January 30, 2020
Its 6:00 am. in Venice beach on a Thursday. Ten days after Martin Luther King Jr. Day, yes. I open my eyes and I’m thinking about space and sex and aliens. I Shit, shower, shave, then walk to the coffee shop. I pass the butcher’s daughter, three wise men, and an actress who wishes that she was a cowgirl. None of them look up to watch the resurrection of the sun. But I do. I always do.
The coffee shop is empty except for the barista and a man whose holding crystals and reading a book on dark magic. He gives me the heebie jeebies. He’s riding the freeway of flames. He’s stealing white light from the world and setting it on fire. I don’t dare look into his eyes.
The barista makes me the usual. Cappuccino – short and stiff with a smidge of honey. He never responds when I thank him for his liquid art. I have tried saying thanks to him in 15 different languages. Merci. Danke. Mahalo. Gracias. Arigato…….. Crickets. Maybe he hates me. Maybe he hates himself. Maybe the magic man already stole his light.
I walk home to my car sipping the cappuccino and puffing on a cigarette. At 7:45 I drive to work, clear across town in Burbank. I pop on Patsy Cline and “I fall to pieces.”
I pull up to the lot at 9:00. The Warner Brothers logo is imprinted on everything- My badge. The water tower. My brain. My office looks like a house, everything here is a façade. I think of a drugged-up Judy Garland walking these streets and stuck under the rainbow. Once in a lullaby.
I work and work and work and work. There’s a lot of work and they told me only yesterday that I fly to Hawaii tomorrow. To interview a hula dancer. Red eye there and a red eye back. Yes! Aloha. May I touch your heart?
At 4:45 I hitch a ride in a golf cart. The driver is a Brazilian named Ivan, but he likes me to call him princess. And he calls me queen. I love princess. Princess is wearing a faded Brittany spears t-shirt that he’s been sleeping in since the 90s. He drops me at my car.
At 5:00 I leave the lot and head to the office of a Doctor I’ve never met. He’s a dermatologist and I’ve got something strange under my nose. It developed while I was sailing across the Pacific.
I arrive to his Beverly Hills office at 6:00. I park and take the stairs up, because I don’t like being boxed into elevators. I don’t like being boxed into anything.
I fill out the forms. How old are you? 37. Do you smoke? Sometimes. I lie. I smoke at least 2 a day. Do you drink? Sometimes. How often? Once a week- and that’s the god honest truth. How many children do you have. Zero. Married or single? Single – and then next to that I write, but I was almost married once. Then I erase it. Can somebody erase these questions? For forever.
I sit down. Twiddle my thumbs. I feel like having my once a week cocktail right about how. Something hard and on the rocks with a twist of citrus.
At 6:30 the doctor calls me into his office. Doesn’t even introduce himself. “What brings you here today?” He asks.
“Oh yea well can you like just zap this thing off my face?” I say while pointing below my nose.
He looks at it. Looks at it real good. “No I cant just remove it, it looks like skin cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Cancer. Skin cancer. Cancer. Skin.“
I wonder how on earth the doctor knows my zodiac sign. He must have noticed that I was born in July. He’s a straight shooter. Bald. Skin like an olive. Gesticulates like a man who likes men. His office is drab. Not one picture on the gray walls. As stark as stark can get. There is a piece of tobacco on my jeans that has fallen out of the bottom of my purse. I’m embarrassed of it. He flicks the flashlight in my eyes. ”Hello, did you hear me. That bump on your face looks like cancer. It’s pitted and uneven. How long has it been there?”
There? By 6:45 I am there, but I am not there. I am suspended and floating, like an insect that time has frozen into a piece of amber. Honey-golden. Teardrop from the sun. Sun. Sun. Sun.
Had I loved the sun too much? The same way that I had loved everything too much. Love always leaves me burnt and breathless. But I still love the sun. Partly because of the way it shines as it sinks. Partly because it bleeds the rain into rainbows. Partly because it is ultraviolet. Partly because this world would be naked without it.
My beloved sun, I give to you the rebel of my heart. As long as you promise to give it a sky burial. At high noon on a pink mountaintop.
*** I am one of 4 million people in the U.S. who are annually diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma. I am fortunate that a small surgery can remove it. Just wanted to say be mindful of the sun & protect yourself while you wander around in it. I also wanted to say that most sunscreens kill coral reefs. The two chemicals commonly found in sunscreen that you want to avoid are, oxybenzone and octinoxate. Here is a list of marine safe sunscreens. ***