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                Cold People, Cold Hands - Feb 09

In Jamaica we take a day trip to Kingston.  The highway is only two lanes but freshly paved.  The trip is winding and we pass by shacks that come up against the road, jerk-chicken shops, and strip clubs.  There is poverty pushing third-world, except that as church lets out, people walk beside the road in suits and dresses.  I dream about living in Fern Gulley and smoking pot, waking up late, trying to save enough money to chase away hunger-pangs and having the inspiration that the hunger brings.
“The grass is always greener,” I mutter to myself.
It isn’t until the suburbs of Kingston that we come across any modern development, but it feels as soulless here as in Naperville.  Downtown Kingston is deserted, crumbling, with the paint peeling, although no more dirty than some American cities.  In a cement water channel cutting through the heart of the city, a giant pig waddles at a run with little pigs following after it. 
Our tour guide keeps us in certain areas of the city, all of which are stationed with police officers at the ends.  If feels as if the city has decided to maintain safety and control in certain areas, like the ambassador quarters, and leave the rest of the city to its own devices.  Even in the nice areas there are few white people, most of the people we see are young Jamaicans from the wealthy Kingston families.

I come home early while Kate is in the city so that I will have time to myself.  I make a sandwich and drink what is left of the champagne that is stopped with the cork I shaved the night before.

I have the feeling of being the only person in the bar without an agenda.  It doesn’t make me feel superior, but I can laugh a little easier, and I begin to consider that maybe having a healthy relationship with someone isn’t such a bad thing.
I leave with friends to a bar in Lincoln Park.  We sit at a table and I stare at my drink dumbly, I try to talk to the girl sitting next to me.  She mutters a few things without looking at me, full of suspicion and stupid defensiveness.  She starts to say ‘sweetheart’ to a tall light-haired boy that is standing close by, but looks for a moment and then turns his attention make to his own conversation.
Kate comes back to the table and kisses me.  She’s beautiful in the way that people notice her from across the room.  The girl next to me notices Kate, and bristles when she moves next to me.  The chick sits up straighter in her chair, and starts to say ‘sweetheart’ louder and with desperation, aware of how alone she is.  It makes me feel a little better, but I’m still sick of this crowd.  The only people I like are wasted, and the others remind me of the short chubby over-privileged girls that infested DU while I was studying there.

02/15/09 - Day After Valentine's
I never thought Valentine’s Day would make me feel lonely, and it hasn’t yet, but the day after Valentine’s I’m so hopelessly lonely I can barely speak.  I buy books at the terrible Borders nearby, Bukowski, Burgess, etc., etc.  I originally want to read something Beat, but they don’t have a single Burroughs or Ginsberg novel, but there is an entire table devoted to Twilight. 
At Target I want orange juice without pulp, but there’s ‘Pulp-Free Low Acid’, ‘Pulp-Free Heart Healthy with Omega-3’, ‘Pulp-Free Calcium and Vitamin D’, ‘Pulp-Free Healthy Kids’.  In the back is normal ‘Pulp-Free’, and the carton makes my hand sticky when I pull it out.
The laundry detergents make me want to cry.  There’s too much; I put my hands up in a shrug and become fixed in place.  When I come too people are walking around me.  I grab the detergent with the most normal packaging and finish my shopping.

Some guy in the men’s bathroom stops me to tell me I look like an actor from a musical.
“Who’s that?” I ask.
“Don’t tell him,” an aging Hispanic with silver tipped hair says, “if he doesn’t know who that is, don’t tell him.”
Who the fuck are you?
The first guy nods his head and walks out of the bathroom without another word.

As the cab driver turns a sharp corner onto a busy intersection he fives the sign of the cross.  I watch him and flex my abs.
She didn’t think we should sleep in the same building.  Even if I were sober I would have known the statement was ridiculous.  I tried to convince her that we could sleep in separate rooms, but she insisted that she would feel more comfortable if I slept somewhere else.  That pissed me off, after I agreed to come over for a night-cap, now I have to go back across town on the edge of morning.  What the fuck did I go there for?  I was five minutes from home before, the girl could have at least let me sleep on the couch for all the trouble she’d caused me.

The lock gives way on the first try, and I walk quickly out of the cold and into the apartment.  A big black guy and my roommate are standing behind the kitchen counter.  They both look up, the guy stares at me.
“Hey Simon; don’t worry, he’s cool,” she says giggling.
There is white on the counter, and they have a knife to it.
“What is this, coke?” I ask.
“Guess again,” the guy says smiling.
I pause, and notice the small rocks of white.
“Oh shit, I’ve never seen crack before,” I say.
My roommate picks up two different bags.
“This one is ten dollars, and this one is five,” she says, showing me the different sizes.
The bags are long and tied in a knot just above the rock.  The guy starts to cut the tops of the bags off.  I watch my roommate cut pieces of crack.
“I thought you were going to sell weed.  Stoners are pretty docile; do you really want to start messing with crack-heads?”
“We are going to sell both, I’m a hustler,” she says.  “Don’t worry; we won’t be dealing out of here at all.  I don’t want any crack-heads knowing where we live.”
They look at each other, and both laugh.  They guy is friendly now, and smiles wide.
“Hey, do you smoke?” he asks.
“Cigarettes?  Sometimes,” I say.
“What do you like?”
“Camel Lights usually,”
He opens his bag and digs through.
“I don’t have any Camel Lights right now, but you can pick out what you like.”  He opens his bag to me, and there are a pile of different cigarette boxes.  “Three dollars a pack,” he adds.
“I’m ok,” I say.  “I’m trying to kick this sore throat.”

At home in Minnesota for the weekend I meet a friend of a friend, another girl named Ashley, and we spend my last two nights together.  For the first time in a long time I feel over matched in the bedroom, the girl knows her way around the sheets better than me.  For all that intensity she doesn’t kiss with her tongue, at all.  I don’t use much tongue, but a little helps, and I try to teach her how to open her mouth and press her tongue against mine.  She laughs, and we both give up after a few tries.

I’m at a Bulls game with clients, standing in line to get beers, when Ashley writes the beginning of a dirty text.  I put my phone in my mouth and bite down on the rubber casing.

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