Normal People Stuff

It was one of those days. Trying to settle in, buy things that people need in apartments, taking the kid to baseball, having hour long showers in my own shower that has the best water pressure ever after I got the thing working (who designs a shower that you have to pull the outlet of the faucet hole to make water come out of the shower, who thinks of such ridiculous things?), and generally not getting enough done. I have given myself another couple of days before I get back to the serious business of writing.

I will spare you details of my various trips to the little hardware store, the horror of waking up with no teabags, because the Boy forgot to warn me I was running out and very sweetly always makes my tea, my early morning run to the grocery store to buy tea bags and returning with a potted bamboo plant, some shampoo…and thankfully tea bags. They had no darjeeling. I was offended.

A delivery driver knocked on the door bringing me the most beautiful sunflowers I have seen in my life. If they didn’t call it the Van Gogh bouquet the florists were missing a trick. They are gorgeous. My Ruthie had sent me flowers to welcome me home. If she wasn’t over an ocean I would go find her and kiss her on both cheeks and cuddle her until she squeaked she needed me to let her go do other stuff. Thoughtfully they came in a vase. It was one of the most beautiful, kindest, sweetest gestures I have even been on the receiving end of. Fortunately sunflowers need no assembly, but other things do. I had to go to the hardware store for normal people stuff. Accepting I am normal is a tough sell.

Walking to buy a screwdriver, I had to sidle past a guy using an office chair as wheels to get his things from point A to point B. It was stacked with trash bags and blankets – not a bad idea when push comes to shoving your worldly possessions along the sidewalk of life. He was talking to himself agitatedly, gesticulating and twitching. I could almost smell the ammonia cats piss scent of smoked meth rising off him and penetrating my mask. I gave him a wide berth, and used a guy in a suit as a shield to get past without being hassled. On the way back he was still there, this time a little more distressed and distressing. I had got the wrong size screwdriver. According to Ivan the hardware dude, I needed more power to get that screw to twist into the hole. He passed me a two buck screwdriver with more omph to its twist and turn, sporting a two tone handle and a grip. I think he felt bad I purchased a smaller one, as he offered to switch them back. I had just been fixing my glasses with the other one and declined. I am not well versed in tools, at least not of the home improvement variety.

On my third trip past the guy, the Boy safely home, Meth dude looked as if he had just been stunned by a huge amount of voltage. People get past the point of agitation and go right into over amped silence and stillness, they get caught in a trap. It is by far the least irritating stage of meth use in other people. Unfortunately once that peak has passed, it is all bets off. On my final fourth trip past him, he was dragging a dirty blanket down the sidewalk, like a method out Linus, pulling it behind him. It was almost cute. It was in fact adorable until he walked into the middle of the road, and shook out what he had been hiding in that blanket: piss jugs and poop bags, cans and bottles and glass things he had collected. He shook the entire filthy corrupted collection out into the center of _____st, then stood back howling with laughter and growling with satisfaction as the first car drove over it, exploding piss, shit, glass and shards with a loud and disturbing cross between a BANG! and a splat. I was unfortunately close to this action, yelped, managed not to get gassed, and trotted home to the sound of ‘head laughter and exploding shit and piss bags and the shattering of glass. Making shattered glass is always fun in a certain state of mind, but this was an evil genius move.

Our doorbell doesn’t work. In order to get in (there’s only one set of keys and I’m irrationally scared of having new ones cut in case they fuck up my keys) I have to call The Boy on the phone and get him to buzz the outside metal door. I rang him urgently, cursing. “lemmeinwhenisayimtherebutnotamomentbefore. Crazy crackhead. Shit bags…….NOW!” the door buzzed, I swung it open and pulled it closed behind me. It has a plastic sheet bolted on the other side to stop anything getting through the gaps, in a kinda Tenderloin airlock deal. Pulling it closed to the sounds of chaos outside I ran up the stair. The Boy was looking at me with a concerned look on his face. “I’m fine.” I announced while pulling off my mask and gloves.

By the time I had sat down and tea had been put into my hand, we were both giggling. It isn’t funny of course. Hepatitis infused shit is not amusing. Those poor people who drove over it. But it was still funny in a way that if you are going to live here you have to accept that this is life.

When I wake up and look out of my window I can see the tops of trees, and the fire escapes of the other buildings in San Francisco shades of pink, blue and taupe. The foggy morning light infuses the room in a peaceful glow. My guitar sits in the corner, and the kitchen has hot water and an icebox and food, and the bathroom is not outside, and the shower is hot and strong. I might feel grubby by the end of the day, but within these walls I can wash the city out of my hair and down the drain. Now this is shelter. This is refuge. This is living.

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