After my week ended, after my departing coworker (off to Brazil for the World Cup) and I share what's left of a bottle of 2009 Beaune Lycée Viticole ( a red Burgandy) from a customers' table to celebrate our last shift together, after cleaning up, counting the money and doing the checkout report, tidying up the liquor/stereo/supplies closet, then finally out the door with my stuff into the rain, I hopped on my bike and rode down to the great river. Driftwood, grasses, an occasional long tree limb mid river moving fast, and also plastic, plastic water bottles, motor oil containers, a large shiny blue plastic 50 gallon drum skimming crazily along the top, the crap of the manmade world there bobbing and floating along on top of the river's currents, rolling stuck on nature's skin. From the cement bank, I watched two male mallards drift down by the boathouse and join two others. Meeting, they quacked some, talked over the situation in duck, then parted, two upstream, then eventually followed by the two others taking flight.
Up the hill I walked along by the old canal, up past the lock, the water white and flowing torrentially, fuming through and over the old wooden lock gates, up past the long boat. I leaned my bike up against a stone wall and sat down and watched the rain fall heavily on the scene. Feeling refreshed, and taking a moment to watch three people sitting at a hotel bar on the far bank (a fancy hotel restaurant) served by a large bald barman, an odd perspective, pleasantly distant, I sat and watched the night, streetlamps lining bridges reflected by the pattered water. A large dark shape making a steady wake comes toward me, turns out to be a huge beaver skimming along head up on his implacable night mission, followed later by a lone duck drifting along with the pace of the current. I'm happy, content with my little version of Kurasawa's Seven Samurai or Roshoman, the rain pouring and pouring but me in the outdoor gear rain parka my mom got me quite dry enough where I need to be. Living outdoors wouldn't be so bad if, if… I can identify with the wish to be outside surrounded directly by nature. I can feel for homeless people. I can feel the contentment of a life stripped down. An exercise of compassion, remembering the presumably homeless man standing with his bags smoking a cigarette underneath the girders of the Whitehurst Freeway bridge on K Street by the waterfront complex seen the night before on another check of the river.
And today, as if to prove something to myself about wine, I wake up dry and hungover and wondering why I poison myself so. Nothing much inspiring me, just dirty dishes in the sink from the eggs I ate when I got home and stripped off the wet clothes. Administer Perrier, green tea, a bowl of reheated quinoa, a couple astragalus capsules, an ibuprofen for good measure, a nap on the couch while the neighbor's cat pokes around sniffing here and there as I lapse in and out of shallow dream, one my father has thoughtfully rented an extra car for my visit with him, too kind. I take off, at his encouragement, to drive the hills of the other side of the valley… the cat wakes me.
Why drink at all? To fit in with the foolish job of serving people, to fit in to the world of jobs. Enjoying the interaction, the people observing, but it does tend to push you to that point, "Here, c'mon, try a little taste of wine…" which then leads, often enough, of course, to more and then a little more. The fake personality, prompted by the gross mind, where the subtle mind is the true person.
My friend and coworker is going on his trip to get out of the business and being a waiter as much as any other reason, leaving me to ponder. Wanting to drink no more, can one still stand behind a bar and face people? Or, perhaps, how much more going on awkwardly, with small claim--even that I feel shame as much as any other emotion--of being a writer accompanied by little dignity, coming to believe what I wrote is no good, not even a novel, or that I am ignorant of too much of thought and literature. Awkwardness and embarrassment at where I am, that leading to the wine… and the habit of wine leading no where but more, more standing in front of people who are almost saying, why don't you have one too… Or is even that thought somehow not sufficient…
Perhaps there is something mystical to writing, as if what one would write comes out of past lives.
I've come to think it's all about compassion in the end. We don't always place much value in it, reward the people, like my coworker, who's been kind and open to a lot of people over the five years he's worked with me, who practice it. I see myself through him, perhaps, how people relax, tell their little stories, listen to his, an intangible of the restaurant business, of hospitality. Is it frustrating, perhaps, to only allow so much compassion to enter in to the deal as you serve? One feels he could be better used somewhere else, where it's more clearly and directly about helping people, not confused by the promotion of an escapist beverage and the selling of culinary pleasures...