Fuck the glow along the horizon. I resent this dawning of a new day. I want to linger in my hurt, wallow in my anger. I am mad at Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and, well, those are the only non-violent leaders who come to my angry mind.
I want violence. I want to punch people. I am willing to take blows. I leave the bars ready to fight. I want light pooling on the gutter under the streetlights and to feel the pull the darkness outside those circles exerts. Give me a bruised face over a black-and-blue heart any day. At least getting punched is honest. At least it’s easier to hit back.
The first time I got hit in the face was by this girl L. I’d gone to Carl’s Jr., where everyone went for lunch on minimum days, and it was the Friday after I’d had sex with – I’ve forgotten his name, but he was technically still dating L’s friend even though what’s-his-name assured me they’d broken up. I was 17 and had imbibed much of a bottle of 151 that night, so can’t say I cared much either way, but anyway L’s friend was pissed and so L confronted me and by “confronted,” I mean she punched me in the face in the parking lot of Carl’s, Jr.
I was with my friend S at the time. She shoved me back into the Mazda Rx7, what a funny name, like a prescription. I’d been doing a fair trade in selling the sample drugs I’d pilfered from the doctor’s office where I worked, and anyway, we sped away, my nose bleeding. The next day at school, B, a popular boy, asked if I was okay. I thought that was sweet and would later fuck him in a car. S turned out to have a taste for violence and I ended up in two fights later because of her.
One was with the girlfriend of S’s ex, on whom S was still hung up and trying to get back with. We’d gone to the Antelope Valley Fair and Alfalfa Festival, gotten drunk, natch, and as we were leaving, the girlfriend showed up and was yelling at Stephanie about D. I tried to intervene – “Hey, hey, let’s all calm down” – and was rewarded with a punch in the face and being knocked to the ground.
And then another time, when we’d been cruising the arcade, which is something one did in the 1980s, she instigated a brawl between me and this girl. I don’t even remember why, but I do remember ending up on top and then this girl biting me through my pants. I had teeth marks on my thigh for a few days, but at least she didn’t break the skin.
It’s strange to recall that now. As a 48-year-old woman. A mother. With a respectable job. Whom people kinda sorta sometimes admire.
In fact, I was accused a while ago as positioning myself as “one of the good guys.” I didn’t know how to respond to such a text. I thought perhaps I should write a post enumerating the ways in which I am an asshole to prove that I do, in fact, know better than to write myself as the hero in my own narrative.
1. Sometimes when people tailgate me, I drive really, really slowly to piss them off.
2. I can be brutally judgmental, such as toward people who are habitually late – despite my own habitual lateness – of those who eat pork – because pigs are very intelligent and sociable and you might as well eat whales – or about people who eat fast food – In-N-Out is neither noble nor delicious, people! – and also basically hate all people who comment on the internet anonymously and/or voted for Trump.
3. I have a tendency to favor successful, ambitious people over those less so.
4. I spend as much time blow-drying my hair and putting stuff on my face as I do fighting for what’s right. OK, not entirely, but still. That time could be put to better saving the world.
5. I drink too much and act like a real dick sometimes.
6. Running out of ideas, but seems weird to end at 7.
7. Even though I hate when people play devil’s advocate, I have a knee-jerk impulse to be contrarian at times.
8. Unchecked fury races through me when you try to snake my wave or freeway lane.
Listening to my Headspace app is supposed to be helping with these things, mindfulness and assholery being opposed to each other. Is it still meditating if I’m only listening? I do try to follow along, to think about breathing, to attempt to picture the tiny spark of light expanding through my body into a beam of light sunshining up the whole fucking universe.
Ugh. I’m thinking again. But the lovely British voice that’s spent so much time in my brain this past year assures me that’s okay. The thoughts, they can come and go, as long as one returns to the breath.
And so I breathe.
And so I stood on the goddamn sand that morning, high tide flooding through the cracks in my boots and soaking my socks, angry about all I have not done including finding a place for this anger which is, of course, grief, but despite all that the sunrise continued and the mountain ridge grew rich with the silhouettes of trees and the bay waters mirrored the inevitable beauty and I could hear the fishermen on the fishing boat motoring out saying, “Fuck, fuck and fuck,” and I sympathized and I took a photo knowing already I would write something lovely on Facebook and also knowing all the while that I’m secretly an asshole and yet people still take heart and if all I can do is serve as a conduit for beauty then fuck it, I shall not stop. And I strive to be good and am sorry for when I am not and the sun hovered for a moment, stood still on this winter solstice morning, and I cried and I cried and I cried, and then I stopped and I breathed and together we waited for the light to return.