I go out with friends to a bar I used to go to when I was younger– I’m giddy to be out and dance/skip over to ask a couple of witresses if the band’s playing tonight. they look at me a little pityingly and say, they already played. I go into a side room that has a bed in it– this room was apparently “mine” at some point previously. I’ve left a pair of shoes on the floor by the bed. I look through the medecine cabinet to see if there’s anything I still want. my plan at first is to crash for the night, but people keep coming in– and the truth is I don’t really belong here anymore.
I see a flare as the kitchen door opens– someone’s flamed a pan– and then, after a little while, another one– only this one grows, and people run around to put out the fire.
I discover I’m riding that hippy bus, the green tortoise– it’s unclear whether I’ve been on it the whole time, if the bar is itself located on board the bus. the thing has misleading dimensions for sure, much bigger inside than out, which I realize as it takes a corner and squeezes through a narrow gap in the alley past a limousine full of stupid drunk frat boys.
I’m sitting at the bar when someone brings my friend to me because she has apparently drunk so much she’s barely standing– she doesn’t strike me as particularly drunk, more exhausted, practically passed out on her feet. I take her over from the guy who brought her to me– her weight is nothing, so I pick her up and carry her out and lay her across the back seat of my car. she asks me for a pillowcase or something, and I pull a soft cotton shirt out of my bag and hand it over to use as a pillow– I also happen to have a throw blanket in the car and put that over her, then close the car door and turn to go back to the bar– but I’ve just started inside when she calls me back and says, the dome light’s on— I open and shut the door and tell her it’ll go off in a minute, then wait until it does. she calls me back a couple more times for different reasons. finally I get back inside, a little exasperated at this point and rolling my eyes.
a little while later the person I’m talking to breaks off in mid-conversation to point back behind me and say, what’s wrong with her? I turn and see my friend framed on the other side of a plate glass window– she’s standing in the middle of the kitchen, her eyes darting around following something below the window frame– she’s making sudden, staccato little screams, tho there’s no sound, we can only see her mouth moving– I run around into the kitchen to find out what’s upsetting her so much and see a little creature scurrying back and forth behind the sink– it’s covered in green gunk, and I can’t quite tell what it is– after awhile I manage to get it cleaned off and discover it’s a pure white lizard. at first I’m afraid it will bite me and that it may be carrying disease, especially because of the gunk– but I begin to tame it and make it my friend. sometimes instea of a lizard, it’s a rat. the other people who work in the bar are grossed out and conspire to trap it– but as they’re sneaking in at night with their handfuls of horrible glue traps, it sneaks out the open door and makes its escape.
I’m walking up a hill, and my legs are like lead, struggling with each step to lift the leg enough off the ground to move it forward and set it down again, and then the next one. I’m embarrassed by my infirmity and try to hide it from anyone’s notice– I can’t hide the slowness of my progress, but I hide every other telltale sign, grimacing only inwardly. finally, in sheer gratitude, I make it to the top of the hill.
we’re in a lawyer’s office to discuss some type of pro-bono case, when the lawyer has to rush off to a high-profile meeting– he seems kind of hassled out that we’re there, but we have nowhere else to go. he’s rushing around, looking for something he’s misplaced– at first I think it’s his pen, but then he says his cell phone– he’s all irritated and can’t be bothered to ask for help looking. I suggest the couch cushions, and he impatiently says, no, no, I already looked there, but the couch has a bunch of stuff on it and looks to me like the likeliest place– so I go over and start pawing through the piles of newpapers and stray cushions and see a couple of cell phone earbuds and am sure I’m on the right track– I hear a beep, followed by a girl’s voice saying, hello? hello? out of the depths of the seat cushions and dig around and find a blackberry, all illuminated, and a girl on the other end of the line and hand it over to the lawyer– but it only turns out to be his daughter’s cell phone, and her voice on the end of the line– so I go back to searching, following cords down into the very guts of the sofa, inside the stitching, but come up only with dead ends.
I go down the hall in my dormitory to the room of a girl who keeps to herself and whom I’m not entirely sure I like– I think I’ll catch her while she’s out, but she’s there, just for a moment– I’m eyeing a little dollhouse-type structure that looks like it’s filled with tiny chili pepper lights and trying to figure out how it works– she lifts off the roof and unwinds the lights from the tiny chimney and hands me the plug end and points past my shoulder to another plug end, and I attach them and, hey presto, string lights. I’m a little disappointed that the lights aren’t set up the illuminate the tiny house– there’s some resistance I feel about investing in this temporary place, and it bothers me somehow that she’d blythely set up string lights in the room as if they’d be there forever.
I’ve spent all day at some fun, sxsw-type conference with friends and am planning to go back out again but have stopped back at home to change. the family is having dinner, so I sit down with them– just my mom and dad and one of my brothers, actually– and my mom starts pissing me off and I don’t feel like humoring her or backing down– so I start to say all the horrible things I feel– like, it always has to be about you— which feels like the greatest sacrilege, speaking such a huge, bald truth. my brother leaps to her defense, putting me right back in my place, making reference to what I’ve been doing before I came to the table– and it’s true that out with my friends I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine and smoked some pot– but I know that’s not really why I’m saying the things I’m saying, that they’re true. I keep saying this, and my brother mimicks me, you keep saying that, (his voice going up) ‘it’s true, it’s true.’ at that point I lose it, so angry at being made into a cartoon, and fling my plate at the wall like a frisbee, and, amazingly, it doesn’t shatter, only bounces off and crosses the room and bounces off the opposite wall and ricochets back again, finally clattering the the floor whole. we all just kind of sit there for a minute, processing, and then I get up and walk off to change.
I’m in maine, walking down a sandy road, when I glance over and notice some people standing by several tall bushes that line the roadside, and as I walk by, I realize they’re blueberry bushes just laden with fat fruit. I rush off the road and over to the nearest bush, exclaiming to the person who’s walking with me, look! look! blueberries!— but she just doesn’t get my ecstasies. I’m thinking of huron mountain, thinking of the best kind of home I know, represented here and now in these dark-shining berries– and it’s better now, here, something I have discovered all on my own– more generous than the mean little bushes of michigan. there are people riding horseback along the road, and I want that, too, want all of it, am so full and grateful and happy.
we go to see the frank lloyd wright house in san francisco, that neighborhood by the golden gate bridge– we walk along the steet outside of it and look up along a high cliff wall, and there are planes of water, right angles, staggered parallel lines– we can just make it out overhead, water glinting in available light. my friend has her camera and tries to shoot up the cliff– I’m dubious of the results from our angle. we find our way to an entrance, and the whole thing seems boarded up, closed down, deserted. we recall some story about the well-to-do family who had owned it, famous people, american royalty, and some family tragedy– like the lindberg baby. we sneak in through the dirty boards– I’m wearing white painter’s pants and think to myself, great choice, as I kneel on the filthy stairs. inside upstairs is still and dim, perfectly preserved– expensive, old-fashioned heavy wood furniture– darkness more like a castle than a wright house– yes, it’s sort of hearst castle, post- patty’s abduction. there’s a huge mahogany fireplace. but it all seems to be abandoned. we walk through once, whispering, looking at everything, and then leave– it’s when we go back that we get in trouble– walking through again, we notice a door closed that had been ajar before– and just as I see it, before I have time to alert the others and get us out of there, he appears, saying, well, well, well– to what do I owe the honor of this visit? we are so busted, stammering, apologizing– all but the little sister, who, unabashed, asks him for a momento. we’re down the stairs in a flash and only looking back for the little sister, wishing she would come away– but she’s unpertubed. finally, in her own good time, she shows up with a fistful of jewelrey he’s apparently given to her, none of it terribly precious, but pretty stuff. we sort it out into necklaces, bracelets, and so on, and carefully undo the knots.