Today I stopped in at the toy store for the first time since I quit.
It depressed me. All of my favorite people had quit and vanished off the face of the earth, the few really hard workers who had stayed are down to minimal hours and they’re purposely scheduled shifts that don’t allow them to work with people they’re friends with. A couple of very friendly, loving coworkers who started working during season have apparently become arrogant and rude. This is what the place has become.
I walked around electronics with Benji, he talked about moving plans and I talked about moving plans. He’s transferring to a location in Visalia. He talked about how miserable the job had become.
“I guess I jumped ship just in time.” I said. He pretended to straighten merchandise.
“Yeah you did.” He said. “It’s a sad ship now.”
I felt like I had just finished the end of a really good book series. I felt a loss. Like while I worked there I had been witnessing some epic adventure without realizing it. They all really had been the best coworkers I’ve ever had. And that perfect group had dissipated and dispersed to better and worse things.
And I felt something that I knew was coming for a while.
The feeling that an experience, a period in my life is no longer current, but a story. The year I’ve spent in California, rebuilding and repairing and creating. It has become a story. It’s a thing now. In about a month this whole shindig will be “When I lived in Cali…”
And I feel the loss of an active existence in one place. I’m becoming a thing that floats on the surface again and waits to settle.
I’ve been dissociating here and there again. I haven’t dissociated frequently for a long time. The days to the big move are inching closer and closer.
And I feel a sadness that I wasn’t expecting.
The first time I moved out of my parent’s home I was angry and bursting with a thirst for independence and success and shouting ‘I’ll show you what I can do on my own!’
But then life did its thing and beat me into submission, and I was handed things better than I deserved but didn’t realize it yet and I grew up quickly.
Sometimes I think about a genie appearing and if I would go back and do it all over again.
Sometimes I say yes. Most of the time I say yes. But after I fixed it all I’d want to forget what I did so horribly wrong the first time around. I would want the second time around to be the only time as far as I knew. If I remembered everything from the first time, then I could never really feel free. Because to me, it would have all still happened.
I feel sad this time, about leaving. Deeply sad. It’s like when I think about it a black hole shaped like a twister forms in my ribcage and swirls about and sucks at energy and light and makes me feel a little emptier.
I feel so darn guilty about the things I do to people by simply existing. There’s no way to dance this whole thing through without causing anxiety and sadness and frustration.
Yes, yes. It’s life.
People change so much, and it frustrates me to no end. Some of them grow to be so selfish and bitter and they pity themselves so much. They seem to take pride in not having joy, they think that whining openly about the depths of their despair makes them special and deep and admirable.
I’ve lost so much patience for self-pitying behavior, specifically when people seek out reasons to exhibit this behavior.
It’s the world’s fault that everyone isn’t in love with you, it’s the world’s fault you aren’t a grand success, it’s the world’s fault that you don’t love yourself.
The amount of entitlement in young people is so ridiculous.The brats.
I feel so angry at these whiny little children at the community college. They’re complaining about the fact that they get to have an education. I want to poke them with forks and make them listen to me. There are people who would do anything to be as you are. Young with the world ahead of you, with a shot at setting yourself up for a great life, for a better tomorrow by just memorizing some stuff for a little while and learning amazing things. YOU GET TO LISTEN TO EXTREMELY INTELLIGENT PEOPLE TEACH YOU THINGS EVERY WEEK. APPRECIATE THEIR EFFORTS.
After stopping at the toy store I started driving home, when I saw a sign at a favorite bookstore in Old Town, it said ‘OPEN MIC FRI. 6:30’ I looked at my phone, 6:44. So I turned the car around and stepped into the bookstore, up some stairs to where I heard a voice reciting a poem.
“Even the silk swallows it whole…”
I tip-toed to the back of the space to listen as one older gentleman replaced the other at a wooden podium with a mic attached to it. This second gentleman gave a rundown of some characters in his novel before diving immediately into a story that made me blush before I could start to tip-toe away. “Oh, Jerry.” The older man raised his voice for the part of the woman, “Whenever we fight we end up making love.” I almost burst out laughing from surprise at how…well, unusual the experience was for me. It was shocking.
And so ended my first experience with an open mic night at a bookstore.
And once again I have no smooth way to end these posts…
Someone in this library smells a lot like cigarettes.
Enough that if I were to finally see this person I might expect to see a human-sized cigarette walking around on two legs.
I had been driving so long my leg started to cramp. I didn’t even know that was a thing that happens.
Austin and I switched back and forth between my Etta James music and his Billy Joel. California vineyards and orange groves zipped by. We can always see the mountains in this piece of Cali.
In the backseat a shoebox was strapped in. Inside lay a little, dusty, chocolate-brown bat curled up on a few layers of white tissue paper. I named him Bruce.
About eight hours earlier I had been walking into the comunity college, and seeing a couple of folks giggling and freaking out over some dark little mass on the floor. They were taking pictures and dancing around if it seemed to crawl towards them.
I remember looking at him and noticing first that his legs didn’t seem to move, only his right wing a little. And I remembered this one time walking out of a movie theater with my mom when I was little, and I saw a bird in a cement planter, and I saw it was alive but it didn’t move its legs. And my mom told me if its legs aren’t moving then it’s too late. And I tried to talk her into letting me take it home to try to fix it, but she made me leave without it, so I didn’t talk to her for the rest of the day.
But I don’t know anything about bats, so maybe next to no leg movement is a normal thing.
One girl stuck around, it seemed out of curiosity, to see what would happen to it. Her name was Natalie.
The little dark mass on the ground started to crawl a few inches before pausing and trying to fly. The little dork made it maybe half an inch off the ground before it hit the tile again. He’d go still, as though he were weak from the effort and trying to think of his next move. Craaaawwwwlll. Craaawwwwll. Flapflapflapflap….thud……Craaaawwwwwll-
I emptied my makeup bag and stuck it in front of him to climb into. In he went. But just as quickly he turned around and tried to squeeze through the hole I hadn’t finished zipping up.
“No, you dummy. I’m saving you.” I said as he went back out. I just stuck the bag in front of him again and zipped it up faster than he could realize what had happened.
“We could just stick him outside.” Natalie said, staring at my bag.
“It’s cold and he seems weak. Besides, I don’t want some stupid college guys to come across him and start messing with him.”
“Yeah…yeah, for me, it’s just I don’t trust the guys.” I got the sense she was trying to attach herself to me.
Some guy came in then. Petite build, dark hair, gotee and slightly bulging eyes. He had a small box with him.
Natalie announced that he was her friend from the college bookstore, and he was planning on taking the bat.
“Where is he?”
“We’ve got him in a bag.” Natalie said. She glanced over to me and took a few steps closer.
He looked me up and down. I spoke and nodded to the box, “Is that for him?” He nodded, and told us to follow him outside to put the bat in the box. Natalie followed behind him and I gathered my things. I felt protective of the squirmy little dark mass, so I intentionally lingered. I dislike being told what to do by someone not in authority, so part of the lingering was to quickly fume in silence over this odd human being telling me what to do as though he had authority over my actions.
I stepped outside and there they stood. It was still sprinkling outside. It was cold and windy and the sky was a big poofy blanket of grey cotton. He opened the box, I put the little fellow in and waited for him to explain his plan of action as he taped up the open end. But then he stood upright, his eyes flicked from Natalie to me and back again, he suddenly looked to the other end of the campus, “Hey…I think I see…yeah…” he quickly started walking away and said, “I’ll take it from here.”
Natalie turned to me with a smile, “Well, we did what we could.” I watched the petite, bulgy eyed fellow as he strode off. “What is he planning on doing with it?” Natalie shrugged and started walking back into the building, “At least we know we tried.” She said, waiting for me to follow. I watched the fellow and started after him. I’ve seen this walk of his before, because I’ve done it. When a conversation gets awkward so I make up an excuse to leave and walk without knowing where I’m going, I just keep going until I think I’m out of sight. That was his walk. No leading direction, glancing, walking, feet pointing this way, then that. I felt irritated. He had no plan for the bat. He handled the box roughly. I imagined him dumping the thing in a dumpster or worse. He eventually started for an area of one building that had nothing but stairs. I followed and didn’t bother being subtle. I was getting the squirmy mass back.
He glanced behind himself several times to see me follow, he’d quickly glance away and pretend as though he didn’t see me. Darting from one area of buildings to the next. I lost my patience and jogged up to him, “I can watch him for a while, I don’t mind driving him somewhere after class.”
He stopped and stared at me for a few seconds. “I…uh, I actually have a friend who can handle bats…I can call her….actually, I think I’ll do that now.” He started dialing on his phone, and then suddenly started striding quickly away. I followed and stared at him. I’ve never felt like such a weirdo. And I can’t remember purposely trying to make someone so uncomfortable until that moment. Natalie ended up joining us when he stopped walking aimlessly. Eventually he agreed to hand the bat over, insisting he get my number to check up on the little guy. Natalie insisted she have my number as well. I forget her reason stated.
The odd little man eventually left, and I found myself faced with an attachment. Natalie explained very quickly and suddenly what’s wrong in her life. I felt again that she was trying to attach herself to me, this time through quickly gaining pity. I grew up figuring out this personality type, my great aunt Violet was a person of this sort. They suck energy out of whoever they can. Energy and money and material things. I found a reason to leave the conversation after about ten minutes and promised to let her know what would become of the bat.
I talked to him when I found myself alone somewhere. ‘Bruce’ seemed fitting as a name. I went home, made a lot of calls. And discovered that the closest wildlife rescue center that was equipped to handle bats was about four hours away. One woman who works at the center offered to meet me in the middle, everyone at the center who I talked to seemed thrilled to get a bat. Eventually I found out it’s because a woman who works there pretty much lives for bats. The very pleasant human being I met was a woman in her late 50s, very long, braided grey hair. Beautiful skin. I guessed she was a vegan. I glanced over to her car and saw peace signs. Very warm and friendly woman. I handed off the shoebox, she securely placed it in her backseat, which was layered with towels and carriers and food bowls. She handed me some newsletters, I hugged her, and that was that.
I tried to get Austin to listen to my ‘Learning Czech’ CD on the ride back into Clovis. He played nice for a minute or so before he had to make fun of the accent. Back to Billy Joel it was.
“My greatest adventure.”
It’s one thought that randomly appears throughout the day. Even while I’m doing something like getting groceries or parking at the library. It’s like a mental twitch or tic. There’s no emotion paired with it, it’s said almost like a matter of fact by a nameless voice.
My greatest adventure.
I give it ten seconds of brainspace. And I feel a dull thrill, because I imagine my single action as one bead in a very long strand of actions. And then I go back to wherever I was before. And I don’t think about it again until the words pop up a few hours, or a day later.
My greatest adventure, the way I think about it, is my only adventure. My life.
I was scribbling something on a piece of paper when the thought struck a few minutes ago, and before I forgot I wanted to write about it here.
So there it sits.