Segments

First Segment

I heard the double front doors shutting against their heavy rubber catch, with my parents out the door.  I was riffling through my closet to find something to wear.  Whenever I heard the door shut and their car back out to leave, I’d run out through to the living room.  There were two steps down to the Mexican style tiled floors where the glass entertainment stand was with the radio.

With the thought of music on the way I got ahead of myself.  I opened the full length mirrored closet doors that my mother had chosen for her closet as well. I began going through clothes, pulling back the packed shirts and hangars stretched from blouses that were too heavy and searched through pants stubbornly hung to cheap metal hangars. I pulled passed more shirts and this dress and those pair of slacks until I was drawn to a brown velvet one. It was scrunched up and down the middle to look like a braid.  I took its hangar out of my closet, plopped the tank on my bed and went through my closet a few more times.  I found an Indian cotton skirt with white petals and I hung it up on the door.  I walked through the living room and down the tile to the stereo to turn the song up.  But I became aware of the two old couples who lived on either side of us, and I thought twice about it. I passed my couch and I heard my cell phone ring and I realized that I was probably late.  I still hadn’t eaten dinner but I dismissed any thoughts about it since the music was on and since it had wound me up.  I brushed off the top and had a good look at it.  I thought about Robbie and the four guys I’d met last time.  Other people were bound to show up to drink and mix on his dusty floors.  We’d danced in front of the couch to the stuff on his stereo last time while people thought up stuff to make inside the kitchen.

A half an hour later and dressed, I was in my parent’s 1989 Volvo, tilting my rear view mirror to see my makeup. My hair was still at disproportionate lengths on either sides of my face.  I’d cut it a few weeks before summer because I’d let my friend do what she’d wanted with it.  But one side was shorter than the other and I was tired of watching it in the mirror while I scrubbed my teeth.  I took matters into my own hands.  I’d snapped some here, some there and before I’d known it my hair was shorter than normal. Though now it had grown to the bony clavicle blade that stuck out of my chest.  I knew that I couldn’t keep starring at it.  I backed out of my driveway, drove passed my parent’s other car and headed towards Robbie’s.

Once there, I pulled into a driveway made up of rock, mulch, and overgrown ferns.  I pulled my gears into park, and got out.  I walked too fast in the humidity, trying to overcompensate for my bulky espadrilles. I pursed my raisin lipstick as I walked up the cement steps and onto the portico to Robbie’s door.  A woman I’d never seen before, a medium-height Columbian girl greeted me.  She looked about thirty and she was in a skirt that fell above her bulky calves.  She smiled when she asked me to come in.

I walked through the door and through the living room sitting on the white couch where I’d sat on Bobby’s lap the night before.  I remember we had fought over the remote.  I could hear his voice passing through the dining room and through the white shutter doors where his kitchen was.

Bobby came out later with his roommate and roommate’s girlfriend, who had wet long blond hair from a shower.  The roommate’s girlfriend came to sit beside me, wearing a blue jean skirt with white scrawl on it.  “We just got to wait for a few people.  It’s only nine,” She’d said. “Tracy, come sit,” Bobby said from across the room. I pressed my back hard into the back of Robbie’s couch pillows.  He was usually like this when there was more than one person, shouting out thoughts he had in front of everyone, singling out people in particular.

An hour later five or more people came up his driveway ready to get out and meet up somewhere.   The four of us got into Bobby’s two-door  mustang and pulled out for the red club which was five miles away.

Segment 2: When a Third World Came West

I parked the car and listened to Robbie say out loud the words to a song which he shoulda kept to himself. And I walked ahead toward the club by myself and I didn’t pay attention when they asked me to wait up. Robbie his roommate, and his roommate’s girlfriend made a turn at Thorton Avenue towards the 7-11 to get cigarettes and some water to mix with the GHB. Did I want anything?  “No,” I’d said.  I’d stopped eating so much after I’d taken up smoking; just something to do with my hands, which liked to touch porcelain things on display stands bat at wavy mobiles. I walked up a block and past the courthouse where my dad worked and to where I put out all he’d say if he knew about me here, with these people. I walked past a club, Cairo and then passed a mailbox slot and then a cigar shop.  I recognized it as the one where the owner got shot and killed because my father had tried the case.  In the club there was a wooden bar with chunky wooden eaves at its corners and a red curtain blocking a doorway towards the wait station.  Bar stools surrounded the bartender in a square shape where champagne flutes, pint glasses, and beer mugs hung and missed him when he’d fly by.  I saw a few people at the back end and I walked down towards it seeing two couches.  There was a guy in the corner holding a glass and he was talking to a girl who was sitting on the edge by a Japanese looking table.  I sought the guy out because he seemed like the type I wanted. So I got a twenty out of my purse and I ordered a drink and I looked back at him again and again.

I drank down all I could in three minutes before I had to go up to him because my friends were gonna walk through probably any minute.  I walked past some stools and I walked up to the start of a rug which I caught myself before tripping over. The man was drinking and the girl who was there was gone, maybe she was in the bathroom.

I approached him.“Hi,” I said.

The man nodded and said “hi”back.

What about an introduction or a question about how he liked the bar? Instead I just said, “How’s the drink?” and, “I’m waiting for my friend, but I can’t find him.  I promised him forty for just two.  Can you believe he stood me up?”

The man looked down at the ice in a tumbler.  I looked at the curtains.  I had to think up an excuse in case his girlfriend came back and sized me up as a hussy trying to get at him.  I said “You know anyone with some?” And then I took a drink and he said,“You shouldn’t be going up to people asking them for these.”

“I know but I want one.  You have any?”

“Yeah.” He put down his drink and he turned around looking towards the red curtain but his girlfriend never appeared.  He put his drink on a napkin and he got up.  He went down this small hallway on the opposite side of the bar and he asked me to follow him.  Other than a couple of boxes and red paint tested on the wall, inside the hallway it was empty.  I looked around from side to side and I watched what was going on. I watched people come into the bar but I didn’t recognize any as my friends. The guy pulled out some pills from tinfoil and I got excited.  Most of them had been split open so there were more halves than wholes.  I thought twice because I didn’t wanna go crazy and buy four.  But I didn’t have to take them if I didn’t want to.  I was here; I might as well give into it, my first instinct was usually my favorite one.

Segment 3: When a Third World Came West

I looked around at the corroded metal frames and mediocre paintings, the two walls, and back behind me to see if I could hear the shrieks of Robbie’s discontent beyond the door’s curtain.  “Just one.” He bit at the metal foil with his teeth cursing the plastic that wouldn’t open by his nubby fingers.  He teared at the package as one would react to their head screaming for an Advil, pushing away bottles of different prescriptions in the dark for the right one.  He got one out and the tips of his tongue were spotted with blood, but he licked the end of his index finger anyway and put the pill on it so it would stick and not drop to the ground. “That’s twenty.”  I opened the clasp on my purse while I was still sober, pulled away a twenty from a billfold I’d had since I was fifteen and thanked him before swallowing.  He mumbled under his breath, standing there I thought, wondering where that girl had gone.  Since I hadn’t been talkative during our introduction, the silence between us became awkward as I tried to pull up something to say after giving him the money.  I started to hear a bunch of glasses, noise, the tuner on a radio going up some where to turn up the music.  I figured the bartender would be in here soon or the busser, picking up extra bar cloths, lemons, cocktail napkins, or Tequila salt. I swallowed the pill and walked back through the curtain towards Robbie’s brood who had come in and who were sitting at the front of the entrance, by the window with the bar’s name printed in bronze, in hyped up Gunguh big lettering.  I wanted to go to the bathroom, rinse my face with cold water, see if I felt anything, but Robbie got in the way, glancing at me and shouting out and waving me over from the opposite end, “Hey, where you been?  Come here.”  I waved back, called out, trying to keep my voice low, acting glad and surprised, faking it, to see him.  Robbie shook his head and got distracted from a Mexican woman with a big purple hat and a sunhat chattering with his friend near him.           When I first met him, Robbie was dancing in the middle of a stage at a club around the corner holding a fake cigarette that he’d made between his teeth.  Twenty minutes after, I was sitting on his lap in a booth full of people just like tonight, drinking tequila shots and feeling connected with all his strangers.  He pulled a red straw now, from his plastic cup and drank something that looked like ginger ale all the way straight down and got jumpy sliding past the crowd that had muddled the view of the bartender, who was now serving ten or fifteen new guests.    I turned around and walked down the hall and left into the bathroom.

By the time I’d sat down next to them Robbie he had had two drinks and was complaining loudly, probably for attention, about how this bar was overrated and how they charged seven dollars for Absolute where as a different club down the street, charged only five.  I rolled my eyes in the other direction and ordered a beer that a nice looking guy with a white button down shirt had ordered, three stools away from me.  Thirty minutes later and four more people showed up who knew Robbie’s friends.  I didn’t really go out of my way to introduce myself or make myself known, and plus in addition, I hadn’t felt a thing.  I got up passed the stool and fumbled trying not to bump into Robbie and his roommate.  “Where ya going?” He asked.  “Just to the machine,” I said.   “To get some more cash out.  I thought I had more but I didn’t.  Be right back.”

“I got cash.  Besides, you just had a drink; stay.”

“Uh I’m gonna need some for later…just in case.” I smiled at him and walked out towards the exit and into the muggy air.

“We’ll be here,” I heard him shout.

I hurried past the bar and walked out into the dark and down the curb step looking right for oncoming traffic.  After a few cars passed by I headed for the other side of the street.

Segment 4: When a Third World Came West

There was a man with one leg propped up against the mortar of a brick wall, stained with coca cola, gum, gum wrappers and the writing ‘SJ Sand’ that was fading away in black spray paint.  I looked at him because he was looking at me and I didn’t know it then, but I needed glasses.  He could have been someone I knew from high school, mad that I didn’t recognize him or friendly, decent enough to stop and say hello.  He was smiling; I was watching my way in and out of traffic, keeping an eye on the red hand of the signal at the other side of the road, and at the same time listening to a beat up yellow VW honk and then stop next to a motorcycle who crossed the pedestrian red cross line.  The white stick figure blinked three times on the walk signal so I hurried across, seeing how much traffic was across the street since I needed to cross it again to my different bank.  I saw the guy still leaning, smiling at two girls with brown curly hair who passed him and who could be mistaken for either Latino twenty-year olds or promiscuous Jewish twenty-year olds.  He said something to them and when he opened his mouth you could see that the gap between his two front teeth were an upside down V.  The ATM was across the street and I walked past him looking for oncoming cars to the left and right, crossed it and went up to the ATM and thought about withdrawing more than twenty dollars.  I had a feeling I was gonna keep needing to find my luck and that I was going to need maybe thirty to get a chance at talking to the guy with the curly hair who had made me feel lucky the first time. It had been forty minutes and I hadn’t felt a thing and the more drunk Robbie got the more set in his ways he would become and the less likely he’d be likely to let me share the stuff that he’d been making, when we got back to his kitchen.    I walked past a line of people waiting behind me to get money out, crossed back over to the same corner by the bank and turned, ignoring the guy that had smiled at the two curly haired girls and who smoking now, in a blue and white cotton lookingCaribbeandress shirt.  But I heard someone say “Hey….” A big muscled with a white button down business shirt said thank you to the man in front of him and walked up to the ATM to get money out.  I turned around to see  if the ‘hey’ was for me, and it was from the same guy with the V gap in his smile, in between his two front teeth.  He had walked up to the corner to where the ATM was, ignoring three couples that were out together, who walked passed him and who were talking and carrying Styrofoam left-over’s in white plastic restaurant carry-out bags.  He had a shy smile.  I waved and said hi under my breath so that just I could hear it.  He stood still, waiting, as if he were gonna ask me to get him some change from out of the ATM.  I walked up when it was my turn and got out double what I needed and guarded the screen with my brown purse clasp, looking behind to check that they guy was more than a couple feet away.  I looked to the road in front and saw that all of the traffic had gone and when I got my cash, collected my card, I turned to the guy and told him I hoped he’d have a good night.  He stepped down from the curb, following me somewhat while I crossed to get back to the side where the Bank of America building was again, so I could cross and hurry back to Robbie at the bar.

“Heya, wait…wait up…”

Segment 5: When a Third World Came West

Part of me is just reaching out half the time to shows, music venues, and towns were I can be completely aimless and unknown.  Does anyone else felt the same…?  Not that I want to completely reinvent myself or start new, that’s not totally it.  But when I get into new bands or new music or new stories, I can’t bring these up right away with my friends.  Most of them I’ve had for a while, and we’re bonded by teaching stories or students who won’t listen.  I fell into this group by virtue of me grading till 9pm, passing out after, and basically not having a life.  That’s why I can relate to the way I was, way back when, meeting a stranger like Sam and made me feel like I could choose any topic for conversation and determine right of the bat, if he was someone I’d hang out with or not.  If he was interesting.  Does anyone else feel this way?

“Wait.  Wait…,” The guy said, inhaling cigarette smoke through the gold ring around an unfiltered Camel cigarette.  It was humid out, but there were some breezes every now and then to blow the Bank of America flags around on their staffs,  though the air was still muggy and made this guy’s black hair stick to the top of his forehead.  He’d looked like he’d been doing a lot of walking. He asked me to do more of it with him. “Walk this way,” He said, pointing towards a pizza place.  There were a lot of people milling around, dressed up in nice jeans, smelling of cologne, walking in crowds of pretty blond girls, with music and noise all round them, probably coming from the mangled white Christmas lights that bordered the big room in the Barbeque Bar.   The street lights were twelve feet high, bright, covering chunks of the sidewalk and making any erroneous moves, obvious.  I looked at the guy in front of me, with the cotton Caribbean blue shirt now sticking to him because of the mugginess, smoking his Camel and thought it twice over but said ‘sure’ eventually. I walked next to him down the sidewalk now littered with more gum and cigarette butts and turned my head a few times to look over towards the Red Velvet to see if Bobby had come out pissed and angry looking for me. But the doorway was now crowded with guys and girls and a doorman, trying to be let in, and trying to scan the people that pushed their twenty-something friends in front of them, over for ID’s.   I turned towards the guy next to me.  “What’s your name?”

“Sam.”  He took a puff of his cigarette then watched a girl in a green hiked up skirt pass him, smiling.

I took out a cigarette, empty of a carton that I’d stuffed in my pocket change purse and lifted it up to the light as we walked to see if it had been broken in all the commotion of me running back and forth to the bank.

“What’s yours?” He asked.

I looked at him taking in more puffs of his cigarette and wondered how he could do that without worrying about his breathing.  I was always hurried when I smoked, thinking of how it’d effect my running the next day, or of how long the smell would stay on me and linger, when I got home at nights to see my parents.  “Tracy.” I said.  There was only a little crack in the cigarette and so I asked him for a light and he sucked in his cigarette and got me to light mine from his.  After a few puffs I felt high and looked left and right to the place for which I thought he had pointed.

Segment 6: When a Third World Came West

We walked further down the road, against crowds of girls wearing more short, tight dresses, plastic white, bangle bracelets, and blond hair that frizzed because of the humidity. Everyone was dressing loose tonight because the weather had broke from the night before, the rain had stopped, and it was the first day when it wasn’t storming.  Sam veered right into a pizza place that was one row long, packed with people elbowing their way into shoving dollar bills towards two men behind a spit valve that covered half crusts of pizza pies.  It looked good.  I followed Sam and I went into my brown pocket purse, sifting around for a cigarette since I wanted to spend my cash back with the guy with curly hair at the Red Velvet, and not here.  I put the unlit cigarette to my mouth and searched around for Sam who’d disappeared.  I saw him in the back, behind the counter and the register asking a busy worker for something.  Two minutes later and he was pushing passed a girl with a red cropped shirt pasted to her chest and long fake purple nails trying to make up her mind out loud about which slice of pizza she wanted.  When he was finally threw and out the door with a red backpack, I put my cigarette in my mouth waiting for a light from him.

“Where are you from?” I asked.

“Italy.”

“Italy?”  I inhaled my cigarette and looked at more swarms of the crowded clubbers coming our way and thought about when I trekked with my roommate Jenn up and down the coast.

“You did?” He asked.

“We went all over the place from Milan to Rome, Florence, everywhere.”  He handed me a lighter.  I felt myself slowing down, stalling as he and I got closer to the Red Velvet.  I had to make up my mind about what I was gonna say, if I was gonna invite him over or if I was gonna say goodbye.

I inhaled more smoke, I could smell it on my fingers and in my hair and kicked some stones on the sidewalk and told Sam that I had to meet my friends across the street at the Red Velvet.  “You wanna come across the street with me?  You’ll like my friends.  They’re all from different places too.  Virginia will love it that you’re from Italy.”  I blew out smoke to the side of me.  “She loves foreign guys.”

He looked around and I realized I’d make him uncomfortable.  I kept looking back at the club looking for Robbie.  Sam kicked some stones too and started walking across the street, watching down the one-way for cars.

We came in and I couldn’t see Robbie for all the girls and people hovered around him.  I wasn’t even sure if it was him.  It was about 10:30 and the bar by now was more crowded with only some bar stools at the far end near the back of the wooden counter next to the window.  I thought twice about saying hi to Robbie because it had been on my mind to search for the guy with the curly hair so I could give him the money I got out from the bank machine.  I thought I saw him where I left him, over by the curtained doorway.  “ Here, you wanna sit down?”  I patted a stool near the window and said to Sam that I had to be right back cause I had to pee.   I put out my cigarette in a blue ashtray filled with nin butts and ordered two Budweisers before I left, trying to keep my voice down so that Robbie wouldn’t recognize it.  I spotted my guy, sitting down talking next to another guy on a couch some space between them, the girl he was talking to earlier standing near the corner and talking to a girl with brown, short cropped hair in a yellow turtleneck. Odd for Florida.  I stayed staring at the curly haired guy from a safe distance.  He looked up from the conversation with his friend and set his drink down on the table. He got up and followed me through the same hallway in the back, behind the door less entryway through the curtain that we’d gone through before.  I turned to see Sam looking the other way and quickly disappeared behind it.

Segment 7: When a Third World Came West

I fumbled through my clasp purse, my cigarettes littered all over the place in it and I looked through grounds of tiny tar for my twenty which was stashed in a ripped open zipper pocket, in it’s brown pouch. The guy was texting on his wireless and looking to the back of him where a busser came through a swinging door that slammed behind him, bringing in clean glasses in a black plastic tray, with sweat streaming down the sides of his forehead from the steam from the dishwasher, I supposed.

“Can I have another one?” I handed the guy with curly hair another twenty. Holding his cell phone and reading a text with one hand, he dug out from his right pocket the same gnarled pack of foil and handed it to me. “Just take one,” He instructed, using both hands now to type back to the other person on a black AT&T phone and leaning now against the side of the hallway wall. I wondered what type of girls he liked, if they were more edgy or quiet, I banked on quiet, and wondered how far away I was from being his type .

I got it out, swallowed it quick, handed it back to him, said ‘thanks’, and opened the red velour curtainagain, back to the bar elbowing my way through more throngs of people talking over each other and meeting up with friends. The bar was packed with people and with the lights dimmed, I couldn’t recognize the faces of the guys and girls in front of me. I tried to look towards my right to see if Sam was still where I’d left him, or if he was clinking glasses with one of the curly haired girls in black skimpy tights and black tube tops and who’d smiled at him a little easily, that we’d passed earlier. In addition, I was keeping my eye out for Robbie, whose former seat was flanked by groups of guys in button down shirts, and girls following each other towards the back of the club, towards the bathrooms I supposed, with martini and tumbler cocktail glasses, filled with Cosmos, gin, and vermouth it looked like, in their hands.

My brown heels were sticking to the black wooden floor from the drinks that people kept spilling when they bumped into one another, trying to get napkins from the bar, or to get up to the counter to pay off a tab, and I had to watch the floor now for puddles of drying liquor to dodge, to keep from slipping in the shoes of mine that were now wet. Sam was checking out every which way of the bar, finishing the Budweiser I’d gotten him, and now picking up mine, swallowing from the bottle big gulps, his eyes narrowing when he squinted to see a soccer player run down a field in Manchester, on a TV . “Where’d you go,” He asked. “Hey, that’s mine, “

I pulled my bottle from his grip a little hard and sipped any remaining feelings that the pill hadn’t been swallowed, in my throat, looking around anxiously for Robbie to my right. He was gone, I was pretty sure and I didn’t bother to pick out my cell phone from the broken cigarettes and grounds of tar in my clasp purse, so I relaxed, found a narrow space between a rowdy guy yelling at the TV screen on the wall, and Sam, and leaned my head back to see if I felt anything yet. I closed my eyes and said, “Oh, well. Back there? Oh, well I was just looking for the bathroom and I thought it was that way and this guy said it was this way and he showed me where it was.” “The bathrooms are over there,” He said. I opened my eyes for a minute and looked to see where he was pointing.

There was a separate hallway from which a girl stood wearing pink stockings and a yellow dress, next to her friend who had curly hair and who was wearing a yellow thick head band that I would never wear, next to her. There were other groups of guys and girls passing through and by her. I asked, “So where’d you live in Italy?” I took another big sip from my beer bottle and held it up to the ceiling, seeing if I could get it close enough to light so I could see how much I had left.

Segment 8: When a Third World Came West

We stayed and talked for awhile and I watched people walk by outside the window, able to drowned out the R & B music that was playing so loudly towards the right end of the room, with girls in short dresses gridning with guys in sweating button downs, their shirts now nearly wet by now.  I turned to Sam and tried to make some small talk, but he said he couldn’t hear me.  He just kept putting a plastic cup of empty beer that someone had left, up to a silver beer tap next to Yeungling, lemons, cherries, limes in a black tray, and next to used hand rags that had brown beer stains on them.  My beer was gone by now and I wanted more but the people crowding the bar made it hard to get the bartender’s attention and I wasn’t one for yelling and demanding him to come my way.  I thought about my car and the speeding ticket that must be there, I sipped the last of the beer in my bottle and remembered that you had to pay a fee for a ticket by the yellow box building with buttons that asked you to put in your space number.  I didn’t do that.  I was too bent on meeting someone and checking out hot guys and getting drugs that I’d skipped away past the instructions without taking note of them or of where my car would go if it was towed.

About an hour later and after I’d searched the bar for Bobby, I hoped to run up to him and leave Sam momentarily, wanting to be able to balance a rendezvous with both.  I told Sam I was going outside to smoke a cigarette, but while stopping by some guy with a lighter and a pack of cigarettes from whom to get a light, I was also checking out both sides of the street, listening to the sounds of a siren on a red EMT medic truck, puffing in this Camel ultra light, and looking towards the Barbeque Bar for any signs of the red checkered pants that Robbie had dared to wear.  He was the weirdest kind of chiropractor I had ever met.  Ashes blew all over the bottom part of my Indian skirt.  I thought of the time or two when Robbie had made me come over to his office off Edgewater Drive, near or next to or five blocks away from Bishop Moore, and I’d walked through kids and parents in his waiting room and made out with him in the room behind his adjustment table.  I was pretty sure that most of the women out there had been schemed into believing he could fix their posture because he had at one time or another hooked up with them.

I came back into the bar and sat down next to Sam, smelling of smoke and laying my brown clasp purse next to his plastic beer glass, asking him if he’d gotten something to drink while I was gone.  I had no way of getting back to Robbie’s house and I really could only find it from mine during the day when it was light. I didn’t really know the way back to it from downtown in the dark. Sam fingered my chin and yelled over the music, “What’s wrong?  What’s the matter with you?”

“I can’t find my friends,” I said, looking to both sides of the room and out the doorway, through the window.  I need to get back to my friend’s house to get my car. The bar’s closing soon.  I thought for a second.  Maybe I’ll take a taxi. Yeah let’s do that.  You wanna do that? You wanna take a taxi with me?” I asked.  I searched for something to chew on, picked up a cherry from the black tray of condiment fruit, sucked on it from side to sides of my cheeks.  I said, “I don’t want to go alone.”

He thought for a second, he patted the back of his jeans and his pockets for cigarettes found them and put one up to his mouth.  He took out a lighter before I told him that he wasn’t allowed to smoke in here. “Yeah, sure.  Why not,” He said it in a tone that sounded like he was being made to go or pulled along.

I  paid my tab, walked slowly out of the bar so that I could keep pace with him behind me, crossed over the curb and crossed the street and walked back to the corner of where the Bank of America building was.  I walked up to the ATM machine to grab forty more dollars and waited as he caught up with me and turned around to try and hail a cab from Central .  One came about five minutes later, we got in, and I glanced around at Sam smiling, as the cab pulled away and went in the direction of the interstate. I asked the driver to get off at the Princeton exit, but he didn’t hear me and he looked like he was about to pass it.  I turned to look at Sam and Sam yelled to the driver one last loud time and the driver made a signal that he’d heard us,  turned left from there onto Edgewater Drive.  I could remember how to get from Bobby’s house from there.

Segment 9: When a Third World Came West

I looked out my window trying not to stare at Sam and watched things I didn’t really care to see, like some trash dumps near a gravelly road and a torn up fence, and some tiny houses with car ports filled with ripped black trash bags and beaten up old cars.  About ten minutes later the driver asked something that I couldn’t hear under his grovelly breath and I thought I heard “Where to”.  I checked out the lake out my window, making out old benches and leaning palm fronses from the trees hanging all darkened near the edge.  I looked all around out through the windshield at passing restaurants, bikers, closed dark stores for something that would jog my memory since Sam looked restless, checking out all sides of the cab, out all the windows, looking behind him at cars and people.  It felt like the driver was driving in circles and I kept watching the meter go up and up so at considering the lake a good distance from anything, I looked at Sam and then asked the guy to drop us off somewhere near a parking lot by the water.  I paid him one of the last twenties I had, got out, felt a wet stain on the back of my dress where I must have sat in beer spilled on the stool back from the Red Velvet, waited for Sam to crawl out my side from my door and asked him if he’d wait with me awhile until I got hold of my friends (Robbie).  “Sure, why not.” He said. Agreeable.  He was still acting like this whole thing was just a chain of events, the flow of the natural things to do tongith.  Where was he from? We got out and I walked towards the edge of the lake feeling like there were lights on all around us, pulld out a cigarete from my purse, and puffed up towards the blaring lights that were lit from the basketball arena from across the interstate and from the several orange ones that followed around the cement walkway that went around all the water.  I began to feel that whatever form of ecstasy I had taken at the bar had not hit me in the slightest like Bobby’s stuff did.  I was disappointed about spending, dropping forty dollars for it. I turned and saw Sam kicking stones or lose roots of the tree next to us, popping out from dried grass, from lack of rain, and dialed up Robbie on my flip phone.  My sandals were wet from the water that was seeping through the sand near where I walked and I slipped them off and kept my feet in the marsh while I waited for someone to pick up on the other end of the dialtone.  I reached no one and walked towards Sam.  He grabbed me, kissed me, shoved his tongue in my throat and I knew, felt, that I would be raped.  Except he stopped after a minute, reaching in to grab some of cigarettes out of his front pockets,  he lit one with a lighter, and walked along unaffected, as he had before.  I picked up my phone from out of my purse and flipped it open, scrolling down to Robbie’s cell number again.    He answered after about three rings, yelling at a person who was driving with him (it sounded like a girl) about leaning their seats back because he had an area light in his backseat that he needed to replace in his office tomorrow.  “What!” He screamed into the phone.  I knew he would be testy.  I hung up the phone and looked at Sam thinking up something to say when Robbie called back.  He called back and I said, “I couldn’t find you anywhere.  I was all alone in the bar. I didn’t know where you guys went.  Where are you?”

Segment 10: When a Third World Came West

I could hear the sound of his gears grinding and also I listened for a minute to the traffic around him, heard someone say Bumby and then heard cars zooming past other cars, the sounds some made when they were going faster than others and hitting their brakes too hard at busy intersections.  It felt like he had more than one person on the line, that he was managing more than one conversation at once and he sounded like he didn’t have his voice on the receiver, that he was answering questions from someone sitting in the front seat.  “Where are you,” I asked, watching Sam checking out the park and walking further uphill towards the street that wound around the lake where one or two cars were slowly going by.

“I got into a taxi and I tried to come find you back at your house, but I didn’t make it all the way because I didn’t know my way back in the dark and so I stopped here at the park, by the lake.” I walked up my side of the hill in the grass until I got up to the main street and then I walked towards a half-lit street sign which normally I would have studied more if I wasn’t pressed for time, because it had hanging moss waving from some large green trees on the other side of the street.  But then I looked for a street sign that looked half bent, from maybe a car hitting the pole or from the branches that swiped it during a thunderstorm and then I saw Douglas on it and I said “Douglas. (into the phone)  We’re onDouglas.  You know where that is,” I asked.

“The lake? What the hell?”  He said.  After a short pause and some mumbling to the person next to him he said, “Whatever.” and “We’ll be there.” and  “Don’t move.”

“One more thing,” I whispered.  I walked more up the street, the sand and pebbles from the grass where I’d walked in the soles of my flip flops now, making me work harder at keeping my balance since they were wet and I also watched Sam walking back downhill now from where he was, and I waved to him from where I was, but I thought the look I’d gotten from him didn’t mean he’d seen me. I said into the phone, “I promised a-friend-of-a-friend that I’d give him a ride home.  He’s waiting with me by the lake, so don’t be surprised.  We both need to hop in.”  I waited for that to register with Robbie.

Twenty minutes later Robbie was there at the lake, his music loud from the inside and both of his windows completely down on either side of his grayish green sedan.  The same Philippine-Hispanic woman who had greeted me originally at the door tonight of Robbie’s house, the one who’d had a hand for putting on mascara so well, was beside him, getting out now of the passenger seat, a sign for me to come around, and get in.  I called for Sam, who was a distance away from me, down towards the water now doing something near the edge and I saw something splash and once he got up to where I was I walked around without really saying more than hello and adjusted the front seat back so that Sam and I could have room to sit behind it.  I saw Sam come around my way by the window and I heard him say something under his breath or something I couldn’t hear to the lady before climbing in beside me where we sat more closely than we had all night.  There were some sweaters on the floor and the backseat was mixed with the smell of Robbie’s strong, cheap drugstore cologne, cigarettes, the smell of rain (I don’t know why), and sweat.  My legs were peeled to the leather and I looked over at Sam who was chewing on the nail of his thumb and looking out at the window, while Robbie threw a cigarette down outside and climbed in with the Hispanic woman into their seats, turning the turnstile up to Muddy Waters and revving his accelerator hard, making stones fly up past the small slit in the backseat window.

Segment 11: When a Third World Came West

The next morning I was sipping coffee next to my step-dad trying to keep my out on my dog who was pulling at the ankle of the pool man pulling the sluggish chlorine rod up and down in between mildewed dead and dying leaves. The coffee burned my tongue and I was watching my step-dad fold and re-fold the Sports section of the newspaper. I wondered if two Advil would make me forget what I did last night: sneaking that complete stranger Sam through my bedroom window at 2.am, giving him my ex-boyfriend’s computer network t-shirt to sleep in, staying up most of the night to see that no one heard him snore.
He’d given me his number and I’d favorited him already in my contacts. I scrolled down on my phone while I chewed on my cornflakes and after I grabbed my orange from the breakfast table, I walked out the hallway with the brown lacquered tile and called him from outside the doorway, by the mailbox. We exchanged some conversation about last night, I kicked some stones out by the yard near our pink flamingo metal garden deco, and I asked him if he wanted to meet up sometime.

Down a busy intersection and reading from my anthology of Shakespeare plays while driving, later, Sam buzzed down the interstate in my white Camry heading towards the LaQuinta Inn off I-Drive. That’s where he was staying. There was one girl, two guys and today they would be at Disney World. I stepped into his motel sometime later, after he’d used the sink and the small bar soap he unwrapped to wash and clean his face. At some point we got undressed and we slept together under the bedspread, spilling an ashtray with finished cigarettes that we didn’t catch, onto the soiled heavy carpet floor. I got on my ballerina tube top, had my underwear on and carried the ashtray or what was left of it to the bathroom and shook it on the edge of the plastic trashcan until I got rid of most of it. I heard Sam say something from the bedroom and I heard a door click shut. Those people must be home early. At first I stepped into the bathtub to guard myself behind the shower curtain but then I thought I should face the music and I came out and stared at a blond haired girl with too much eye makeup and two skinny white guys with hair gel probably pasting their flat hair short hair down. She made some gestures towards Sam and got angry with me and told him to get out and said he couldn’t stay here anymore. We gathered his stuff and I carried his dopp kit for him while he struggled to get his duffle bag past one of the guys holding the door open for him. I didn’t look behind at the girl and the guy as I walked down the steps to my car. I turned to him when he walked down behind me and said, “Do you need a place to stay?”

Segment 12: When a Third World Came West

I was sitting on the lid of the toilet seat that both my brother and I shared in our adjoining bathroom with the wooden door that led out to the pool deck.  Scott was on the other line listening to me bemoan the fact that Sam had gone up on a trip to Georgia and that I wasn’t sure if he was still on board for coming with us, David and I, up to North Carolina to my school where Elon: “Fighting Christians” was. Ugh.  Hoorah.  I had kept my balance thus far with my right foot on the side of my left leg, painting my toenails blue but then I heard someone scream and remembered that the Hollingshead’s kids Lisa and Molly were over swimming in our pool and I heard splashing and I heard the dog whining by the grill and smelled from the cracks in the upper part of the door’s glass that Jim was cooking salmon on the grill.  My stomach rumbled.  I looked across at the yellow shower curtain with the bathtub ring forming on its bottom and said to myself that I’d bring in the Tilex next time I took a shower.
“I just don’t know now,” I said to Scott.  I finished painting my fourth toe.  David knocked on the bathroom door.  “Just a sec,” I yelled.  “What do you think?” I wanted Scott to hurry up and give me an opinion.
“I’m sure he’ll come back on time.  When are you leaving?”
I sighed.  “Wednesday.  I have to move into the house so I have a lot of unpacking to do plus I have to get a bed. I don’t know where I’ll get a bed.  Wish you could come with us.  I think we’re going the round about way, up the mountains.”
“Yeah I’ll have to visit sometime.  You should be safe.  Have you told your parents your taking him?”
“No.  I don’t even know how I’m gonna get around David.  I’m gonna just say he’s a friend of a friend from school who lives around there and ask him to help us drive.”

Sam got back a few days later.  He called me from the Greyhound station before nine and my brother and I drove over to pick him up.  He rubbed my back from the backseat the whole way home, didn’t say much, and when we got past Minnehaha Park he looked at the one-stories to the right of the neighborhood street that was around the corner from the streets that intersected my road.  I saw his black duffle bag unzipped in the back grey bucket seat with his black buttoned organizer sticking out above his white v-neck undershirts.  The humidity came in from my passenger window and the hairs at the top, above my eyebrows started to curl under the heat that had made the top of my forehead wet.  A trans song started playing on the radio and David turned it down to tell me if I’d heard that a friend of his was moving back in on Seneca and I thought I’d heard it from a friend of mine who lived two fifteen minutes away, by my old high school but I thought it’d be nice to grab a beer with him, play pool, talk about old times, high school, teachers, classes.  “We’re leaving Wednesday Sam, you coming?”  I didn’t look back to see his expression.  The median from where David had stopped to turn left from Horatio was dark and hard to see and I could see the red lights coming closer from some cars as he waited, and David felt safe to make a left and listen to what Sam said.
“Sure….sure.  Why not?”

Segment 13: When a Third World Came West

It was a long drive and seemed like it more every moment.  Sam was watching the roads curve up around the Blue Ridge Parkway and I got hungry when I saw a small wooden porch that looked out at the outcrop of the mountain ridge below (a restaurant, stop-in, or deli).  David was driving and I’d heard his playlist two times by now and Sam caught on to “Black Betty” and wouldn’t stop asking to hear it over and over again.  I rubbed my eyes and looked in the rearview (Sam and I were in the back and I don’t why) and my circles looked deeper and blacker but they always looked like that and I rolled down my window and felt the engine have trouble pulling up the drive and thought David should think twice about putting the gears into third.

We got onto the campus sometime after one and after I’d piled all my stuff into our room and seen the mattress just lying by itself  I searched around for the sheets I hadn’t bought and figured we’d get some tomorrow.  I thought I’d remembered a sleeping bag and got it out of a duffle bag I’d found in the corner of the room, went out into the living room, gave it to David and noticed that we had blue carpeting.  We hadn’t called the electric company so everything was pitch black dark and I walked onto the linoleum tile in my black sports shoes, and opened the refrigerator so that I could get a better look at what color (honey/walnut) that the cabinets were.  I could see a screen door that opened out onto a wooden deck and a small window that held a view of it and the yard in front of the Science building and lacrosse field, and felt so , so lucky.  There was a blue curodory couch already in the living room that Skye must have brought and another yellowish-brown one facing towards two windows and a small stereo set.  We had piles of things to get from the car and one of them was my stereo set that was better than Skye’s in the back somewhere in the truck.  I was too tired to move.  My legs and hips ached and I walked into the bathroom while David and Sam were busy carrying in loads from the car and I got into the tub with a clear plastic shower curtain and took a cold shower.  When  I got out I grabbed for Skye’s used towel, wrapped myself in it and came out the door of the bathroom which led down the hallway to the washer and dryer.  I’d wash his towel tomorrow.  I could see more duffle bags, my stereo, David’s suitcase, a suitcase of mine, notebooks, a backpack and boxes of plates from where I stood in the hallway.  I turned and went back into my room, saw Sam who was going through his dark bag, picking it up and throwing it into our small white closet, and I knelt down on the floor to unzip the back I’d brought, slip on a thin pink skirt and top, some underwear, my black shoe string flip flops, and say “yes” to Sam when he asked at 10:30 if I was ready to go out.

Segment 14: When a Third World Came West

I said goodbye to Sam four days later and left out the front door and walked down the sidewalk up towards the student union to walk behind it where my linguistics class was. I’d left him my car to go searching around for different jobs but he didn’t say when he was gonna be back and I periodically reached into my brown knitted sack purse to feel for my vibrating phone because I thought maybe he’d need help getting on I-95 or the beltway or maneuvering around Graham which had some delis and restaurants he might consider. After I’d confirmed that there were no missed calls I continued up the sidewalk pavement ramp and glanced at the oblong green fountain with the Phoenix bronzed statue flaring it’s wings in the middle of the water, in front of the administration building. Three years ago I’d switched schools come home for awhile, written letters back to my roommates and friends in Boone suggesting we keep and touch but that I wouldn’t be coming back, then transferred from the small school adjacent to Grandfather mountain and saddled in between the Bible belt and hippies that didn’t take baths, to follow my boyfriend Benny to this school. But we’d broken up since then and now I got the bug in me to get up and go again, enroll in a different place maybe Miami or someplace for where Sam had more fun or perked his eyes up to, where he felt at home. I’d started rocking my legs, fidgeting with my purple beaded star of David necklace at the dinner table when the other night for example, I served him hot potato soup and salad. He seemed restless, acting like he was on a break at intermission getting ready for the fireworks and death defying acrobatics that I had no idea or means of how to display. Since there were slim pickings at school and only a handful of students were here in the summer and none of the really fun ones, there really wasn’t much to do with him other than play pool at the West End or drink with the scruffy bearded locals at the Lighthouse.
On Tuesday night we walked up there to the Lighthouse, passing the garage look-alike apartments where some bohemian girl with bronzed bangle earrings that I always starred at in my American literature class and I got to hang with, lived. The inside of the bar smelled of a cement basement and the conversation two men were having echoed everywhere except by the three younger guys in sunglasses underneath the bright light bulb playing 8-ball at the top heavy pool table in the back . We sat down in the middle of the bar, Sam and I, I bought us some beers and then asked what was up with his story. He said he’d gone around the country so far and that this was his next stop. His favorite place on looking back was Santa Cruz because there were the waves and he liked to surf, there were parties on cliff’s hillsides, pretty much everyone had weed there and those that didn’t got it from people who shared it. I sipped more from the lip of my bottle staring at the grey cracks in the wall next to a poster of the three Greensborough bands jamming here next Thursday. Around the corner was Sammio’s and I was getting hungry. I tried not to think of the hunger in the pit of my stomach but I don’t think it was from food. I had cliffs I hadn’t seen before, hippies that I wanted to meet, ecstasy I wanted to get high off of, and a happier Sam that I wanted to make out with. North Carolina was not where it was at.

Segment 15: When a Third World Came West

After my linguistics class I walked up the cement path past the Biology lab where I worked on Fridays cleaning out fruit flies from plastic tubes frozen with blue ice, to our house on North O’Kelly Avenue.  I stopped in front of the parking spot to see an empty lot where my white car used to be.  Sam still had it and he didn’t have a cell phone so I couldn’t call him and ask him how far away he was or if he was gone or if he had left with my car, or if he was leaving forever.   What should I do?  I sat up on the top steps of our small white clapboard one story houses’ front porch deck, where the two wooden dressers I’d bought wholesale from Hickory were sitting on newspaper.  I’d spray painted them white and there were drips above the handles on the top drawers, and some in the middle.  For the most part it looked like a professional job and I took out a cigarette from my brown sack bag and lit it with a nearby lighter that I’d found with the grey-white striped wrapper peeled off half-way.  I smoked I puffed and I put out my cigarette later under a sagebrush bush near the deck open to the slit in the foundation under our house.  I walked up and down our parking lot, I walked back up to our stairs.  I couldn’t bring myself to go inside.  With my brown sack purse still strung over my neck, by my side, I kept walking walking past my house down Haggard Avenue, past the Belk Library, past the fountain which I’d passed before and up to the red stoplight where I crossed the street to student police.

I sat in this woman’s brown carpeted office, rocking my tan but now sun burnt legs on top of my other one, surveying her room for pictures, looking for people I might know on a photograph collage of Elon students up on a cork board by some certificates against her laminate wall.  I rocked some more, kept my arms folded to myself and watched her continue to fill out the information I gave her on a pink slip of paper.  She understood; this had happened apparently in scenarios before.  Before turning right out of the building I looked left towards the apartment building where Kim used to live, and I put on my sunglasses remembering when I’d crossed the street after spending the night at her house to snatch pot from a feeder plant in her boyfriend Jeremy’s house.  I walked and walked looking for more people I could talk to, peering into the rolled down windows of the cars driving past me.  I didn’t care who I saw I just wanted to meet someone and talk.  I got up to the biology lab, remembered that my boss Catherine wouldn’t be back for another week and then I got up to my parking lot and saw my white car in one of the parking space in front of our house.  I felt so guilty.  I wanted to take all I’d said to the policewoman back.  Sam saw me standing outside from inside the house, knocking on the window and pointing that he’d come out.  We smoked some Camels on our steps, he told me that the lady liked him at some bbq sandwich cafe and that she’d given him a job after she’d shared a sweet tea and smokes with him outside on a picnic table.  I was picturing a blond large lady with fake gold hoop earrings who laughed too loud and who could double as a sweet nurse by night.  But if it got him paid, if he helped with the rent than I was all for it.  I sucked in a puff, put out my cigarette again by my bush in front of the foundation of our house, and got up to get the keys to tell Sam I needed to go to the library to check my email.  Sam said he wanted to go.  He got my keys out of my hand and jumped in the front seat so I jumped in the passenger side and rolled down my window.  After he sped up to the library, screeching into the parking lot, he missed the look on my face after I eyed the police lady I’d just chatted with in the security office.  She stepped out wrote stuff on a pink slip then handed it to Sam.  After he balled it up and threw it on the ground the policewoman ran up arrested him, and put her siren and lights on turning right outside the lot, and leaving me leaning against my white car wanting to hide.

Segment 16: When a Third World Came West

I was sitting on my porch smoking watching the mess Kim’s dog had made in the sand when Sam had offered it hot dogs. At the same time I was ringing up my brother and waiting for him to pick up on the other end of the line from back home in Orlando. This was the third cigarette I’d smoked in a half hour and with each time I’d called David they seemed to get shorter.  I left a message the third time, tapped my Keds against the splintered deck and decided what to do next. Just after I’d been biting the end of the phone cord too long my roommate Skye walked in from his day job at Checkers.  He was eating two hamburgers wrapped up in tin foil from a paper bag he held onto in addition to a kitchen chair so that he could sit half way inside, halfway out the screen door. I didn’t wanna go into it about Sam. Sam was a guy I met this past summer while I was staying with my parents in Orlando.  He was Muslim and he used to live in Tunisia.  Since 1999 he’d been living in Santa Cruz but a few months ago he’d packed it up and he’d headed east to see what else was out there.  So he came to Miami and then to my part of town.  Sam and Skye didn’t like each other and it was clear by  how Sam sat me down once in my room to get a direct answer out of me about whether my roommate and I had ever dated.  We hadn’t.   But Skye had sat me down too a couple of days ago along with his brother asking lots of questions about Sam, where he was from why he was so dark skinned. I’d never mentioned Sam to Skye before or called about him from Orlando before bringing him to live here at our on-campus house.  Before I’d left for the summer Skye and I had discussed having a third roommate just to make our rent cheaper.  Now Skye was walking through the kitchen and he asked where Sam was. I pretended to be busy, walking through the space between him and his chair to the kitchen and back through the living room towards my bathroom. In there I sprayed on some of Sam’s cologne next to the sink just to make it smell like he’d been here last night and then I waited for my phone to ring, wishing it would be David calling back in a good mood on the other line with an answer to all my problems.

I bailed Sam at around a quarter to twelve with the money I’d put on David’s credit card with a promise that I would pay him back  in interest once we received the money back in court two months from now. Sam got put in jail when he sped in my car up to the library parking lot.  A police officer got out and asked him to show proof of registration, insurance, and a valid driver’s license.  I could vouch for the first two but Sam couldn’t pull himself out of the last one.  She arrested him right then and there.  David had wound up letting me bail Sam out with his credit card and so I headed over there at 2 p.m. to pick him up. When I’d gotten him I went over to Pizza Hut picked up some food and brought Sam back so that he could take a shower, take a nap and smoke on the front porch. I turned up the stereo really loud once we got home.   While he was in the shower I got out my textbooks from under the bed and took a look ahead at the plans on my linguistics syllabus for the next week. I’d written half an A quality paper the other night on a British film we’d watched on Tuesday and we were having a test on Friday.

Sam came out with his towel wrapped around him and half a piece of pizza in his mouth, flipping through a pile of used cds I’d brought in from my trunk and that I’d left by the stereo. I walked through the screen door outside to the deck to my trunk where I grabbed my stuff from my backpack for school.  I saw the blond-haired neighbor of ours next door studying Sam through the pane in our glass door or someone through it and I stopped to check out what she was doing before walking up the steps and going back once again, inside.

Segment 17: When a Third World Came West

I left my linguistics class to go over to the Liberal Arts meeting which was up two flights of white painted wooden stairs across campus, and on the other side of the fountain in Lovett Hall. Elaine, (she liked us to call her that) was really Ms. Leavenworth who was a history teacher, a vegetarian who bragged about sleeping with her professor husband on the floor on a futon mattress.

Right now we were crossing off speakers on our list that we shouldn’t invite to school either  because of how much they wanted or because we couldn’t all agree on them. Michael, who voiced being a libertarian and who ran for SGA positions around campus voted on Star Jones as his top favorite and no one was speaking up or disagreeing. That was Rob’s job. He was a short red-head with a girlfriend who looked like him and who followed him around double checking his English essay.

Segment 18: When a Third World Came West

I came back walking in my J Crew clogs that I’d gotten four years ago as a ninth grader depressed  When I got home it was a mess and Skye and Sam were yelling at each from other behind the couch . They were into it, something about Sam making marks all along the kitchen’s laminate floor with his black rubber boots, not bothering to clean them up. I walked towards the kitchen ignoring their back-and-forth and, saw the floor marked up with black rubber dress shoe scuffs, under the table and by the sink.  I turned around towards the yelling and tried to ask what was going on and then I asked Sam to come outside on the porch with me so that we could talk about it.  He butted me away.  Skye said that this was about his cologne and that it was missing from his dresser where he swore he left it.  He said he kept the door to his room shut up every day so he didn’t see how he could have misplaced it other than someone else going into his room and taking it. I slipped past the two of them and once in my room by the short closet doors, rifled through Sam’s duffle bag searching through folded white V-neck shirts, clean jeans, tennis shoes, and then the Hugo Boss cologne. I took it out, walked into the hallway where I saw them arguing in the living room, and ducked into his room to slip it under his bed. Then I walked back out and asked Skye if he’d checked everywhere. I said to him, “Maybe it’s in your closet somewhere or maybe it fell. It could be underneath your dresser stuck behind the baseboard of your mirror.” It could even be under your bed. Check. Maybe you just misplace it.”

I was rocking my leg on the other against Kim’s couch while Sam took apart a CD player as she scrubbed the white aluminum sidings of her living room window ledges with Clorox cleaning spray. Kim was six months pregnant. She said, “I can’t believe they’d arrest him for that,” She was saying that we’d get the money back and I’d be able to pay my brother back on his credit card just as soon as Sam went before a hearing in front of the judge.  Kim had been through something like this before. She’d gotten a DUI driving five of her roommates back from a show in Greensborough and she took the fall for all of them since they were underage and drunk. Baby clothes were scattered along the other window ledges, in their plastic wrappers in greens because she still didn’t know what the sex was.  There were toys too, still in their Epschool cardboard boxes, plus bags of blue Toys R Us boxes strewn by the grey entertainment stand. She went over to the counter and showed me some new photographs of Jeremy’s grandparents standing in front of Grandfather Mountain.  She mentioned something about how her parents were good looking, she showed me a picture and I saw her mother with short straight hair and lipstick, standing next to Kim’s father whose hair had gone mostly grey. She was worried about how the baby would turn out and who it’d take after- she or Jeremy and I said probably her or her mom.  Kim had labored in learning about the baby, studying pictures online of the stages you go through when you’re pregnant, asking questions out loud when she was supposed to be studying in her psychology textbook.  She’d called me in my dorm room two weeks later after we’d had a fight and said that she was gonna have a baby and she already started going through the process of becoming very attached.

Segment 19: When a Third World Came West

While Sam and I were driving home he brought it up to me that he wasn’t going to live here anymore and that he was ready to move on to go to another city or to go back to California. I looked around at the brick on the other side of campus in front of the student union and noticed the new doors that led to the auditorium. I could see how he felt like he was out of place here and how Skye was making him uncomfortable. This wasn’t easy on Skye either. But I protested that he had to stay here to go before the judge so that I could get my brother’s money back to him.  I asked Sam to rethink it over and to consider staying for about another two months. I told him that if he did this that I could finish my summer semester course, that I’d think about transferring to another school, and that I’d go with him to California or somewhere else.

Segment 19: When a Third World Came West

Two months later we were sitting before a judge, in different places because Sam was sitting up in front near the bailiff. I was sitting back behind the wooden session pews next to a lady with braided weaves in her hair, trying to keep her kids quiet. The bailiff was a woman and she wore a tight bun and thick glasses and she was standing firm near the witness stand, staring straight ahead. For some reason Sam had hiked up his raincoat cargo pants so that they were rolled up above his knee caps. He had on a black t-shirt and his hair looked unkempt when he passed through the swinging wooden bench door towards the Plaintiff’s table. The judge first asked him his name and when Sam pronounced it and then Maserati the judge asked for him to say it louder but Sam just looked down at his flip flops. He should have dressed up. The bailiff in her short cutting voice asked him to speak up and she shouted it the third and the fourth time. I looked around to see a short Hispanic woman with dark hair pick up her baby when it started to cry from the bailiff’s orders and I got up and started staring down the bailiff. My father who was a judge used to let me come into his courtroom to watch his injunctions and I couldn’t remember watching a bailiff treat someone speaking English as a second language like this. Must be something about North Carolina. The bailiff looked around and over my way and told me to sit down but I glared harder and thought of how wrinkled and wrapped up she looked like, standing there flexing her arms behind her back. She said once or twice, but I didn’t hear her that if I didn’t sit down and obey orders that she would have to ask me to leave, but she only spoke louder and more harsh the next time she asked. I was staring up at the judge now who was a pudgy man with grayish hair, glasses, a punitive frown that somehow made me think he was having fun with this in a conservative way. Sam sometime after that asked me to sit down too because he said I was embarrassing him. When the lady walked closer to me demanding that I leave I turned around and said every curse word I could think of towards her under my breath. But outside of the courtroom, after I’d cooled off,  gotten some plastic cup of water from the fountain,  I leaned against the courtroom doors asking of myself what I’d just done in there. And the Hispanic woman with the tiny baby came out too and started laughing saying something that I was trying to make out in Spanish.“I don’t know why I just did that.  I think I thought they were discriminating against him because he was Muslim. I’ve never seen anyone do that in a courtroom, talking down to someone you know?” The woman’s baby was down on the ground clambering up her leg asking to be held. She looked like she understood me, I pretended she did.  I threw my cup in the trash and folded my arms against me while I watched the granite on the fountain out the window get splashed every seven seconds with water from its bronze statue.  I knew that I couldn’t stay here any longer. If people kept doing this to Sam then he was going to leave and I’d already gotten too attached to him to let that happen. My summer school class was over in three days and after that we would go. We’d find someplace that was him and me and we’d start over where people understood the both of us.

 Segment 20: When a Third World Came West

We were packing things in the U-Haul that Sam had rented for $49.96 and he was setting everything out into a nice order onto the flatbed and I was hefting up the wooden fold-up chairs and drawers to the dresser, the bathroom blue trashcan, and his black duffle bag onto the lawn. I was bringing out everything all wrong he was saying, for example the chairs and tables should come first and then the smaller big things like the boxes and cartons filled with vases, fake flower plants, throw rugs. But while I had my hands full putting piles in the wrong places with the feather bed linen in my arms Skye’s grey two-door Celica pulled into the parking lot right next to the U-Haul. I knew this part was gonna be something I had to face but I couldn’t take thinking of it head on and so now here I was with this. I walked up the deck and into the kitchen where I laid down the bedding on the top face of our table and I pulled out the broom from behind the fridge.  I swept up the trash and dust that had accumulated in the corners of the brown and ivory laminate. I could here Skye coming in through the screen door and I pretended not to notice so I kept sweeping louder and louder until he came in and I leaned against the right beam to the living room in the breakfast area.

I stopped for a second. “Hi.” I didn’t want to talk about what was coming next. “Bring anything home from Checkers?”

“Did you clear all this with Donna?” He asked. Donna was our landlord. She managed all the on-campus homes in the area and she surprised me about being understanding when I said I wanted to leave. “Yeah I got everything squared away. You’re not obligated to stay. You can leave too if you want , if you have other plans.” He said, “I didn’t want it to be like this. I don’t know why you brought him here but he came in between us.” Something in me knew Skye was right and I felt damned because here I was on an off-campus house having survived two crazy roommates and their boyfriends who’d brought guns to our sophomore dorms and here I had the place of my dreams. What was I doing throwing it away? For who?  For what?” But there was Sam out there loading up the truck and I was nuts over him and I couldn’t pull myself away enough to admit that Skye was right. So I got done sweeping, I scooped up the left-over trash into the bin, I was sweaty in my dress that I’d gotten for a bargain at Ross and I put my arms around him so that I could hug him. I kissed him on his cheek and told him to enjoy the rest of his summer.  Then I took the remaining plastic garbage bags full of more brown throw pillows, bed pillows, a thin mattress cover and took them out to Sam. He loaded them up into the back of the U-Haul truck so that we could drive the rest of the way to Miami.

 Segment 21: When a Third World Came West

We made our way into Miami jumping off 395 east and then seeing the coast blocked by a heavy metal guard rail but then obscured by orange birds of paradises, bromeliads, and red bougainvillea trellises.  He wanted to go to a youth hostel which wasn’t far away from here.   We stopped for directions once at a gas station out of our league crowded with black BMW’s and Mercedes and we stopped behind some men outside of their cars. They looked towards me while Sam ran inside to steal a map or to get the hang of where else to go to after this.

On our way up to Washington Avenue we passed motels where from the entrances I saw skinny girls with long hair and short loud dresses come out the doorways with big heels. I looked down at what I was wearing. I’d still had on the blue sundress that I’d cleaned the house with, moved the bedding and the furniture on the truck with, and I’d only taken it off once while I was showering and next, to sleep in a t-shirt of Sam’s. I’d brought two pairs of underwear that I could reach from the backseat. We’d packed all our furniture into Kim’s purple storage unit that she’d had outside her house in the backyard and we took the rest of the bags and suitcases and packed as much as we could into the car. Sam had somehow gotten sunglasses even though I knew he didn’t have any money. I didn’t like them. They looked like something someone would wear in the military and he started to remind me of the way someone would look in the military. He usually had a way with people and words and told me at one point up at school that Spanish was the seventh language he was trying to learn. By now he was trying to blend in with the locals since he’d stuck out too much up at Elon. He said we had to turn WXDJ 95.7 up loud because next to us were two Spanish guys with their windows all the way down and their radios way up high on that channel.  Sam fingered with the mixer dial. It made me feel better to know he knew what to do since straight ahead in front of me I was staring at run down abandoned strip malls with the sign in one falling off and shards of glass on the inside from someone trying to get in. I tried not to look harder out my window to please Sam but also because the traffic on my right was mostly more beat-up Pintos with more music and drivers trying to talk up above it so that they could hear each other.

When we skipped the youth hostel for a motel on Washington Avenue I put my bags down on the grey bedspread and got a tank top and bottom, going into the shower to breath for a second and to change. I felt awake. I’d followed guys around campus who I’d had crushes on and thought about them endlessly until I thought they’d come up to me one day asking that I let any more thoughts of them go. But Sam was the first obsessive, stubborn, adventurous person who’d stuck by me. He was vast and empty and cold and dark and Miami was the right backdrop to watch his uptightness unwind.  I changed out of my clothes put my bathing top and bottoms on and walked out barefoot onto the tile. Sam was waiting out in the hall already smoking a cigarette even though he wasn’t supposed to and holding the key asking me what kind of bathing suit I was wearing because I was using my white tank for the top. I let it go and walked down the stairs ahead of him barefoot and out the unwashed glass doors towards the pool where no one else was. By this time it was almost dark and the big lights from the more expensive hotels lit up the plants on the stone wall that divided them from ours. I walked into the pool and dunked my head under before I could think twice and came up to the surface thinking we didn’t bring towels but it was so hot we didn’t need to and then I watched Sam do a can opener into the water from the deep-end.

We were driving through a residential neighborhood full of multi-colored turquoise ranch houses and I was going too fast through a school zone that was maximum twenty-five miles an hour and an African-American cop put his lights on and I pulled into the school parking lot with Sam next to me. At first I was mad and I let it be known and then the first time I’d ever seen Sam not lose his cool and act calm was when he told me to quiet down and get out my insurance card. But I was pilfering through my whole glove box taking out bills from Firestone for my rear light bulb to be replaced, lists of things that had been broken like my starter, that had been covered by a warranty and that were now fixed. And I found it finally in the pocket of a stitched blue change purse with a butterfly woven in glittered thread and I handed it to the cop waiting with his hand on my window. Kids were being let out of school, little ones in kindergarten all the way up to fifth grade and some were congregating now behind my car and screaming in Spanish. My air conditioner had busted somewhere between Fort Lauderdale and here, and now that we weren’t moving there wasn’t air circulating.  I rolled down my windows so that the tree above us could maybe let up the staleness when there was wind. The cop backed down and said to me to just drive a lot slower, there were kids, little ones around here and they could run out into the street at any time. He looked at Sam and I like we might know how this feels someday and then we were off.  I turned right out the parking lot back on our way into North Dade County searching through different apartments that I was going to try and get my parents to sign off on, which I knew they wouldn’t. So I was just fooling myself thinking this would work out.

Segment 22: When a Third World Came West

Somewhere along the way Sam and I stopped by this big tower that looked out of our league and I stopped anyway, shifted the gear into park and put the parking break up for the hill that we were on. We got out and Sam and I got into an elevator with a pretty girl with long hair and dark lipstick. She was leaning like she was posing against the elevator wall, with a realtor and Sam pretended not to notice her but I was thinking they looked made for each other. They looked almost like brother and sister. We stepped out of the elevator and onto the seventh floor and a lady with dyed curly brown receding hair, walked us to the end of the hall where a man was moving things out of the last apartment to the right. She showed us first the galley kitchen and then the bare living room with fresh carpet, which came right after the kitchen counter and then two bedrooms.   They split off at opposite ends of the sliding glass door from the living room. It seemed to suit us; Sam was satisfied with it and so was I. I reached into my purse and dialed back home right away and the lady led us out of the apartment towards the elevator again. But then before I left the doorway a man stopped us, he was the one moving out and he said that he had put a deposit on this place but that he was changing his mind because they’d did a shabby paint job, but I didn’t care and I thanked him and we walked out anyway.

We were eating at a breakfast place at the shore where a man in Spanish shouted to walk-in customers when he found an empty table that had been left by a family or an elderly couple with their eaten-at eggs, bacon, and cereal on the table. We’d sat down over a half hour ago and Sam was almost finished with his bacon that he’d mixed in with his grits, not speaking to me because the waiter had been extra friendly to me. Afterwards I walked along in overalls and sneakers without socks and I kept track of where we were with a map I’d picked up at a post office on our way near here. I’d mailed a post card to Kim there with a night shot of Miami on South Beach and a big moon over the ocean, thanking her for storing our stuff because I’d left without saying thank you. Sam had loaded our stuff off in her storage shed while I’d made last minute amends with Skye while sorting out the in’s and out’s of the house, like who’s name the electricity would be transferred into and who would pay the mortgage for the rest of the summer or if he could get his ex-girlfriend to rent out the place.

Segment 23: When a Third World Came West

We slipped into a shell colored adobe afterwards where a woman with shiny black hair and a tight white t-shirt that looked like a sexy nurse’s costume for Halloween, served us premiere cups of café Americano with bone China saucers. We sat and drank like we were someone to be looked at, among those couples that really did have money and who were known all around town.  He asked me when my parents were going to wire the money to us for the apartment we’d seen in the tall towers overlooking North Biscayne Bay. Truth was after we’d met in a conference room with that agreeable elderly woman with reddish dye and a receding hair line, I’d taken the elevator downstairs then smoked by a retention pond where I sat four feet away from three blue herons standing under a fern tree. I didn’t call them. It didn’t even cross my mind. What we were doing was ludicrous and I wanted to stay with him but it was up to us to come up with a deposit. My parents shouldn’t be responsible for it. But I sat now taking a cigarette out of my purse and lighting it up in the hot humidity and blowing it towards another woman with white on, a dress, who was speaking French. I sipped my coffee thinking of the words and said to Sam that they were having issues with David’s dorm right now and couldn’t be expected to fund another apartment after throwing away money for my living space at Elon. I couldn’t read him so I kept on sipping, smoking, ashing, staring till he said that we needed to borrow money from someone and I thought of who. Where were his connections. He made friends well enough, but I didn’t say this because we were having so much fun. He was outgoing, persistent, confidant and he stared me down when he looked at me. I considered the idea of us getting a job down here and saving up funds until we could move or that maybe we could move into the beach house at my parent’s place and save up money until we had enough go back down here. My parents might go for that. The condo idea slipped out of my mouth without giving it much thought and I kicked myself for coming up with it. I bragged about it at moments like this when with other people when there was a lag in the conversation I brought up mom’s beach place to sound formidable, but now I didn’t think this would work. Sam had come over once and hadn’t made a friendly impression on mom and Jim and they were weary of him anyhow. Since I’d met him I’d dropped out of school, spent my money in my bank account and I was drinking coffee not doing anything and scheming out of ways to have them help out more. No. We had to come up with something else. But Sam was relentless the rest of the day. He kept talking about what good it’d do to have all that time on our hands, to really get to know one another, without the stress and to save up money so that we could be on an even level. And it sounded good so in the end I caved and dialed up their number and they relented, maybe because they thought some good would come of it and that was that.

Segment 24: When a Third World Came West

I was putting three quarters into the grimy pay phone booth just north of Washington Street and to the south of Miami beach where hookers were already starting to hang out on the corner of Fifth Street. I was on the phone with my mom keeping her updated to the latest and she was supportive and she was all ears when I’d told her I was scouting out community colleges around North Dade County that I had scrawled down on a tiny pad of paper. But really I was reassuring her that we were well and that we were staying in the Pink Flamingo Inn if she needed to get in touch with me because my cell phone had died two days ago and I couldn’t afford to get another charger for it so I’d stuck it in the grey back pocket of my passenger’s seat for safe keeping until I figured I’d get a job. Hours earlier Sam had passed a restaurant chain where he’d worked at in California and he remembered the tiramisu was good and he walked into the place and said this to the waiter who at three o’clock gave him an application to fill out.   I stood by the door hot in my leggings and pull over shirt-dress thinking how hard it was to get minimum-wage employment.  I walked outside looking for other places we could stop by and fill out applications but there was just a gas station north of a parking garage that charged twenty dollars for all day parking .  The parking garage got me thinking about my car and I was scared that it had been towed in the abandoned parking lot where I’d left it.  I asked Sam to hurry back with me to the hotel and I ran ahead of him faster than he could in my flip-flop heels then skirting the sidewalk.   I turned the corner and walked until I saw my car in the lot in front of a red Mercedes and behind a grey sedan so I hurried further rushing up to the side entrance by a run down bar that wasn’t in service anymore. I went around the side watching the pool like I wanted to jump in it, and I tied up with the manager in the lobby any loose ends by giving him the second number to my other credit card.

Segment 25: When a Third World Came West

We were leaving Miami defeated with an empty pizza box, listening to Paul Okenfoald on the cd changer for the fifth time and Sam was complaining about listening to my Fugees album that I’d bought on the way back down from Savannah.   The palm trees and highway side walling were starting to look less tropical now as The Florida Turnpike neared Fort Lauderdale and as we headed further northeast pass through the toll roads. I bit on my thumbnail trying to come with something to say before I’d answered a bunch of what Sam was saying with ‘yes’s’ and not hearing what he was saying because I was wondering where we were gonna sleep tonight since I hadn’t really slept at the motel and since I couldn’t sleep now. Sam was keeping my air conditioner on low and I covered a raspberry chenille blanket over me that I carried back but I still couldn’t get warm because he was driving too fast and complaining about the drivers to his left who didn’t know how to change lanes and so I stayed up and listened. He hadn’t made impressions with my parents before we left and so I didn’t know what we were going to do now. I knew he was probably tired too just of how his hands were hanging at 10 and 2 on the wheel and cause of how he was being picky about the songs on the radio and I thought of his places where he slept before in Orlando like the Century Bank building. It was kitty corner to Orange Avenue, across from Lake Eola and after I’d met him that first night he’d walked me back to these trashcans beside a building where he slept. I thought of these as we were driving back and blankets that I could take down from the mirrored closet in my bedroom to give him before dropping him off.

When we got home though things got a lot worse. Sam didn’t want to be dropped off behind a building by its dumpster and I didn’t agree to stay out all night with him so I was stuck.  I had to endure him sleeping in my car next to the Woodard’s oak tree with my car parked to the left of our driveway. The neighbors across the street had five kids and their kids had friends that came and went at all hours of the day and night. I knew it would be a matter of time before my mom got a knock at the door about the guy in the hoody that was asleep in my car.

Segment 26: When a Third World Came West

I took Sam the next day to Our Daily Bread which was the homeless shelter located on Central Avenue parallel to Orange and kitty corner to the Bob Carr Theater on West Livingston Street.  I held onto the steering wheel of my Volkswagen and promised him that if he slept here every night that I’d get him or buy him dinner and bring him lunch anyway I could. I gave him all the best blankets we had, the two chenille ones that were blueberry and raspberry colored and he took them with him without saying anything after leaving. So I drove almost aimlessly home in my pantsuit feeling I’d done the right thing anyway after I’d applied at Lynx, the city bus line, waiting to hear back. And I drove home passed the building where I used to see my old psychiatrist who’d tested me for ADHD, then Mead Gardens, passed the law office of my father’s best friend whom I’d worked and slipped up at for. And then I drove past more places like the streets that lead down to my high school where I’d slipped up on my grades to write in the back of the room during oceanography class.  I turned down Winter Park Road to get a better perspective, hoping that I’d drive past something that I remembered where a good memory came to my mind. But there were the Spanish missionary houses of the families I’d babysat for from whom I’d ate leftovers out of fridges, talked from their phones to guys and girlfriends. At a stoplight I knocked my head against the back of my seat and felt down. I didn’t want to look around at the intersection I was at because I didn’t want to see the lawyer dad of one of the girls I’d babysat for driving home at rush hour who’d look back and see me. I felt like I was gonna sit here in this city my whole life and just see the same people I saw stare back and make their own judgments.  And then right off I regretted leaving Elon even though I’d told myself I wouldn’t, that I wouldn’t look back and feel bad because I’d promised Sam the same thing. I was supposed to have moved out and North Carolina was the first step to doing all that but how’d I get back here? The light turned green and I sped up keeping my eyes only on the red sedan in front of me with the license plate from Georgia because I didn’t want to see anything out of my peripheral vision . At the last stoplight before my street I concluded that the probability of every car in front of me had or would never bring back and forth breakfast, lunch, and dinner to their boyfriend at a homeless shelter every day.   The air in my car suddenly got hot, and my skin felt grimy, I was tired and still in my work clothes.  I kept my mind on a shower and a bar of soap above everything else.

Segment 27: When a Third World Came West

I pulled my Volkswagen up our hill of a driveway already feeling my chunky silver ring on my hand feeling like marriage and I let Sam out first as I pulled up my emergency brake.  I studied the overgrown grass behind the chain link fence belonging to our neighbor Mr. Krutch which was above our even- cut yard mowed down every Thursday by our landscaper Joseph. I got out and walked around the front of my car until I got to the door before Sam.  I opened our front door with my key first, picking up a paper bag of groceries on the antique chest that held our mail.  I searched around through the house for Amira, our cleaning lady, called out her name but she didn’t answer and I looked around the house but couldn’t find her.  I motioned with my hand for Sam to come in through the front of the foyer and I told him he could go back into my dad’s dressing area to borrow a suit and he picked out a black pinstriped one along with a blue dress down shirt that he’d ordered from Rutland’s almost five years ago. Sam motioned towards my parents’ closet where a tie rack hung with so many ties but I pulled him along and past the kitchen into my room where I made him get dressed in there while I went through my trunk chest that I’d gotten for the white dress I’d been hiding in there. I pulled down a red carry-on luggage bag and folded the dress with crinoline that was no thicker than a cocktail napkin, into it. I took out from a shoe box a pair of four inch square heels (white) with a back strap and a leather strip running along the top and I put them in too.  I also put in it a box filled with a set of diamond costume jewelry earrings with one of the jewels missing. I turned around to see Sam’s hands swimming in the cuffs of my father’s coat sleeves and I looked down at the black loafers Sam had stolen in North Carolina to see the ends of his pants’ legs bunched up at his feet. I didn’t care much and I slipped on my old black moccasins from Wal-Mart that I’d had forever, peeked out from the sliding wooden drawer of my bedrooms’ hallway and motioned again for him to come on. I ran to the front of the door before he got me to peek out through the glass to see if Amira had driven up the driveway. I walked with him out through the garage and through the side door where I locked the fence behind me that stood up to my neighbors’ yard.  I saw Mr. Krutch through his curtain less picture window with his back to us, watching TV.  We hurried through the yard.  Sam got into the car quickly and so I put my bag into the backseat’s door and I got in too. But right as we got down the road Sam started complaining about the length of his coat swearing that he could just pull back up to the house so he could run in and measure and find a new one.

We parked on East Robinson Street two blocks from the courthouse and to the left of Lake Lily.  After Sam got out first to catch up to me on the sidewalk I pulled out my red carry-on luggage bag and wheeled it up to Edgewater Drive where a turquoise Honda honked in our way.  I turned around to hide behind my luggage feeling like I’d already crossed a line with my folks, with my white dress already inside it until the light turned red. Sam pulled my arm to cross the street and up the stairs to where we’d parked two days ago so we could purchase our marriage silence. We knew the drill and we walked up three more flights until we got access to the elevator that brought us into the building.  We hurried through the waxed marble floor to the elevator that brought us up to the seventh floor and we turned left into the entrance to the justice of the peace, an office kitty corner to the county clerks’ office.

Segment 27: When a Third World Came West

I sat outside next to a foldout chair that felt like it was upholstered in mauve carpet. My bag was sitting on the floor next to me and Sam was busy fiddling with a store bought disposable camera, winding the release dial on the back and practicing on the wall next to him. The room was a good size with windows facing towards south Orlando with a view of the left side of Lake Eola Park with the fountain partially overflowing. There was an arbor arch in the center of the room with white wicker X’s which created the open diamond spaces from where silk Ivy had been thread and wound. This was where we were gonna stand in front when the Justice of the Peace finally got here. Sam asked me a couple of times to stand in front of it, but I didn’t have my wedding clothes on yet and I was still in my beige skirt and tan tank top but I smiled for the camera anyway. The Justice of the Peace finally came in resembling Diane Sawyer all hurried, hunched underneath the shoulder pads in her blazer and frosted hair. She asked us if we were ready and I asked her to give me a minute while I rushed my bag out of the hall and left towards the bathroom hall.  I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t bump into anyone of my dad’s friends that I knew along the way. I took out and put into a pile that short white empire waist dress, the fake costume jewelry diamond earrings, and the white shoes with a middle and a back strap at the heel. It didn’t take me but two minutes to get dressed and I hadn’t fluffed my hair out of my dress and onto my shoulders for more than ten seconds before I was out and running down the hall again. I tried to stare past the immigrant couples waiting to be next in line for the justice of the peace, but I saw a few speaking broken English next to a brown lamp and wondered why Sam was rushing me to get married so fast. I stepped into the empty room where Sam had been taking pictures of Diane Sawyer this whole time and after dropping my bag of clothes next to the mauve fold-out chair, I ran to the arbor acting like I had been the one who had been waiting for them to hurry it up all along.

We stood linking the ends of each other’s hands in front of Diane more because it was the thing to do than because we really wanted to do it because we both kept shifting our weights as we stood. There we were under the white bridal arch with wicker X’s that crossed and made room for the plastic ivy vines to wind through their spaces.  This was Sam’s idea, going through with this whole thing without any relatives around except for my dad who was doing injunctions seven feet from above us on the fourteenth floor. Except Diane and except for the handful of English as second language users who had seen me cross the waiting room aisle no one else knew we were here. She was saying all these things, Diane, and I was thinking about how I really hadn’t thought this through, how I’d picked out costume jewelry diamond earrings that didn’t even have all their pendants that the matching one did on my other ear. How I’d rushed to pick out the wrong shade of shoes that didn’t really match my dress, that I didn’t even do my hair in the bathroom. And in fact I was still catching my breath from not having had on my wedding dress in the first place and making Diane and Sam wait while heading to the bathroom to slip it on and the accessories that I was thinking would make this time more worthwhile.  But two minutes later practically and she’d gotten done with what she’d said and he’d said “I do” and he’d put the silver ring on with the scratches in the silver band on me and I said “yes” and didn’t put anything on his finger since he wouldn’t go to a cheap store to find a plastic or real ring. So there we were nearly at the end of the day, filing out with all the late workers at 5:30 through the parking garage except that he had a yellow carnation in the breast of his coat pocket and because I was wearing a white dress down to my middle-thighs, holding some stems of dried flowers. I’d tied them with some yellow string that I used when I cross stitched the twelve days of Christmas ornaments and had some left over after I’d finished the ornament with the three French hens.

“Well,” I said as we walked across the fifth level of the parking garage and down the steps to the fourth floor where the elevator was, “What now? Should we go to dinner?” It sounded appropriate and Sam agreed, but we didn’t want to go to anyplace around here so we made a promise to go out on I-4 towards the Olive Garden on I-Drive. I would drive. We stepped across Robinson together without holding hands and Sam slipped some Camels out from his pockets that I hadn’t seen him slip in there before. I walked when the stick figure on the walk sign turned white and looked out at Lake Lily with her man-made fountain spitting water up and saw the red awning of Lee’s Lakeside behind her, thinking that that restaurant could have been where I’d had a real reception had Sam mingled with my parents more and made well with them. But instead we hopped in either side of my black Jetta and headed west on the interstate towards the Olive Garden.

Segment 28: When a Third World Came West

He ordered steak with tomato penne pasta and I had something lighter, spinach Alfredo. I kept looking at my ring the whole time thinking “I’m married, I’m married, and I’m married”. Because I would have never guessed it’d be this soon, I always pictured me older with my degree, with some experience behind my back. But who knew? And Sam was smiling, he had a big grin and we looked at each other a few times and smiled and I felt close to him, like I hadn’t before, so that was good. At least something felt right about crossing this big line that would lead to a big divide. And then what usually happened when I ate too many bites at once was that I’d sit back and contemplate, like “When was I going to tell my parents? What if dad found out? What was mom gonna say at church? I chewed my cheek then looked down back at my pretty linen dress that I’d gotten from a rummage shop in Chapel Hill and I looked at my ring again and Sam so handsome and I started to relax. “Should we order dessert?” I said. “For our wedding?” And Sam wanted tiramisu because that was his favorite thing even though they had gelato on the menu which is what I would have chosen. So we ordered what he wanted with two forks, we told the waiter it was our wedding day hoping he’d give it to us for free, add some candles, sing a song, have the celebration for us that no one else knew to give. I’d had birthday’s here where they brought out a fudge brownie with ice cream, a candle in the middle, but this celebration was new. I’d never been to one of these when you told them you’d just gotten married. Ten minutes later they came out and they sang congratulations to us, probably the same song they sang to students who’d graduated high school or college. I blew out the candles before Sam could get to them as they laid our dessert on the table.

Sam ordered more table-wine but I put my tipsy hand over his and told him not a bottle, just the glasses and I stumbled to move my cushion chair to excuse myself to pee. We were married! We were going to have babies and I was going to have them with him, this hot guy in the room. He’d be a great dad. I came into the bathroom and passed myself in the mirror going straight to lock myself behind the heavy stall, I didn’t need to see how young I was because I already knew I was capable of being a good wife.  We’d live in a small low-rent apartment around the corner from my mom and dad and he’d work part time as a waiter at Dante’s where he’d gotten a job. I’d go to college, for the both of us. I sat down to pee on the toilet seat and grabbed for the paper from the metal slot and felt flushed. I needed water. I came back around to the dinner table five minutes later and saw the clasp of my dress purse opened and my wallet out. “Where’s my wallet?”

“Your card declined,” groaned Sam.
“What?” I said. I felt the wine from my bathroom thoughts drain from my face and I searched around the white linen table cloth for my wallet. “Where is it?” I asked. When he put it on the table I looked through it for other cards but one was a Target card only good for in-store, the other one a Firestone card good for the same thing. I groaned but I was still in a good mood and I so I waved my waiter over still seeing that I had wine in my glass and that Sam still had some in his. We could still enjoy ourselves and have a good time. I whispered into the waiter’s ear once he got to us,

“You know, it’s our wedding day. We’re so excited. Our parent’s can’t be here and we’re also sad.” I came up with this part, “So we’re saving up enough, I work at Disney, to bring them all here.” I was still whispering, “So you know how it is, you do, you know?” The man was a shorter Mexican guy who spoke broken English and waited politely but still for an answer. “I have a roommate,” I whispered, I pulled the cuff of his coat sleeve towards me so that I could do more whispering, “who has lots of money.  I’ll go back to my house and I’ll call her and I’ll give you her credit card number, I swear. I’ll leave something with you so that you’ll believe me. You know?” I dug out my Target credit card that I swore I was gonna cancel just as soon as I got to my cell phone outside and I handed it to the waiter, Almo was his name. He seemed to agree sort of to this and I took my wine and gulped a sip of it and tapped Sam to do the same. Almo left with my card.  Sam looked away from me. “I solved it,” I said. “Don’t be mad. Take a sip, I want to kiss you.” But he wrote me off and paid attention to the game of soccer on TV because he loved soccer and so I ate the rest of the caramel on top of the tiramisu since he wasn’t watching and drank the rest of my wine and then drank the rest of his too.

Of course I had to drop him off at the homeless shelter before 9 and it was 8: 45 so we weren’t gonna be able to do anything after our wedding which was fine with me because I still had to drive twenty minutes to my house and I’d had more than my share of wine. But it was sort of sad having to wait in the Orlando Magic’s parking lot across from the Bob Carr Theater while he changed out from Jim’s suit and back into his sleep pants. I had to do the same thing, changing into a pair of jeans and a long Indian brown shirt I’d gotten one time at the beach. I tried not to look at him when I kissed him because I didn’t want to think of it all, how I wouldn’t be able to crawl over into the covers with him tonight, and so I let him out. I drove home and parked as usual, turned off the hall lights when my mom complained that they were too bright for her to sleep, washed my face in the sink, brushed up, and hopped into my Garfield nightgown that had been shrunk two times in the wash. I hopped into bed and kept the light on before going to sleep so that I could slip out from the white wicker in-table the thin baby naming book that I’d bought at Walgreens two months ago.

Sam snorkeling in Key West

Me

Sam and I

Sam, me, justice of the peace

Segment 29: When a Third World Came West

Sam had to go back to central waking up at 4 a.m. to try and get off-site construction jobs that paid cash only while I took off to Lynx to organize more of their files. During the day I would wear the silver ring that I’d given to my mom as a Christmas present but that she’d given back to me because it was too heavy and she liked things with more color.  I considered it sorta an heirloom that I could get my hands on. I met Sam in the park a few nights later near Panera’s and we were drinking iced coffee outside on the grass by the lake while I turned my ring around my finger.  I was listening to him complain about having someone else’s feet in his face all night while he was trying to sleep at the center kitty corner to Our Daily Bread. He was working at Dante’s now on Orange Avenue across from the Bagel King and the parking lots of Dunkin Donuts. He asked if I wanted to come in tonight because they were having a concert in the second dining room where they’d built a stage and added a heavy red curtain. He hadn’t really ever invited me to anything nor had the opportunity to so I took him up on it and I went home to change.

I got to Dante’s around seven, found the lot all full in front of their restaurant and so I drove around up and down the residential street that it was off looking for spaces. I finally decided to just park at the Dunkin Donuts lot and I walked in black heels all the way back to the side door of where Sam was working. He came by my table and asked what I wanted and I said wine or something, whatever was fine. He said my dad had been by today eating lunch at this back table by the window. “What?” I said. My dad was here?” I couldn’t remember ever having told anyone that Sam worked here, except my brother. I guess that’s how he found out. Sam walked away to meet other customers. There was that hostess at the front again, the one with brown curly hair down to her butt who had the perfect nose, who was skinny. I wondered how long it’d be before he brought up something about him hooking up with her and feeling guilty. I’d stopped to go to the bathroom here once before when I was picking up Sam from work and the blond with black underliner behind the bar gave me a dirty look that made me feel like she was jealous. Guess Sam had gotten cozy with her too. I drank almost all my wine and the comedian, it turned out to be that kind of night instead of a band, started up. The manager stopped him though saying from the back of the room that they were towing at Duncan Donuts and if you had a car over there, you’d better go get it. I stumbled for my purse, ran out the back door, saw the truck leave with my car, said “fuck”, and ran inside Duncan Donuts demanding to know who called on my car and what I could do about it. Sam came over and called me stupid for leaving it there, I came back into the restaurant to sit down long enough for the nice manager to give me a glass of wine on the house. I drank it, walked outside to call my dad to see what I should do and listened long enough on the other end of the line for him to say “You can’t keep calling us when you have these emergencies.” I waited for my brother to pick me up after I used another quarter to dial him, came home and listened to my mother say that I needed to choose who I was gonna live with because I couldn’t keep switching up my loyalties.

Me

Sam and I

Segment 30: When a Third World Came West                Sam had to go back to central waking up at 4 a.m. to try and get off-site construction jobs that paid cash only while I took off to Linx to organize more of their files.  During the day I would wear the thick silver ring that I’d given to my mom as a Christmas present but that she’d given back to me a few months after because it was too heavy and she liked things with more color and so I considered it sorta an heirloom that I could get my hands on.  I met  Sam in the park a few nights later near Panera’s and we were drinking iced coffee outside on the grass by the lake while I turned my ring around my finger while I was listening to him complain about having someone else’s feet in his face all night while he was trying to sleep at the center kitty corner to Our Daily Bread.  He was working at Dantes now on Orange Avenue across from the Bagel King and the parking lots of Dunkin Donuts and he asked if I wanted to come in tonight because they were having a concert in the second dining room where they’d built a stage and added a heavy red curtain.  He hadn’t really ever invited me to anything or had the opportunity to so I took him up on it and went home to change.

I got to Dante’s around seven, found the lot all full in front of their restaurant and so  I drove around up and down the residential street that it was off looking for spaces.  I finally decided to just park at the Dunkin Donuts lot and I walked in black heels all the way back to the side door of where Sam was working.  He came by my table and asked what I wanted and I said wine or something, whatever was fine.  He said my dad had been by today eating lunch at this back table by the window.  “What?”  I said.  My dad was here?  I couldn’t remember ever having told anyone that Sam worked here, except my brother.  I guess that’s how he found out.  Sam walked away to meet other customers.  There was that hostess at the front again, the one with brown curly hair down to her butt who had the perfect nose, who was skinny.  I wondered how long it’d be before he brought up something about him hooking up with her and feeling guilty.  I’d stopped to go to the bathroom here once before when I was picking up Sam from work and the blond with black underliner behind the bar gave me a dirty look that made me feel like she was jealous.  Guess Sam had gotten cozy with her too.  I drank almost all my wine and the comedian, it turned out to be that kind of night instead of a band, started up.  The manager stopped him though saying from the back of the room that they were towing at Duncan Donuts and if you had a car over there, you better go get it.  I stumbled for my purse, ran out the back door, saw the truck leave with my car, said “fuck”, ran inside Duncan Donuts demanding to know who called on my car and what I could do about it.  Sam came over and called me stupid for leaving it there, I came back into the restaurant to sit down long enough for the nice manager to give me a glass of wine on the house.  I drank it, walked outside to call my dad to see what I should do and listened long enough on the other end of the line for him to say “You can’t keep calling us when you have these emergencies.” I waited for my brother to pick me up after I used another quarter to dial him, came home and listened to my mother say that I needed to choose who I was gonna live with because I couldn’t keep switching up my loyalties.

Segment 31: When a Third World Came West

One time Sam asked me if he could get away but he wanted to get away by himself.  So I agreed I said sure.  He tossed his ginger ale at me when we pulled over at a gas station to meet up with the people who were supposed to be picking him up.  It was near the Congress Avenue exit in Boca Raton.  I didn’t want to be alone so I drove back towards West Palm Beach and I stopped somewhere along Meisner Avenue, parking my car near some Palm trees and a dime meter.  Then a fluctuated back and forth between a Fat Tuesdays that made Pink Panties margaritas that was filled with sophomore college kids all going to Florida Atlantic University, and another bar.  It was the first place where I saw granite counter tops up close and a waiter who matched them in black asked what he could get for me and I ordered a cosmopolitan.  There was a younger guy down at the bar who was my age and that was pretty much it.  There were two guys on the other side who were older, with cigarettes and blowing their smoke out towards the open doorway with the people walking by on the slack tile.  I don’t know how many drinks I had before one of the older guys approached me, drew a picture on a napkin of his house that he was renting from an old lady.  He told me was having a party there that night and he invited me.  I don’t know what possessed me to say yes but I agreed to give him a ride back to his place.

We picked up cigarettes first at a Mobile station and we drove around the inlet with more palm trees till he told me to put on my lights.  We drove around some neighborhoods and then I hit the curb when I parked alongside it and next to only one car.  I knew I was the only one here and probably would be the only one here the rest of the night, but I followed him through the grass that grew through the stone walkway anyway.

Segment 32: When a Third World Came West

When he pulled back the gate  I saw a large pool clear of leaves in between a guest house to the right and the main living space. I could hear music off in the distance but I didn’t know from where.  We opened a screen door with plastic crank blinds and walked into his kitchen where he fed his pit bull with all the lights on in the room.  He went around the house opening up the rest of the plastic crank blinds on the windows until the air that was coming through was humid and hot wind.  He asked me what music I liked and I asked him what kind he had and he named about five or six albums he had until he said the Grateful Dead.  He came back over to the couch and I sat beside him in my short skirt and crinkled top with my face hot from the air and the wind.  We talked for a little bit and then he asked me if I wanted to smoke up and I’d never turned it down up to now so I welcomed it and we sat back and listened to “Saint Stephens”off “What a Strange Trip it’s Been”.  Brett looked at me and asked what my story was and I told him a little about what had happened lately. I expected him to give me advice or to tell me that I should be nicer to my mom or dad, understand more from where they were coming on their side of the fence.  But he said “You guys are gonna change the world, huh?” It was what I thought too at that moment. Like something great was gonna happen for me and Sam. I felt so in love at that second that my stomach hurt, that my head got big, that I couldn’t come up with anything to say back to him.  Everything just felt real lately and I couldn’t describe it.  He kissed me once before he went into his bedroom and shut the door to go to sleep.  His dog followed with him and took off one of the throw pillows from a lounge chair and pressed it up against the end of the couch so I could rest some.  But I kept going up to his turntable and playing “Saint Stephens” and “Jack Straw” again and again and again.

In the morning while Brett made coffee and stood with his back to me against the counter chewing an English muffin, I slipped the cd into my bag and zipped it up.

Segment 33: When a Third World Came West

We were on our way back from the Congress Avenue Exit and Sam was as grumpy as ever, messing with the radio and not really being satisfied with any of the songs that he was hearing on the radio.  I was keeping covered underneath the last chenille blanket we had in the car, lifting my legs up so that they could be covered up by it to stay warm.  Sam liked to keep the air conditioning on real high even though it was almost October and not as hot as it used to be back when we’d met in July, but he didn’t notice the difference. I didn’t know how fast he was going but he slowed down at some point and pulled to a stop at the shoulder.  He looked out the rearview window and stared at the cop parked behind us, walking back up to Sam’s side of the window.  I hurried to get out my insurance card and began rummaging through the glove box pretending to look for his license, a visa, a valid registration; I don’t know what else what.  But the cop asked for a whole list of things and the only thing I could provide was my insurance card, which was all I was responsible for.  Sam on the other hand looked at him empty-handed and Sam knocked his head against the back of his head rest.  The cop asked Sam to get out of the car and Sam explained some things to him and I was hoping that this would all be enough because it’d worked before.  We’d manage thus far to work our way out of trouble with a lot of talking up to.  But it didn’t work.  They handcuffed Sam and I got out listening to him yell from the cop car to me to call Dante’s to say that he wasn’t going to be into work today or tomorrow.  I caught up with the cop just in time before she’d closed the door to her car and managed to find out where they were going to be taking Sam to so that I could get him out.

Sam had a ton of quarters hidden back in the luggage carrier that he kept in our trunk and I used most of them all to call Dante’s and to find out where he was being held.  Normally I could figure out maps pretty well but I was all jumbled up in my mind and I was nervous, missing turn-off points, where I was supposed to go, and missing the exits for Titusville.  When I’d finally gotten there I drove around a dusty town, picked up some gas, and passed the space shuttle at sunset.  I parked, walked up the many steps to the jail, and sat down amongst a bunch of crying babies and yelling mothers.  In the back I found a quiet seat and counted out the $420 that Sam and I had collected from our jobs in the past few months, and then I thought.  Here it was all going to waste and I was sure, just like the last time, that we wouldn’t get all of our money back.  I bit my lip and realized that I was furious, being put in this situation again again and feeling like I was supposed to come up with an answer for how to get us out of this one.  I must have been there an hour trying to come up with something to do before I stepped up to the cashier’s desk, waited in line, and asked her what I was supposed to do.  She told me that they needed $500 in cash, which was more than I had, and that they were closing in a half an hour.  I didn’t have enough money in my bank account to get out eighty more dollars and I sure as heck couldn’t call anyone who would bail me out for this second or third or fourth time.  I packed up my things, zipped up my purse, and walked out the double glass doors to the parking lot which was growing darker by the minute.

I was eating dinner at the granite coffee table, cereal and apples and listening to Sade on the radio when my parents came into the dark house.  I didn’t really keep any lights on in general I didn’t make any efforts to leave any on especially tonight. I spooned more of my chunky cereal that had gotten mushy from me spooning it back and forth in the milk so many times.  My mother put down her jacket across the back of the dining room chair and began undoing the back of her necklace as she walked into her room.  She didn’t see me so I said “hello” when she turned on the light on her bed stand.  She and Jim came out to ask how my night was and I asked about theirs, they’d gone to the theater to see a play with their two favorite lesbian friends and I asked about the couples’ daughter who was in middle school, who I used to babysit.  They asked me what was up and I told them and I said that I was done with Sam, that they could count on me for that, and that I was done with making any more mistakes.  I told them that I missed college, that I wanted to see Dr. Deetrum again, and that I needed help setting up a bank account because I had $420 to put in it.  My mother sat down cross legged, leaned back with her hands against the carpet and my step-father piped up about all the things he’d been concerned about with Sam for the past few months, how Sam had avoided them, how Sam had been despondent and how Sam had acted untrustworthy.  And I agreed to all of it.

Segment 34

Sam called and called and I even removed my portable telephone from its socket and put it at the floor of our hall closet so I wouldn’t be tempted to answer him.  He kept calling my cell phone too until I kept it off permanently, storing it in my wicker night stand and not opening the drawer.  I took to writing poetry in a half-used journal and I sat outside writing in it, on the porch, on the couch, and on my bed in the afternoons.  One day my mother asked when I was going to get a job to pay her back for when I used her credit card to pay for Sam’s and my dinner at the Olive Garden and for other things that I bought, so I started looking for ones in the Want-Ads and in the Classifieds.  I put in applications at local restaurants, at an old deli sandwich place that I’d worked at when I was fifteen my freshman year of high school, I applied at Lynx, my old job, and I was successful at contacting a staffing agency.

A week later we held a shower for my cousin who was going to be having a baby but the father didn’t show up because it wasn’t that kind of a relationship.  I helped my mother to make the potato salad and I set out the napkins, the forks, filled up the glass cups with ice, and put tea bags into the tea kettle to brew it for drinks.  My cousins showed up a half and hour later and I hugged them pretending that nothing that had gone on with Sam and I had gone on at all.  I was dressed up in a sun dress and my hair was pulled back into a pony tail and I pretended not to miss Sam even though I was wondering if he had tried to call my dead cell phone that was shut away in my nightstand.  I played cards with my aunt and my grandmother, I hugged my grandfather, and helped my uncle load my pregnant cousin’s gifts into foldout seats in the back of his truck.  I’d gone running before my pregnant cousin left and so I waved to them as they passed out of our community while I ran up Horatio and three miles down towards the 7-11.

When I got back that night I took a shower, felt rested, wrote some more in my journal, ate cereal while I figured out more jobs, and then lay down on the couch.  My head was burning up and I felt hot and warm.  I’d thought all day about what it would be like to be embarrassed by having to admit that you were pregnant and I felt sick to my stomach just thinking about what my pregnant cousin had had to go through.  Somehow my parents must have been reading my thoughts because they picked up on it and they asked me what my condition was and I said I didn’t know.  In my head I tried to think back to when I’d had my last period but I couldn’t remember and I just hoped and hoped that I would get it.  My mother didn’t save anytime asking me if I was pregnant and I felt sick again even having this conversation and I said I didn’t know.  She took me to the Walgreens where I had to pay for three of the tests in front of a teenager who was the cashier by the automatic doors.  When I got home I drank two bottles of water until I peed on all of the tests and until I’d watched all of them turn out pink positive.

I went to my therapist a few weeks later, told him that I didn’t know what I wanted to do or what I should do and then I visited my gynecologist two weeks after that.  Things were a mess.  My gynecologist was also my mother’s poker friend, Jewish, and extremely talkative.  Despite my insistence that this be a private affair, my mother encouraged me to go to her anyway because she was a good doctor and anyway I felt awful.  She told me that I was six weeks pregnant and she gave me some options and I made her swear that she wouldn’t tell anyone and I’m sure that she did tell someone.  I made an appointment to get the thing taken care of but I came home that night still holding onto me being pregnant and not wanting to let go of it.

The next day I called and told Sam that I was pregnant, I packed up my things, my new credit card and I drove all the way to the beach.  I called into work, I ate at a Waffle House, and I rented a room from a lady with a red BMW who was blond, nice, and motherly looking.  I called my friend Karen and asked her to wake me up early in the morning so that I could make it into work on time.  I put down my things next to the bathroom and then walked out to the beach so that I could think and make up my mind.  I walked out to the dock where there were bugs and moths hovering at the lamps to light the way for the fisherman and I felt the breeze from the ocean when I got towards the end of the wooden walkway.  I still couldn’t think and I had no words to say to myself in my head that would help decide one way or another.  The bugs were starting to bite at my legs and I was in the way of the men trying to cast of their lines to get something to catch that would feed off the bait so late this time of night.

In the morning I woke up early and I sat on top of the covers in my work dress and jean jacket.  I was drinking coffee even though I knew that I wasn’t supposed to in my condition and this already told me that I wasn’t ready to go through with this or to deal with it in the long haul.  I’d kept quiet from Sam all these days but I’d brought my dead phone and now I turned it on.  At a quarter till 7 he called me and this time I picked it up.  We talked for awhile about why I’d ignored him, about how he hadn’t given up faith in me and about how he’d felt that my parents put me up to this.  But I said no to all of this, I’d just said that I was preoccupied because I was busy, I told him that I was pregnant, that I didn’t know what to do, and that I was scared.  He reacted really well, he was over-the-moon, he was really happy, and I guess he thought it was a free get of out of jail card.  He’d been trying to stay in the country for months and now here was his chance just handed down to him, but I wasn’t so sure.  I still couldn’t make up my mind.  I hung up with Sam, loaded my things into my car, threw up on the way to work in an old coffee cup, and made it through until 5 pm at my work desk without any other interruptions.

Segment 35:

Beatrice was my mother’s business friend who was in a relationship with another woman named Beatrice also.  She had a daughter who I used to babysit from another marriage back in 1992 that dissolved because of a number of reasons.  And now here she was at Paneras drinking black coffee and tapping the empty cup that she’d drank the last of it out of, against the ends of the table.  I didn’t need her to lecture me, I already knew what she was here to say.  I’d answered her message that I’d gotten that morning driving back from the beach when I was busy throwing up all my breakfast into another old coffee cup.  Here I was drinking more coffee that I knew was bad for me and for the kid and listening to her the next afternoon.  She opened up to me about a time when this had happened to her, when she was married and she’d found out that she was pregnant, when it just wasn’t the right time.  She asked how it had been since I’d been back from college, living with my parents and she asked how I thought they’d felt living with me and everything else that had been going on.  And I knew what she was getting to, that I was difficult lately, obstinate, and that I’d really stirred the pot up a bit what with me not making a decision yet about this thing, and about me not going back to college yet.  I’d secured a job with a friend of mine around the corner and I was happy with that, but I still thought about college and I couldn’t think about my future within the context of me possibly having a baby soon.  So everything was up in the air.  I wanted it but I didn’t.  Living at home without Sam around the corner, even if he was on East Central at a homeless shelter, wasn’t easy either.  I’d sit at the dinner table with my parents not feeling like I had anything to bring up and feeling like nothing was really fun anymore, or exciting.

I’d taken up driving back and forth towards where Sam was because he was being held in an INS detention center since he was illegally here in the United States and since he hadn’t made any attempts to renew his visa.  It was two hours one way and I would load up on quarters from my mother’s bank, pay the meters for two more hours, lock up my purse, sweaters and other things in a locker, and ride up in the elevator to see Sam.  From where we sat separated by the glass divider, we could see Manatee County out of the porthole window behind him on the concrete wall.  I’d worn a yellow sundress once and Sam and I had talked about different names for the baby until we decided on Juliet for a girl and Julian for a boy.  I was happy.  After I’d leave him I’d drive around in my car until dark, listening to the Indigo Girls and sitting next to the beach so that I could stay feeling close by Sam and close by as a family.

Sam started to feel bad when he’d stay on the phone with me at nights, using other inmates’ calling cards to stay up and talk to me.  But I used to get night sweats and I’d get sick at night and I’d put him on hold while I ran to the bathroom to feel better and to get it all out.  I’d drove up once when he’d had his final hearing against the judge and he’d begged him to let him free so that he could take care of me because he’d said that I was sick and that I needed help.  But the judge didn’t budge and I think that the lawyer who thought I was lying about being pregnant smiled in the corner about how Sam didn’t bring any evidence or conviction to his side of the fence.

Eventually I gave in and my grandmother came down to help me with the aftermath.  I called Sam to tell him that I’d lost the baby and I was hysterical telling him that I’d never felt like this way in my life and that I didn’t know how to go on now, feeling the way I did.  I bled for days afterwards and I would sit in the shower and feel loss and guilt and would miss it.  I applied for a job at Kodak soon after on Vineland Road, they offered me a job taking photographs at the theme parks, and I went to an orientation.  Not even three weeks later I was snapping shots of families in front of Cinderella’s castle on Main Street in white pantaloons, a white beret, and a blue and white striped shirt.  Things had really turned around.

Segment 36:

Beatrice was my mother’s business friend who was in a relationship with another woman named Beatrice also.  She had a daughter who I used to babysit from another marriage back in 1992 that dissolved because of a number of reasons.  And now here she was at Paneras drinking black coffee and tapping the empty cup that she’d drank the last of it out of, against the ends of the table.  I didn’t need her to lecture me, I already knew what she was here to say.  I’d answered her message that I’d gotten that morning driving back from the beach when I was busy throwing up all my breakfast into another old coffee cup.  Here I was drinking more coffee that I knew was bad for me and for the kid and listening to her the next afternoon.  She opened up to me about a time when this had happened to her, when she was married and she’d found out that she was pregnant, when it just wasn’t the right time.  She asked how it had been since I’d been back from college, living with my parents and she asked how I thought they’d felt living with me and everything else that had been going on.  And I knew what she was getting to, that I was difficult lately, obstinate, and that I’d really stirred the pot up a bit what with me not making a decision yet about this thing, and about me not going back to college yet.  I’d secured a job with a friend of mine around the corner and I was happy with that, but I still thought about college and I couldn’t think about my future within the context of me possibly having a baby soon.  So everything was up in the air.  I wanted it but I didn’t.  Living at home without Sam around the corner, even if he was on East Central at a homeless shelter, wasn’t easy either.  I’d sit at the dinner table with my parents not feeling like I had anything to bring up and feeling like nothing was really fun anymore, or exciting.

I’d taken up driving back and forth towards where Sam was because he was being held in an INS detention center since he was illegally here in the United States and since he hadn’t made any attempts to renew his visa.  It was two hours one way and I would load up on quarters from my mother’s bank, pay the meters for two more hours, lock up my purse, sweaters and other things in a locker, and ride up in the elevator to see Sam.  From where we sat separated by the glass divider, we could see Manatee County out of the porthole window behind him on the concrete wall.  I’d worn a yellow sundress once and Sam and I had talked about different names for the baby until we decided on Juliet for a girl and Julian for a boy.  I was happy.  After I’d leave him I’d drive around in my car until dark, listening to the Indigo Girls and sitting next to the beach so that I could stay feeling close by Sam and close by as a family.

Sam started to feel bad when he’d stay on the phone with me at nights, using other inmates’ calling cards to stay up and talk to me.  But I used to get night sweats and I’d get sick at night and I’d put him on hold while I ran to the bathroom to feel better and to get it all out.  I’d drove up once when he’d had his final hearing against the judge and he’d begged him to let him free so that he could take care of me because he’d said that I was sick and that I needed help.  But the judge didn’t budge and I think that the lawyer who thought I was lying about being pregnant smiled in the corner about how Sam didn’t bring any evidence or conviction to his side of the fence.

Eventually I gave in and my grandmother came down to help me with the aftermath.  I called Sam to tell him that I’d lost the baby and I was hysterical telling him that I’d never felt like this way in my life and that I didn’t know how to go on now, feeling the way I did.  I bled for days afterwards and I would sit in the shower and feel loss and guilt and would miss it.  I applied for a job at Kodak soon after on Vineland Road, they offered me a job taking photographs at the theme parks, and I went to an orientation.  Not even three weeks later I was snapping shots of families in front of Cinderella’s castle on Main Street in white pantaloons, a white beret, and a blue and white striped shirt.  Things had really turned around.

Final Segment

I didn’t mind working at Disney.  I kinda liked the outfits that we had to wear and I got to put on a blue plain bathing suit every time I did family shots at Typhoon Lagoon.  I worked on Main Street with friends, had dinner with Nancy and Rachel at nearby Downtown Disney, and I made friends with all the girls at the check-out desks.  I got pretty good at getting the backgrounds into my shots, I won MVP that year for getting the most photographs on average per day, 456, and I was pretty good with the customers.  I still visited Sam on the weekends, driving up the two hours to Bradenton, parking in the garage to pay the meters for two hours, and then talking with him for another two hours up in the jail cell.

I’d moved in with a girl named Deidre who I’d met at Will’s, a place where I was watching a really good live band, and we moved in together two months later.  I didn’t talk to her too much about things that had happened in the past few months, we just tried to go out, meet new people and talk about going back to college.

When I got enough money I bought a small plastic fence and some sunflower seeds that I planted in my parents backyard in the corner.  I put the fence all around a small patch of grass, which I dug up to plant the sunflower seeds.  I came home three times a week to check on them, water them and to see that they were getting enough sunlight.  Three weeks later little sprouts of plants grew with separate leaves attached to their vines and the necks of themselves began to get taller over time.  Two weeks later I came out to see a little one budding and then three days later I came out after a rainstorm to see that they had all gotten their petals.  I named two of them “Juliet” and I named the other flower “Julian” and I really believed that somehow the thing that was Sam’s and mine of which I had to let go, was there in this garden growing right now.

Sam called me in February of 2002 , right after Valentine’s Day, to tell me that the court had finally arranged to fly him back to Tunisia, which is where he was originally born and was from.  I’d gotten used to living with Deidre, to filming and photographing at Kodak, and to signing up for night school.  I’d kind of counted on Sam to be nearby me, even if it was only two hours away.  But I couldn’t imagine coping with being apart from him when he was in there, nearly 4,000 miles and so far away.

One time I got high with my friend Tony and I told him that I felt sick and that I had to lie down so I left him there sitting in Deidre’s and my living room.  I shut and locked the door to my bedroom and then I shut and locked the door to my bathroom.  I lied on my bed, listened to Mazzy Starr over and over and felt like I was gonna scream.  I couldn’t put my finger on what was so attractive about Sam or why I was so nuts, so crazy for him.  Maybe he was intense, maybe he intimidated the hell out of me, maybe he was cute, maybe he was deep, maybe he was withdrawn.  Maybe he was outgoing while I was more shy.  Maybe we were both the same age and we wanted the same things, maybe we were crazy for adventure and maybe we didn’t care at getting to wherever no matter the costs.

For weeks I tried to fill the void I felt before he left me.  I went to Michaels and I bought different colors of crinoline and Christmas wire.  I bent the wire to make little butterflies with antennas sticking out of their heads and then I cut out and super glued the crinoline over them.  I put them all in a box, put a note in the middle that said “don’t fly away forever.” then I wrapped the box in crinoline too and drove down to Bradenton where I said goodbye to him for the last time.  He told me that he needed money and so I gave him some and I arranged for the guard to give Sam a pack of cigarettes when they let him out.  From then on he called me from Tunisia a couple of times and on nights when I felt lonely I’d try to cross the country codes to call him too.  I would get messages in Arabic that I couldn’t understand and no matter what I said at the other end of the line, he’d never pick up.

When I got my college degree a year later I went out to eat with my family, got a job teaching at a private school, and I started running every day.  I didn’t want a TV, I read for three hours a day, ate vegetables at every meal, and emailed Sam at every chance I got.  I waited for phone calls from him, dated guys in between, spent lots of time helping out my family by going back to church and helping with their youth ministry group.  I talked about the New Yorker with my dad, joined a running group, and made two new friends.  I looked into graduate school, applied to public schools to get better health care and looked into moving to a new city.  When my mother showed me my college graduation picture one day, however, I couldn’t believe it.  I hadn’t really seen a picture of myself after the ones that Sam had taken of us on our wedding day.  I didn’t look the same.  Whatever had happened in the past had shaped me for the future and no amount of staying still could keep me from going back or staying the same.  I knew now that the only way I would survive what had happened was to move on, keep moving on, and to move forward all the same.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sam
    May 06, 2011 @ 03:23:14

    this is just the begining, it will be an interessting journal if u finish all the story, by the way am not agree with some details, u made some changes, I can fix them up if u let me to.
    xxx

    Reply

  2. like this
    May 17, 2013 @ 06:46:08

    Hi, i think that i saw you visited my website thus i came to “return the favor”.
    I am trying to find things to enhance my website!I suppose its ok to
    use some of your ideas!!

    Reply

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