You can tell that God loves the Californian because he made him so wonderfully. Six foot two; body of a racing eel; not a spare inch of fat. We are talking solid muscle tone, and a funky, confident sense of vintage fashion. He rocks Western belt buckles and 70s Fred Perry in a way that 99 per cent of the male population can only dream of.
Half West Indian, half white, God gave him a scarily big brain and a curious disposition, which makes him seem older than his 34 years. God also dealt him a great, stout heart. Sure, lots of people talk a good game about going to Southern Africa for a year to work with AIDS orphans, but the Californian has actually done that. He left his life, his apartment, his job, his friends in New York and took off. It cost him a relationship, but he did it anyway.
He’s angry about the state of America. He’s angry at how obese people are and what that says about how thoughtlessly we consume. He’s angry at the affectations of hipsters and people who take photos of their food. But he’s not an angry person. I think he just likes to mouth off. He reads Rimbaud—I don’t know anybody who reads Rimbaud! I barely even know who Rimbaud is. He loves, and has played, soccer with a passion. He’s pissed off that racism is still so prevalent. He loves to travel but now refuses to go to anywhere he will feel unwelcome because of the color of his skin.
He screens movies with a projector on the roof of his building and in a neighborhood he describes as ‘a war zone’—just because he can.
I know the Californian because one of his many jobs—DJ, bartender, writer—is at a store in my neighborhood. I know that he’s a good man because I used to have a terrier who was an excellent judge of character. She liked very, very few people, but she adored him. When we went to the store he would lower his lanky frame to the floor so he could cuddle her. She loved that.
The Californian is an excellent example of a theory that I’m developing which is that when life resembles a large dung heap, and you really do need the help and support of others, you will find it. People pass through. And when they do, they leave you better than they found you.
The Californian is like that.
When he asked me to brunch I had been having a bad weekend. My husband had come to the apartment to get the last of his things and had taken everything except a sweater which I had handmade for him. I was struggling to comprehend the thinking that must have been involved in that decision. It seemed just so damned symbolic of how comprehensively I had been rejected.
But the Californian pulled me out of my funk. We ate excellent Turkish food, two fisted Bloody Marys and black coffee, and talked travel, philosophy, horticulture and volcano geology. Did I mention that he’s astoundingly well read?
“I was telling my friend about you,” the Californian said. “And I told him, I bet you’re doing whatever the fuck you want.”
The Californian speaks fluent sailor.
I thought about what he said, and saw that with one sentence he had reframed my situation. My anger and resentment slid away (at least for a little while). I realized that although my life has changed drastically, it’s too early to tell whether it’s necessarily for the worse. Sure, there are many days when it hurts like a thousand tiny yet angry vipers, but that will not always be the case.
And I saw too that I have to try to somehow stop giving my husband the power to hurt me.
“So are you getting laid?” the Californian asked as we left the restaurant. I acquainted him with my one night stand stance and he immediately pointed out the flaw. “First time sex is seldom very good. Bodies. You need time to get to know them.”
It’s a valid point. Perhaps, eventually, I will meet somebody with whom I want to have sex with more than once; I can’t see it at this very moment, but it’s certainly something to aspire to.