The summer after my freshman year of college, I spent six weeks in Bakersfield, California living with my cousin in my grandma’s house.
Every day I would walk downtown to the coffee shop, drink an iced coffee, eat a chicken salad sandwich, and write at a table by the window. One day, I needed some contact solution at the drugstore and thought I should pick it up before I walked back home. I knew the drugstore was somewhere by the train station, but when I got there, I couldn’t find it. I saw a young black man in a red teeshirt standing outside and asked him if he knew where CVS was.
“Yeah,” he started to explain but then cut himself off – “Oh you know, I’m not doing anything – I’ll just walk you there.” No, I said, that’s fine – but he insisted. All summer, I had been followed by men in broad daylight until they gave up or I found some place to duck into like an antique store. But I wanted to be nice to him because he was being nice to me, so I let him walk me to CVS where I bought contact solution, a little annoyed. Continue reading “A Day With A Stranger: Bakersfield”
The sound of strangers sending nothing to my head. It’s hard to be away from you not because I need your presence and your thoughts; it’s just the beauty of the city I am experiencing alone, and after a while I want to share a bit of it with you and no one else. Right now, the fickle July sunshine of a windy day is making marbled shadows like rippled water on my pages and it’s hard to focus. It’s like every moment the world is trying to pick me up and lift me away. I look at a benevolent breeze moving the leaves in the trees and the pigeons line up to watch me in my solitude.
Heavyhearted plans. Time is moving so slow. It’s everything I wanted, but all the change trips me up, and my gratitude has nowhere to go. I’ve wasted the weeks you’ve been gone because it felt so good to spend a morning drinking iced black coffee alone in my room. I haven’t written that much; I haven’t eaten once before noon. I haven’t cooked or even cleaned. When I don’t have somewhere to go, I take the train and I look out the window at the Williamsburg Bridge, thinking about how my sunburn feels and what it’d feel like if you pressed your fingers onto my skin.
So indulgently carefree, my body spreads out in sleep just like the slow motion videos of a flower in bloom. I suppose my routine is as good as any other one. Last night, I dreamed of my bed sliding away from the window while I slept. I lost grasp of the pillows (squares of sage-colored cotton) like a determined, acrobatic ghost.