I wake up much later than the alarm clock says I should. I sit up in the bed, the sheet falls away. I take in the room: decent sized, comfy queen bed, there is a vintage bike mounted up high on one wall. Maybe it’s not vintage maybe it’s just dusty? Anyway. There are books and comic books high on the other wall. The light through the window is high and hitting the floor, it’s almost noon here. There is no one else in the bed, I slept alone, but then a memory comes fast and sneakily: a perfect morning almost two years ago, not this bed, when I had flown in overnight and got under the covers. I kissed the back of his neck repeatedly; he made a soft, pleased murmur in his half-sleep every time I kissed it, his neck always got so so bristly in between haircuts. I shake my head, literally swat the memory away. Ugh, that again? And then another even more disorienting thought: Wait, where am I?
The flight is bumpy, the flight is turbulent, the flight is a flight designed to turn my knuckles white.
It touches down in Albuquerque at midnight. My hometown airport is almost deserted except for a few huddled families. I realize for a small self-pitying moment that no one has ever met me inside an airport. I roll my eyes and call a Lyft to take me to my dad’s place. He volunteered to pick me up at midnight. I politely declined but was secretly horrified: what the fuck, dad? You are 83. You are not picking me up at the airport at midnight.Continue reading Up, Up, and Away→
I feel it the minute I get off the plane: the air itself is different. It’s warmer, drier, thicker, if the air was a tortilla chip it would be stone ground. I leave the terminal, look for my rideshare. I glance across the airport at the Theme Building, the midcentury UFO-with-landing-gear, whose restaurant closed a few months after I left this city in 2013. It’s then that the chorus swells with the noises I rarely hear in Portland: the car horns raise their frantic duck voices in harmony, I hear the nearby lilt of a family speaking Spanish and I smile. I’m in Los Angeles. I am home.
Los Angeles is everything people say it is. LA is shallow, LA is awful traffic, LA is that guy on Tinder you matches with you and never, ever replies. LA is a city of broken dreams and loosely made promises. Los Angeles is an acquired taste, if you like the taste of garbage. LA is that spoiled child that falls down and looks around to see if anyone is watching before starting to cry.
You whispered this over dinner, a secret you had only told a few men in your life. You would wake suddenly when your head was sideways on the pillow, you would hike with your headphones in and rip them out when, in between songs, the timpani of your pulse would pound in your ears. It’s not the sound, you explained to him, it’s the fear of it suddenly stopping. You’re afraid you will hear the moment your heart just stops.
You explain this to him, you drop it like a cat dropping a dead bird at his feet. This is what you do, you play the clown so often you may as well have a red foam nose. Maybe he laughs. Maybe he nods solemnly, understanding completely. This beautiful bearded one tilts his head, his lips purse. It is not you, you say to yourself, and offer to get him another beer when you get up. “I’m not good at giving compliments” he says later, handing you the most beautiful red flag you have ever seen. This cruelty is a kindness. Continue reading Ray of Light→
I’m slogging through the holidays, like I do every year. They’re a combination of sweet and hectic: this is my busy season at my day job, and it makes December rush by in a blur. It’s colder than usual, so cold that when I walk and fart I’m scared people walking behind me can see it billowing out, a beautiful white cumulus smelling of my colon that expands forever, slowly engulfing Portland. I’m lonely, too. All I really want is a boyfriend for the winter I can cut open like a TaunTaun and nestle inside wait not that.
I spot the guy on social media, he is my type, maybe even My Type: tiny. Bearded. Professional. We hit it off, follow the steps, I follow the script to the tee. “Super handsome, how’s your week? I’m Mike.” “Wanna get off this app? I don’t get notifications, text is easier for me.” “Want to grab grub sometime? I promise I’m not a psycho.” The joke is on him, because I am actually a raging psycho. I make sure he is truly single: the hot trend is guys on social media who are in super committed relationships who pretend to be single online just to be more popular. Continue reading A Better Version of Me→
Set the story in the winter of 2015, in Portland. You will have just been broken up with by a dude you were bonkers in love with, in a way that rattled you to your core. Go grocery shopping, feel it coming on, leave the grocery store before you burst into tears on the way home. Think to yourself, Can we all agree that grocery stores should not play slow, sad Christmas songs any fucking more, please? Or at least have a trigger warning beforehand? Imagine it like that, fully: a red and green-striped rotating light descends from the grocery store ceiling, spins silently. Shoppers look up: some keep shopping but others abandon their carts, drop their baskets. Eggs shatter, a ball of iceberg lettuce rolls down the aisle as they leave the store in a row: the lonely old cat lady in her housecoat, the gutter punk in the pleather jacket, the middle aged bearded gay man wiping back his tears. Behind them, the beginning strains of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” start playing in Safeway. Continue reading How to be Okay→
You bike home from the coffee shop in the crisp early fall drizzle, your legs pumping the pedals as fast as they will go, which is not very fast. You have a rainjacket on but you also know that you’ll be soaked by the time you get home. This was not a Good Date. It started inauspiciously anyway, when he told you that he just came from another date. Having a date tell you he just came from another date is like watching someone coming out of a bathroom stall chewing on food. Continue reading When Three’s Not a Crowd→