The story so far:
"In My Room"
There's a world where I can go, and tell my secrets to...
It was when we still lived in that little house in Marin. I’ve always lived by the water. I was originally from the Bay, although I don’t think it could ever be a part of me anymore, in regards to the future. I was born there, my parents’ second son. I had a wonderful first-half of my childhood there; I don’t think it could’ve been any better. Baseball and fishing consumed my life in those years, and it was a great place for both. But a decade after my birth, as my mother and father went their separate ways, I journeyed south in my grandfather’s Ford F-150. He picked my brother and I up one morning, and we drove through the fog, past big trees and green fields, alongside the blue ocean, and finally into the smoggy city that would be our new home. We lived in my grandfather’s house for a few months, on the warm side of town, between freeways and vendor shops. I craved the chill of the fog in those months. But when my mother finally joined us in the City of Angels, we moved to the other side of town, where the ocean breeze recreated a bit of the Bay weather I was missing.
I remember when I was a boy in Marin. I don’t think I had even started kindergarten yet. I remember the big boats carrying tourists and sightseers, and I remember little fishing boats. My father would carry me in his big arms. My brother would hold onto my mother’s hand, and we’d stroll along the water. The fog and mist made me feel uncomfortable. I hated being cold. But today, it reminds me of my childhood and sometimes I crave the fresh air on my cheeks and nose.
I was reminded of that brief, trivial moment one morning, as my twenty-year-old self walked out of a Venice Beach apartment. The boardwalk merchants were beginning their days, setting up displays and sorting out clothes and trinkets. The coffee shop’s freshly-brewed joe lingered in the air with the smell of the ocean breeze, and did so attracting early-birds like me. I leaned against the counter and ordered the largest cup they had. A thin older man with metal-rimmed glasses, dressed very well in pressed gray slacks and a white shirt, flipped through the pages of a magazine and stood beside me, also waiting for his order. It was a little windy, and if it wasn’t for the warm sun, my nose would be ice cold. The man seemed annoyed with the wind, as he kept trying to keep his grayish brown hair and the pages of his magazine in place.
“Macchiato!” the coffee server yelled out. An old Mexican song played from the kitchen of the café.
“That’s mine,” the man said, as he stumbled in front of me to get his drink. He stepped on my foot and dropped his magazine.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. He leaned down to get his magazine and his glasses fell off.
“It’s ok. It’s alright, sir,” I said, and I kneeled down and picked up his glasses. The coffee server watched nosily over the counter until the man was back on his feet.
“Thank you, thank you,” he continued to thank me, never looking at my face, but wiping his pants and adjusting the magazine under his arm. I handed him his glasses and he put them on. I could see uneasiness in his thin, pale face, and he kept nodding his head in gratitude towards me.
“No problem, sir,” I told him, as he turned around and began walking away, his drink still standing on the counter.
“Sir, your coffee,” I yelled out.
“Oh, yes, yes.” He turned around, nervously smiling at me. “How could I forget my coffee? Such an odd morning now, isn’t it?” I smiled at him. “Well, for me it is,” he continued. “Thank you again, young man. Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” I took my coffee and the man walked away, walking fairly quickly down the boardwalk.
He was a little neurotic and he reminded me of myself – shy and nervous, unable to comfortably talk to strangers. That thought disheartened me a little. I was unlike my parents in that department. They could strike up a conversation with anyone and project great friendliness, all the while making the other person feel like the most interesting man or woman in the world. My older brother was like that too. They liked people and people liked them.
I liked people though. I desperately wanted to be that person that everyone enjoyed talking to, the person who lights up the room once he walks in. My entire family was like that, both sides, with the exception of me and perhaps my uncle David, my father’s younger brother, who, like me, lived in the shadow of a jovial, popular older sibling.
I continued walking down the boardwalk, much slower than before, sipping my coffee and watching the waves roll forward towards the sand. I tried to think of other things, to get my mind off of my inadequacies. I thought back to those mornings watching my mother and my brother throw rocks into the bay and my father pointing out the boats. I liked boats for some reason. I enjoyed riding in them and I owned paintings of them out at sea that hung on my apartment walls. My father liked boats too. It had been something we both enjoyed together after my childhood interest in baseball diminished. He was a baseball player, and baseball was his life. But boats attracted him as they did me, and the scene of the fog so far away, hovering over the little boats on the Santa Monica Bay, was so beautiful to my eye.
I walked away from the boardwalk with the memory of my brother and me running on the pier - the bridge not too far back in the scenery, my father talking to a fisherman and my mother enjoying the breeze, leaning against the green metal railing. I tried to outrun my older brother. He beat me, but I didn’t care about the race anymore as we reached the end of the pier, and I watched the seagulls swoop down over the fishermen’s morning catch. The fishermen went crazy shooing the birds and so did my parents, who got caught in the middle of it all. The birds flew away, some successful from their raid. I smirked at the thought of my startled parents caught in between the little chaos as I walked back up my block.