Wednesday, May 02, 2007

These moments when there is so much possibility for connection and also so little

Okay, here's the most overwhelming thing about being back in San Francisco, in my apartment -- waking up in the morning, walking into the kitchen and facing the mold -- this dusky smell in the air, every day is not so bad but today it's just surrounding me. It's not mold that you can see -- it's in the walls, from when there was a terrible leak that I could hear dripping down from above and when the repair-person opened up the compartment connecting to the pipes everything was just rust, he had a particle mask on and I looked inside at one point to see how terrible it was, it looked terrible because of the rust and rotten pipes but actually no visible mold, that's in the walls and I'm sure there's a way to test for it but every morning I just get overwhelmed thinking about it, sinuses crinkling into headache is it from the thinking or the mold? Mold is terrible, it can ruin your life -- I escaped the mold in my other apartment, but now there’s mold in this apartment too. I'm worried that if I ever get around to getting someone to cite the building, then they'll make me move out while they supposedly fix it for six months or whatever and I haven't even finished moving in yet, it’s been so much work even to get to this point.

Then there's laundry, when I was traveling almost everywhere had laundry in the building and I didn't have that much at a time, washing the same traveling outfits it didn't overwhelm me. Now I have to go down the street, which doesn't sound that bad except that I have to carry everything through my door and then into the elevator and then down the stairs and through the gate and down the street and to the laundromat and then I have to put everything in the machines and go back to my apartment and come back to the laundromat and take everything out and put it in the dryer than go back to my apartment and go back out to the laundromat and take everything out and fold it and bring it back to my apartment. All of the pain, that's what's overwhelming. Getting groceries -- when I was traveling, someone usually helped me, or I'd jump in a cab with just a day or two’s worth -- now that I'm back that sounds extravagant. Theoretically I may be getting money from my father's death, I mean my mother may be establishing some sort of account that pays my basic expenses on a monthly basis -- I mean that’s something I'm working on, supposedly it's something that's happening but it's hard to trust it until it actually occurs. Even then, it may be hard to trust it. Of course it's my parents’ violence that got me to the place where I am now, wondering if I should skip eating greens today because it hurts to chop them, whether I should do laundry or attempt groceries or skip both of them until tomorrow, maybe I'll feel better tomorrow. Using my parents’ money to try to recover from their violence, it's something I'm hoping to do but right now I'm just trying to deal I guess.

Luckily, I realize it's May Day and there's a boycott of all purchases in solidarity with the immigrant rights mobilizations, so now I won't worry about groceries or laundry because I'm not supposed to buy anything anyway. Instead I decide to catch the end of the demo, I'm walking over there but I can't walk all the way without everything hurting so I sit down at a bus stop. The person sitting next to me looks over and says what do you call that style? It's funny because someone asked me that in New York too. I say it's just my own look, I don't really think there's a name for it -- I like contrasting colors and patterns and old lady sweaters, there’s a certain clubbiness mixed with maybe a punk sensibility or something like that. She says oh I see, I just wanted to make sure that I knew what it's called, I like to be in the know about fashion, I got this whole outfit for under $80 -- I see what you're working, actually it all goes together except for the stripes, next time think about a pink shirt. No, really -- think about it -- the yellow belt doesn't go but it brings out all of the other colors, a pink shirt would really tie it all together.

Then she's telling me about her boyfriend of 13 years, she’s always looked for a guy who could hold her whole foot in his hand and this was the first guy like that, he's a bit younger she taught him how to take care of himself but he’s too arrogant and so she had to leave although she can't live without him it's been a year it's hard. I say 13 years is a long time. Someone comes over to talk to her, she hands him a crack rock in exchange for a few dollars and says someone gave me this, I don't know if it's good. To me, she says I stopped smoking crack for -- let me see -- 1992 to 2000, then 2000 to 2003 I smoked and then I stopped again and it's been since July, that nine months I've been using again.

You can see the effects of long-term crack use for sure -- all of her mannerisms are jerky and her stories start in one place and then skip the middle and go somewhere entirely different but she continues like I've heard the whole thing. I like her, though -- when she asks where I live, she knows the exact building -- Sam used to live there, the building with those old windows, 11 floors, that's a nice building.

I guess I'm staying here for this conversation because I'm trying to be more present in my interactions on the street to see what can develop from them -- then she's telling me about this bitch that crossed her and stole her wig while she was sleeping and they were in the penthouse of that fancy hotel on Geary and Taylor with this white guy who had a lot of money but then she stole her hair piece and she couldn't go back up because the guy didn't know what was going on and then she went back to her apartment and they'd changed the locks even though she'd been paying rent, it was that bitch who crossed her, she thought they were friends, you never know who's your friend although I miss him, I really do.

This is where I can tell not much more is going to develop, I'm also ready to go to the demo even though it's probably even closer to being over now, I say goodbye and this woman holds out her hand and we exchange names, as I'm crossing the street she yells out we should do Starbucks some time. What, I say? Starbucks, she says -- we should do coffee. Okay, I say. It's these moments when there is so much possibility for connection and also so little, that's what I'm thinking as I arrive at the protest, which is basically over now, there are a hundred or 200 people watching the stage. I sit in the grass and listen to the final speakers, a little kid stares at me and I make faces with her, then there's music as the sun is coming out and people start to leave and then there's more space between me and the closest person in front of me, I notice that all of the vendors have tons of water left and the organizers are loading the port-a-potties onto a truck.

2 comments:

queer said...

So good, darling. So good. I love the picture of you making faces with the kid. And everything else.

mattilda a.k.a. matt bernstein sycamore said...

Thanks, Gina -- see you soon!

Love --
mattilda