Saturday, July 28, 2007

23 conversations with myself

I walked down the pier at Fort Mason and looked out over the bay. Like a lot of days in San Francisco, the sun slowly burned through the mist leaving the blue sky and vestiges of gray mist. This usually took place in the afternoon. I looked out over green waters of the bay at the shit-stained prison island and the green hills of Sausalito; the orange bridge spanning the gap between sunny Marin County and cold, gray San Francisco. Two worlds apart. The place you want to live and the place you have to work.

I came around the corner and a black man was digging through the garbage, gathering bottles and cans together. He didn't glance up or acknowledge me. I couldn't help but observe that this was one of those moments where typically one knows they are supposed to say to themselves "at least that isn't me." but it seemed dishonest. It seemed disrespectful of my genuine state of pain and suffering. I really couldn't be certain that the peaks and valleys in his life were higher or deeper than mine.

There are, after all, some things worse than death. A soldier goes off and dies in battle, his honor remains intact. A man begins life and winds up digging in the garbage for money. And then some of us have dreams that are so close to seeing happen that we can smell it like the salt in the air of the bay. We can feel it like the sun burnishing ones' neck and warming the ears. The tragedy of a man's life is not that he dies, it's what dies within him while he lives.

I stood at the corner of the pier facing the "Golden" gate. God knows why they call it that. It's more like burnt orange. And not a particularly large or spectacular bridge as far as bridges go. Although I admit that the view is gorgeous against the backdrop of the bay. It's beauty was lost on me that day.

A seagull stood a few feet from me, unafraid.

I looked down the pier toward where the others waited. Gathered in clumps, laughing in empty, hollow tones at the dark, all moving toward something they thought they wanted, something that had invested so much time, money, and effort into, and thinking it was somehow the answer to their problems. I thought that. I guess, in a way, maybe I still did. I knew why I was there. To re-write history. To prove I wasn't a flake. To prove I mattered. To prove that people should listen to me. To have some power over my life. To put myself in position where I didn't have to be beholden to so many of the incredibly stupid people who somehow end up in positions of power and authority.

I didn't know why the others were there. I would guess many of them were just doing what their parents wanted. Many of them just wanted a good job. A large proportion of them wanted, like me, to re-write history with one important distinction; they saw themselves as victims everywhere they went, and acted accordingly. These people wanted to be assholes for a living. I knew the perpetrators in my life were, and are, few and far between. They saw everyone as perpetrators.

A seagull landed on the pier with a small crab in his mouth. I moved closer, and he walked off, jealously guarding his prize. I waited until he moved further away and felt safe, hidden behind one of the wooden pilings, and then glanced around it.

He jabbed at the crab, ripping each of his legs off, and then swallowing them one by one. Jab, swallow, jab, swallow, until the dying crab was left with one large claw and a leg or two that weakly waived in the air. The gull struck at his shell, cracked it open, and began to extract his meat. I felt odd sympathy for the gull, though more in touch with the demise of the crab. Of course it wasn't until I spoke with my wife later that she pointed out I was a Cancer. I've never been a very good Californian.

I looked again at the others. There are those who are comfortable with the role of destroyer. That is, after all, what we do. We are hungry, we need to feed, and such is the way of the world. To pretend that we don't need to eat, and that others don't need to suffer for that, is to not understand the order of things. There will always be the victor, and the vanquished in this universe. There will always be the winners and losers. There will always be those who go hungry, and those who are consumed. It was a small, silly epiphany I supposed, that no matter how complex we think we are, no matter how different we think we are, we are all digging in the garbage or picking the legs off a crab, one by one. Jab and swallow, jab and swallow.

But I wondered what I wanted by legacy to be. Going through the whole process was without question, horrifying. Each day left me gasping for air as panic engulfed me. I feared I was dying of heart failure constantly, although the physicians said nothing was wrong with me. Walking to my car, sitting in my house, at any time, any place it would strike and leave me in the throes of panic, which I would fight off in a few minutes, or at worst, an hour or so. At times I would go and sit in front of the hospital like a fool, waiting for it to subside.

All of this for the pleasure of working ten hours straight with a fifteen minute break and eating processed tuna over a garbage can and getting yelled at by some complete raving bitch. I guess I should have chosen a different career, like getting divorced for a living. That's my legacy. Beholden to not just stupid people, but VERY stupid people.

For some strange reason everywhere I went there were robots for the last several weeks. I went to see that silly movie "Transformers" in order to turn my brain off. A day later I opened a practice performance test, which involved a contract dispute with a toy store over a few hundred toy robots with a picture of a robot taking up an entire page. Yesterday I'm reading Yahoo News and there is some story about robots clearing landmines. Insert observation by psychologist who says you just started noticing them more due to your mental state.

I watched the others began to move toward the entrance of the pier, and shaking my head, followed them in.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My post in response to your jdunderground post


I am trying to stay away from your life. I dont want to be an attorney. It seems that you feel locked in a life that offers you no meaning. I think the bitch is your partner boss. It saddens that looking out over the beautiful san francisco bay can only make you feel so listless and depressed. I went to school there and graduated last year. I used to walk by the same locations. And I miss these sights. Riding the ferry to Sausalito. The Golden Gate bridge. Fort mason. The Presidio.

I wish I could be there. But Im not. If you dont like what you do, get out. Go teach overseas. Forget about the invisible voices judging your choice, your salary and your life. Get out and feel free.

10:52 PM  

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