The long weekend. A little slice of hell. The boredom, the spending. The loneliness. The drinking, the smoking. THE EVERYTHING.
This little man is playing Candy Crush
This little man is playing Angry Birds
This little man is checking Facebook
This little man is playing Animal Farm
This little man is crying Wah! Wah! Wah! all the way to his already-warm deathbed.
I don’t bite my nails. I pick at the dry skin around my nails. Incessantly. I draw blood. I can’t help it. My fingertips are ugly as a result. This isn’t the main problem. It’s the obsessive picking. In public. How it must look! Along with this terrible haircut.
I was buying a bottle of wine. The young man in line in front of me got carded. Then the cashier said to him: « My mistake! Almost a relic! » And the young man said: « It’s the Asian gene. » I « laughed out loud, » as the famous texting acronym goes and makes me cringe. The young man, hearing me laugh, turned to me. He said: « I love the hair, » quite earnestly. « THANK YOU. » I said. MORE earnestly. I need This Specific Compliment in the wake of The Bad Haircut. Then he even waited and held the door for me. He was walking my direction, too. Perhaps coincidental! I had a look and he was looking. Perhaps coincidental!
Then someone called: « Brian! » And he became otherwise detained and perhaps already was but not in my mind. Because I crave some sort of personal humanity. So a compliment is not a simple compliment but a fleeting but dire hope of attaining some. Some chance at I daren’t say it. I am the opposite of jaded. I still believe in love. A simple fool!
I jumped in the river. I swam and swam. Without really thinking I suppose the goal was to get to the other side. But then a canoe of Gypsies came by. They helped me aboard and we shared lovely stories and some wine and a few months of mutual hardship and experience and it was all quite beautiful.
Then I said goodbye and I jumped back in the river. I swam once again toward the other side. But then some vultures were hovering and I had to keep ducking under and holding my breath for as long as I could, which at first wasn’t too long but after awhile was at least a bit longer. This went on for quite some time and the current carried me further east but I could still see the shore just north so there was no worry.
Eventually the vultures must have found some prey because they were gone and I took great strokes left and right and was kicking my feet and gliding and I felt alive and I didn’t even look to see how much further I had to go but just kept revelling. How strong my young body moved and felt through the flowing water, the currents working against me to the east as I wildly waded to the north! What fun! What beautiful accomplishment with every meter gained, every ray of sun kissing my fat cheeks! All four!
On and on. Until I hit a rock! A tiny bedrock bar, a granite Gilligan’s Island, a « like this » and not a »we’ll see, » right there in the middle of the river. I may have broken a finger, in fact!
I climb up.
So I am stopped but the view is MAJESTIC. The shore is just there. There is no rush. I feel my skin tighten around my eyes when I smile to myself about how blessed I am to be surrounded by all this! Tight skin means too much sun. Or never enough! Beautiful Earth! Sacred Sun! Incredible gift of life! Thank you! I see you! I appreciate you! I live you to the fullest! My God, what else should I have done, Beautiful River Who Carries Me!?
I jumped back into the river. I see the shore there, so close, just north, only a few meters. I swim and I kick and the sky is grey and I am cold and I see my flailing arms and I have never seen such big goose bumps! I gain a few meters but still the shore is just beyond. I look for a Gypsy canoe or a rock oasis.
Or even a vulture.
Mister Hemingway, it’s been awhile. But here I am, tight in the afternoon. There is daylight at least! Just after seven, skies grey but still full of a sun just behind. Streets are shiny, gleaming, happy, washed, clean, new, beautiful. I carry on. I swim.