Chase

Fragments from these documents take you back to LA, to the fall of 2012 as the air began to cool and the leaves, if not flaming orange and red and yellow, started to turn brown and fall from the trees and nothing lasts forever and even that long, agonizing, ecstatic, euphoric summer, even that would end, and you moved into fall and toward winter, mild as it would be but cooler still, but you’d left that downtown LA ecstasy and hell behind, difficult as it was to tear yourself away from it, you let it go, and moved on to a new bar and new love, and uncertainty and dread and not knowing where everything was going but you moved on and in a sense felt free but even though you’d severed ties with that place, still, you drifted, back into the bar life, at a smaller place, but still it had you, still, you weren’t ready to leave because if you had been you would’ve left completely but you preferred to get the money and couldn’t break away completely, not yet, you’d know when the time was right but maybe you couldn’t plan for it, but that summer was over and you slowly eased into a new night life, a new darkness as the air cooled and memories of downtown LA still haunted you…You’re not immune to thirst…coast flipping…LA state of mind…I no longer know that thirst from when I sweat on the asphalt under the relentless midday sun and walked to the water fountain to take 30 deep gulps and I couldn’t get enough…And on my desk I flipped the coin as though I’d crossed to a different side…I sipped the rye, as he’d taught me to sip tequila, not to take it as a shot, unless you’re sad or looking to forget something or to numb yourself…and I toggle between documents and realize I’m writing it by hand, from the notes, into a new green notebook…and I remind myself to hold back nothing, censure nothing, omit nothing, to vomit onto the page, as my editors said…Hawaian Tropic sunscreen, sun protection factor 30 – memories of rubbing it into my skin when I woke up in the early afternoon in January, when it was still warm enough to practice yoga outside…finish typing, first entry in the “moment” document – and the word count is 1,111…“It’s 11:11”…The end is nigh…I write out nervousness…fall days when the leaves were gone and branches looked like exposed nerves and I hadn’t energy to force a smile and their words played on repeat in my head… I watch construction workers labor in the midday heat, 88 degrees Fahrenheit at 1:13 p.m., shoveling dirt, digging in the ground, in the middle of the street, and my apartment floor vibrates from a jackhammer pounding through the sidewalk…Escape? No, it’s about CHASEanonymous and striving…Now the same workers, in orange hard-hats and neon yellow vests, shovel dirt into the hole, smooth over the top, sweep away the rubble and dust. One of them stands to the side and lights a cigarette, in the blazing heat…And the work is all done now, long done, at 2:57 p.m., the hole covered up with a thick, heavy-looking metal sheet, and black, tar-like gravel that sparkles in the sun, the remnants of their labor, the workers gone, and traffic passes over it, onward, on with the day…High-volume club bartending is like the ultimate flow state and anti-flow state at once – you do your best work when you get in the zone but you’re also constantly bombarded with external distractions and demands that you must attend to – it’s a balancing act, maintaining Zen amidst the chaos while focused on the end goal of selling as many drinks as efficiently as possible…Writing, process, similar to cooking, boiling it down, taking large quantities of raw material and treating it…dread and not caring and the pursuit of happiness…notebooks, laptop, pens, cabinets, picture frame, all at right angles and parallel to each other, creaky wooden floorboards, the parallelograms of light on the floor, a worn out yoga mat, folded dirty dollar store towel for a cushion, no moderation…The patter of rain on the bathroom skylight and the choppy dripping sound of the water draining from the tub similar to some tribal tech-house vocal beat…early afternoons, LA love story, usually in the sun, breaking me, it seems far away and long ago…LA skews my memories of time because there are no seasons and even December feels like a very mild fall 2014, overcast, cool…turnips and potatoes and salmon, maybe, and rice, or that might’ve been in the spring, and tofu…didn’t eat for days because the bar-back had said to me fasting was a way to get rid of sickness…memories, of riding the bus as in LA, I reveled in shortness of breath and the giddiness and lightheadedness it gave me and the extra lightheadedness and rush from drinking caffeine and alcohol on an empty stomach, and the adrenaline rush from bartending, and the haze and twilight zone of being sick, the zombie feeling, weak and groggy from DayQuil and NyQuil, parked, underground garage, could take 40 years…Dos Equis – bought at the Rite Aid on Sunset and Fairfax or the CVS on Beverly and La Cienega – now, as I read another story about odd hours, working late, getting home from work at 1 a.m. or starting a shift at 6 a.m. and pulling the covers over your head – hustling, struggling, one day off, a and on a day most people work…when you thought it couldn’t get worse, it did, and you wondered how far it could go…thirst! I flipped the coin back to its original position when I first put it on my desk after the first trip to LA this summer but the diagram is upside down again so the two objects – coin and drawing – are out of sync – on different rhythms…bottomless thirst…forever Sundays as the leaves turned brittle, we opened wine and she said, I want to keep you…now the all-black-gold-letters side is facing up but it’s upside down, as is the drawing – congruity restored, realities flipped, and I notice I speak of LA as a wasteland in my writing and yet I could gaze and walk on other streets that always look the same, empty, one pedestrian, midday sun beating down, no traffic…perennially chasing perfection in longer sales receipts…and fleeing…Somethimes I heard the neighbors downstairs through the thin floorboards or out the window, but I didn’t mind – the sound was distant, and in a way comforting, the perfect middle ground between the solitude I wanted at 4 a.m. after being intensely “on” and wired for four hours and complete isolation and that dread from time passing that became stronger as the sky turned dawn-gray and only the birds broke the silence that rang after the neighbors finally passed out…I feel on the one hand relieved I’m nearing the “end” of this iteration of working on this – it won’t be the end – and yet on the other a very real desire to keep working on it…Writing the story, a kind of journey in and of itself, the entire process, over these last few months has been, at times, often, harrowing, taken me to dark places. One of the greatest gifts it’s given me, and in no small measure, is a sense of freedom, free reign to allow myself to hold nothing back, let it flow as it comes, and a deeper trust in my instincts and impulses and willingness to explore all that which lies below the surface, the river of meaning the words often ride on – I owe my letting go, and faith in trusting this, to Michael, and Mike, and Cissi, and Anna, and to other teachers and mentors before them. I can’t thank them enough…Need to get this out of my system so I can move on…