Life Among the Ghosts
We come to you from the road, reminiscent of my first blog, written what today seems like about five hundred years ago. This week, with S Bullock and the Jawa bumping around in Washington State, I took a look around our now-empty, lonely home and thought, "Maybe I can't go to Seattle for ten days, but I can sure go down to OC for the weekend." And here I am.
To be honest, I wish I'd checked in with my rapidly aging body first. My lifestyle over the past three days has accelerated the aging process by at least 300%, I am sure. The combination of:
a) extreme heat
b) sleeping on an air matress
c) eating each and every meal at a restaurant
d) consuming my body weight in mind-altering beverages
... has left me feeling a bit run-down.
This sense of premature aging was made very clear last night, as Roger Hunt, Katherine Zeta-Jones and I attended a party held by one of ZJ's former roommates. Young, hot babes mingled freely with moneyed old guys as I stood by the keg, trying to keep straight the highly fictionalized capsule explanation of my occupation I'd made up earlier in the day.
"Go with real estate," offered Zeta-Jones. "Practically everyone there is in real estate."
"No," said Hunt, "stick with 'writer.' That makes you interesting."
In the end, presented with the challenge of maintaining eye contact with a woman blessed with an abundance of God's good will and not at all shy about displaying His favor, I went with the former. It seemed more appropriate. Unfortunately, I later switched to "writer" while drunkenly playing yenta for a young recent Michigan MBA and an outrageously blonde single mom. In the end, my credibility was at zero, which is right where it was when we arrived.
Here in OC, we live a life of casual affluence. Roger Hunt is a lawyer, but he is also the son of a contractor, so his two masters fight a constant battle in his mind and conscience. He is renovating a house next door to his parents, which means that, while most parts of my youth are gone, I can still go swimming in my best friends' parents' pool. Only now, unlike 27 years ago, they serve us margaritas.
Hunt's life path has taken several twists, making it almost unrecognizable from my perch as under-employed dad and husband. Divorced, an equity partner at his law firm, Hunt landed on his feet with the 20-something Zeta-Jones. And though he now wears Tommy Bahama, drives Darth Vader's Mercedes and often speaks with authority, I can still clearly recognize him as the angry, mailbox-bashing bassist of our circa 1985 punk band, the Stupid Americans, able to spend hours deconstructing the great music and disappointingly unsophisticated political slogans of the Dead Kennedys.
What I don't understand, however, is his fascination with the World Cup. I trudged along faithfully at 6:30 am, but I am here to tell you that Saturday mornings are for sleeping, not for slugging down Guiness after Guiness and shouting "dirty wanker!" at Portugal's national team.
Also present this weekend is the pint-sized, neatly groomed, always hilarious Uncle Sam, his bubbly wife and adorable 1 year old. I am the fifth wheel, while Bullock and Jawa traverse the Great Northwest.
Meanwhile, I age. Most of my childhood haunts have been bulldozed, replaced with identical houses or shiny new Walgreen's -- which is convenient, because the more Walgreen's, the easier it is for me to get my blood pressure medication re-filled.
In some ways, and especially when you live your life as if everything has happened, is happening and will happen at a single point in time, going home makes you feel younger, as if you could knock on the door of your old girlfriend's house and have her appear, frozen in time, at the door. But mostly, going home consists of driving down a familiar street, expecting it to be the same, but finding it populated by different buildings and different people. When I get to the corner of Chapman and Crawford Canyon, I turn right, toward Roger Hunt's house, instead of left, toward my parents'.
My parents, after all, live in Arizona.