Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Oh boy.

Maria says she's in love with me. She's only 19, she's a kid... she's horribly depressed. I talked to her last night on the phone for about two hours, trying to figure out a way to cheer her up. A preview of my future counseling sessions, I think. I don't want this poor depressed kid to be in love with me or be heartbroken when I leave. She doesn't even know me, but she's asking me if she can come home with me!

Lord, what do I do about this situation?

Maria, again.

I was across the street just a little while ago, across from the apartment. Looking for alcohol... I was on a mission. Just a short hop to pick up something to drink. A bottle of rum, a 6 pack, something. And some cold medicine, too.

So there I was, at Safeway, and I couldn't make up my mind... I was thinking, am I going to buy cold medicine, or alcohol? Both? I walked around for a bit, found the cold medicine; picked it up. Cold medicine in hand, doing good so far... but if I buy this, thought I, then I won't have enough for a bottle of rum. This bothered me somewhat.

After a few seconds of careful contemplation, this didn't bother me anymore. Everything will work itself out... that's the thought that ran through my mind at the time. So, I took the cold medicine to the counter and browsed the alcohol section (Safeway has a liquor store built in that sells the straight stuff at all hours, ain't that cool?). Anywho, after a minute or two, I realized that I didn't have enough for both cold medicine and alcohol. Duh, and damn. What's it going to be, cold medicine or alcohol? I let other customers go head of me while I decided.

Ok, that's it. I took the cold medicine back and put it on the shelf. I had decided on alcohol... it seemed wise at the time. BUT, I wasn't gonna buy it at Safeway. Somehow I felt like they didn't deserve my money, since I didn't have enough cash for medicine AND alcohol. I'll take my business elsewhere, thank you, evil corporation, for requiring more money than I have in my pocket. Does that make sense? No, and I understand that. However, I routinely act on information that makes no sense. That's just me, though.

So, thusly armed with a megadose of pride and feeling right about everything, I marched right out of those doors and right into New Town Liquor. It's only right next door. Right there, in fact, in the same building. Just a short jaunt through an indoor hallway, a shortcut through the mall, and there you are. Or, there I am. Take that, Safeway, for not letting me afford beyond my means. But, I didn't go into the liquor store...

Maybe I should digress for a minute. The Safeway and the New Town Liquor store are both in the same building, which happens to be a mall. Yeah, there is an actual mall here in Ketchikan, barely thriving with half of the stores closed, and dark, even on Saturdays. This mall is right across the street from my apartment, and they used to have a Waldenbooks here but it closed in April of this year. The only real bookstore here in Ketchikan. I bought a book the last time I was here in '07, and now it's closed... just like the other half of the mall. I gotta say, when I first arrived here and realized that there was no bookstore; man oh man, not only did I feel a little bit lost, but I was kind of pissed, too. But this was before I discovered the public library...

...anywho, it was only a short march out of the Safeway and into the Mall, and across the Mall Hall was the New Town Liquor store, which was where I intended to go. Only... I didn't go there. Instead, I decided to just loiter there in the Mall Hall. I dunno why I did this, I just did. Call it an act of impulse. A compulsive act. Whatever. So, I decided to delay my liquor purchase on some unexplainable whim. Sorry for the buildup; it probably means nothing in the Great Scheme Of Things Involving Me... but allow me to elucidate anyway.

The Mall still had functional escalators, which is kind of remarkable. I went up the escalator, and on the way up, I looked across at the down escalator directly across from me (which was also functional... in a redundant way), and saw what looked to me to be a very old lady... sunken eye sockets, stringy hair, thin, tiny; going down. I describe this as accurately as I remember it. I didn't think twice about this old lady until I reached the top.

After I had almost forgotten about this, after I had almost relegated it from short term memory into oblivion, after I had stepped off of the escalator, this old lady had suddenly rushed up to me, and was giving me a hug. WTF? thought I. I stepped back and recognized the old lady... and by the way, this next part kind of freaked me out at the time.

It was Maria, the 19 year old girl who I had met about a month ago; the one who had poured out her life story to me while I was at work, the one who had described to me the horrible things that had happened to her. This was the young vibrant girl, full of energy that day, who I had just then (now) seen (had seen, was seeing) as an old, withered lady, going down the escalator as I went up the escalator. This girl is 19 years old - her name is Maria. Why did I see her as an old lady? How did that happen? I just don't understand that at all.

I remembered her confession to me that day - me, a complete stranger - about how she had been horribly raped. There I was, having a random encounter with her, in the mall; not unlike the random encounter in the store that day. This is a young girl, not an old lady; young and pretty and exuberant, and I know her; kind of. It's hard to describe how odd this feels to me, so I won't even try, except to say that it was... is... it feels important, somehow.

Her mom was there, calling to her, to come back down the escalator. Maria ignored her mom and kept hugging me. Then she immediately went into high gear, talking, telling me things about her life since we had last talked, telling me more things, confiding more personal information, a torrent of emotional communication which I tried to keep up with.

We talked about stuff. She told me stuff, I told her stuff. She's very young - so young. What is her life going to be like, I wondered? Will it consist of more pain? Will it get better? What is up with this girl? We talked and walked for a while, there on the upper floor of this dead mall. Suddenly it hit me that she should be with her mom, who most likely is wondering what the hell happened to her daughter, and who is that stranger she ran up to and hugged? The next thing I thought was that I'm leaving here, very soon, and I worried, as I am wont to do. I pulled her into the nearest store, intent on asking the clerk for a pen.

"I'm going to give you my phone number and facebook page, because I'm leaving soon. I'm going back to Texas in a week. Are you on facebook?" I felt really protective of her, in a big way, right then (I still do). I didn't want her out of contact with me in case she needed to talk about something...

Maria, flustered. "No, but I'll make a page."

We wait in line for a few moments, so I can get a pen. The proprietor tries to sell us one, until I make it clear that I only want to borrow, not buy. This little episode passes, and we finally get to the counter after a few moments of weird silence. I procure the pen, and write down my phone number and facebook info.

"Look up my name on facebook, ok? When you make your page?"

"Maria, lets go!" Maria's mom is there, at the top of the escalator, looking at us in the store. She doesn't look happy. She's probably very worried - I sure hope so - about who the hell this guy is, this weird... person whom her daughter is talking to; who she's been walking with on the upper floors of a half deserted mall for the past 10 minutes. I felt embarrassed and guilty.

I give Maria the piece of paper with the info on it.

"Take care." I waved at her. And, "Be careful!" I say as...

...she disappears down the escalator with her mom. She has a mom; a mom who should take care of her. Who is worried about her. A mom who cares about her.

I hang out for a bit, thinking about what just happened.

I also wonder why I alternate between 1st and 3rd person when I write stuff like this.

Past and present tense, rather, I should say. I get my tenses and persons mixed up.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Memories... light the corners of my mind...

Misty water colored memories...

Of The Dark Tower.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The spider

For about 6 months a spider lived in my bathroom windowsill. Every morning I'd walk into the bathroom and the spider would be there, just nestled up in his super complex network of web. It was a pretty big one. Sometimes I'd blow really hard at the spider and it would kind of jiggle it's legs a little, but otherwise it wouldn't move at all.

Every few days or couple of weeks I'd notice one of those mosquito moths or a fly trapped in there with it, so I supposed that it was at least moving enough to eat now and then, but I never saw it move of its own volition. One day I noticed a nice little egg sac in the web. I guess the spider had moved around enough to get pregnant, but otherwise it was always in the same place.

This went on for a few months, this spider and its egg sac. I began to become irritated that this spider was here in my house, living its own little life and even starting a family, and it wasn't paying a lick of rent! But at least it wasn't eating my food...

This irritation grew a little bit every day. It made no sense at all, but there you have it... irritation at a spider for living in my house and not contributing a damn thing. Then one morning I walked into the bathroom and the spider wasn't there anymore, and neither was the egg sac. Damn, what happened to the spider? What happened to the egg sac, for that matter? Did the little buggers hatch and eat the sac? Or did the mama spider finally get tired of absorbing my psychic irritation every day and pack up, egg sac and all, for greener pastures?

Well, I was surprised to find that I actually kind of missed the spider, my morning bathroom companion.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I'm so sick of this shit I could puke coat hangers.

Tired doesn't even come close to describing it. More like wretchedly weary. Worn down to the bone.

Angry, at this situation. Angry at customers. Angry at being here. Too tired to be angry. Anger just dissolves into apathy.

This last week is the worst, just remarkably bad. I know why, of course, but I'm too tired to really give a shit. I don't want to open my mouth and say another word until I'm far away from here. I want to sleep now and wake up at home.

There is danger in being away from the church.