Dear San Diego,
"Life is fucking hard."
Yes it is.
It's even harder when you take your clothes off for a living at a biker bar in the middle of nowhere. But it also has its upsides - you become a hidden paradigm of wisdom for part time movie ushers in said impossibly small town.
I call here Dianne. Because that's her name. Dianne McCarthy from Ames, Iowa.
How she ended up dancing at The Mountain I've no idea. How she ended up all the way up here from Iowa I've no idea. I mean, I get let in on things, buy really only to the extent that Chinaski did in Barfly - that being little shards of glass and loose teeth tracing the trajectory of my undoing.
I hide at The Mountain. From Parker, from my boss, from Rusty who's always after me for the rent even though it's not my place and I know full well that it's paid out of an account each month.
I hide using bikers and dancers and drunk truckers as camouflage. And somehow, minding my business at the end of the bar, I go undetected.
But there are a few people I talk to.
The dancers tend to sit at the end of the bar near the door to their dressing room between sets, so we get to talking. Compared to the usual clientele, I'm harmless, so I end up hearing the gossip, the frustration, the money problems, the relationship strife. And every once in a while someone like Dianne will drop a bomb in the middle of a prolonged silence.
"Life is fucking hard."
My ex-wife said that to me once. Maybe a few days before I got into my car and started driving north. It seems like another life now, like the verses of Tangled Up In Blue - regret and acceptance rolled into one.
She'd floated away to find herself. To follow the daily affirmations penned by the Ronald Chevalier's of the world. She'd started a new job, got new friends that were instantly closer than family, and just sort of ascended up into the ether.
The day I left I cancelled all my credit cards. Because even though she'd left I was still paying for her work expenses.
The understandings of freedom come in many guises.
No one picks up Dianne's tab. She makes tips, her wage, and lives in a one bedroom motel room at the Moonlight with her 13-year-old daughter Mercy.
Mercy won't have to dance. She's an honour roll student and she'll get out of here.
Whenever Dianne talks about her you can see the pride she tries to mask. But there's a sadness there because she knows eventually her daughter will disappear into a better life - far from here, far from living in a run down motel.
I can picture her sometimes, years from now, sitting at the table in that room, the sunlight illuminating the old orange curtains turning her into a silhouette. She lights a cigarette, sips a coffee, stares at an old photo.
Some of us are here to hide. Some because things out of our control led us here. Either way, one thing remains true...
...life is fucking hard.