Thursday, August 28, 2008

EAST VAN, Part Two

Mr. Pekrul gave me the chair. Yellow but started out orange. Faded. Orange at the seams yellow where your ass goes. That’s the thing with IKEA I guess, once a thing gets so old we forget it’s IKEA and all of a sudden your vintage IKEA is one-of-a-kind and no longer IKEA. “Take it,” he told me after law class. Government class. Whatever class. Can’t remember but I remember he was teaching us about House of Commons and seats. So I took it.

Drove it home in my family’s Mercury Topaz. Yeah my high school was only five blocks away and the drive was only five minutes but how else you gonna play tapes of OC or Organized Konfusion or Brand Nubian loud enough for everyone on Gladstone Street to nod their heads? Your Walkman? Naw. You drive. I drove. How else was I gonna get this sweet chair home?

I balanced the chair precariously against my thighs as I trudged up the back stairs shuffle shuffle shuffle.
MOM: What the hell is that?
ME: My teacher gave it.
MOM: It’s old.
ME: That’s why he gave it.
MOM: Where you putting it?
ME: Here. (the porch)
MOM: It’s old.
ME: It’s free.
MOM: Whatever. You bum.

Naw, she didn’t call me a bum. I placed it right there (the porch). Overlooking my East Van alley. I sat, aaaahhhh!ed triumphantly. Lydia’s plum tree gracing the baseline of my sightline. I look in the horizon and see nothing but endless rows of tiled roofs of Vancouver Specials. I’d be graduating high school in like a month or two and if that’s not enough to prove that I’m becoming a man, then lookit the fact that I’m now the owner of my first piece of furniture.

Brown metal frame. Canvas upholstered. Stuffing still had life but well well well well well worn. Fit me like a big yellow Swede spooning me.

That chair became my home at home. I wake up and beeline to that chair. For real. Not even bathroom. Bee. Line. To. That. Chair. I didn’t know what the fuck e-mail was yet so why would I wake up and beeline to the PowerBook like I do now? No. Straight to the chair. Sit in that chair. Don’t remove my ass from that chair until I gotta pee or shower or eat or go have a life. But who needs a life when I’ve got my chair? My life was that chair ‘cause I was becoming a Romantic. I was writing poetry (only to learn a year later that I’m not good at it). I was writing plays (I still do). I was writing screenplays (doesn’t everyone?). Some days, after bee. lining. to. that. chair. I would sit for sixteen hours. Yeah, breaks to pee shower eat, but with a mug of tea my pager a cordless phone radio stacks of paper my pen… Why go anywhere else? I wrote. I listened to CFRO Co-Op Radio 102.7FM man that jazz was fucking good and there’s a world outside of rap. Listened to Joe’s dogs go bananas when he got home in his work truck. Listened to Sid holler at his kids as he always did always. Watched the new Indian family neighbours manouevre their humongous construction trucks into their tiny driveway and somehow with eight minutes of beep beeping and one of them guiding in sharp bursts of Hindi and three-point in-out-in-out they always managed to do it man they were good man they were professionals. I watched the sun travel. Shadows shift like sundial. I was facing west so near dinner time I’d hang a bath towel on the laundry line in front of me. There was nothing that could stop me from sitting in my chair. Not even the sun, not even the no sun. Nighttime comes, I drag out one of those stripper pole halogen lamps. Blanket on my lap. Mug of hot tea. Stacks of paper. Pen. CBC. I listened to Patti Schmidt sometimes until 4AM man that strange music and not-music was fucking good and there’s a world outside of rap. It’s Thursday? Fuck yeah let’s put on Doug Lang’s “Jazz Forum” and then Leslie Pomeroy’s “Jazz Menagerie” on CFRO Co-Op Radio 102.7FM this shit is blowing my mind! And I’m so in love with Leslie (voice) and I’m so in love with Patti (voice) and you two are partly responsible for showing me a world bigger than Boogie Down Productions. Peace, Scott LaRock.

And I would write. And begin university. Get older. Become eighteen.

James staying over as usual back in those days, Matt was over too one night. Super late. We watched “Glengarry Glen Ross” or “La Haine” or “The Professional” I can’t remember the reason I can’t remember is ‘cause we snuck out on to the porch I sat in my chair and we smoked weed. Dad came out like one minute after we smoked and for sure the weed was still in the air but he didn’t remark he just kept polite but yo he knew.

I wrote two plays, three short stories, started two handfuls of screenplays, confessed reams of pages into my private book that you should never ask me about. I’m not saying any of them are good but I wrote them in that chair.

I came home one time around noon after a one-night stand maybe it wasn’t a one-night stand ‘cause technically I didn’t really nah fuck it never mind but I came home at noon and Mom doesn’t question me ‘cause she’s mad cool and liberal so I got no hassle, I sit in my chair open my book to start writing about last night and smell my fingers.

That chair got mad faded. Bleached in the sun, rubbed by my ass. In winters I tarped it. I took care of it. Vacuumed it. Couldn’t stop the fading though. Two years after Mr. Pekrul gave me the chair and he has no idea how much I need it. I wake up one morning and beeline to my chair but I stop in the kitchen, Mom looks up from her congee and says, “Someone stole your chair.”

[continues]

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