May 1. 2012:
“I have $45 in my bank account,” Garth says. “How did that happen?”
“Oh! I completely forgot about that!” I say. “It’s from the book!”
Amazon finally paid us for March sales of Occupy the Highway. Thanks to everyone who bought a copy. You’re paying for our food now.
Garth and I sit in the window seat in the Hack Lab, eating bread and butter. The sun is warm. The other Global Square people trickle in slowly. Carolina comes in, waving her arms, talking of flowers, beaming in a bright blue turtle neck. She’s feeling better today.
A fellow named Jeremie Zimmerman comes to talk about internet censorship. We gather in the wooden chairs of the Autonomous University down in the hall to listen. When he’s done talking, he and his friend, Jacob, the founder of The Tor Project, walk with us to the courtyard.
Nine of us surround a metal table. A Cafe Bravo waiter approaches. His swagger overflows with annoyance.
“Hi,” he says.
“Hi,” Pedro says.
He knows we’re Occupiers. He wants us to order something, not just hog up his table.
“Yes, with ice and lemon,” Pedro says, smiling.
“Tap water,” the waiter says, rolling his eyes and walking away, dripping with open contempt.
Pedro goes into the Occupy kitchen, retrieves nine mismatched coffee cups and brings them to the table. He pours wine into each one from a bottle we brought with us. Feeling bad, Jeremie orders a large sparkling water. Pedro knocks a coffee cup onto the stones. It breaks.
Nothing makes sense here. These people don’t make sense. Nothing they do makes sense. We just go around hogging cafe tables, breaking cups, pouring wine from one glass to another for no apparent reason. People smoke other people’s cigarettes, even tho they don’t smoke. My life has become some kind of weird, foggy, Twilight Zone thing. A strange room in the back of my mind has opened up and I’ve ventured into it, leaving the rational, logical world behind. It can no longer touch us. I think we’re doing something. I think we have someplace to be. But we just linger and loiter in places, laughing, talking about things no one’s supposed to know about.
Then, out of nowhere, it suddenly makes sense for our entire mob to move. We waft out of the courtyard, down the sidewalk, sweating slightly in the sun. We go slowly. I think we’re headed somewhere. I think we’re going to do something. I think there is something to do. We sit on the curb across the cobblestones from a Dadaist Falafel place. Carolina buys food for me and Garth. She insists we don’t pay her back. We all flop and sit and drip and melt all over the sidewalk and curb, talking and loitering again. This goes on until my ass hurts from sitting too long.
Then, out of nowhere, it makes sense for our entire mob to migrate again. We float down the sidewalk. Half of us get in line at an ice cream stand. The others lean against a window sill. We linger and turn into rubber again and a train goes loudly by every few minutes. We discuss root beer floats and nudity. Heather gives me a bite of her ice cream and it’s like my tongue has become and apricot at the absolute soft peak of ripeness. We just stand there a while. It’s what we do. I think we were going to do something. I think there was something to do.
Out of nowhere, it makes sense for our entire mob to migrate again. We hover down a few sidewalks, around a few corners. We drift into the cool, relaxing courtyard of an apartment building. I take off my shoes, rinse my feet with a hose. I can’t wear boots anymore. We sit and melt and drip again. We talk and laugh again.
After a little while, Garth says, “Let’s go home. Okay?”
I tie my boots together and carry them on my shoulder. I walk the city streets barefoot. The soles of my feet wear away against the concrete. Worms carry my dead skin to the trees on silver platters.
“I can only take so much of that,” Garth says.
He too notices the pretentiousness, the weirdness of people talking about themselves and flaunting themselves constantly. It’s overwhelming.
We hang out at the KW. A summer storm drenches the courtyard. In the evening, Carolina calls. She invites us to dinner at the cheap Vietnamese restaurant with huge bowls of soup. She’ll pay. We don’t have any cash right now.
“I like Carolina,” I say. “She’s not here to talk about herself all the time like the others and she doesn’t seem paranoid. She’s so much more human.”
She’s waiting at one of the little tables when we arrive.
“I left just after you did,” she says. “I had to get away and be around some normal people, so I went to see the May Day protests. I’ve just had this feeling lately that our group is somehow being elitist.”
She’s glad to know she’s not the only one who felt that way. So am I.
“I thought maybe I was just being overly sensitive again,” I said. “But since you and Garth Noticed it too…”
We have a really nice dinner, sitting at the table long after we finish eating. They don’t shoo you away here like they do in the states.
Garth and I walk home in the dark, cool nite.
I sit still in a chair. The cement floor of the computer lab clutches hold of my skin and pulls it off my skeleton like a table cloth from underneath some dishes. The tea saucers shake, but they don’t fall. A bubble of nothingness expands, pushing them outward, pushing the desk, the wall, the buildings, the cities and the stars outward. The dense weight of empty space hangs from my collarbone and the sensation of a limb waking from numbness radiates thru my shoulders and arms. For a second, my body is unbearable.
Everything is okay the way that shining ball of pain is okay after you learn to love it like an acquired taste.