Tomorrow, or later on today, I’m going to have Passover, which I do, every year in Santa Clara, California, with Dori and the family I knit together from nothing, when I found myself all alone, at 22.
This afternoon my brother picked me up from the Fremont bus station, where I was sitting with my cards, typing. I didn’t sleep last night. I painted all night, in order to get ready to take The Silicon Valley by storm! I painted 900 fucking Snarky Cards. I brought my typewriter. I ignored my other responsibilities, and I painted for 16 hours at a time. I stopped sleeping, and answering my email and talking to my friends, in order to fuel my obsession with having enough cards to return to my hometown triumphant and ready to be recognized.
I didn’t just paint all night. I painted all night, and then I did laundry and then I took some online orders to the post office, and then I went to Sweetness Cafe, and talked to my best friend Kay (who makes their delicious pastries!) and drank some coffee and then I went to my Chiropractor and went home and packed some more, and tried to push all the things into my Big Fuck Off Backpack (which I lived out of when I went to Ireland, where I slept with lots of boys) and you get the point. It was a long night of working and then a long day of chores and then an airport, a BART and when Stephanie found me at the BART station, I was no longer ready to take The South Bay by storm. I was ready to collapse.
So Stephanie took me to his apartment, where we sat in front of his huge television, and I typed cards and he read my cards and laughed, and we argued the finer writing points of our favorite shows.
After I got in the car, he started quizzing me “So, Dollhouse?” I nodded. “It’s getting better. I think in episode 6 or so, the B story started coming together and also, your man Tahmoh? Yeah, he has some confrontation-y moments with Patton Oswalt!'” Stephanie’s face filled with delight “What!” he thundered “No-one told me that! I fucking love Patton Oswalt!” I smiled, I knew it would seal it for him. I know my brother. I love my brother. And he and I have the same best taste in almost everything.
We spent a few hours arguing for the few TV shows we don’t have in common. “He breaks down the fourth wall without breaking character!” He thundered, about “The Shat”, while he tried to lobby for Boston Legal.
I’m not falling for David E. Kelly’s shit one more time, that guys’ shows crack and crumble under the pressure of their own successes every time. And I had my heart broken by the eventual failures of Ally McBeal, The Practice and Boston Public. It was Boston Public that finally ended my love-affair with David.
I cannot take that man’s false promises again. Other people have bad relationships with exes, who disappoint them over and over again. I have bad relationships with television producers who can’t keep their end of the bargain up. I tried to explain the consistent implosion of Kelly’s Characters, and Stephanie, with the hope that youth brings, pooh-poohed my disbelief. And halfway through our debate, I realized that we love television for the same reasons, because we are writers. And we love new characters, we think of them as real people, we think of them as contrived, writing devices. We pull television apart and put it back to together to figure out what we would do differently. We can pinpoint the moment our suspension of disbelief snaps, and he’s the only person I have who watches TV so that he can think about writing harder.
And it’s so good to be with my people. When I get homesick, in Oregon, I think I get homesick for this.
Well, that and the disdain in the faces of strangers on the train. I miss disdain. Portland has this small-town-friendliness that was so hard to take when I first moved there. It still hovers above me, sometimes, pressuring me to be nice when I feel like glaring.
And the people. God, there are so many fucking people in this city. It’s like a real city. You can be a dick, or act crazy, in front of strangers, and none of those strangers will ever remember you. And you’ll never see them again, because there are so many fucking people here. This is a real city. It stretches for miles. And there are hundreds of thousands, millions of people in it. And I found myself relieved to find myself anonymous again. Breathing came easier. And the sunshine shone on my back, as I typed my Snarky Cards up. Making my art in the place that begat me.
It’s funny to come home. Especially because I never come home to the place where I grew up, only to the people I have always loved, in a city that always looks different.
Stephanie is happy. He makes enough money. He has a home he likes, a girlfriend who likes him, a huge DVD collection, and he is working on his second novel. He’s doing better than I am, most days. My little brother has grown up, in just a year, he turned into the person he’s always wanted to be. He even has a fucking Bowflex. Because he likes weight lifting. He’s never been in a better place than I am before. His life has never been enviable to me.
And I am still tired. But I’m started to feel grounded again, like I do every time I come home. When I got to Steph’s house, I was tired and I was disappointed in myself, for not being able to go out and take downtown San Jose by storm. But now, sitting here, counting my blessings, I think it’s going to be OK. The Universe keeps surprising me by showing me all the good stuff.