Eating out.

I woke up at seven in the evening today. It had been a wonderful night. It was dark outside and I realised I didn’t have much of anything to eat around the house so I thought I’d pop outside for a breath of fresh air and some contemplation, on my own.

I have just moved here and I don’t really know the neighborhood very well but there is one place that I do like. It is unfortunately located within the food court of a large supermarket, one of the most stressful places for me.  But, I thought to myself, it’s fairly late in the evening, few people will be there, it will be interesting.

Now, I don’t live in what’s called the safest part of town, but it’s not too bad either, all that happened on the ten to fifteen minute walk there was that I saw a bum peeing on a grafittied up wall, practically within the focus of a streetlight – little Paris indeed. Few cars on the street, people trying to catch a bus home in almost dark stops and walking home with cheery little kids back from a trip to the colorful mall.

It looks like it’s finally warming up outside so I ended up undoing the zipper on my jacket only to wonder at the silhouette of my own shadow walking in front of me. What was once a short kid walking home from school in uniform with a square leather backpack is now a hooded anonymous figure beneath the streetlights of the big city with but a lit cigarette to ironically show that a living man hides within, no one knows who I am or where I am going, and that’s alright.

The place is almost empty by now, the few people I see are mopping the floor or closing down their stores, some turn their gaze to me as I let down my hood and head for the place I want to eat, ‘I might be a bit late’ I think to myself ‘but that’s alright too’. There are customers on the one table though so I ask the smartly dressed head waitress whether I can sit down for dinner or whether they are getting ready to close. She smiles with her eyes at my ingenuity and tells me they don’t close until midnight and encourages me to take a seat.

The place is closed off but large windows allow you to see into the middle of the food court. People finishing their meals and putting on jackets before they head for home, fast food workers bantering as they push along carts of supplies, somehow always with a smile as they chat among themselves. It’s a Sunday so their weekend is shot but somehow they still find ways to be cheerful, and you can tell it’s genuine, not a customer to fake it towards in sight.

Some of the restaurant staff are getting ready to leave as well and I overhear them asking one of the waitresses what’s wrong, she looks like she’s had a bad day, but she’s determined not to share the details and just tells them to stop asking. She brings me my beer and ashtray and tells me that my ‘Penne al salmone’ will be served shortly. I am now the only customer.

The food was excellent, light yet filling and full of Mediterranean aroma, complimented by the rugged but soft addition of smoked salmon. I was half way through my beer by the time it arrived, and open to culinary suggestions. I am really starting to like this place. I finish up my food and start typing away at a message with a piece of warm foccacia in my other hand and lay back. I take in the sights and sounds and can almost feel the air of content around me. Life seems to agree with people working here, at least in this snapshot. I wave and the head waitress brings me my check. ‘I’ll use my card please, and please may I have a pen?’, ‘A pen?’ she smiles ‘Yes, please’

I was going to write it on the back of the receipt but she brought a piece of paper too, which I thought was rather thoughtful ‘An excellent meal, thank you. A smile for the young lady whom no one knows what is wrong with’. I leave a customary tip, put on my jacket and pull up my hood, walk away to the sound of echoing giggles from what I counted to be everyone in the scene behind me.

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February 2015.

This is a story. This music goes with it (opens new tab). Read it and call me crazy at your leisure.

I was feeling happy when I woke up this morning. I have a new job that I love, I think I might be falling in love, I’ve rediscovered an artist that I like, I can see that it’s sunny outside, my room’s a bit of a mess but that can be fixed when I come back from the doctors’, oh and I must remember to tie up my freshly sprouted bean stalks. Got stuff to do today, best get cracking.

Doctors’ appointments are interesting experiences. Mine said I should get more exercise than I already am because I work in an office and that exposes me to sedentarism, and I should quit smoking, he suggested a way I hadn’t thought of before, and I’m going to try it, wish me luck.

I took everything he said to heart, as I do, and I’m hopeful about the future but it’s still a bit of a downer coming back home. I walked up the corridor leading to my studio unlocked the door and slowly got out of my boots and jacket, and just crashed into bed fully clothed for a bit.

A second later I opened my eyes and noticed a brown patch on my yellow wall. Three blinks later and it had grown into a sketch of someone I thought I recognized, that can’t be right. Blink Blink. Now another sketch of a manga cartoon is superimposed on the first… I’m probably dreaming. Close your eyes it’ll go away.

When I next opened my eyes after what felt like a few minutes the sketches were gone but now a black spot was in the same place. I hadn’t noticed that before. Blink blink. It’s now a black and white sketch of someone else I once knew, the inner spaces are white, the contours are thick black strokes, and those voices – those weren’t there, I hadn’t noticed the walls of this new place are so thin. Bin… tan pis, I’m probably still dreaming, so let’s see what else gets drawn on the wall.

As I try to concentrate on the images, they get faster and faster, all different, people, cartoon characters all in faster and faster cadence, my heart rate soars and the voices are getting stronger and they are very close… this isn’t turning out quite the way I like, best go back to sleep.

I’m finally up. Hm those voices are still there. I get out of bed and realize there are people in my hallway. I’ve got the urge to tell them breaking and entering is a felony, but before I can open my mouth I notice the two cops standing in my bathroom door speaking to the other 5 people huddled around. What is going on? They’re all speaking Romanian and seem to be very interested in my bathroom… ‘What’s going on? Why are you all in my house?’. Nothing, it’s like I’m not there. I get right in the middle of them and try to listen to what they’re saying, but I can’t understand my own language. It’s like the words are blurred.

What’s happening?! I try to check the kitchen for signs of whatever it is that’s going on in my bathroom and notice that it’s dark outside… must’ve slept through the day, wouldn’t be the first time. The kitchen looks fine, grab my smokes from the counter and try to address the people in my doorway again ‘Please tell me who called the cops and why? I don’t intend to retaliate in any way, just take a look at me, it’s not like I could anyway’ Nothing. ‘Please, I just want to know what happened!’, nothing, why are they doing this? Why are they all in my house discussing my bathroom? I only now hear the water flowing in there, but it’s dark and the light’s not on, please don’t tell me the guy upstairs is flooding me.

I walk outside into the hallway but no one is there, all I can see is the reflections of the lamps on the floor and lights at each end of the corridor, all I can hear is Romanian being spoken and the echo of water flowing. Right, that’s it, I’m going to the police station to fix this.

The night is young at least, I have no Idea what time it is but Jupiter can’t have been up for more than a couple of hours. I stare at it ‘Hello old friend, at least you’re still there, oh no… no don’t do that’. It starts to move randomly around it’s spot, faster and faster it’s no longer a dot and starts to describe a sketched human shape flying in loops around it’s usual place. As I’m walking looking right at it, I step on a piece of almost frozen snow and it cracks. I’m startled… So i’m definitely not asleep, that proves it, and I probably wasn’t before. Those people were all in my house, all day, as I was sleeping, talking about my bathroom… That’s what those voices were… What is going on? WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Where am I? Oh look, those two were in my house earlier, quick, after them, they’re walking straight towards me. I hear her speaking. ‘Did you see how angry he was? I would be too if people barged into my house like that and didn’t speak to me… And the cops didn’t even look at him? can you imagine what was going on in his mind?’. Great they’re on my side. ‘Oh I’m so glad I caught up with you, can you tell me what happened? I’m starting to get a bit flippy’. She glances my way and looks me straight in the eye, but they just keep on walking and talking as if I wasn’t there.

‘NO’, I follow them, but I can’t get any closer, I’m running and they’re walking but I’m not closing the gap. It’s dark and I’m surrounded by tall desolate apartment blocks, there’s melting snow everywhere and they round a corner from the alley. I keep running but somehow the alley is a lot thinner now than it was before. The hedges on the sides are starting to scratch me and before I know it I’m stuck, in the middle of all this. Time to backtrack but it’s all the same. Now I’m lost and somehow I’m half naked from the waist down except my boots. I look up and Jupiter is still there, still drawing away at an animated cartoon of a sketched human shape playing around across the night sky as if on blueprint paper. I need to get home, regroup and figure this out… this can’t be happening, nothing makes any rational sense. I’m not entirely sure I have any reason left that would make sense of anything right now, I’m clearly losing it.

This isn’t the street I live on, I must be close by though, there’s the church. All I have to do is get there and from there it’s two minutes to my place. When did all these churches start getting built? I never noticed them before. Why are they all being built all over this block? They’re all in various stages of construction. Why is there a group of Franciscan nuns in the middle of a rundown Bucharest neighborhood walking around Orthodox building sites in the middle of the night? ‘Hello? Can you tell me what street this is? I’m trying to get to street X’ ‘Oh that’s right over there’. She points me toward a parallel street. She spoke a language I had never heard before, but somehow I understand her and take her advice. Now i’m close for sure.

There’s a cop car with the lights on parked close to my building, great maybe now they’ll tell me what happened, give me some explanation, but which one is it? I just moved here… They both look the same, why am i not cold even though it’s February and I’m wet from head to toe for some reason. The next thing I know I’m standing in front of my open doorway, the house is dark with an orange light filtering through the curtain from the streetlamps outside. The water is still on but no one is here. I’m dripping from my jacket, now I am cold and I can feel the exposure, my genitals are trying hard to get inside my abdomen, my legs are cold and wet and I’m thinking it can’t get much worse so I might as well try to get online and check the news, try to shed some light on what’s going on. On my way there I finally check the bathroom.

A series of metal pipes are fastened to the ceiling leading into glass tubes that spiral widely into a network of glass lab equipment, clear water is coming from the ceiling and it’s turning dark blue before it all drains into a massive glass vat where once filled it turns into a fine foam and vanishes. What is this for? Who put it here? Where is the water coming from? Why is it vanishing. I rush into the kitchen, fumble around for my ashtray and get out my smokes. I need a time out, I really do. I open it up and take one out without looking, but it’s flattened beyond use, and wet, and a leathery brown, it’s burst and wet, but it’s smoking already, how? I take a good look into my pack but they’re all in various stages of whatever happened to the first one. ‘No… please no…’ I’m naked, wet and cold… My place is completely trashed and I may or may not be in trouble with the police… I’m seeing things and my fucking beans are dead! I start to slide my back down the side of the counter and I feel like I’m about to completely break down into little pieces of what used to be me.

Skype calls and I wake up. The sun’s still up. I hadn’t noticed my bike was missing in the dream. Well… It’s definitely there now. Right, where was I? ah yes… I gotta clean up this mess