a sort of homecoming
Tuesday, January 4 2000
After a little morning battle with Kim [REDACTED], we came down to the house and I was greeted by the wonderful news that my latest letter to the editor had been printed in full, right down to the damning reference to "mysterious building fires." I sat at the table admiring the newsprint over coffee. Job well done.
Today Kim and I headed back to San Diego. We stopped on the way to the airport on 14th Street in Charlottesville, doing lunch at Sakura, the newish sushi place. Kim was extremely impressed by the place, and as you know, that's about as good an endorsement as a restaurant can hope to get. She found the decor authentic and the food exceptional. The only thing she didn't like was the brass rails. As we were leaving, walking out into the rain, Kim said, "With a sushi place like that, I definitely could live in this town."
The little United Express airplane we rode up to Dulles found itself being flailed and knocked around by the winds raging within the thick white storm clouds passing through the east. Kim was freaking out, grabbing my leg and sweating so much that she left a big wet spot on my thigh. Though it was nerve-wracking, I didn't much mind the turbulence. What I hated was circling around through those storm clouds waiting to get clearance from the control tower to land. It was depressing to repeatedly pass out of the clouds and look down to see the same slice of the Blue Ridge, complete with a little planting of pine down in one of the coves.
The big AirBus jet we rode out of Dulles encountered similar turbulence for a half hour or so westward, but from then on the flight was a fairly dull experience. I found myself reading from the various futuristic articles in the January '00 issue of Wired. The techno-futurists all seem to be consensing on one thing: that one day we humans will be able to exist entirely as programs within the computer networks we are building. At that point there'll be no need for mortality or physical bodies. Intergalactic space travel will become a trivial exercise; the entire human race could be stored onto a super-dense storage disk and lobbed at nearly the speed of light in any direction we choose, to be "revived" later in any of several forms.
For some reason one of the United flight attendants, a rather effeminate man, took something of a shine to Kim, gossiping about another flight attendant's body odour problem and giving Kim a free headphone cord.
Since our covered-wagon alternative, the several-thousand-mile flight from Washington DC to San Diego, took five hours, we opened up Sophie's bag in case the little dog wanted to come out and stretch. But she just looked up at us and curled back up in a ball and went to sleep. She's so used to the smuggled-aboard-airplane routine that when she hears those jet engines she doesn't want to do anything but make the time pass.
A taxi ride after we landed in San Diego, we were finally home. I'd been a little worried that Rory, with whom we'd entrusted our home, would space out and either leave our place unlocked or commit any of a number of bumblingly fragrant acts of anti-materialism against our essential materials. But, fates be blessed, the house was locked and in good shape. For some reason Rory had even managed to avoid losing the one of a kind bicycle key I'd loaned him. Thank goodness our trip wasn't haunted by the fears we would have had had we loaned Rory Kim's Volvo.
It being the fourth of January, we were running a little late on paying our landlord the rent, so Kim went to his door right away to hand him a check, but wouldn't you know that anally retentive fuck told Kim we owed a $35 late charge. In his view, you see, we were one day late. The fact that we'd been vacationing for two weeks and had just got off the plane meant nothing to him. The fact that we'd always previously paid our rent on or before the first of the month didn't help our cause either.
Then, adding further injury to insult, Kim discovered a smarmy little note that Rory had left. He'd said that he'd made a number of long distance phone calls, including one to England. He left no money to pay for these calls, he'd simply made them and hit the road. Here it was again, the old, insensitive sociopathic Rory, the one who is never satisfied with any particular amount of charity and must help himself to more. When drunk, this Rory will borrow your car and pointlessly destroy it. In this, his more sober, spiritual form, Rory thinks the world owes him stuff because of his boundless wisdom. He is, after all, a self-proclaimed prophet of the highest order.
In our absence, one of Rory's friends had left a message on our answering machine, but this message consisted almost entirely of a long, creepy, sickly-forced sort of laughter, the kind made to sound uncontrolled but which has a very definite, logical intent. In this case the intent was, Kim thought, simultaneously patronizing and craving of attention from us as well as Rory. We were appalled. These are the sort of people whom Rory, using his new spirituality-neutered language, reflexively calls "beautiful" and "wonderful." But they're awful, and it's their emotionally-damaging influence which has had such a deadening influence on Rory's soul. These people are the reason he speaks and writes entirely in canned phrases.
The thing about Rory is that his new judgmental spirituality has done nothing to make him a more appealing person. For example when, during his visit, I was separated from him and Kim for but a moment, he said derisively of me to Kim, "Where did you find him? He is not of mine." In this way he was clearly trying to impress Kim with the language of a prophet casting sublimely decisive judgment. But instead he came off merely as a backstabbing, jealous, petty killjoy, especially given the readily apparent fact that without me he would have never even met Kim and might well have never stumbled into his present "enlightened way," ludicrous parody though it be.
Jenna the German Girl and Lisa the neighbor girl both came over to our apartment in the evening. Jenna and I were in respectively jolly moods so Lisa suggested we make New Years resolutions to get along with each other. It sounded like a good idea to me, so I said okay. And so did Jenna. Lisa tried to get us to hug, but that was too much. Not only had I not shaved in a week, but I was barefoot as well, you see, and Jenna is absolutely repulsed by my big ugly feet.
For the rest of the evening we four sat around drinking a bottle of Pink Zinfandel our late-fee-charging landlord had given us for Christmas. Jenna told the amusing tale of how she broke some guy's heart on New Year's Eve when he failed to schedule his evening to her liking. She told him not to come visit her, but he ended up coming anyway and waiting for hours in a lobby at the hotel where she was staying. When 3am came and he finally got to see her, she rebuffed him decisively one last time. "You've destroyed all my New Years' for me!" he protested as the last binding threads of his Y2K-uncompliant heart snapped. His memory of the millennium will always be clouded by this singular event.
It's much better being on speaking terms with Jenna the German Girl again. Recall that she started hating me back in April because I'd written some extremely catty things about her in this journal. The price for such unnecessary writing on my part was not being able to socialize with Jenna and hear her stories, which are often hilarious on several levels, some intentional and others, well, not.
Sophie must have picked up some fleas at my childhood home, because she's been scratching a lot and has developed a number of rashy areas. So I gave her a big old foamy bath. Surprisingly, she actually seemed to like it, holding perfectly still for me until the very end. I suppose Schnauzers get used to having their bodies fussed over.
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