*This post originally appeared on September 13, 2009, titled My First Time, on The Impulse Itself (2008-2013)
In September the tourists went home, it all sort of started when Felix came in early August which was also the time I kicked Kevin out of the house for the PCP. This left us, Suzette and me or the hot Tico Kiki who was way older which then meant like 35, with lots of time to holler back and forth to each other on our mics. Hurricane Felix was a big one and I got on the local news screaming kooks go home–the reporter was on 9th street, three up from us where the old deadhead house was, we learned from them early on where not to buy our drugs. Jerry died that summer, it was almost omen-ic: Deadheads by then couldn’t be trusted a lot of them were tweakers, everybody knew. I imagine the reporters edited me out, we didn’t have a tv so I never knew. We didn’t even know the hurricane was coming. I got off for my afternoon break and came home for a puff or jay and a swim or some food hopefully someone had some otherwise it was soft-pretzels from the Pier for free the only place I could surely get hooked-up. Sparky was the only dude around though, he was a squatter one of those 9th street kids. Besides Black Mike and Little Kid, the only ones still down to hang after I kicked Kevin out, there was Sparky. Sparky I never trusted cuz of the deadhead squatter thing but we still hung cuz my roommate thought he was the shit. He never had anything to offer he just came looking. We had nothing though since Kevin and the boys went, nothing at all. So instead me and Sparky just took a swim and it’s the only time I ever remember the Ocean slamming me again and again like a hard wood board. I swam hard but never never got to a place where she was settled and smooth so I could just float and roll. Like I said the Hurricane was coming but we didn’t know. No one else was on the beach though! Mom somehow got in touch with me and said to put all the stuff on the floor up so really that just meant my books and music on the lowest shelf. The pots and pans earlier in the summer, since we didn’t ever wash them, all got thrown out.
After Felix it was all different. Like I said, then it was just Black Mike who slept on the couch every night and also suggested we each sleep with a little switchblade under our mattress. Which is funny to me now, cuz like cousin Joey says a weapon will end up getting you in even more trouble if you dont know how to use it. And I for one, didn’t, no one ever taught me how.
But luckily we never had trouble. Kevin moved out, he and his boys trashed our house broke windows and the outside porch lights and tagged all over all our shit, then Felix came and after that everything changed. The alleys were more quiet, there was a lot more of the large grey sky. And when the sun was out it was ethereal again, funny yellow glow. I didn’t know it yet but that was the summer I first started to learn: there are tides that come and they move as one and they bring a certain power all their own, and they effect us all.
And the earth is where and how we learn.
By September it was cool already I had the greatest snaked Hoodie I lived in with holes down at the edge for my thumbs. Everyone was gone. Just 14 years ago, that’s all, but OC didn’t have the condo weekenders it’s so full of now. Even my aunt and uncle and grammy who lived summer here were gone, they had to go home to the county to teach school.
Which meant we ditched 6th street for my family’s house at the Pines, the girls and I, because it scared us being alone like that with just the beach rats who were hating on us and the ghosts that we heard again and again–no lie, the old fashioned player piano music or loud foot steps upstairs on the outside deck when for sure no one was there, or even the radios in our house that would go on without reason sometimes. Local folklore said the Broadripple on 14th, and our place too on 6th, were the original Bordellos from back in the day. It was mid-1800’s that the town came to be. But Wikipedia says the original Pier burned down in a fire in 1994, which isn’t true, the fire happened in the winter of 1995, winter after Felix, I remember because we drove over that winter to see. The fire took Morbid Manor and the waterpark, too; I smoked pot everyday in Morbid Manor in 95 then got to ride the water rides for free since I worked there, ran a betting game for the same guy who did Fool the Guesser, Suzette Kiki and me. And that fire took everything, all that, down. 1995 last of the Pier and the Manor, the Riptide Park and Jerry, too.
So me and Chrissy who worked Morbid Manor and loved a guy, Johnny, started hanging at the Pines. It was cool and vacant in town and I learned all at once to love September, the sheet clear blue sky, the white clouds puffy and bright as a smile. The way the water looked suddenly so navy blue. September, goddamn I learned to love you.
Suzette invited us over for for spaghetti that’s how I found out she was into selling and smoking crack. She got arrested later that winter which I learned the same night as I heard about the fire at the Pier. It sucked cuz she had a little one, I dont remember his name anymore he had brown hair with flints of yellow curl, he was three-years-old. Guess he’d be 17 now hope he’s not in jail. That night over spaghetti when I first found out about her drug of choice, it was the first time I ever got that gut-twisting sweaty-necked premonition-chill. It was September, the streets were flat and empty but she lived all the way downtown so the air from the inlet was coming off the water and was damp with a terrible cold. The sky was low and hung with thin grey clouds.
Addiction is a hell of a fucking disease.
In September now I come here every year weekend after Labor Day and have a reunion with old friends. Last night we were up to 3, boardwalk, dancing, talking, laughing and lots of quiet on the cool, white sand. Round 2am I walked past sixth street, Kevin is dead, I’m 9 years clean.
Everything is changed. And also, September, the clean earth and shushing sea, is just the same.