Waking up around 2 p.m. Too late for my taste.
You’re sleeping the day away mister
...only to live the night awake missy.
Getting my flat tire fixed – turns out it was only a nail. A simple patch-up will do.
At the house. The walls are reverberating with anticipation. Jenji blares Rastafarian tunes on the speaker. Cleaning up the spaces. Setting up the PA. Exercising.
Strawberries. Dark Chocolate Bar filled with Cookie Spread.
Working on a few songs in my room.
Meanwhile the house fills up to the brim with Show N Tellers...
“Show N Tell will never die. Until we all get old, too old to get live. We’ll simply separate and continue leading fantastic lives. Some of us may end up famous musicians. Artists. Inventors. A few of us will write books...A lot of us will never quit drinking and, henceforth, lead miserable lives pretending to have as much talent as Bukowski didn’t.”
Some long-haired kid starts banging on the piano and instigates the loudest sing-a-long I’ve ever heard at this house...
Ginger Peanut Noodles with Egg and Spinach.
After party at Rick’s...
Apple Pie Ala Mode.
Sleep 4:30 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:55 PM
Waking up around 1 p.m.
Hot Oat Bran with Cinnamon, Brown Sugar, Blueberries, and Almond Milk.
Ginger Peanut Noodles with Egg and Tomato. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Raspberry Lemonade.
Watching Boy Wonder (2010).
I get called into China Wok for a few hours.
On the phone with Kristin for a little bit. It’s a hectic fluster as I deliver orders and listen to her. She’s heavy with a mini-crisis and confused about everything – her future and my involvement in her life. She fears we might not be on the same page. Like, I want to take things slow and let them progress naturally but she wants someone there in full...now.
While slaying the Hilltop dragons I receive an unexpected battle scar and my right front tire goes flat without any warning. A damn dragon swiped its claws on my rubber. So I’m stuck on the corner of Mill Dam and First Colonial. Gratefully, Devon comes to save the day with a tire iron.
Apricot Almond Tart. Raspberries.
Tinkering with a song I plan on doing at Show n Tell tomorrow.
Sautéed Asparagus, Mushrooms, Black-Eyed Peas, and Rice.
World War Poker Night at the house. The game gets rowdy with our couch surfer, Jenji of France, Art representing Russia, and of course Darren representing Scotland. Sipping on a few beers.
Art coerces me into a few games of NBA Jam to which I gratefully win all three.
Playing music in my bedroom.
Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Almond Milk.
Finishing the movie.
Sleep around 4 a.m.
[i] Cloud Dragon. Horst J. Bernhart.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:52 PM
☼ ○ ▬
Outside in the Chanticleer parking lot. Sexual tension between me and a fairly pretty girl whose understood to be 13 or 14 years old. We have to keep it secret so we set up camp just outside the front door of one of the apartments that’s vacant. Lying down together inside this kennel made out of black metal piping, similar to that of the loft bed from my bedroom. I use thick comforters and blankets to shelter us and give us privacy but the sheets keep moving and falling over. We’re having sex and doing other things of a sexual nature. I feel guilty because this is illegal but I’m not forcing anything. Across the way I see Kevin looking out of his window curious as to what I’m doing with this young girl. It’s obvious what’s happening. He makes fun of us. It’s a stressful scene for me as I can’t seem to cover our little kennel enough. I notice the ground is wet around our vicinity, from the rain I guess. Then, elderly neighbors come out acting repulsed at the fact we’re camping right outside their front door.
Them: “You can’t do that here!”
Me: “What’s the big deal? We’re not making any noise. This isn’t your property anyway!”
It’s a family of old people. Their faces are permanently painted with disgust. I spot Jeff Bridges standing inside. He makes snarky comments in regard to what’s going on, something about battles in space.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up around 1 p.m.
Trip to the store with Darren and Jenji (our French couch surfer). To Target. We spot an attractive lady with a colorful summer skirt and tan skin.
I turn to Jenji, “There’s always pretty girls in Target. You think we go to the grocery store for groceries?”
Then, to Trader Joe’s. Then, Total Wine for beer.
Double Egg White Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Avocado. Raspberry Lemonade.
Watching Humboldt County (2008).
At the storage unit organizing stuff.
Carrot with Ranch.
Meeting up with Elliott. On bikes. We trek down Laskin, cut through 24th, and arrive at his house on 16th. It’s a perfect night for night riding. His girlfriend Michelle joins us and we explore the oceanfront. The fishing pier. Seeing my old work place at the ice cream shop and chatting with my old boss. Flipper McCoy’s. Riding down the strip. Cutting through the condensed beach house neighborhood on Oceanfront Ave. At 50th. Darren, Devon, and Jenji meet us out on the beach. Lying on our backs and admiring the beach night scenery.
Darren: “Yeah maybe next time we can bring Twister.”
My stomach is growling for food. I leave and ride back to the house, eager to return to the black eyed peas I had slow cooking for the past 4 hours.
Back home. Skippy bestowed upon our kitchen discarded perishables from Trader Joe’s that were going to be thrown out. And now our fridge is full of miscellaneous goodies.
Black-Eyed Peas with Spinach and Rice.
Watching Pandorum (2009).
I have an upset stomach and don’t know why.
Sleep around 4 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:41 PM
I’m awakened around 8 a.m. to Kristin’s restlessness. Her biological clock wakes her up this early. I’m in a super dead sleepy state. She’s being cute and worried at the same time.
Her: “I want to talk.”
Me: “I need sleep.”
After maybe 30 minutes she settles down. Back to sleep...
☼ ○ ▬
Exploring an industrial courtyard on a push scooter. I’ve abandoned the group I was with. Having fun darting up and down the asphalt hills. I discover a strange alluring tunnel-hole in the ground. My body is just the right size to fit. I slip my legs down into it to test the depths. I can’t reach the bottom. I partially recognize that I’m dreaming and because of that I consider taking a risk to jump down there because I have no consequences to worry about. I’ll just wake up. But being the careful person that I am I pull out my phone and use the flashlight app to shine a light down into the tunnel. Glowing eyes reflect back. A vicious white dog barks in response. I realize at this point I should probably run away from this. So I make for the corner of the courtyard – behind a door – advance to the ledge. I look down. I didn’t realize this whole time I’ve been at least 20 stories high. I locate the exit hatch on the corner of the roof. It’s understood I’m in a video game of some kind. The white dog is chasing me. I hop down through the hatch and wait for the music to start up signifying I’ve reached the end. I expect the game to freeze but it doesn’t. Instead I slowly sink through the hatch structure and just in time to miss the gnashing teeth of the dog. I slip down on the top of an intricate system of multicolored slides and rods, similar to a playground. Carefully I move along swirling further downward and eventually reaching the bottom. A pool of muddy water surrounds me. I look over to find my mom and a few of her friends cheering for me on the sidelines. I toss my purple book bag to a little girl then step into the water, which is knee deep. There’s a struggle as the rush of the water pulls me away from my mom and the sidelines. I feel a supernatural force tug at my legs. I grab hold of the plastic siding and crawl my way out of the stormy water. I jump over the siding and I’m safe. This is understood to be quite a victory for me in dreamland.
▬ ○ ☼
Alarm goes off at 11:05 a.m.
Her black heart ring lies by the bedside. I pick it up...
Me: “I’m taking your black heart.”
Her: “Nooo! I need that.”
Oatmeal Breakfast Bar. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Another super hot day.
Supersonic Breakfast Burrito from Sonic (Egg, Cheese, Tomato, Jalapeno, Tater Tot). Salt n Vinegar Chips. Raspberry Lemonade.
Throughout the day I’m involved in a text conversation with Kristin. She’s having dark emotional reactions to what happened last night and our newly acquired intimacy in general. We’ve both made clear there is no pressure to step into something exclusive for now and of course we are still learning about each other as persons. I’m feeling less of a drive as of late considering the recent stumbling blocks on her end and on my end too. But I still have that gift of intuition and making sense of things.
Me: “I know all the secrets of the universe, kristin. I don’t know why you resist letting me make sense of everything.”
Her: “I always end up becoming this person I don’t like when I get close to people...I like my walls but I don’t...I’m really good at telling everything I feel which creates lots of problems. But I just don’t really get to know a lot of people deeply. I think I behave oddly.”
Me: “knowing someone deeply is quite an achievement and reward.”
Business is steady. Alone in my car with my thoughts and tunes.
Blueberries. Vitamin Water.
It is less stressful than yesterday.
Finally off work – a fairly productive shift.
Nobody’s home. But I’m sure they will be soon enough. Josiah pops in at random. We chat downstairs in the dining room about the realities of things, an artist’s drive to create, and drawing lines (boundaries) with girls.
Shrimp with Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.
Eventually the cavalry arrives from a night of beach drinking. Heavy debates and discussions rev up the air about the existence of God and evolution.
I retire to my room.
Watching Teen Wolf (1985).
Kristin: “Have I scared you away yet?”
Me: “I’m like running for the door.”
Kristin: “Are you joking?”
Sleep 3 a.m.
[i] Marker drawing. Merijn Hos.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 12:34 PM
☼ ○ ▬
Inside a recreation facility. We’ve been locked in a certain part of the building. I’m with a beautiful tall and skinny Russian woman who holds a menacing secret from me and the others. I have no choice but to give her respect if I want to survive. Exploring the hallways I find a gymnasium. People playing basketball everywhere. I brought my own ball, the black and blue one. It accidently gets mixed in with the other balls being thrown around – some of them resembling my ball’s color and design. I have a hard time differentiating between them.
A map view: Claremont Ave; Rosemont Rd. This map doesn’t make any sense. Margot is in the same room.
▬ ○ ☼
Breaking out of sleep every fifteen minutes or so. Some scenarios involving Margot, and it’s always the same thing...I’m being taunted by her presence and her potential new lovers. I’m slightly disturbed by this.
Waking up at 11:40 a.m.
Oatmeal Breakfast Bar. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
Virginia Beach is a fiery furnace – the blazing sun baking me and my station wagon to a crisp.
Feeling a sense of withdrawal...not necessarily sexual and not necessarily emotional. Maybe it was the recurring sequence of dreams I had this morning that reminded me of the absence of her. She still sifts through my day-to-day thoughts. I’m not bogged down with it though but it’s enough to recognize the distance. It feels like months have gone by but in reality it has only been a few weeks.
I get a sling of lunch orders to deliver, one of them being The Holiday Inn on 39th street. It’s quite a frustrating ordeal as the customer isn’t in their room. I call and find out the whole Puerto Rican family is hanging out at the pool. I go in search. No luck. It’s been at least 15 minutes of me looking for a needle in a haystack. Finally, I conjure up help from a cheery employee at the front desk and we locate the mystery family. Transaction complete. I drive off in anger but also with a generous tip.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato. Tortilla Chips with Guacamole Salsa. Honey Green Tea.
The combination of the relentless heat and the repetitive disappointment in tips induce in me a miserable rage. I find myself beating the passenger seat as I accelerate with abandon. I am cruel to the sun and rebel against its ominous presence...
“Go away! Get out of my life! I wish you would just GO DOWN!”
The day finally digresses to night and I’m fully satisfied.
Kristin stops in and rides around with me on the last of my deliveries.
Back home. We have a Rastafarian Frenchman couch surfer here for the week. Darren, Kevin, and the usual gang of people are here hanging around the house and drinking. Kevin still hasn’t paid me the money for the laptop and we get into a spat about the price.
Kevin: “No. You said it was $200.”
Me: “No, Kevin. The price has always been $250. That laptop is worth $300. I bought it from China Wok for $250.”
Kevin: “Then why do I have it in my head that it was $200?”
Me: “Because you have reality filters over your ears.”
Tofu with Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.
Fortune cookie: “It’s time for you to explore all those new interests.”
Kristin and I spend personal time in the bedroom. It’s her birthday at midnight. Sipping on smiley face wine and chit chatting about this and that – making fun of each other – analyzing our former relationships, their destructive nature and their positive aspects. Amongst the topics comes up sex. And we tend to talk about sex casually even though we’ve never experienced it with each other – talking about what we like, favorite positions, etc. At some point she develops that classic glaring look in her eye. We kiss then mutually decide to just do it. I slap one of those latex things on and we have sex. But it is short lived. I don’t know why. I can’t keep the blood flow going after we change positions. It’s my fault. She takes notice and lie down side by side.
Her: “Well maybe I don’t turn you on...”
Me: “No, that’s definitely not it. It’s just because we’re using a condom. I’m not used to using one.”
I assure her that it’s just me. This has happened before when I’ve tried to use a condom on someone new.
She falls asleep beside me around 3 a.m.
[i] Image by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 6:42 PM
☼ ○ ▬
I’ve hitched a ride at the oceanfront. In the back seat next to Raven. Her boyfriend, Adam, is driving. Nobody seems to make obvious the possible awkwardness of me being present. We converse like old friends. I’m perusing through an old school flip phone of mine – the phone company gave me a temporary one while they fix my smart phone. As we’re traveling on the main road we come across the entrance to a bridge-tunnel that I’m not familiar with. The colossal front walls are neatly decorated with neon graffiti.
I question our route, “Why are we going this way? It’s the long way.”
Raven assures me we’ll get there in time. We finally arrive at the intersection of Laskin and First Colonial in Hilltop. We’re halted by a mass of traffic. I see smoke in the distance. We drive by a frightening scene of a school bus up in flames – the firemen all around us grappling water hoses.
Me: “I have to get to China Wok on the other side.”
We slip through the Kmart shopping center and eventually I’m dropped off at the restaurant. Inside, I find Margot is here. It’s understood we haven’t seen each other in a long time. She’s talking on the phone with some guy pretending to be charming with him as to make me jealous I suppose. I disregard everything and keep myself busy.
▬ ○ ☼
Oatmeal Breakfast Bar. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
I’ve been sitting here in my officette at the restaurant table and haven’t even delivered one order yet. Kristin’s texting me and to my surprise turns it into a dirty texting convo. I feel embarrassed but she’s unstoppable and as she said before, needs sex to survive. Now I think I understand.
Lunch stop at the house.
Darren brings to mind red flags that I should be recognizing the more and more I talk to him about Kristin. He’s skilled at pointing out the psychosis in all our friends, including myself.
Me: “Dude, everybody is crazy in some way. Everyone creates their own realities in their heads. We all have psychosis.”
Grilled Cheese with Tomato. Five Guys French Fries. Honey Green Tea.
According to the internet weather experts it’s 76 degrees. I don’t agree. It feels like we’re in the 90’s.
The day continues into the night. Dinner deliveries are steady but not too overwhelming.
It’s a little after 10 o’clock. I should be cashing out and going home but I shouldn’t build up hope so soon. The phone rings and I’m obligated to deliver three more orders. I hate working overtime...and especially when my route involves me driving from 13th street to 78th street during Memorial Day Weekend beach traffic. I have no choice but to indulge myself with my own dinner while I drive: Shrimp with Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.
I talk on the phone with my mom to pass the time waiting in traffic and sort out a semi-serious financial problem about a friend.
Hanging out with the roommates off and on.
Art stops by and we discuss the thing I was talking with my mom about earlier. He’s got himself into a tricky situation. I try to offer the best advice.
A bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Almond Milk.
Sleep 4 a.m.
[i] Philippe Caza.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 6:40 PM
I wake up to a knock at my door at around 11:30 a.m. It’s Kristin. She plops down in the bed with me and tells me all about what she was just doing, which was visiting Planned Parenthood, getting tested, and receiving the new HPV vaccine.
We migrate downstairs and find Becca giving Darren a new haircut.
Playing some hit tunes on guitar. Darren looks super young and suave now. His mushroom head has been shortened to a prestigious gentlemen shape.
Becca compares Kristin to a firecracker.
Kristin and I head out on the town. Eating late lunch at Saigon 1, a Vietnamese restaurant.
Shrimp Pho Noodle Soup. Thai Iced Tea.
I didn’t plan on spending practically the whole day with this girl. But here we are and I’m not disappointed. We click socially and the general mood is cheery.
Exploring some of the nearby thrift stores on VB Blvd.
Back at the house. Dimming the lights in my bedroom. Things are fiery and the chemistry is good as usual. The undeniable attraction and magnetic energy between us is hard to dismiss. We kiss with such passion. She has no shame in stripping down to pure nakedness. I pleasure her with my tingly fingers. We create this hot summery scene...but it is again only a teaser trailer. Even though she picked up some condoms from Planned Parenthood, the longwinded buildup sort of keeps the snake tamed in the end. But there’s no pressure or rush to do sex. She’s such a sex fiend though, more than I imagined. But we’re both very sensual creatures and it works to our advantage.
Bumbling around in the bed. She claims to be a big fan of just lying around like a cat.
She observes that I embellish moments with excessive passion and thinks it’s possible it may come across as insincere. But no, this is just me. I have a poetic perspective and tend to act out my life in such dramatic ways.
She also strokes my ego with massive compliments. This is what Leos need the most, affirmation. I return the favor.
My whole eating schedule was screwed up today by this beautiful distraction. Instead of the usual scheduled meals I find myself eating only when I’m hungry.
Scrambled Egg. Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Avocado. Chocolate Caramel-Filled Bar. Honey Green Tea.
Eventually, Kristin leaves the house to hang out with her friend Hannah. Now I’m by myself. I’m not used to so much intimacy shared in one day. I think it is positive for me.
Feeling a little lethargic and non-productive even though I want to feel the opposite. I decide to sit through a big chunk of the movie, Drive (2011), this being my second viewing. This gives me my boost for the rest of the night.
Salt n Vinegar Chips. Garlic Sautéed Spinach and a Carrot.
Sipping on a Magic Hat and hanging out with the roommates.
Sleep at some point.
[i] Image by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 6:06 PM
☼ ○ ▬
I’m with a group of people. We’ve been brought to this field in the middle of the wilderness. Industrious farm buildings and structures surround us. Inside a brick barn we’re taken on a tour. Walking along a narrow hallway passing symbolic installation rooms protected by prison bars to our right. It’s like a museum...but a museum of modern activist thought. Some rooms have primped up beds. Another has a video playing on a TV – a motif on Hitler. I believe the name Hitler is used once or twice within every sentence. Our guide brings us to the last room and hands out a book. We’re told to look through it and find which subject of activism interests us the most, jot down the information, and research into it later. It’s time to go. We migrate out into a crop field. The group continues on and I’m left behind to answer a phone planted into the ground along the crop line. I respond with hello. A woman on the other line answers but it sounds like a pre-recorded message – something similar to informing me I’ve won a prize or a trip. But the more I listen I realize it’s not a message. It’s a real live person. So I strike up a personal conversation.
“What’s your name?”
There’s a long pause then she replies, “Cindy Strip.”
Me: “Cindy Strip?”
Her: “Cindy Chateau—Sharpe. Cindy Sharpe.”
She sounds a bit thrown off guard but invites the conversation.
Me: “Cindy. Where are you?”
Me: “Like, where are you right now? England? Paris?”
It’s understood that my group and I are in England currently. My intentions with this woman are to meet her in person. I feel a mutual attraction over the phone.
Me: “Can we meet tonight?”
Her responses are sparse. Maybe she’s nervous. I don’t know. I realize the van is leaving and I could miss my ride. Meanwhile, a weird looking snapper turtle crawls around my feet. There’s a struggle and the turtle bites my hand. I shove it off me and make a run for it. I make it just in time and hop into the van.
Someone in the van says to me, “Don’t forget to take your pills.”
Me: “What are you trying to say? Hey, what are you trying to say? That I need pills?”
It was a joke.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up around 1 p.m.
Iced Oatmeal Breakfast Bar. Orange Juice.
Nicole drops by to give me my keyboard back I let her borrow. Meanwhile, Kevin’s learning how to use the laptop I just sold him.
Grilled Cheese with Tomato. Salt n Vinegar Chips. Honey Green Tea.
Hanging out with Gillian and Darren – Jupiter, the cat, roaming around.
Leftover Beer-Glazed Black Beans with Onions, Kale, Carrots, and Rice. PBR.
James Graves, Darren, and I head to Norfolk for a night out. On the drive I attempt to chug a few beers. We meet up at Lola’s where they have Indie Nights every Thursday. Earlier, Kristin had invited me for drinks and dancing. We arrive. It’s a cozy little Caribbean restaurant/bar with a small dance floor. Getting acquainted with our surroundings on the patio. Jamal and his friend Justin are here. Not many familiar faces but we make new friends quickly. Sharing PBR tallboys. Kristin and Hannah arrive on the scene. Kristin greets me with an endearing hug that lasts at least 11 seconds.
Me: “This is not a normal hug.”
They have strap-on skin colored noses sitting in a glass bowl at the bar. Some of us find amusement in them.
Bumming a cherry clove off a girl named Sue at a table. We’re introduced to a guy named Benny who offers much for conversation and cheer. Jamal insists on buying me a shot of vanilla whiskey and another tallboy. Not long after this consumption do I feel extremely loose and happy. I haven’t been this drunk in a good while. Joining the kids on the dance floor. Zooming, stomping, and twirling. An eclectic mix of tunes ranging from Ladytron to jock jams. I watch Kristin from time to time. We catch each other’s eyes and share a sense of mutual engagement – not forgetting the connection – but still presenting a casual appearance to everyone around us.
►◊◄ ►◊◄ ►◊◄ ►◊◄ ►◊◄ ►◊◄ ►◊◄
It’s closing time. I’m too drunk to drive and toss the keys to Darren. He takes the wheel. James lying down in the back. Me in the passenger seat. Reggie and the Full Effect’s album, Promotional Copy blaring on the stereo. Darren and I share a nostalgic moment as we both listened to this album in high school. Belching out the lyrics and enjoying the simple-minded melodies.
Back home. I’m useless by myself so I attempt to sober up in Darren’s bedroom waiting for this drunken high to rub off. Analyzing our relationship issues and amusing ourselves with the cat’s ridiculous neurotic behavior.
Cookie Butter Bagel and then bed. Sleep around 4:30 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 5:08 PM
It’s after 1 p.m. I wake up to a few texts from Kristin, “W h y d o I like you s o m u c h. Ugh.”
Me: “w h y did I s l e e p so late. ugh.”
Her: “I missed you all day! And my heart just fluttered when I saw your name on my phone. Eeeeep.”
Me: “My heart has always fluttered when I see your name pop up on my phone.”
I’m slowly trying to understand Kristin’s human behavior – all the kinks and tinks. As much as most people have universal consistencies and inconsistencies I have to keep reminding myself that she is not my old lover. I can’t use the same tactics. It’s like learning a new computer program.
Hot Cream of Wheat With Brown Sugar. Watermelon. Orange Juice.
Catching up on writing.
Egg White Sandwich with Mayonnaise and Tomato. Lemonade.
Working out at the gym – running two miles – lifting weights. God, it’s been too long.
Back home. Trying out a new oatmeal breakfast bars recipe.
Barbecue Tuna Steaks with Broccoli, Kale, Carrots, Mushrooms, Onions, and Rice.
Poker night with Art, Calum, Darren, and Devon. We up the ante to $5 buy-ins since nobody has anything smaller. It turns out to be a calm and less noisy evening. Invigorating debates break out about inconsistencies in race culture. Darren takes the winnings but I get my money back as second place.
Chores. Chores. Chores.
Small bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Almond Milk.
Sleep 3:30 a.m.
[i] Dark Mountain 1. Parskid.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 4:51 PM
☼ ○ ▬
I’ve just started working at a restaurant that’s understood to be Rick’s Café but its interior is completely different. Customers are asking me questions about the muffins on the menu. They’ve heard rumors the muffins weren’t that good, maybe even stale. I can’t assure them of anything because I just got hired here and have never tried the muffins.
▬ ○ ☼
It’s 9:20 a.m. Waking up earlier than usual.
Egg and Cheese Burrito with Salsa. Orange Juice.
Meeting Josiah at the storage unit. Chet, the owner of the property, helps us finish building the wall behind the garage doors. We give him a hand unloading his pickup truck in return. Then we hang carpets up to help block the sound when we play music in there.
Meanwhile I’m receiving disheartening texts from Kristin. Apparently, she’s still overwhelmed...
Her: “Robert I can’t do this. My heart and soul are being strangled. I just need to walk away.”
Me: “heart and soul being strangled?? I don’t understand.”
Her: “You really don’t understand? I’m already heart broken and some things matter more to me than other things and my health and purity is really important to me and that fear has taken over and my feelings have withered away. It’s eating away at me. I just want it to all go away.”
Me: “you’re paranoid.”
Her: “I’m not the most rational person.”
Her: “Yeah I am – so what?”
Me: “well you’re letting your paranoia ruin something beautiful.”
Her: “It’s tainted we can never go back to what we had before you disclosed this to me. I feel differently and I tried not to but I do. :( It hurts me more than it probably hurts you. I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest. I fell for you really hard. How can I not let this bother me?”
Her: “Robert...I really want you to not beat your self up over this. I’m one girl with a lot of paranoia about this sort of issue. You’ll find someone who won’t care.”
Me: “this hurts me more than you think. this is unnecessary. you’re being a coward. I feel like fucking shit. Kristin. this is really breaking me. please don’t just up and scram.”
She calls me up and things get unexpectedly hostile as I persist in educating and convincing her that this isn’t as serious of an issue. I’m fighting for something I don’t even know about. I just feel so helpless.
I lie down on my bed and drift off into a heavy power nap.
I guess I just feel rejected but not in a normal way. Maybe dejected is a better word.
I feel like every time I’m offered an opportunity to experience another relationship that could potentially be healthier and more beneficial to me, I get shut down...and for unprecedented reasons.
Kristin: “Are you ok?”
Me: “not really. I feel depressed and helpless.”
Kristin: “Robert Stop. You’re such a great guy!!! Don’t let this bring you down. I am scared of getting what you may or may not have. That’s it. Please don’t let this bum you out. Let’s take some time apart see how we both feel then revisit being friends. Ok?”
Kristin: “I can’t stand you being sad. You’re too awesome to be sad.”
Peanut Butter Bagel. Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Avocado. Honey Green Tea.
She invites me over to her apartment and possibly to join her on a night out. On the drive there I’m stuck in a blockade of traffic on I264 – everybody is forced to go no faster than 20 mph practically the whole way until I get closer to Norfolk. The rain disturbs the flow too.
I text Kristin, “I hate today. I hope it gets better. I feel once I see your face it will somehow.”
I arrive. The rain has subsided somewhat. In her bedroom. The windows open. Fresh rain smell protruding through to the senses. Nothing feels wrong except a sense of embarrassment on both our ends.
Her: “I’m really like kind of embarrassed about like how seriously bitchy I get on the phone sometimes.”
Me: “I don’t like talking on the phone. I like in person communication cause there’s so much empathy and you’ve got your hands. You’ve got your face. You’ve got your body. It’s really important.”
Me: “I feel better now that I’m here.”
She runs out to retrieve her phone. I crawl around on the floor trying to get on the cats level while she's gone. They’re really timid and difficult to pet. But I use my animal tact and win over Freddie with back scratches. Kristin returns.
Her: “The cats love you and it makes me really jealous.”
Me: “It’s always good to resolve things in person. I don’t want you to feel, well, we got sort of hostile on the phone. We were trying to understand each other. We were trying to be understood.”
Her: “I’m crazy.”
Me: “I don’t know. Maybe you are, dude.”
Her: “But not really. I’m just like neurotic...is the best word.”
Me: “I don’t want you to feel invalidated to feel the way you feel. You know what I mean? I may have come across a little eager on the phone. Like you said I was trying to persuade you or something. I felt like I needed to educate you. But yeah you have every right to feel scared or apprehensive, too.”
Her: “I’m just like pissed about it. Because I want everything to be just like...”
Me: “...Perfect. Like a fantasy?”
[Shared amusement and smiles]
Her: “Shut up. Maybe a little. I don’t know.”
Me: “It’s okay. Everybody strives for that.”
Her: “Yeah. You’re right.”
Me: “You know I’m falling for you too. I don’t know if I’ve ever really told you.”
I bring up the dichotomy of the string of texts I was sent yesterday morning compared to this morning.
Her: “Dude, this is like reminiscent of like every single relationship I’ve ever had in my life. I’m talking about what you just observed. Being different from day to day.”
Me: “But you seem like an extremely loyal person too.”
Her: “Well, yeah I am.”
Her: “It’s just a lot to take in. You have to realize just how much it is to take in. It’s not gonna go back to normal. I have to figure shit out. I have to figure out what I wanna do. It’s not like, oh hey I told you this one thing-let’s just act like it’s not a huge deal. And continue on. That creates the ideal situations I don’t like. I’ve never been great at dealing with that kind of stuff. It creates a world of problems around a problem. The problem has a little fort around it and it won’t let anything progress.”
Me: “Until the fort gets broken down. And a resolution comes.”
Her: “Yeah but do I want my fort broken down? The fort is protecting me from your issues.”
Me: “We’re not even in a relationship. There hasn’t been any efforts or tries.”
Her: “Yeah but it’s like total classic me though to be on this total level of like...”
Me: “I really like you!”
Her: “Yeah I like you too.”
Me: “I don’t even know you yet. I wanna get to know you. I’m not afraid of who you are.”
She puts on a Lucero record quietly in the background.
We continue sorting through, detail by detail, fact by fact, the fact that I might have HPV. It’s the cause of all this turmoil.
Her: “But what makes me think that you’re worth it to me?”
Me: “You don’t even know. You haven’t even tried.”
Her: “I know but maybe I don’t wanna pursue it because maybe I don’t wanna get attached and I don’t want that to skew—”
Me: “We’re not even having sex right now. I just wanna hang out with you.”
Her: “Yeah but you don’t understand how I am. I’m gonna get all emotionally attached to you. I need sex to survive.”
Me: “So I like sex too. People need sex to be happy. I agree.”
Her: “Yeah. Exactly. So I’m gonna be getting like this emotional awesomeness from you and then I’m gonna not be with you? No that’s not gonna fucking happen. I’m gonna sleep with you and I’m gonna regret it. I’m gonna be anxiety ridden. Is that a risk I wanna take?”
Me: “It’s a risk you took every time you slept with someone else. It’s all a risk.”
Her: “I’m probably one of the worst people that you could’ve ever started something with and like told this to.”
Me: “Cause I feel like the whole reason you’re scared is because you’re thinking of becoming involved with me sexually.”
Her: “Yeah I want to.”
Me: “But seriously it’s not about the sex for me. Like I really enjoy hanging out with you. Like, you’re cool with who I am as a person.”
Her: “Yeah I totally am.”
She cranks up Lucero on the record player. And the mood heightens to something more casual – making fun of each other – being playful. She gets dressed – trying on different outfits and keeps looking in the mirror. She resembles a fashionista doll – spunky and charming. Her ripped tights add a sexy appeal that I repeatedly comment on.
Lying on the bed exchanging passionate kisses – making out. Kissing her is dramatically fun.
Waiting for her best friend, Hannah, to show up. She’s bumbling around the room changing once again, putting on makeup and perfume.
In a light manner she announces, “You stress me out. All boys stress me out.”
Me: “What did I do?”
Her: “You’re usurping my time.”
Me: “I have never really used that word before.”
I go out the room and play with Freddie the cat.
Her: “He is totally your friend and I’m jelly! He fucking loves you. You’re like his best friend. It’s totally rad.”
She offers me a Vegan Banana Muffin with some Coconut Milk.
Finally, Hannah arrives and we start off down the street. As we’re walking we run into Jordan and this guy Chris who I graduated high school with and apparently I played a game of Sardines with way back in the day in an empty house near First Colonial High School.
Me: “This was a great junction.”
At Tortilla West we find a table with Jamal and some of his friends. Sharing John Daly drinks and good cheer.
Afterwards, we venture to The Taphouse where Abby is working. Having a Dirty Hoe beer. Playing a few rounds of Addams Family pinball. I achieve my multi-ball goal.
“Dude, Norfolk nightlife!”
It’s interesting to watch her in her element with girlfriends and a social atmosphere. She doesn’t fail to still keep her attention on me though. I’m having a nice time.
Time to go. Hannah drops Kristin and I off at the apartment. Back in her bedroom. Helping her update and sync her iPhone because she hasn’t done it possibly ever.
Meanwhile, angsty and moody music lulls the scene into an intimate physically connective bliss. Kissing. Making out. CPR training – breathing in and out of each other’s lungs. Airing the wet orchid. I stay covered while I uncover her – pleasuring the sensual doll that she is. It’s a beautiful young scene of eroticism.
Excessive laughter in the kitchen over silly shit. She feeds me a slice of Bread with Honey and Butter.
Time to go.
Me: “Alright, well sleep well and dream about...purple unicorns romping over a yellow hill. And I’ll be there lying on a towel naked. You’ll be riding one of the unicorns, also naked. You see me and get off the unicorn and hop onto me.”
On the drive back home. It’s 1:46 a.m. No stoplights.
Her face with its longing smile is firmly imprinted in my mind’s eye.
Sleep at 3:30 a.m.
[i] All images by me.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 8:13 PM
☼ ○ ▬
I’m on the clock delivering for China Wok in search for 34 E Shay Street. I turn the corner but take W Shay Street instead. U-turn. But this particular sector of the neighborhood has a red farm gate blocking the way – with a rope tied and a lock on it. Upon closer inspection I discover all I have to do is un-strap the rope and the gate can easily be pulled open. I make my way forward on foot in search for the 34 house address but the numbers keep rising. Along the way I admire the beautiful antique buildings mixed in with the newly developed housing. The trees and the green vegetation surround everything – the smell of honeysuckle and an overall feeling of freshness, as if it just rained. There’s a little girl back at the gate that tries to help me and says she’s located the address I’m looking for. I follow her back up the street on the west side and we find number 34. The door is already half open so I enter. A smiling bohemian couple greets me and we make the food exchange. The man offers me a gift: a small plant that appears to be fake. I accept with gratitude. I look out the window...
Me: “Man, I just love this part of town! It’s so beautiful.”
Man: “Yeah, there’s a lot of people here.”
Back out in the hallway, which is not the outside anymore but an apartment hallway. I head to the main lobby where I have to put the gate back up and tie the rope around it. I notice Megan Stamper and her brother enter through the glass doors. Then, Jasmine. Then, some other people I know.
Me: “I guess everybody lives here now!”
▬ ○ ☼ ○ ▬
In a house – a bunch of friends and strangers gathered. I’ve instigated a long jumping contest in the living room. I have to explain the simple rules of jumping from a standing position as far as you can across the floor. We first try to mark our distances with carpet pieces but I encourage using pens instead. There’s a big line of people waiting to jump. I venture into the kitchen where I find platters of finger food: black beans, red grapes, and chocolate dipped kiwis. I grab a kiwi and taste the odd combination of flavors. It’s really good. I make conversation with a Filipino deejay about including slice-of-life film as a backdrop to deejay shows. Back in the living room it’s my turn to jump. I go for it. I use my dream abilities of flailing my arms to stay afloat in the air and almost make it to the couch on the other side of the room. The room goes quiet. I snicker and act surprised at myself.
▬ ○ ☼
Waking up around 11 a.m.
I’ve got a few epiphany texts from Kristin...
“You are so amazing. I slept on it and I really want to see you again. I can’t forget about you and I will be killing myself if I tried to :( I don’t know what this all means but I know that I left your house despite of my worries feeling the most connected I have in a long time. The whole night we spent together felt organic and so natural. You are truly beautiful inside and out.”
I respond, “(:) equals me smiling on the inside and out.”
Cookie Butter Toast. Orange Juice. Peach.
All day shift at China Wok.
I don’t think today’s business can top yesterday’s.
It’s slow for lunchtime. So I compose an email to Margot entitled, “aftershocks”...
“Look, I need to relay some thoughts and I will try to keep this simple.
You’ve really blindsided me by showing up at my house the two times that you have. It’s not good for me or for you to do that. I know I’m your default and best friend – I’m the one person you feel you can always come to no matter what and will understand you. I get that. And I accept that role.
However, it is detrimental that I not see you or talk with you for at least two months, maybe only one. Because I feel after a certain amount of time has passed it’s possible we could meet up every once in a while and talk about life on a platonic but also endearing level. But we won’t know how natural that will feel until the distance has settled in. Over the past two weeks I have been separating from you in my mind – attempting to disconnect the emotions and attachment. I’m in a good spot right now and feel accomplished.
I love you so much. I do think about you a lot and when I do it is with fondness and beauty. What we had seemed indestructible. It was passionate and sometimes I feel that will always be there in some form.
I know you too well. And I realize you are branching out quickly and seeking attention from other guys and that’s okay. But please don’t mangle me up in your hazy nightlife problems. You need to learn who you are and build up strength on your own. Find independence. I think you’ll uncover a lot about yourself.
Please try to be respectful of what I’m asking of you.
I love you with all my heart. Please be safe and guard your heart. Use wisdom.
I’ll still be here...
PS You can reply to this if you want.”
I receive a text in response from her, “Fine. I’ll do that if you want.”
Stop by the house for food.
Scrambled Egg and Tomato Burritos. Tortilla Chips with Avocado and Salsa. Honey Green Tea.
Gillian stops by The Wok and rides around with me on a few deliveries. She hurt her toe real bad and is hopped up on drowsy medicine that makes her eyes glossy and her demeanor lethargic.
Me: “So how are you doing?”
Her: “I’ve been bored.”
Me: “You know what they say about people that are bored don’t you? And of course this might not be you. But they say only boring people get bored.”
The night continues into an anti-climatic closure. Only delivered 20 orders today. Compared to 50 orders yesterday I’d say this was a let down.
Tofu with Broccoli, Snow Peas, Onions, and Rice in Garlic Sauce.
Hanging out in the living room with the British couch surfers, Darren, Kevin, Richie, James Graves, and Kristin. Skippy strolls in soon after. Forrest Gump (1994) on TV.
Later, outside with Kristin smoking a mild clove. She’s heavy with fears and apprehension still. She’s utterly terrified of being tainted and impure. I discover its part of her personality to let one thing worry her to death. I try to educate her with the facts.
Her: “Why do you make so much sense?”
Me: “I guess I’m just logical.”
Her: “I think I idealized you.”
Me: “I feel like you’re looking for an angel.”
I walk her to the car and continue chatting about said subject and other observations about each other.
Her: “You’re a combination of so many things.”
The kids are piling in their cars to go to Rick’s. Kevin takes notice to us and approaches. He tries to encourage us to join them at Rick’s.
Me: “No, Kevin. Go away! We’re depressed.”
Of course, I’m being half sarcastic. They leave. She leaves.
She sends me an after text...
“I apologize for tonight. I just need some time to reflect and think. I realized that today when I came over.”
Sleep around 3:30 a.m.
[i] Jesse Auersalo.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 5:32 PM
Peach. Iced Oatmeal Breakfast Bar. Orange Juice.
All day shift at China Wok.
As soon as I step into the restaurant I’m locked into high gear – orders steadily coming in right and left.
Because of the busyness I barely have time to stop at the house for lunch.
Banana. Trail Mix. Tortilla Chips and Salsa. Honey Green Tea.
The China Wok dragon fury continues and has no mercy. Rainy Sundays equal extreme Chinese food appetite all over Virginia Beach. It’s ridiculous how much the weather affects the Chinese food business. I guess the thing is the people that don’t work on weekends don’t feel like leaving their house or putting forth the effort into cooking. The rain only encourages the hibernation and that’s where I play my role. Here I am to save their day. I’m the best dragon slayer in town. Efficient routing is key.
I’m sharp as a tack. Trekking through the consistent rain. Marching up the slippery walkways and driveways.
It’s an endless time void and before I know it I’ve only an hour to go.
For a while I was holding off on going to the bathroom but I finally get the opportunity to relieve myself. Orgasmic is probably the only adjective to describe this piss.
Slurping down some Vegetable Lo Mein for dinner during the last hour.
Finally off work.
After driving a whopping 176 miles, delivering 50 orders, and walking out with $181.25 in tips I feel accomplished. I’ve never worked so hard in my China Wok career – a record high.
Sitting in my car in the Chanticleer parking lot and talking on the phone with Kristin. She’s had a pretty gloomy self-reflective day and is distressed about the unknown – the beginnings...but there’s a deterrent. I’ve scared her with information that I may or may not have HPV. It’s certain that I have had it before (my very first girlfriend gave it to me many moons ago) but there is no way to test for it in the male. It’s more likely that I don’t have it now because this kind of virus can go away over time. She’s never had to deal with one of her partners having any sort of STD before. We haven’t even had sex yet nor are we in an exclusive relationship yet and here we are discussing these types of issues. But I guess it’s important to understand what one’s getting into. It’s that scary that she even considers ceasing all pursuit with me of any kind. I’m surprised at her reaction but I try to see it on her level.
Me: “This is edification. This is about understanding another person. I want to understand you.”
Me: “You’re not gonna find something perfect and pure. It just doesn’t exist. You can’t let your fears become irrational.”
I walk inside the house. We have new couch surfers from England, Alice and Jeanette. Darren and Kevin are present along with Richie, Don, and some other guy. Hanging out in the living room sipping on beers, making fun of each other, and telling stories.
In my room settling down in my computer chair. It’s almost 2 a.m. The phone rings. It’s Margot. What? Again? I let it ring for a little bit. She’s only going to keep calling and calling, and probably end up showing up at the house. So I answer.
Her: “Oh. You answered this time! What are you doing?”
She’s not as inebriated compared to Friday night but still it’s enough for some charismatic drama.
Me: “Why are you calling me?”
Her: “What. I can’t call you?”
Me: “I really don’t want to see you tonight.”
I’m just super worn out, tired, and want to be left alone. It’s been an overwhelming day. I don’t have the capacity for the 30-minute long-winded dramatic battle that ensues. She’s demanding and won’t accept no for an answer. I’m shaking from the stress she’s producing in my bones. I have a ton more willpower than her.
She’s in my room now. I inquire as to why she so urgently needed to see me. It’s nothing really but she goes into a story about this guy that she already kissed that has a girlfriend and how they were hanging out with friends and how he’s a bitch and she’s angry at him and blah blah blah.
Me: “I really don’t care. I don’t want to hear about this. You’re here because of a failed attempt. That’s not fair. I can’t be your girlfriend – the one you come to vent to about these things. Maybe in two or three months this would be okay. But this is kind of rude. Like, I don’t care about your escapades with other men. I really don’t.”
I don’t want any part of your hazy drunken lifestyle.
I fear I will always be her default. But I make myself clear...
Me: “Look, this is fine for tonight but from now on we need to have legitimate space from each other.”
She sullenly responds, “Okay.”
We lie down and go to sleep. No sex. No kissing. Nothing. I’m grateful because I really want to respect the new potential significant other in my life. Margot doesn’t know. And that’s how it should stay...for now. We do not need to be in the know of each other’s lives right. I could see myself in two or three months catching up and it being platonic. But not now.
[i] Unknown Russian illustration.
Posted by James Robert Smith at 5:26 PM