My thirteen-year-old nephew Peyton, who's spent the bulk of his young life in a town just outside of Dallas, has recently started texting me on his bus rides home from school. A true and sincere tender-heart who's well-known amongst the members of our family for his, um, unique way with the English language ("Wait your turn, Cole! Patience makes perfect!"), Peyton's texts are rapidly becoming one of the best parts of my day.
While knifing a pink, dime-sized splotch of Basal Cell Carcinoma out of my shoulder a couple weeks ago my dermatologist identified a similar mark about an inch below my left eye which is why I found myself in a cosmetic surgeon's office in Laurel Heights this morning.
When we were finished with the consult, the cosmetic surgeon and I, and he'd done his best to emphasize, repeatedly, the fact that I was to consume absolutely no alcoholic beverages at least one week prior to my upcoming procedure or I would run the risk of not clotting well afterward, I asked if I could bother him with a question unrelated to skin cancer or forced temporary sobriety and before he could turn me down I'd already let "Why do I have so many wrinkles on my face and forehead already I'm only thirty-three doctor why me why me?" out of my mouth and into the exam room.
He studied my face for several seconds as if he were searching for the answer to my question in my brain instead of his own, then looked me in the eyes and said, almost as if he were responding to a different question entirely, "Your facial expressions are quite dynamic."
"Yes, I'm aware," I said, growing impatient. "People tell me that all the time. Well, actually they usually use the term gay face, but I assume it means the same thing. Anyway doctor, can you please tell me why I have so many wrinkles?"
He shook his head, grabbed a circular mirror out of a nearby cabinet, shoved the handle of it into my palm and motioned for me to look into it. "Now smile," he said, as if a hidden camera were embedded in the reflective glass. “You see?” he said, pointing to an assemblage of abbreviated crescent-moon-shaped creases fanning out around the corners of my eyes. “Your muscles are very strong here. They're pulling this skin together. The muscles are also strong right here,” he continued, his index finger now indicating the folds in the middle of my forehead.
“Seriously?” I asked. "What you’re telling me is that I look like a three-day-old party balloon because the muscles in my face are too strong?"
“Well that, and you should be more diligent with sunscreen.”
I watched his expression for a moment to make sure he wasn't yanking my chain and then said, in my most serious octave, "Thank you, doctor. I very much appreciate your candor."
I handed him the mirror, slid my backpack off the examination table and made my way toward the door while he jotted notes on the clipboard now cradled in the crook of his arm.
“Just a supernaturally muscular face. Like way, way too strong for its own good," I mumbled to myself. "And use a skosh more sunscreen. Got it."
“Corey?” the doctor called after me, not bothering to look up from his note-taking.
“A lot more sunscreen."
Sasha Pimentel wrote the poem below. It's called "Last Photograph of My Mother Laughing" and it was in yesterday's New York Times Magazine.
The one in the book after this, you're in the Louvre, whiter
and colder than Venus. It will be winter, your hands
in veins, your lips tight as marble. But now, it is spring
in Manila, Jim Croce's voice is wrapping against
an aging purpling sky where a seam of your hair puffs
up—, nebulous perfection. You've placed your hand
on your hip in young, flirtatious refusal. One wrist steels
with a watch so big, it's halfway to falling, and your arms are
plain and hairless enough to turn into a statue's missing
limbs. Gallery mother, swing of my heart,
you're standing above three black-haired sisters
who as I look at you there, are dead.
The investigative report says "dark sky, calm wind"
in Louisiana when Jim gazed out the plane's window,
morning sticky with haze. Your city aches in the corner.
And your mouth breaks so cleanly across the sky.
After the airplane we were traveling on landed safely back in San Francisco yesterday evening Tommy and I shared a Lyft Line into the City. When we reached the Lower Haight he took off to meet a friend for ramen and I climbed into bed to partake in a disco nap so I wouldn't be a completely wasted invite to my second birthday party of the weekend.
Bevan and I stayed at the Boom Boom Room until well past midnight sipping drinks and listening to music and eating Thai food from one of three food trucks provided to guests of the birthday couple. We grabbed extra noodles on our way out and ate them in bed when we got home.
I got myself up around ten o'clock this morning because I had promised B I would watch strangers pay real American dollars to throw pies at his face at the Castro Street Fair. A stranger paid for me to do it, too, and so I did.
After walking home and conversing via FaceTime with Kelly, my dad and Bryan and Jess we, B and I, drove Sid to Rosie's house for a combination surprise party and sleepover. From there we headed to Ocean Beach to watch the final sunset before Sid turns eleven years old tomorrow.
As the sun dipped into the Pacific we snapped a bad selfie and discussed the past year of Sid's life, a big-deal year for certain, and what we hope the next one will bring and how damn proud we are of the person he's become.
I found myself a man in Palm Springs and I'm bringing him back with me.
I'm waiting for the airplane I'm on to take me to Palm Springs where I'll be celebrating my friend Kelly's birthday for the next nineteen or so hours.
Although it may seem ludicrous (or possibly "glamorous" as my friend Will put it on FaceTime this morning) to travel so far for such a short period of time, for this same friend's birthday last year I flew to New York City for less than one full day to attend a dinner party after which I lost the actual shirt off my back while performing karaoke at Sing Sing in St. Mark's Place (as much as I wish that story wasn't true (I really loved that shirt), it is).
Even though this trip is super brief, I real-struggled to pack for it. Every time Bevan sees me getting ready to travel he makes a comment about how I always bring way too much crap, but this is the first time I actually got what he was saying. In addition to what I'm wearing on my person right now, I've tucked neatly inside of the duffel bag next to me, the following items:
- six shirts
- four pairs of shorts (two sweat, one casual, one running)
- two bathing suits
- running shoes
- a hat
- two pairs of socks (ankle)
- three pairs of underwear (boxer briefs, Jockey)
- three ChapSticks
- a notebook
- a laptop
- an electric shaver (even though I just shaved this morning)
- all of the essential toiletries
- a phone charger
Seeing as I'll already be back in San Francisco by this time tomorrow (if neither of my planes go down), I guess I have to concede this one to B.
Postscript: As the picture at the top of this entry indicates, I got a haircut yesterday. Much like all of the other haircuts I've received in the last, oh, decade or so, it makes me look kinda like LGBTQ icon Ellen DeGeneres. I think it's important to note, however, that my friend Will said (also via FaceTime this morning) that it makes me look like a young Ellen DeGeneres and, let's be honest, at this point in my hair-story, I'll take what I can get.