Thursday, January 26, 2012

".....a friend calls me up with her heart heavy still..." Hammers and Strings-Jack's Mannequin

So, I saw a man wearing UGGS with his jeans tucked into them. Cool. I should have told him but I didn't. It's best if he doesn't know.

I buy a ticket about every other day to the concert hall between metro stops Okhotny Ryad and Teatral'naya. I pay 98 cents. This lady stands at the end of a long corridor that connects two metro stops and plays her violin. She turns what would be a monotonous, slightly-uphill trek into walk-through concert. It's Moscow, and like any city with over 13 million people living in it, everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere. But all the passers-by slow their step on their way to everywhere else and listen a little longer. I like that.

I've really missed talking with drunk people. The other night I talked to a pair of them; a drunk duo, if you will. Or possibly a duo of drunkards. Take your pick. Anyways, I spoke with them and told them I was from Australia. My mom told me that if I have to speak with strangers, lie to them. When I told them I was from Australia that made them happy for some reason. So happy, in fact, they asked me for money. I handed one of them a couple coins to congratulate him on his honesty in confessing that he would use them to buy vodka. Hopefully it kept him a little bit warmer during what was a below-freezing night. I mean that.

I think I sometimes forget that the drunk bums on the streets are people. When they sleep I bet they still dream at night, even though their bed is different than mine. But I still forget they are people. They seem to me more like part of the scenery. I avoid them the same way I avoid a mud puddle or a patch of ice. That's wrong. There should be a difference.

I also want to stop thinking I know everything... but that is gonna be hard.

 I remember when I was little the world was mine. Everyone was an American, everyone lived in Utah, everyone went to Orchard Elementary School, and everyone was in love with Michelle Duncan. Me too. But I remember picking up a copy of War and Peace in our school library and just knowing that Tolstoy was an American. He had to be. After all, the book was in English.
 Mexicans were also from America, even though they were from Mexico too. California was just an extension of Utah and people smoked cigarettes in Vegas just so that I would know I was on vacation when I smelled the smoke. Oh, and everyone was Mormon, too.

When I was little everyone that drank was going to hell and my world shook and groaned under the weight of finding a 6-pack of Coors Light in my Grandpa's fridge. I didn't mean to. I had opened the fridge and got on my tiptoes to see if he had any more Shasta diet-grapefruit soda cans left. In the few moments after my eyes read and my mind processed the words Coors Light I tried so hard to lie to myself and say I didn't see what I saw. Back then I was still an awful liar. So I tucked my hands into the pockets of my shorts made in Malaysia, which was probably somewhere on the East Coast, which was still just an extension of Utah, and walked back into the house to ask my dad who my Grandpa was.
On that day I had to wake up a little more than I wanted to. I yawned and stretched my mind in a way that I didn't really like, wanting to go back to sleep. There was an actual world out there. There were places that weren't Utah, or extensions of it, places that weren't America, filled to the brim with everything that I didn't know yet, couldn't know yet, and didn't want to know yet. It was like just getting a grip on long division only to find out that things like the Pythagorean Theorem and molecular physics exist.

It was too much. Daunting. Stifling, even.

It was going to take way too long until I could know enough; until I could know anything. It was going to take time the same way that growing up takes time.

Believe it or not I have grown up a little. I realized that California was California, that people don't smoke just to let me know I'm not in Orem anymore, that God can forgive people for drinking, and that my Grandpa is a man that I want to be like. But my jeans made in Taiwan still feel like they come from America. See, growing up takes time, but actually growing takes experience; which is limited when you spend your whole life in Orem, Utah.

Life is a lot different for everyone. I spent 10 minutes talking to two grown men that spend their nights sleeping in a dark stairwell and trying to beg enough money for food and alcohol. But they dream when they sleep. I know that. Because if I was one of them I know I would still dream, even though my bed was different.