February 19, 2016

Mess Of My Life

It was raining as we drove to school this morning and the sky was lit like a silver dream- various shades of whites and blacks and greys and tinges of burning light reflecting off the wet concrete, made me reminisce about other rainy days and nights:

Like that one Christmas Eve, way passed my bed time, driving down fourth street with my mom, looking for parking to do some last minute shopping at Macy’s. The windows streaked with rolling raindrops lit up like tiny globes filled with rainbows.

Or that Saturday when I was nineteen or twenty and still working at the Bank of America in Corte Madera, hair bleached blond, eyes droopy with late nights, and still they gave me my own desk to open accounts and manage people’s money. We were popping into work to pick up my paycheque and 10,000 Maniacs sprang from the CD player in my old trusty blue VW bug. The heater barely kept us warm, “A cold and a rainy day. Where on earth is the sun hid away? A cold and a rainy day I shiver, quiver, and try to wake.” Emily​ smiled at me as I ran back into the car trying unsuccessfully to avoid the rain. We were happy and in love. Things were working out for us. For me. I was so grateful that she was there with me, running such a mundane errand. We had no plans and nowhere to be. No one to be. That night we would drink with the gang and fall asleep in each others arms listening to music in the mess of my life. Years of distant infatuation and unrequited love and pining had resulted in late night showers, early morning kisses and rainy day Saturday errands.

I’m in my tiny house in Mozambique. Training ended weeks ago and it has been raining everyday since training ended. The roof is made of zinc and the rain sounds like a machine gun pelting bullets upon my head. The sound is so loud it cancels out the thin sound of Elliot Smith’s voice on my tiny tape deck. I am alone and brave and scared and full of adventure. A mattress, my thoughts and a guitar my only possessions of note. I pull a garbage bag over my head as I run to school; I didn’t pack rain gear for a two year stint in Africa- I arrive to my classroom which lacks doors or windows or desks, so the kids stand around a giant puddle in the center of the room and we stare at each other unsure of what we are meant to do. The rain turns the land into a series of rivers we must navigate back home to suffer our own nights in the darkness. Somewhere out there, there is a flood that will wash out bridges, towns and force women to have babies in trees. The food in town is running out and I’m excited, because this is what I signed up for.

I woke up this morning so tired that while I was making our bed in the darkness I felt so dizzy I almost fell over. I thought about calling in sick to rest and finish my reports, but knew it was easier to just suck it up and get through it. I thought about how my body has been through so much more when I was young. I wondered if I still had “it.”

I was reminded of the days in San Francisco- I was working at three restaurants- Pier 23, Rumpus and Kulleto’s. Combined I worked well over forty hours a week. I was taking twenty credits to get my BA in Creative Writing. Busy writing cliche stories and reading Nabokov and Mary Shelly. Most nights after work, I would join my crew for post work drinks at some bar in North Beach, draining our hard earned tips into pitchers and shots. I’d stumble home well after two am on most nights, ready and up for classes the next morning by nine or ten. After lunch, I would do whatever school work I had and be back at work at one of the restaurants by five. This was my schedule for nearly two years and I somehow survived till graduation.

In New York when I was in my late twenties, I was earning my master’s from Columbia taking twenty credits and working full time at a high needs school in The Bronx. I would wake up before six and take a train and two buses to work, over an hour away. I would teach my ass off in an environment that made me cry on most days. After taking the train back home through Harlem, I would take a nap then work on any assignments that were due that week. I would eat dinner and be in my classes on most night from six to ten. On nights I didn’t have classes I attended International Socialist Organisation meetings to discuss the relevance of Marxism in the 20th century. Nights were spent staying up late chatting with Ari​ about films, books, and life. Weekends at brunch with Mairin​, Risa​, Greg​ and Dara​ . Whle weekend nights we raged against the dying of the light in the various NYC bars.

So yeah, even at forty two I think I can interview for a new job, take kids to Kenya, teach all week and write eight million report card comments and run a 10KM race.

Like the B-Boys say:

Soul fire
Soul fire
And we ain't got no water
We don't got no water

Time for living time for giving
No time for making up a monster to sell
Time for living time for giving
No time for breakin' out a lie to sell

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