Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Healing Through Absurdity

A dominatrix, a lesbian, and myself go to a funeral.

There's no punchline here, this just happened the other week.

The funeral was for a close friend of ours, a father figure of sorts to the restless youth of Columbus. He gave us advice and drinks and the often-needed verbal evisceration, angry-but-compassionate speeches composed of a unique juxtaposition of swear words and wisdom from experience.

He grew dark hair and mixed clear drinks.

He discovered the secret to trusting people while being acutely aware of exactly how they behave in the dark. He was teaching me the same, but I'm a slow learner.

He was entering his fifties, but all of us, including him, were too young to be prepared for his departure.

He did it to himself, clogging his lungs with tar and nicotine since his adolescence. His expiration date was in June, but he held out until August to make it as inconvenient as possible for all of us. In June we had clear schedules, we had prepared ourselves for the inevitable emptiness. By August we were exhausted, busy with relocating and work and other responsibilities, wondering why he found it necessary to drag it out. During our visits we'd tell him to "just die already," attempting to make a joke out of what we honestly wanted and needed.

Making us wait is something he's always done. He'd show up to the bar late, prepare dinner late, watch and wait for us to fuck up before explaining what we were doing wrong. It was his way of garnering our attention.

Even in death, he's still an inconsiderate ass.

He's lucky his husband didn't put R.I.P. ASS on the tombstone.

Actually there wasn't a tombstone, because as a couple they didn't believe in partitioning that much public space for a memorial when it could be put to better use and something about the thought of their bodies getting all gross in a box being too much to handle.

So we wrote R.I.P. ASS in every bar bathroom we could find. We dug into the walls of stalls with keys and wrote across tile with markers, leaving scars and tattoos on every clean space we could find. We vandalized the city in his memory.

But the vomiting? The vomiting was all for Amy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blackout Faith

I woke up in a jacuzzi at the Hyatt.

I didn't know it was the Hyatt, at the time I assumed it was an apartment. The tub had been drained. I was slightly damp and comfortably wrapped in a towel.

It smelled like my grandma's house, Skinner's Salve, her miracle cure for every ailment that comes with age.

A few weeks ago I went to Denver for a cousin's wedding. Being a gentleman and a grandson, I asked my grandmother to dance.

She quickly seized the opportunity to corner me, preaching to me about not attending church on Easter.

Which is funny, because she's the reason I've been agnostic since third grade. Yes, I know agnostic is just a coward's atheist, but for now that's what I am.

Let's get back to the part where I woke up in a jacuzzi at the Hyatt wearing a bathing suit that wasn't mine.

I found my clothes on the bathroom counter. After putting myself in the comfort of my own clothes, I did the pat down, the one where I make sure I have the essentials: wallet, keys, phone. Check, check, check.

I wandered out of the bathroom into a bedroom, framed pictures on the nightstand. In the pictures were a woman with strawberry-banana hair. Her face was vaguely familiar, and the synapses in my brain lazily sputtered back and forth in an attempt to retrieve our meeting the night before. If I had to guess, I'd assume she was thirty-eight years old. It's a low guess, but I'm always a gentleman when it comes to a woman's age.

Some memories spark: my tongue twisting around the mouth of a stranger, a girl, someone I'd met at a bar and left at a bar, somebody that I made out with mostly to prove I could and a little bit to stir up one of my friends. Blurred images crept behind my eyes: hugging my friend, leaving the bar alone, attempting to find a cab, discussing my inability to find a cab with a woman with strawberry-banana hair...

I looked at the three framed pictures on the nightstand, each one of her with a different person of interest.

George Carlin. Bryant Gumbel. Ricki Lake.

Finding the bedroom empty, I walked through the doors into a small but swanky living area. Sharing the stand with a flat-screen television were two more photographs of the strawberry-banana haired woman with the rich and (sort of) famous. I made a mental note to Google "the older girl from Just Shoot Me" and "lead singer of Staind."

The woman with strawberry-banana hair was sitting on the couch and sipping a coffee, the steam surrounding a gracefully aging face, each wrinkle working as a compliment, a signature marking an experience. I can't exactly describe what she was wearing, because I don't know the word, but it was purple and draped and sort of a shirt but kind of a dress. She made it work even though it was a bit disorienting, but anything can be disorienting after... how many shots did my former coworker and his girlfriend buy me last night? When did I leave them to go see other friends?

"Nice apartment," I said.

"Sweetheart, you're at the Hyatt."

The same Hyatt where my ex-boyfriend bartends, the same Hyatt where I went to see my friend model in a hair show.

I suspiciously eyed the framed pictures by the television.

"My definition of home is different than most people," she said, using a tone that implied there was an inside joke between us.

"I was just talking about that with my friend last night."

"I know," she said, "You told me last night."

She explained that we had met on High Street and decided to share a cab but were enjoying the conversation so much we ended up drinking all night. Memories stirred between my eyes. She said that she had been attracted to my aura.

"But this isn't the first time you've been complimented on your aura, is it?" she added, narrowing her eyes at me.

I've always tried to avoid believing in ghosts and auras and fate, because those beliefs would mean some of my experiences are real and that would be a totally fucked-up world to live in.

But you can only be complimented on your aura so many times before you start to have faith in... something?

We went to get breakfast together, where she walked the line between honesty and deception, revealing the darkest corners of her being but refusing to discuss the job that keeps her traveling.

I did the opposite, telling her about my previous jobs and what I'm considering doing with my future.

My lease expires on August 25th, my campus job a day later. I see the strings in front of me but I'm unsure of which ones to climb. Some lead to Columbus, others to different cities, and quite a few to places I never would have imagined.

So I'm going to take the woman's advice, and follow my aura. I'll have faith in the dizzying powers of chaos and ride the waves of coincidence until it leads me to somewhere I can call home.

It led me to a jacuzzi at the Hyatt, so it must have pretty good judgment.