Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Glimpses of the Good Inside

In 1998, about a month after my mother died, one of my roommates from my junior year abroad at a Mexican university came to New York City for a visit. A couple of years later I apologized to Mauricio for not being more attentive to him during his visit. He rejected my apology completely. He reminded me of some of the things I had done for him during the visit, saying they were some of the best memories of his life.
Looking back, his visit was very full of excitement and I was quite generous toward him. I suppose the source of my remorse came from my disconnected spirit. My life was very full and successful on the outside. On the inside I was miserable, very full of grief from my mother's recent suicide. My grieving loneliness was accentuated by a string of failed relationships with women and an overall feeling that I was incapable of enjoying an authentic relationship with another human being. The buoyant enthusiasm of my days in Mexico were a thing of the distant past.
Others often see the good in us, thankfully. Especially when we are most blind to it. With some years behind me I too can see the good that was in me even when I wasn't at my best. This came to mind this morning while thinking about an upcoming road trip to Los Angeles. I was contemplating some places to stop and shoot some footage - texture or some storytelling, not sure yet. The Olive Tree came to mind, which is in the desolate valley alongside I-5. One mid-Summer long ago my girlfriend and I were driving to Portland from LA. It was hot. I mean hot. No relief. My little convertible didn't have AC. Putting the top down just made it hot and windy. We tried hosing ourselves down with the water at a gas station but the water was scalding. Finally we jumped into a motel swimming pool without checking in as guests. After awhile we huddled together in a corner of the pool and had sex. I don't know if it was the heat or what, but I totally lost all inhibition. We climbed out of the pool and made our way across the parking lot, feeling both sheepish and satisfied. As I was looking back to see if anyone had seen us this guy on a big Harley appeared out of nowhere. I think he had been there all along. He smiled at us and said hello. He was really nice looking. He seemed really calm. Kind of freaked me out. We said hey and kept walking toward the Tastee Treat. My girlfriend said that's Johnny Depp. Who's that? He's on 21 Jump Street. We got to the Tastee Treat and ate lunch. She said, we should have invited him to come eat with us. Yeah, maybe.
Then around the time Mauricio was in NYC, Johnny Depp was hanging around Lansky Lounge, the club where I promoted parties. He was pals with this infamous tattoo artist called Jonathan Shaw, son of the band leader Artie Shaw. I hired Mauricio to do our mailing list at the party that night. After the club closed Johnny Depp, JS, Chris Antista, one of the owners of the club, and some girls were sitting in a booth having drinks. A bunch of us were going on a late-night/early morning trip to Atlantic City in my 1950 Cadillac. Mauricio passed for some reason. So did Johnny Depp. Before we left, I wanted to ask Johnny if he remembered that afternoon in California, but it didn't seem appropriate somehow. Instead I used my five minutes with him to introduce him to Mauricio. The gesture and Johnny's simple but warm conversation blew Mauricio away.
I guess I'm not such an awful friend after all.

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