
It had been an incredibly long day. I had left Berkeley early that morning, a bit rough from the night before. I’m honestly not sure whether or not I had even slept. But I arrived in Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t come for a specific purpose, but then again, in those days, I ran full gypsy, embracing the road like a drunken lover. I had left Berkeley in order to run from something – I was usually running from something – and arrived in Los Angeles in order to escape.
Dead tired, red-eyed from lack of sleep, I decided my next step. It didn’t matter that it was nearing midnight, or that I hadn’t even rested in days, I headed out to the Nuart. It was Saturday night, and Sins of the Flesh was on. I had never wanted to perform in the show, but normally it was enough to go and see the old crowd. Various people would come at various times. But this night was slightly different. Someone was joining the navy the next day.
I think many of us were still wondering why
I’m not sure how to describe this amazing woman in only 300 words. To put it simply, she saved my life. I first met her on a visit to one of my dearest friends in Portland, Oregon. They were roommates. I was in a not-so-healthy relationship. Well, by not-so-healthy I mean pretty downright awful. This visit was something of an escape for me. It was one of the first trips I had taken on my own since meeting him. We went for drinks and appetizers at Applebees and I sat talking to her. She was everything I wished that I could be: strong, confident, funny, and completely kick-ass. By kick-ass, I mean she knows enough martial arts to literally kick anyone’s ass. Absolutely brilliant, I tell you. We went to the Grand Prix for some racing, and I made the decision to move to Portland. Spur of the moment, but absolutely certain. Put a deposit on an apartment and promised to be up by the end of the month.
And I was. But I did not come alone. And then, I entered into the dark time. I had an excellent paying job, but we still couldn’t keep our heads above water. I didn’t know where my money was going every month. Credit cards racked up, and the household nastiness escalated. Every Sunday evening, we would go to a mutual friend’s house for steak and X-Files, and this woman became someone I could trust. Someone who could be honest with me.
One evening, she invited me out to a dinner. It was a celebration for a Rape Crisis Hotline. She and I had a long discussion that evening about her own experiences of powerlessness, and then she said something to me that I will never forget. She said, “Katie, we don’t like the way that he treats you. You deserve better. Do you realize that you aren’t happy? You may be content, but you used to be radiant, and now you’re just surviving. You don’t have to live like this. We will love and support you through this.” I spent the next long period of time justifying everything, trying to make excuses. But not much later, when the walls came crashing down, my world began to spin out of control, and my heart was in little pieces on the ground, her words came back to me. “You deserve better…you don’t have to live like this…you aren’t happy.” And I realized she was right.
I’ve never thanked her properly for being brave that way. For standing up for me, when I couldn’t stand up for myself.Read More
This post was part of the 300words experiment. Since I usually took one day off for ‘Sabbath’, there were times I would write 600 words about a particular person. This lovely woman has been in my life for over fifteen years, and plays an integral part in my story.
As you can tell by the date-stamp, this post is early on in my exploration of writing about myself. It’s campy, and a bit overly enthusiastic. But I learned about myself writing about her. I think in many ways that practice here is making my writing more perfectly me. Sure, this is all over the place, but it’s true. So I’ll freshen it up, and perhaps provide a few more details about this moment, then we’ll see what we can see.
The first time I saw her, I must admit, my perception was a bit skewed. Now, that probably had to do with the fact that I was in some of those ‘college experimental’ times, and the reality was that the whole world was very pretty, extraordinarily shiny, and hyper colourful. Take that as you will. I was sitting with a friend at the weekly Saturday party at the Woolsey House in Berkeley (known for its attraction of Goths, dosers, drinkers, Rocky fans, and various other non-traditional party people). I looked up and saw a woman emerge from the kitchen in a long flowing dress, and I thought two things. First, she looked like an angel. Second, she looked sad. I wasn’t sure if she was real, so I asked my friend, “Who’s that? She’s so pretty but she looks so sad!” He responded, “That’s Faith. She is a little sad.” So my instant response was, “Well, then we should fix that.” So we did. I never would have imagined that evening that fixing that would involve a sneaky undercover operation to break into her previous apartment in order to steal a cat, or a princess and the pea bed that would be halfway to the ceiling in a small apartment, or all the various other adventures that we went on, but it did.
As time went on, as it always does, we began to go separate ways. She got all responsible and I went a bit mad. We would bump into each other at various times with mutual friends, but I can still remember the first time I eversaw her fire-dance. Faith is an exquisitely and exceptionally beautiful woman, with a striking figure and some of the most long, amazing hair you’ve ever seen. When she lights those poi on fire, it’s a hypnotic thing. It was a friend’s wedding, and the evening was full of life and love and friendship. And then Faith – who had seemed very distant, started to dance. It was as if the fire had a life of its own. At times it would send little flickers of itself off into the night sky, to float up and away. At other times, she would be surrounded by a blazing halo of the retinal after-burn of the flames. But it reminded me of that beautiful, sad lady I first saw. It reminded me of how I knew the moment that I saw her that I loved her and wanted her to be happy.
When she came to Dublin, we had so many good adventures. It was like time had rewound and all those years had come racing back. And I remember sitting in Doolin, in McGann’s Pub, just laughing and enjoying each other. And having one too many pints. And having to saunter vaguely homewards with Wingnut the cat. And we looked up at the stars and the moon, and the world between us was right all over again.