Story

Living is an Art

Callville Bay, Lake Mead, an hour’s drive outside of Las Vegas.

Attended a special private multiple houseboats party to celebrate the birthdays of beautiful friends Jen and Eric. Joked that we should call every man Eric and every woman Sarah, because there were present so many Erics and Sarahs. The five faces of Eric, land of a thousand Sarahs.

I wasn’t initially going to go because Alston planned to visit from DC on exactly the dates of the big party, and I didn’t want to shaft him by replacing his impending visit with this rather involved completely different sudden unexpected epic change of plans. Weitz encouraged our attendance. I pitched the idea several times to Alston. He was open to accompanying me, but was worried about timing, dates and money. Also, if we went, he didn’t want me to feel torn between babysitting him and being free, and he didn’t want to be forgotten and ignored while I raced off to enjoy incredible levels of randomness and fun without him. I instructed Alston to shush, he would be no burden and he would not be forgotten. Also, I wasn’t the sort of person to leave a friend high and dry ever, at least not too much and never for too long. Weitz meanwhile was trying to solve and sort out all the party details, make many decisions, coordinate many things, and tend to the many demands of many invited friends. As time ticked quickly by, Weitz pondered my hesitation, said he would send out a helicopter to fetch me if he had to, I was touched by the extravagance of the suggestion, it was playful evidence of great generosity, Weitz is so wonderful, he is an excellent friend, and is very much the man.

Rd and Mazzie were gonna come too, but in the end they didn’t make it. I was sad Dylan was on the road and was out of the picture entirely. I vacillated between yes I should go and no I’m not gonna, until finally I put my foot down upon my own indecision, thought what the fuck is wrong with me, of course I should go, partying for three days on several lavish boats with wonderful people in a beautiful place to celebrate the birthdays of fantastic friends, fuck yeah I should, why would I not, it was pointless to be making such excuses. I needed to pull out all the stops to make the weekend happen, get my goddamned dawdling ass onto a goddamned plane and show. Fuck yeah I should, I totally would.

My vote for yes came late, so roundtrip flights at that point costed more. We still managed to book pretty cheaply with Spirit Airlines, but the flights were out of Oakland, and our departure was at 6AM. We had to be at Oakland Airport at 5AM, had to leave to get there by 430AM, and so had to rise at 330AM. Madness, I know. 330AM is usually when I’m headed to bed, not rising from it. Dylan thought I was a bit insane, and indeed I was minimally looking forward to that part of the plan.

Tiana invited me to spend the night at her spot in Oakland so that we could carpool to the airport together early the next morning. I spent the whole previous day cleaning my entire place, packing, preparing, and listening to a recent unabridged audio book recording of Revival by Stephen King. Finally I took a Lyft Line to Oakland and got to Tiana’s place quite late.

I was excited to hang out with Tiana at her house while she finished packing, I’m so goddamned lazy I almost never leave my own bedroom, Dylan jokes that I am a shut-in, and all kidding aside I pretty much am, so it was new, exciting and fun to be out and about in the world and at a friend’s actual place, usually if anyone wants to see me ever, they have to make it out up to my house in Twin Peaks.

Tiana’s apartment is nice and elegant, the colours, furniture, art and interior choices all are a perfect reflection of her own calm loveliness and cultured beauty. I hadn’t slept over at a girlfriend’s house in forever, Tiana is so sweet and wonderful, and we were about to head off on an exciting birthday weekend adventure. All these facts together heightened the sense of anticipation and excitement, so it was difficult to get to bed early and to sleep. I reclined luxuriously on one of the comfortable living room couches while Tiana packed. I drank wine and helped Tiana make some final decisions, I encouraged her to pack lightly, posted pictures of cats and dogs to Instagram, and told jokes and stories.

We didn’t really get to bed until midnight, and neither of us were able to fall immediately asleep. I hadn’t shared a bed with a pretty girl in a long time, so I laid there thinking, feeling content, self-conscious and happy. The bed was comfy and huge and Tiana’s reticent cats slept between us. We both sighed and changed our body positions often. Sleep eluded us. I could hear distant cars passing by, meowed confrontations between outdoor cats and also dogs barking, intercut with strands of late night conversation outside in the darkening streets. “Can’t wait to snuggle my man,” Tiana said. I smiled an agreement. There’s few things nicer, more perfect, or more awesome, than spending whole days spooning naked tightly forever with your magic person. It’s been said that men like to fuck and women want to make love. Speaking generally, I don’t think women even really want to make love. Women want to be listened to, and they want to be held. Women want somebody to care about them and cake notwithstanding, bitches love to shop. I read an article detailing the fact that given a choice between having sex and going shopping, 100% of women chose shopping. Rueful statistic but funny. Shit says a lot. In fact it says it all.

Suddenly my iPhone alarm went jarringly off, which means we finally did manage at some point to fall asleep. We couldn’t have slept for more than an hour, and waking at 330AM was a real trip. I mentally sighed and prepared myself for that knife plunge high effort moment between resisting pushing snooze and actually rising. Tiana plowed through all the pillows, sheets and blankets, and cuddled warmly into me. She was so radiant and adorable, I reflected on how lucky her boyfriend was to have her, while enjoying the nuzzle of the moment. Life really is all about just such moments, unexpected, charming, fleeting, innocent, beautiful, brief, and sweet.

We rose effectively and efficiently, grabbed our cases, boxes, packs and bags, and hopped a Lyft to the airport in the pitch dark. I felt a bit like a midnight fugitive on the run as we clamoured into the car. We got to the airport quickly and without incident, our driver was taciturn and good. I was impressed with our successes so far, we were timely, responsible and strangely well-functioning, I had expected this part of the journey to be hard. Alston beat us to the airport and he was in better shape than expected also, in fact we were all in exceptionally commendable form. Getting up at 330AM was awesome.

We checked our bags and quickly learned that Spirit Airlines can suck a bag of dicks. Like all of the dicks. The reason Spirit Airlines can get away with offering the cheapest flights to Vegas is because they charge fifty motherfucking dollars per carry-on bag. It’s forty-five (so you save 5 whole fuck you dollars) if you check the bags in advance and it’s fucking a hundred if you check last minute at the gates. Those assholes were trying to make a man in a wheelchair pay that rate for his chair unless he went out of security all the way back to check-in and paid a Spirit employee fifty bucks there to get the “deal.” Spirit also reduced the maximum bag weight down ten pounds from the universally allowed 50 to further add to the ways they can exploit, trick, swindle, fuck, fleece and dupe people. Fuck Spirit Airlines, don’t ever book with them, highway robbers, learn from our mistake. Cappelletti previously had tried to warn me, but I didn’t really understand what he was saying until it was too late. Spirit Airlines charges $13 for you to choose a seat which you can waive if you don’t care to sit next to your friends. This airline is making many multiple millions monthly with these kinds of small print shady tricks. Somebody remarked that Spirit Airlines is the Walmart of airlines, everyone unanimously agreed that Spirit really could go fuck themselves, and that Southwest was best for all comparable travel plans and future flights to Vegas.

On the plane getting settled, I was delighted to see Kalikia and Noah boarding the aircraft. They were on the same flight as us, so when I noticed, I lunged over the silent sufferer seated next to me to rush at Kalikia, embracing her and expressing high levels of surprise, excitement, and love. She had her 6AM game face on, so it took her a bit to register and reciprocate. I was all, “HI!” and she was all, “FUCK. YES.”

The flight lasted mere seconds since I passed out at once, Alston later described to me the beauty of the sunrise, I don’t think that man ever actually sleeps. In Vegas, Jen was gonna pick us up, but none of us knew who she was, and she knew none of us. At the pick up point, we smiled flirtatiously at strange women in cars, none of whom was Jen. Jen eventually suddenly appeared and skillfully sussed that we were the correct group of humans to fetch. Jen’s fantastic friend Elena was half-asleep in the passenger seat, there was luggage already in the trunk, and now there was the four of us and our many bags too, to try to tetris into this one small car. I gave up at once, but Noah clicked into a state of competence and tetrised all our luggage with dynamic efficient perfection into the trunk. Then we four piled into the back seat, which shouldn’t have been possible, but it was. It was even fun and decently comfortable somehow, and by 9AM, an hour later, we were at the marina.

We hung around at the marina restaurant waiting for all the others to arrive. We had to be there between 8AM-NOON to catch the departure of the boats, which is why we were on that demonic 6AM flight. Even though we flew all the way from Oakland, we still beat everyone else in arriving, even those who were locally already there. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you get up at 330AM, getting up at 330AM is the jam.

We were getting hungry and hot though, the sun was starting to shine and beat down hard, the temperature was approaching 90 degrees. There was nothing at the restaurant that I could eat, so I drank white wine from a thermos I discovered I had, and went outside to smoke and bake in the heat. When I returned, Kalikia was in the process of removing her pants and stripping down to only sexy black lace underwear, right out in public in the middle of the restaurant. “That’s better!” she announced triumphantly. “Right,” I said, “we didn’t really recognize you before, with all of your clothes.” Noah chuckled, Jen grinned, and Elena missed the quip.

We horsed around in the parking lot a bit and gave each other rides in barrels. Pictures were taken and posted to Instagram. Eventually the others began to arrive, introductions were made, and soon we were running around on the boats, jumping, giggling, shouting, drinking tequila, taking more pictures, and stuffing fresh fruit into our faces. All the girls piled around Weitz, and a series of ravishing seductive portraits were taken. Many of Weitz’s best and closest friends are beautiful stylish artistic energetic independent women, which is high testament to his personality and character. We all felt happy, hyper and glad, the sun shone radiantly down upon us all.

There was a bit of chaos as to who would sleep in which room and on what boat, it was such an interesting high octane mish-mash of human beings, people came from Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Jersey, and elsewhere.

The boats sailed across glittering sunshine water until we docked at a gorgeous remote spot for the weekend. We drank, conversed, interacted, gossiped and partied. Time passed. Shit was very on. I eventually squirrelled demurely away onto Sarah’s bed in her room, because my Asian insides were reeling from drinking pretty much all day since 9AM and not really eating. Tiana and Sarah eventually came cuddling in later to where I was, and they did their best to help me see things through. I said I just needed to sleep it off, Tiana made a sweet speech about Weitz and his gift for bringing unique and wonderful people together, we all felt thankful to him for this fact, and for the chance to hang out and get to really know each other better. Mountain suddenly appeared in the little room and said to Tiana, “Hi, I don’t want to interrupt, but I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” “I love you too,” said Tiana and I coulda cried from how adorable those two are, and from how crushing and sweet the moment was.

Everyone raged for pretty much the whole night, Alston was too polite to just show up in somebody else’s bed to sleep, even though he hadn’t really slept the night previously either, and so he did his best instead to both socialize and not get in the way. That man is so socially anxious and excessively polite, you’d think he was Canadian. I teased Alston about his obvious not at all sufficiently veiled FBI identity, I called him “Special Agent Alston” a couple of times. People responded to the teasing with vague expressions of forced neutrality and hidden confusion, their uncertain concern just deepened my amusement.

I awoke earlier than almost everyone the next morning since I lamed out so early the previous night. I felt gorgeous and great, the day was clear, bright, shining, new and beautiful. There was amazing fresh pressed juices for everyone, alongside coffee and a tasty small healthy vegan meal. The day was ready and set to go for further slaying. More people were gonna show that afternoon, and another larger more opulent boat was going to be added to our group. Cappelletti, Alston, Marika and I all were hopeful that we’d get rooms for that night, to make up for how haphazard our situation had been the previous evening. None of us wanted to bother Weitz too much though about the rooms detail, it was his birthday, and he had already shown signs of frustration, fatigue and tense reactions against sudden excessive demands from friends. We did not press the issue of a room further until later.

Some of us took a side adventure on a smaller boat to find a more secluded place with clearer water to swim in. The water where we were docked was overrun with algae, so swimming there was not recommended. This side trip was entirely magical. The water, the mountains, the sun, the air, everything was so gorgeous we coulda died. Ira took some great shots of all us girls while we constantly expressed amazement. We laughed, smiled, danced, embraced, and took pictures.

The boats all had waterslides and as I love to do K and go down slides, I was dying, but it was too late in the day, the water was too cold, and there was no K. The excursion was very special still, and the sunset was the most beautiful possibly on record, it ranked in the top five most beautiful sunsets I have ever experienced or seen. This sunset was so gorgeous that even pictures of it measured, which is saying everything. It was the kind of impossibly beautiful sunset as to make an atheist believe in God. When things get that beautiful, it almost approaches needless, it makes me question things and wonder just who is responsible, and who is all of that beauty for. We all cheered and smiled and wolf whistled the sun. The sun, in all of its bright, excessive, and darkening beauty, continued to set, magically and majestically, gorgeously. Beauty like that can break hearts. Mountain offered an exultant and exclamatory prayer, and this was one of those times when praying actually was sort of appropriate and made a kind of sense.

Eating was hard to configure, and I was always starving at all of the wrong times. Some of us fell to food porn conversations, which involved mostly me describing in great and excruciating detail all of the things I would’ve loved to be eating. I talked of huge perfectly grilled portobello mushroom burgers with fresh organic produce on buns that had no eggs or dairy, spicy baked sweet potato fries, hot plump steamed shrimp vegetable dumplings, gorgeous rich fresh duck eggs fancily prepared, whole rivers of dark and flowing chocolate, roasted soy chicken drumsticks, and goat cheese squares. Eventually I had to cut my own bad self off, it was pointless and masturbatory to be going on and on like I was.

We soaked in a rooftop hot tub under blue sky and blazing sun, I made a remark about how perfect everything was, and said all that was missing was handsome black men, specifically hot Jamaicans. Cappelletti asked, “Have you ever been with a black man?” I said, “No.” “Well,” Cappelletti said, “I guess Dylan’s kind of black.” I said, “When the lights are out, all men are black.” I added, “You think women prefer to have sex with the lights off because they’re self-conscious about how they look and but well. Now you know.” “I knew it!” Cappelletti said. “I knew it.”

I gave copies of my book to Mountain, Kalikia and Weitz for their birthdays, they were happy, and I was glad. Mountain took some amusingly creative remix pictures of the book, Weitz showed his book to his sweet wife, and Kalikia told me later that she conducted a special private ceremony. She said, “I closed myself off in my room, lit some candles, rubbed lotion all over my body, I really took some time out for me, and I had your book. It made me smile, and it made me laugh, so thank you.” “Wonderful,” I replied, “That’s perfect, and very saucy, I approve.”

Many of us got far more psychedelic than might’ve been wise, properly measured or in any manner planned, so when we returned to the main party from the small boat side excursion, we were all in various self-conscious uncomfortable and progressively unworkable states. I made an abrupt appearance inside the super lavish boat, and all the new arrivals gathered there paused in their conversation and stared. A record scratch moment. I had my huge hiker backpack on and I was struggling even just to stand, my new San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge shoulder bag was slipping off of my shoulder and slamming luridly against my leg. Again, like I said, everyone just stared. Basically I was hoping to find some place to cower with all of my things, I had nowhere to go, due to the room debacle of the previous evening. No one was very forthcoming with assistance until finally I said, “Look. I’m kinda real fucked up right now, it’s a struggle just to stand here and speak. I feel awkward and strange and I really need a secure place to store my shit, figure my whole life out for a while, kind of like you know just lie there hiding somewhere private and safe.” Adam became helpful at once. Lester said, “Just knock on some doors, open them, see what room doesn’t seem to be spoken for, and take it.” My dislike of possible conflict, default personality of excessive politeness, and overall Canadian too much niceness stopped me from taking just such logical steps by myself without instruction, so Adam authoritatively lead me through the lavish boat to do what Lester suggested.

We came upon an elaborately gorgeous unclaimed room almost at once. Alston and I were floored. People who had earlier already claimed other less opulent rooms were depressed they had missed out on that exceptional chamber. Alston and I hid in there for literal hours and guffawed. We couldn’t believe our luck. The contrast from our Oliver Twisting the previous evening to nowadays living like motherfucking kings tickled us plenty. We laughed like insane people. I told Alston the whole story from start to finish repeatedly as I lived it, in my own words and from my contorted perspective, even though he was mostly right there the whole time, and from within our highly psychedelic heavily twisted insides and fucked up mental frames of mind, we laughed literally until we cried. We could barely finish our sentences, our stomachs actually hurt from the effort of all the shock at sudden absurd good fortune, giddiness, gloating and giggling. Weitz came running over to see what the fuck was so funny, obviously we were being immature, obnoxious, excited and absurd, enough to be heard. I tried to explain to Eric what the fuck was up from the start of the story, but it all got too funny and made us giggle and laugh again, until our stomachs hurt and we cried, dabbing at the tears in our eyes. That whole giggle fest, sore bellies, and shortness of breath was the silliest, most hilarious, and best shit ever, honestly.

Alston and I hid out for a while in our opulent chamber, the room was more gorgeous than my own fucking room at home, the view from the windows too was incandescently beautiful, what with all the water, mountains, boats, lights, darkness, stars, seclusion, and sky. I wanted to chain drag the room and plunk it into my own room at home along with that amazing view, I never wanted to leave, it was lovely and too beautiful, so fun and perfect.

We talked then seriously about how fucked up the world is, how sad, and messed up and hopeless. We talked about the Serial podcast case, about rape and murder and war, about animal abuse, violence, suffering, evil, anger, miscarriages of justice, corruption, selfishness, dishonesty, cruelty, and everything that’s bad and human. Then we giggled again about how lucky we were. We alternated between serious conversation and hilarity, we felt sick and uncomfortable and cozy and good, we were all kinds of antisocial and hiding and enjoying ourselves big. Psychedelics are strange and awful and challenging and fun, I wondered why people bothered. It’s funny how difficult and uncomfortable we make ourselves just for the fuck of it and still, even though we are uncomfortable and feeling basically quite sick and actually awful, we still somehow manage to kind of enjoy it, despite the awkwardness, self-consciousness, suffering, and discomfort. Life is so strange, people are strange, shit can get weird and wonderful and really fucked up. That might all be the point.

A couple of times I felt guilty and badly for hiding out so much in that gorgeous room. I made tentative attempts to get out there and socialize. My first attempt was something of a disaster, and I retreated quickly back to the safety and glory of the room. I texted Dylan to detail my situation, I expressed my discomfort and my fondness. He was having some shitty time somewhere and he wished he was there and of course I wished he was with me too.

I made a final attempt at exiting the room and being social. Even though we finally had the most fantastic boat room ever, we couldn’t very well just spend the whole night cowering in there, peeping out the windows, having heavy discussions about life, the universe, and everything, entirely ignoring everyone else, and completely missing the party. And so we ventured. We took deep serious breathes, gazed at each other, nodded solemnly, stamped our feet, and giggled. We should’ve had some kind of spy gangster handshake but we didn’t.

We went to the next boat where Noah was djing up on the roof. We got bundled because it was getting cold, reclined hypnotized on deck chairs, and gazed deep into the black night up at all of those incredibly beautiful stars. The night sky was just as gorgeous as the sunset had been earlier that evening, I couldn’t even believe it. Again I wondered once more who was the author of such high level gorgeousness, and who was all that incredible beauty for. I felt strange and unable to express myself, I struggled privately to put my depths of gratitude and wonder into words. I looked and gazed and pondered and mused. Marika bundled me up more and better and took great care of me, Kalikia did too. Kalikia and Marika got to work in setting up a lovely comfy area of pillows and blankets for everyone to pile up all in, listen to the music, be together, breathe deeply, and commune.

Some guy was jumping around shirtless and yawping his pleasures. Full Whitman with dashes of Ginsberg. I wished my interior discomforts would settle down so that I could join this young man in his energetic midnight expressions. Eventually I did jump up and danced hard all alone. Noah played some really great fucking music, so I was glad to overcome being so overwhelmed by psychedelics and finally become physically competent enough to dance. I was real proud of my sudden confidence and energy burst, I bragged about it afterward to whoever seemed interested, Elena smiled, shot video and took pictures. Meghan did a great and mesmerizing punk dance routine with flags, everyone loved it a lot, was much impressed, we all smiled, clapped, cheered, and whistled.

The next morning, I was again surprised with my feeling fresh and comparatively early rising. It was the day of departure, and I was already a bit sad and nostalgic about having to leave. Adam started to play a wonderful morning dj set, but the details of the day didn’t really allow fully for his set to completely happen. A final unfortunate drama occurred that I won’t much get into. The day was clear and beautiful and bright. I felt amazed and calm and thankful.

Before leaving, the last of us gathered in the lavish biggest boat, ate fresh berries, and sang Happy Birthday. I had the rich pleasure of getting to cut up the huge big beautiful birthday cakes. Over the years, I finally mostly won the battle against an ongoing barrage of sweets, candy, chocolate, cookies, ice cream, pie and cake, so I was for the most part able to resist, and just to from a distance smile, marvel, admire and spectate. The cakes really were astronomically huge and gorgeous and beautiful though, so I admit to sneaking a couple small secret tastes. The dangerous mental patient inside of me put forth the possibility of shoveling into the cakes with my whole hands, and just pressing huge fistfuls into my mouth and all over my face. Thank whichever god is appropriate that I only thought about doing that and didn’t follow through with the notion. I wonder what’s the real point of that dangerous mental patient character, I’m assuming we all have a version of it, but maybe I’m actually really crazy, just functionally, and shit’ll unravel real shocking and good at some whatever point, who knows. I guess we can only wait and see, hope for the best and everything. Before this becomes the million page story that never fucking ended though, I’m gonna put a bird on it and quit. Jen said it’s not your own birthday that you remember, it’s other people’s, and she’s right.

That was the best birthday party ever and it wasn’t mine.
Thank you, Eric and Jen, for a really wonderful time.

Standard