Tuesday, December 01, 2009

What else might be possible

Somewhere in all this was my relationship with Derek, the only friend left in San Francisco who I called family. When he went on psych meds, I could tell immediately that they made him more manic and more depressed, so nihilistic that it was scary, but I’d already expressed my disapproval beforehand, so it didn’t help when I said it again. He kept changing meds and it kept getting worse. He would talk about buying a gun, he wanted to keep it under the bed; I told him I wouldn’t come over if there was a gun in the house. I felt like he was abandoning everything that health meant to us. When he started eating meat again, he said it was for health reasons, but then he would grab a hamburger at Burger King. He was angry at me for judging him, and maybe I deserved some of that anger.

But the hardest part was when Derek started lying about everything, maybe this was after I told him I couldn’t deal with hanging out when he was drinking, because he became a macho asshole instead of the friend who meant so much. He would tell me half of everything, or maybe half of the half he remembered, or wanted to remember, and I had to figure out what to believe. Sometimes it was obvious, like when he stopped to get cigarettes and he came out of the store with a fifth of liquor in his hand -- I thought you said you weren’t drinking tonight, I said, carefully. His face got all red with anger: I’m not drinking, this is a Coke.

He might have even said: don’t you trust me, why don’t you trust me? People were starting to talk about the market crashing, but no one could tell the difference yet, I mean no one we knew. Derek and I heard about a squat party on Market Street. That sounded ridiculous -- who were they kidding? It wouldn’t last more than 10 minutes. We headed over to see. We got to the address and it was a huge, boarded-up theater, dozens of bikes locked up outside. We walked up the stairs into a cavernous room full of brightly-painted murals and hundreds of people dancing to live music. Everyone was dressed to the nines in thriftstore artistry -- sure, it was sceney as all hell, but these were the weirdos I remembered. The party lasted for hours, without interruption, and without the arrival of the cops. I wondered what else might be possible.

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