“You seem to have developed a cycle,” she said, “Where you go somewhere for a few months, realize it’s not what you thought it was, and then come back.”
“I want to know how you are. Not ‘how was your day today or how is work going,’ but how you really are, deep down.”
“You need to work. That’s what you need to do.”
“I need to work. I know I just need to work.”
I leave Group Health Everett and head towards my car. I have just interpreted for a man from Bolivia. He had something wrong with one of his legs.
It’s getting hot outside and on the radio they say it’s going to get up to 90 in the city. I get on the freeway, which I don’t like. I don’t like the freeway. I don’t like going fast. Maybe if I was on a country road in the middle of nowhere and there was no chance of running into a cow. Then I might like going fast. I like moving fast. That much is true. But I don’t like driving fast. It’s too stressful.
Back at the apartment I check my phone and see there’s a message from my friend Davey. We’re supposed to go to Japan together. I don’t know if I want to go. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t want to go with him or just because it doesn’t feel right. I feel like I rushed into buying the ticket. I kind of made myself buy it. And now I’m thinking maybe I want to do something else, go somewhere else, always go, go, go.
I play with Mimo the cat for awhile. Seriously, Mimo, if I’m going to dangle this feather in front of you I want you to attack it. I want this to be fun for me, too. Why do you go and sit there like you’re going to pounce and then you never pounce? How is that fun? What kind of cat are you?
“Remember that time you went to college?”
“Why did you go?”
“I don’t know. That’s what you do after high school.”
“Remember that time you went to Spain?”
“Yes, of course. I remember on the first day we were there I went to the store and accidentally bought red wine vinegar. We got drunk that night and danced to R. Kelly. I was corrected on my pronunciation of the word ‘ron.'”
“Why did you go?”
“I don’t know. I had just gotten rejected from college. My friend was going there.”
“What else did you do there?”
“I sat on the couch every afternoon with a girl named Estefania and smoked Chesterfields. I learned more Spanish from her than I ever learned at school. And there was Manuel. He played the guitar. He told me one night to put on his leather jacket. ‘Don’t be stupid,’ he told me.”
“We went to Cadiz one time. We took the train. It was peaceful. In my diary the next day I wrote that riding the train to Cadiz was like riding on the shoulders of a friendly giant.”
“Is that the computer that got stolen?”
Who am I talking to right now? I think I’m talking to myself. I’m imagining I’m having a conversation with myself. For some reason my other self is more brooding, more critical.
“What about when you lived in Victoria?”
“You mean when I lived with C but I lied and told my parents I was living in a house just down the road?”
“Yes. How was that?”
“It was wonderful. I helped a guy named Zach build decks. I developed tendinitis in my thumb after an entire day of putting in deck screws. And then I remember on Valentine’s day after work we stopped at the grocery store so we could get flowers four our girlfriends. I got red roses. He got yellow roses. So stupid. I didn’t realize red roses are really over the top.”
“When was this?”
“This was 2008. Spring.”
“Good, good. I think I have enough to go on. We’re almost done here. I just have one more question for you.”
“Has it been worth it?”
“Has what been worth it?”
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
He laughs. Then he gets up to leave.
“OK, fine, fine, sit down. I’ll talk to you.”
He’s silent. I realize I have nothing to say. I’m thinking about that time I ate the burrito in Poland. Sorry — the kebab.
“I’ve got to run,” I say. “I just remembered I’m only parked in a two hour zone.”
And this time he gets up to leave for real.