Monday, July 21, 2008

Dirty Hands, Clean Heart

A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. My Zen Shiatsu Acupressure teacher used to say that. Of course, he was very zen about it and he meant everything from your actual house to your colon to your soul, but it pretty much rings true across the board.
        When I lived in Phoenix, I cleaned the house of a man named Rhythm and Blues Rick for a little extra income on the side. I was already working full time in a coffee shop, but my tightwad husband (ex-husband) decided that since I didn't make as much as he did and we shared a bank account I needed to get a second job. R and B Rick was a pretty laid back guy, he was a regular at the coffee shop and when he mentioned one day over his single shot cap that he was looking for someone to clean his house I jumped at it.
        The first day I went to his house was the only day I ever saw him there. He preferred that I arrive and finish while he was at work, and that was okay by me. He gave me a key and the tour, showing me where all the cleaning supplies were and the washer and dryer and how to work the stereo (very important), and with great faith left me alone with all of his earthly possessions.
        I liked the job fine, he paid me by the hour, didn't mind if I took my time, and left me tasty snacks and coffee to enjoy while I worked. Also, R and B Rick was a clean man. I vacuumed floors that didn't seem to need vacuuming, I wiped counters that were already wiped, and I mopped a kitchen floor you could already have eaten off of. Mainly, I think he just didn't want to do his laundry or clean the bathroom, as these were the only dirty spots in the house. I guess you can say that I sort-of hosed the man, considering that I charged him for an entire house cleaning that he did not need, but that's what he asked me to do.
      The best part about the gig was not that it was so easy, but that Rhythm and Blues Rick worked at an adult toy/bookstore and he tended to take work home with him. In order to get out the vacuum cleaner I had to push aside the whips and chains. When I dusted the knick-knacks on the shelves I gave just as much careful attention to detail to the framed pictures of his mother as I did to the penis and vagina sculptures. Sometimes there was a surprise, like the time I went to do his laundry and found handcuffs in the hamper. Some people might have been freaked out by some of the things he had lying around, the edible panties under the bed, the Big Book of Big Cocks that I faithfully dusted once a week, but I felt privileged and discreet, like we shared a professional relationship not unlike that of a doctor and patient. Every time I left his house I felt both virtuous and expanded, my little mind awash with the possibilities, some so dirty and some so clean. 
          Eventually the charm wore off, a penis was just something difficult to dust properly and the whips would always slip off their hooks right when I thought I'd gotten everything back in its place. One day, while down on my hands and knees cleaning behind the toilet I thought "That's it! This is the last time I'll clean a toilet I don't use! From here on out it's for love or not at all." 
         That declaration of course proved false as I have cleaned many a toilet for money since then, but they've always been in restaurants, never have they been such an intimate experience as it was then.
         Today I cleaned my house. I think I'm better at it now than I was when I did it for R and B Rick. I've gained some experience, I'm older now, wiser. I can get a polishing job done in minutes what used to take me an hour of relentless rubbing and rubbing! Sure, I can get the job done, but does it really mean as much when it's just for me alone? Clean, yes. Fulfilled? No. 
      In the end I have my clean house, but no one leaves me tasty snacks, and now that I've quit drinking there are very few surprises in the laundry hamper. I suppose that's how it should be. 
      Sometimes I wonder about R and B Rick. I wonder if he got a new girl to clean his house. I wonder if she was discreet, if she was good. I wonder if she was better than I was, or if maybe sometimes he looks back on those days like I do, sighs, and thinks, "She was the best, the best I ever had."

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Can't Eat All the Cookies at Once

I believe in the power of the fortune cookie. Somehow, the universe is able to send me messages through seemingly random slips of paper encased in slightly sweet crispy cookies wrapped in clear plastic that is sometimes printed with roses. I like those. I keep all my fortunes, have for years and whenever I need a little direction in life I dip into the pile. Sometimes I have a question on my mind, like it's a magic eight ball, sometimes I just dip with a clear mind and an open heart.     
Today I woke up feeling a little lost. I think I'm on the right path, I'm trying to do the next right thing. I've been sober for eight months. Eight months of recovery, healing, strength. Recovery is a funny word. Whenever I heard it before I only associated it with recovering from illness, or recovering from a disaster, like it was synonymous with healing. It's not though, it's not about getting better, it's about getting back what you've lost. 
Addiction will slowly steal so much from you. It comes in on kitten feet and takes the tears and tatters of what makes you you. And silent and sleepwalking you don't notice or you don't care, a bit of joy, a bit of creativity, your energy, the things you love, you lose them, you forget. Yes, drunk people may get in a horrible car accident and kill someone, they may lose their jobs and families, but the people who don't still lose so much. I lost myself. 
     I lost myself so quietly I didn't even know I was gone until I looked around and found this great yawning emptiness, this dark tunnel of bewilderment. There was something here, but what? And where did it go? Then comes work. I didn't want to continue going to work. I didn't want to get up every morning. I don't want to wash the dishes or do the laundry or brush my teeth or sweep my floors. I wanted to have the great spiritual awakening all quick and fast, as easy and shocking as an impulse buy sour apple candy in my mouth. But, surprise instant gratification girl! It takes time to lose yourself, it's gonna take time to get it back.
       The real surprise to me is that it comes back as it left. Tissue thin and bubble breakable, little bits of me are slowly finding their way home. They come when I'm not looking. I'll find myself with needle and thread in hand and realize that it's been years since I sewed anything. I'll find myself on the floor, sweating over a painting that really isn't any good, but it feels so damn good to have that brush in my hand. If I try to force it I get frustrated, like a child trying to read on a level she isn't prepared for. It's better if I keep chopping wood and carrying water and looking straight ahead, because the stars are there, and they are always better seen and far brighter out of the corners of the eyes. My little will-o-the-wisp memories, my lost dreams, I'm learning patience.
I'm not good at patience. So some days I wake up and I think, "Alright, so what I've been sober for eight months, what have I done today?". That's a good day to Chinese fortune dip. Today I reached in, swirled them around, and held my breath. I pulled out one tiny perfect slip of paper. It reads "Now is the time for peace in your life. Go along with other's ideas." Then my brother called me and invited me to go to trivia tonight. Okay Universe, I accept. There is buried treasure to be recovered in spending time with family. I just hope my brain can recover useless bits of trivia, and we don't come in last.

Friday, July 11, 2008

If You Want to Make an Omelet, You Have to Break a Few Legs

Did I imply that waitressing is a fun gig? Once I took a ballet class from a woman who told us to imagine that we had a $100 bill stuck between our ass cheeks. After that all she had to do was yell "Hold your money, girls!" and we would all meercat up, spines straight, heads held high, ass cheeks clenched. Lately, I have not been holding my money.
    Business is slow, tips are bad. The bathrooms are especially nasty. The trays are especially heavy. The weather is like the inside of a mouth.
There is one man, a regular, who comes in everyday and says inappropriate things. One day, as I was presetting for his desert he asked me for a napkin of a different color. Okay, fine. Then he wants a smaller spoon. Alright, here you go. I put his trio of peach sorbet balls before him and asked "Okay Mr. __? Is there anything else I can do for you?" "Will you eat my sorbet balls and let me watch?" he replied. "No Mr. __, I am afraid you are going to have to eat your own balls." I said, and swept regally from the dining room to go scrub my skin with a metal scrubber and throw up. 
The thing is, this restaurant is of a higher class than any other place I've worked. It doesn't matter, rich people are rude. Rich people feel that they have a right to be rude. Poor people look into my eyes and see a human being. Rich people look at my tits and see tits. Tits they will leave a 10% tip to.
At least I'm employed. That's what I said to myself today as a fellow server broke a glass and spattered me with cappuccino. At least we're employed, we whispered to each other as our hostess' voice rang out requesting us to clean the patio. As we watch our anorexic boss get skinnier. As we scrub gum off table legs. As we are spit on (yes, SPIT ON) by children.
        Someday, I will spit back. Until then, I need my job. I'll just take a deep breath, hold my money, and try not to have to eat any one's balls. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Have a Friend in Dirty

I don't have many friends. I never felt the need to have a lot of close friends around all the time. I remember after my divorce I would sit at home and watch episodes of "Friends" and cry and think "What is wrong with me? Why don't I have a group of kooky people to hang out with? Where is my Joey?" but that passed. I have some friends. Those friends I have I love, oh I love them, I love them fiercely. Maybe I only have a few because I love the ones I have so much, I can't imagine loving a lot of people that deeply.
Earlier tonight I heard from a friend of mine who moved away from town a few months ago. He's back in town for a visit, said he'd been thinking of me. I saw him not too long ago, at Jarryd's memorial. Jarryd was quite a man, too. A sunshine of a man, a gorgeous boy. When brother called me to tell me Jarryd was dead I thought, "He can't be dead, I just saw him" I thought, "He can't be dead, he's so pretty". Pretty face, pretty soul, loved the pretty ladies, Jarryd. When I got to the memorial I arrived alone, tripping over the rocks and roots at the land co-op community center in my unfortunate shoes. I felt lost, so many faces, so many people I hadn't seen in so long and not one among them I wanted really to share my grief with. Until I saw Dirty.
     Dirty is one of his names. I don't know how he came to be called Dirty, other than maybe sometimes he is. Dirty skin, sure, dirty fingernails, maybe. Clean soul, giant heart, the man is a lion. He's got curly dreaded brown hair he keeps tucked back in a bandanna and prison tattoos, he's tall and broad and when he smiles you'd think the sun just came out and those eyes, good Lord those eyes. There are stars in those eyes, but also oceans of sadness too he does not show. Dirty has been a hobo, he's lived in train yards and on rooftops. He would just as willingly protect me in a fight as he would hold my hands and kiss my face. 
        So I saw him, standing a bit away from the crowd, side touching another good boy we know. I made my way over and he just pulled me on in. His hand on the back of my head, one arm around my waist, he tucked me right in there between them so strong, and the other boy rounded out the knot of us. I dropped my purse on the ground and had my arms around both of them as much as I could hold and I cried, god I cried, and they held me as I shook and they were shaking too. The crowd was in the shade and we were in the sun, it was so hot there were rivers of sweat between us and rivers of tears on our faces and our shoulders, down their backs I cried and pushing my face into Dirty's chest I cried. I hurt so bad I wanted to crawl up in his strong strong heart and just stay there till the pain let up. And he let me. On beyond when it would have been polite to let go, on beyond when it was even comfortable anymore to be holding someone in that hell hot sun, he held me. 'Cause that' how strong that man is. That's how strong he loves me, and loves Jarryd, and loves that other boy we were holding.
He left town that same day, and I hadn't heard from him since, but that's how he is. He's a sojourner. Once he bought a beer from me and wrote on the five dollar bill "Dirty loves all of you" and after he walked away I put five ones from my pocket in the till and kept his fiver. I took it home and clothes pinned it to a trailing hanging plant that lives in my living room, just for a little makeshift voodoo, a little blessingway to keep Dirty and his love safe and healthy.
Some people just touch you. Maybe Dirty isn't the kind of friend who will sit in a coffee shop with me and be catty about the people we know (or actually he might, he's a pretty well rounded guy), he's the kind of friend who will come and go in my life as he wishes and that is fine. Just knowing he's out there makes me feel safe and loved. I love me some Dirty, that boy is hearts ease.