Archive for September, 2015

The Cure Wrote A Song About This

The Cure Wrote A Song About This

I opened my eyes, closed them again quickly. I tried opening them again, but the bookcases spun too quickly, so I settled on the slowly moving darkness behind my lids. The Current warbled in my stereo speakers and I could just make out the faint strains of “Inmates” by The Good Life. I groped for a glass of water on my end stand, but didn’t find one. I rolled to my left and bumped into someone. Her hair smelled distinctly like jasmine. I put my right arm over her and pulled her closer. “Mmm…Chris”

She rolled over to face me and propped herself up on one elbow. “Who’s Chris?”

I forced my eyes open. She looked back at me with her narrow green eyes. The comforter came up to the top of her pert breasts, but she did nothing to hide them. Short red hair framed that face. Who’s face…I squeezed my eyes shut for a second. “Wendy…” I trailed off.

“I guess I’ll give it to you on the second try.” She smiled and pulled closer to me under the covers. I realized I was naked then; so was she. She purred and rubbed her chin against my stubble, giggling slightly. I laid there for a bit caught up in her ministrations.

“Wendy.” Her hands roamed underneath the covers. Louder, I spoke her name once more. The bile in the back of my throat built as I pushed her away. I tried to sit up, but I only made it over to my right side before I started vomiting off the edge of my bed. Last night’s Zombies and Soho Pizza spilled all over the floor while I coughed and retched. I felt Wendy recoil in the bed, but she kept her left hand on my shoulder, rubbing it periodically while I emptied my guts onto the bedroom floor. We stayed in that position for five minutes until my coughing subsided. Jiha Lee and Tim Kasher sang on the speakers while she stroked my hair.

“Do you need anything?”

I shook my head, almost started vomiting again. My mouth didn’t work for several seconds. I needed a glass of water. “What are you doing here?”

She stopped with her left hand. “What did you say?”

I spoke slowly and with a greater emphasis on each syllable. “What are you doing here?” The covers moved as she pulled them up around her body. She hit me hard with her right hand on the shoulder as she moved across the bed. The covers flew over my body down onto the floor over the vomit.

“You are such an asshole.”

“What?” I rolled over to face her, but she faced the opposite wall of my bedroom. She pulled on her panties while continuing to look into my closet. “What did I do?” She bent over to pick up her bra and slipped it on, turning back towards me as she clasped it behind her.

“I can’t believe how much of an asshole you are.” Wendy shook her head, squatted down and picked up her pink sweater. “I just can’t believe you’re such an asshole.”

The bile tried to force its way up again. I clamped my mouth shut until it worked its way back into my stomach. “I don’t even know what I did.” She laughed as she pulled the sweater down over her head.

“You don’t even know what you did? You called me, you asshole.” I watched her bend over to pick up her skirt and boots. I fumbled around on the end stand and found my cell phone. Scrolling down the list, sure enough, there was a 515 number in the outgoing list. I flipped it closed, laid it back on the table while lying down, and sighed while Wendy dressed silently. The bed shook as she sat down to put on her boots. I opened my mouth, closed it, instead watching her zip up her boots.

“I can’t believe it. You don’t even remember last night, do you?” She grabbed a pillow and threw it at me. I caught it with some effort. “You called, you said you wanted me here, and you don’t even remember!” She stood and flared her nostrils. Her hair switched back and forth while she shook her head. I clutched the pillow.

Her boots clicked on the hardwood as she walked towards the door. I watched her. In the doorway, she turned back to me. “I don’t even know why I answer when you call.”

“Jesus, just let me explain.” I shifted the pillow around my body to prop myself up. Wendy stopped once more in the doorway and swung. Her hair whipped around as she put a hand on one of my bookshelves.

“You are such a fucking asshole. Goodbye.” She picked up my Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary and threw it across the room. The red book hit the wall next to me as I pulled my knees up and covered my head with my hands. I heard the door slam, but didn’t uncover my head to look.

“Goddamnit.” I heard some voices in the kitchen, obscured by my now closed bedroom door, but instead of finding out what was going on, I just sat on my bed. Rubbing my eyes with my right hand, I picked up the remnants of my dictionary with my left. Pages scattered and fell on the floor as I lifted up and inspected the broken spine. More pages fell on my bed and the floor. The room spun once again, slowly now, and the stench of vomit filled the air. I sat up on the other side of the bed where Wendy had just been, fished around for a pair of boxers, and slipped them on. I pulled The Head On The Door off of my cd shelf and rolled back over to my stereo. I buried my head in the pillow face down and hit play.

During “Close To Me”, someone knocked on my door. I mumbled into my pillow, and then rolled over so I could say it again. “Go away,” I yelled to the door.

“Not an option.” Mark opened the door with his left hand and carried a steaming mug in his right. He walked over to the bed as I pulled myself up to a sitting position. “I thought you could use this. At least that’s the impression I got from Wendy.” He chuckled and handed me the mug.

“Fuck you too,” I hid my face in my left hand and took hold of the proffered mug in my right. Mark retreated to the papasan and sat in it observing me. The coffee was strong and black and burned my tongue. Mark watched from the chair, eventually folding his legs under him and sitting Indian style. He smirked at me, occasionally nodding slightly, but said nothing while I sucked down the coffee. After I finished the coffee, I set the mug next to me on my bed. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Mark looked at the floor by my end stand. “Your room smells like shit.”

“Vomit, actually.”

“Good, I see your sense of humor is intact.”

“Why’d you let me call Wendy?”

Mark shrugged from the wicker chair. “I tried to stop you. You almost broke my watch when you tackled me in the living room.” He pointed to a butterfly bandage on his forehead. “Luckily, it’s only a scratch, but I figured I shouldn’t take your phone after that. To your credit, you didn’t call Wendy until after we got back from the Dragon.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and rubbed my left hand along my face. “We went to the Dragon?”

“Yeah…you were in rare form. Did you and Christine have an argument?”

I shook my head. “Something like that.”

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“Doing those shots of Jack.”

“Shit man,” Mark stood up. “That was at 8:30 last night.” I looked over at the clock. 12:41. “You don’t remember anything after that? Not the beer bong at that house part on 26th or the shots of Jag?”

“Ugh,” I moaned and looked at my bed. “My God, if Christine finds out that I slept with my ex-girlfriend, she’ll kill me.”

Mark shook his head. “Rightly so.”

“Listen, you can’t tell Chris about this, alright?”

Mark looked back at me as he walked towards the door. “Why would I?”

“Just don’t, alright.”

“Alright, alright,” he shrugged. “It’s not like I was going to anyway.”“What the hell am I going to do?”

Mark stopped once more on the other side of the doorway. “I’d clean up that vomit first, man. It smells like shit.” I picked up the phone and scrolled through the list until I got to Christine. Mark popped his head back in the room. “And I’d lay off the liquor. You know, at least until tomorrow.” I grunted and hit talk.

The Fear Again

Chris rolled off of me, onto his side of the bed, and sighed. I smiled a wan smile, not that he was bad. He was his usual skillful self. I was just tired. “Love you,” he murmured into the pillow. I ran my hand across his shoulder, but I could tell he was already asleep. He was just one of those people who can do that. God I envied that…

I looked at him for a bit. Or towards him at least, it was too dark to make out more than a silhouette. My eyes would adjust eventually, but there were probably things I should do besides watch him sleep, like sleep myself. ButI had to go the bathroom before anything. No amount of lying and bed and staring at Chris or the ceiling was going to change that. Carefully, I made my way out of bed and down the hall. Are the creaks in the hardwood louder late at night? Why does it always feel that way? I shut the door. The toilet always sounds so loud late at night too. Everything sounds loud. Is it the quiet everywhere else that causes it? I never really liked quiet. It’s why I love living in cities. There’s always a bit of a hum, the cars on Fulton, the foghorns, the drunk USF students, the overhead wire. Even at night, the city is alive. Even a relatively quiet city like San Francisco.

Back down the hall, and I still found all the creaks like always. Chris managed to pull a bit more of the comforter onto him, so I tugged on it gently as I climbed back in. Reflexively, I wanted to double-check my alarm now that I was back in bed, but it didn’t matter. Chris’s would go off first. It was still weird to have him here all the time now that he finally let the lease go on his place at 43rd and Moraga. He was here most nights before that anyway, but it was nice to occasionally roll out of bed on the weekends and go to walk to Outerlands or Trouble. Or the beach. It was a cool location. But I was closer to just about everything else, and my place was much cheaper. Our place, I corrected myself. I liked how that sounded. Even if I was still getting used to it.

I stared at the ceiling, but I wasn’t a back sleeper. I rolled onto my side, only to roll back over again. Why couldn’t I just turn my brain off? Why did it feel so different now? This was far from the first time Chris and I had slept together. We’d practically lived together the last two years. But practically makes quite the difference, doesn’t it? I took a couple deep breaths. Here comes the fear again. I wanted to do was get up and drop This Is Hardcore onto the turntable. Neither Chris nor my neighbors would appreciate that. I got out of bed and pulled my robe off the doorknob before shrugging it on. I ignored the creaks this time as I walked down to the kitchen, pulled out a tumbler, dropped in two ice cubes, and poured in some Black Label. Fishing my keys off the hook by the door, I walked out of my place, glass in hand.

The street was quiet, except for a late-night jogger. I sat on the steps. It was a cool night, and the fog had rolled in heavy for the first time in a while. Now that I was outside, I could hear the horns more clearly, rolling in over the Presidio. It was a night a lot like this that I met Chris. I was sipping on a Sunshine Fix at Social Kitchen, he was there watching a Giants game. It was an odd year, so everyone was predictably down on the team. Michael Cuddyer had just homered to give the Rockies a lead when he cursed under his breath. He was wearing a Giants hat, which explained that. No one is from here, but everyone is a Giants fan.

“Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll get it back.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, the Rockies are terrible.”

He turned a bit more fully toward me. “Sure, but it’s just not looking like their year anyway.”

“Oh, c’mon, the Giants have won two of the last three World Series. They can’t win it every year.”

“I’ll take every other year.” I smiled at that, and I turned toward him. I can tell you that home run happened, but I can’t tell you anything else about the rest of the 9th. The next time I looked up,  when Chris got up to get to the bathroom, the post-game crew was busy dissecting everything wrong with the team and 30 minutes had passed. I slipped my phone back into my purse and thought for a second, but not too long, when the bartender asked me if I wanted another. Soon I had another Sunshine Fix and Chris was back.Turned out, he also worked in the Financial District. We kept talking, and wonder of wonders, turned out he as a true San Francisco local. I had only come here for a beer, and I found myself sipping on my third. Chris picked it up.

“So what about you? What’s your story?” he asked.

“I was offered a job that I couldn’t say no to.”

“That good? You’re saying you’re a keeper?” he smirked.

“Well, maybe not that good,” I laughed. “But how can you say no to this city?”

“That’s why I came back. No matter where I go, San Francisco will always be home. I know it’s out-of-control in a lot of ways. But it’s where I want to be.”

“How do you know that?”

“I don’t know…it just feels right, you know?” He shrugged at me, and the conversation stalled for a second. Life is made in those moments. I could have reached for my phone to check the time, or excused myself without another word, or I could have said nothing at all, but it turns out, all I had to do was listen. “Say, you want to go for a walk?”


“This is the best time to see Golden Gate Park. Nice, foggy night. C’mon, I’ll keep you company.”

“Are you sure you don’t have any ulterior motives?” I asked with mock demureness.

“I assure you there’s nothing ulterior about them,” he said as he scooted closer. I held his gaze for a second. His eyes were very green. Did I want to have that conversation right now? Not with a one-night stand. Not if I didn’t have to. Of course, that’s the kind of conversation that helps make sure I get up the next day. But again, before I had too long to think about it, he kissed me.

I didn’t like taking guys back to my place normally, at least not guys that I’d never met before. But it was closer, and we did go for that walk. It was brisk, and foggy, and we were both a bit underdressed for the fog that had rolled in, but the Music Concourse was beautiful like that, with the fountains lit and no one around for once. We ended up on the steps I was sitting on that night too, with his arms around me until I invited him inside without a word. I sipped on my scotch and laughed a bit to myself, thinking about the next morning. The night, there’s nothing bad about that, nothing to regret. And if it goes well, you wake up alone, or in your own bed after making your way home. If it doesn’t…well, it’s certainly nice waking up next to someone, but it can become awkward fast. For me it was when I reached over to turn off my alarm and someone was in the way. I’d always had that fear.

A bus pulled by and I swirled my scotch, watching it seep down the walls of the glass. It’s a funny thing, fear. How it can control your actions. How it can control who you are. How malleable it is even after you conquer one facet of it. For so long I feared being myself. I feared taking anyone home, or going home with them. And once those fears abated, it became something else again. Now again, it was something else. The fear wasn’t that I would wake up next to Chris, but that I wouldn’t. I wonder when it shifted, but like many things, it is impossible to pinpoint. I still couldn’t shake the feeling that one day, he’d walk out the door and not come back. Even as more and more of his stuff ended up at my place. Until all of it ended up here. And now…I still always feel like the end is near. Not in a real way. It’s just hard when you tell yourself for so long that you’re unloveable to turn that switch off. Even when there’s someone right up there in bed right now doing just that. Well, he’s probably sleeping, but you get the point.

My glass was empty, and it was chilly just sitting here, so I pulled out my keys. Back up the flight of steps, keys back on the hook. I locked the door behind me. I couldn’t see anything, but even with all of Chris’s stuff here, I knew where to go. I made my way back down the hall and didn’t worry about the creaks in the hardwood. I shrugged off my robe and put it back on the door handle. Chris was very warm as I climbed back into the bed and pulled some of the comforter onto me. I kissed him on the cheek and he rolled over and put an arm around me. “You’re cold.”

“Couldn’t sleep.”

“Let me help with that.” He pulled me a bit closer, and we slept.

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