Isolation Days 5-6: A gaping yaw

Getting outta Dodge…again

Him: Where are we going?
Me: (as upbeat as possible) To see your aunt!
Him: Yay!

The redheaded babysitter and my regular babysitter have been the only company that the boy and I’ve had the last four days.

Because I manage my building, I realized that – with the possible exception of two people on one of the upper floors – there was no one else in my building.

Right around when I came to that realization, my sister-in-law called to check in on us and said that there was a chance that the mayor would be shutting down all non-essential travel. While I read that this wasn’t likely, I still felt this really cold dread.

You see, if anything happened to me, the boy would be all alone in the building. I could fall down the stairs (again), cut my my head open (again), get sick and pass out (again), or any number of things.

That’s when I hit the grief button (again). If Alison was here, at least it would be the three of us. But I didn’t feel safe being alone with just the two of us so we got outta Dodge (again).

Me: We’re out the door. What do you need from me, if anything?
Her: Just bring some extra clothes and I’ll bring them to my parents. Who knows how long he’ll be there?
Me: OK. We’re already on the subway.

I was about the same age as the boy when the Blackout of 1977 happened. I remember that my parents didn’t seem like themselves that day, even all these years later.

Didn’t want the boy to hear or feel any anxiety as I took him out of the city, so I played a version of “lava” with him to try to not have him touch anything. That was fine while it lasted.

Him: I’m tired of this game.
Me: (sighing)
Him: You’re doing (imitates a sigh) again.
Me: (nodding)

We were the only ones in our car.

I only saw my sister for a moment as I buckled the kid into the child seat and dashed off to catch the train back.

Me: Please try to be good, ok?
Him: OK. Bye, papa! (waves)

Told Pac that I’d support his mom’s business – Noona Noodles – while things were sketch.

Me: Should I head to your mom’s?
Him: Nah, she’s not picking up.
Me: Actually, fuck it, I’m here. Lemme see if she’s open.

She was – place was dead quiet. I was the only customer in the whole joint. Picked up some Vietnamese pho and a 40 on the way back, for no particular reason.

Woulda picked up more food but it’s just me. It was delicious.

Tried to be as productive as I could: Did my taxes, submitted my census form, and finally got around to cleaning up some digital files.

Found some pics of my family before everything went to shit. That’s an entry for another day.

On my last one pound jar of peanut butter to boot. Went through two jars in five days.

I already miss the boy. But he’s safer there than in an empty NYC apartment building with just me. Growing up with no friends, I’m used to being by my lonely. But this feels different. Finding those pictures didn’t help.

It’s a gaping yaw of existential loneliness that only comes with profound moments of grief that I can’t quite seem to explain.

Her: What are you going to do?
Me: Seeing as I’m here in this building by myself, I’m going to go to the back room and randomly scream for a bit.
Her: (laughs)

Location: an empty UWS apartment building
Mood: inebriated
Music: standin’ out there alone. A yearning, yeah, and it’s real
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Travelogue: Bahamas 2019 Pt 3

A Wedding or My day with Pac

While Mouse was off doing her own thing, Pac and I decided to explore the island. The first thing we did was hit up the local KFC. Of course.

Me: Should we get a large order of fried chicken and then hit up the Greek place next door for a gyro?
Him: I didn’t come to the Bahamas for Greek food.
Me: We didn’t come here for KFC either!

Afterward, I went to the local supermarket for some fruit and soda.

Me: Do you want some oranges?
Him: I can’t think of food. I’m too stuffed.
Me: You’ll regret this later.

We met up with Mouse and some other people for dinner and drinks.

The next day, Pac and I went out again to try another fish fry, this time, right under the bridge.

Waitress: Do you each want a fish or split one?
Me: I’m not…
Him: (interrupting) We each want one.
Me: There you go.

Me: God, I’m so full, that was huge.
Him: We shoulda done this the first day.

The next day was the wedding itself.

The weather was just perfect. I’d tell you more but that part is their story, not mine.

Afterward, came the party.

Romance was in the air.

The next day, Mouse took me out for some all-you-can-eat.

Me: How is it? Worth it?
Pac: Worth it. They have oxtail and mutton curry.

And then it was time to go home.

Pac: I’m ready to go home, have a green smoothie, and make out with my girl.
Me: I just wanna see my kid.
Him: What should I get her? Chocolate and wine?
Mouse: No girl is gonna be upset getting chocolate and wine.
Me: Good to know…

Location: the boy’s room, surrounded by toys
Mood: worried
Music: We’ll hit the coast on the late night
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Travelogue: Bahamas 2019 Pt 1

A wedding in the Bahamas

My cousin got married in the Bahamas the other day. So Mouse, Pac, and a lotta our friends took a plane to see her get hitched. I ran late.

Pac: I’m like 15 min away.
Me: I’m 35-40 mins out.
Mouse: LOL. Y’all better run.

Turns out that we needn’t have worried as we were on the tarmac for over 90 minutes because of the weather.

But we finally took off.

Me: (moving tray) Here, you can lie down.
Her: How?
Me: You’re like 4 foot 2. You just lie down.
Her: (thinks, lies down)

A few hours later, we landed in sunny Nassau. The three of us immediately stopped off at a Fish Fry. Because that’s what we do.

Me: I’m hangry. How long will the fish curry take?
Waitress: An hour? Get the fried fish, it’s faster.
Me: Fried fish it is.

 

Me: Frozen drinks?
Mouse: I’ll buy them for us.

Everything was closed by the time we got to the hotel but Mouse snuck into a hot tub and gave us a ring to join her.

Afterward, we went to a local joint called Anthony’s and had some more fried food.

Not a bad way to spend a cold winter’s day.

I had come here once before with Alison and there were moments that were less than ideal on this trip.

That’s all I wanted to say about that.

Location: not the Bahamas, that’s for sure
Mood: cold
Music: Tell me, is this the part when
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Watching the leaves change colours

A weekend getaway

Mouse and I went to a bed and breakfast in Westchester this past weekend and took a hike on Bear Mountain to watch the leaves change colour.

Her: (panting) I didn’t know you were part goat.
Me: (panting) Like I said, I like to keep things to myself until I need to show what I can do. Now I’m gonna throw up.

Besides the hiking, we spent half the time trying not to get killed on scooters, and the other half waiting for taxis.

Speaking of scooters, we stopped off at a diner and the owner was nice enough to let us park them indoors.

When we came back to get them, we found these notes on them, which we thought was a nice touch of kindness.

We ended up eating there…

…a dive Middle Eastern joint (I do like my gyros)…

…and an IHOP.

The IHOP was something special from Mouse to me, for reasons I’ll keep to myself.

Me: Thanks, this means a lot to me.
Her: Of course. (scanning menu) You’ll have to order for me because I want everything.

I used to live around there when I was a really young kid and we went past so many things that were somewhat familiar.

Her: You ok?
Me: (nodding, slowly) Just thinking about my dad. (pointing) I think he took us there once.

Afterwards, I went to Hoboken to pick up the kid from my sister-in-law’s.

Me: Hey! I missed you, did you miss me?
Him: (nodding) Can I eat this candy?
Me: (laughing) We’ll see…

Location: back in the UWS
Mood: hopeful
Music: Maybe I’ll run away

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Afraid of the dark

Landslides take us down

Me: I forgot the anniversary of dad’s death.
Brother: I forgot too – until you brought it up.
Me: I feel guilty about that. I feel guilty about everything.

It was the anniversary of my dad’s death this past weekend. I actually went on a hike in Long Island to clear my head that day and somehow forgot it.

It’s a terrible thing, but when you lose someone you love that deeply, you can’t really think of them. You do everything in your power not to think of them.

And yet, late at night, I do. I don’t wanna. Because that gnawing anger and sense of loss is too much to bear and that’s when the insomnia creeps back in.

Two friends from the gym each gave me something to help me forget and sleep, and each worked for a while. But I ran out of one and the other ran out on me. And I’m left with … me.

I get how people become alcoholics or drug addicts. Pain is a difficult thing to bear in prolonged capacity. You blunt it however you can.

Used to be afraid of the dark because I thought I might not be alone when the lights were off.

Now I’m afraid of the dark because I am alone when the lights are off.

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

At least, though, you can scream out, “What the fuck?!” as loudly and as often as you want.

So there’s that.

Him: Why? He would never want to you to feel guilty about that. He’d want you to remember how he lived. Not how he died.

Wonder if my son will think I’m a good dad. Hope so.

Didn’t realize how much my dad musta wanted everything for us and how much it musta killed him that he couldn’t get us much when we were kids.

But he loved us. That was enough. Love’s enough, sometimes.

I get that now.

I get a lotta things now. The past few years have been a landslide of things I didn’t wanna know but now know.

The thing is, landslides take us down and bury us if we’re not careful.

So I struggle for breath.

It’s been over eight years of death, loss, and pain. And I still struggle for breath.

Location: chatting with a new friend on an orange chair
Mood: WTF
Music: Can I handle the seasons of my life?

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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Days 5 & 6

It’s good to be home


We grabbed some food and coffee around the Avalon Hotel for Christmas eve right before checkout.

Her: The coffee was free!
Me: Why?
Her: (shrugging) Christmas?

And then had some traditional Christmas Persian food.

But we got in one last swim pool before we got ready to go.

The Gymgirl has an odd way to sunbathe:

Afterward, we met up with my brother and his girl for dinner at a Chinese joint near him.

Him: I think we ordered too much food.
Me: I don’t think so. The Gymgirl and I eat a lot.
Him: Why don’t we see if the food we already ordered is enough.
Me: (30 minutes later) I think we need more food.
The Gymgirl: We need more food.
Me: See?

The owner gave us a calendar for the new year.

The rest of the night was them singing karaoke. Everyone else had a good singing voice so I just let them sing while I enjoyed it.

Me: Sing for me, you singing monkeys!
Brother: (laughing) Why would you say such a thing?

The next day was Christmas. We woke up super late and the Gymgirl and I exchanged presents.

Me: Do you like it?
Her: I love it! No on has ever bought me anything like this.
Me: (laughing) Good. I like to be first.

Her gift to me was at home as it arrived late but she got me some Firefly-related things to tide me over.

My brother’s girl also got us a gift; a tiny waffle maker.

Girlfriend: It’s just a little something.
Me: It’s the perfect size for the kid. Thanks! Shoot, we didn’t get you anything…

Later, the Gymgirl and I went for a walk to do some reconnaissance and see what was open for dinner. We decided on some Thai food, followed by some coffee.

The rest of the night, we all played board games, like Midnight Taboo, which kinda made me realize how much The Gymgirl and I thought alike.

Me: Our friend V is covered in…
The Gymgirl: Tatoos!
Me: Yes!
Brother: What the heck?!

We woke up the next morning and stopped by Lucky Boy, the greasy spoon I went to the last time I was in town, for some brekkie before heading to the airport.

Unlike the trip there, the trip back went completely smoothly. When we landed, we took a cab home that was only five days old.

Me: This is the nicest cab I’ve ever been in. And I’m a native New Yorker. Can I take a picture of it?
Driver: But of course!

We got home and I sighed yet again.

The last time I went to California, Alison ran out to greet me when I returned by shouting, “He’s home, Logan’s home!

This time, as it was so late, it was completely quiet when we got back.

So I turned to the Gymgirl and said, “We’re home.”

“Yes,” she said, nodding, and putting down her bag, “it’s good to be home.”

Location: in front of screens all day
Mood: super busy
Music: Just tell me if you wanna go home

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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 3a

Grappling with some scooters and Zankou’s Chicken

Actually, one of the first things we did after we checked into the hotel was to look at a grappling school just a few blocks from the hotel.

Me: Wow, it’s only two blocks away from here. Did you plan that out?
Her: (pause) Yes?

We were planning on seeing a few schools but I neglected to factor in the holidays so we only got to visit the one. But  we were fine with that because it was so nice and welcoming.

In fact, the woman that worked at the front desk used to live just two blocks from me.

Her: I loved the Upper West Side.
Me: Correction, it’s the Upper BEST Side.

The main instructor is a pretty famous practitioner named Ryron (pronounced “he-ron”) who was just the nicest guy.

We spent two really enjoyable but challenging hours there early on Saturday before we went back to the hotel to get changed.

Her: That was a lot of fun.
Me: I know! I think we’ve been brainwashed to think that grappling schools are fulla screaming and impatient instructors (because of our old instructor).

After we got cleaned up, we ended up taking an Uber to a Zankou Chicken.

Driver: I haven’t seen anyone read an actual paper in years.
Me: I’m as old as dirt.

Interestingly, while we were there, it was the first time I’ve ever asked anyone to take a picture of us and they said no.

Woman: I’d rather not.
Me: That’s unexpected, but ok.

Instead of taking a car back, the Gymgirl suggested that we take one of the several electric scooters around us. It took us a few tries but we ultimately got two going.

Unfortunately, while mine was pretty zippy…

…hers was decidedly not:

There’s more but you know that I don’t like to write super long entries so I’ll have to continue this tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a video of Ryron (the guy on the bottom) and his brother Renner, doing what they do:

 

Location: heading out to see some friends with the boy
Mood: hungry
Music: they shine for you and all the things that you do
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Travelogue: Los Angeles 2018, Day 1b

Making a Corolla look like a Ford Fiesta

While I was up in the air, I decided to get the wifi on my phone – the one thing I had on me beside my clothes and my wallet – to see how The Gymgirl was faring with the bag recovery.

Turns out, pretty well. She somehow got in touch with the person at NJ Transit and convinced them to (a) Find our bags, and (b) put them on to a return train.

Her: The woman said to meet the 5:40 conductor on the platform at the first car.
Me: Hopefully, they found the right bags.
Her: (laughing) I doubt there was someone else that left a blue bag and a red bag on that train.

She took the train back to the platform, stood in the rain, and ran up to the first conductor, who was – amazingly – holding both of our bags.

Her: I literally cried for joy for the first time in my life.

But she wasn’t done yet as the next flight was in 45 minutes.

Her: I have my ticket so I will go straight for security. Running to catch the plane. Wish me luck!

Somehow, on the busiest travel day of the year, she got to her gate in 40 minutes, but the gate was supposed to close 15 minutes before the flight took off.

Me: You gonna make it?
Her: Sprinted from TSA to gate 95 in 4 min…and they aren’t even boarding.
Me: God, I’m so impressed.
Her: Don’t be, I’m sweating waterfalls.

Turns out the flight was delayed a few minutes so she made it – with all of our bags in tow.

As for me, I landed in LAX and told my brother, who was supposed to pick me up, to not come for another two hours so he didn’t have to make two trips to grab the Gymgirl as well.

When he finally came to pick us up…

Me: I’m starving. Where’s the nearest burger joint?
Him: Carl’s Jr, right outside LAX?
Me: Let’s go.

I got a half pound burger and wolfed it down as I chatted with him. This is where I mention that he’s an iPhone snob.

Me: I wanna show you something. (taking out phone) This is Android skinned with a Windows launcher. So it’s like what Windows woulda been had they made their own Android phone.
Him: Why would you do that?
Me: (shrugging) Just to piss you off.
Him: (shaking head) That’s like taking a Corolla and making it look like a Ford Fiesta.

The Gymgirl finally touched down and I picked her up a half-pound burger – animal style, of course – for her.

Me: God, I’m proud of you.
Her: Eating. No talky.

We both finally arrived at my brother’s pad, some 12 hours after we first left our place in Manhattan. We’d only just arrived and already had a full adventure.

I thought about the last time I was there. Alison and I said she’d come with me the next time I went. I sighed but then my brother made me laugh.

Me: (to brother) What do you have in the form of diet Coke?
Him: (handing me one) A Diet Coke?

Location: on my white couch
Mood: rested
Music: over love and over hate, through this iron sky

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Boston 2018: Purgatory and jerks

Face planting and stuffing, all in one day


We actually made it to the Purgatory Chasm Trail. Within the first ten minutes, I totally – embarrassingly – face-planted.

Her: This is a children’s trail!
Me: (standing up) My leg gave out from under me! (turning to shocked family behind me with a child and baby) I meant to do that.

In my defense, it was my bad knee but it was still ridiculous. Still, it was fun and I liked being out and about in nature. There’s a ton of evidence that being in nature is a good thing for mind and body and I’m going to try to do it more when I can.

After all, it’s not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.

Her: Look (pointing) Turkey Tail Mushrooms.

I had told the Gymgirl a while ago about them; I gave them to Alison constantly when she was sick as they are a first-line defense against cancer in Japan, with strong clinical evidence behind them.

I was touched that she recognized them, somehow.

We ended up making it through the trail without my taking another really bad fall. Or her.

Her: I’m pretty sure I could make it up that wall.
Me: How ’bout we just say you did it and you don’t?

We finally hit the road to go home but we had one more side trip to make.

Her: I’m starving.
Me: Me too. What’s the closest thing to us?
Her: What do you want to do?
Me: Soul food?

She found this place called Carl’s BBQ & Jerk, a Jamaican joint that was truly a hole-in-the-wall. We had to do an illegal u-turn to squeeze into the small parking lot right off the road.

And, man, was it killer. We polished off pretty much everything you see in that pic and then had two additional Jamaican beef patties that you don’t see in the pics above.

Her: This is amazing.
Me: (mouth full) Don’t talk to me, I’m eating.

Then, we finally made it home. It was a great road trip.

Me: We’re home.
Her: Yes – you’re fun to road-trip with.
Me: I’ll take that as a compliment. (thinking) We’re still not dating right?
Her: (laughing) Nope.
Me: OK, just wanted to be sure.

Location: a few hours ago, at the gym
Mood: tired
Music: I feel like giving up, but I just can’t
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Boston 2018: We pretty much just ate the first night

Walking with the Gymgirl around Boston Commons


It was a bit later than either of us expected once we got to Boston. The cheesesteak and wings from earlier in the day didn’t really last us that long.

Me: We could do reservations at Legal Seafood…
Her: OK.
Me: …or we could get some food from their takeout and eat it on the way to a sushi joint.
Her: Oooh, let’s do that.

We ended up having some clam chowder at Copley Square near the Khalil Gibran Memorial. One of the these days, I’ll tell you about the poem that my brother sent to me once about parenthood. It’s stayed with me my entire life.

We ended up at a place called Wabora a few blocks away and ordered all the food.

It was probably too much but we were both hungry and I think that food on a trip doesn’t act in your body the same way as food at home.

We decided to walk off what we could and ended up going past a wall of sewing machines and I thought of Rain again.

Then we went into Boston Commons.

Her: I remember coming here during the wintertime over a layover. Everything was covered in snow. I was here by myself.
Me: That’s not the case this time.
Her:  (laughs) No, no it’s not. It’s nice to have company.

Location: a black desk again, no bourbon
Mood: thoughtful
Music: been walking for a long time. I still don’t know where it goes
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