Was there something planetary going on last week? I got super sick with the flu the week before and spent days holed up in the apartment feeling hot, then cold, then cranky. My guru mom says that we are all going through more clearings, past life and this life, and that I was clearing out energy/toxins from drug usage in this current lifetime. To which I whined, “Well, that’s gonna take forever!”
But it didn’t. If you’re interested, we’re supposed to be moving from carbon based bodies to crystalline. http://drsmick.com/carbon-based-to-crystalline-based-body/. I don’t feel very crystalline and clearing, if that’s what it is, sucks–“Cher, I don’t want to do this anymore. And my buns: they don’t feel nothin’ like steel.”–Tai in Clueless.
But hope does indeed spring eternal and all things must pass.
So after some heavy couch time I was eager to get back to stabs at productivity, especially as lately I’ve been feeling less procrastinaty about the book, like for the first time, ever. I sat down last Thursday and wrote some pages, and was very pleased to see I’m closer to measurable progress. Then as I sat there determinedly typing, seemingly without provocation, I burst into tears and went on nice little crying jag, the likes of which had not been experienced since viewing Les Miserables while in the full throes of PMS. That damned Anne Hathaway.
It was weird. But not. After honking into the sixth kleenex that little bulb went bright and I thought, “Ooooooohhh… So I’m not LAZY, it’s that it sucks to dredge this stuff up. That’s why I’ve been procrastinating for the last 10 years. Not lazy…SENSITIVE! Not lazy…PAINFUL! I felt quite vindicated despite the snot-producing state of affairs. Though it’s not fun to carry shame and sadness over the past, it’ is very nice to find a reason to justify ten years of steady video gaming.
The next day, feeling slightly vulnerable and a tad off my game, I worked my happy hour at BE. Patrick Kavanaugh, the supremely talented Mad Hatster, came in and gave me the most gorgeous bowler you’ve ever seen, custom made for my tiny yet remarkably hard head.
So that was awesome and I love the hat so much I haven’t taken it off since.
And then various friends from varying eras in my life, from varied parts of the country, stopped in, just by random chance all converging in NY at the same time. The evening was shaping up to be nice.
And then it wasn’t. One of the friends who I hadn’t seen in twenty years, and who I was very close to back then, confessed quietly that they’d been homeless for a number of years. For the purpose of privacy, let’s call this person “X”. That made me sad and also meant I would be putting some of my tips in the register to pay for the drinks, which also makes me sad. But I was glad to be reunited and am grateful for all I have, and am happy to pay it forward when possible.
Things went from fun and reunion-ey to overly drunk and sloppy in a very short time. But I didn’t notice because the bar manager forgot to tell me there was an open bar halfway through my shift, and I was suddenly faced with a hundred eager-for-libation strangers waving free drink wristbands and shouting drink orders at the top of my head as I concentrated on pouring as fast as humanly possible.
One woman in particular got belligerent because she wanted two glasses of water immediately (no intention of tipping) and I was not getting to her fast enough. I tried to explain to her, while making ten drinks at a time with hands and toes, that water took the same time to pour as a drink and that there were many other, more well-mannered people who had been waiting much longer than her. She ignored all logic and human decency and continued to insist that she wanted her water asap. She waved her hand without stop and and shouted, “I ONLY WANT TWO WATERS. I ONLY WANT TWO WATERS!” I finally screeched, “ALL RIGHT EVERYONE! THIS WOMAN GETS HER ORDER BEFORE ANYONE ELSE BECAUSE HER NEEDS ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT IN THE ROOM!”
Everyone looked nervous as I slammed two glasses down in front of her, the contents sloshing onto the bar. She made a face, not cowed in the least, and took her gd water. I felt badly immediately after, because my behavior reflects on the bar and could get me into a conversation with my bosses, and because it sent an adrenaline surge through my system that quickly alchemized to angst and weird afore-mentioned weepy shame from the day before. So when she came back feeling hydrated and insisting upon a complicated drink (again no tip), I apologized. I still think she’s an asshole, but it made me feel better to do the professional thing. Sometimes I don’t care about being right or wrong, I just want to be comfortable.
Once the shift was over I took a deep breathe and collected my things, anticipating some relaxing down time. Whew!
Not to be. Asshole Lady elbowed me and pointed to my long-lost friend X and said, “Someone better do something about THAT.” X was at that moment trying very hard to simultaneously choke and punch another friend while sliding off the bar stool. We were in full Barfly mode. I’m surrounded by fancy white people in business attire and free-drink wristbands and MY people look like hell and are attempting to kill each other.
After an interminable one-way conversation about the fact that it was time to leave (heads too busy lolling on necks like the proverbial bladder on a stick to respond verbally), and some dragging/carrying out into the street with the assistance of Mr. Tim, we were able to get a cab and escort sorted out. I shoved hard-earned money into broke hands and Tim loaded them into the back of the car. I mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” to the cabdriver, and Tim and I ran screaming into the night.
Zoe, having gotten my frustrated texts, handed me a cocktail upon arrival. Sara handed me the gift of a GORGEOUS, clearly expensive silver and pearl necklace. I was thrilled and grateful. I sat there sipping and sporting my beautiful necklace and hat, marveling at my generous friends. The angst began to melt away.
And then another person in the bar sidled up with mischief on the mind and cocaine in the bloodstream, and began shouting what would turn out to be a really boring story set on repeat, illustrated with even more boring phone photos, at a decibel level well over all sane, inside-voice conversation. It went on and on and on. And then without warning, the story veered, with no assistance or prompting from me whatsoever, to crap from my past and just by chance, exactly what I was writing about the day before that sent me into an emotional tizzy.
I shouted, “I don’t want to talk about it!” and as my eyes rolled into the back of my head preparing for what one could only hope would be a blissfully conscious-deadening seizure, someone else elbowed me from behind. I turned to see a man who looked somewhat familiar, but I could not place. He said, I kid you not:
“No one likes you.”
I squinted and said, “Huh?”
He replied, “You know me. You remember me.”
I shook my head and turned back around away from him. After that initial crack I wasn’t too interested in any further trips down memory lane. He elbowed me again, I turned, and he said, “You know me.”
I said, “I’m very sorry, but I don’t remember. Care to enlighten me?” He paused, pulled out a giant wad of cash very ostentatiously, handed a $20 to the bartender, and said, cryptically,
I said, “Larry’s dead.You’re not him. If you’re not going to tell me then we don’t have anything to talk about.”
I turned back to Zoe, who was now glaring at me wild-eyed and desperate for rescue from the too-loud cokey story on repeat. Money-bags purposely banged a chair into my back. I ignored it.
I get this a lot. Between bartending, age and being a mini rock star for five minutes, I’ve simply met too many people for my limited and self-absorbed brain to hold each and every person clearly anymore. Most are nice about it. Last week a girl told me how grateful she was that I’d saved her life by slap/shaking her out of an OD in the bathroom of a bar (good times!), which I hadn’t remembered it at all. Some people, like this guy, aren’t nice and take it personally when you don’t remember them. I do think I remember him now, but fuck it. I’ll pretend like I don’t if I see him again just to drive him bananas. Sometimes it’s more entertaining to be right than it is to be comfortable.
I had a hard time getting to sleep that night. I felt very sad about the friend that I’d shoved into a cab, who had been such a fierce creature when we were young, almost otherworldly with that stardom and beauty that we all had in our youth. I wondered how some of us, like Zoe and me, have been able to emerge from our crazy, often drug-fueled pasts into a happy present, while so many others are dead, or still using and/or not fully there, or simply cranky about being forgotten. For every one of me, who survived with only residual sadness and regrets, there are numerous others who are either dead or trying to punch a friend in some bar well past the age when that sort of behavior can be considered dignified.
The alternative/artistic/rock and roll/whatever-you-want-to-call-it existence can be pretty cool. You get free hats and jewelry. You get attention and you go to a lot of shows. You get remembered more than others. But it destroys many and is not a life for the faint of heart. Which, I suppose, is the reason that so many dabble in it in their 20’s and then move on to more normal-seeming lives, the only evidence of the past being a few photographs the kids find amusing. This is probably the sanest way to go.
But I have never been called sane, and don’t know how or wish to live any other way. I woke up after my fitful night and decided that the truth I would choose for each one of the people involved in the last 24 hours would be the one that suited them best. Meaning, I choose to believe that my punch-drunk and sometimes homeless friend is merely taking a soul detour for the moment, and that the truth of who they are is that amazing creature I knew so many years prior. And that one day, maybe in this lifetime, or maybe the next, that truth will shine again and forevermore.
I would hope that people would do the same for me: remember me at my best and brightest and forgive some of those not so shining moments, as I am only now learning to do for myself. Maybe on the other side we will be able to look at each other with full memory of all of the people and events and absolutely no blame or shame, and go, “Whew! That was a fucking ride, wasn’t it? Now where’s that asshole woman with our water??”