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A Woman Without Her Neighborhood { 4 }

woman2I don’t know exactly what happened to Ginnie after that, but I do know this much: She moved out west where the white doves sail and don’t get their eyes harrowed out by Harlem seagulls. There, she favored men with terminal diseases. She was in a number of relationships, one with MS, another with a brain tumor, one intensely paranoid man who thought he was dying, and finally a man with AIDS. She didn’t get AIDS and he dumped her and didn’t even die on her. None of it was ambiguous, but she dealt with it as if it were. She wore her green and blue dress that was too short but she stopped shaving her legs so she could narrow down which men would date her. One man stole her car and she couldn’t prove it, but she didn’t want to be tied down by a car anyway. She posed her life as if based on an Escher painting. She was the inverse of herself. She was tugging at herself, she was tugging at her sleeves but she didn’t wear sleeves. She imagined a magnificent pull. The pull of something she couldn’t control. But she wasn’t really out of control. It was a reproduction of being out of control. The image of chaos. Ribald, affected, attractive chaos. She was just going in circles, getting lost in suburbia. She could see the future through the cul-de-sacs. It could go on like that, reflected in a three-way mirror forever, if she wanted it to. But endless paths and mirrors are dream ingredients. The shapes of the city could have been void shapes, contentless, or they could have been houses and schools that contained something and had meaning – it made no difference. The mental arithmetic, when done, was uncanny. She couldn’t seem to fully wake.

At one party she threw on a stint in San Francisco – Ginnie threw a lot of parties – they snuck into someone’s pool and Ginnie said for one hundred bucks she would ride her bike around the pool and into it. She only collected fifty but that was enough for her. As she was riding over the pool edge she tipped forward and the water rushed at her head and her ears clogged and there was a push on her body like a rolling pin. She flattened. She was an underwater road. And she was down there long enough for the crowd to hush and someone spilled a full can of beer in the water. Pabst Blue Ribbon. She watched the can float down like it was an exotic fish. But, a child’s water toy, she bounced back up and when the water wasn’t choking her, when she was finished coughing, she laughed and waved and everyone thought she looked good wet. Ginnie was a showboat thrill seeker. A performance piece. The stuntman to her own show. The on-and-on plagued her.

Ginnie then spent a good deal of time in the Olympic Peninsula and wandered those dynasty ridges. She bought a new pair of hiking boots. But the Olympic Peninsula had too few ripples. The pristine cloudy days plagued her the same as the carbon copy parties had. The clouds made a golden braid about the peaks. The ribbon of clouds was too perfect for Ginnie and she felt she couldn’t measure up. She was not a ribbon nor made of the matter that makes a ribbon.

Then one day at a lake near the Olympic National Forest which might as well be the Adirondacks, or vice versa, a homeless man saw what book she held to her ribs with the bend of an elbow.

“Oh, you’re reading Tolstoy. You came from New York.”

She eyed him, “How did you know?”

“Because we know each other. We’ve healed each other before. We should go somewhere and talk. We can sit in the park.”

“I have to go somewhere soon, but you can walk with me for a while.” They walked.

“We need each other right now, spiritually I mean. We can heal each other. I’ve healed a lot of people but women I have a problem with. I had to come back for women. But I love you. I can say that. I do. I love you.” He dropped a crushed paper cup, bent down and picked it up. “It’s my mother, you know. That’s why I have problems with women. I’m an idiot. But I love you. You’re the first woman I’ve ever tried to explain this to.” He dropped a pen and picked it up. He was carrying quite a load including a bowler hat, a coat and a poster tube. He went on, “You know I wrote all the hits. All of them. Bob Dylan’s ‘Modern Times,’ Sly and the Family Stone, Janet Jackson. All of them. I even thought of this –” he rearranged his things between his knees so that his hands were free to cross them over his chest with jazz-fingers, likely in reference to the licentious cover of the album “Janet.” “I did that, too. And Drag. It wasn’t perfect but it had to happen. I’m the Highest Artist, not just some crazy, some crazy artist. And now it’s too late and I can’t get any money for it. Every word ever written I wrote.” He cut her off on their path around the lake and looked her in the eyes. “Take care of what you own. Take care of what’s yours. That’s the real lesson. You see these?” He looked down at the ruined poster tubes again under his arms. “And this jacket. I found these in the bin. They were mine thirty, twenty-five, no, thirty years ago. I have to take care of what I own. Everything ever written I wrote. I’m the rock star. The Jesus. I’m everything. I’m everywhere.”

{ Continue to Page 5 of 5 }

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