Letter From CA
4-4-05, Part Deux:
My oldest friend, who had been my best friend all during those crucial teenage developmental years and with whom I had stayed in contact up to the present, got married in September. He lived, lives in Fairfax, CA, just north of San Francisco in Marin County. I was his best man.
I flew out for the wedding.
I did not fly back.
I flew out with another old friend of mine, Michael, also frustrated with living in a college town in Pennsylvania, Penn State, his whole life, mostly due to having a child and unable to convince the momma to move away. The first night we arrived in SF was the bachelor party.
Oh yeah, and my friend Jeff is in a jam band. (New Monsoon. They’re very good, actually.) So the whole 8 piece band and manager, this Brooklyn Jew, was there to party.
We partied like…. well… we partied like rock stars.
Fucking awesome. Of course, we had to go to the prerequisite strip club. My eyeballs were buzzing. It’s impossible to take strippers or even the thought of some chick writhing mechanically and methodically in front of you for money seriously when your eyeballs are buzzing. Still, a large group of guys, some old friends, it was nice.
The next painful morning we got from downtown SF to the Oakland International Airport by nothing but impromptu public transportation in order to get the rental car we had rented. I am proud of this feat. It may not seem like much, but YOU try to get from Fisherman’s Warf to the Oakland Airport by public transportation the day after YOUR eyeballs have been buzzing and see how easy it is.
Got a car.
Drove to Marin County to hook up with a friend who had been at the party.
Marin County, CA is, quite simply, paradise. Truly, truly, truly.
Beauty, beauty, beauty. Rolling hills, nature, oceans, trees and forests, great houses, picturesque, arty towns, and yes, nature loving, artsy, yoga doing people. I LIKE nature loving, pot smoking, artsy, yoga doing people, so fuck you. I don’t like the Grateful Dead, but I get DOWN for Phish. So fuck off. Go give Terri Schiavo a glass of water she can’t even drink and get the fuck off my back. And don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it. Life is better there.
We rented a room. We went to the wedding, which took place in the redwood forest. During the reception I delivered a best-man speech which FLOORED the room. One of my better, comedic moments. (“I want to congratulate Jeff, for tonight, you become a man.” I commended his heroics on that swift-boat in Nam. Oh, never mind. You had to be there.)
Days later, after hanging out with Elk on the Pacific Ocean, we drove up to visit old friends in Portland, OR. Went camping on Mount Hood, which looks directly onto St. Helens, which was just beginning to rumble again. I was never a big camping buff, but after 2 years in Harlem, I found being in a tent on the middle of a mountain with the stars and the galaxy illuminated above you as the wind howls and the fire crackles actually fucking awesome.
After several days we drove back to SF, where we stayed at Jeff’s cabin. (yes, he lives in a cabin.) Jeff was on his honeymoon so we had the place to ourselves. They have a big, fat cat who made me itch the fuck out of myself.
Two friends of ours, Jana and Austin, a couple, arrived in SF while we were in Portland. They were moving there from Pennsylvania. We found them at a campsite and brought them to stay with us at the cabin. They were trying to find a place to live.
It was at this point that the plane our tickets home belonged to was flying out. Michael left to go back home, make some money, and join us once again in 2 months.
I stayed behind with Jana and Austin.
I would mention here, that I was and had been this entire time, broke. The entire trip had been done with borrowed money. I borrowed $400 from Jana before I left for the wedding, and Michael brought $1,000 which payed for everything else.
Jana and Austin found an apartment in Pacifica, a small, coastal town just south of SF. I crashed with them. I mooched some more. We all looked for jobs.
They were running out of money fast, and I, of course, had none to begin with. My wife was back home going to court, attempting to stave off eviction. We talked, and she said she wanted to keep the apartment if possible, but needed me to pay for half of it, somehow. Our rent had skyrocketed, since we now owed all the back money from 6 months of delinquent rent, to be added in $500 segments onto the existing monthly rent. I told her don’t worry. I’ll do it. We’ll manage. No problem.
So. Wife being evicted. Me in CA. Broke. Mooching money off of friends who are fast going broke themselves, having already mooched an entire two week vacation up and down the west coast. Truly, this was my greatest mooch moment. The farthest I’ve ever gone, and hell, further then just about anybody I know. One must take pride in one’s accomplishments where one can find them, even if they seem, to a cruel, judgmental world, to be… well…. more something one should feel, let us say, shame about, rather then pride.
Pah. Lesser men would break. Or at the very least, decide that this was the perfect moment to develop a heroin habit. (I mean come on, it’s the next logical progression. “and then I started doing heroin…” I’d have the entire AA meeting in the palm of my hand.)
But instead I did what any rational, agnostic would do under the circumstances. I prayed.
Seriously. We built this really cool altar (the three of us, who I might add are not hung up with any Christian bullshit. This altar had conches and marbles and animal skulls and candles, duh, and rocks and fairy paraphernalia.)
And, just to be extra sure, I looked for a job like my life depended on it. Which I guess it pretty much did.