Out of the blue, my old high school friend Brian came to visit this weekend.
After some initial awkwardness at not having seen one another for over 10 years, we slipped back into our old friendship groove. Drinking helped. We did a bar crawl on Ballard Ave. and talked about his sex life, primal therapy, fucked up relationships, and music. We skipped seeing John Wesley Harding at the Tractor Tavern because the thought of standing in a hot bar and paying attention to someone on stage didn’t appeal to us as much once we got there.
I really am drinking a lot. The weird thing is how much I can drink these days and be okay. It’s got to be the meds. So maybe I should call those shrinks.
I came across some high school diaries and started reading them. Brian is all over one of them. I said, at age 14, that he was “the kind of guy who won’t get mad if you throw up in his car.” I believe I ripped that quote off from a John Hughes movie. Anyway, he is still that kind of guy. His heart is the same.
Yesterday I started coming down from my mania. Being hung over ushered that along. Then I spoke to my mother on the phone about my cousin, L.
She told me a long, sordid tale of Laura's meth use, absent boyfriend (father of her three littlest kids), subsequent eviction, and relocation (with the three kids) to my Aunt C.'s house.
Since these events, if they are true, have been filtered through my mother, I take them with some skepticism. (Especially the details about Aunt C. finding moldy dishes, stinking piles of laundry, and empty cupboards when she came to collect L. and kids.) But the barest facts, which are that L. is alone and caring for all five of her kids all day long (her other two live with their dad near Aunt C.) with what I can assume are minimal coping skills and a little meth problem, are tragic enough.
This whole story put me under a funk that morning. I hung up the phone and continued tossing my pesto-pasta salad while making up scenes of squalor and rage with L. and her children as victims of each other. I pictured the twin 4-year-olds wandering the empty apartment while the baby stewed in a disgusting diaper. This all sent me into a bad place.
Then I packed up my salad, loaded the kids into the car and drove to my old family friend Marion’s annual Seafair party in Mt. Baker. I wanted to be chipper and upbeat, but I was stuck in my bad images. Plus, Marion's 20-year-old son, whom I have known since he was in diapers, was there with his friends and bandmates, and instead of their energy feeling fun and stimulating, it made me feel like a shriveled clod.
As I tended to my veggie burger over the broiling barbecue and the hydroplanes roared across the lake below, these thin bed-headed boys loafed on deck chairs and discussed with great autority the recent Sonic Youth show compared with other Sonic Youth shows. My silent calculation revealed that the first SY show I went to, with Bikini Kill opening, happened when these whippersnappers were in the fourth grade. Even then, at 25, I was quite late in coming to a SY conversion experience. So who the hell did these boys think they were, talking a bunch of crap like they'd been around forever? I slapped their blood-drippy cow burgers over and replaced the round Coleman barbeque lid. I felt angry for some reason I couldn't articulate.
The kids were scared of the Blue Angels screaming around the sky. I put earplugs (purchased for $1 at a Rhett Miller show in San Francisco) in J’s ears, but he still crawled all over my lap in fear. I did enjoy sitting on the sofa in Marion’s 1940-era modern house and looking at Lake Washington through a wall of glass. I fantasized about living in a house like that when M and I retire.
I general, my motivation is flagging. I am worried about getting depressed again.