Quarantine Journal (Deleted Scenes)


Mother’s Day, I shaved my head. I don’t remember growing a beard this long– twenty years ago maybe, but even then I trimmed it. A few years ago, I tried a goatee but it never agreed with my face and I could never shape properly. Social media had been whining about haircuts. Standing at the mirror I realized with my mother as a hairdresser, clippers were a kitchen staple as much as a breadbox, a mixer. My hair came off in fields, quadrants. I was glad to reclaim my chin, dusted with gray as it now is.

*
For the first in a long time, i took a walk. Encouraged by the rain and rolling clouds, though it was dry when I went out. The taqueria was open but the liquor store not. Houses appear more ominous in their stillness now. Ordered to stay home and what is home? Last night I woke at 2am, watched tv until the power went out at 4am. Right then I wished I wasn’t alone. Right then I wished I’d been mandatorily housed with anyone I loved. The night looked dark and oceanic, but held and didn’t tap with rain. I slept until 8 then jumped from bed and hit the block. Flowers nodded freckled with dew. An empty bus rattled past. For two months bus fare has been to dress like an outlaw or crash cart nurse. I wore no mask and purposefully breathed deep.

*
I hate shopping. I hate compliance. I hate having no leaders or guidance I can trust. I hate this world. I hate using a mask, being counted and watched walking into a store, and being issued a basket. I hate the stoned wanderings of shoppers. I hate cooking. I look at fish, meat as if they are plastic replicas. I hate feeling empty as these shelves. I hate being measured or not knowing when I’m supposed to place items on the conveyor belt. I hate the cashier is like a kidnap victim. I hate realizing I no longer need to acknowledge or greet anyone on the sidewalk because we’re both gagged. When will any one else be unbothered/unthreatened by my presence? Used to be people worried I might rob them. Now I’m a threat… for nothing— I could kill your whole family just for walking past me. Sit next to me on a bus and your grandmother will be dead before morning. I am a threat to your whole family just for not wearing a mask. Just for not staying home with no food or abusive roommates or where I’m already not wanted. I am black and contagious. I have no symptoms. I am a symptom and cause, both. Once I was just a junkie, now I’m Patient Zero.

*
The Chinese woman approaching on the sidewalk did not clutch her purse as we got closer, just masked herself. I wore no mask and felt like something akin to trash, something less than a junkie, a thief, crazy. Two blocks from home at dawn this morning.

*
The days don’t matter. the evenings don’t matter. rent matters. more than anything. but weeks vanish like ice on the counter.

*
I hate feeling relieved my mother is dead.

*

Farmer’s Market a few weeks ago: gorgeous polished sky, i’m suffocating beneath a bandanna and sweating from the warmth. I want to be friendly and its pointless. I can barely hear and mumble when I speak. The market manager looks like he once rode with Billy The Kid, but he’s gregarious and full of good mornings and good wishes and for the millennial dudes to not congregate and talk Right Here.

*
I slept a solid week after the shut down. Remained in bed as if close to death. The last day at work, I went to lunch and ended up at a restaurant I used to frequent with my best friend in the world. We are no longer friends. I wanted to revisit this dead vein and trace it with my finger. The place was usually packed for lunch, but not today. Not this close to Chinatown. The owner remembered me, dropped a kickstand at my table and talked himself empty— about what the governor should do, what the mayor should do. For business owners. He talked and pleaded and I listened like a therapist and he paid me with a free appetizer. Once back at the office, the receptionist looked up at me, announced: “We’re fired.” Let me clock in, I said. I left to silence, and now the few people here were all up spinning. Our new office manager scurried about the office asking us about her daughters’ new day care as if, as if, as if. None of us knew then there’d be no more daycare. The boys returned from lunch with three bottles of wine. They opened the red one and passed it to me and I stood at my desk and drank. Our office owned a four star view of the bay and days before we watched THAT poisoned Princess Cruise ship stroll past us, a kind of perp walk. I wondered about packing the rest of the wine in my backpack, but didn’t. I told my coworker “Goodbye” instead of ‘Good luck’ or any other optimistic bullshit. The cruise ship docked in the bay just off the bridge, so the few commuters left on the bus that day, raised their phones in a kind of toast and snapped photographs. I felt mournful and hurt. I felt I weighted 10,000 lbs. I went home and didn’t leave again for two months.

*
When I did get out of bed, I grabbed books and started reading. Cormac McCarthy, then Elmore Leonard. I was able to write. I saw myself as a child. I went to him as an adult, a creative rescue mission. A poetry workshop appeared on Zoom and I joined it. Even the boss at work who eventually furloughed me, reminded me I was a poet, suggested now’s a good a time as any. This is my true work after all, isn’t it?

*
Today on my walk, I nudged myself if there was anything else I needed to say with the project I’d been working on. I felt done. I loved the project, but its in vain. I lay on my kitchen floor and had my computer read it to me. It took 15 minutes and still required polish. It’ll go in the next book. I’m pushing ahead assuming there will be another book and an end to whatever this is.

*
A migrane sinus headache. Hadn’t been visited by one of those in years. I was forced to the bed, the couch for 24 hours. I had no food and begrudgingly ordered some, which I didn’t finish and was gross and made me feel guilty for ordering it anyway. I googled migraines and took lemon/ salt water which did seem to help. I ate tylenol like M&M’s. Ate two spoonfuls of brown rice and lay and watch Hoarders where the therapists seemed to need therapists, just from dealing with the family around that episode’s Hoarder. I hated being grateful I had no family. I hated thinking it was okay if I died with a migraine. I hated the three minutes I wondered if it was _ and wondered How then slapped myself for thinking of it at all. I was glad to wake the next day relieved enough to sweep and dust the living room and get back on Zoom.

*
I’ve been waking around 2am and grown to like it. The stillness. The deep silence. I don’t read or meditate, take advantage of it. It shouldn’t be much different than 2 in the afternoon, but somehow it is. Its why the dark can be scary; its a curtain ready to reveal something. I open my east-facing curtain to a sky blushing purple and blue. This morning, there was a flash and the lights in the neighborhood around me clicked off. A rest between breaths. The freeway, silent. My laptop had batteries, but I couldn’t be comforted by voices, random music. I closed it and embraced the silence of my fridge motor grinding to a stop. I got back in bed and held on for daylight.

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