The weekend was exhausting, I can see that now as I stare out my bedroom window. I pull the mason jar of pink lemonade and whiskey up to my mouth, the jar held firmly between two grasping hands defiant of gravity and its looming danger, and sip feverishly at the cool, pink contents.
The fire in my stomach does nothing to calm my mind. Was all of this necessary? Was pushing myself and my comfortable boundaries really what I needed?
Friday started typical. Wake up, throw on clothes, feed Squid, freshen up her water, take her outside, smoke a cigarette, get in my car (I got a car) and drive to work. Work then proceeded as normal, aside that I have a new assistant, since the last one, The Gimp, fled in terror. The assistant, Red, performs admirably, and within several days should be up to speed and in line with my personal work habits. This is a good thing. Work concludes without anything out of the ordinary.
I get in my car and drive home, do not feed Squid and instead take her out and immediately jump in the shower. I have much preparation to complete. I check my pack for the necessaries, 3DS and charger, change of clothes, sleeping bag, bottle of water, and pack Squids travel bag (my old Patagonia) with her equipment : bone, food dish, food, pull toy, roadkill raccoon. Loading everything into the Subaru, we depart for McMinnville.
Traffic is hell and it takes almost two hours to get there, it’s two o’clock. Shit. I stay for twenty minutes and then bolt out the door and back into the car, heading back toward Portland and onward to Seattle. But I take the back way, old highway 47.
I went by your crazy old boss’ house, Grace… The one we lived in shortly before everything really started to fall apart. Before my car died, before Beaverton. I missed you again for the second time this week. I’m starting to get used to that feeling, though I hate it, and I hate myself for becoming numb to it.
Then the strangest feeling of nostalgia came over me again, a sting I hadn’t felt in a very long time. It happened as I drove through Hillsboro. Lai. My mind ached. All the time spent driving this way, constantly, religiously. I had worshiped that girl in my pitiful way. The way where I abandon everything to chase absent minded. I was a puppy. I was worse than Squid following me around the house. I shed no tears, but smiled for the time spent, and lost, and the experience of Arizona, and how unlikely it would be that I would ever travel to that state again. Fuck the desert anyway.
I crossed them out of my mind when I hit highway 26 to connect to interstate 5 North toward Seattle. Elei came to mind shortly after hitting that stretch of highway, and I struck her out immediately. Not fresh enough to hurt, but still there enough to see the burns. As I edged closer to Washington my anxieties faded and I became one with the machine after two hours of traveling under five miles an hour, allowing me to zone out and focus on nothing but the road.
Eventually though, Tacoma came into view and the guilt of the four years I spent with Elei came back “like a wrecking ball”. I felt cheap, I felt like a scumbag. I felt like a piece of shit. Everything that has happened to me since I ended that relationship has been deserved. The end of that love came with the flowering of the love that grew from Grace, and it was in Tacoma that I had last seen Elei. I hope things have gone better for her now that I am no longer in her life, she deserves it.
Seattle finally came into view and I, eventually, found parking.
I have this funny thing about Seattle. I love it, it’s beautiful. But it doesn’t make sense, and there is no parking anywhere. ANYWHERE. The majority of the people there are fucking awful. So for as much as I love Seattle, there is twice as much “fuck Seattle” inside of me. Also, I’m a Portlandian through and through, which gives me a bonus to being a dick about anything related to Washington by default.
Kellis’ studio was beautiful and I was immediately envious. A large walk in closet that also doubled as a small office, tiny kitchen, adorably small bathroom, and large main living area with a small storage space in the opposite direction of all of this from the door. When I finally noticed Kellis once he opened the door, I noticed he was blue and wearing a blue bathrobe.
Drag, I reminded myself. Kellis is doing drag tonight for his birthday. He was nothing close to done.
Several hours went by and as I watched him and his boyfriend, Philippe prepare their nights attire, I began to question the motives for such an action as drag. The conclusion they gave me was simple. It’s nice to not be yourself for a little while, to become someone, something, entirely new and exciting and different.
I thought immediately of my determined, and possibly ill fated trek on the Pacific Crest Trail with Squid. I am attempting to become someone else, and in the process, leave the old me behind in the woods. Like I always felt I did in the deserts of Tucson, Arizona all those years ago.
Finally they were ready. Beautiful. We marched, stoned and prepared to the gay bar. We walked right in, as if we owned it. No one stopped us. Who would be willing to stop two fierce looking Drag Queens and the strange bearded straight man with them? No one, that’s who. We marched up to the bar, leaned across in sequence, Kellis, me, and then Philippe. We ordered our drinks, got them, and then turned to each other, grinning ear to ear.
I want to go upstairs, Kellis shouted over the deafening music. I nodded in agreement and Philippe walked past me, looping his arm through Kellis’ and they headed for the stairs, I grabbed my drink, my free hand pressing my hat to my head, and walked quickly after them, spilling some vodka red bull into my beard as I sipped. What I remember from there is mainly flashes.
Men in ass-less chaps, spankings, dancing. There was a straight couple there, friends of Kellis. I introduced myself to the girl first, very pretty, and she opened up quickly, the boy lost in a drunken haze of dancing and talking and laughing. They were having trouble. Later I would tell Kellis that if they ever broke up to let me know. I’m a bastard when I’m drunk, apparently. The lesbian who smoked pot with us on the patio and told me that I was the only straight person here and that I was obvious. I told her good, grinning like a madman. By then I think it was past midnight, I had been awake for twenty three hours. I was intoxicated, high, crashing.
We got back to Kellis’ apartment by two thirty in the morning, I think, and I immediately unrolled my bag, crawled in, and slept.
The morning came and we smoked and talked and laughed at the pictures from the night before, then ate and drank orange juice and kombucha. We said our goodbyes around two that afternoon and I departed.
The drive home was treacherous with wind and rain. By Tacoma my check engine light appeared to warn me of some unknown, yet impending doom. I drove steadily back to my parents house in McMinnville to retrieve Squid, but stayed the night instead. Opting to check my engine thoroughly in the morning light, better safe than sorry.
The morning came and I was sorry that I was safe, but happier knowing that things could be fixed there. The oil needed to be replaced badly, the filter for the oil hadn’t been the proper kind. My air filter was dirty and needed to be replaced, and, to top it all off, the water pump had gone bad between getting the parts and getting back to the house.
Now the car sits. Waiting to be repaired.
So now I ask myself again… Was it really worth it? It was totally worth it.
Fifteen months, three days.
Just waiting to be repaired.