Non Fiction

If this place makes you cry come on baby stay a while – B Side Part 3

The other way that my time in Pacific Beach is catalogued in my memory is through the people I met and or spent time with.  Our neighboring apartment was occupied by a couple of longtime friends who had moved out from the midwest somewhere (i can’t recall where).  I think I was a little younger than they were, but one of them had a high motor and was always interested in hanging out.  I remember my primary interest at the time being the pursuit of the next distraction so this worked out well for a time.  Through our friendship he rediscovered skateboarding and shortly thereafter broke his foot.  Another friend of there’s moved out to San Diego and they got a house together with him and his girlfriend.  The introduction of he and his girlfriend into their living space was an ill fated arrangement.  The last time I hung out with them the five of us were in their living room and she decided to lay down in the middle of the floor, seemingly unmotivated.  She was laying in a way that offered me and my friend a fairly clear view of her vagina, and the room a tension that had not been there before.  The boyfriend became quietly morose, the two other guys quietly frustrated, me a little titillated and guilty upon realizing the state of the room, and she just seemed bored.  It was a fascinating moment of the low grade misogyny afforded a woman dating a man whose friends don’t like her.  I still am not sure if she was being bored or provocative, though my friend was convinced it was the later.  If I recall, they were all pretty boring people and aside from being high, I was pretty bored too.

After the dissolution of that relationship, the next group I remember spending time with was Satanic Panic’s circle of friends from college.  When I think about my time spent in San Diego these are the guys I remember being most comfortable around.  I think it was hanging out with them that helped me to realize a solution to my dissatisfaction.  Despite our past time consisting mostly of smoking weed, and skateboarding the experience of hanging out on a college campus, with college kids was inspiring to me.  And if I am honest, it was my favorite distraction from the narrative of my life because their life was the life I wanted for myself at the time.  I wanted to be a college kid, not a fucking smut peddler pothead with a slowly deteriorating mini-van and a total lack of belief in my future.  The fact that I didn’t like myself at the time makes me wonder why my girlfriend did and while it was my feeling that I wasn’t suitable to her that inspired me toward changing, it was hanging out with these guys that inspired the how to go about it, which is ultimately more important.  One of the group was this guy Robin who was a total fucking blow hard.  My investment in being crass and reductive at the time collided with his penchant for high brow nuance.  When I entered the house of this group of friends it was my schtick to say “what’s up negros?”  The depth of my racism wasn’t apparent to me until years later, but to his credit it was apparent to him then.  In short he was a blowhard but I was the asshole.  If we met now I think we would get along better.

The other two people whose memory stick most painfully in my mind are Jimmy and his sister whose name I can’t recall.  When I was 15 I was a lifeguard at the local pool in my hometown.   The pool was rarely frequented by customers but was a liability to leave unattended, hence my first in a long line of jobs getting paid sitting around and doing nothing.  At some point these two children would show up to the pool though neither of them could swim.  They spent the day in the kiddie pool and went home at closing. It was maybe a week after they started coming to the pool that I found Jimmy standing by the pool staring at the water with all the fear and determination that the innocent face of a four year old could muster.  After having asked him what he was doing, we worked out an arrangement that I would teach he and his sister to swim.  Weeks later I took personal pride in the joy I shared with them after they were able to swim across the pool and down to the bottom of the deep end.  I felt like a hero.  They stopped coming to the pool after they showed up with bruises on their backs and arms.  The pool attendant took it upon herself to call the authorities.  They were release to the custody of their parents that day and it wasn’t until that moment that I realized, the daily sight of them walking across the park alone to the pool from where ever they lived was an unusual practice for a couple of children, 4 and 5.

While living in Pacific Beach there were these two kids that lived in the same apartment complex.  They were the children of the family that was evicted and camped in the courtyard of the complex that Satanic panic alluded to in his earlier posting.  The two of them were cute kids.  She would have yard sales on the steps with items laid out on her blanket, and he was rambunctious and annoyingly persistent.  It wasn’t until I had moved to Santa Cruz that I made another belated realization.  Those kids were Jimmy and his Sister 5 years older.  Though I never did anything to harm them, I am sure they recognized me.  And, I am positive that with the wisdom attained through the life they had lived up until that point that they recognized substance abuse in me.  When I remember their faces smiling and my pride from having been a positive moment in there otherwise shitty life, it is now tarnished by the guilt of no longer being a hero in the lives of two people that seriously needed one.


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