Holy Terror

Today, you are 25 years old, it is foggy. You will walk down to the beach and drink a cup of coffee. You will sit in the cool sand dunes and watch the barges crawl under the bridge. You will think about your Grandma falling to bits and pieces with the decline of her body. In one moment of clarity last week, sitting on the sunny deck, she turned to you, tearing her eyes away from her Danielle Steele novel to inspect your tattoos and say,

“Molly, by God, you are a holy terror.” Then she turned back to wherever she came from, silently.

You will think about your own vanity, and how you would rather throw yourself off the bridge than ever ever get that frighteningly lost in your own mind. You think about your Dad who needs a hip replacement and your cousin who broke her femur mountain biking. You’ve never broken anything. probably because you never went mountain biking or sky diving or anything physically risky. You are not a physical risk-taker. You would rather read a biography of Lincoln than scuba dive. You wonder if it is strange that you have absolutely no desire to scuba dive, or sky dive, or high dive, or cliff dive. Even roller coasters seem like a pointless activity. But you are not against pointless activities, just ones where the end result is a burst of adrenaline.

Ruling out “extreme” as one on your list of addictions you find that your case is worse. You are a heartbreak junkie. Any kind of heartbreak, any kind of disappointment, whether it be bagel, career or boyfriend related. You stop in the middle of the wet street on a foggy night to examine the beauty of telephone wires. It’s really, really pathetic. But There is no adrenaline like the drop kick and splat of your dreams getting painted across the ground like some fat ass possum in the road at the wrong time. Its like childbirth, in that, you never learn. You forget each time how utterly awful it is. But at the same time how thrilling, how basic, how human. Dad calls this phenomenon the “underwater explosion”, people wont know what happened until days later, a rogue wave hits like a sledge hammer for no visible reason. The unseen daily sky diving of a self-important overly dramatic artist type.

Emotional free-fall, much more frightening than cliff diving, therefore… no need to cliff dive.

So, being 25, essentially homeless, directionless, and suffering from a severe form of mental constipation and daily “underwater explosions.” Well, at least you have a new job that is the most rewarding and bearable one you have had since pedaling cupcakes: day time bartender at fancy beer place in small affluent mountain town. Complete with all the hip trappings of modern gastronomy, including some of the old favs: Blue Bottle Coffee, a cheese menu, decorative animal skulls, unfinished wooden furniture, family dog, German things, no TV.

The patrons are salt and gold; English tourists with popped collars, local middle-aged men in colorful polo shirts, young loud construction workers, lesbians of all shapes and sizes, owners of hip clothing lines with black AMEX cards and small cherub offspring, dogs, bikes.

You love the daily aspect of it, you love that there is nothing but the weather and “business” to talk about. No larger existential questions need be answered at any given time of day. It was busy or it was slow, it was hot or cold, or “lovely” today. The patrons learn – and use – your first name. There is a very minimal amount of math involved.

You have a job, and a place to sleep, you are not in Afghanistan, everything else is gravy. You take time to appreciate the sound of your foot steps, really just how quiet it is here. You focus on the feeling of yellow sun on the back of your neck as you eat a turkey sandwich. You get up early. You learn how to say “Weinstephaner” correctly, and what the difference is between an Ale and a Lager.

You sit in front of a blank piece of paper after dinner and wait for something to happen. If nothing, then maybe tomorrow. You write down things like ” going to sleep after drinking a cup of coffee, ” and ” This whole year is lost to some kind of pale appreciation of afternoon light. Nothing gets done, I am happy.”

You stare for hours at a banana slug slurping its way up the window screen leaving a honeyed trail. Tomorrow you will write a story about a man who takes a bath after being in prison for 17 years. You will try to describe it. It will probably suck.