House of The Setting Sun, Part I

I pictured Hurricane Harvey as an old man with one of those old-style hats like a hamburger bun. Even when he ravished Houston the absurd image persisted. With Hurricane Nate, I could only see some young 20-something kid on his way to New Orleans for Fat Tuesday, ready to heave all over the city that Nancy and I were planning on visiting.

These thoughts played out in my head as I laid in the dark of our bedroom. We’d had the room booked, had restaurant reservations, had a river boat cruise lined up—we wanted to be unabashed, un-ironic New Orleans tourists.

The recurring thought of “We’ll risk it. We’ll call its bluff,” pushed through the noise in my head, just like it did with Harvey. But we didn’t risk Harvey or call its bluff. We fled to Austin—to Nancy’s sister’s.

“You’re just wasting time.” I thought. I nudged Nancy.

“Huh?” She asked from her side of the bed.

“Let’s cancel New Orleans. There’s a storm coming. And this was going to be our last trip for a while.” Her belly was just beginning to show, 20 weeks into her pregnancy.

“Let’s just drive West instead, to Marfa and Big Bend.”

Under the hush of early morning we dressed and prepared. It would be one last push before the baby.

Continue reading →

Past the Shore

She asked if my glands had undergone a desert mutation that inhibited my ability to sweat. I asked if her skin was thicker to keep her insulated from the Wisconsin snow. We laughed, loud and with our heads tilted back, the way we wouldn’t around men. She kept driving. The sun so round and fine it looked as if I could pluck it right out of the sky. Fruit vendors dotted the road, vine tomatoes spilling out of recycled crates. We pulled over and bought a bunch, popping the hot fruit in our mouth like candy.

Continue reading →

San Junipero

Something great that I watched recently: an episode of Black Mirror called San Junipero. It starts with a woman, Yorkie, painfully out of place and inhabiting this strange world, which is like ours…but not quite.

Yorkie enters a dance club, and meets a woman, Kelly, who is delightfully reminiscent of Lisa Tuttle from Saved by the Bell in the best way. Yorkie and Kelly have this cosmic connection. Right at the peak of her infatuation, Yorkie rejects Kelly’s advances. Her regret spills off the screen, and we’re left wondering her next move.

To make matters worse, it seems that Kelly only arrives at the dance club in intervals, and this is a much stranger place than I could have ever expected.

Continue reading →

Blind Date

After passing each other twice, I noticed a vague resemblance to your profile picture online. There were ten seconds left on the crosswalk when a car turning aggressively left honked at us. We stared hard at each other. With two seconds left, you grabbed my arm and pulled me out of traffic, walking on the sidewalk closest to the cars. You wore a leather jacket, and with each deliberative step I caught a whiff of Armani Black cologne.

I heard myself start narrativizing the story we would tell the twins. This is the day we met, I would say, searching for adjectives. Looking up, I saw a sliver of moon peep out from behind a coffee shop. It smelled like roast pork and the nervous scent trees get when it’s about to rain. My ears caught the thin melody of a somber violin. The sky thundered, but in a way that was exciting because I was not alone.

“Do you enjoy food?” you asked, once we made it to a stretch of quiet sidewalk.

“I’ve been eating food for as long as I can remember,” I said. “So I would say so.”

Continue reading →