July 14 1998, Tuesday
he situation between Kim and me had improved so much that she decided to call work (Café Zola) and say she wasn't coming in today. She told her boss that her grandfather had taken terribly ill and she was in Wyandotte to comfort him. Her boss wasn't impressed and said if she didn't come in she was fired. Well, Kim's been sick of her job for some time now. She's the oldest person there doing the hostess thing, and she thinks it's time for a change. So she decided to bite the bullet and stay with me today. It's always a good sign when your prospective lover is willing to fail classes and lose jobs for you. It's a sure indication of love.
e went out for a light breakfast at an older coffee shop called "Java Jo's" in downtown Wyandotte. There was a quaintness about the place, since it seemed to be a throwback to earlier days before Starbucks and other franchise coffee houses started dictating the protocols. There were some copies of Tolouse Lautrec paintings on the wall, but otherwise the place was rather unpretentious and even a little dineresque. The guy working the counter was a constant jokester, and he delivered our coffees to our tables in the traditional diner fashion. Kim spent much of her time playing CDs on the jukebox. The only thing I played was the Velvet Underground's "Stephanie Says," a good little tune for a weird fun upbeat morning in a weird fun upbeat week. Among the songs Kim played were "Driver Eight" by REM and "Under My Thumb" by the Rolling Stones.
Kim knows lots of people in Wyandotte; it's where she spent most of her childhood. She took me into a hair salon to have me meet one of her lesbian friends. But she was so flustered with the experience of old world meets new that she introduced me as "Matt."
We went into a quirky little mom and pop art gallery to look at the wares. Kim was most interested in the works of a guy who does breezy little watercolour landscapes full of scribbly watercolour dashes. Being a gadget-loving guy, I was more drawn to the musical sculptures of a certainFrank Pahl. The sculptures were shoddy concoctions of toys, electric motors and plastic kiddie instruments, but when the power was turned on they played music. It turned out that they were controlled, orchestrated you might say, by a little computer that turned on the motors in a certain sequence. It was all so shoddy and deterministic that it imparted an industrial quality to the sound. By industrial, I mean Skinny Puppy or late Sepultura.
Kim drove us across a bridge to Grosse Ile, a fairly large island in the Detroit River between Michigan, USA and Ontario, Canada. Kim had lived in a nice big house on Grosse Ile during her teenage years, and she was full of memories of the place. She could recall when big parts of the island were still covered with forest, when streets were still gravel roads, back before the big supermarkets had opened, back before all the white folks fleeing Detroit saw Islands as places of genuine security.
We passed around the island on the east side. From here, slightly dimmed by the atmosphere over the Detroit River, I could see big tractor trailer trucks hurdling along an unknown Canadian highway. A strangely funny notion crossed my mind: the Pentagon has no established plans to deal with a Canadian invasion.
All the houses along the waterfont were expensive mansions, each seeking to outdo the next. They were all very different in appearance, though they hued fairly close to standards of American Architecture. One rather organic mansion had stirred quite a scandal when an Indian doctor had it built over a decade ago.
ack on the Michigan mainland, we headed through unknown suburbs to another of Kim's relatives, this one an aunt. The aunt wasn't home, but the cousin, a 28 year old named Michelle, was there, along with a couple young boys playing in the yard, one of them Michelle's son, Luke. Quite casually, Kim said she was hungry. So Michelle threw open the fridge and brought out the makings for lunch: leftover chicken noodle soup and the fixings for turkey sandwiches. Michelle had that the same intensely-outgoing personality as Kim's co-worker Missy. She handed us both beers (Bud Lites; I don't know if I've ever drunk a Bud Lite before) and some kind of prescription pills: mama's little helpers. Michelle's husband is a doctor, you see, and instead of the usual illegal drug habits, it's easier to just have bottles of prescription medications lying around. I've never been especially into pill drugs (they're kind of scary if you think about it), but the excitement of experiencing in untravelled avenues of decadence excited me. Kim is, it's turning out, a wild and crazy girl, but it's a different kind than I'm used to. She says she was a cheerleader in high school and in a sorority in college, but she says she was smoking crack when she was a schoolteacher in San Francisco. It's a complicated picture, but the pieces are falling in place.
Michelle, then, is the "wild cousin." Kim and her have a fabulous, tight relationship, though they're also very different. Michelle got pregnant at an early age and never ended up leaving the Detroit area. She's noticeably less worldly than Kim, has a strong Detroit accent, but she's also more settled and responsible in a way. She has to be; she has an eight-year old kid. We got to discussing the subject of why so many people in our generation choose to be underachievers (for example, Matt Rogers, a bus boy with a college degree). I said that it has a lot to do with the relative wealth of our parents coupled with our generation's hesitance to reproduce. When you have a college degree, familial wealth and no kids, you have a certain kind of freedom, much like being a teenager, but better in a way since you can always get a good job if you want to. But if you actually do get a highly-paid job, chances are it will cramp your style. Good jobs require dedication and hard work while providing little time for adventures. So if you stick with shitty jobs, you can just quit them when you're sick of them and be free. Such techniques can extend adolescence well into someone's thirties. Kim was applying this principle just this morning!
We also had a long discussion about Paul the old boyfriend. Kim had told me that Paul was very unpopular with her friends and family, and today Michelle elaborated on that. She said she didn't like how extremely antisocial he was, and the fact that in every discussion she had with him he seemed to be mocking her. When Kim told of an incident where Paul threw a plate of spaghetti on her while she lay crying in bed, Michelle was outraged. She was insistent that Kim move on, and she repeatedly expressed happiness that Kim and I had found each other, though (like most people), she seemed a little dubious of our prospects considering how little time we have known one another.
Michelle's little son came in, got a piece of paper, and went off to draw a dinosaur. By the time he had completed the drawing, it featured a complete landscape with trees and even a comet (no doubt the same one that was destined to slam into the Yucatan Peninsula and render the dinosaurs extinct). Inspired by Lukes drawing, I did my own version, though mine had a Tyrannosaurus rex and palm trees. Like Luke, I labeled the comet (as well as everything else in the picture).
We said our goodbyes and went back to the grandparents' house to relax. The pills we'd taken were making us feel kind of weird. I was sort of sleepy, but horny as well. Soon Kim and I were doing it right there on the shag carpet (shag in more ways than one, right Rory?). We were getting busy like it's definitely not your business to know, and despite the air conditioner being on maximum, we were covered with sweat. But those damn pills seemed to do something bad to our physiology and orgasms were an impossibility. I would have been content to fuck all day or until I died, but Kim thought better of the situation and we stopped. About that time one of the little neighborhood girls knocked at the door wanting to visit. It was amazing how fast Kim switched into her schoolteacher voice.
We went out to eat afterwards, picking a second-choice Italian restaurant when the first choice turned up closed. Kim was craving a tomato-basil-anchovy pizza, so that's what we had. When it came out, it was much more food than the two of us could possibly eat. And it was cheap too; with a beaker of wine it was only $16. I paid with the credit card.
We had to hang out in Wyandotte until Kim got some pot she'd ordered. Being good friends with the dealer, she got it on deep discount.
After making sure the grandparents' house was as tidy as we'd found it, we headed back to Ann Arbor.
ack in Kim's apartment, she was thrown into a sudden frenzy by a call from one of her massage clients. I thought it best to leave about this time, so I headed towards downtown on foot with my backpack and computer stuff. I tried to stash my backpack down along the Huron River, but after it was all nicely concealed I noticed that someone had been watching me from a concealed location on the edge of the river, so I was forced to hide it elsewhere. I eventually cached it under some bushes next to a big brick house.
he major streets of downtown Ann Arbor had been closed to traffic and zillions of tents had been erected shoulder to shoulder. People had told me it was coming, and here it was: the nationally-acclaimed Ann Arbor Art Fair. Most of the locals had been groaning and complaining about it. Matt Rogers had described it as "an invasion." It certainly looked that way to me. The fair hadn't even begun yet and I was finding it difficult to get past people in the street.
In the Angell Hall computer lab, I worked until closing. I went around looking for another open campus building where I might be able to do some laptop-based work, but absolutely everything was locked up tight.
d told Kim that I'd be sleeping at the house of an Ann Arbor friend tonight. If I'd said my real intention of sleeping out under the stars tonight, she would have become overly-concerned. As it was, she asked me half-seriously to remember that she is my "number one girl" as I lay sleeping tonight with one of my "other Ann Arbor girlfriends."
This time I was prepared for camping. I had my sleeping bag and box full of leftover pizza. I made a nest for myself beneath some bushes beside yet another University of Michigan building. Under the bushes, under the stars, I soon fell asleep. The night was much warmer than it had been two days ago, and I mostly just used the sleeping bag as a mattress.
one year ago
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