Apr 4 2007

Inability

When I was a small child, I used to spend hours wandering the Phoenix Art Museum. My mother worked there, so I’d end up slipping through the rooms until I found something I could just stare at for hours.

I came to the conclusion that Magritte was a “good painter,” except I thought “he needed to practice faces more, so he could add them to his paintings. He always copped out on the face – it’s either hidden, covered, or deformed.” I thought he had an inability to paint certain things, as opposed to my inability to understand.

To this day, I still have a sneaking suspicion that part of his surrealism was generated by a dislike of faces. And I have absolutely nothing with which back that up.


Feb 5 2007

Early Aspirations

Last Saturday I was cleaning out the garage to put a bunch of boxes in storage. I came across a box my mom had put together that contained a bunch of old writing and questionnaire answers of mine – I’d say most of them were from the under-10 year old time frame. They types of things that were written on large three-lined composition paper glued colored construction paper. They certainly contained some wonderful insight into my personality.

ADHD Indicator
What I reported as my favorite sport or hobby over time moved regularly between: soccer, tennis, baseball, football, basketball, skiing, model railroading, writing, and sketching.

Anal Retentiveness Indicator
During a series of stories written about each holiday, I wrote about thrilling tale of for St. Patrick’s Day: after pinning a four leaf clover to the tail of a dragon, the dragon became my slave. At which point I had the dragon collect all the jewels of the world. And then had him sort them into piles – rubies with ruby, emeralds with emeralds, etc. And then, I had him put each pile in a bag. And label them.

On Martial Aspirations
I wrote a story about the “Snow Ninja.” ‘Nuff said.

On Fame
The person I’d most like to meet: Elvis.

Goals and Aspirations
What do I want to be when I grow up? Answers: “loyer,” “layer,” “lawyer,” and “a busboy in England.” Yeah, you read that right.


Dec 6 2005

Idiot

We met at a Sunnyslope party, one of the other public high schools in Phoenix. She was slender and a little taller than most of the girls I’d been out with. Large eyes with a softened Eastern European face. I most vividly remember her hair, half-coiled locks playfully falling past her shoulders, flaxen and iridescent, conspiring to reflect glimmers of summer lemons and autumn beiges. It was light, playful, and seductive all at once.

I didn’t think I had a chance with her. Everyone was flirting with her, and much more successfully than me. I allowed myself to float to the periphery, interjecting occasional jokes or comments when appropriate, or wandering about the party to see who else was about. Definitely not imposing my presence. In my detached joviality I somehow impressed her, and just before leaving, I capitalized on my departure and set a date with her for the next weekend.

In the days to follow, we’d talk on the phone while I’d deperately fight a horrible head cold. I was torn between rescheduling and following through. The thought of missing an evening with such a beautiful creature haunted me, so I just jacked myself on Sudafed and picked her up.

We had coffee, and saw “Interview with a Vampire,” hand in hand. We may have sequestered ourselves in the corner of a party later, but the next prominent frames of memory arrived during the drop-off.


“So what happened with Colleen last night, B? She’s smokin’ hot,” Gil queries over our customary evening coffee.

“Uh, yeah, not much.” I know what’s coming.

“What? She looked into you.”

“Yeah, so I really started digging this girl, and I’ve got this wicked cold, right? So when I dropped her off, I just kind of bit her neck in a sort of sexy way, you know, long and slow, like a vampire, but I didn’t want to kiss her and saddle her with this cold. It’s awful. I think she wanted the kiss.”

“You what? You dumb fuck.”

“Yeah.”

“When a girl you dig wants to kiss you, you kiss her. She knew you had a cold and she still wanted to kiss you, so you fucking _do_ it. Fuck, that girl would’ve rocked your world, she would’ve been off your lips and on your crotch in no time flat.” Gil has a sort of vulgar elegance to his logic.

“Yeah. I know. I’m a dumb-ass nice-guy. Too nice.”

“Yeah, you gotta fix that.”

“I know.”

She never returned any of my subsequent calls. This is why nice guys never get the girl (or more accurately, overly nice guys) – they never step up, even when it’s patently obvious they should. Yeah, I missed out on who-knows-what with a wonderful and attractive girl, but I also learned a hell of a lesson at a relatively early age. No, I didn’t turn into an asshole (I don’t think) – but I definitely learned to read when I needed to put on my aggressive hat. Just ‘cause you’re nice doesn’t mean that you should be everyone’s mum; people make their own decisions. Sack up and take a swing, let others deal with the consequences if they’ve already decided that they want to so.

Damn, I was an idiot.

Sometimes I still am.


Nov 8 2005

Apparition

I was pissed. I didn’t want to go to the football game. We never payed attention; our high school had been on a losing streak since my sister had attended CHS. We’d sit, do nothing, apathetic, biding time until the parties started. I’d rather blow time in front of my computer, learning, doing.

But I was faced with four adamant friends wanting to pick up two girls they’d met from the prep school. It was early sophomore year, and I was one of the first to get a license, and had access to my mom’s Jeep Cherokee.

Fuck. Another night carting my drunk friends around, watching them slobber over reticent females, as I wish I could. But I was out of the loop, and outsider, sober.

As always, after many excuses and much cajoling, they convinced me. I turned her over and pushed in Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” more violently than necessary.

“Dude, not this shit. This shit’s old.”

He was right. It’d been released at least two years prior, and was old. Passe, even. But I loved it.

I turned the dial delicately, appreciating each notch of resistance, the apprehension, subtle grinding, pulling it the length of my nerves into my stomach.

I smile for the first time since my friends showed up – wickedly. They know I have a habit of driving too fast, bordering on recklessly.

They all reach for their seat-belts simultaneously. If they’re going to have fun drinking with the two girls shoved in the back seat on laps, I was going to have fun driving. Fast.

When we arrive at C’s house, I step out, leaning against the fender smoking a Camel, letting the other boys deal with extricating C and M from C’s parents. I wasn’t in the mood.

Two and a half cigarettes later, they emerge.

I nod nonchalantly to the newcomers, attempting to disguise my immediate attraction to M. Stubbing out my cigarette, I pause: “Better buckle up.”

The rest of the way to the game, I can’t hear the conversation over my music, my radio, my thoughts. I do not participate.

As my passenger tumble out, horsing around, inexpertly flirting with C and M, I resume my position against the fender, lighter suspended before smoke, flame bristling. M slides onto the hood, my eyes involuntarily follow her, flame still heating the flint.

“I fucking love that album.”

I challenge her with my eyes: unbelieving, not in the mood for insincere small talk despite her looks, to be used as a foil to her true interest, to have my album defiled. I challenged: inaudibly: prove it. You may be hot, but this ain’t free. Prove it.

“Faith No More. The Real Thing. Mike Patton. ‘89. Still rocks.”

I lean over and light her cigarette, smiling.

She was the first, the first one to destroy me, with help from myself of course.

We were born on the same day, and that would haunt my birthday for years.


Nov 7 2005

Heroin Chic

I’ve been a skier for over twenty years, although I’m usually not able to get in more than a week in any given year. As a remainder of a dying breed, particularly in my age group, I’ve been forced to befriend many boarders. There’s some low-grade friction – don’t chop up my moguls and I won’t steal your powder – but after hours, at the lodge, we’re all bound by a common love of a good day on the slopes. We warm the chill in our bones with Jagermeister and the replace the lactic acid in our legs with Sierra Nevada Pale.

It was early in the evening, and I was talking to Kelly, a petite red-head that hit jumps and rails better than most of the guys on the hill. She was good, sponsored even. Her boyfriend was a cool guy as well, but in terms of skill, her aerials surpassed his even on his best day.

In walks M, and many of the wool-clad heads turn to follow the click of her heels. She’s definitely not a skier or a boarder: not a spot of gore-tex on her, slender, lithe, draped in a loose black dress, intentionally uneven hem and plunging decolletage. She’s the only one in the bar in stilettos. She saunters up to Kelly and give her a familiar hug. Kelly sees me eyeing M, and performs the introduction before disappearing to hang with her boy.

M models for G—— off and on, but for the time being, is just trying to stay local and avoid work at all. She lives with four other girls, including Kelly, sleeping in late and getting fired from various mundane jobs. And she’s blazingly gorgeous. Tall and slender with dark eyes and a skin tone on the light side of olive. Her teeth gleam white and her eyes sparkle when she laughs, tiny, intense points of light in a sea of almond and black, she is young and her skin is firm and she cocks her head to the side for a three-quarter profile when she’s talking to you.

We make plans for the next weekend, same place, I’ll pick her up at her place at ten. When I arrive, she’s splayed languidly out on her bed, barely awake. Late night last night, she says, wine? We sip wine and she whines elegantly about having to work, and earn money to live, and how that’s bullshit, and that she should have to do such a thing. She floats halfway into the closet change, allowing me to catch glimpses of her bare shoulder and upper back as she slides into a new outfit.

Tonight is going to be hell. She has no drive, no motivation, a complete disdain for working for anything, an overwhelming sense of narcissistic entitlement. She has no respect anything she has, as she’s only ever been given things and never achieved them. Although she wasn’t like this the week before, I can see in retrospect I voluntarily overlooked the indicators, choosing instead to focus on her beauty.

As we stroll into the bar, those I know fire suggestive grins, didn’t know you had it in you, B, she’s high caliber smiles, before letting their eyes molest her for a precious few seconds. Soon after our first round of drinks, she’s off talking to other friends, other guys, already halfway to drunk, the martini mixing with something else previously ingested, inducing a inexpert tongue and slightly lolling eyes. I let her go, chatting with with some of the boys, getting knowing slaps on the shoulder.

She returns, and pulls me out to the patio.

“So you know, when we were talking the other night, how I liked how you said you don’t judge what other people do?” She slurs the so_ and _said.

“Well, I don’t know about that – I definitely judge peoples’ actions, but but I’m not about to step in and stop them from doing whatever they want unless it affects other people, like me or my friends. I mean, I don’t smoke weed, but if you want to, more power to you, I’m not going to give you shit about it. Have a ball – it doesn’t make you a bad person.”

“Right, well, so, I wanted to ask your a favor.” Looming puppy dog eyes.

“Shoot.” I have a pretty good feeling my answer will be ‘no.’

“I’m out of coke, and my connection here doesn’t have any.”

Funny how I just used drugs as an example … perhaps I was picking up on something. “I see. And?”

“I know another guy, but he’s not here.” She spills some of her martini without noticing. “Downtown.”

“So you want me to drive you downtown, a half hour into a date, do pick up coke?” Her face curls down, hurt. Somewhere down deep I hit a nerve.

“You’re judging me. You don’t have to do it, you know.”

“I know I don’t. I just want to know if you’re going to try to drive down there if I say no. If you want to get all coked up, that’s your call, but that doesn’t mean I’ll help. But I’d rather drive you myself than have you go alone, particularly in your state.”

“Lissen, I’m sssorry I brought it up. I juss thought, you know, that you’d do it, because, you’re nice and you don’t judge people.”

“There’s a fine line between nice and pushover. What you want to do affects more than just you. It affects me if I go, and everyone else on the road if I don’t. If you want to go, let’s go. But know the reason I’m doing it is I don’t want you to put yourself into more of compromising position that you’re already putting yourself, and I don’t want you driving, for your sake and others. If you want to go, let’s go.”

“Do you think I’m a bad pershun?” The question rises in inflection and intensity at the end, she’s armoring herself.

“You want judgement? Fine. No, I don’t think you’re a bad person, but you have some issues. And what pisses me off is not that you want to snort up, but that you could have taken care of this beforehand, or not done it this one night, or even waited until late in the evening. But you waited until I picked you up and bought you drinks, and you wander off to talk to other people, and only come back when you need a driver. How about some courtesy? Yeah, you have issues, but no, you’re not a bad person. Just inconsiderate.”

I’ve spoken too strongly, at some point, I injured her, and she’s burying it, beginning to apply a mask of indifference.

“Okay, whatever. Less juss have another round and you can take me home.”

“Okay. Fine.”

Not my kind of snow.


Oct 28 2005

Humility

Ten years ago, 1995: First year of college, UCSD. It was now October, just after my nineteenth birthday, and I’d spent the last four debaucherous months largely couch surfing in the polluted heart of Mission Beach.

I spent most of my time on front porches overlooking the boardwalk, steps from the sand, taco shops, and liquor stores. Since remodeled, the apartment complex was a termite-infested inhabited by waves of dubious barely-pay-by-the-month characters. The ones I knew best were in 1B: Lenny, Eric, and Hollywood. Their apartment was eternally open for anyone to come and go, although there were usually more people coming than going. It was saddled between Jamaica and Isthmus courts and central to the decadent vices of Mission, and there were more bodily fluids on that section of boardwalk than sea-water. Such was the reason the incongruous three lived there.

Lenny was a twenty-three year old ‘Guido’ from Jersey, working God knows where during odd hours to cover the cost of one room. Eric was in this late twenties, a shyster car salesman that’d regale me, without remorse, of tales of screwing poor families out of a couple thousand on a used minivan – or at least enough to rent the other room and keep a kitchen stocked with alcohol and living room with hardcore porn. Hollywood was the a-periodic couchsurfer, and butt of all derisive jokes, a towering slab of black homosexuality on loan to the armed forces.

Everyone was there to fuck women, except Hollywood, of course, who was there to fuck men.

The most important thing was to have was activity: nobody wants to hang out with a bunch of guys just drinking on their porch, even if it did have an ocean view. We pulled out everything: speakers to the porch tossing a blanket of cable-radio over the beach, dancing, interminable games of Asshole and other drinking pastimes, cardboard placards to rate passing women (only supporting the grades of ‘2’, ‘9’, and ‘10’), squirt guns, strobe lights, kegs, footballs, Frisbees, beer bongs, Jagermeister, hoses for wet T-Shit contests, day old pizza.

We each had our own ways of pulling women. Eric had the rapid-fire velvet speech of his trade, seducing girls to his bedroom before they knew they were interested. Lenny flaunted his vulgarity-laced East Coast directness to take pairs group-wise in the bathroom. Hollywood had impeccable gay-dar, and would essentially walk up to a gay man he wanted and grab the stranger’s crotch. I knew if I could cajole an unforgiving computer to draw exquisite images on screen, I sure as hell could use some combination of logic and artistry to nail a girl doggy-style on the back patio.

But I never did. Something always niggled at me. Perhaps it was my conscience, or a fear of contracting STDs during some inebriated and poorly-executed sexual escapade, perhaps both. I did however, meet M-. M- was exquisitely attractive – olive skin, a petite frame, long umber hair, with large almond eyes. We’d been out on a few dates over the summer, but the start of school had been hectic enough I hadn’t seen her in a month or so. I’d turned 180 degrees in the last few weeks, from sloven boozehound to poor, studious, dorm-living gakusei.

On this chilly Saturday night, we had plans to see her friends’ band (always a dangerous proposition, but they actually weren’t bad) out in a little joint in El Cajon. Running late as usual, I showered, threw on my last pair of clean jeans and a T-shit proclaiming some suitably obscure reference, and whisked myself out dorm suite. Anxious and behind schedule, I was taking all the shortcuts: jumping over the couch in the common area instead of walking around, combing my hair as I ran down the stairs instead of taking dawdling elevator, slipping sideways through the rapidly closing stairwell door – not fast enough. I was still trying to stop my forward momentum when I heard the denim tear.

It must have been like one of those slow-motion car crash scenes: a close-up of my face, a montage morphing from carefree and excited, and at the first resistance my eyebrows curling upside down, eyes curiously flitting toward my back, and as the first stitches pop, side of my mouth leading the rest of my lips into a downward march, eyes scrunching together in recognition and resignation, jaw tightening, skin wrinkling around the muscles and taut between them, until forward momentum is finally extinguished.

Frantically, I patted myself for the source of the sound – my back pocket, torn open, taking the seat of my pants with it exposing my at least eight square inches of boxer-briefs in all their glory. I groan, and looking back to the shred of denim still fluttering from the clasp of the door, dancing in the A/C, mocking my haste. It’s that small sheet of metal with a slight curvature at the end, the piece that guide the tumbler lock into it’s mate. Looking at it in profile, from above, it is indistinguishable from a hook – now complete with Levi bait.

Metal-door-lock-claspy-thing: 1, jeans: 0.

Clean pants: 0.

I borrow a bunch of safety pins, pour some coffee on my shirt, ruffle my hair, and call it punk. I must have looked about as punk as those Wal-mart Halloween costumes look like Barbie or Yoda.

The date went well, we smooched a little, but she never once put her hand on my bum.


Oct 18 2005

A Night on the Art Circuit

Suitably chaotic, the meetings arrive like hail, a-periodic, intense, painful. With a hint of complacent relaxation.


Cursory familiarity, a pretense of profundity. She says, “I love this place.” She says, “I come here all the time.” She says, “It’s wonderful, full of character.” I say, “I didn’t know there were any drum-n-bass joints left in town.” She says, “I know, it’s awesome.” I say, “And LTJ Bukem is slated, I saw on the door.” She doesn’t say. She looks at me with blank eyes and a false smile.

I continue my slide toward the bar.


They say we associate with that which we wish to be, not that which we are. Do I associate with the dragon because that’s what I desire? To be carefree, playful, chasing my desires with intent, obstinacy, and abandon? Always looking for that pearl in the sky and sea, that which I cannot attain? And if so, then what is my reality, my base, my foundation, my purgatory, that which I am projecting from? The tiger? The pragmatic, do-what-must-be-done, nose-to-the-grindstone beast, fierce in his determination and unforgiving in his judgment?

Too much, too much. As usual, it is somewhere between there and here.


The music moves faster than your soul, your soul straining to accelerate, to match pace. It drives, a master behind a hundred slaves, pushing, whipping, without remorse, until exhaustion and collapse, at which point it dances on, not even rubbernecking past the scene of the crime.

I bob my head drowsily, one-eighth time, wallflower, appreciative, observer to the shapes and colors graphed in my head, an ephemeral cranial seismograph, trailing between my ears and dropping on the floor, and exit.


Enter “Random,” a gangly man attired in a blue sequined shirt, orange construction safety glasses, and a feather boa, glossing his self-conscious discomfort with a patina of alt-/art-something. All was as it should be, that is, carefully constructed chaos that is the antithesis of random.

My stomach growls, quietly, with annoyance.

And I know people named “Cast Iron Rat,” “Archlight,” “Noid,” “Falcon Red,” and other such improbable monikers.

If he had called himself “Pragmatic” or “Constructed,” – or even “Deconstructed” – I would have given him props. Even “P.M.,” as an abbreviated Post-Modern, as over-abused and in-accurate as it would be, would have sufficed. At least something orthagonal.

As it was, I greeted him with a heartily apathetic: “Oh.”

Or is it like wearing a an anti-irony shirt, without the kitsch?

No, I think it’s more like wearing the shirt of the band you’re going to see. Don’t be that guy, Gutter, don’t be that guy.


Is collecting things a physical manifestation of emotional requirements? Do we fill perceived voids of the psyche with artificial sets of paraphernalia? I believe I should be wary of hundred porcelain trinkets, every horizontal parcel occupied, no room for even a glass of wine. It is over, and arbitrarily so, but also, not. Again, limbo. Purgatory. That which is not hell, but that which is the denial of the ecstasy of feeling. I cannot throw her down on the couch and make unrestrained love to her – we may end copulating impaled on a ceramic pug or glass unicorn. As Cypress Hill says, “Ain’t goin’ out like that.”

Sep 14 2005

Posse

I can’t remember why, but I was having a bad day. Perhaps Ms. Alexander had been overly harsh reviewing my last creative writing assignment, or maybe Jenny had spurned my advances. Regardless, I was displeased with myself, feeling anti-social and uprooted in the temporary schoolyard of my relocated seventh-grade class, all dirt and asphalt and trailers for classrooms.

Shane was a resident ruffian, tough and foul-mouthed but too white trash to hang with the top bullies at school. When he threw his shoulder into mine as he passed, I uncharacteristically responded. I think he was expecting me to just shrink and take it.

“Watch it, asshole.”

He spun me around with a yank.

“What’d you say?”

I looked him in the eyes as steadily as I could. I wasn’t known for my pugilistic prowess, although I wasn’t small. I just rarely fought, aside form that time last month when I belted an eighth grader for tearing off the necklace my family’s foreign exchange student had brought for me from Chile. He was so shocked he just massaged his chin and backed off.

I was jolted back to the present by Shane pushing me with both hands, backing me up and egging me on:

“What the fuck you going to do about it? Huh? Fuck you, YOU watch where you’re going.”

A crowd coalesced. A head above others caught my attention behind Shane, to the periphery. I changed focus. The Principle, pushing through the crowd.

That’s when he hit me. Once, twice, three, four times. All in the mouth, backing me up further. They were strong shots, but I didn’t go down, I’ll give myself that much. But I knew if I started swinging I’d be doing it right in front of the Principle, and besides, I might get my ass whooped further.

I waited.

Shane was taken to the office, and myself to the nurse. She looked me over, and aside from a split and rapidly engorging lip, fit to finish the day.

“Do you want to got home? I can excuse you.”

“No, it’s fine.”

It was less being a hard-ass and more peer presence. Everyone saw what happened, and although I knew I had Shane by the balls “legally,” so to speak, and I was free of administrative repercussions, it might not look that way to others. I had to finish out the day so everyone wouldn’t think I was a total pussy.

“Really, it’s nothing, I’m fine. I’ll go back to class.”

Releasing me with a kind smile, I returned to Mr. Pavlik’s History class and subsequently lunch. Inevitably I was assailed with questions from friends clamoring for details.

“It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. He’s just an asshole, is all,” I lisped over my protruding lip. I removed myself to another table to get some peace and hid my face. I hadn’t cried yet, and I wasn’t about to start now, but I hated all the questions. They saw it, they knew what happened.

Shane didn’t make it to school the next day. Ten or twenty friends I didn’t know I had took it upon themselves to call Shane out and deliver a series of beatings that left him black and blue for weeks. I knew nothing about it, and was surprised to find some of the people that stood up for me, and the things they said. “You just don’t do that to Barclay,” I heard. I was astounded.

Sometimes just being your simple, honest, understated self affects people deeper than you realize, and provides a stronger foundation for future friendship than anything else. Everyone affects the world around them more significantly than we generally realize through our hum-drum daily lives, and sometimes it takes extraordinary circumstances to bring it to our cognitive forefronts.


Sep 13 2005

Salt Air

Back then, I could smell the salt in the air all the way out in Alpine, forty miles inland. I’d be rocketing in from El Centro on I-8, windows down, stereo sweating. Pulling deeply, I’d savor the indication of the ocean, dowsing my emotions in water. Eventually, I’d only be able to smell it standing on the cliffs in Pacific Beach. People are adaptable like that, and sometimes I despise it. Sometimes, it’s disappointing to adapt. Sometimes, I want to suspend change. I want to smell the salt again.


Sep 12 2005

Steel

You got steel, son, my Uncle’s talking’ / takes a champion to walk and keep walking

When I moved to San Diego, everything I owned fit in my hand-me-down ‘84 Toyota Cressida station wagon: futon, stereo, CDs, computer, and clothes. I’d been frustrated with my parents, with living at home, with high school, with Phoenix. Phoenix, Phoenix, Phoenix. I abhorred the sweltering city streets of the six-month summers, the dirt and dust, the paucity of culture drawn tenuously between hick and gangster. Phoenix straddled a purgatory of boredom and apathy, one long enduring anti-climax. Unlike the namesake, my rebirth lay elsewhere.

My high school was an inner-city school in the center of a district tall and thin. One mile wide and ten miles long, my end was the North, the suburbs, and to the South, central Phoenix. Although inner-city, replete with inner-city funding and security, gangs, drugs, fights, and both kinds of weapons – those that drew blood and those sprayed it – we didn’t lay claim to the toughest educational facility in town. South Mountain probably took that dubious honor, but we will weren’t soft. There were people you didn’t fuck with, no matter what. Omar. Cody. Joey. A slew of guys – and girls, who stashed double-edged razor blades in their mouths for slap-fighting – that I never even knew the names of. Tough guys that put tougher guys in hospitals, in comas. Worse, even.

When I left Phoenix, the taggers were just starting to migrate north into my neighborhood. They’d be followed by the wannabe gangsters, then the real deal, if a black market was to be found.

I’d just graduated two days earlier and received the responses to my college applications.

  • Occidental: Primary candidate.
  • Tulane: Full ride.
  • Clairmont-McKenna: Check.
  • UCSC: Check.
  • UCSD: Check.
  • UC Berkeley: Deferred.
  • Stanford: Denied.
  • Columbia: Denied.
  • No application to any in-state school: Check.

I’d lived almost a quarter of my life in San Diego. My father’s father had taken his family on annual vacations from the Yuma sun to temperate San Diego, and my father expanded on the tradition, buying a house in Mission Beach back when houses could still be afforded there. I’d lived summers there since I could remember, and worked them since fifteen. San Diego was comfortable exploration. Plenty of trouble to be found, and I already knew my phone number. But not much else.

I knew nothing I wanted or expected, only what I was exhausted with: Phoenix. Apathy. Stagnancy. Sedentary lives. Lack of change. Inertia. The co-efficient of static friction.

I was dealing with a different sort of friction now, a lesser force, my boot mashing the accelerator and burying the speedometer of my coughing rustbucket. There was the gaping maw of the Pacific beyond these dunes, beckoning me, teasing me, a summer fling promising a full-fledged affair.

My summer friends from years past would be gone, back to their respective locales, and the locals I knew rotated on a yearly basis, just permanent enough to not be considered itinerant. I knew nothing of the San Diego beyond Mission Beach, beyond attenuated debauchery and tourism jobs punctuated with drinking, body surfing, and post-curfew make out sessions with girls in from Texas-Arizona-Jersey-Boston-Elsewhere. It was as if I had hiked this trail a thousand time before, but never ventured to the undergrowth I’d always tread around. Now, I was destined off-piste.

I slammed the accelerator down again, gently padding the blistering metal outside my window. Good girl. We’ll be there soon.

Someone, someone I hadn’t met yet, would later tell me: never go from anything, go to something. If I did know anything at all, it was that I was going to somewhere other than Phoenix.