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Looking Eastward, Going Westward

By J. David

Returning from the East Coast recently, I found myself in a holding pattern above San Francisco. One bloke from England, with whom I had spoken, cast a melancholy glance about the plane, expressing his discontent, exhausted from 24 hours of travel: "Entering this country I felt like a wet-nosed young puppy, offering unconditional love to all. Now I feel starved, beaten, insulted and pushed toward insanity." The couple leaning in on each other next to me grumbled, both half-asleep. I was reading A Season in Hell, trying to remember "San Francisco."

I am in the dirty little Horseshoe Cafe (at least it used to be dirty), one of the best cups of coffee in the city. There is a little boy giggling, hopscotching on the sidewalk; there is a girl with red hair and a tattoo that snakes down her back and dives beneath the line of her white lace underwear. I know what to do and what to believe. Oh break. What furious machinations have destroyed these hours? Oh fuck. What curious lies, what fools? What plainclothes prince forsakes the tide's richest woman? Right. "I am hidden and I am not," says Rimbaud. Allow me to derive my singular momentum for you: remember the clear, cold water on that rocky shore ... sailing, in the middle of something like a straight line forever, there are birds and, from the depth, porpoise. In waves I seek a possible death, in waves I peak, in waves I see. There is Rebecca, only a bird on her head and a sky so blue it clears as a background ... Cafes do lend themselves to daydreaming sometimes. The little boy skips away and leaves his chalk.

I awoke this morning with fire in my head. I was last night at Zeitgeist drinking with a handful of friends. We were telling sad stories, talking about thriftiness, the future, thievery and this trend of mustaches sweeping the city. (Ahhh, so that's how Willie Brown won.) It was quiet: a few messengers with their bicycles, a couple making out in the shadows. I was playing it all into my little East/West Coast theory when Messier Objects mentioned the difference between the crosscurrents in waves far out at sea, Atlantic over Pacific. It made sense; I lost my trace. We could hear the ocean's pounding roar in that beer garden, drinking pitcher after pitcher.

Which leads me once again to my current situation, typical as it is (hungover). I had to break from three and a half weeks of hibernation (it was snowing in the East) somehow. I am destroyed. That girl. I barely even saw her. Some lit passage in her eyes, some link to some presence. Creation often destroyed--misanthropes play dice against the building. I am in this little city at the tip of a peninsula. "Come on, let's go. We don't want to lose our precious momentum," one dude says to his girlfriend as they exit. It is an influx of real vigor. Undone, I finish my coffee as the sun breaks through the clouds again in this unseasonably warm January, and leave .

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From the January 24, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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