I walk down the same streets in my neighborhood most every morning, crossing Hartnell and heading down Carl’s Alley. My daily walk takes me through
what is now known as Old Towne Monterey and a portion of my trek
is part of the Path of History, which is both tranquil and tragic as life itself
seems to be.
On this particular morning, it was a gray walk and it had been a gray week,
but out from the fog I passed a homeless woman on the corner of Calle Principal and Pacific and I heard her say to her friend,
“I could stay right here until I die as long as I have my guitar.”
Now that’s some kind of pride-n-joy, isn’t it? The same kind of pride
you felt as a kid when you were the first in your neighborhood to get
that cherry-red bike with the banana seat and the same kind of joy
as the first bite of your grandmother’s cinnamon bread pudding
warm out of the oven.
She struck a chord in me, so I asked her name and I stayed awhile.
It suited us both well, actually, exchanging small talk.
When there was a lull in the conversation, I gave her 5 bucks for the song
and told her I’d see her around, secretly hoping that the next time
there’d be more trust and we’d connect on a heart level.
That’s what it’s about for me, you know, whether it’s a friend of 30 years,
an acquaintance of 3 or a stranger on the street who plays the guitar for a few coins and the love of a song; nothing more and nothing less.
Her name is Kate and her guitar is a 1981 Gurian.
I walked on with thoughts of seeing her again in the not so distant future.
This kind of shit is important to me and I don’t understand those of a different skin; those that fill their ever-waking hours with themselves and fail to notice the finer beauty of others; those who spend every waking hour masturbating about all of their accomplishments, their knowledge, their personal greatness…
Hell, aren’t we all going to end up in a wooden box in the ground
or in a tin can of ashes, anyways? And who really gives a crap if you wrote a book or painted a masterpiece because when it’s over, baby, it’s over and you can’t spend it where you're going!
Kate is just like me and I am just like her.
Frankly, I’m beginning to realize I have very little time for those bastards that
are self-righteous, self-absorbed and just blatantly selfish!
A park life is many things, but one thing’s for sure: the people aren’t preoccupied with their own achievements, interests and situations. If anything, they’re preoccupied with everyone else’s!
I feel comfortable around real people, whether they live in the park, on the street, or in a pristine mansion in Malibu provided they be authentic and have a streak of selfLESSness. End of story.
There’s a reason why I lasted 6.5 years at the trailer park and a mere 8 weeks
at The Hotel. That reason lies somewhere between my genealogical roots;
coming from a long line of trailer trash, and my personal preference for
madness of the low-life kind.
The Hotel, in all it’s juiciness, is a living hell for a kid like me
who wears simple cotton tees from The Goodwill and can make 3 full meals out of
leftover cabbage and rice.
Granted, I liked when Ms. Francesca Frontin made her reservation every
few weeks to stay in room 710. I liked the fact that she spent boo-coo bucks
at The Spa, The Restaurant, The Hair Salon all located on The Hotel’s property.
I even found a quiet joy in the fact that she insisted that maintenance tape off
all the windows in 710 on the morning of her arrival to ensure the allergens from outside couldn’t penetrate her room. I liked that she directed housekeeping to use only a particular kind of cleaning product. I liked that her meals were to be prepared gluten-free. I liked what an uproar and escalation of bitching she caused throughout all departments at The Hotel. And as they obliged her every wish,
I liked the fact that she tipped with 20’s. Yea, I will miss the tipping.
But I will not miss having to answer the phone each and every time, within 3 rings using “The Magic Formula” which has “12 Ingredients to a Signature of Success.” And I will not miss being “shop-called” on a regular basis and then having to listen to my recorded call, self-critique and then call New York for practice and coaching on how to improve my sales and phone presence in order to be the best I can be.
Oh, and I will not miss the understaffed insanity of getting slammed with
check-outs, check-ins, taking reservations, phones ringing off the hook,
including “in-house” calls like the one from Ms. Bass in 807 who demanded a room change, while using profanity and insisting the room was occupied and dirty upon her arrival because the bed was turned back, the table light left on, and there was a chocolate on the pillow.
But I’ll tell you what…I fucking miss the trailer park life. It’s in my blood, I suppose from way back, and a girl can’t just shake what’s in her blood.
January 9, 2007
Space 3 complains the weeds and brush are too high across the drive where she takes her over-weight dachshunds to “take a dump.” She just wanted to inform us that she isn’t going pick up the turds now because she can’t see them in the overgrown brush, but will resume following the “dog poop rule” when the weeds are whacked.
Space 3 is whacked but God love her.
September 23, 2008
Space 25 complains that when her next-door neighbor empties his bathtub,
water bubbles up in her toilet. She is also pissed at space 26 because they want
to plant shrubs and she feels the sap from their choice of shrub will
get on and damage her car.
It’ feels like a fog is lifting and I am accepting the comfortableness of my own skin; a re-emergence of appreciation of life’s many sweet treasures.
I write not because I’m the best writer or have to be published,
but because I have to write.
I give not because there is a prize for the biggest giver,
but because I have to give.
I surround myself with down-to-earth people not because
they are simple-minded and I am obliged to,
but rather because I am down-to-earth as well…
People, like Kate, who would be content to die on the street as long as
they could die playing their music, not for large sums of money or fame,
but for the pure passion of the song…I’ll take them any day over the rest.
Those folks were and are in the park, the park where I come from.
The park where a cockroach is a roach and a cockerel is a rooster because
park-folk can't bring themselves to say cock.
I like that.