Moved to Florida. Trees everywhere. Phenomenal. Made of coconut rinds and rubber bands. Tall and swaying. Got an apartment on Central, next to the bookstore, and kicked empty coffee cups off the doorstep every morning. Rose worked eight a.m. and wore a white shirt everyday and khaki pants she let me take off at night if I was lucky. Got a job at Happy Petrol. Night shift but I liked the dark. Ate out a lot. Cuban food, not as good as it might have been in Miami. Went to Miami a lot. Too much. Hated the streets and wished we lived there. Wished we lived in SF, even Minneapolis again. Wished we lived without mosquitoes. Smell of fries and fish everywhere. Every intersection. Always cars and buses, full of dark windows and other cities' names on the side.
Stayed up too late in the spare room a lot. Would get home at six with the sun thin all over and people waking up. Rose too tired to wake up till seven. Lean on the desk and read news from back home. Blogs. Emails: come back. Visit. Can't. Scared shitless of planes. Might actually shit myself on a plane. Might scream. Pass out. Nearly vomited in the bathroom once. 18,000 feet. Imagine: the feel of it in my throat. Even with booze, can't do it. Not enough gin onboard. It's the feeling of rising, the rush. A roller coaster without a downward slope.
Rose worked all day. Ate PB sandwiches at night while I worked the gas station. October and we didn't know each other. Her neck something strange carved of white chocolate. Kill to taste it but at the same time too weird. A stranger's. Who knows if I could have got an erection. Fiasco. Sex, but not the same. Strange gasping too-happy affair. Collapse afterward, on the weekend. Sleep two hours and wake up horny again. Ruined. At bars, women cute enough to look at but not cute enough to want. Nobody to talk to. Everyone an employee or a tourist. Oranges not as delicious as you might expect.
Spent mornings drinking coffee with eyes full of sleep. Watching stray dogs, trash men, people delivering mail. From back home: birthdays, jobs, an overflowing drink at Psycho Suzi's. A robbery at the liquor store. Ward moving into a new house. Looked in the mirror and saw lines in my face and my youth gone. Three years in three months. Aged by sun. Dried out. A grape into a raisin.
Told Rose in November that I was gone. Hard to do in a winter month that felt like spring. Had the windows open. I'd taken the night off. She didn't cry. Was upset about that then felt like a dick. Stayed another week and got used to the idea: drive north. Drive west. Didn't decide which. Rose brought home pizza, burritos. Quit the job. Coasted on savings. Watched a lot of movies. Went to Miami, again. Talked a lot. Went on walks. Had sex one last time on the couch. Swung her on top and she stayed there. Drank rum after. Told me I could go. Decided to stay.
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