The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 43
The buses to and from Santa Monica College were always packed. Standing squeeze room only. Dollar store perfume. Profanity. Asshole kids tagging everything that didn’t move. Then I’d come home to my cozy little cockroach apartment in the Mex ghetto.
But I had made a fascinating connection at SMC: a half Brazilian, half Mexican, forty-ish art professor who was in charge of the mentor program and who had designed and taught courses shelled in art theory; but the meat within the shell oozed of succulent, hard core sorcery.
I’d never met anyone even remotely like her. Nor anyone as frightening or, ultimately, as enlightening. I was enrolled in three of her courses. Each met once per week. Each lasted five delerious hours, during which time she’d manage to lose most everyone in discussions stretching from animal behavioralism to mythology to comparative religion to the I Ching to synchronicity. They couldn’t see the connection. I saw nothing but connection.
First assignment, first week in an advanced drawing class: create an illustrated, A-Z lexicon. We had the option of making up words and definitions, or choosing existing words, changing their definitions. But the genius of the assignment was that we had to make two copies, and one had to be left in a public place.
“But… WHY?” asked a particularly befuddled young gent. The art professor and I howled like coyotes. She looked at me and cocked her head:
“And you are… “
“And why did you laugh at…”
“Why did you laugh at Glen’s question?”
“I guess because I find it… comical, witnessing a reasonable fellow confronted, suddenly, with Zen.”
Truth is, life everywhere outside her classes was killing me. Inside her classes I was the passionate homicide detective looking for clues, taking photographs, examining evidence, developing a theory, cornering a suspect.
Neither extremes amounted to critical mass until one day, corner of Centinela and Bundy, waiting to transfer to the Santa Monica Blue Bus, leaning on a pump in an abandoned gas station, staring at a huge, full, grape colored Slurpee left under the bus bench—a red straw sticking through the clear, half sphere lid—shoes and shadows moving, talking, traffic noise, fumes, air brakes, speakers cracking under the weight of a hostile bass as buses came, stopped, unloaded, reloaded, took off…
finally somebody standing up from the bus bench kicked it over.
Mike called me at home that evening. My beautiful forever friend in San Francisco, Christine, had died. At home. In her mother’s arms.