This One Time, 6

This one time I was shopping for shoes to replace the ones that had the blowout. I was a stone’s throw from the water at Waikiki Beach in one of the thousands of identical ABC stores there, trying to come to terms with the fact that in South Carolina ABC stores are where the gummint allows you to buy your liquor. I was just looking for flip-flops or thongs or zoris or whatever the hell it was that they called them here, or maybe reef shoes or, I don’t know, anything to not walk barefoot on that griddle of a sidewalk and that I could dump the damn sand out of from time to time.

I was sweating and I stank. Every exposed inch of me (I hoped, anyway — I’d sure as hell know by nightfall) was covered in a mix of DEET and SPF 1,000,000 sunscreen, and I could taste it and feel it stinging in my eyes when sweat ran down my face.

Screw the shoes. What I needed was a giant sombrero the size of a golf umbrella with a built-in fan, a constantly running shower, and if it had a bug-zapper for the mosquitoes that would be a big damn bonus.

I could get away with it, too. I had come to terms with the fact that there wasn’t a big emphasis on personal style and couture here. Clothes were loose and airy and colored bright enough to make the sun blink. Shoes were whatever kept your feet off the white-hot pavement and sand and aptly named aa lava and allowed you to kick out any sand or rocks every third or fourth step before it ground your toes off. It was just self-defense.

I tied my dreads up to keep them off my neck and back. One more time feeling one of those slimy things slithering down my neck and back and I’d just freak the hell out, rip them all off, and leave them in the nearest trash can. That said MAHALO on it.

It was too bright to see even with sunglasses on, even. I was in the worst physical hell I have ever been in in my life that wasn’t traction in a hospital bed, and everywhere I looked everyone was smiling like they were on some mixture of smack and Thorazine, and, every time I caught a glimpse of my reflection, so was I. It was Twilight Zone creepy.

Nineteen hours ago personal time — I had skipped east a few time zones — I had signed the divorce papers. Eighteen hours ago I turned in my Blackberry and quit my job with no notice. Half an hour later I dropped off my keys with my sister and she dropped me off at what passes for an airport in podunk Greenville.

I was tired of living in hell so I bought a ticket to heaven. And there I was, in just another kind of hell, trying on plastic shoes held on with what appeared to be a chainsaw blade you slip between your toes and wondering where they keep the English-to-Heroin/Thorazine phrasebooks.

And I was smiling like a demon that had just eaten another twisted soul.

Was I having a psychotic break? Had I just been so unhappy for so damn long I didn’t even know what happy felt like? I was mystified. It was like I had suddenly turned into someone else the second I finished signing my name at 8:15 AM Eastern. That was the moment I decided I had to do all this stuff, and the next time I took stock I was homeless and halfway around the world.

And the happiest I had been in years.


January 6, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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