You can only buy Powerball tickets here in multiples of 12. Which is a shock to the system, even when playing with monopoly money. How is a desperately poor man suppose to dream without slippery aspirations of random and undeserved fortune?
I spent last night on the set of a movie. A pebble beach at midnight, playing my bit alongside a German, and an English, and an Italian. Watching for shooting stars, drinking cheap beer, sharing cheap laughs. Creating something not original but very much alive; smiling at our own clichéd good times. The stars played their part too, lighting up the sky like you wouldn’t believe. We delivered our lines in respective accents, the performance was not flawed. But the cameras forgot to show. Maybe we’ll try it again tonight.
It’s ironically hip to wear American professional sports teams’ shirts here. I saw a girl yesterday in a Chicago Bears hoodie. A dark haired pixie, with the right amount of style and right amount of smile, she held my eye far longer than necessary while passing in the street. I should have ran after her shouting about Chicago, and The Bears, and settling down to a little apartment in Pilsen or South Shore, where we could be happy and poor and alive. We’d cook healthy food, and we’d read to each other in bed, we’d both become famous writers someday. And when we’re old and gray, and living back in the islands once more, we’d look back on those days in our little Pilsen (or South Shore) apartment as some of the happiest of our lives. Instead I took a long, resigned sip of what passes for coffee here.
I’m getting better at seizing the moment, but sometimes life still passes me by. I try to reason that she could never be as good as the story I’ve invented for her, but I know that’s just an excuse. A lie I tell myself in an attempt not to feel so bad. Tonight on the beach again, I’ll raise my glass to the girl in the Chicago Bears hoodie, and we’ll all laugh and smile, and think of our own regrets. Of our own, ‘the one who got away,’ though in my case it should be, ‘the one he was too lazy/scared to go talk to.’
A couple hours later, in the checkout line of the little market, I turned to grab some chocolate, startled to discover the Chicago Bears Pixie stood behind me. I smiled down at her as she smiled up at me. It was right, it was love, it was lemon spice babies and all that silly madness. It was our someday apartment on the south side, or maybe the west, but definitely not the north; it was a happy life together, and an incredible story to tell our friends. And so, in my best upper Midwest accent, I asked, while gesturing toward her Bears hoodie, “you from Chicago?”
And in her most halting broken kiwi English, she replied, “Auckland, actually, I got this at a thrift store.” Without another word, I turned back toward the cashier, and in my broken American kiwi English I said, “ya brew, how about one dem 12 dollar Powerball tickets ay, brew?”