“Ohhhhhh, I just love your shepherd! I have two of them,” I smiled, crouching down so that I could gaze into the eyes of this middle-aged woman’s best friend.
“Thank you! This is his first time out here, and he’s doing pretty well,” the lady said, swiveling her head back and forth constantly: assessing (and re-assessing) the crowd’s reception of her dog and then checking for her dog’s reaction to the growing, moving, changing crowd.
“What’s his name?”
“Hiiiiiiiiii, Gus!” I cooed, swooning over his caramel eyes, black and brown coat, and – despite his massiveness – his adorably nervous demeanor. He wouldn’t come to me. “I bet Gus is going to sleep really well later… he’ll be emotionally EXHAUSTED,” I said to the lady.
“Do you ever bring yours out here?”
“You know, I haven’t yet,” I answered, standing up and tugging my light-blue denim shorts down a little. “But I take my girl shep, Ty, out hiking with me sometimes… she does great. In an environment like this, though, where there are a million billion people hanging around…” I paused, imagining how Ty would feel about it. “We’ll have to see how she does. I’ll bring her soon!”
I said goodbye to the lady and Heartthrob Gus and then resumed my search for the very best peaches.
I learned something important at the farmer’s market last year: After purchasing peaches from the very first farmer I’d encountered who had them, I saw peaches that were more my style just a few booths down, and then there were even MORE lovely baskets of peaches stationed at booths ahead of the first “other one” (and it’s not that these peaches were “better” than the peaches I’d already bought — they were just more like my KIND of peach; does that make sense, or is it weird — comparing peaches-to-peaches?).
So my improved routine these days is to walk the whole perimeter of the farmer’s market — taking in all of the colorful and wonderful tomatoes, strawberries, onions, potatoes, fine cheeses, puppy dogs, goat soaps and peaches — and then circle back around to my soulmate peaches. I guess you could call this “peach dating”?
Anyways, I found the booth for me earlier this morning and handed the guy a dollar bill; I usually don’t buy a whole basket… just one peach for the morning. I enjoy it during my drive over to the cafe or while I’m walking laps at the park in front of the cafe.
“I’d like a peach that’s ready to go, please!” I told the guy excitedly.
“Like… a soft one?” he asked.
“Yep — a little soft.”
“Okay… well feel free to test ’em out.”
“Okay — cool,” I nodded. “I just hate to touch too many of them…” I imagined other people, dozens of people, pinching and grabbing at these peaches before me and the resulting germ vision made me feel faint. I didn’t want to make the existing germ situation any worse with my own germs.
The guy watched me gingerly pick at two, three peaches…
“Here,” he said, bending down, reaching underneath the table, and then reappearing with a box of secret peaches. “Let me give you two or three small peaches.”
“Oh wow — thank you!” I gushed, surprised. He helped me select the right ones and then offered me a plastic bag which I gratefully accepted.
On the way back to my car, I passed by the cute cafe boy I’d given a copy of my book to several months before; in addition to being a barista, he’s a fellow author, and I’d thought that – cliche as it sounds – we could maybe get coffee together sometime and discuss writing (our inspirations, processes, and hope, or intent, in writing). We never ended up meeting up, and he never told me this (I accidentally discovered it later), but it turned out that he was dating somebody when I gave him the book (which included a handwritten invite to coffee — a platonic invite, but still).
I unknowingly sat down beside his girlfriend one Saturday morning (we shared a couch; I was studying and writing, and she appeared to be meditating), and when he suddenly walked over and plopped down to spend his break with her, she talked about how – someday – they would be living on a farm together with lots and lots and lots of dogs. “You’ve been warned!” she laughed. She had a cute pixie cut and a lovely smile. This was my “ohhhhh — that’s why he never said anything!” moment.
I remember smiling then and thinking: She seems nice. And I understand what she’s doing here: Openly trying to lock-in a happy future with somebody she loves with these “someday” plans, promises, and warnings. I get it. I’ve done that before. I’ve thought about what my new last name would be BEFORE a first date! Who the heck wouldn’t? There’s simply no time for covert, hidden love — I believe in liking and loving and complimenting openly and being fully transparent about everything ever: your best parts, your worst parts, your dreams and regrets and insecurities and weaknesses… all of it.
So – happy for both of them – I stopped going to that cafe. It’s not for forever, just for a little while.
But today, I passed by that cute cafe boy; he was working a booth outside. When he saw me, he waved and smiled. I waved and smiled back and then continued on my way.
And have there been any boys lately?
You already know about the stupid one — the guy I like who obviously (and admittedly) likes me back but is in this weird open relationship (which I will NOT be a part of — gross!).
Well at the bike meet this Thursday, he sat down beside me, offered me a beer, and gifted me with a new saddle for my bike. I didn’t ask for a new saddle (or need one), so I was genuinely taken back (and delighted — duh). He even put it on my bike for me before the ride started. What a JERK! I have expressly ignored him for a while now, and while I’ve even gone so far as to tell him THAT I’m ignoring him and to explain WHY, still, he will NOT keep his distance. I just don’t get it. Or maybe I do and he doesn’t…
Anyways, in summary, no; there has been no real progress with Audio.
Charlie (my best friend and roommate) and I were sitting at the diner (not dinner, diner) table together the other night, finishing up supper and chatting when he mentioned that a coworker of his – a lady with beautiful long hair – had recently proposed cutting it off to her husband and he’d replied: “Sure… if you wanna look like a boy.” As if this would be a bad, inappropriate, or unlovely thing.
“Jackass,” I grumbled. Then I paused, mulling over the word and my personal associations with it.
“You know,” I said to Charlie, “as much of a jackass as that stupid bakery idiot is (now, I was talking about Christopher), when I stopped shaving my underarms and legs years ago and was afraid to wear shorts and tank tops in the summer, he encouraged me to wear them anyways… which was nice.” I paused.
“And when I wanted to chop all of my hair off during a summer trip to Tennessee, he didn’t say a word about it.” Another pause. I could feel my throat swelling up.
“And THEN, at the onset of my identity crisis, when I decided to legally change my name to something odd and androgynous, he still didn’t utter a single word of dissent…” he’d even had a special birthday cake made for me at Whole Foods that year: It read “Happy Birthday, Jace!” with a rabbit riding a motorcycle. Beautiful. Perfect.
I began crying. “Oh, I just HATE him,” I exclaimed, getting up and taking the dishes away. “He is the WORST in the WORLD.”
“I know,” Charlie whispered from the table, feeling sad for me.
I also feel sad for me. Helplessly loving someone with all of your heart and soul when you know you don’t occupy a single corner or wisp of theirs is very, very heartbreaking. I wish this was a spell I could pay somebody to summon or drug me out of, but that’s just not how it works.
So I’ll always love-hate that damn Christopher, and that’s old news. And really, I can’t justifiably be mad at the guy for no longer giving a shit about me — as one of my other best friends likes to remind me, I did it to us. I did. Broke up with him and then set him up with someone else. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Well back then, I felt crazy. I was actively unraveling (at what felt like the speed of light) and pushing every single person I loved far away from me in case I detonated. I think I was, in my own way, trying to protect them while I figured out how to defuse myself.
Life’s pretty weird, and by weird, I mean soul-crushing. But every day, I know myself better, and accept myself more, and I know that things are always going to change, and that my feelings will change, too. I believe this, anyways.
And while some long-haired, new-agey dude at Thursday night’s bike meet awkwardly flirted with me and invited me to some comedy thing after the ride, I couldn’t say yes to him, because he was too pretty, too cocky, and too freakin’ proud of the coconut oil and ant powder (wth?) he’d put into his smoothie earlier that day. Also, I’m just not ready to date yet… still. When I’m being real with myself, I know this.
So when there was the briefest pause in our conversation, I took a quick leave of it, and when my friend Katrina asked about the cute guy chatting me up at work the next day, I simply said: “Nope. Not my type.”
So no; there have been no boys. But as of this morning, I do have three peaches in my possession.
And instead of imagining that all of them were mine, I immediately decided – when the nice farmer gave them to me – that I’d enjoy one of them (as planned) and give the other two away. There are a few homeless guys I see at the park on a regular basis, and I was hoping to catch one of them today… so far, they’re nowhere to be seen. Maybe they’re on exciting side adventures today, scoping out other parts of the city. But I’ve got the white plastic bag with me, with those two peaches tucked inside, just in case I spot any of them out and about. I hope they like peaches.
How’s the depression?
Oddly happy to report that it’s alive and well. At this point, that oozy center of grief in my core feels very much a part of me. It causes me to feel things very deeply, and I can appreciate that, because while my bad days are really terrible, every other day is inherently magical, and I don’t think I’d hold life’s “ordinary,” neutral days in such high esteem if a thick-lined contrast wasn’t present. The sadness in my soul seems to clarify things — making me more honest, objective, and empathetic. One of the worst aspects of existing in this place is witnessing the cruelty and inequality that exist; I want animals to be left alone, and I want people to quit being so mean to each other. In a world of superiority and degrees and power and dollar figures, I just want everyone to feel wanted and at home. Not less than, and not unequal to…
Anyways, I’m still writing songs and playing gigs… ordering lattes and cooking healthy, soul-warming meals (like vegetarian goulash; technically, Charlie makes that one, and it is the BEST). I’m also working on a new book this month and taking a stab (what a horrible expression!) at drawing… the idea is for me to draw rough sketches of what I’m imagining and then let Charlie reinterpret them with his whimsical artist hand. So all of this is good.
Tycho and I went on an adventure together recently; I drove us about two hours north to this lovely waterfall in Gaylesville. It was one of those bad days, and it was just the two of us. We hiked our way down to the river and then I watched her splash and bite at the water. I put my feet in it, and then sat down in it, and then tipped my whole head back into the water, letting the river chill my skull. I’d packed a manchego cheese sandwich and an apple; I ate the sandwich while watching her but forgot about the apple.
We got lost on our way back to the car, finding ourselves caught in a sudden rain storm, and when the woods turned dark and I couldn’t see through the rain, I started crying, feeling all panicky… but Tycho remained cool as ever and literally pulled me up the mountain. She’s the most kickass girl ever.
Wanna hear something cool?
I saw “Aurora” written on a box recently (at a cafe, store, somewhere) and immediately thought to myself: Aurora is in Colorado.
I’ve been infatuated with Colorado for a long time now and was just talking with Charlie, earlier this week, about us possibly moving out there someday. I want more mountains, more rivers, and more biking trails; more than anything, I want more land for my German Shepherds to roam on. I want their lives to be just as adventurous as mine is (and while I spent a bit of time in Denver last spring, I didn’t really venture outside of the downtown area).
Well last night, I dreamt that I was standing on the bank of a river and gazing up at a waterfall on the other side of it; the way the water was moving — both down the rocks AND sideways out of them — was impossible. A local, this random guy, looked over at me and I said: “I want to move here.” I already intuitively knew that I was in Boulder.
“Not today,” he laughed, for reasons of practicality.
“No, but soon,” I said.
He led me down to the water and I drank from it. Soon, I was vomiting.
“Now, when you drink from it again, you won’t throw up,” he said kindly, as if I was ready now — for what, I’m not sure yet.
And just a few minutes ago, while I was sitting here at this cafe table, an old guy in ironed khaki pants and clean tennis shoes (sitting behind me) was talking to a young gal about music and voice work gigs and master’s degrees and blah blah blah. I was reading a new library book and trying to tune them both out (to give them privacy, yes, but also because I’m here to restore my social reserves), but this one thing the guy said to the girl made its way to my ear:
“You’d love Boulder…”
Now tell me that isn’t weird.
I am now mapping out a short visit in October, just to scope things out. I can’t wait to see the foliage as it changes and find that river…