Sunday, January 27, 2008

31 Flavors, or Something Like That

I feel a bit narcissistic writing about my birthday, but I'm sure all two people
reading this won't mind, right? Feel free to comment.

I personally always try to reflect back on the years passed, as I'm
sure we all do. When I was 13, I remember feeling disappointed as I
opened the oak door to my parents' house to find twenty of my closest
ice skating friends yelling surprise from behind a baskin robbins mint
chip cake as I stood in my band uniform -- the half-erect plume
falling into my face. At 16, my white Geo hatchback (later deemed
turbo egg) hatched on the driveway and almost scrambled when I took it
around a turn at 55. On my 21st birthday, a few blowjob shots and a
lot of other concoctions I would never drink again led me to believe
that it was a good idea to take a seat next to Elaine on the organ at
the Dresden room, and around 27, a severe crush on a friend who was
visiting led to my severe case of larangitus -- which consequently
meant that she had to answer my phone all day for the friends and
family calling, and that our lack of a relationship was further
diminished to my writing pad.

At 31, I can proudly say that I finally understand the true meaning
behind the knitted sign that Krish made me last year that
affectionally reads "Fuck the Dumb Shit." I seem to have a knack for
always making my life more complicated than it needs to be, but I
decided to use today as an excuse to focus on the simple things. I
woke up at 6:00 am, had a frothy cup of coffee, and watched the
highlighter-orange sun rise over the Fuerte San Felipe del Morro as we
pulled into the port at 7:04 am. I only know this because I looked at
my watch while it was rising. I had a pretty refreshingly real
conversation over breakfast with a gay student, who is a cancer
survivor and full of smiles and zest, before I waited to pass through
US customs. In all of the countries I have traveled to by ship, which
at this point amounts to a number beginning with 3, the US is the only
one that requires each and every passenger to physically meet with an
immigration official, appropriately wasting everyone's time.
Everywhere else -- even the communists -- just flip through your
passports. When is Bush's last day again?

Upon leaving the port, I was given a bag of crap from a local bank
whose CEO has a son on board. While some may find a philanthropic
angle to a businessman handing out schwag and cohercing 800 aimless
college kids into his bank, I found it to be a rather awkward
enterprise, so I took the mints and gave the rest to a kid on the
street. I then wandered into a local thrift shop off the beaten path,
where I bought an old T-shirt for $1 that would sell for $50 on
melrose. I would also like to note that there was a suspicious yet
impressive display of cheese graters and faded, nagel-esque posters.

The cobblestones that make up the streets of Old San Juan are so well
worn that they are a polished shade of blue. I really did think about
this a few times as I stepped on them. The streets are lined with
boxed houses and storefronts that are as bright and painted as the
playskool aisle at Toys R Us. The colors are quite striking in the
sunlight, and also make for a good magnet. I walked around for hours,
listening to Otis Redding on my ipod and taking note of the perfect
weather -- 86 degrees, clear and breezy. Some of the staff members saw
me walking and invited me to have lunch with them in a Cuban-type
deli. I had a media negro sandwich, also known as a "cuban on sweet
bread." It was served at siesta speed, but boy was it tasty.

I politely excused myself after our meal and wandered around some
more, eventually stopping in a large park. I watched for over an hour
as dozens of little kids ran around with kites. Everyone was smiling.
Laughing. Playing. I can't think of the last time I did something as
fun and unplugged as flying a kite. Can you? Stay with me here -- I
know that a kite is a cheesy metaphor leading to some sort of
revelation, but I really did have the existential moment. Upon leaving
the park, I heard these drums banging away in the distance. I of
course followed the sound, through a plaza and up into the second
floor of a warehouse. If this is my Nicholas Sparks moment, or the
Rosebud reveal, than so be it. I honestly had one of the most amazing
afternoons of my life, for in this old warehouse was this beautiful
Puerto Rican woman and a live band, teaching this group of downs
syndrome adults and children how to dance. The innocence of their
smiles and level of vulnerability was the perfect juxtaposition to all
of the things I have thought that I have hated about my life. None of
us spoke any words, but I knew the women somehow understood when she
saw me a little teary eyed. It's these incredible moments that we can share as
humans -- when who we are, where we are, and what we are somehow ceases to
exist. If only I could find that zen in the middle of weho.

Anyhow. My friend Anne treated me to a wonderful afternoon of tapas
and sangria at this exquisite old hotel called El Convento, then I had
the sincere pleasure of taking a shower in her cabin -- which is a
full on Deck 5 suite. I will soon write in further detail about my
current diggs, but for now, the theme of the day is simplicity. So I
will say that my cabin is very bare bones. One of the amazing things
about living on a ship is how you come to appreciate little things.
Being able to see my face in a mirror, dry my hair, and shave my legs
without my ass knocking the faucet handle was a luxury not to be taken
for granted.

I was all dolled up and ready for a big night on the town. But if
there is one thing my 31 years have taught me, it is that lesbian bars
are always either closed or in the ghetto. In this case, it was both.
Oh well, at least I get points for having tried. And I'm admittedly
not sure if I would want a place called CUPS sneaking back into my
birthday memory for years to come anyhow.


Jenkins said...

Court, love the entry and glad to hear how much adventure and soul searching you're getting. i miss you in puerto rico. just 8 more days left of shooting for me! maybe i will meet you somewhere.

we celebrated kate's birthday in true chigger style. i was falling down drunk and there are pictures to prove it (yikes!). i'll post them on flickr soon. xoxox

dave said...

happy birthday...