On the Balcony

Some time ago, it does not matter precisely when, I was sitting on a balcony’s faux-wood floor. My condition was framed by two incredibly large and incredibly clear sliding doors. The walls inside were white. The floors were of a cheap white tile fashionable in the 70s and polished to a gleam. The glare from the sea was so pronounced that the room, as much as the sun above, seemed, by contrast to the balcony, extremely bright. I say this because I remember my worry that I would be construed as the type who, in spite the south side’s perfect view of blue sea, had taken to the darkest corner, which was, worst of all, outside. In other words a loon of a very peculiar and unfashionable type—as if I was looking to thread the needle between the refinements of a conditioned interior and the beauty of those south facing bay windows.

Inside there were paper bags half filled with aluminum wrappers and animal fries and empanadas and empty bottles of gin that were white rimmed from excitement and thirst. A single red cup lay in the middle of the living room and around it a red splash had dried along the caulking in rough coagulated lines. I took this in because one of my favorite whites had performed the task of eratsz damn and, having left my shoulders, was finished as a piece of conventional clothing. Beside, near an overstuffed red armchair, was a pale-blue cashmere top and matching dress, both understated and from a thrift store whose sign I could, just barely, discern among the sprawl. Indeed sweat drenched finery lay all over, even on the balcony.

I listened to the following conversation that took place below and across the street outside a bar that was notable only because it required everyone to wear shoes.

“It’s an hour to Tijuana,” he said.

The other, “yeah.”

“We could spend the night out there.”

“Yeah,” a half pause, “nah.”

A laugh, “Nah, yeah.”

“We planning to come back?

“I was thinking we could get a little sliced. There’s a nice house my cousin owns. We could be back Sunday to see Kim.”

“I guess. Will Kim be down from West Covina on Sunday?”

He then said “No.”

I was unsure in whose favor the dialogue had been resolved, or if it had been resolved at all.

The faux-wood was beginning to heat up. I felt an individual drop of sweat work its way down my body. I tried stretching but my leg had gone to sleep. I did not stand up because my unspecific phobias seemed to be rendering everything I did in my space useless.

I waited. I remember that I did not like to wait and I despised waiting. I still do. I attribute this to uncomfortable childhood experiences. In line I was assaulted by my body, that thing, whose eating, pissing and sleeping crises (did I mention eating) reached a fever pitch as they acquired an ever more solid stake correlated to how far I was from the front.

Perhaps there was an attraction to waiting. It tastes just the way it looks: responsibility no longer rests with you, and freedom from responsibility can cause incredible tipsiness. It’s easier than putting up with everything. Easier to talk. But when the time comes your knees will be wobbly. And depression—a perpetual depression—until the next time responsibility is foisted. This peculiar effect has no name but that it exists in German as a compound word I have no doubt.

It was a long while later when Alex arrived. He had on a pair of khaki chinos and no shirt. Over his khakis sat a pair of assless chaps but with cheap, vinyl leis connected by twine. He had on a pair of wide, CHIP-gold Vans that he wore like flip flops with the heel-side pressed down. While he sat he plucked the leis’ purple stained flowers. An hour passed before he started sending small, discrete piles of leis off the ledge onto the street below us.

On reflection the most curious aspect of his arrival was this: I did not acknowledge it. Although he was in my direct line of sight I continued working out a discernible pattern to the sprawl that extended up around our house’s hills. I didn’t talk to him. I am large, imposing I suppose. I don’t talk a great deal to people I don’t know. I am invisible, perhaps out of fear. Most of my sentences drift off, don’t end. It’s a habit I’ve fallen into. I don’t deal well with people. I would think that this appearance of not being very much in touch was probably one of the reasons he finally stood up. “Yeah, well.”

This incident, which I often embroider to include an imaginary detour, exactly describes those slow summer days to me.

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