x-zylo ultra.

i bought aimee an x-zylo ultra for her twenty-seventh birthday. this is further evidence that i don't understand humanity at all, nor my place in the world, not even at the most basic birthday-gift-giving level. i first learned of the x-zylo ultra on a camping trip with my cousins. we threw it around quite a bit, and when it got dark, we wore headlights (the kind miners wear) on our heads, and threw the x-zylo around some more. i had a great time. who wouldn't love an x-zylo ultra?

i had completely forgotten what the x-zylo ultra was called, so i'm trying to mention the x-zylo ultra as many times as possible, so that i will never again forget what the x-zylo ultra is called. i tried to google "mini-frisbee" and "different types of frisbees" to no avail. finally, i remembered that my cousin had told me that he thought it was sold at rei. thus, i visited rei's website and browsed the kids' toys section. yes, this is where i browsed to find my twenty-seven year old friend's birthday gift.

deep down, i think i made the three hour drive to watsonville at the last minute to throw around the x-zylo ultra with friends at the park. aimee invited me to her birthday party a few days ago, and i immediately said yes, knowing fully well that my weekend would otherwise consist of watching the nba playoffs and trying to cover the band of horses' "st. augustine." i like driving now, anyway. long trips give me the chance to listen to albums i never took the time to play completely through. the cure's disintegration was one of them. thank god i never sold it back.

rachel and aimee didn't know how to throw the x-zylo ultra. i tried to show them, but my teaching skills are less than stellar. they threw it underhand, flung it sideways, and watched, disappointed, as it flopped a few feet in front of them. i showed them the proper way. "hold it like this," i said. i made a c with my hand and held the x-zylo ultra by the circular ring. "bring your wrist back like this, and when you let it go, let it go with a snap and let it roll off your fingers." rachel threw it as if she hadn't heard a word i said. flop. i felt kind of bad, watching them struggle with this piece of hard plastic, thinking that my gift now looked like some stupid happy meal toy.

rachel eventually got it and made a few good throws. mostly, though, i threw it back and forth with a six year old boy named jose. he got the hang of it real quick, and so we launched it to each other. our fun with it ended, though, when i launched it right into a big mexican guy's face. jose, who was closer to him, just stood there, stunned. there was a moment of panic where i thought the guy was going to come running over to put me in a headlock. i stood there, kind of laughing to myself, but eventually i walked over and apologized. "it's alright," he said. jose and i walked back together. "it hit him in the face?" he said. "yeah," i said, "we'd better stop for now."

aimee had a pinata and lots of food: beans, rice, salad, and chicken. later, the newest addition to the watsonville americorps group, bonnie, showed up. bonnie works at the food bank, and she went to a private school called reed in portland. talking to rachel, bonnie said, "watsonville is great, but i want to be somewhere where i can network. i mean, i know i'm not going to live here forever." i cringed at the dirty word she casually dropped in conversation: "network." she didn't really seem the ambitious type, though, so i forgave the faux pas. she told me that after she graduated from college, she went to argentina and mexico. now she's in watsonville, living at the kilburn house with her friend from college, tommy.

it was getting cold, so i said i was going to sit in the sun. from there, bonnie and i made finger puppets with the felt and glue aimee purchased from true value. i made a panda bear and a frog. a few yards away, two soccer teams were going at it like mad. i looked up just in time to see someone score a goal. there were people in lawn chairs sitting on the side. other families were having their barbecues, and children were running through the grass and playing on the playground. jose and aimee sat next to us and painted each others' hands. jose drew a mexican flag on aimee's hand, and aimee wrote jose's name on his. david, aimee's boyfriend, lay down in the grass. wind kept blowing the paper plates off the picnic tables. lucy, the three year old girl aimee brought along, kept looking at me strangely, as children often do. when i smile, sometimes they smile back, but usually, they just keep on staring.

i stared, too, at everything around me. i took everything in, as i tend to do these days. it was a perfect afternoon, yet a sense of tragedy emerged within me. it was the feeling i get when i have to say goodbye to someone or some place. thinking. perhaps naively, why can't life always be like this? why does it always have to be florescent lights and direct deposits and proficiency in microsoft word? why does there have to be insecurity and inequality and an end to all things?

just make your hand like mine; bring it back, and when you let it go, let it go with a snap.

1 comment:

ms.meggie said...

thanks for this. it made me laugh so hard, which isn't usually worth mentioning except that i am at work and the students are staring at me in confusion. they're used to seeing me pensive, hungry, and (therefore) desperate.