She spent for acceleration, which left her forever high and historyless.
The anxiety to save against the uncertainty of the future did not burden her. Value flowed effortlessly through the porous material of her better judgement. Everything got spent. Money, time, talent. She would work very hard for each dollar, every job interview, each friendship. But immediately after earning the money, or the job security, or someone’s trust, she would immediately cash it in.
Not even consciously. It was there and then it wasn’t. She recalled the struggle but she was an amnesiac to the rapturous frenzy of spending that came afterward. It looked so destructive from the outside but I could tell from watching closely for a time that it was, to her, the only way to build a life. It was a life though that created so much violence against the self.
Somehow, she had still managed to continue to have direction. When I met her she was working at a motel. She cleaned the rooms at night. She was sophisticated enough to realize that she, as a white American-born women working where almost no other white American-born people worked, was conspicuous but it would have been awkward to talk about, so neither of us ever brought it up.
I don’t believe she ever answered any question directly so even though I asked, I never got any good stories from her past. I knew that I had met her after she had left her small college in a dusty western scrub-brush town. After she had travelled through South America and after she’d been through the end of enough relationships to know that it was better to sort of watch the beginnings of new ones from a distance for a while.
It was evening in August and hot outside and the cicadas were droning overhead which kept me up and I would sit in an old metal folding chair outside the door of my room and try to catch any breeze that was making it’s way across the parking lot. The rooms had window air conditioners which bulged out from the bottom half of the low windows facing the parking lot like bellies. Mine didn’t work.
When I had checked in the night before, the diminutive but oversized man at the desk had offered me a discount if I would take room 26 in which the air conditioner was not working and since I am the kind of puritan descendent who still prides themselves on the value of deprivation for the greater good, I took the room. Trying to please some greater good of I don’t know what.
A belly full of wine and good friendship before this glowing window stopped me cold on my hushed walk home.
It was way past dark. We stumbled recklessly down a dirt clod hill towards the southern edge of Angel Island.