In The Beginning.
I don’t know how we paid the rent back then. Sometimes we didn’t, I guess. The phone got turned off a lot, and when it was on – we let the machine get it. Neither of us ever held anything steady. The Gap turned her loose after Christmas that year, orange accessories to shame a harvest moon on their deep discount rack. Well, no shit. Some dumbfuck with an MBA got six figures to think anyone anywhere would buy bright orange socks, but we had to pick which bills got paid each month. A date meant pulling together enough change for a Super Big Gulp from the 7-11 across the street. Always Dr.Pepper. It would last the whole day.
It’s real easy to be broke in a place like that, where the temperature rarely gets below fifty. When it touched thirty? Forget it. Governor Bush would have to declare an official State of Emergency. Rest in Peace, Ann Richards. We miss you. Anyway. It was different when the sun never quit – the homeless almost seemed that way by choice. Lots of toothless grinning and a lot less shaking. More Margaritaville than Hamsterdam. We didn’t have anything, but happily gave it away. Two deeply tanned, severely creased guys in the 7-11 parking lot got canned food (with a can opener, naturally), my old crutches, and some new guitar strings. We all played some blues together and later, I guess, they got down on that beef stew. Dinty Moore, y’all. We own our own home and there’s money in Savings. Savings! Those guys wouldn’t get a glance, now.
Our apartment was one room. We could turn in a circle and see every single thing we owned. We slept on the floor a lot. My old single bed was okay comfortable, but small for two people. She was a stone but I needed room to thrash. Still do. I sleep better, but still not well. A few times I woke up and caught her talking to me. She knew I was asleep but had a lot on her mind. “Elephant shoes.” Mouth that shit in the mirror.
We met making out; a ubiquitous round of Spin the Bottle with at least one married person in the circle. Ubiquitous? Hell yes. Our whole bunch was decadent as fuck. I look back and wonder if every person in every decade is like that at that age? Or, was it particular to us? March through November the heat was on (propers to Glenn Frey), so every apartment complex had a pool or a hot tub or both. We were always wet and naked. All of us. Everybody slept with everybody and then swapped. “Bow to your partner. Bow to your corner. Now promenade…” Anyway. She broke up with her boyfriend just minutes earlier so we could make that make-out happen. I didn’t exactly break up with my not-exactly-my-girlfriend. A regret? Throw it on the pile. We spun that bottle and haven’t been apart a day in thirteen years.