chapter 2


 -  - - –-- evrything goes to hell -- - -– - - - -    -   -


I havent said anything about my life before the bluesky dream,
probly cause it wouldnt suprize you—  shelterd childhood, college,
books-drugs-mind-expansion. gradschool, partner, jobby job,
child on the way. the last one is the only one that surprized me, altho
not like your thinkin— that shit was pland— but in the way i bet it
surprizes anybody when you first realize someones gona have you
as a parent.

now claire— claires a difrent story. claire actually pulld
herself up by her bootstraps, like hardly anyone does anymore. i dont
wana give specifics cause it would embaress her, but let me paint
you one picture,

Claire, fifteen years old, in a car with her guidance
counselor—the only responsible adult within shouting distance of her
life—on the way to a college interview. claire’s wearin a dress her
counselor borrowd from his girlfriend because claire has not a dress
to her name. the only reason she’s applied to college this young is that
theres nobody else to take her, its college or the foster home. and what
colleges has she applied to? why Smith, for one. youve heard of that one
i bet. and she gets in! with a full scholarship! graduates at nineteen with
honors, and i’m not talkin bullshit honors, i mean she was one of five
girls a year pickd to do the honors thesis. hers was on lucian freud.
i havent read it but its pretygood i bet. i dont know why i never
thought to ask. so many things i should of done, but i just couldnt
see it. its like K said i guess, you can look back at your life but you
hafta live it forward—

now look at me, i’m craffin. which you dont know what that means yet but you will soon.

And just how, you may wonder, did claire end up with
me? i askd myself that same question, nearly evry day i did, tho now i realize
it wasnt all that productiv a question to ask. and when she answerd with
a smile or homemade ravioli or a roll in the hay, i was so greatful it was all
i could do to keep from prostrating myself. i did prostrate myself.

we met at a bar. an unlikely place for us to
meet since i had quit drinking by then and claire hardly ever saw the
inside of a bar [ there was no time! ]  claire had just foundout that two of her
paintings had been accepted to a juried show in newyork, in chelsea,
which even i knew was a pretybig deal.

oh miss claire was tipsy, celebratin with her friends, baskin in the glow of etcetera—this is a great time to meet someone bytheway—and my soberass somehow ran into her, and when i foundout why she was celebrating, i started buyin her shotsa tequila [ read: two shots, claire was not the kindof girl you got wasted, even if you were the kinda guy who would do that, which i was not ]

I dont have the foggiest what we actualy said to each other—heaven forbid  a poor sap who wants to be a writer have a memory for dialogi just remember how claire kept blushing. and how amazing it felt to talk to her. amazing yall, you know what i’m talkin about. it was definately K’s aesthetic stage.

later that night, in bed [ i was alone, dont go gettin all excited ]
i tried to think of the perfect word to describe her and came up with this
one— bashful. if youv ever loved a beautiful woman who manages to
be shy about it, you know what i mean. you feel lucky to be there,
standing next to her fire, lucky to be alive.

how long does it last? its difrent for evryone i spose,
but for me it tends to be about three months.  i mean the falling part,
the salad days. i wish i could say it was longer with claire. it was more
intense, but it was still just three months. but with claire, there was one
big difrence— the plan. so, when the going got tough, we did what
they say to do in all those love songs—

keep scrolling

hold on.


But where was i?  class dismissd?

i didnt have to say it twice. the room emptied in less than a
minute. they were realygood at leaving. they were little firemen,
or firepeople.

i beat claire home as usual. she’d started workin til 7 lately,
sometimes later, specialy with the way her boss was bein about the
upcoming maternity leave. theres been some nasty bisness i wont go
into except to tell you that on more days than not, claire comes home
from work prety stressd out. its gotten so my chest instinctivly tightens
when i hear this sequence of sounds— footsteps on the porch, jingling keys,
the tic-tac of high heels across the hardwood floor. normaly i use the time
before she gets home to neaten up the house, maybe start dinner, to seem
like part of the solution not part of the problem. but tonight instead, i
pulld out my laptop and googled  fainting spells and got myself pretty
workd up, then googled the hell out of  blue sky and found a bunch of
random crap, two an a half pages on blue sky cola alone. but no trace
of a blue sky coffee shop.

until i accidently searchd it as one word,

search bar

there use to be a coffeeshop calld bluesky, in athens
georgia. it closed in 1999, but a few people with blogs were still obsessd
with it. one of them posted a picture of the sign—

blue sky sign


it looks sorta like the punchcard.

not exacly, but it could be the place.

Athens, G. A.

i’d always been intrigued by
the town. i pland a few roadtrips, but due to a variety of
circumstances i never actualy made it. i did see that documentary
athens georgia insideout and it made it seem cool. plus—well, mainly—
my favrite band is from athens. neutral milk hotel. maybe you know em.

so i emaild the chick who seemd most obsessd with
bluesky, inquiring if it had perhaps reopend, or if she had any other
information about it. i sent similar emails to the other blogettes.

all of a sudden it was eight oclock. claire never
workd this late without calling.

i calld her but it went straight to voicemail.
left a message. calld her work number. texted her. checkd my email.
checkd it again. e-pacing, lets call it.

at eight-thirty, the noises i’d been waitin for
finely did make an appearance, but a variation on them— instead of
a tic-tac it was a pitter-patter, and there was claire, in yoga clothes,
six months pregnant.

wensday night. yoga night. now i remember.

bad as my memory is, its usualy dependable for
things that are part of a routine, such as wensday yoga had become.
but let that routine be interupted—by, say, a piece of flotsam from the
dreamworld—and evrything goes to hell.

i apologized.

she didnt say anything.

i offerd to make dinner realquick or atleast a salad.

she said she wasnt hungry.

which i knew was a lie.

so i changed tactics— cheer her up! i was gona be
the crazy one! i said i love you and planted a kiss on the top of her head,
said i’d be back in half an hour, drove to the sushi garden, orderd four
spicy tuna rolls, payd for it with my personal acount not our joint,
and then, feelin extra crazy, askd if they would sell me a bottle of
sake-to-go. they said sure, poor man who is obviusly desprate to
make his girlfriend not mad at him.

soon as i got back in the car
i rememberd the first thing— claire cant drink sakay dumbass,
she’s pregnant. the other thing, which i also knew but temporarily
forgot, until claire reminded me— a pregnant woman should not
consume raw or undercookd fish.


claire was not charmd by my
absentmindedness. especialy not when she saw the sakay. she took
this—maybe corectly—as a sign i was not gona turn into the kind of
person you want to be in a family with.

Dont know if youv ever been alone in a house with a pregnant woman who’s disapointed in you, but i can tell you one thing— the house is never gona be big enough. even if its twentytwo hundred square feet. even if you both have your own office.

i thought it might get better after she cried, but it didnt. probly i got defensiv instead of apologizing, and when i finely did apologize it wouldof been too late. so i retreated to my corner of martyrdom, i am sure thats what i did, this was my power move— tho i’m trying to adress my problems directly rather than cloaking them in sarcasm, so i’ll just say it was one of the things that mustof made me dificult to live with.

if your wondrin if i broughtup the blue sky thing, i did, later that evning, after things had calmd down a bit.

claire doesnt always take it well when i get obsessd with stuff like this, so i tried to bring it up casualy.

 [ the better plan wouldof been not to bring it up at all ]

So was it a dizzy spell, or more like a migraine? i mean

did you actualy faint?

not tecnicly. it was morelike, this thing, tryin to get out

of me— my brain or somethin.

your brain trying to get out?

[ i had said that, hadnt i? probly shouldnt have ]

i tried to refocus the discussion on the mysterius punchcard, but that didnt happen because claire had found a mission— make Al go to the doctor. i never go to the doctor unless someone makes me. my fathers a doctor so ive seen behind the curtain, i know its just people backthere pullin levers even if they do have fancy machines.

claires point was that i couldnt play russian rulette with my health anymore, there was a tiny almostperson countin on me. she stood over me while i programd a reminder into my phone. if anybody understands the limitations of my memory its claire.

The night ended with claire going to her office to do some work,
while i went to my office, which was rapidly becoming a baby room—

and what i thought about in there, was how we had so much shit for the baby, but we had nowhere to put it. which reminded me that i was sposeto go to roomstogo thismornin on my way to work, to price dressers and buy one if they had a good one on sale.

the worst part is that claire hadnt even askd if i’d rememberd.
she had assumed i forgot.

oh the trials of domesticity, sometimes i think we werent
meant for it, and i’m not just talkin about dudes here but still, it cant be
worse than freezin to death in a cave, the wolf at the door etcetera,
so i’ll stop complainin.

Since i had some time on my hands, i figured i’d
fire up the ole macbook and see what all else i could find on bluesky.

nothin from the blogettes yet. rereading the emails i sent,
i realizd there probly never would be.

i poked around and turnd up a few more leads but they were
all deadends. i’d just about decided to call it a night when i stumbeld across
a site called athensquotes. the link was dead, but i tried the cached version
[ i’m crafty like that ] and it took me to an abandond blog—no posts since
march 2005—with a buncha stuff people had said in athens, including
the following quote—

i’m secret, like bluesky.

chelsy r.

the curator had a gmail address, so atleast there was a chance of hearin back—

Nothin for a week, a week an a half. long enough to forget about bluesky. or almost forget about it. but the dream, remember? the promise of fulfillment? thats not so easy to forget.

then one night i’m checkin my email, and you know that list of other gmail people who are online orwhatever? well bootydharma’s at the topa the list. so i send him a g-chat request.

to my surprize, he responds.

i’d never done a g-chat before, i guess cause a the word chat. but it was fine, its just like emailin backanforth instantly.

i told im i saw his blog and i was curius about athens in
the nineties, had he been in town back then? turns out he’d been there
since eighty nine. so i had to ask if he’d seen neutral milk. they were
already broken up by the time i discoverd em, by the time most
people did—

but yes, he’d seen them. many times. he told me one story
about the day jeff moved to athens, the resta the band wasnt in town yet
so he playd a set with elf power, as an encore they did garden head, jeff
thrashd around the stage and knockd evrybody down, they ended up in a
pile on the drumkit.

i read it three times, i wont lie. call me a milkhead, but atleast i’m aware of it, i know how to keep it under control, see, i didnt even ask a followup question, eyes on the prize—

 So I found this punch card from Bluesky in my house. I’ve never been to Bluesky. Trying to figure out how the card got here. Bluesky’s closed, right?


 What do you mean “sortof?”

 [ silence ]

i was a click away from ending it, when
he typed one last thing—

maybe you should come to athens

that was it. end transmision.

all followup emails went unanswerd.

So— what did i have to go on? an acknowledgment that Bluesky sort of exists, in athens?

not much. unless you are desprate.

which i aparently was. or thought
i was, tho now i’m lookin at it and it makes me wana grab this Al fellow
by his metaforical lapels and say what are you thinking? you got an
awsome woman, who is more together than some entire towns—who loves
you even if she does lose patience ocasionly—who wants to start a famly
with you, has started a famly, in three months Gabe’s little head’ll peek
out and then—hold on—the ride of your life.

But some parta me musta wanted off that ride, cause what i did was,
you guesd it—

i pland me a roadtrip.