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Coachella Day 4: Sunday, The Religion

Sunday, April 14th

Alone in the desert, surrounded by a sea of people.  I was tired. I hadn’t slept a full night since I arrived to the festival. There was a calm to the restlessness though. The desert was still blowing off her heat before inhaling another dry, hot swallow.

I watched the birds fly over in a large check-mark. I heard a zip from a tent, a few cans tip over, a slam of a toilet door.

Trent woke up, disoriented and drunk. I watched his head whip around as his eyes opened in the cab of Benny’s truck. There was an exchange between the two muffled by rolled up windows and Trent tumbled out then climbed into the back seat of my car. I watched him sleep until the heat picked up, then rolled down the windows and wet clothes for his neck and hands.

Napping at the Do Lab

Kev was one of the first up that morning to join me on the lawn chairs propped in front of our cars. I hadn’t seen him very much inside the festival, but we were enjoying the morning together, quiet.

“You know, someone could really get used to life like this,” he said.

Kev was in the circle of “normal lifers”. He made an income, and instead of living each day the way he wanted, he worked on salary and paid vacation to live, really live, only for a cluster of days at a time. On the other hand, people like Trent and I struggled to live each day, working low paying jobs we,  just so we could live life the way we wanted.  We didn’t have new cars or trips to Europe, we worked when we were sick and haven’t slept in on Christmas morning in years. We lived with only what we had. That is enough, most days.

Sal and Fernando joined us on the lawn chairs, then Haute and D. I checked on Trent periodically but knew he needed the sleep.

“I can tell there is a lot of love there,” Kev said. “Just the way you two are.”

“I love him,” I said. “He can get nasty but it isn’t the real him. There is just a lot of pain.”

Trent

 

Blowing bubbles

“I saw the scars,” he said. Trent is covered in scars over his shoulders, arm and back. White large, permanent blisters spread over him like paint carelessly kicked over a canvas. I don’t notice them unless he is wearing a tank top. They look like burns and I believe they were cut into him as a child. I only asked him about it once: “I don’t want to ruin the night,” he said, giggling, shrugging off large, white spiders clutching tight to his body.

Trent tried to kill himself last year.  After trying to hang himself in his room, he was discovered, fled the house and arrested by police officers. Then he tried to hang himself in his cell by his pajama bottoms. His mother and I kept each other on speed dial. If Trent was missing for a night or spending the night in my living room, we texted.  I believe of everyone in Trent’s life, she suffers the most.

When he finally emerged from my car, bleary and worn from the night, he pulled out a little white packet of cocaine and cracked open another beer.  It wasn’t alarming for even in Coachella, on a Sunday morning, I spotted a maintenance employee snorting lines from one of the carts paroling the grounds.

Houston and Benny were close at hand and one offered an energy shot, the kind sold at counters in gas stations. “No thanks,” Trent refused, “I prefer cocaine.”

The morning was spent cat-calling all the boys walking back and forth to the latrines and showers.  All the pent up, homosexual frustration burst out from under Trent’s black, Sunday sun hat.  We bought that hat together at a Target the weekend we escaped to Joshua Tree National together. There was no fear of retaliation or alienation, it was the last day of the festival.

“Lookin’ good!” Trent would shout.

Some of the other boys in our company joined in, whistling, commenting, complimenting. The straight, bulky, sheltered boys had no idea how to respond. Most ignored. Some grinned and tossed their head around confused. A few seemed completely put out.

Pierre found me with his friend, asking if I would paint him. I, of course, obliged, tracing my fingers over his body with bright pink paint.  He allowed my friends to tease and ask questions, as long as I gave him some attention to ease any doubt about his sexuality. Everyone was in good spirits.

Mid Merge

Pierre

When we decided to go into the music festival as a group, Trent got ahead. I would stop to track the others but lose sight of either Trent or the group. Trent stomped off like a child. “Obviously you want to be with them!” He marched ahead and I followed him.

It is hard following someone through thousands of drunk strangers, under tents of people packed in shoulder to shoulder, each one, staring blankly at the stage. Were they moved or bored, I really couldn’t tell.

“If you want to be by yourself, that’s fine!” I said.

“You are carrying the drugs, so I am stuck with you.”

I allowed him to string me along for 30 more minutes, like a trout caught on the line, feeling my lip slowly rip from my mouth as a hand dragged it deeper into its own world. I found him sitting Indian style under a tent and handed him the drugs. “Here,” I said, “You obviously want to be alone and I don’t want to ruin the rest of my day. I can’t take it anymore. The silent treatment. The temper tantrums. I would rather be alone.”

After leaving him, it wasn’t long before I felt the gentle tug at my elbow. I misunderstood. He was sorry. It was a recited speech for loved ones who finally try to leave, as if it wasn’t hard enough turning your back on a little boy bound by scars.

We spent the rest of the day together, listening to melancholy music that meant something to him and absolutely nothing to me.  He watched himself, kept from being snappy and grouchy, though I could see the cauldron boiling, giving rise to the darkness in his eyes and the white splotches on his skin.

As the night came down, he insisted on buying drinks. A small, plastic cup of wine was $8 inside the festival. He bought himself two and double fisted as we sheltered ourselves from a growingly violent wind crossing the desert. I huddled down to keep warm, and let my hood cover the back of my head. A girl approached me, “Are you ok?”

“Yes,” I said, forcing a smile, “Just cold. Thank you, though, for caring.”

Sunday Ferris Wheel

We ate some mushrooms and decided to wait in line for the Coachella ferris wheel. A couple chatted with us and though we engaged them, both Trent and I were counting down the minutes to be alone together. Alone on top of the world.

“Are you feeling the shrooms?” he asked.

“No,” I answered, positioning a pair of sunglasses on my nose. I found them on the ground earlier in the festival. “Oh look, the ferris wheel is green. That’s an interesting choice.”

Trent released his signature cackle and we climbed into our own passenger car. As we climbed into the sky, Trent relieved himself into an empty water bottle. The wind pushed the wheel and car against the sunset, like rain drops pinning a leaf to a wet windshield.

“I am scared,” I said.

“Me too.”

We sat across from each other, looking out at the thousands of people, the lights and tents waving from the distance. I held on to the sides of the car as it rocked back and forth. We didn’t need to touch the stars, we just wanted to keep from falling.

After we got down, Wu-Tag Clan was playing on one of the larger stages. We listened a bit from the distance but everyone was drunk. Unlike the previous nights, when everyone was tripping or high, this time everyone was drunk and bumping into each other. Knocking over girls. Knocking into security guards. I am not sure it mattered. Giving psychedelics to just anyone for a high, someone without the capacity to really use them, sharpen their mind and learn more about themselves, is very much like reading Kafka from cue cards.  The real experience is lost on them before it ever started.

Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage, they were headlining the festival.  Trent and I decided to head back early.  It wasn’t our type of music. The wind had really picked up and it felt as though if we leaned forward on our tip-toes, the gusts would keep us upright.  Against the black of night and muffled under the warmth of shrooms, we barely were able to do much of anything.

“A little breezy,” Trent said, sarcastically, clutching his sun hat and scarf over his head.

“Just a bit.”

I laughed as dust flew into my eyes and mouth. We dragged ourselves back to the campsite until morning.

Just as we did on every camping trip, Trent and I woke up in a pool of spilled beer. It was early, but Rolling Stones tickets were going on sale 10am Pacific Standard Time. They were selling 200 tickets $85 a piece under what I referred to as the “Poor Man’s Lottery”. On the day of the concert, your seat would be determined at random. You could get a seat anywhere in the stadium, as long as you had official identification and the credit card used to purchase the ticket. Then, and only then, you would be escorted to your seat by a stadium employee.  Michael was back home with two computers cued up to buy tickets. They were expected to sell out in less than 5 minutes.

rolling-stones-50-and-counting

I woke up at 6am to pack up and woke up everyone at 7am for help. My car was dead, but Kev and D were going to jump start Black Betty then drive Sal and Fernando to the airport, for their return to Mexico City. Everyone got up with us, with sand in their eyes and under their fingernails, helping to make sure we were on the road in time. With the commute from Indio to Los Angeles and a few dollars in cash, we would make it back to my house in just enough time to hop on the computer and click our way into the concert lotto. As it turned out, by the time we arrived, I didn’t even have time to smoke a cigarette. Trent waited patiently on the couch, stroking my dogs as Michael and I furiously clicked on the fan site for tickets. That was the price I agreed to pay for the life I’ve chosen.

Coachella was not the psychedelic playground I expected. It wasn’t the visit to the ideals of the 1960s or a glimpse into hippie culture I was hoping for, nor was it much of a vacation.  I found the whole ordeal somewhat stressful.

But the memory I will take is a group of sleepy men, rolling out of their comfortable, warm tents on an early Monday morning to help me chase my music. Aside from the materialism, the drunks, the privilege, the fatigue, the selfishness, there was soul at Coachella after all.

“Good luck,” they shouted, waving at us as we slowly navigated over the grass and onto a dirt road. I smiled, wiping the sand off my side view mirror. They knew how important it was to follow the music.  It was our religion.

palm tree husk

 

 

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Coachella Day 3, Pt. 2: Saturday 90,000 People on Drugs

Saturday, April 13th, 2013 

Part 2

Trent and I were without much narcotics. There was some coke left over, in addition to a bag we found the night before, but finding privacy and still air for lines in the desert just puts me on edge. It wasn’t my scene for coke. Violent Femmes were on at 6pm that was the one band I wanted to see.

Today would be the day we wouldn’t let the rich kids get to us.

“I hate you white people because you are rapists, child molesters and sociopaths. Look at all the serial killers. They are all white! … and now you are taking over Coachella,” Trent said just before squeezing my knees affectionately. “No offense.”

“None taken,” I said casually. “I don’t consider myself white. I am a black, jazz singer trapped in a tone deaf white woman’s body.”

vanessa-hudgens-drugs-coachella04_4daeee459e19a-t

Walking around asking strangers for drugs was hopeless the day before, with the exception of a middle-aged hippie from San Francisco.

“Do you know Molly?” Trent asked, as we pressed shoulders against each other on a hay stack.

He stopped. “I sure do. I know Lucy, too.”

“Lucy?” I asked. “Who is Lucy?”

He stepped closer to us and spoke quietly, but shrugged. “Lucy is acid.”

“Lucy in the sky, I get it,” I said, happily.

“How much do you need?” he asked.

“Just a few hits each.”

“Oh … I only deal in grams. A sheet of LSD would be around 40,” he said.

We didn’t have enough money to buy a sheet of acid when we wanted a psychedelic and MDMA or Molly or Ecstasy. We just needed a handful of party favors for the weekend. However, if my phone hadn’t died weeks later, that would have been a helpful business contact for Los Angeles. Acid is non-existent down here. We explained our position.

“I get it. I just can’t walk around with $5 bills filling up my wallet,” he said. We weren’t the big spenders. The college kids who hoarded their drugs and kept privately within their SUV campsites had a bigger spread, bought more drugs and could splurge. This guy financed parties.

The next kid we met, a spacey-Eskimo teenager stopped when we asked, “Do you have shrooms?”

“Shrooms …. Oh… I would really love to help you … but I ate them all.”

We did however find a cool young kid who sold us some good mushrooms at a decent price. I can’t recall much about the kid other than he seemed like the one person who was lucid and smart enough to sell drugs at Coachella.

Security Check Line at Coachella

Now, there was the security check into Coachella concert grounds. Naturally, because I was the girl, it would be easier for me to pass through carrying. Security guards don’t like to feel up girls. My secret was the purse. There was a zipper pocket inside. I put the drugs at the bottom and a big packet of handi-wipes on top of them. No one would think to take all my items out of the inner zipper. It would just hold up the line too long. The other place is behind a driver’s license or bill fold in my wallet.

On the final day at Coachella, one female security guard, the bull dyke type, felt up my bra. “Wait a minute! What’s this?” she said.

“My tits,” I said. “I know. I have big tits for my body type.”

“Hold on,” she said, calling over an equally bloated, blotchy faced, female guard with hair cut close to the skull and small earrings as if it was a last ditch effort to distinguish gender. She felt my breasts, too.

“She’s clear,” said the second guard.

“Ok,” the first guard said, motioning me through. I gave her a look of outrage and invasion. My eyes narrowed, my lips pursed and I glared. I picked up my purse with in total disgust; the same purse carefully carrying weed, a pipe, two packets of shrooms and leftover cocaine.

Trent Walks Ahead

Inside, we stopped by a few forgettable artists when we decided to duck into a tent and offer to get someone high in exchange for a light. That was harder than it sounded. This was no Woodstock. As social of an event as camping in the desert seems like it must be, it seemed the venues and concert-goers had fine-tuned the art of isolation, despite Coachella’s conception and design. Most people were drunk and bumped into you or cut you off in line without as much as a head nod. Others just avoided you. Once in a while there was someone who was passed out or fell sick. One girl was throwing up. Trent was holding her hair back and feeding her water. We found out the four kids standing nearby were her friends. They were too absorbed in the concert to help her.

“That’s your friend, she needs your help,” Trent said. They kind of nodded, bleary-eyed, smoking a joint and turned back to the concert. “Hey!” Trent said again, grabbing their arm. “She needs help. You have to stop what you’re doing and get her out of here.”  This time they were a little more awake and made the minimal effort to lift her up. Trent and I kind of chuckled about it, like the wind was knocked out of us. It didn’t matter how poor we were, what color our skin was, these people were so disassociated they didn’t even have each other.

Inside a tent, we found a volunteer who was chilling out off-duty. We asked him for a light in exchange for a bowl. He was friendly, mid-twenties, dressed comfortably with a little extra weight on him. He wasn’t over-weight, he just looked normal. He also smiled through his beard, made eye-contact and warmly regarded us. It was a bright ally in an unfriendly country.

As we sat down to pack the bowl, we spoke about our expectations and the people around us. “You know I expected something different. But whatever, they are doing here what they seem to want to. There are lots of perfect bodies. That takes a lot of discipline. They are goal-oriented and I respect that. But there is more to life than just reaching goals. Like, where is the love? I would like to see more love, more physical love, more self-love. I don’t know why it’s missing but maybe they don’t need it. Maybe it isn’t as important to them. I just come here, listen to the music and try to be kind,” the stranger said. We smoked not long before Trent yanked on my sleeve and said he had to leave.

The stranger sensed the sudden pain, like he too felt the heat of a flame and waved us goodbye without question.

Outside the tent, Trent walked quickly away, crumbling in tears. “He reminds me of Kent.” His last love. We are all haunted by loves, but until we fall in love again, the hauntings are a hassle, a chronic ache, a struggle. When a new love makes his way in, the spirit remains but is somehow friendlier. At least that is how I feel about my lost loves. The anger and resentment drains out of you, the disappointment fades, but the love remains.

starbucks all you need is love

***

Violent Femmes took the stage. We were late getting there. It was the one band I wanted to see. Initially, before the line-up for Coachella was announced, there were serious rumors that The Rolling Stones would headline. You can imagine what that did to a girl like me; I was practically foaming at the mouth. I wish I could say when the rumors were denounced, I let it go.

I never let it go. I held on to the fantasy until Saturday night. The truth was once I walked through the campground, waited in line through security to the festival grounds, I could see that it wasn’t the Stones crowd. Their music would be wasted here.

The other artist I wanted to see was Lou Reed, but he backed out the week before the festival. Last week he died. My heroes are ghosts.  It would be easy to say this left me with a disenchanted life, but I have been lucky thanks to Los Angeles and a little bit of resourcefulness and ingenuity. I have seen the greats, what’s left of them.

Violent Femmes is a weird little band. My best friend in high school introduced me to them. He was two years ahead, drove a pick-up truck and had a big crush on me. He liked a lot of things I didn’t really care for like Lord of the Rings (the books), martial arts, boy stuff. We still enjoyed Kubrick films together, shared pots of ramen we didn’t bother to scoop into separate bowls and went to Germany as exchange students in the same group. He was a good friend.

Violent+Femmes Original

His sister bought tickets to see the Violent Femmes at the county fair. She told Rob, my friend, that he could bring anyone he wanted … but me. She didn’t like me. That was my one chance to see them.

Now, twenty years later, here it was my second chance.

You could say they are “folk punk”. They are just a cool sound. Funny enough, they started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1980 through 1987 on their first run. I was trapped in that hole of a city from 1982-1991. My sister had an album by them and I never forgot the song “Confessions”. It wasn’t until I hit puberty that I invested in my own album, a best of. I sunk into the off-beat, whiny vocals, the grating bag pipes, the angry lyrics, the dark stories. Now they were old, and fucking thrilled to be playing again for a crowd.

VFemmes Lead

VFemmes Bag Pipes

I was into it. I knew the words. I wanted to dance but it was an odd scene. Only a few girls were moving and Trent was off to the side, checking his watch. He wasn’t into it. It was a good show. The sun set.

Violent Femmes

Next on our to-do list was a band called Sigur Ros. I never heard of them, but I live in my little room, with my classic rock, my books and dogs. People don’t sit around and share music anymore. We settled into a group hanging out on the grass not too far from the stage. We ate our shrooms.

A couple sat behind us to the left. A white couple, fairly average in looks, the girl with medium length brown hair and a black coat, her boyfriend a little larger, also in black, held her close. She looked so unhappy. So despondent.

After a few minutes, I looked over to check on her and watched a tear fall down her cheek. Her companion tried to console her, but she elbowed him away.

“Uh oh,” I said, tapping Trent. “The drugs are kicking in for someone.”

“Where?” he turned to look and suddenly her face was covered in tears. She shrunk and buried her head into his lap.

“Yikes. That was fast,” I said.

“Music is emotional business,” Trent said. “There are 90,000 people here and we are all on drugs.”

Snail Photo by Sarah Parvini

Coachella had a theme, though it wasn’t totally evident. There was a huge snail that moved an inch every so often across the grounds. I didn’t even know it was moving at all until Trent told me. Then he pointed out the large, decorative ladybugs and a praying mantis. “We are the ants,” he said.

praying mantis

When Sigur Ros came on, I had no idea what to expect. The mushrooms make you sick and sleepy at first, and then your eyes are reopened. I couldn’t see them through all the heads, but white light fell over us like we were children running underneath a parachute on a summer day. The music was gentle- a piano, a bowed guitar, percussion and the sound erupted into something new. Music I never heard before.

sigur ros guitar

sigur-ros star storm

sigur ros stage

A voice sang in Icelandic through the music. A feminine, angelic voice. Even listening to them now, as I write this, I feel chills run up from my ankles to my thigh. My heart pounds harder and my eyes tighten. What beauty. Who knew Iceland reinvented music?

The show peaked with a choir. Whether there really was a choir there or not, I cannot say for certain. I am not a journalist. I am a music lover and a drug user. I raised my hands high and felt warm tears spill down my face. The scream of the vocals weak but sharp, growing through the strings and lights. It was like a pharaoh’s voice screaming to us. It was a perfectly unique moment. And finally, I had my moment where I felt one with the selfish frat boys, the girl crying in her boyfriend’s arms, the drunk guy who bumped into me and the Eskimo who ate all his mushrooms. The music was the gel oozed between each individual and clenched us together.

Sigur ros

When the music stopped, the lights turned off and we all blinked out of our daze, still sticky from the thumping harmony. We slowly climbed away from each other, wet, touched, awake.

I turned to the people around me. “Ok. Where are the Stones?”

“The Stones?” an older guy said, with a beard and a biker scarf over his head. “You mean, The Rolling Stones?”

“Yeah, man. The Rolling Stones.”

“They couldn’t get them, but the Stone Roses took their place,” he said.

“Eh, that’s bull shit.” I turned to Trent, “What do we do now?”

“They were great, right?”

“Phenomenal.”

“Phoenix is on the other stage,” he said, leading me through the crowd to more music. It didn’t have the heart, and I hung back with Sigur Ros’ toy piano plucking my brain. The light from their stage still burning bright inside me.

“You want to go back?” Trent asked.

“Sure,” I said.

We stumbled across a pile of ice someone dumped on the grass. I stopped to address it, “Hey, you make great music.”

snailsundaycoachella330408x0029__r940x635

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Coachella Day 3, Pt. 1: Saturday “Welcome to Life After High School”

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

I woke up, post-migraine. Anyone who knows chronic migraines knows the day after feels similar to being leeched. You are drained. The light sensitivity is gone so you can open your eyes, but your energy is nil. I woke up and had to use the toilet. Trent advised to bring our own toilet paper.  I trudged through the lawn chairs and empty beer cans to the port-o-potties, with roll of toilet paper in hand, a respectable distance from our tent.

We didn’t want to be too close, for obvious reasons. And we didn’t want to be too far … for obvious reasons.

Two young gentlemen cornered me on my way back from the toilets. Both handsome. Both young.

“Can I ask you why women are walking around with rolls of toilet paper?” Pierre asked.

“Do you really want to know?”

“Yeah,” Pierre said.

“Because all the toilets are out of tp by 10am. Why? Because women hover over the seats so they don’t have to touch it and spray over the entire toilet then neglect to clean up after themselves.” I looked at them and saw their chiseled faces wrinkle and contort.  “Do you wish you didn’t know?”

Toilets

“Yeah,” Pierre said. “You are the first cool person I met.”

Pierre was black. Is it relevant to note his race? It is, only because I had been yearning to have a love affair with a black man since before I moved down from Washington. I have had one-nighters in my early twenties, but those are so brief they almost don’t count. A few fantasies led me to the thick lips, especially how they would feel enclosed over my clitoris,  the gorgeous blanket of dark chocolate skin and the body of someone who is built but without it looking so forced he was disproportionate. Black men are strong and wide because their bodies allow them to be. White men will expand beyond the width of their heads or shoulders, and look short but wide.  Black men fill out perfectly. Pierre was too young for me, but let’s face it, so is my boyfriend Michael. “Where can I get your face paint?” he asked me. Oh yeah, I remembered, I was wearing face paint from the night before.

There I was, just woken from a migraine MDMA sleep, baggy eyes, uncombed hair, toilet paper in hand, and this perfect man was trying to make a connection 5 feet from the toilets.  I wondered if he would seduce me. “134th Street,” I said. “I’m the one with the shitty car next to the Mercedes.”

The cars are parked in a line, and each line is given a real street name, with a street sign similar to what you see on your corner. This way you can find your campsite in the cluster fuck of luxury cars and campers.

**

“Good Morning, Trent,” I called into the tent.

My car was full of food, needed tools, gear and everyone’s clothes. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “Can you pop the trunk?” I could pay my rent.  I also allowed people to charge their phones from my cigarette lighter until someone left the car keys turned so long, the car died completely.  Ruffling through the mess of a car, I found Trent’s vodka bottle of urine. He used it to relieve himself while we were trapped in traffic.

“At some point, can you pour out your urine? At your leisure, of course,” I moved a few things around. “I have French bread for you.”

“I always find the curious ones that keep saying I am straight. Girls think I am gay. I want them to think I am straight,” he said. Trent is definitely a gay man, one who has fucked both women and men. There is a strategy with him though, on flipping the converted, the unconverted and those on the fence. He wants everyone on the fence to be uncertain. Partly, it is what I identify with. I admire that quality, though I don’t push the same way he does.

We dragged out some lawn chairs and sat up as the morning shook open, like an egg cracking from the inside, bleeding more and more light. We all drank beer for breakfast. No one was there to judge us. No roommates, no lovers, no one. Do you know how wonderful it is to start your morning with a beer? It makes your feet tingle and your face lift. To just do whatever the fuck you want to do without judgment is liberating. I was watching myself, however, because Pierre would be around and I was determined to keep monogamous. I would not fuck things up with Michael. He was the best relationship I had. He cared the most.

We watched the birds form migration patterns overhead. Somehow, in the chaotic mass of driving in Thursday night, we were lucky enough to park next to a few homosexual men: D, Haute and Kev. Gay men just suit me. I can’t say why for certain, I just feel the most comfortable around them. Maybe because sexual competition and sexual conquest are a complete non-issue. Maybe because they suffered to establish their identity and won all the trophies I carried with me: a personality, a sense of humor and a case of beer. Maybe because they carried the same nicks and scars; the fear of rejection, the alienation, the feeling of being unwanted. Whatever the case, I felt lucky to have them there, with their cooler of beer, their sleek sunglasses and perfect hair. They leaned back their heads, smiling, letting the desert sun cover their faces with heat. I fell in love with those men that morning.

Coachella Crew

I think they were all accountants.  They behaved like playful men and once in a while spoke of work as if it was a burden. Kev was a large, bald, black man. The first night we were there, he was waiting for his boyfriend who hadn’t arrived yet. He looked straight-laced, but when he was drunk he wanted to collpase in his tent. Trent and I were chatting up D, who is a physically averaged-sized Caucasian guy, around my age, with sandy hair and a party beard. D is one of the most perfect human beings you could hope to meet. He was good-looking and kind. It was easy to talk to him because you never felt like he would turn and roll his eyes. He just smiled and exuded warmth, no matter what type of fool you wanted to be that night.

D

The night before, Kev was in the tent screaming for D. I slinked up to the tent and looked in to find the middle-aged, grown man on all fours, screaming “D! Come to bed! D!” He was drunk.

“Kev, we are talking to D right now. Can you close your eyes for a little bit and then when you open them again, D will be there. Does that sound ok? Do you think you can do that?” I said.

“Yes. Ok.” And Kev fell asleep.

Sober, Kev was the type of guy you would hire as a lawyer, accountant or police officer. He was strong, secure, big and confident. I like seeing people like that reduced to a toddler. There is a genuine spirit there you don’t often see.

Haute had joined us Saturday morning because of work. He was Asian, perfect “gay” body, I guess you could say. Androgynous. I always find that to be the ideal: the best of masculine and feminine worlds.  Haute is a true one-of-a-kind. He will roll his eyes. He will act miserable in the heat like a Southern Belle used to being waited on with clean napkins and seeded grapes. He will shoot a witty remark as sharp and cruel as any professional stand-up comedian and not flinch. And when you make him laugh … you feel like God.

Haute Mess

It was a good gathering.

We watched the frat boys walk to and fro like they too were on a grassy runway. The white boys with shoulders too big, heads too small, shorts too low, no body hair, no obvious flaws: boring. The gay boys were taking the bait, though.

“Do you think he is gay?” someone asked, as a red-haired frat boy strolled past.

“A gay ginger is like a unicorn,” D said.

We were next to a huge SUV with several white kids and one token black guy, who looked fucking miserable. They were loud and obnoxious. They played drinking games I didn’t understand like beer ping pong and whatever else. UCLA banners on the car and on their covered picnic table. It seemed like they didn’t have to worry about a thing.

They clustered in front of their SUV drinking beer and maybe nursing a hard bottle of some kind. A couple leaned against the hood of the car. The tall, boy with a baseball hat kept staring at me, while a blonde, thin, tan-bedded girl hung on his arm. A short, Asian boy with a UCLA baseball hat tried being the joker, hosting, encouraging drinks and performing for them. The rest stood there, dumbfounded. They were so young.

The boy kept staring at me, and Trent whispered in my ear, “He keeps looking at you.”

“Probably because he is bored with Barbie,” I said. Then I licked the end of my water bottle and slowly poured it over my mouth and chin. I buried the nozzle of the bottle into my mouth and throat and coughed up an ounce of water over myself.

My group of gay boys giggled.

It escalated. I spread my legs, and fanned over my crotch to his direction. Anytime he looked over, Trent squealed excitedly. Barbie looked on disapprovingly and hung harder on his arm. The poor boy didn’t know what to do. He looked back at his friends, providing them a one-word response. Never a smile. Never a chuckle. Nothing human.

Trent tipped me off to whenever the boy looked back at me. This time, I slipped my bare breast over the top of my strapless sundress and moaned.

My boys cackled.

My boob

As conversation carried on, and I covered myself, the boy looked harder and harder at me until we eventually held eye contact.

“Oh my God, he is looking right at you. Oh God!” Trent said.

“This is awkward, I don’t know what to do,” I said.

Straight-faced, sunglasses and with a hat, the boy stared. When the couple said their goodbyes, fist-pumped and proceeded to walk past our campsite, arm in arm, Trent whipped me around and pretended to pump into me from behind, ending with a squirt of suntan lotion all over my back.

“Oh God!!!” I moaned. “HARDER!”

We had to wrap things up. I wanted to see the Violent Femmes at 6pm and we needed to find more drugs.

Sal kneeled by my side. In broken but heavy English he said, “That is the sexiest show I have ever seen.” I laughed. You see, I am just a comedian with a nice body. I only mean to be funny. I only dream of being sexy.

A girl from the black SUV crawled over to me drunk. “I love gay rights. I heard them saying bad things but I don’t believe it.”

I shrugged and took a slug from my beer. “Ok.”

From time to time, girls will do this. They get sloshed, crawl into my lap and confess lesbian experiences from college. I don’t know what they expect from me. Do they think I am a lesbian? Do they want advice? I am never asked a direct question so I just let them prattle on and on until they go away. I find the misdirection boring.

The crowd from the SUV tried talking to us. I was buzzed and not interested, but Sal and Fernando lit up. “I have never felt popular before!” they said. We had stepped out of line. Our clothes didn’t match. We weren’t nervously trying to fit in. We invented our own lives and in that life, we were new. We didn’t echo style, words or dreams. We were individuals. We were born and alive.

“Welcome to life after high school,” I said.

life after high school

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Hippie Chic: Coachella Day 2 … Friday

April 12th, 2013

It was Friday in the desert. I waited as people woke up. As I get older and work more, I get used to being an early morning person. The coffee and food trucks were lined up beyond the campgrounds, in a different section even further beyond the toilets and showers. I heard you had to hit the showers early if you didn’t want to wait in line for hours.

I watched the risers to gather a picture of where I was and prepare for the experience. Frat boys. Topless. Long shorts. No body hair. Identical. Sorority girls. Daisy dukes and bikini tops. Lots of daisy dukes and bikini tops. They were all loud.

“COACHELLA!” someone would scream.

greetings

The heat weighed in heavy almost immediately.

Trent got up to a beer and a few lines of cocaine.

A couple stumbled in front of us. The girl taking the boy’s hand and pressing it against her groin while seemingly entranced in a kiss.

“And I thought true love didn’t exist,” Trent said.

“There are so many daisy dukes and bikini tops that it has become a permanent fixture in the background. Our canvas IS daisy dukes and bikini tops.”

We ventured into the festival. Though I was wide awake at 7am, I was exhausted by noon and we stumbled by something called the Do LaB to fall asleep in the grass. The music was hypnotic. It didn’t really have an identity to itself, but a comforting, predictable beat. Similar to a mother’s heart beat from inside the womb. There were layers to it that, in my opinion, achieved an echelon above the usual pop hit I spin through on the radio.

Pictures in the News

Do Lab Day

I sat up to watch the beautiful people dance. The beautiful, bronzed, thin, muscular, self-aware puppets danced. Everything was so hyper-aware. The flower in the hair. The face paint. The shoes and painted toe nails. I heard the phrase “hippie chic” on the television one day. It seemed counter intuitive. Hippie chic.

Hippie chiche

Hip·pie  /ˈhipē/  noun: a person of unconventional appearance, typically having long hair and wearing beads, associated with a subculture involving a rejection of conventional values and the taking of hallucinogenic drugs.

Chic /SHēk/ adjective: elegantly and stylishly fashionable.

Paris Hilton

So unconventional becomes conventional. Rejection becomes acceptance. Were these girls really interested in what was happening in Afghanastan or Egypt? Had they formed opinions about Obamacare and the Affordable Healthcare Act? Were they working to reclaim their country and assume a new identity of freedom, revolution and peace?

Maybe. I couldn’t talk to them. They didn’t see me. They didn’t look for a connection. On the contrary, I stared at them. Their flat abdomens swaying in unison to a beat. The bored little hippie dolls, unmoved, uninspired, with pouty lips. They only knew how to be adored. How to be fucked like a rag doll. They didn’t hear the music. They didn’t see me or Trent, sweating alone in second hand clothes under the bright, orange awning. They didn’t see each other. All they saw was themselves. They were the center of their own universe. Walking back and forth to the outdoor toilets like it was a grassy runway. Always on their phones. Always videotaping. Always assuming they were the one person who was supposed to be noticed.

Do Lab Girls

These girls become a blur and, for once, I was thankful for the bit of chub I acquired during my first 6 months of winter. Michael was feeding me well, too well. He would still drop everything to get whatever I suddenly found a hankering for. Vegan sundaes. Candy sprinkles. Vegan nachos. Daiya cheese. Wine. Beer. Vegan pizza. Vegan pizza. Oh yes, vegan pizza. I have learned to watch what I say aloud, because he will bring me whatever I suggest. The princess treatment was appearing and reappearing in my midsection and arms. I like being skinny, but this particular weekend I liked being chubbier … if just by 5 pounds … just so I could be different.

Me and Trent

It was there, sweating, awake, mildly disgusted by the orchestration of trend and vanity, that a beautiful boy stopped to stare at me. Fat, little me. With my Princess Leia buns and vintage sun dress. He smiled at me. My cheeks burned and I looked down.

Michael knows about my weakness for male attention and sex. If you hadn’t met me but read only my blogs, you might think I prance around in diaphanous clothing, slipping behind the nearest curtain with the first available man. I am rather shy, in a way; otherwise I wouldn’t work so hard to entertain.

It was my first adventure alone, without Michael, in a privileged playground. I didn’t know if I trusted myself yet. So when the beautiful, Greek warrior stared at me with the smile, the smile that can blind one from moral obligation, I turned away. Sure, they were all snot nosed kids who spent more time on their figure and wardrobe than intellect and community. I could still smell their sweat.

The center stage was overcome by a skillfully choreographed show of alien-clad dancers. Females with popping limbs and bopping heads. Water guns were turned on the crowd. With the spray power of a garden hose, one body after another collided with a foaming charge of cold water. It looked delicious. A male dancer came towards us, front and center in the performance. His legs were covered in black latex and stretched over his shoulders in thin straps, leaving his chest and back completely exposed. The muscle in his stomach and arms worked under the perfect flesh of a tight machine. Each working part triggered another, muscles taut and pulling to another lever, another tool, a further apparatus on a flawless stringed, meat symphony.

Performers Do Lab

A ring descended from the top of the stage and stopped at the man’s face. He was crawling on the floor to the ring and broke character for one, holy moment. He grabbed the ring in one hand, and I saw him mouth the words “You can do it” before he clasped on with both hands and was raised in the air like a phoenix sprung from her body. My mouth dropped open. It was sky ballet. I wasn’t even on drugs yet.

Ring Performer at Do Lab

I turned back for Trent, who was awake. I walked through the crowd. Flower halos. Converse shoes. UCLA flags and baseball hats.

“Do you want to go back?” he asked. We needed to get drugs.

We didn’t know anyone holding extra to sell. We had to approach strangers. So we would simply ask people if they knew Molly. Most people kept their head down and their mouths shut. Though Coachella was supposed to be a collapsible community, no one wanted to venture out of their inner circles. They were uncomfortable if they were spoken to, and didn’t want to share. Of course, we were offering to pay them.

“We came prepared. Learn your lesson,” one 18-year-old blurted out to us.

“We have an unreliable drug dealer,” I said, casually.

Trent has a switch. And before they had smarted off to us, Trent was flipped. We were tired of being ignored and avoided. We were tired of people treating us like we were hobos, panhandlers or freaks. We were all there for the same reason. The walls in Indio were taller than ever.

“You are just a couple of kids, you don’t know anything,” Trent said, throwing his hand in the air and storming off.

“Why don’t you chill out!?” one said. Trent turned towards them, the whites of his eyes screaming at them for more. Feed me more.

“It’s ok. It’s not worth it. Just let it go,” I said to both of them. More to the two young men than Trent.

There was bickering and I gently pulled Trent towards our tent as the confrontation spilled and fizzled into nothing at all. It was hard. We both had been bashing most of the yuppie, white teen trash washing into the festival all day. At one point, I was picking up receipts off the ground by the ATM machine and reading off account totals. “Balance $2,004.00, $6,458.00, $11,899. FUCK YOU!” Needless to say, my balance was in the negative. Trent had struggled the first half of the day trying to remember his pin for his ATM card. He called his bank and his mother trying to figure it out before it just came to him, in the middle of a hot afternoon, while overpriced beers were spilling over rich kids’ fingers. We had plenty of food in the car from the Target run the night before. It was the feeling that we were excluded from some gradiose American experience. To run off to musical festivals with no job to get back to, no rent to pay, no car breaking down every couple weeks. To have unlimited resources to do anything you want. To just fuck off without consequence. Of course each person has their own conditions to grieve. Their own price to pay. That didn’t ease the bitterness as they paraded in front of us, noses high, money and luxury cars everywhere, and worst of all, ignoring us just like they would anywhere else. If we served them in a restaurant- which we probably did. If we mopped their floors, paid their share of taxes, bought from their family brand, we were expendable. We were invisible. And here in a paradise constructed of synthetic, pharmaceutical and musical fantasy, our fantasy was interrupted.

Frat Boy Indian

I would like to think I can be a better person. That I could let go of class and kids, the miles between the cost of my time and the cost of theirs, the year it took for Trent and I to save up for this weekend so we could feel a part of something magical and current, something that could give us the vision of a life we wanted and the commercial it has turned into. Tickets are over $300 each and continue to rise every year, making it only possible for a certain type of person to go; the type that makes sacrifices throughout their year for a ticket, or the type with a large, disposable income. To throw those two in the desert together was mephitic to the point where it was almost paralyzing.

Trent and I fed off of one another. Sneering. Glaring. Quipping. It did us no good.

Back at the campground, we met a kid who would trade us Molly for $30 and some blow. I guess cocaine was a little more exotic to that breed. Good thing our unreliable drug dealer was never short of one thing: blow.

As night fell, my sinuses tightened and I felt the onset of a migraine. I didn’t drink enough water. I used to have them all the time, but now it is rare. I have credited the dog walking for improving my circulation. When a migraine takes hold of me, it is by the throat. If I move, the pain can become so overwhelming, I am forced to vomit. My neck and head lock and I freeze. The Molly still flooded me with serotonin. My heart sped up. My eyes peeled back to reveal the world underneath the obnoxious screaming and drunk lechery.

night coachella

Beach House played. Trent was ecstatic. It was the first time he was really happy. Poor, unfortunate souls like ours feed off music. More than food and money. The music reclaims us.

Beach House

There was a string of huge balloons tied in a long rope across the sky. They were so big; you could see them from the sky, miles away. They bobbed gently in the desert wind. And over the string and gently moving balloons was a full moon. The music came to me through those large round spheres, full of human breath, moving with the Earth’s voice and I saw it. I saw the music.

The whole note.

The half note.

The crochet.

The quaver.

The breve.

The minim.

Each note danced overhead to the soft, hypnotic music.

Balloon Chain by Robert Bose Photo By Sarah Parvini

I had to lie down to keep my head still, as to reduce my physical suffering. My face buried in the cool, cool grass. The heat from the Molly extinguished on midnight dew. I remembered my Third grade teacher scolding us for pulling out the grass in the playground. “That is God’s carpet,” she said.

God’s carpet. It held me still so the music could play through me.

Music was coming from two other stages. It felt like all the instruments were colliding over my head and spilling in lost notes through my hair. The volume so loud the ground shook. My head shook as if the fingers of the musicians were pressing down on me with each cue.

I stayed there in child’s pose. Occasionally, someone would ask if I was ok. I said I was great. Better than great.

moon rise

That is when we found blow on the ground. These kids were so fucked up, they were dropping their drugs on the ground without notice. We collected the baggies.

Next on stage was the Yeah Yeah’s. Trent led me to the next stage, and I fell to the ground again. My feet behind my ass, my face planted in God’s carpet. And the music came again.

“Do you need water …?” Trent asked. “A cigarette?”

“No, I just need to be still.”

Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio

Once in a while, a drunk would step on me, trip over my back, press their foot onto my hand. They couldn’t see me. I was beneath the light. Beneath their line of vision. Swimming in the world of dreams.

“No one can see you down there,” a stranger said, trying to divert foot traffic.

“I know,” I said.

I know.

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They Who Walk You Through Hell

I was moved out of Sylmar by Monday. My things were in two small units of storage in Orange County. My two pittie princesses were staying with Rochelle and Brad was tagging along with me.

I split my nights between Frank and Abe’s place, though Abe made it a point to spend every last minute with me he could before I left.

The first day after I finished Doggie Daycare, I slept in. I was congested and the mucus in my lungs hardened. Even now, as I write this, I am coughing up reminders of my apartment in Sylmar. My lungs haven’t been the same since the flooding.

I woke up and wrote a blog that morning. Abe was frantically doing my laundry and organizing my bag for France.

I kept saying, “Relax.”

He said, “This has to get done. (then mumbled) I am so glad your other friends got to have fun with you.”

I grabbed his big fluffy head and said, “Awwwww”

He said, “You have been staring at that screen for 2 hours.”

I said, “Well, it usually takes me 4-5 hours per blog, so that wasn’t too bad.”

Abe, “You just sit around and write all day. No wonder you get headaches.”

Me, “If I don’t write, I go crazy.”

The sad fact was the two people that were helping me through all the logistics of moving were spending the least enjoyable final hours with me: Frank and Abe.

Abe organized the clothes in smaller bags inside my largest suitcase.

I said, “By the way, I am going to need that dress you bought me (for the wedding I never went to because you dumped me) . . . for Cannes.”

He said, “She wants the dress.”

I said quite seriously, “I need it, more than the trunk of your car.”

And there it appeared, inside my suitcase destined for France.

 

My body was sore, my mind was roaming over everything. Even as I write this, I feel like I am missing a thousand things for either France or Antioch. It’s been hard to sit down and let my mind clear.

Thursday came and I wanted to see Trent and Kent.

After paying my dogsitter in as much ganja as I could afford, I headed over to Highland Park.

I came in and sat down, high as a kite after lighting up with Rochelle and watching my pit bull play with a Great Dane named Herschel.

 

We got a bottle of wine and texted Abe the address, since he insisted on meeting up with us. I found his sudden persistence romantic.

My phone was dying so I texted him Kent’s phone number and said “Use this phone number”

He called Kent immediately and said, “I was told to call this number.”

I barked loud enough so he could hear, “I meant when you get here!”

Abe arrived and we were talking about the Tupac hologram at Coachella.


Trent said, “I don’t remember any part of Friday.”

Kent, “He went to Coachella and sat in his car to listen to music.”

Trent, “I had everything, LSD, coke, ecstasy, weed, shrooms, I mean, everything.”

Me, “So you didn’t see the hologram?”

Trent, “No, I left. Eminem came on and I just really don’t like him, but people who were there said it looked real.”

We watched it on his phone.

Me, “He says ‘Coachella,’ how is that possible?”

Kent, “I think he is alive. I think he taped it beforehand and he is alive.”

I shrugged, “It’s possible.”

Trent, “They released a line-up for Coachella 2013 and it says Janis, Jimi, Doors, everyone! Patsy Cline! Nirvana. The Beatles. Michael Jackson.”

Kent, “I have to go if they do the Beatles. If I see the Beatles I am going to scream. I am going to be all over that.” Kent kicked his feet high in the air, with his ass wedged between the arm of his chair and his seat. He started giggling like a schoolgirl. I wish I had a hologram of that when ever I was having a bad morning.

Me, “Where is Whitney!?”

Trent, “I know, she didn’t make it yet.”

Me, “I am surprised her agent isn’t all over that.”

Kent, “Abe, you are so quiet over there.”

Abe, “I am just listening. Whitney Houston . . . “

Kent, “I don’t know why anyone isn’t releasing the details of her death. They are all being so vague about it.”

Me, “Dr. Drew was talking about how she was found face down, so she must have had a seizure. He was complaining on LoveLine that no one was really looking at the details properly.”

Trent, “She was found FACE DOWN. Oh God, now I know she was murdered.”

We all looked at Abe. He said, “Killed by the Illuminati. In plain sight. The ultimate sacrifice.”

A shiver went down our spines.

Abe, “Maybe she wasn’t the only one. A lot of those big names died at the same age. 27.”

Trent, “Janis, Jimi and Jim! It was weird all at the same time like that. One after another. The one I know the most about is Janis. They said that she was talking to the bellboy for 45 minutes before she died. She had just gotten back from buying cigarettes, spoke to the bellboy for a long time and then they found her, in her apartment dead with the cash, the change for her cigarettes, still clutched in her hand. Her friends came in and wiped away all the evidence, so that no one would get in trouble. But then they tried to put everything back to see if there was any kind of evidence.”

Kent, “Once the evidence has been taken away like that, there is no way to bring it back.”

Trent, “It was just too weird, her still having the cash and all of them dying like that.”

Abe, “Maybe they were assassinated. They all represented the 60s.”

Trent, “Yeah, maybe the point was to let everyone know that the 60s was over, and we all have to return to the way it was. Back to work!”

I let this sink in. That sounds disturbingly possible.

I don’t know how this happened, but Trent, Kent and I all broke into song at the same time:

Oh I want to dance with somebody,
I want to feel the heat with somebody,
Yeah, I want to dance with somebody,
With somebody who loves me.

I broke into the, “♪ ♫ Someone WHO . . . someone WHO ♪ ♫”

Kent and Trent kept my back-up chorus going. ♪ ♫

Me, “♪ ♫ SomeBody who Loooooves me yeah. ♪ ♫”

Kent, “Look at the straight white boy terrified in the corner. He is thinking, ‘What the fuck just happened?’” Kent laughed like a jar of gold.

Abe, “No, I am listening.”

Trent, “Do you want to talk about your dreams about me?”

I had told Trent that Abe had two dreams about him after Joshua Tree. One where he woke up and Trent was having sex with me, and the other where Trent was watching us have sex.

Abe, “What? Oh.”

Kent chimed in with a loud, “HE HAS A BIG COCK.”

Trent laughed, “I do.”

Me, “The legendary cock I have only ever heard about but never seen.”

Kent, “All bottoms have big cocks. It’s ironic. I have known 4 bottoms, and all of them had huge cocks.”

(in case you don’t know, it’s ironic because Bottoms take it in the ass and don’t use their giant, godly cocks for penetration)

 

Kent leaned in and put his hand on mine, “Trent’s cock is SO big I think it gave me colon colitis. I am serious.”

Trent, “He was in so much PAIN.”

Kent, “I mean I was shitting myself, it was awful. Yeah, and I asked my doctor if this is possible because I recently had anal sex with a large cock, and he did this, (Kent’s face turned placid and his voice went light and apathetic) ‘I don’t know.’ Just like that, (placid, light) ‘I don’t know.”

Abe must have been shaking in the corner.

We went outside for a smoke and were talking about how Kent looks Jewish. He has a big full beard and an Italian nose.

Trent said, “He is circumcised.”

Me, “Aren’t you?”

Trent started fucking the air, “No, this is in full form.”

Me, “I think it’s traumatizing anyway.”

Trent, “I know!”

Kent, “It’s not traumatizing.”

Abe, “It’s like peeling a kiwi.”

Trent cackled.

Kent, “It’s more like a chip clip put on the end of the penis, the tip turns purple and falls off.”

Trent, “What!? No its not like a chip clip!” Penises don’t just fall off!”

Kent, “I know, I fucking saw it at my nephew’s circumcision.”

A man walked by.

We walked over to Subway to put some food in our bellies of white wine, tobacco and pot.

Outside, Abe finished yet another cigarette and we were on to Muslims.

Me, “Well, Abe thinks Muslims are destroying the country.”

Kent, “They are.”

Trent tossed up his hand, “See? Jew.”

Me, “la heim

Kent, “You two are racist. Bashing Jews.”

Me, “I can’t be racist against Jews. I want to have sex with them.”

We went inside the Subway and there were three little girls at the counter.

Two of them were wearing rain boots.

Me, “I didn’t know rain boots were back in style.”

The chubby girl looked over her shoulder at me, and coolly gave me the snottiest look since St. Jude’s Catholic School, Milwaukee, WI.

Me, “Oh, excuse me. Jesus, I can’t escape social ostracization from little girls, even in my 30s?”

Trent cackled again.

Trent said, “Pardon us.”

Kent said, “Are you two being mean?”

Me, “They are the ones being mean!”

Kent, “Oh my Goodness. Oh my Goodness.”

Me, “You are watching too much Little Orphan Annie.”

Kent broke out into song, “♪ ♫ You’re never fully dressed without a smile . . . ♪ ♫”

We ate our sandwiches fast and before we knew it had to say goodbye.

Trent hugged me hard and started biting his nails, “Maybe I can come up and see you in Washington.”

I said, “Now, don’t lose your job and don’t overdose.”

Trent, “Drat! . . . Golly Gee.”

We hugged more, but it was never enough. And I had to leave my two love bird in their nest. Oh Jesus, how I will miss them so . . . it aches more than the fungus scarring my lung tissue.

Then, Abe and I headed over to Sascha’s.

We invited a few others from work, but no one could come. I wanted an intimate night with Sascha anyway. She worked too much for me to really get the chance to spend a large amount of time with her.

I gave Sascha a gift; a skull ski hat, a vinyl Pavarotti collection and an edible to help with her migraines.

With each gift she said, “I love you.”

And then with the edible, “I haven’t smoked pot or cigarettes since high school. So this will be interesting.”

Her voice was drifting over me in the background as she chatted with Abe about marijuana. She gave me a Rolling Stones, 80s cut sweatshirt.

All my friends had helped me move the dogs around, move my shit around, move me around with such care. There were so many hands carrying me that last week in Los Angeles, it felt like I was levitating.

How did things go from being so hard to so easy?

How did all the fear, doubt and poverty lift in a few weeks to promise, opportunity and love?

I really don’t know.

Sascha had a bottle of champagne for me and kept herself drinking Bud Light.

Anytime Abe moved, her little chihuahua mix would attack him, so Abe sat still in the corner and fell asleep. He just wanted to be close to me those last few days, even if he was sleeping on someone else’s living room floor.

Sascha was sitting with her feet together and her calf muscles displayed a conglomeration of tattoos.

 

Me, “Is that a . . .”

Sascha, “A bigfoot with underwear, that’s right. And I thought that would be hilarious with a skeleton on the other leg in underwear. I was . . . special.”

Me, “And that one?”

Sascha, “That is from something called ‘Drunk Clip Art Game’ where we got drunk, covered our eyes and picked a tattoo. We thought that was a brilliant idea.”

On her ankles, there were matching tattoos “1134” right side up on one ankle, and upside down on the other. She said, “It spells Hell. I always thought that was interesting. You know Dante ‘s Inferno is about the circles of hell, but it is more about walking through and learning from the sins before getting to that next level.”

 

Me, “Hm, that’s interesting. Buddhists believe you have to endure a certain amount of suffering before you graduate to the next level of enlightenment.

I was on set with a Buddhist once, and a cockroach was dying. We discussed putting it out of its misery and the Buddhist said we would be hindering the chance for that soul to reach the next level.”

Sascha, “Hm, that is interesting.”

You know what else is interesting? 1134 is one digit short but otherwise the address to my apartment in Sylmar. Certainly felt like a circle of hell, now this next round of experience promises to be the next stage of enlightenment.

 

1134 spells hell, and to Sascha symbolizes the person you walk through hell with. 2011 was hell- among those who walked the closest with me this round, Trent, Sascha, Abe. My angels.

***

I want to make Sascha laugh. In all her profile pictures, she looks stone-faced, rock star and stern, but when that girl smiles, flowers grow on the wallpaper.

 

I was tired, slightly drunk and worried about not being entertaining enough, or not being poignant enough, not making this last night everything it should be.

But with the people you have the most to say to . . . the less you talk. You sit across from each other and think. Words don’t quite do it justice. The air and the alcohol and the sleeping dogs between you give the goodbye a stillness. It can’t be bothered with a sentence, when a whole novel is stirring beneath our tongues.

We hugged goodbye.

And I went home with Abe . . . for the last time.

 

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