He had gone to the laundramat before I arrived. I came up the stairs and the apartment, as usual, smelled like San Francisco wood.
Hello my life, I said. We were falling in love.
He said, Oh, Life.
I wondered what he was sighing about. It was the laundry across the street. He had been putting it in the machines, which saddened me like all petty action. I imagined him standing hunchbacked at the bin.
Do you want to come across the street? He said. I have to do the dryer.
I’ll stay here, I said. Because I couldn’t bear it. I have not had food in the house for weeks. We were not the kind of people who developed our environments. His mother was divorced and my mother collected things and let them go to dust. These were the people that we learned from.
But when he flipped down the stairs with a handful of quarters I followed him in secret step. I saw him cross the wet street where there was no crosswalk. That was more like it. The Laundry Lounge was what the place was called and the floors gleamed even though they were linoleum. The light was almost green but mostly yellow in there.
When I saw that he had moved the Lights and Darks into their dryers I tiptoed back to the house that I had left unlocked, of course. If only I could trust myself for the simple things.
When he got back I was sitting on the bed like nothing happened. I said, Why do you love me?
He said, Why do you want to know? Don’t I show you enough?
I said, Yes, of course but why not tell me out loud?
I always wanted things in print, being an archival sort of person, which doesn't mean organized.
He said, But can’t you tell I love you by the way I kiss your ears? And when I paid the check at The Fountain the other day? All of these are the times.
His roommate Cy was yelling for us. The macaroni is ready!
I didn't want macaroni, but we went to the kitchen together. While they ate I read an article about How To Spend Your Money.
The article said stocks and bonds but I wanted to spend all of my money on quarters for My Life’s laundry. The smell of the macaroni was all I needed to be satisfied.
Cy said, You guys are one happy couple.
I said, But we are so poor!
Cy said, That’s why.
My Life said, I’m looking to buy a keyboard piano.
I said, But we don’t have the money!
My Life said, But we aren’t even married.
He was from the South, where maybe marriage meant something more.
I said, That’s true. And it was true that it was true.
I went into his room to make the bed. The sheets were flannel that he never changed, which I wanted to maintain. I picked a few things off the floor. He was reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by the bedside table. She was only twenty-three on the dust jacket, which made me wonder how we would ever make it to be understood by the public.
From the other room I heard My Life saying, A keyboard piano and a house with a yard!
But yards needed weeding, I was thinking, and if he had an electric piano he would not use his voice so much. I wanted the yard, too, but more than that I wanted to want the yard. More than that I wanted to be the kind of person who stayed put with the door locked. What I was doing was taking care of him by not taking care of anything, which was only good in theory.
When My Life went back to the laundramat for the folding I tried to forget about it. I read a chapter in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter and thought that the deaf man in the story could not have heard the terrible fervor that My Life’s clothes made inside the cave of the dryer machine. There was comfort there, as there was comfort in all sorts of disability.
Well, sometimes I want to be really great. You know, famous. Famous for something I have done, like a book or movie. Also have good looks and retain them. Get manicures, etc. Other times I want to be a farmer. The beets I would grow might be so satisfying. To see them get big from small, the subtleties in their shapes, living off the land, etc. At one point I wanted to dig up bones for a living, using a little brush to get a good look at the cranium. There would be magic in finding a wishbone. I might forego fame as an archaeologist in order to break the wishbone with a colleague and find my fortune in its crack. But if I didn’t blow it with the wishbone perhaps I could be famous for discovering/dusting off ultimate wishbones as well as living off the land. Killing two of my own birds with one stone might be as satisfying as a great manicure at J. Bella that my mom paid for.
I’ll keep a routine, sure. Coffee is a good routine because the body gets addicted to it. Addiction creates constancy in action. Sometimes I want to give up addictions but then I think, this is the only constant in my life, really, and there is such satisfaction in that. Who would ever want to give up the ritualistic metabolism-boosting digestive extravaganza that is coffee at eight thirty and again at four? And the analogous action is the falling in and out of love that I do, which is an addiction, too, but bigger. The sex, etc. But where does this constancy in action via addiction come from if not the inconstancy of emotional spirit? To be addicted is to be so confused that you begin to rely on the sense of control that comes along with needing something. Right? Right? Our actions, in their variety or constancy, will come from some place of confusion or stability – we will always be looking to crack either of these things. Other times it will just be depressing. Getting money out of ATM’s that are not run by our personal bank provider, paying fees, etc.
If I was a famous farmer I would be producing the biggest beets you’ve ever seen. Constantly. They’d be growing so fast I’d have to be out in the field all day, digging them up. Constantly. But as I was digging I would maybe be thinking: digging up beets sucks, or else, digging up beets is extremely satisfying. I want to understand about these inconstancies in the way I feel about things but it might just be the lighting/number of ominous clouds/how my boyfriend treated me at the Steak Palace that would make this action of beet digging either sad or sweet. Whether it is sad or sweet might push on my next action, and the mystery there is what drives us. What might happen next.
Yeah, the mixing up of things is maybe the only interesting thing about life, like when we have a fight just so we can love someone more later. And when we are frugal people in general but one night we pull out the credit card and buy the whole bar a round of drinks because that seems like a generous thing to do. We will sip on the psychological refreshment that is our inconstancy and this might be the only thing in this day/life that inspires/rejuvenates us. Also, we might have been one way in the past and then want to change ourselves but we are afraid. Like I didn’t want to tell everyone that I was giving up on farming beets even though I had never started farming beets in the first place. It would mean that I was inconsistent. But I am constantly inconsistent! Buying drinks, etc! Is my inconstancy my constant? Oh, my impulses, my being a human on earth, etc. But then Emerson said that great souls have nothing to do with consistency. Great soul, I am, plus archaeologist famous woman glittering manicure farmer. Christian Dior I’ll be your intern but then, also, give me that pasture over there, that pasture and that roaming cow.
So today, to break the constancy, what I did was eat brunch out. Eating out is against my idea of what being a good person is. I like to think of myself as eating with a group of people at my house and having organic goods present, like overflowing the bowls. I never do it, though. Cooking is a hassle. Inconstancy that lies between my actions and my ideals = maddening! I grew up on a commune which means a certain set of things. The beautiful act of eating together, etc. I will try not to abandon my former self but with such a fucking great soul inside me it is super hard, so I got a tofu scramble with a manicure on the side and since I didn’t do the same thing yesterday or the day before it was by nature inspiring. The new conversation with Sarah, etc. Coffee on the side was the only constant and will be until constancy becomes a joke even there and my inconsistent bowels require tea.