I watched the sunrise today. In the company of three wild and free souls, my wasted body laid in the sand bundled up in a found Mexican blanket and a thrifted parka from Joshua Tree. I was the only one not holding onto a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon because my mind was caught up in the future. Caught up in the “what I have to do later”, making the now irrelevant. The goons in suits had pinned me down. There was the 75% empty bottle of Hornitos I had absorbed (with a little help from my friends, of course) that I was giving up for adoption.
Everyone’s face looked perfect in the light of dawn. We are in the chrysalis together. Our wings sticky, not yet ready for flight. There’s so much uncertainty, but fuck it. I sure sipped on that tequila a few hours before.
What could possibly be lost? I’m already in the maze. If there are some dead ends, I can turn around. Who even says you need to be bound by the walls of the maze. That’s what they want you to think. Climb over those walls! Go beyond the edges of the universe.
Yesterday is today and tomorrow was a week ago.
The Uber drivers thick foreign accent was amplified by humid Southern air. “You sure you want here?”
The cab idled in front of the Clermont Motor Hotel. It looked abandoned. I just wanted to be somewhere else. A few minutes before I was at the pub crawl put on by the conference. It proved to be the dullest of dulls. Sitting in the bar, noshing on chicken wings, talking about careers, so on and on and on, felt like a bludgeoning. dull. dull. I’m frantically am trying to make the puzzle pieces fit. My fist is smashing the cardboard bits. Eventually I give up. I ask the event photographer where a girl like me can find a more entertaining venue. He tells me the Clermont Lounge. “You will love the Clermont Lounge. There’s nowhere else like it.”
A Brazilian fellow attending the pub crawl starts a conversation with me as I finish my cocktail. Everyone looks like a satirical skit of a conference pub crawl. Button up shirts letting loose by unbuttoning the top button. I think I see what could be a chest hair. I tell him I am going to the Clermont Lounge. His face goes from sexual interest into one of shock. With a furrowed brow he says, “Why would you want to go there?!” I ask what he’s talking about. He won’t really divulge anymore information, but agrees to go with me. I ask if he’ll ask some of his cohorts if they’ll join. I envisioned a merry pack of people going somewhere more exotic. Usually introverted my drunken self took pride in my ability to corral and move packs of people. Or so I thought. I excuse myself to the bathroom, and when I come out I see the Brazilian already deep in conversation with two new women. I reckon this will be another solo mission and step outside to smoke a cigarette and wait for my Uber.
The uber drivers thick foreign accent was amplified by humid Southern air. “You sure you want here?”
Fuck it. I could be in the middle of the most dangerous neighborhood in Atlanta for all I know, but I want something sharp to cut into me. A quick cut or a slow bludgeoning death? Stab away. I see a red staircase on the side of the abandoned motel leading down down down to somewhere unknown. A descent to hell? As I walk down I hear voices and music and a sense of relief. I made it. A billy goat gruff sat on a stool next to the entrance. I turn my head to the left. The sign slapped me in the face.
Atlanta’s Most Popular Adult Club
Reasonably Priced Drinks
A small additional sign said, “NO CAMERAS.” I hand Billy Goat Gruff my identification card and in I go.
I’m on autopilot.
I get cash out of the ATM. A drunk girl in a peasant skirt and long hippy hair runs into me. She grabs on my arm and tells me I’m pretty. A blond girl peaks her head out of the bathroom and grabs the hippy girl violently saying come on. I find a non-threatening space at the bar and order my spring of ’14 standard, a gin and soda with lime and a shot of tequila. Alcohol slips through my system too easily these days. A quite rotund middle-aged white woman with short skunk hair, a tank top, and a skirt gets up on a stage in the middle of the bar. She slowly wiggles her hips and begins to take her clothes off. Oddly enough none of this makes me feel uneasy. Watching this conventionally overweight and unattractive older woman get naked and dance made me feel relaxed. I start talking to the guy next to me. He and his five friends next to him were there for a fun weekend away from Savannah. They went to a music festival headlined by Outkast, and caught a Braves game. This was their last night out; the Clermont Lounge was the cherry on the top of their outing. The trip would not be complete without it. I notice most of the people in the bar are nonthreatening twenty-something hipsters. Is that me? Jump back jump forward. I’m in the back of a truck riding through light rain.
Into an unknown situation.
Another day, another night, another day.
I rent a bicycle after the conclusion of the conference. My destination is Atlantic Station. I had written a paper about this place at school. It was my case study. Retrofitting Inner-Ring Suburbs. The place was awful. A bad case study. Another Southern California mall export. Where do you want to be escaping to? Disney will make it for you whilst you sport some H&M for your S&M later on tonight.
I rode back to the bike shop to return the rental, an older man in tight cuffed pants, with a small u-lock in his back pocket, and a purple single speed and I talk about bicycles and planning. He offers to give me a guided tour of Atlanta. For the next three hours we go through the Freedom Parkway, Little Five Points, Candler Park, Druid Hills, skim the Emory campus, drink a double gin and soda in the Virginia Highlands, back through Piedmont Park and Midtown, to his house on the edge of the Buckhead area.
Somewhere in my gin and soda in the Virginia Highlands I decide I want to watch some live music. He opens the free weekly to the section listing all the shows. I struggle between wanting to see Avey Tare’s slasher flicks or Bombino. I pick the latter for no special reason. We drop the bicycles off at his house and he gives me my first ever convertible ride in his swanky BMW. I was tempted to ask him to drive me around all night long, but the fried chicken accumulating in my lower intestine told me to dance. And dance I did. The mistakes we learn from.
The green numbers on the LED clock cause me to yell a hearty fuck. 7:32. My plane had departed approximately 35 minutes before that. I wake the stranger next to me. The blinds are drawn and all is dark. My fingernails dig into my scalp. Exhale. Move the fuck foward. I make it back to California albeit 12 hours later than I wanted to. My body was wasted. The mistakes we learn from.
So many mantras are gained when you are on the move. 7:32 I had to be at work at 8, but it was her last night in town and everyone looked so perfect in the sunrise. A common thread tied me to everyone and everything by the ocean this morning. I smelled of stale cigarettes, booze, and B.O. Then I recognize that I am the ocean and my friend and the sand. We are little bundles of atoms shifting from one form of energy to the next. I give my friend a long hug goodbye and she tells me my hair smells good. I’m wearing a long parka I got from a thrift store in Joshua Tree, sunglasses, and a hat that says cock; they are all me too.
Everywhere all the time. Never alone, but never together. We are each in our own chrysalis dangling from a blooming flower. And when it wilts it will feed my bloom. Sticky wings flap. They dry. Off I go to one day become more food for all the flowers about to bloom in the light of dawn.