Spring Break 2002, day 3: Arlington, Texas

The world’s drying out right now, after two non-stop days of torrential, almost apocalyptic rain. For only the second or third time since I’ve been here the outdoors smells good, like things are growing and spring has actually come true. Funny thing about the rain, its song is chaotic and beautiful as any other, but it smells of rust and exhaust; toxic. That’s okay now though because it’s gone, leaving a bright blue sky and fresh osmosis for any green plants which have survived it.

I’m writing perched on the stairs of an apartment half a block from where I’ve been staying. Arlington has perhaps the most apartments of anywhere I’ve ever been. Dozens of complexes, each with one-hundred buildings, two stories high and all exactly alike, spread out over the flatscape like so many blotches on a red delicious apple’s skin, every complex packaged in its own cell wall of wrought iron or cyclone fencing. In the apartment I’m sitting by lives a Mexican woman who occasionally scolds her youngest one or two kids, and the one across the fence has seen four brightly-dressed black men come and go in their 140-decibel cars since I have sat down. Where I come from stagnation masquerades as diversity; here every self-similar block is rich with difference.

Dwelling on the past has never been one of my weaknesses, so I often do not realize how much I miss lost friends and family unless violently reminded. After not seeing some of my best friends ever for half a year, staying with them these few days has been just such a reminder. I have missed: having fun past 5 am routinely and without regret; laughing with those who appreciate the twisted and bizarre aspects of modern life; being with those who are open (and accordingly lie so little) about their sexuality; seeing reality with some innocence, that play-time makes as much difference in the long run as work-time. Voices, smiles, in-jokes and references, my longing for these things and more finally fulfilled.

So that’s where I stand for now, midway through my first real spring break. I’ve never really been the vacation type, more often choosing to stay where I am and pursue my own interests in the time allotted, and rarely having enough money in any case. But here, in an interesting place surrounded by people I love, on this vacation, I may have found happiness for the first time in a long time.