Saturday morning the Farmers Market called, of course. This routine is carving deep grooves. I now have one of those stand-up baskets on wheels -- my Old Lady Shopping Basket -- and around 8:30 in the morning I booked it down the couple miles to The Market dragging my flatly folded red basket behind me, jumping it off curbs trying not to clip my achilles in the process. Those who are out and about on the street, whether tourists or locals, appreciate those on the Go (not in a car) and I get seconds-long looks full of nothing but go-girl blessings. I'm learning every detail of this walk; bobbles that regularly catch my eye in store fronts, particular slabs of sidewalk that disconnect and create a pie slice of space in the path, certain tree roots that emerge like sea serpents riding through dirt. I have favorite spots too like the cavernous entrance to our local movie house where the floor sprouts baby octagon tiles, some missing, and the freestanding ticket booth is red and rickety.
Ten minutes in to my walk, I heed a cardboard sign stapled to tree and go towards a garage sale. I do not dig deeply at garage sales anymore. My gross-out factor has risen exponentially over the years even though I KNOW there is treasure buried in the moldy, dusty, grimy, germy, musty pile. Also, my tolerance for clutter has evaporated. But I eye a small, blue desk chair -- we need one for Maya -- and before I look too closely at the fabric I ask, "How much for the chair?" I am one of her first customers. She is still placing things on the lawn; in hand is a crate of clothes where a sleeve has weaseled its way out of a side hole. She looks at the chair and I see her trying to kick start her garage-sale savvy, like she's excited to do the bargain dance. It's early. I do the Broker Dance every single day at my job. I'm losing my patience. She says, gripping her crate and feigning authority, "Uh, $20." And I tip my head back and laugh hard enough to smear a frown across her flushed face.
At the Farmers Market I pinpoint the booths that are now my regulars. My favorite new purchase is organic cucumbers misshapened like little eggplants. They are amazing and snappy and watery. I buy five though I should've bought more because we all love them, especially the pugs.
My basket is full. And I purposefully fluff the kale and flowers out of the top of the basket because there's not much that satisfies me more visually. I puff out my chest and walk to the dance studio only two blocks away. I take a hip hop class from a small, athletic blonde woman named Ladi who is wearing a torn men’s undershirt and baggy grey sweats. Her hair is long and wild and she flips it around. She's great, her class is fun. I pump it and shake it and strut it. I pucker my lips and raise my eyebrows because there's no controlling the Dance Face . . .Between rounds of choreography, I look towards my red wire basket parked near the door looking loyal and refreshing, newspaper wrap and vegetables spilling out, and I almost wave to it.
Mina is in New York. She flew back with Grandmutter after her visit. The girls do this every summer; make the rounds with east-coast family. I love how everyone fights over them. Maya's Vegas trip conflicted with New York this year . . .The point is, they are both gone. And I'm kinda lonely. I appreciate the break, not from them but from the clockwork schedule. Husband and I have taken advantage. For the past two weeks, we've pressed ourselves to live the kid-less life.
Saturday night we went to our New Couple's house. We are trying to seal the deal on this friendship because we suffer from what seems to be a universal affliction, an inability to find other compatible friends that are couples. It's near impossible, and in the past, I've had to shoulder the blame for it not working out. Husband easily befriends good guys, funny and interesting. He just attracts them. And I really get along with his guy friends too. But the wives, man, the wives, they don't like me so much. Their husbands talk me up a little too much which causes an early wedge between the wife and me. They think I'm This. Or That, but they don't find out much for themselves. Or we find that we don't have much in common. I am super nice though and I try to connect, but sometimes I just go back to talking to their husbands who laugh easily and don't eyeball me and they talk sports. Plans to do more fizzle out. So, Saturday night, I pumped myself up to not blow it with the New Couple. The wife was a little cold at first, but she warmed. We all had things in common. I could tell she's not easily won over, but it dawned on me that I get along best with women that tend not to like a lot of people, with women that are not easily impressed. We all end up going to a tucked-away lounge and we drink and laugh and dance a bit. The wife, Tee, and I are rubbing shoulders and talking a lot. She was the top of her college class. She's smart and a little jaded, protective of her intelligence and she down plays her physical beauty. At the crescendo of a laugh, her husband leaned over and said, "Tee, is this your new best friend?" Which is the type of question that will bust up a budding friendship. She said more seriously than probably intended, "I don't have best friends." A beat of embarrassment went by and I said, "I'm her imaginary best friend." And we laughed again. Maybe I kept us in the running with the New Couple.
I took the train to work this morning. Every tiny detail of this experience is perfect to me. When I walk to the tracks, the blanket of people wave over me. They all look and seem completely different. I am overwhelmed by their collective energy. A homeless guy walks the tunnel past me. He is tall and dirty, but handsome and seems to be sporting these round fashionable eyeglass frames. He is yelling methodically, "ROBBERS. THEIVES. U.S. POSTAL SERVICE. ROBBERS. THEIVES. U.S. POSTAL SERVICE.'' I've mantra'ed it myself a few times today. It's catchy. From my train seat I see things like a building entitled Veterinary Cancer Center and the two cars in the parking lot of this building at 7:45 in the morning make my heart sink. I wink hello to my new muse and crush, the LA River which I'm sure has been written about and photographed a billion times, but very soon I'll profess my love properly in a long post with photos. I saw a conga line of tractors inching along a dirt lot ready to build up yet another vomitously bland track community in Orange County. I smile every single time the conductor yells, "All Aboard!" I didn't know that was real.
I am dressed up today, wearing black slacks that I usually only wear for salsa dancing and a black button down shirt, black heels even. My feet objected at first but these pumps are kind. They have kitten heels and really pointy toes that are scuffed bald. I'm wearing turquoise drop earrings. A huge customer came in today for our dog and pony show. I sat in a two-hour meeting full of bulletin points and action items, cost savings and optimization of our magic show. I blurred out many times, even while smiling reassuringly to Mr. Big Customer. Even when I paid attention 30% of the time, I still knew what they were talking about. I still made "good and valid" points. I left my body a couple times and circled above the conference table and thought, This is funny. It's all so drab and formulaic as long as you can convince someone with your confidence, as long as you can stay organized. Big business is laughable to me sometimes. I ate half a bagel which I never do. And drank another cup of coffee. I had a real fear that my eyes would close as quality and expediting procedures were explained. Then the realization set in that if we do win Mr. Big Customer's crillion dollar business bid I will be so incredibly busy with procuring, data entry and paper-shuffling organizational monkey tap dancing. I stopped chewing my bagel -- a wad stuck in my cheek -- and I wanted to bang my head on the table. For the rest of the meeting, I thought about the tagged LA River and the new painting I am working on and how my shoes look so fierce and how bad it would look if I shoved the rest of my bagel in my ears.