Archive for the ‘ex-girlfriend’ Tag

Hello DC: NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE…   4 comments

People always ask a person who’s almost died, “What were you thinking about just before the moment happened?” With a small level of certainty, I can (sort of but not really) answer this question.

 
Sometimes when I go to Adams Morgan, my mind runs on my ex-girlfriend, who lives in the area. Last night was a particularly boring affair, with me hopping from bar to bar and talking to no one. Like most nights when I’m in Adams Morgan, I take the bus home. When my cell phone displayed the magic time of 1:30, I decide to leave.

 
Strangely, the street is blocked off on one side, allowing traffic to leave the 18th street strip, but not come into it. I watch a bus rumble by slowly, and wonder if it is ever going to come back. I pace around for a few moments, watching people float by in various states of inebriation. An older African-American lady is sitting at the bus stop, with a small plastic bag in her hand. A few feet in front of her, with her arms folded is a tough-looking Caucasian woman. The tough-looking lady is standing and the other woman is sitting down. I lean against a part of the support structure of the bus stop.
So far I’ve been distracting myself by watching people, but for a quick second, I wonder what my ex-girlfriend is doing. Is she sleeping blissfully? Warm in someone’s arms? Or not even home? This thought passed through my head for a fleeting moment, then…

Shots rang out.

There were four or five shots. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! This was no more than ten feet from where I was standing. In that area, people scattered like cockroaches in a room when the light comes on. A few people, not sure what to do, simply stood up, like deer caught in the headlights. Some immediately hit the deck, and others streaked across the now empty street. Strangely, I didn’t move. I was leaning on the post, sort of looking straight up at nothing when I hear the first shot. Then I looked beside me and saw the clamor of activity. Most likely someone had been shot. The noises sounded dull and directed. Somewhere, only a few feet away, a person was probably dead. Only moments before, I had almost walked right there out of sheer idleness.

 
I jogged a few feet away from the bus stop to Columbia road, near the ATM. That was probably a bad idea, because that’s where the noise came from. The gun-toting maniacs were probably running to Columbia Road as well, where the melee might continue.

A few dark bodies fled from the alley, and it seemed that every officer was now brandishing their weapons. A few officers fly out of the alleyway and run down a dark street, holding their guns. As I looked around, an odd quiet hit the air.

People who are genuinely frightened don’t lament or weep. They stand in shock, wondering what just happened, realizing their mortality. One wrong move and a stray bullet could end your life, or severely injure you. The cops looked edgy.

A person running a little too frantically was liable to be chased, and probably beaten I presumed. While observing all of this, I realized that I was the only person standing up (along with the police officer). Everyone else was hiding behind a wall, or lying on the ground. Even this guy I had jogged past, (he was at the second bus stop that faced Columbia Road holding his bike) was crouching on the ground, looking around warily.

The officer looked at me with indifference. I was standing there with my hands in my pockets, surveying the area. The shots didn’t frighten me. A part of me “felt” as if I should be frightened, but the trembling chaos didn’t enter me. I just think I’m one of those people that doesn’t frighten easily.

Once in Jamaica, I was almost hit in a head on collision by a SUV twice the size of my vehicle. It was driving directly towards me with no headlights on. The SUV hopped over an island in the road, and it was only 50/50 that I chose to swerve right and the vehicle went left. Shortly after, a police car came blaring down the road, chasing the vehicle. I didn’t feel frightened at that point either, but seconds after the cars disappeared, my left leg began trembling violently. I was afraid in some way, I just didn’t feel it immediately.

Tonight, or last night was different. I realized that should a shootout happen, a stray bullet could hit me, but that eventuality didn’t make much sense to me. Though I was near the epicenter of the event, and only feet away from where the shooting started, I was standing near all the police cars and heavily armed officers.

After a moment, I walked towards the crosswalk that leads to the McDonalds on the other side of the street. The African-American woman from before was lying on the ground with two young Caucasian women. She was crying from sheer fright. She was inconsolable. I don’t blame her. If I was ten feet away, she was no less than five feet. The two girls held her hand.

“It’s okay. They weren’t trying to shoot you.” The girls said.
One of them, a blonde with tear filled eyes kept looking on me. I recognized her, but I didn’t know from where. They told the lady she would be all right. I couldn’t hear exactly what the woman was saying, but it seemed she thought they were shooting at her, and she was also worried about how she would get home. The two girls said they would pay for a cab so that she could reach home.
I was standing there, watching them with my arms folded. They were crying and seriously frightened, and it must have seemed odd for me to be standing there so stoically. Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and wonder why I wasn’t frightened, and why the tear filled eyes of those three women on the ground didn’t move me to even say anything.

I wanted to say “The worst is over.” And touch the woman’s shoulder, and reassure the girls that they were safe because the police were right behind them, as were the police cars. But I didn’t say anything. I watched them in their humanity, consoling each other in the way that people do in a time of crisis.

 
I felt a piercing vulnerability at that point. I sensed that if I had been walking by there (as I almost did) or if I had been idly traipsing around, I could have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bad luck, bad timing. It seems fit that minutes before this event happened, I ran into someone I knew and followed that person to a bar for a few minutes. If I didn’t, who knows?

 

The girls still haven’t gotten up. They are freaked out and scared half to death, and are still lying awkwardly on the ground. The older lady is still moaning and wiping her eyes.
For a fleeting moment I get a powerful urge to call my ex-girlfriend. For some reason, some aspect of the event made me think of going over to her place to take refuge. She was only a few blocks away I thought, and I’ll be safe there. I wanted to say to her, “Wow, can you believe that I was standing right by a place where some shots rang out?” A part of me saw myself going over there, standing by her door as she rushes out in the hallway and gives me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, thankful that I am alive and well.

But then I realized what I was thinking just before this all happened. I was wondering if she was sleeping blissfully, if she was in the arms of someone else, or even home at all. It dawned on me there was no reason to call her, and there was also no place for me to go but my apartment.
Maybe the event didn’t frighten me in a way that made me run for dear life, or hide on the ground, quivering like a small animal, but for a second it took me back to a point in my life, when I felt I had a retreat, a safe haven from the world, in the arms of someone else. Maybe that’s the real scary part of the entire thing, the fact that I completely forgot that I was no longer with her and we no longer spoke, but hearing a few shots echo in my ears, and sensing my mortality, I felt a desire to see her and speak to her that seemed instinctive, dredged up from the recesses of my being that blasted me face-first back into the past.

In these situations, it is a great thing to reassure yourself that you exist by receiving loving words from someone else. A hug from a friend, a sigh of relief over a phone call, or a naturally heartfelt embrace, like the one shared by the three ladies lying on the ground. My desire to speak with my ex most likely represented my instinctive feeling to remind myself that I exist, and that I didn’t have to travel home alone to deal with the situation. Or maybe I just wanted someone to share the event with. Who knows.

I took one last look at the three ladies lying on the ground, and crossed the street. I hailed a cab and hopped in. “What happened around here?” the driver said. “Some shots rang out.” I replied.
“Really?” he said with an incredulous smile. “Yes, really.” I said.
“Where was it?” he asked. “

“Right by the bus stop. It was like five shots.” I said.

“Wow!” he said almost with too much excitement.

“Yeah, I was right there. “ I said, almost not even believing those words.
I told him where I lived and quietly watched the dark buildings go by in a blur as the cab drove to my apartment. I wondered again about that flash of desire to call my ex, and why it seemed so instinctive. As the darkness of the city loomed at me from the windows of the cab, I knew I didn’t really have a safe haven. All I had was my own thoughts to console me, and the emptiness of my bedroom. I thanked the cab driver, tipped him and went inside, immediately greeted by the darkness of my apartment.

 

****

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Avenue C + Blonde Girls + Indie Music   Leave a comment

I’m leaning against a wall.

Above me strobe light casts a spasmodic, reverberating glow of multicolored light on pale bodies, all dancing to the frantic beat of The Killers. I’m in a club near Avenue C, a place called 40 C, and I’m standing quietly, watching everything and nothing.
As I close my eyes, I imagine myself running hand in hand with the girl of my dreams through a mystical meadow, naked and insouciant, as our body parts flap in the breeze like tissue paper caught under a car tire. This hasn’t been my first stop tonight. But for some reason, it feels like the thousandth stop in so many nights of my life.
An hour and a half earlier, I passed through a bar. As I walked in, a girl grabbed me by the arm. “Let’s get out of here.” She said. I sized her up briefly. She was tall, blonde, with dark piercing eyes, a long almost hawkish nose, and thin yet protruding lips. “I’m thinking of heading to this bar across the street,” I said. This wasn’t a lie—even thogh I’d just went into this bar for no more than thirty seconds—the bar across the street had better light and cuter girls.
She starts following me and then her eyes pop open like someone pulled the light switch in her head. “I have to find my friend.” She says. “When you see her, you’ll be amazed. She’s the most beautiful girl ever. She is amazing.”
This reference made me pause. Number one, why was this girl pitching her friend to me, and number two, why would I find this girl attractive? or even beautiful? Thoughts immediately came to mind of a tall, hideous woman, with sharp grating teeth and meaty breath. This thought flew away pretty quickly. We move through the thick crowd, wet with the smell of beer and sweat and went to the bar. There, I saw a girl with a head of large curls with dark features. Like her friend, she had piercing eyes. But I didn’t find her that attractive. Her friend (who remains nameless) says something to her and then grabs my arm again and heads towards the door. Then, a tall guy who looks like Mowgli from Jungle book (if Mowgli had grown up and started modeling for Armani) grabs “the beauty” and starts talking to her. We all go outside as a group and the friend (blondie) repeats the beautiful friend pitch. “Isn’t my friend the most beautiful girl you’ve ever seen?” she said.
I look briefly at her friend, and she gives me a look that can only be described as “eww”. I find this repulsive. “Hey lady, I didn’t say you were beautiful!” They say they are heading to some bar up the street. Mowgli gives me an uneasy look and grabs the “beautiful” girl around the waist.
I have known this group of people for all of three or four minutes. They leave, I don’t follow them.

As they leave, two cute girls walk past me to go into the bar. One of them girl rests her hand on my shoulder. “g’night fabulous.” She says nocomittaly, and disappears down a pair of dark steps. I’m tempted to follow her inside and say hello, but I decide not to. I have no energy to do this. My social desires to interact with people occasionally get scooped out like old moldy ice cream and tossed into a back alley somewhere.
I have a quick drink at a bar across the street, a place called Max Fish, and watch people play pool. At some point I realize all I do these days is people watching, walking around like a wraith, all but invisible, if it weren’t for this pesky thing called a body I’m wrapped up in.
I end up at this spot where a guy I know asks me what I’m trying to do.
“What kind of girls do you like?” he asks. “Women.” I reply with a smirk. “But generally, tall ones, with interesting dispositions, but generally girls who like me.” I say this with a smirk as well.
“Well you need to head to Nublue, a spot on Avenue C between seventh and eighth.” He said. This was coming from a guy who owned a bar in the area—mandatory ponytail included—and I thought about it. Avenue C was a good ten minute walk from where I was, and this place might not even be jumping. But face with another boring night of the same ol’ bars in the LES I decided to go. I walk slowly past a few clubs, seeing throngs of people outside talking, smoking and laughing.
When I reach Avenue C, I’m in a blank zone. I walked a block too far and ended up almost on Avenue D, had to sneak a tinkle in front of a bush (directly in front of what I think was a church), and then felt annoyed by the time I reached where I was supposed to be. I stop at a place labeled 40C, and ask a few girls in the line if this is NuBlue. “No,” a cute girl with platinum blonde hair says. The guy checking IDs, a flaming guy with straightened hair and pants that would make Dave Navarro blush tells me NuBlue (which, up to this point I believe is spelled “New Blue”) is a block down the road. When I reach, a (obviously black) bouncer sits in a cheap plastic chair, and gives me an indifferent look. Admission is ten bucks, and I don’t feel like making the investment. I ask him what kind of music is playing inside, and he says Brazilian and house. I’m still not tempted.
A few guys come out and tell me there are very few ladies inside. At 40C, the line was chock full of little indie chicks. I head to 40C.
This brings me back to me leaning on the DJ booth. After paying five bucks to get into the spot, I become lost in the noise around me. The girls here are dressed very nicely, but they aren’t any friendlier than girls anywhere else. Lots of guys with Pete Wentz hairstyles, float around with big smiles on their faces. It seems everyone has black hair, tight pants and an “interesting” fashion sense. I see one other black guy in the entire place, a man that looks like he’s in his forties sporting a head of thick locks and a sharp jacket. The music is very good, but this doesn’t inspire me to dance. I stand near one of the bathrooms for a few minutes, watching people interact. The indie crowd always fascinates me. People are more energetic and lively. The occassions are trumped up with energy and riddled with a hazy sense of the status quo. Everyone knows how to dress, people dance for the sake of dancing and the DJ looks like Edward Scissorhands. I can’t say it was surreal, but in some way it was cool.
At some point a song plays that I can’t name that takes me back to Barcelona. For a split second, I’m there beside my then-girlfriend, happy and blissful without a fucking care in the world. Then I blink, and I’m back on the dance floor, somewhere off Avenue C.
At some point, I end up leaning on the DJ booth disinterestedly staring at the people dancing in front of me. I find how sad this image must look—the tall (other) black guy in the indie club standing in the most obvious place in the club staring at nothing—and I think someone else notices it too. A girl beside me says something, and I realize it’s the girl I had spoken to earlier in the line. “Hey, didn’t you ask me earlier if this was NuBlue?” she says. I give a stilted response and entertain light conversation. She introduces me to her friends, but my social radar doesn’t’ inspire me to keep talking. She is cute, verily so, in a nice black skirt. She reminds me of Brittany Murphy, but that comparison doesn’t make me feel anything. She’s with two other friends and I my energy is low. I suddenly feel like sleeping, and lean against the DJ booth once more.
At some point, a woman talks to me. “I can hook you up with any guy or girl you want.” She says with a smile on her face. I’m not sure if should be flattered or wonder if I’m projecting a bisexual vibe. I ask her why she’s good at this sort of thing. “I’m freshly divorced,” she says, her eerie smile never losing its brilliance, “and I’m happy!”
I take this into consideration, nod, and lean against the wall again. I see the blonde and her friends leaving. She waves to me, and somewhere inside me, I curse briefly. The chick liked me.
After another ten minutes I leave. The music was getting better and the DJ was amped up, but I didn’t feel like staying, even after he shouted “Okay you sexy motherfuckers start moving! Two for one drinks for the next hour!”
When I went out side, ironically it was raining. It was fitting, as if the earth was aligned to my somber mood. I spend five minutes standing in a group of people that curse a lot. A drunk girl kept bouncing into me. She was literally inches away from me and acted like I wasn’t there, and in that moment, I felt truly invisible. There I was, standing in a group of seven people, all talking around me, while I watched light reflect on falling raindrops on Avenue C.
I say screw it, and head out into the rain. By the time I reach my pizza place for my ritual slice, I’m soaked. I walk inside with a wet head of hair and a light chill running up my back. I wolf down the slice and go home.
Another wonderful night.

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