A sort of life

A month of second thoughts

WASHINGTON — The phone rings late. I’m lying in bed with a new Bukowski book in my lap. It’s funny. It’s 11:45 on the dot. Must be a commercial break. The phone keeps ringing. My heart races. It jumps into my throat. No one calls this late. No one but her.

It’s not her. I let it go to voicemail.

Each time this happens, day or night, I want to carve out a little part of myself and feed it to a poor black kid living on the street. They need it more than I. It’s killing me. One spoonful at a time. Open wide, because what puts me down will lift you high.

Her silence is thick.

I’ve called her every night since I realized I stepped in dog shit. It took a while to figure that out. And so I call her and she lets me find her voicemail. And every time I call I get conflicted: How much (how long) is too much (too long)? Is she hiding from me because she never wants to talk to me again? Or is she hiding from me with a shorter period of time on her mind? Does she want me to show her that I don’t want to take her for granted, that all this isn’t a head game or a power trip? Or maybe she wants me to scram.

Simon says you call three-four times and then you got to leave it be. That’s the rules they say. But if that’s the rules, if that’s the way this thing goes, then I lose. It’s done and I’m done.

And with this one, this girl, I don’t want to be done. And it’s that strange territory I don’t know what to do with.

And so I lie in bed and curse at my great friend Dan. A guy I would never curse at any other time, in any other circumstance. But right now I absolutely hate him. It’s not his fault I’m choking on the heart beating in my throat. But he’s the one calling, you see? He’s the one that put it there.

And he cannot ease my worried mind.

“A month of second thoughts” is from Volume One: Frank’s Wild Years (1983–2009). Written between 2003 and 2009, Volume One was this author’s attempt to find meaning from life as a young twenty-something. While this endeavor would ultimately fail, what remains is a comical tale of loneliness and debauchery.

Showery Wednesday afternoon in the Wildflower State

Showery Wednesday afternoon in the Wildflower State

Andrzej Jalowiecki grips an umbrella during a rainy winter day in Perth, West Australia on June 11, 2003.