Walking through this B-class retail store, trying to squeeze through the hodgepodge of ten dollar t-shirts and 90s-styled Levi jeans. It’s busy as all get-out. I hate this.
Some Asian lady wearing a Valentine’s Day sweater-vest shoves her way past me, decides to look at the Clearance blazers right next to where I’m standing. She smells like garlic and bad perfume. Take a deep breath. Dream of the sunset on Crystal Cove, the only shore yet to be hacked by west-coast flocking tourists. Count to ten.
Asian lady’s still there. She glances up at me over her glasses, I’m breathing and counting, and she says excuse me. Ekue mei. It’s endearing. I wonder what my accent sounds like to her.
Move on to Barnes and Nobles, the only place in this God forsaken outdoor shopping mall that doesn’t make me want to take a sledgehammer to my face. Walk to the bargain books. Always books on Ireland for sale. Consider why this is. Maybe people like me always dream of going there, but never get the chance to go. They buy bargain books on the Emerald Isle scenic tour instead.
I’m standing here in this Barnes and Nobles, surrounded by post-holiday shoppers (moms) and unwilling companions (toddlers), trying to breathe, trying to figure this all out.