Love story

Pub date May 27, 2009
WriterL.E. Leone
SectionCheap EatsSectionFood & Drink


CHEAP EATS I have never needed a hammock more. Heat wave, it had been a long time since I’d haunted my woodsy shack … accidentally work 40-hour work weeks all of a sudden (not counting this), and have no idea how y’all have been doing it. As it happens, I love my work. Some don’t, I am led to believe. And I just want to buy these ‘uns a bagel and pat them on the back. I can’t imagine. But I kinda can.

So, for the first time in my life, I get weekends. I understand the need for them, crave them, and don’t exactly have them. Six days I work. On the seventh day, I flip Yahweh the bird, lazy fuck, and go play soccer. Sometimes as many as three games in one day.

But this day was hot hot hot, so I only played two, and then needed me a hammock like never before. A little lunch with my teamies, an over-an-hour drive up into the woods, open the windows, peel myself out of the salty shorts and sweat-sticky sports bra, finally, a soak in the tub on the porch … and I was ready.

I put on some clean short shorts and a husband beater T-shirt. I gathered up the book that I am re-rereading, Love In The Time Of Cholera, a bottle of very cold well water, a bowl of cherries, and I went to it.

My hammock is strung between redwoods. Between uses, it becomes nested with dried needles and twigs. You have to shake and shimmy it off into the bed of same underneath. This I did.

Then I nestled in with my book, bottle, and bowl (of cherries) and within less than a second we were all scattered on the forest floor. Well, I wasn’t technically scattered so much as shoulder planted. Damn thing gave, winter-worn ropes ripping, and left me a little bit hog-tied, blinking up at my bare feet, which did look pretty against the green-screened blue sky, but now there were redwood needles sticking out of my upper back and neck, spider webs and twigs in my hair.

As testimony to my insecurelessness, or, rather, the precise flavor of my insecurity, it never even crossed my mind that I had gained weight. Just that I was an idiot for not taking better care of my hammock, and therefore needed another bath.

I washed my car with the still slightly warm water from my last one, then took a shower, which I can do now because I reconverted the shower from a storage closet back into a shower. But it had been years since I used it, and the shower that I took was orange. Pipes rust.

I wiped off and went to the beach.

What a beach the beach is, where I used to live and now visit. The drive there is enough to break your heart. Then, if you know where to go, you don’t get sand but tiny stones which store the sun in them and kind of adjust to your exact shape, given wiggle. You can be held and hugged by the sun itself!

And you can eat cherries, and drink cold well water, and not re-reread Marquez, the greatest love story ever told, because you are making one instead, in stones. Sifting through them, picking out the ones-in-a-gazillion that sing to you with unexpected streaks of color or peculiar shapes or a special resemblance to beans, for example. It’s like choosing your words very carefully.

Christ, I love a language barrier! Lying on my stomach in the sun, almost literally, I made a song of stones and held it in the palm of my hand. Then, when the cherries were gone, I poured my heart into the Ziploc bag, a handful of California, me. Stones.

Yahweh laughs last: Post Office ain’t open on Sunday, ha ha, the working girl, on her one day off, looking forward to Monday — good one, you card you, king of kings of comedy.

Hopeless romantic, I stayed for sunset, climbed the cliff, and drove home very carefully, very recklessly in love, and dedicated to survival. Nothing more than — nothing short of — the very next breath. For dinner: two small chunks of warmed-over roast duck and something slightly somewhat potstickerish, left from lunch at my new favorite restaurant: King Sing.


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L.E. Leone’s new book is Big Bend (Sparkle Street Books), a collection of short fiction.