What is happening to this place? It’s noon and there’s traffic already, or there’s traffic still, and commercials are airing on the sports radio station as we wait. And wait. To get home. Or to his home, where I’m driving him, because he’s tired and wants to go to sleep.
“Where do you see yourself in ten years?” he asks randomly. Throwing vast, sweeping questions into the air so we don’t have to listen to the commercials on the sports radio station because listening to commercials on the sports radio station means that we don’t have anything to talk about. God. Have I ran out of things to say to him? Maybe I’m just tired. Or anemic. Did I take my iron pills this morning?
“Do you mean that, like, geographically, or socially, or spiritually, or career-wise?” I ask, bristling at the randomness of the question, which just feels like a parlor trick meant to coax out an inevitable argument. I’ve been keeping the argument tucked neatly if still somewhat overrunning at the back of my throat for weeks now. There’s no need for an argument. Just suffer. Suffer through it.
“Just, like, whatever,” he responds, which irritates me.
“I don’t see myself living in the Bay Area in ten years,” I respond.
“That’s not what I meant.”
I sigh. I sigh a lot nowadays. It’s a symptom of giving up. On him. On here. On myself. I’m just kinda…here. In a depressing way that I’ve been avoiding talking about for a while now. I drink a lot more recently. In a medicating way, too. Like I’m trying to cure myself of the time that I’m wasting away by being like this. It’s not anybody’s fault, really. I can blame him if I try hard enough, but I’m too lazy for that, so I accept responsibility for my own misery and blame it on this place. The new people who are here. The new people whom I hate and I don’t want to befriends with and whom I don’t want to fuck. It’s their fault.
He’s fine, he’s just here in my life in a purposefully inconsequential manner. Which I’m not supposed to write about but there’s really nothing else to write about. Writing about anything else will make me sound bitter. Maybe I already sound bitter.
I leave him at his house and go downtown and pay $22 for a salad with chicken, which I can expense on the company credit card, but, even so, it feels profligate. But that’s okay, because all the new people pay $22 for the salad with chicken and I bet most of them don’t have company credit cards. Me? I pat myself on the back for being clever enough to not really have to pay for my salad with chicken. Although if I were truly clever, would I still be here? Maybe I’m only clever part of the time, like when it comes to being employed by a company that offers health benefits, but not when it comes to living in a city that is capable of supporting my vision of myself as both an artist and a career woman.
Maybe I’m just angry that capitalism has finally caught up to me. I liked it when I was young and the economic forces that be didn’t care that I paid $312 for a room in West Oakland, stole from my job and ate bags of chips from the corner store. Now? I have to pay for Internet, phone bill, Netflix, Spotify and Hulu, which is way more than what I used to pay. It used to just be electricity, maybe also water. You could listen to the radio and watch videos from the library. Although, I guess Netflix is cheaper than Blockbuster. Spotify is cheaper than buying CDs. Who knows.
I meander into some bar because I’m glamorous like that and also because it’s my job. I do that for the rest of the day before I go home early, as usual, and sit in bed and eat peanut butter cups and wilt away on the Internet. I’m not sure what I’m grieving about, but it sure is painful.