Porch time’s a little more hospitable today.
The heat’s gone and been replaced by an autumnal cool that I’m perpetually up too late to enjoy. The reason that I could be so tardy to the writing porch is also the subject of the post today: unemployment. Up til now, I’d had fairly regular work at the T. Box of DC M St fame, and would be two hours into a Friday evening shift as of time of writing. Unfortunately (or not), I got a call from my manager around noon to let me know that we never had the legal go-ahead to serve food upstairs and that they wouldn’t need me for two weeks. Fourteen days is a long way to go without income, and as the chasm stretches in front of me, I can’t help but thank the Peace Corps, because no matter how intimidating or challenging it’s going to be to go abroad and start a life from scratch, it’s better than unemployment. And the Corps gives me a chance to wait out our crisis, with the option to put in another two years of procrastination with a Master’s program. Sweet!
I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised about the Box. That the owner hotboxes his office on the reg, that our white wine thefts are the sole responsibility of his wife, that if you talk to any ten bartenders in this city, one has a story about him being a shit, that both of his restaurants have been shut down for health code violations in the last month, and that the AC upstairs has been raining into the mold colonies in the ceiling for more than three years without even the most jury-rigged repair all speak volumes about the business practices in place. But uh, more time for me, I guess.
Moving onto topic, I’ve got a bit of saying goodbye to do, and I’m not going to do it. Not that I don’t want to or that I’m afraid, but because I’m bad at it. Always have been. All the feelings, the heartfelt, touching stuff that needs to be said, the pain of loss and separation, the anticipation of long gulfs of time without the ones I most love, all that only ever hits me way after the time for it has come and gone.
It happened the last time I ever saw James Cripps.
He was an expat Australian and my best friend from first to fourth grade, including the year he spent in Sydney, and I still pulled my usual shit. I’d known and loved James from the first day at the new Pudong Campus of Shanghai American School.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but we were pretty good friends. Probably has something to do with being two of the ten English speaking kids our age we knew in Shanghai. It was the summer of 2000 at the time, when Elizabeth Grimm was becoming the security studies minded person she is today, and we were finishing up two weeks spent with his family on Magnetic Island, off the east coast of the continent. I was walking out to his car in Sydney to go to the airport and hop a flight to Shanghai and then to my new home in Detroit, and I knew I’d probably never see this guy again. I gave him a weird hug, said “See you later, mate,” and took off. I was settling into our apartment in Bloomfield Hills before I realized the magnitude of the lie in that statement and began to regret the goodbye I’d never been able to give him (or myself).
My freshman year of college, I was dating a girl at the University of Michigan, and at the time we were going on five years. She bussed down to see me during her spring break, and we both Greyhounded back to Ann Arbor for mine. When the day of departure arrived, I realized, as I often do, that I’d written the bus schedule down wrong, and missed mine by about thirty minutes. If I didn’t catch it in Detroit in the following three hours, I’d miss a couple tests and be out around twice as many dollars as I had. There was a job fair for the Michigan College Democrats going on in the student union, and Jenny Suidan, who I’d worked with in Oakland County, was there recruiting. In a mad bit of organizing, she subbed somebody else in and agreed to give me a ride to the bus station in Detroit.
I gave my girlfriend a kiss and a very tight hug, and then Jenny and I scrambled to make the rendezvous an hour away. It was only after I’d cleared the interminable line and the unhelpful ticket agents and climbed into the seat I’d be sharing fo rth next twelve hours with a very nice, very overweight, somewhat stale mentally handicapped gentleman that I took a moment to realize that I would be seeing Yesi, this girl that, at the time, I loved more than anything and, scarily, thought I was going to marry, for a good four months at the earliest. It was only after my second trip through All Quiet and a stopover in Akron that I found time to have myself a cry.
That the handicapped fellow next to me had a girlfriend across the aisle was not, exactly, a comfort. So as I face up to the prospect of parting with the city and the people that I’m into, I do it with the confidence of knowing that I’ll fuck it up, and that there will be no closure or catharsis, and that I’ll be hating myself for a month straight because of how badly I’m going to tank it.