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Thursday, April 7, 2011

''You know I could never be alone"

Jesus it's dirty in here. Sorry I didn't respond to all of your comments in the last post. They were nice and made me happy.

But the crusty laundry is piling up in this place, I've got a sink full of dishes with the remnants of food on them that I don't even remember eating. There is a layer of grime and dust on the creative parts of my brain, I haven't mopped in months, and the sheets haven't been changed in god knows how long.

The thing is, the filthier this place gets, the harder it is to throw the moldy cheese away that's on my counter no matter how sick I realize that is. Unfortunately, I'm the type of person that unless I can organize the place down to color coding my spare buttons and find the time to iron my damn sheets, shit's just gonna get moldier.

But today it was as if someone had walked in and I felt ashamed of the unidentifiable smell exuding from the fingerprint-tainted refrigerator and I decided that if I at least throw out the stinky shit and DO SOMETHING, I will be a better person for it. So I'm here to prove to myself and maybe to other awesome people I won't mention because they know who they are that I am not a moldy cheese type of person.

I'm a storyteller, dammit.

And I'm intrigued by a damn meme. Because it allows me to tell you stories and show you how cool I am because of my taste in music is all at once. Either that or it will make you once and for all realize we really have nothing in common.

So it's 30 videos in 30 days, so help me fucking god.

Day 1: Your favorite song

Alright, so unfortunately I have a problem with this meme already. How can I possibly pick a favorite song? It's too much pressure. So I'm already changing the category - I'll pick a song that brings me back to a time when I was one of the most favorite versions of myself.

After days of wandering around Madrid in a state of awe, I met Fernando. Fernando had creamy 18 year old skin with dark sugary eyes, longish black hair and the teeth of a toothpaste model. He spoke with the perfect boarding school English of an Argentinean that had been born into just the right family. His charming, educated manner and his nuanced table etiquette contrasted with his wrinkled heavy metal t-shirts and his black and white Pakistani scarf, symbols of rebellion against his family that was pressuring him into an aristocratic life he was nowhere near ready for and that his favorite songs and books told him was the enemy.

He too was lost in this new place. We had both just landed on this strange continent without a friend or a plan, but Fernando had the language down with an accent that made me drooly and he carried a thousand US dollars in cash in his underwear and a knife to protect himself from the unexpectedly benign world of European youth hostels. I was as naive as he was, if not more, with my water droplets which I thought were going to make the Spanish drinking water potable (turns out it puts Phoenix tap water to shame). We clung to each other in our foreignness and naivety and maybe without being fully conscious of it, our refusal of a mold other people had made for us without our consultation. We both seemed acutely aware that this was temporary, that we would be forced to fit into some tight box soon, but now everyday represented a refusal to be anything but what we wanted to be that day.

We had nothing to do except catch trains to Toledo in search of old graveyards to creep around in or lay lazily in the sun on a rowboat in Retiro Park letting each other listen to our tape collections with our headphones. Fernando was way more into harsh metal shit and didn't know any of the blues or Dylan or Dead or indie stuff I liked, but we coincided that day in the park with this little Rolling Stone's number.

As much as I enjoyed Fernando's company during those couple of weeks, my head was full of all the people I wanted to meet, places I wanted to go, languages I wanted to master, books I wanted to devour, new music I wanted to hear and having anyone glued to my side the whole time would have been a burden. Besides, we already had conflicting ideas about how to travel. The money in his underwear had to last him six months and he had to be careful. He started his day with mate for breakfast and skipped meals. He followed me around while I ordered food and claimed he wasn't hungry. He was proving to himself and to his family that he could make it in the world without them and I respected that, but I had two freshly cashed student loan checks in American Express travelers checks and a study abroad program that included my room and board so this was spending money, baby and I wasn't wasting any time or thinking about tomorrow.

My 21st birthday rolled around and I had only one person to celebrate it with, and I wasn't having any of that frugal bullshit. I needed someone to not think about the future with me just for a day and I reeled him into my quest of finding a bottle of wine from the year I was born and ordering it no matter what the price. We walked for hours, soaked in the pouring rain, in and out of expensive looking restaurants and bodegas to see if they had anything from 1977 without any luck (or maybe with a lot of luck, Jesus, what was I thinking?).

We finally settled on a nice expensive but not outrageous wine, and I told him to order anything from the menu, it was my 21st birthday, dammit. He ordered a plate of octopus and I ordered the paella. We sat next to a window overlooking a side street off of Puerta del Sol and if I close my eyes right now I can be there in that moment and hear the sounds of the street down below, the noisy clinkering of glasses and silverware and the chatter of the Spanish lunchtime crowd and the suits and white tablecloths. I can hear the accordion player trying to lure the pesetas from the tourists seated under the beige umbrellas just under our window.

I know that moment by heart because I mapped it into my guts and brains and the thickest, most fibrous parts of my soul. I must have closed my eyes and feared that if I opened them it would all be a dream, that Fernando and Spain and the accordion player and the octopus and me, the me I had always wanted to be would all disappear. Actually, Fernando and the rest of it could have very well disappeared, but I wanted to open my eyes and still be the me I was right then. The one that was confident for the first time in my life and looking to nobody else as a reference for how to behave, for what kind of music to like, for what I wanted to look like, for what I should think. The one that was open to experiencing things for the sole purpose of someday making my own good stories that were more mine than any other belonging I could ever own, that I've unfortunately gotten shitty about sharing. The one that saw the world as a never-ending series of open doors with mostly good things beyond them. The one that didn't feel even remotely dampened by a future unknown, and that appreciated the fleeting effervescence of life in its most vivacious and ripe stage - the now. The one that felt the intense heated color of gratitude - a feeling I knew then, that I lost touch with for some time and that I have found once again today.

I had to take off for Seville and I made it known to Fernando that he wasn't welcome to tag along on my adventure, we were parting ways. He was a good sport about it and didn't take it personally and was ready to venture off somewhere else himself. We kissed in the rain and I was surprised at how his long face bounced off me with an indifference I had never experienced before, especially for someone that would have at another time turned me to butter with a glance. He said he was sad that if we ever saw each other again it wouldn't be like now. I smiled, because I didn't regret it at all. I would still be me.

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Rassles April 7, 2011 at 10:21 AM  

HOORAY FOR THE MEME! ER'ONE MUST PLAY! Ginny is prolly all cackles right now.

This was beautiful.

I think my favorite version of me was third grade era me, before I learned about jealousy and betrayal. Third grade era me was heroic and brave and was never embarrassed when she failed because she didn't know failing was bad.

That was the hardest thing to learn: failure is bad. Trying doesn't really matter. Everyone says it's as long as you try, but no one believes it and really, trying never got me anywhere.

Pueblo girl April 7, 2011 at 2:25 PM  

I love the idea of "my favourite version of me". Mine was probably during a very angry period when "sisters are doing it for themselves" was a personal anthem. But that level of energy/anger is hard to sustain (or survive). I'm lighter stuff these days.

Sorry, that was all me, me, me. I loved the story, evocative and present.

The Unbearable Banishment April 8, 2011 at 4:57 AM  

That's a lovely story. Made me yearn for my youth. Is that what the author intended? Studies show that our "favorite" music is whatever we were listening to when we were young. I'll buy that.

kate April 8, 2011 at 10:49 AM  

Love this. You rock! (So does the song!) If I didn't have so much to do I would drop everything and do a freewrite right now. Sigh.

I'm looking forward to the next installment!

Kono April 11, 2011 at 9:50 AM  

great tune.

Blues April 13, 2011 at 9:33 AM  

Rassles - yay, I'm glad you got my ass to write a bit. My favorite versions of myself definitely come later in life. Childhood was like war with my older sister around.

Pueblo girl - my angry phases have never been good ones.

Unbearable - It's been so long since I've listened to anything new, I think you're right.

Kate - thanks and happy you're still here.

Kono - it could very well be one of favorites anyway, even though it's too impossible for me to pick one fave.

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