Saturday, April 28, 2007

Life at the hostel/ Thoughts on the American dream







In the kitchen, this guy’s talking to his girlfriend on his cellphone, he says guess who loves you? It’s a message, actually -- he hangs up and says, maybe to me or maybe to the refrigerator: “I might be knocked up.” -- what am I supposed to do with that?

Then he’s in the other room talking to some Europeans, he’s from Florida, Miami, close enough to Miami to be Miami but he doesn’t know what’s going on in the world because everything’s been the military. He says I hate this country and I hate this war but what can I do? I’m an abstract electronic musician -- if you live in this country and you have no family no job no place to live, what do you do? You join the military.

One of the Europeans asks him if he feels bad, he says do I feel bad? They’re paying me $25,000 a year to probably fly nuclear bombs around, that’s what I’ll be dealing -- I don’t give a shit, I’ll drop those bombs.

One of the Europeans brought tequila, everyone’s drinking tequila this guy says he learned how to drink tequila from the Puerto Ricans in his neighborhood, they knew all about tequila. One of the Europeans says but tequila isn’t from Puerto Rico. The guy says I’m gullible, I’ll believe anything.

Everyone’s getting more and more social with the tequila joining the beer except when I go in the dining area where everyone hangs out because now my food’s ready, everyone’s chatting except this guy just has his head in his hands, staring into the table or maybe at the bottom corner of the wall. He’s one of those guys who from the distance looks like just another clean-cut white boy but up close you can see that he’s probably never had access to good health care, when he opens his mouth to say something but doesn’t you can see his teeth rotting away, skin tanned but still yellow.

Another conversation in the kitchen, this older woman is watching me cook: spinach?
I smile.
Is that spinach?
Dandelion greens.
Oh, yuck.
You don’t like dandelion greens?
Oh… well, the pianos at the Chicago Public Library, I guess it’s good that they have pianos they’re very popular, but some of them have gotten so much use that even when they tune them the bass is too loud, if you want to play a Chopin nocturne or something soft it’s just not possible… do you think dandelions are weeds?

Meanwhile, a drunk guy from the US is flirting with a drunk woman from Germany, he says I just look at politics like a sport -- some people get so upset about it and I just like to play devil’s advocate to see how they’ll react.

European tourists love to see it all: the John Hancock Tower, the zoo, the beach, and most importantly the bars or at least the liquor store so they can drink in the kitchen well actually it’s the dining/social area which is quite spacious in this hostel -- it’s nice -- I’m the one in the kitchen during the social festivities, coming out to join in conversation. All different kinds of straight guys want to offer me drinks and I will admit that I’m tempted by this empty gesture of solidarity no the gesture isn’t exactly empty I guess it’s what comes after. I mean, I do wish I could drink with them and that it wouldn’t ruin my life, that I could say thanks and drink that glass of wine and not worry about what would come afterwards. When I read Sartre at the end of high school and he talked so much about freedom, freedom for me then was so much about drinking, imagining myself in left bank bars sipping absinthe with the litterati -- but that kind of freedom can only last so long, I mean to quote a bad house song: darling I love you but can’t you see -- it’s over for me. It’s over.

The problem is that nothing is really over, even when you want it to be -- or don’t want it to be, I’m not exactly craving alcohol I mean I don’t really want it all just for the illusion of intimacy that it brings.

Meanwhile, two German women I’ve talked to over the last few days are back from the $15 all-you-can-eat-and-drink restaurant experience, they’ve gotten soaked in the rain and I will say that they are practically glowing -- some people’s complexions really take to alcohol and rain I guess. They look in the social area -- the others aren’t here? Like we're all here together, I mean the ones of us that were here before, talking in the social area last night. I say no, it’s a new crowd.

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