Up The Ave

You. I know you. I know your walk, your clothes, your face. I know that you lived a floor below and some thought you were the most perfect person possible. You had a four-point-oh in every class because you studied all day- sometimes you studied too much. You hated your roommate, and so did we all because he lacked social skills and he was Mormon and would walk in peoples’ rooms when they were having sex- or were close to sex. But you weren’t there that year when he invaded three different moments of utmost privacy, moments when his neighbors were twisted into and around their loved ones with faces even more twisted in the blue-tinged darkness of ecstasy. He would stand in the doorway, dumbstruck, awkward as both his Mormon eyes, and those of the lovers, would explode from uncomfortable silences and mutterings stifled only by the darkness of the room. But you weren’t there. Now you are here, smoking your cigarette and walking towards me. You look through my translucently white Seattle skin and take a long drag at the death between your lips as you continue to saunter closer in your khaki pants and button-down shirt. You can’t smoke because some say you’re the most perfect person possible and you were accepted into a school better than ours after one year because you never had a grade under the highest possible. Looking through you in return, I know you’re not you because you would be in Oregon with your family right now, during the summer months, and not here in Washington. Looking through you, I know you don’t smoke. As you walk closer to me, and closer to death, your face transforms slowly, and you are less you and more someone else. I was mistaken, you are not you.

But, you I know. Yes you, in your brightly yellow shirt with the words “Jews for Jesus” stamped across them like some Hitlerian banner. I do know you, because you went to my work one still summer day and harassed me and my manager. You harassed us even though we’re not Jews and she’s for Jesus and I’m for something else that’s not Jesus, but is spiritual like Jesus and Buddha and Zeus. You harassed us because we work for an organization for Jewish college students. All of the Jews were gone so you annoyed us instead. You wouldn’t leave, so we threatened to call the police. Then you left. Instead of through you, I look at you, with the hatred I try to reserve for bad cookie recipes and other not-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-life things. You do not deserve to be looked through, but at. Sadly, you don’t notice because you’re too intent on the old Christian woman who believes what you do is good. I know you, and you are not a Jew for Jesus because such a thing can’t be.

You I don’t know- but I want to. You’re crazy and funny and you don’t like Bush. I am your kindred spirit, flying in a sea of muck and media. But you wave your sign on a college street- a street where fat white men with boats don’t spit on you and yell that you are a rapist because you don’t want innocent people being killed. Maybe you went to the big protests downtown where so many people filling the streets- filling the streets like a custard donut- made it safe for you. But you weren’t there with the small and brave assemblage of aging Hippies rolling a black coffin through the media-inspired hatred and hostility. You weren’t there when they rolled along without anger. I was with those Hippies, but I was not one of them because I yelled back at that man who forced his angry opinions on us like that of a rapist forcing his angry body on a victim. I was so enraged because I knew what being close to rape is like, and he only knew what raping was like. I give you one thumb up. But I do not look through you, or at you, but past you. I have decided I don’t want to know you any longer.

But I’m not sure about you. It’s unnerving having you walk so close behind me while I’m carrying my newly printed copy of The Stranger which protects my two preciously new David Sedaris books from the fresh droplets of gray. It’s even more unnerving having you mutter “Have a happy Friday” with a voice that sounds as nervous as you walk over and over again. How can nervousness spread from every inch of you to me? How can it make you convulse and contract in the manner of a caterpillar? You suddenly walk jarringly quick past me with twitches and jerks and yell to the man getting in his car about a “’68 for sale”. The college boy walking towards us is confused. The man getting in his car is confused. I am concerned. But I’m also not concerned. I’m something else as I secretly watch you, intrigued by how much your body and your voice twitch to the same rhythm. Then you dash across the street towards the beautiful shining Frat bar with its antique brown mirror windows and I think I want to know you.