(photos/text © Jake Warga)
It’s the anniversary of some massacre, that much I know, that much is comforting. It’s another invented holiday to remind me of what’s missing. They all do, they hurt. My romantic dinner is a slice of pizza, the only smile tonight, the crust, big nose, it’s all in the geometry, you see it right? A bachelor’s bite. The pizza place doesn’t smell like pizza, but that’s neither here nor there.
I fell in love tonight. She was shopping for glue, I was shopping for a juicer. Wanted the manual squeeze ones, but they only have an electric one, suspiciously cheap, in five languages, from a country I’ve never been, from a people whose language I’ll never speak, neither here nor there. I’m in a country where 9:30 at night, on Valentine’s day, I can buy a slice of pizza and an electric juicer.
When a holiday “doesn’t mean anything”, that’s when it usually does. I’m invisible in the home wares isle under bright artic florescent lighting. So many goods, yet they’re all bad, my juicer will likely work only a few times before it dies, to be buried on our soil, far from home.
She buys three large boxes of strike-anywhere kitchen matches. That’s the only way they come packaged, but it’s still weird. What is a pretty woman doing alone on Valentine’s night buying glue and matches? Maybe this is why I fall in love, because of the mystery, the mischief.
She doesn’t acknowledge, see, me. I am in an old jacket, too warm for a California winter, looking into an electric juicer box, making sure all the parts are there, as if I would know. My cousin gave me a large bucket of oranges, not sure why. Can’t eat them fast enough, the homeless want change.
She disappears into the night, they always do. So this is my love life this year, 2008, a juicer and yet another lost love. She was my college sweetheart, she was my girlfriend in England, she was the last woman I dated, she was the first woman I dated. They are all gone into the night.
“Did you find everything you were looking for?” The cashier has bandages on every finger save for the one she pushes the hollow buttons with. Some day I’ll say No, because that’s the truth, it’s always the truth, but I lie like everyone, and add No bag. I join the night, juicer box hitched under my arm as a love’s should be. A bum on a bench, no originality here, in a sleeping bag shields his eyes from the store’s daylight spilling onto the street outside. To see, to not want to be seen, to sleep. It is not dark outside the store, only the further you get from it. I look forward to my orange juice in the morning, wish I were making it for someone else. I walk by the video store, a young good-looking guy is being hugged from behind from what is likely a female equal, doing the dance, the video-store dance, I used to do it, when it was a VHS dance, but the steps are the same: rent a video, something he, I, doesn’t really want to see, but there has to be some shallow excuse to stay late at one place, to tangle and touch in front of the TV, and never remembering the film, like the music in a dance. I look at them, at my past, and continue to walk into the darkness. A homeless guy who works that corner, I see him all the time, asks for change, I have none. Only a juicer. Pathetic really.
I’m too tired to sleep, not knowing my future, not even clear about my past, but that’s neither here nor there. I go back to the pharmacy to buy some benedryl to help me sleep, I need the sleep. My room, my bed, my sheets, are freezing. But that’s neither here nor there.
Jake, Valentine’s Day, 2008