I'd wondered about the text message she'd sent, one of about five from the infamous 323 Area Code Thursday morning, a strange Happy Turkey Day!!! Gobble-Gobble, Jason! :P sent at exactly 4:48 a.m. Pacific Time - arriving here instantly, in Ohio, just after breakfast.
Bored outta my skull. If you're still alone today call me.
Bored in the City of fucking Angels, right smack dab in the middle of striking Hollywood and fire-riddled Malibu, a freeway away from Pasadena and an afternoon train from Santa Barbara.
Her boyfriend had flown back to his parents' house for the holiday, back to the rugged confines of the western Rockies. Her own family was on the road, somewhere, plans made long before an unavoidable work stoppage shut down Tinseltown.
A nice brunch in Beverly Hills would be her only holiday feast, with a girlfriend and an out-of-work set painter.
* * * *It's funny how Americans like to pretend that the third Thursday in November somehow means something to the rest of the goddamn planet, how we pretend for a day that the Pilgrims and Native Americans really did get along in peace, liked watching football, and traded guns for corn until the advent of shopping malls 400 year later.
Chatting online earlier in the week, my texting actor managed to make Los Angeles sound like the loneliest ghost town in America on Thanksgiving, as if the city would shut down like some rural Wyoming village of a few dozen people.
Very melodramatic, but, well, she's in the drama business...
* * * *
I'd planned on spending the day by myself, reading and watching movies. I turned down several offers to dine with other people's families, in fact, to enjoy the solitude.
I even cooked myself a monstrous pot of turkey sausage stew, put some Calexico on the stereo and settled on a collection of Ambrose Bierce stories while the Limas and kidney beans melted into the meat, fresh sage, onion, and dill weed.
Calexico gave way to some documentary on public television as the stew reduced, public television beget dinner and a DVD, dinner beget dishes to the soothing sounds of Wendy O. Williams, NOFX, and Bad Religion. I cleaned up the stove and countertops to the tune of the Warren Zevon's "Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner"....
Just chillin'. Thursday, I was just thankful to be alive, alone, and without any sort of drama in my life. And I just chilled away an entire day, happy as a clam.
Just as I finished rereading the Bierce's anti-war classic, "Chickamauga," she sent yet another series of texts - again, bored in L.A. after brunch and already halfway through everything stored on her TiVo. Reading the last message, an apology for bothering me, I finally got around to at least beginning to make those follow-up holiday calls I'd been putting off all day.
Starting with the first text of the day, I called back a poor, not-so-starving actor trapped out in the 323, a thespian with nothing better to do on a Thanksgiving in Los Angeles than to subtly hint at the fact that she'd like to chat with a certain librarian/blogger/loner in Oxford Fucking Ohio...
* * * *
We spent the first two and a half hours talking mostly about baseball.
Yes, baseball. Off-season stuff.
Joe Torre, the new Dodgers skipper. Do the Chavez Ravine boys stand a chance, now that L.A. has once again stolen something from old Gotham, a Bronx manager to accessorize their former Brooklyn ballclub? And of another Joe, Cincinnati's Joe Nuxhall... did I get any feedback from the local Reds fans? Did anybody in Oxford Fucking Ohio say anything about it?
Besides being bored, she wanted to verify that, yep, the Zenformation Professional Jason was indeed the same Ohio Jason who'd finally sent his number - discreetly - through a mutual offline acquaintance. And to say she was shocked that we'd met once, at a Central Coast bistro a few years back, through that same acquaintance, would be an understatement.
"You know, dude, you go on these mini-rants where I have no clue what the hell you're talking about. You sound a lot like I imagined you to sound, like you write...
"...And I can tell you used to be in radio. You should try XM or something."
I tried to be entertaining, tried to be a good conversationalist. I've been slipping a bit, having spent a good portion of the last two months in serious dental agony, unable to even speak clearly without slurring or drooling for two weeks.
But, for the most part, I listened. When you're not accustomed to solitude, being alone on a silly holiday can make anybody feel as if they're the last human being on the planet - it's easy to forget things like telephones and the Internet when one is down on themselves.
And, yes, And she just wanted someone, anyone, to talk to her, like an real human being and not some - ugh! - girl from TV! One of her cats has been ill, hakking and yakking up scores of hairballs. Some creepy hippie at the organic market where she shops followed her to her car and almost got pepper-sprayed for insisting that the Burning Man must be followed, at all costs.
She needs a new stylist, one who doesn't yap like a chihuahua about customers behind their backs. And her new Hybrid car doesn't sound right...
And her sick cat ... he yakked up something... while she was driving the I-405 freeway ... in the passenger seat... Oh God, the smell...
* * * *
Only non-relative I talked to all Thanksgiving Day, not counting an interview, via Skype, for a very un-librarian job in Glasgow, Scotland, at just past 2:30 p.m. GMT and an unscheduled online chat with an ex living just outside of Paris.
Hell, my sister was in Southern California herself when I called, my parents six hours up the coast, and my grandmother, back in Virginia and once again able to drive after her near-fatal accident, was making her way through Downtown Richmond traffic to dine with her boyfriend's kinfolk.
Small world, really. Damned thing just keeps shrinking like a wet sweater in a hot dryer.
But at least through our ability to adapt to our situations, to adopt and explore new technologies, and to look inside of ourselves, into our own abilities to share our experiences and to listen to the experiences of others, we're never really that alone in this brave new world.
Thanks to all the changes in our global information infrastructure over the last hundred years, we've witnessed changes so dynamic that the very fabric of humanity has become intertwined with the crackling pulses of electrified airwaves and the miles of cable beneath our feet. Not for everyone yet, sure. But for hundreds of millions of people, the greatest experiment in information-sharing the world has ever seen has already become a way of life.
Rarely are we ever as alone as we feel. When we feel the walls closing in, when we feel abandoned, when a solitary holiday seems like a prison sentence, there's almost always a good book waiting to be read, a community park open, a mountain to climb, a film to watch, or -
- Or somebody to talk to when you're just bored, even if they're on the other side of the world.
We should all be thankful for that.
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