Monday, June 15, 2015

Nine days with Stephen

Empty are the hours post-Stephen
Lonely in the afterglow
Still, I'll not yet move on
For to this am I resigned
The next will ne'er sate me
As once he did

I knew of Stephen, but didn't come to know him personally until around ten years ago.  He gave me some tips on writing.  Useful tips.  Though how much and how well I've applied them is quite debatable.

Then we sort of drifted apart for a few years, as guys are wont to do.  Of course I heard things.  He was quite successful.  Me, less successful.  But I knew deep down that that never mattered to Stephen.

When we ran into each other a couple of weeks ago, it was as if we hadn't missed a step.  No, I take that back.  It was even better than before.

He was different somehow, but just as thrilling as ever.  And I realized I had matured in those ten years.  I was more equipped to handle a relationship now, the kind of commitment Stephen required.

And so we began.

Like I so often do with a new relationship, almost immediately I began to neglect friends, writing, and all other aspects of my life.  If there were a free moment to be stolen, I would spend it with him.

It's not that Stephen demands that, not in so many words anyway.  And yet he does, simply by the intensity he himself brings to the relationship.

So that's where I've been.  With Stephen.  I blame him completely.  What with his tales of time travel, the obdurate past, preventing the JFK assassination and such.  Who could resist?  Certainly not me.

As so often is the case with guys like Stephen, after only a week I could feel our time coming to an end.  Our relationship was sort of like an 842-page book, and I was already on page 627.  It was exactly like that, in fact.

Stephen lingered a couple of days more.  Then he was gone.

That love which soars the highest so often burns out the quickest.

There's a sign in front of the elementary school I pass on my way home which says, "Enjoy your summer. Read, read, read!"  Apparently their repetitive marketing/mind-control has worked, as I've been on a reading rampage the past few weeks (see above).  My most recent conquest was Stephen King's "11/22/63."  It's the longest book I've ever read (and it's not even really close).  I always feel a touch of melancholy in the days after finishing a good book.  And yes, I still buy actual books.  I haven't been converted to electronic readers yet.  They already took my cassettes and Polaroids!  I'm hanging on to these as long as I can.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Harbor bar

The harbor bar at sunset.  Those five words elicit a contented smile within me.  My blood pressure drops twenty points.

It sits upstairs, on the roof really.  There's a full restaurant below, but I never go there.  The bar is open air, providing an untainted view of the sunset over the bay bridge to the west.  You can see the cars, so tiny in the distance and completely silent, as they disappear over the bridge.  (Over the crest of the bridge, not plunging off the side or anything, just to be clear.)

It's always crowded but somehow there always seems to be an open table.  Inevitably, there's a band playing whose only redeeming quality just may be that they're not quite as bad as the last band you heard here.  But the deck is large so that if you sit far enough away, the music blends in with the hum of the crowd.

Down below, scores of people stroll along the harbor walk, excitedly boarding or disembarking from one of the many boats.  Dolphin tours, sunset cruises, fishing charters, and other sea craft, all designed to lure tourists and their vacation dollars.

A lone man stands amidst them all strumming a guitar and singing Jimmy Buffett songs for tips.  Upon hearing him, you conclude that despite all its other magnificent qualities, the harbor bar is not a music hotspot.

You think of the old cover band joke, "The more you drink, the better we sound."  Then you wonder if that really is an old joke or if you just now made it up.  If you did, you conclude that you must be a genius.  Like Einstein-level brilliant.  In fact, you decide you would like for people to start referring to you as Einstein, and not in an ironic way either.  (None of this thought process has anything to do with the two-and-a-half Shock Tops you've imbibed.)

You're not sure why you're referring to yourself in the second person all of the sudden.  Perhaps it's something geniuses do.  Your 9th grade English teacher (not to mention Jocelyn, oy!) would probably cringe.  But why should you care?  She let the girls in class call you "Elvis" the entire year.  Just because you curled your lip when you smiled and got a bad poofy haircut from your uncle who eventually wound up living near the coast for thirty years with the same male roommate.  Besides, why is your 9th grade English teacher even still reading your blog?  A little creepy, Ms. M.

(For those who may be curious, you feel you should mention that you soon returned to your 77-year-old barber for the remainder of your high school days.  And stopped using hairspray.  But thankfully, Elvis lives on forever in 9th grade yearbook photos.)

Beyond the boats, you can see the levee and seawall, and further out the Gulf, silvery and shimmering, at her most serene this time of day.

You breathe in slowly and completely, taking full advantage of the calming, mind-clearing powers of the sweet ocean air.  You savor the feel of the breeze as it chills your sun-stung skin.  (You're a guy so you try not to shiver, but it's difficult, and eventually impossible.)

Then you realize that all this, virtually everything you see, is only here because of the water. Without it, there would be no ocean breeze, no seagulls, no boats, no bay bridge, no tourists, no Jimmy Buffett wannabe, no harbor bar.

It's not a particularly profound realization, but even theoretical physicists (and those of us that should have been) have an off day now and then.  Probably.

As you amble toward the stairs to leave, your waitress runs up to you from behind.  (You had thought she was kinda cute, but had no idea she may have felt the same.)

"Hey, Einstein," she says.  But before you have time to wonder how she knew about your new nickname, you see her holding up a familiar plastic rectangle.

"You forgot your credit card."

"The King," circa 1988.

This came from a writing exercise I found on author Chrys Fey's blog.  Sage interviewed Chrys on his blog recently, which is how I made her blog-quaintance.  This particular exercise was to write anything that comes to mind involving water.  It started as a description of one of my favorite places near the ocean, then evolved (devolved?) to include a tiny bit of fiction as well.  See more writing exercises here.