Hit “play” and keep reading. Just do it. I’m aiming for some atmosphere here.
Another Friday, another wine tasting. The wine shop had a decent soundtrack. Sade always takes me back to the summer of 1997. I had just graduated from high school, I was about to start my first year at the University of Chicago, and life was just buzzing. I found a great summer job at the Rand McNally store at the mall. A combination travel bookstore, map store, travel accessories and luggage store, and fancy travel-related gift store (expensive globes, paperweights, penknives with compasses, etc), it was kind of a perfect place for me to work. My parents were gone half the summer, I had my own car, MTV still played awesome music videos, grunge still clung, nobody had heard of Britney, summer festivals and parades were on the agenda, and the weather was fine fine fine. Not a care in the world.
So much of retail is the same. You end up standing around a lot. Today’s wine tasting, included. I remember three states of being while I was at work: 1) bored; 2) frustrated and ready to go home, and; 3) so busy I couldn’t keep up with the customers and demands. The time was broken up evenly between the three. The store’s CD player (a boom box on the floor in the back) alternated between the Best of the Police and Sade. Perhaps we had some Enya, too. I was thankful. The summer before I had to deal with fitting lingerie on fat old ladies while listening to “smooth jazz” (Kenny G and his contemporaries). I can safely say this is perhaps the one genre of music I really loathe. But when I hear Sade, I’m transported to that store, the awesome collection books I got to devour, the globes to play with, the funky trinkets like airplane ear plugs and bizarre “hidden” money belts, the word and number and geometry games I would invent for myself when it was slow. No – it transports me further. I hear Sade and I can even feel the clothing I wore on me (khaki trousers and bright polo shirts – oh yes it was rather ugly and rather butch), the first diary I ever kept with the cover of Monet’s painting of the woman with a parasol on the hill with the blue skies behind her (I would write dozens and dozens of pages every day, at home, on coffee breaks and lunch, it felt so important somehow), my first NC-17 film (The Pillow Book), and the pennies, yes, probably the hundred or so pennies I tossed up with wishes, one every day, into a large pseudo-rococo fountain in the mall near the store.
My journal cover
And today. And then. What a difference. What little has changed. I remember my general state that summer being one of sheer excitement. My “whole life was ahead of me.” I knew that I would be going away to four years of incredible adventures in universityland. And four years was an eternity. As scared as teenagers can be. As anxious as teenagers can be (and boy was I anxious – those were the days before I knew what panic attacks actually were). Anything was possible. And everything was certain. Now, nothing is certain. Four years of knowing where you’ll be as opposed to not knowing what each day will bring. Not knowing what work I will have. Not knowing where I’ll up and move to. Not knowing. And lots of worries about practical things – money, transportation, bills, chores, money, veterinarian appointments, dentist, money, parents, work, work, work, money. Jeez. Is this life?
The funny thing is, I’m still OK. I’m very OK. I’m calmer. I’m dealing. I am a healthier person. But boy do I wish I had that certainty again. Four years. Sure, there was anxiety up the wazoo, big time. Mood swings. Depression. Self-confidence in the toilet. But the rapture! College, books, writing, art, travel, the future. Absolutely certain of the fact that things were about to get better and better. I’m healthy now. But I want that optimism back. The energy. The certainty. With my deeper understanding of and perspective on reality, is it possible? Is this perception even real?
It was a good tasting. Sold about 10 bottles, 5 of which were really gorgeous, expensive single vineyards. I haven’t lost it. If I love something, really love something, I can sell it. But only if people want to buy it, that is. Boy was it amazing when I discovered that. I could sell guidebooks, suitcases, globes, almost anything in that store, because I loved almost everything in that store. I gave restaurant tips for people going to Paris, for goodness sake. At 18.
This is no ordinary love. How ethereal. How evocative of… a time and place that you feel you remember intimately, but only vaguely, like a dream, like a Mr Holland’s Opus Bill Clinton is Sexy Manhattan Project Priscilla Queen of the Desert Blade Runner The Real World Milan Kundera Pearl Jam Wimbledon and Chocolate Carmina Burana Silver Cigarette Case Sunrise on Lake Michigan Womyn’s Bookstore Rocky Horror Endless Cup of Coffee Tori Peppermint Tea Rainbow Melissa Atom Bomb 1984 Washington DC Shakespeare Picasso Posters The Tempest Names Project Angel Hair Pasta Kate Winslet Borders Books Volkswagen Indigo Camp Visit Words Words Words and Heat, kind of place.
No ordinary love. God. What is that?
What love is ordinary?
Retail is limbo.
Christ in Limbo, after Hieronymus Bosch (16th century)
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