Jøhnny Fävòrítê (johnnyfavorite) wrote,
Jøhnny Fävòrítê

the undertow

i wrote this in december 2000, as i was moving from miami to the bay area.
I've never been so thoroughly at war with myself since I was in my twenties. Back then at some point I finally realized that my insides were all wrong, that I was picking the same girlfriend over and over again, the bad girl who was interesting and conflicted but totally unreliable who was going to fuck me over eventually. So I had to ignore my instincts. If some chick seemed attractive to me that was a sure sign she was the absolute last person I should date.

Now my instincts are telling me to hunker down in my nice safe comfortable little cave and not come out for anybody. Going through a nearly impossible move made it seem all that much more pressing. I pulled an all-nighter last night trying to get everything packed and didn't quite make it. There were a few things I had to leave for the movers. They were actually pretty good, but obviously they don't give a shit about my particular pile of stuff, so I was glad I'd packed as much of it as I did.

They emptied out my house. I mean, I know that's what they were supposed to do, but to me it looked surreal, like pulling the limbs off of somebody and watching them bleed to death. There goes my couch, entombed in Saran Wrap. There goes the desk I bought when I was twelve with lawn-mowing money, which hadn't moved an inch in almost six years. There goes my five boxes of CDs, lovingly packed by yours truly, and you bastards better be particularly careful with those. There were dust bunnies under my two beds as big as rats.

They were gone in a couple of hours and there I was wandering around my echo-y house, looking at the dirt piles that had been under the furniture. I knew I should stay another day and clean things up. I hadn't slept in 36 hours and was in no shape to be driving. I had refrained from throwing away the ugly pseudo futon thing out in the garage in case of something like this happening. But I couldn't do it. I was loathing myself for trying to cling to this place where I never belonged anyway, and suddenly I could barely stand the sight of it after all that hideous packing.

So I took the keys down to Luis' jewelry shop, because he's thinking about renting my house now that I'm gone. He likes the idea of being able to walk to work. I'll call my landlord in a day or two and straighten it all out. I'll probably have to pay somebody to run a vacuum over the place and throw out the remaining detritus.

And now I'm free, free, free! And only using about, oh, 25 percent of my brain worrying about my stuff in storage, or thieves possibly breaking into my car since they might see me pulling expensive shit like my camera bag out of the trunk. My monkey hindbrain, the part that wishes I'd stayed hunkered down in my comfortable little hole in Coral Gables, is coming up with nightmare scenarios for me. What if somebody breaks one of your windows getting to your stuff? It's going to be fun stuck in some shithole town trying to get it fixed, isn't it?

I got as far as Naples before I ran out of steam. That's only about two hours outside of Miami. My impression so far is: white trash haven. I made the mistake of going into a Waffle House for dinner, since it was the only place I could walk to, and had to sit next to a foul smoker who was using his snappy repartee on the cook, saying things like "I went to therapy for my knee and now I have to go to therapy for my therapy!" and then sitting there all smug, like he had formulated one extremely witty ha-ha-inducing laff riot indeed.

My god, I can barely type. My fingers are sore and if I concentrate on them I can see myself picking at the end of the tape on the roll for the eight billionth time, hoping I don't get lax and get another paper cut from the edge of a box. I've got a huge yellow-ish bruise on my arm and I can't even remember how I got it, all the bumping into things blurs together eventually.

I know I have to do this. I know I belong in California, I've known it logically for years but it took me this long to get miserable enough to finally do something about it. Sometimes I can almost see the new me emerging and then sometimes I feel like I've got a metal vice on my head, like I'm ready to tell the movers to call the whole thing off, bring my stuff back and put it back exactly where it was.

Liabilities sometimes become assets, if lived with long enough. I didn't like that house very much when I moved in, but it grew on me. The best thing about it is that it's in a lovely neighborhood. I could walk to the grocery and bookstores and to the shop that the only woman who ever cut my hair in Miami owns, she happens to be friends with Luis incidentally, and there was Luis' jewelry store whenever I wanted to stop in and shoot the shit.

Luis, bless his little Cuban heart, is happy for me to go. He didn't want me to at first, but I think he eventually realized he was thinking that for selfish reasons. At some level he wants to make a big radical change like I'm making, but he hasn't gotten quite miserable enough yet, although he certainly talks about it often enough. He makes little half-hearted gestures, like switching to a different auction web site or favoring watches over bracelets, but that's not going to change his life the way he wants it changed. If only he didn't have such an unenlightened view of women and gay people, then he and I would be much better friends.

Man, do I ever want my stuff back. For the last two days of moving I was down to listening to nothing but the six Autechre discs I hadn't yet packed, and I am missing them pretty bad right now. Somber Music To Change Your Life By. I wish I had thrown a couple of them into my laptop case.

epilogue: i had been a pretty good tenant, calling my landlord only twice during the five and a half years i lived there, so he wasn't too mad about me leaving the place a bit untidy. he didn't charge me for cleaning up my mess.

luis did not move into my old place. he couldn't afford it. he makes very little money from his tiny store, he probably lives below the poverty line. he could be raking it in hand over fist if he was willing to work for another jeweler, and he does that every now and then when he gets desperate, but in the long run he'd rather have his freedom.

my old landlord moved into the place instead. he really fixed it up nice. i saw it when i went there to visit for my 40th birthday. i was back in miami again for a job interview a few months ago, and luis says my old landlord has sold the house and moved on.

i don't let myself swear like that anymore, but i'm thinking about taking it up again. anger is power.

i washed out of california after only a year. i am still trying to get back. further updates as events warrant.
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