My To Do List reads about as you’d expect a New Yorker’s to read. My full-time job doesn’t even rate; there’s a separate list at my desk. Outside gigs: Tuesday at 6am, when I’ll take a vacation day and double-dip, Wednesday at 7pm, when I’ll get home at 1am even before the scotch is considered. Thursday at 6pm, so I’ll have to skirt the day job early. Saturday at 4am I’ll need a car to LaGuardia. I’ll be in California soon.
I’m violent by nurture but Pacific by nature. I’ve more or less been here eight years, even been to Coney twenty times, but always for work, always to get ahead. Even so, screw the Atlantic. I hear it’s warm. So is blood, and piss. If you don’t need a wetsuit, it’s a pond. At least, that’s how I see it, and spare me your conveyor belts and ocean warming, I’ll be in California soon.
I have been explaining to friends that though I have two stops each way, and my travel time is twelve hours plus checkpoints, and I will only be in-country about eighteen hours, it will all be worth it because for about three days I will be unable to take another job, unable to be the clutch player, unable to make a difference to anyone but me. And people will not only understand, they will be jealous, because I will be out of touch and in California, soon, and they will not.
Somehow the salt air will reach inland, even if the fog doesn’t. People will be trusting, friendly, helpful, predictable as the weather. The anticipation will begin just past the Rockies, and last until the rental counter. Then it will transmute to native joy, though the city will be strange. I’ll be in California soon.
And I will keep my appointments. I will see what I need to see. I will make the decisions I’ve already made, and set the consequences in motion. I will use every gram of the corrosion New York has piled on my once-shiny parts; I will shape the cynicism and sarcasm and heartbreak and agony into a blunt point, and I will execute without hesitation and deal the cards. You have a 60% chance of losing if you hit sixteen, but a 64% chance of losing if you don’t. Not my decision, not this time. Either way, it won’t make the news.
I’ll wait until I’m on the flight to Denver to cash in my drink coupon. I’ll wait until Minneapolis to let go of California. It won’t be until LaGuardia that I account for the vast and lonely Pacific being responsible for her share of shipwrecks. Then I might cry, but I doubt it.