Home sweet home
Ever just have to have a nail clipper? I got to that point this evening, and I needed a few other items, including something to hang Buddha and Elvis on the walls, so I walked the block from the new place to the Rite-Aid. I’d never been inside that Rite-Aid; the last time I’d been inside that building, it was a Lucky supermarket, or maybe an Albertson’s. And I remembered the walk, too, because when I walked out to the alley lot behind my new place, I could see my old window, on the back of the haunted Victorian where I was living in 1991 through 1993, the first apartment of two in that building where I lived, the one where I spent most of my time in a whiskey-induced stupor.
The walk to Rite-Aid made me recall a few impaired stumbles to Lucky, maybe “just for a little wine with dinner,” which would change to something harder once I hit the liquor department. Lots of those walks, really. I guess the reason I’m going on about this is that here it is 18 or 19 years later, and I’m back in my old neighborhood, albeit older and wiser with nearly two decades of continuous sobriety under my belt. Been through a lot, gained a lot of stuff, got married, got divorced, lost a lot of stuff, watched my daughter grow up and move away, took care of my mom until she died, flailed around like a fish out of water for a while, ate a whole bunch of what the French might call merde on a baguette, as in metaphorical sandwiches that a metaphorical coprophage might savor, and now here I am. If you would have told me that in my mid-50s I’d be living in a little 1970s apartment in my old hood, relatively broke, alone and happy as a clam, I’d have responded to you in jaunty fashion with those two little one-syllable English words that typically accompany a stiff middle finger.
But heck whiz and gosh darn, I’m probably too nice for that these days, or at least right now. Ask me later, and I may tell you where to go. Right now? Sitting two blocks and change from the pad, inside Weatherstone, typing and listening to music and looking at all the women who are too young for me; I guess I’m more attracted to women who have a few crow’s feet, not to mention a pathological aversion to plastic surgery and ersatz mammaries.
I’m kind of letting go of a lot of things these days, and alone is good. Yesterday, I was going into Peet’s on J for a big coffee before going to help a friend move, and I saw this woman sitting on the deck who looked kinda familiar because I really didn’t give her any kind of once-over. As I was leaving, she got up and said hi, and I realized it was, well, someone I’d been thoroughly enamored with for the year we were together and a lot of time after she gave me the bum’s rush from her life. What was weird was that my emotional response was so flat, like she could have been your sister, or the sister of the guy selling pizzas down the street, and not this beautiful woman I got all heartbroken over when she decided it was in her better interests not to spend the rest of her life with me. She was on her way to another yoga class — big surprise there. I guess I finally care as much about her as she’s cared about me for a really long time. But all is not completely lost; I guess I got a few pretty good songs out of the deal. So thank you, Lisa.
Lisa also brought me a thangka back from India a few years ago, when she went on a Buddhist pilgrimage. Tonight I hung it up on the wall my zafu faces, which sits on the zabuton she bought me, too. None of these things have had a home for a long time, and now they do. I have a nice bed, and I climb into it early, and then I can get up really early and sit on my zafu and get a meditation session in before prayers, shower, granola and, if time permits, a little guitar picking, before heading south toward the 209 and a job that I’m really grateful to have.
Oh, and the other thing I hung up tonight was my holy Elvis tapestry, which was defaced and sliced by my ex-wife in a fit of anger, but she had enough good sense not to destroy it. Which I’m also grateful for, because its margin is covered with signatures — Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Los Lobos, Chris Isaac, Mark Knopfler, Randy Newman, Richard Thompson, a bunch of others, plus some surprising ones I’d forgotten about — Dusty Baker, and Angelina Jolie’s father Jon Voight, who wandered into my office one evening when no one else was around, looking for an appointment across the street. There are some other names on there, too. Anyway, I pieced it together as best I could and hung it up in a place of honor.
So that’s my home sweet home, a very nice place to be right now. —Jackson Griffith