I drove south. I was going to meet a boy for a beer. It was innocent. I was not interested in loving him. I was only interested in his company. A friend of sorts.
It’s the same drive I make for work every day. It was sunset and my day off. To my left the smoke stacks from the refinery look like a piece of art with the vanilla sky behind it. The natural gas escaping, making it look like that side of Earth was on fire. The soundtrack to my life is blasting in the car. It is powered by my thumb. It chose a soft, folky melody to calm me from the hectic day of driving and experiences taking me in the direction of my dreams. And now I am dressed slightly up, going towards a man who will be impressed by me, even if I am not interested in loving him. Sometimes flirting is fun without any intentions behind the banter and compliments.
The bar is dimly lit and has no kitchen. I nurse my first beer as he drinks a couple rum and cokes. Every time I act offended his big, slightly chubby, hand envelopes my forearm with my quote tattoo, in simple typewriter font, telling me I will always be me. His hand makes my arm seem thin and fragile. I found myself wishing for my heart to jump at his touch. It never did.
I told him about my day up in LA on Abbot Kinney Rd. How I felt everyone around me was better and more convinced of their talent and creativity. A model who knew her angles and told us the story of when she got shot by the bullet meant for Suge Night. A photographer from India with insight into technology and beauty. A stylist who knows fabric. But, I figure, that’s how you become more settled in your daydream becoming more like reality. Surround myself with these convinced individuals and I will become convinced as well.
I told him about Mary Rose. A woman I thought was pretty great.
“Hey. So can I have your number? Less for business and more because I think you’re a pretty fascinating person. I find myself meeting all these cool people who I want to be friends with and then leaving and never seeing them again. Not today. Today I’m gonna do something about it.”
I said this to Mary Rose. She stood there standing a head taller than me with black leather overalls on with a maroon sweatshirt underneath, making a lumpy fashion statement, because she was thin enough to do so. She wore high end jewlry from the gallery she manages, and the one I will write about. Two fragile necklaces dangle from her neck and elegant rings made of silver and international stones were hugging 5 of her ten fingers. Her hair was greasy and knotted and parted to the left. Her little ponytail was hip, matching her outfit and simple makeup. She was not surprised by my bold statement. Her face remained sweet. I have a feeling she has said something similar in the past.
“Yeah let’s kick it sometime! San Pedro isn’t to far from here. Just half an hour without traffic. I was so surprised to find that out the other day when I went to my friend’s Pilates studio in Long Beach.”
“Ok I’ll give you a call sometime!”
We hugged. I walked out the door.
He listened patiently as I explained my day that gave me hope of things happening. Things that would eventually lead to bigger things. He told me he was impressed. I knew he would be. Not in a conceded way. But in a way that our two lives are so different, that the simple extremity made it seem notable. He was 30 and stuck. I was 24 and couldn’t stick to anything except the feeling that comes with new. He told me Journalism would be hard to do. It made me angry. His slightly chubby hand rested over my forearm. We moved on to other topics. Him and his life. Then, debates over social issues. The forearm stroke became more frequent. It was Tuesday and we played trivia with the rest of the bar. Then we played hangman because talking became exhausting.
We walked because he got drunk off of the rum and cokes he drank as I nursed my first beer and then my second. He wanted more from life and therefore from me. I felt guilty for my innocent beer invitation. It started to feel selfish.
We would talk about this another time. These kinds of talks made me nervous. Maybe I will talk about it with Mary Rose when we get coffee.