I went to Napa yesterday. A friend picked me up in a car and four of us drove north.
I lost my phone Saturday night, an expensive loss that left me with no means to document my trip to wine country. Turns out, that was just fine.
I sat in the back, my knees jammed into the seat. Rather than look at the scenes others had posted earlier to their Instagram accounts, I looked out the window at the weird orange California grass that covers hillsides. We talked about Darwin and sexual fetishes. Miles and miles of grapes fluttered past so fast. I'd never seen grapes growing before yesterday.
The dessert wine in a delicate flute was the color of perfect honey. Natural light poured down on the glasses and made them each sparkle and shine. I'd have taken a picture.
He slid a packet of artifical sweetner to her from across the table, the pink kind. Rather than tuck it immediately into her pocket like her hand demanded, she stroked it, and its paper crackled like a tiny fire.
Summer left all kinds of marks on your legs. Thick bands of red from the metal flatbed of your dad's pickup truck. Raised welts made by cut grass criss-crossed your thighs. Jean shorts and sandals left stripes of burned flesh after long afternoons in the yard with a book.
The heat didn't keep you inside. Not when Aunt Shirley would promise a trip down to the store for something sweet. She'd pile all the kids into her aging maroon sedan and carry you around the bend down by the big house with the horses on the front lawn.
Eager children's limbs spilled out of the car and into the store where air conditioning filled all the space within, instantly freezing swimsuits and wet hair. You got to pick one thing--and hurry up--and you'd usually go for a Nutty Buddy or an orange push-up pop. You raced to eat your treat before it liquified down your arm. Then you'd fold and fold and fold the sopping wrapper into a fat sqaure and shove it into the smallest pocket of your hand-me-down cutoffs for your mom to find later in the laundry.
The nights were a respite, but not by much. The night air was still thick with wet, but when the sun dropped the stars showed themselves to you in the black tapestry of night, pulsing overhead, nestled like jewels. When the frogs and crickets gave pause you could hear their secrets.
There was nowhere but there.
Face into the fan you'd sing ahhhhhhhhh as the blades whipped your voice into a hilarious thing.
You needn't move anywhere. Besides, where would you go?
The creeks were the thing when you knew no one with a boat. You'd slip off socks and shoes and ease into shiny water, scrunching toes over mossy-smooth stones, wavering, gripping, standing steady as the water filled in around you, delighting in every almost-fall. You were told to be on the lookout for broken glass or sharp rocks, but no one mentioned water moccasins, so you got to watch your father beat one to death with a stone.
Why would it occur to you to leave?
Anyway, how would you go?
You'd lie in bed at night, legs sometimes over, sometimes under the thin sheet. You'd find triangles where the walls met the doors. You'd count them. Seven triangles. Seven intersections of three. Some were flags and some were pyramids, but that would change depending on how far the door was ajar. So many hours to find your own flags and temples.
You lived in your head then, back before you left and learned just how hot it got.
(Also sold under the name Cat Dancer Original Action Cat Toy)
With two cats who never, ever get to go outside, I am often looking for things to keep them busy so that the boy cat doesn't torment the girl cat out of sheer boredom, as he is wont to do. But as anyone with a feline friend can attest, cat toys are stupid and expensive and they break the second your cat sees you take it out of the bag. That, or it leaves feathers, glitter and fuzz all over the place. Or it makes ten tons of noise.
The Cat Dancer Toy is just this: A spring steel wire with rolled cardboard on the ends. One end has more cardboard than the other, which means when you hold the light end, the heavy end bobs up and down. And your cats will go fucking bananas. They won't know how to control themselves they will be so full of hunting prowess and glee.
Best part: You don't have to do shit. Just sit there and hold one end. You don't even have to wriggle your wrist, I'm serious. You just hold one end (or jam it into the door, whatever) and watch your cats GO TO TOWN. Endless leaping and frolicking about.
Here's all the amazing pluses for this badass cat toy:
Won't break. Like, ever.
No flying detritus of fuzz, feather, sequins or whathaveyou.
Lazy owners need only hold this thing in one hand while they read, eat, whittle, whatever.
Super-duper cheap, not $45.99 like every other cat toy.
Rascally cats love it.
For real, if you have a cat and don't have this simple, Amish-y cat toy, then you are a bad kitty parent and deserve to have your animals taken away from you.
Cat Dancer in ACTION:
[Big, Big Fan, the series, highlights various things of which I am a Big, Big Fan. No items reviewed within Big, Big Fan were given to me free of charge. I wish. Find more Big, Big Fan posts by clicking Big, Big Fan in the categories column on the right-hand side of this blog.]
A man in tie-dyed pants has come to the park with amps and turntables and records and is spinning house music that can be heard over the chatter and barking dogs and the occassional clack of the train at the top of the hill. He appears to be alone and no one is dancing.
A girl twirls a parasol embroidered with gold with gold fringe on her shoulder, and it twinkles. She appears to have stepped out of a Delia's catalogue, her mini-dress and spiderweb tights and platform boots (complete with hippy headband across her brow, puffing up young hair) completely out of place on the perfect, cloudless Mission District day when you can see a bank of fog over Twin Peaks and wave at it from the distance.
The park is filling up now and young women are drinking rosé straight from the bottle. This park is a bit of a miracle as park-goers openly drink and smoke pot and even buy edible marijuana treats from a man with a Yelp listing and 63 reviews. Even as I write this the man directly in front of me is telling his out-of-town guest about the guy with the copper kettles and the potent truffles you should "eat only half" of.
Two men on a too-small blanket to my right are sharing a glass pipe stuffed full of medical-grade marijuana. They are discussing the strain and whether it was worth the amount they paid. They agree it is.
People are starting to dance now.
It's getting closer to 2, and the park is filling up. A guy wearing a red sweatband is rolling a blunt, licking the paper with his fat, flat tongue. His small dog is wearing a pink flower with streamers that trip it up when it tries to get away.
The house music is bad. A baby wearing noise-blocking headphones (always cute) is tossed gently into the air. A new group of three is smoking a hookah.
A square-looking couple has brought along a table, a small wooden table, on which they have placed average beer and middle-of-the-road potato chips. They dance awkwardly from a seated position, both with heads down scrolling through their phones.
I suddenly find myself envious of a girl now dancing to the bad house music. She's the only one, really. She's wearing a long flowing dress and a devil-may-care grin, young limbs flailing effortlessly. Even as the DJ crashes and burns she makes it look easy and delightful, as though no one is watching. It's as if she has no neuroses at all.
Much like the girls, the 2 or 3 among hundreds, wearing bikinis. Even as beautiful, how do they?
A woman lowers sticks tied with string into a bucket and pulls out an enormous bubble, a giant floating orb refracting light. A toddler claps in delight even as the bubble disappears before her with a soundless snap.
A woman of likely meager means carries a bag on a heavy stick that rests on her shoulders. She approaches blankets and waits as people down the rest of their chardonnay so that she can take the bottle, which fetches 5 or 10 cents.
An earnest face in sensible glasses is collecting signatures, and I hope he does not come over here.
"Support AIDS walk? Buy a Jell-O shot?" is overheard coming from a man rolling a blue cooler.
A guy in Vibrams offers two girls in tank tops a palm reading. They wince at his offer, and I feel bad for everyone involved, but he is gone just as quickly as he arrived.
The air smells of grass. It is light, faint, barely touching any of us.
In the city, in the crush of bodies and breath, sometimes there is no where to cry alone. You feel everything in your throat, and you need to open the valve. You need to let hot tears coat your whole face. Somehow you manage to keep them from tumbling out while the physical therapist puts sticky nodes on your back and feet and send currents through your body.
So, when he tells you to lie back and allow the electricity to ease your pain, that he'll be back in 15 minutes, you are silently grateful for that block of time when you can let them go. You spill the tears, and they fall all over the thin paper beneath your head. You release them to create a tiny pond in the indention made by your collarbone.
You keep your whimpers, though, to the quietest hush.
There is a man who rides the 12 with me most mornings, and every time I see him he makes me smile. Because he is always smiling. Always. Rain, shine, vagrant pissing in the corner--smiley bus guy is smiling.
He never takes a seat, even if one is available. He slides his backpack around to wear on the front, conscientious of space, and he always smells like Mountain Spring soap and cinnamon toothpaste.
Smiley bus guy is a shining beacon in Muni shit storm. I love smiley bus guy.