S.O.S.- Sense of self. This acronym repeated itself over and over in my mind as I woke up early on a Wednesday morning. What time is it? My boyfriend lay sleeping next to me and I covered my mouth with the covers like I always do, in case he opened his eyes to look at me. This has been a recent happening, being self-conscious about how I looked in bed. I was getting older and the lines in my face were deepening, and it also appeared to me that my lips were thinner as well. I’ve always hated my lips and living in a city where it implies that every girl should have a big, sexy pout has made it more evident than ever to me that I am indeed lacking in the mouth department. Looking over at my dreamy boyfriend I start to admire his lips, luscious and perfect and I wonder if he knows how beautiful he looks when he sleeps. He can just open his lovely brown eyes and easily pass for a GQ ad, while I struggle to bury my face in the pillow until I have to make a beeline for the shower.
Sense of self. What did this mean? I lay there looking out the window at the Los Feliz hills and thank the gods for a cloudy morning. I started to think about my early twenties, the bar I worked at in college where I would sling beers and break up fights until 3am. Attractive boys would play songs on the jukebox and look back at me with sweet smiles, resembling Elvis or Bowie or some other rock legend, the chipped brick wall standing strong in the background. I would run back and forth from tables to the bar, smoking cigarettes out back with the waitresses when the manager was too busy to notice our absence. That bar was always packed like sardines. Every weekend was a madhouse, peasants bludgeoning Ming dynasty china shops with their reckless hooves. Not that the joint was a china shop but you get my drift.
When I stood at the bar waiting for my drinks to be poured, I would gaze at myself in the mirror from time to time. Some nights I looks precious and youthful…and some nights I looked haggard and mean. I would have images of a jabberwocky coming through and grabbing me, taking me through the Looking Glass to the place I really belonged, the place with mythological creatures who would lead me to my fate with virtuous songs and stories. Surely I wasn’t meant for this place, with the cracked wooden floors and glossy bar stools, the obscenely loud music and grabby drunks. No, I was meant for more, wasn’t I? I would have these thoughts sometimes when I would dance on the bar to ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’…guys putting 5’s and 10’s in my combat boots when I would stop long enough to take a shot. Some nights I would clear 400, if I danced and served the dinner shift. 400 dollars might as well have been a million to me back then, as my parents didn’t pay a dime for university and I worked all summer just to be able to pay my rent for a semester. I would leave with my pocket full of cash and walk to the little fountain at the Maritime Museum by the riverfront and write until dawn.
The fountain hasn’t had any water in it for ten years.