Saturday, September 3, 2011
It was the beginning of a good stretch. In the summer of 2002, I spent my birthday in Sorrento, Italy riding bitch on a Vespa controlled by a 300 lb. Italian girl. It was very late at night, and I had lost my traveling partner, Lucas, in the process of partying. I’ve also spent a birthday alone in Fort Green, Brooklyn, writing a play in the attic apartment of a British pseudo-socialite who was returning to the mother country for the summer. Friends had stopped by, and it was more of me just being a sad birthday princess that led me to staying up all night. Seeing the sun come up from a Brooklyn rooftop, the morning after you turn twenty-five…or, twenty-six. I can’t remember. Either way, it was a moment. I also thought I was twenty-nine, when I was twenty-eight, so I was twenty-nine twice. Thirty had been looming for two consecutive years now, so it was time to make a change. In the summer of 2010, the move to San Diego commenced, and was completed the day I entered a new decade of existence.
Virgo is not a sexy astrological sign. That was brought to my attention early on this trip. Everyone is into Geminis, which I feel, is unfair to us ridged plan-oriented people. So, what if we’re inflexible. We pay attention to details. Since it was my special day, Brian and I spent most of it in the air conditioning, playing chess on an iPad, and waiting for the crazy-assed heat to drop down to a pleasant ninety-seven degrees at around nine in the evening. We shot some pool, biked around, ate Korean barbeque tacos and quesadillas out of a truck, and then started eastward across highway 35; the dividing line between East and West Austin. I tried to chat up a couple of girls in a Civic. They told us that the place to go was called Yellow Jacket. We rode our bikes down East Fifth Street, found the spot, locked up our bikes and got a couple of beers. It may have been the closest I have ever felt to being a cowboy. The girls turned out to be less than interested in us when their friends showed up, so we posted up at the bar and promptly fell in love with the three women that were tending.
They were playing a game where they would try to fit in the phrase, “My tits are huge” into conversations. It was an ironic statement in two of the three cases. Brian and I thought that we should join in on the game. They were charming and Texan, and there were three tails hanging from a wooden cross-beam above the bar. Each one was a different length and a different pattern. We asked who’s tail was who’s, and I found it charming that each on did in fact have a tail. Pretty cool place. I feel like I had a pretty good birthday night out here in this desert oasis. I flirted, fell for a sassy bartender, got denied, and rode home with Brian late at night in the desert night air, dodging cars and riding all the way home without getting lost once. I brought up the Virgo thing earlier to explain that since it was my night out, I got to plan the whole thing out, which is something that my people of the sixth sign can appreciate.
Last night was my birthday, and I am now 31 years old. What fun. There has been a heat wave going on in the city of Austin for the past week. And, it is supposed to be one hundred and seven degrees tomorrow. The past two nights, we’ve had to wait until after dark to leave the house. Riding bikes in the light of day is a recipe for heatstroke. Luckily, an old friend of Brian’s is letting us stay at her place while we are in town. She is housesitting for her parents, and has given us free reign of her studio apartment. We had lunch with her, and then she went tearing off to do battle with people from the Student Loan office. All I really know about her so far is that she is a force, and has a lot of good books. Writers whose names I’ve heard about, but haven’t read…like Camus.
August 26th is right before school starts, so most kids are on some kind of a trip with their parents. At least when you’re nine through eighteen and come from east side of the Bay Area, where everyone takes a trip at the end of the summer. So, no big birthday parties for Sharif. L Then came the college years; still, the same problem as before. The University of California quarter system doesn’t resume until the end of September, and all of my newly found friends were back in their respective hometowns. I would be at home and continue on in the same manner as middle thru high school; playing golf with my dad and a couple of friends, and then having dinner with my family. In the summer of 2003, I was in the process of gearing up for a victory lap at UC Santa Barbara. Painting and Poetry were my two classes… Every single summer day is perfect in Santa Barbara… It’s kind of amazing when you put a bunch of college-aged kids together in a seaside community with very little to do except play soccer on the beach, and throw bad fashion parties.
Most of my friends had graduated like regular functioning people, and I had to come out of my shell a little bit to try to find some new friends. Luckily, some people that I had been with in the freshman dorms were taking their time with school as well. Also, most of us being twenty-one now meant we could go down town to the bars and hang out with real, adult women. Not these silly college girls we’d been hanging out with, but women. One’s that weren’t just into guys on the surf team, or talking about crap on television. I was surprised to find that the girls in bars talked pretty much the same as the girls in house parties. Just because you get older doesn’t mean you magically become more interesting. Anyway, all of this to say, it was a fun summer, and this time everyone was around for my birthday. It was the first time I had been thrown a birthday party in a long time, and it was really fun. I was turning twenty-three…old for my years because I had been held back in the third grade. That year is lost in the hazy past of the early twenties. In looking back with some slightly out of focus hindsight, I remember being still totally confused and out of place in my own life, but for that party, it felt really good to be with friends.