I douse myself in my favorite perfume, Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, in an attempt to remind some part of my brain that there is another world out there…somewhere, though right now it seems very far off. After having been here four months, I’m hitting that place where I really can’t really imagine another eight months of this hellish surrealism.
“I want to go home,” I say to Phil, who is still in bed at 2 p.m. on this Saturday afternoon.
Sleeping is part of his new regimen for quitting smoking. Actually, it’s the whole thing: staying in bed, sleeping it off. Any of the triggers that would normally cause him to chain smoke three cigarettes now cause him to fall asleep. He’s been narcoleptic for the past six days, twelve hours and twenty-seven minutes. I’ve been an official non-smoker for two weeks now and my new vice is complaining.
“Home just for a couple of weeks,” I clarify. “Just to push the reset button.”
“I don’t know,” he says, skeptically, “It sounds a bit like cheating. We said we’d be here a year.”
“I didn’t know it was a contest.”
“Honey, you can do as you like, you’re not my prisoner in India,” he says, as he rolls over and continues to Not Smoke.
His reaction, of course, infuriates me, and makes me want to smoke. I’ll never understand why men can find communicating so difficult, and by communicating, I mean: quietly listening to me complain, then saying in a gentle loving tone, “I’m sorry you feel bad sweetheart. Come here, let me give you a hug.”
Depression is an all too familiar state for me, and one that I’ve learned to push up against in different ways. Today my plan of action is to lie on the rooftop in a bikini and listen to my iPod like I’m fifteen.
I listen to a playlist from my first radio show, “Sad Guys with Guitars,” from back when the radio station was still in the closet of the Dark Room Theater. It has been years since I’ve heard a lot of these songs, and the memories come flooding back. The first thrill of pumping my favorite music out over the airwaves. My wavering voice, leaving the mic on at inopportune times and playing a whole set on mute. Deconstructing every show after the fact and learning to be better. I learned to speak, and not to giggle, to not get too close to the mic, and to act as if I’m talking to just one listener on a lonely midnight road trip.
Radio is addictive. After Sad Guys with Guitars, I started Pixie’s Bordello, which ran for two years, then came two years of Thursday and Friday morning smartassery with Suspect Advice with Pixie and Maggie. After a short-lived attempt to walk away from the radio station, Maggie and I started doing Charm School on Friday nights, which quickly turned into a great excuse to ruin everyone’s weekend by staying out till 4 a.m. I can’t believe that something so deep in my blood is now just a part of my past. I miss radio. I miss burritos. I miss Maggie, and my family. I miss the smell of ocean in the air. I miss soymilk and Brazilian dance. I miss San Francisco. I miss home.
I stare at the blue sky and feel like I could be anywhere, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Bangalore, Santa Cruz. I close my eyes and see an animated movie of myself in bold flat colors. A cartoon bikini-me floating, being stretched in several directions until I split into five small versions of me amidst a frenzy of squiggly lines and wobbly hearts that pulsate getting larger then smaller in heartbeat time. “Jesus Etc.,” by Wilco, becomes the soundtrack to my private movie.
An obscure song by Aidan Hawken, an obscure San Francisco musician, comes on and I open my eyes. There are two spectacular dragonflies dancing in the air three feet above me. Beyond the dragonflies there are eagles. Two beautiful brown eagles with five-foot wingspans carving giant arcs in the blue sky. Damn, I love this song, I love all these songs. It’s been ages since I’ve taken the time to listen to my music. I watch the creatures flying and the palm trees moving in the wind and my fresh laundry drying in the sun, and I think that I’ll stay right here and listen to my three-thousand, four-hundred and seventy-two reasons to stay in India.