Monday, December 3, 2012

Waiting for Life in Tucson, Arizona. Part 3

Dunbar Springs and a moment to dejank

I was opposed to the house on Queen Street. I was so opposed to the house on Queen Street that I said nothing. I said nothing. Any words I uttered fell into abysmal air and neglected to find deaf ears. The house on Queen Street meant one thing, and one thing only: the end of my Tucson days was incredibly close at hand.

Dunbar Springs is a soft neighborhood on the north side of downtown Tucson. The only real concern with the neighborhood is that you must cross the railroad tracks to get back and forth to everywhere else in town. The trains are impressive in that there are so many of them. Late at night they blow their whistles constantly and in Dunbar Springs everyone has windows that rattle with the passing trains. The train whistles were good to me: I blew on that fuckin' trumpet every waking minute of the day. No one said a word about it either, the train conductors wore down the audible sensations of the denizens.

Dunbar Springs is haunted. Occasionally, someone will dig up a body. If the police are dispatched, they will quickly ascertain that the body is not their jurisdiction. “Call the University,” they'll say. Dunbar Springs is a BIG IBG (Indian Burial Ground).

I lived with my ex-wife on 8th and Queen Street in a sunken bungalow. Fortunately, the place was close to the things about Tucson I liked. 4th Ave was close by. There, I drank coffee at Cafe it+l. I rode my bike through the university neighborhoods all they way to east Tucson to work. I had secret liaisons with secret people near the power substation, I ate bacon wrapped hotdogs in vacant lots with an old French dude and Indians. I drank, as much as I could, and I passed out in the streets.

My friend Julianna and I gathered ourselves up and buttoned up our dirty bohemian rags and went to the cleanest part of town: the University of Arizona. There, there were nice hotels and nice corporate restaurants and nice homogenized shopping. There, there were crackers and crackers and crackers. Why this was such a pleasant diversion from our normal Tucson life, I will never know. Julianna and I were the cleanest of our bohemian set, but in this university touristic area we were dirty, filthy, the scum of the earth: “Oh look! Honey, homeless kids.” What? “If you think we're janky, you should meet our friends.”

This juxtaposition was for lack of any better word, phenomenal. Our Tucson was janky. After you've spent weeks sweating gin while drinking in places like Che's or the Hotel Congress or you've wrangled cockroaches in The Red Room while listening to live alt country you know the jank. And suddenly finding an area populated with clean people who care about TV and god and football and the good ol' fashion 'merican way, wow! You never knew how well life could be.

I'd been at some school function of the ex-wife's. I needed air. This function was dreadfully near the dejanking zone where Julianna and I sometimes went. In a moment of desperation, I escaped the party and ran to a “nice” bar. I ordered a double gin and tonic and a double shot of gin. “What day is it?” I asked the bartender. “Thursday,” she said. “No,” I said shivering off the gin shot chills. “The date?” 18,” she said. “November 18th,” I said. “Well, if I live until May 18th, I'll consider myself lucky.” It was not a good attempt at conversation. I wished I could have cared about TV and god and football and the good ol' fashion 'merican way.

Thanksgiving rolled around. Julianna came around for dinner. Pops came from San Francisco too. The four of us ate and poor Pops and poor Julianna had to see the fighting between the ex and me. The trains came windowpane rattling by with whistles and screams. Our friends were in bars doing bar things. There were all sorts of white folk migrating into Tucson for the holidays with their university student kids. Below us in the desert earth sleepers from another time rested overhearing some of the Thanksgiving holiday fight. Someday, all of the melancholy and pain would just be so funny, so interesting, so something like fiction.

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