The special Christmas experience happened a year and a half ago, but it seems like a century ago for some reason. I still think about it a lot because I know I discovered an important truth. Even though things didn't work out between Pauline and me, I don't want to hate the world. There's too much of that going around and I don't want to be part of it. This is the only world we have and if we all end up hating it, the world will turn into hell. Sooner or later I have to find someone or something in the world to love as much as I loved Pauline. If I don't, I'm afraid my whole goddamn life will be a waste.
In a few days when we graduate from high school Harold, Rudy and I will pile into Harold's old Chevy and drive to California. We plan to play it by ear after we get there. Maybe we'll stop in San Francisco and check out the Golden Gate bridge on the way to Los Angeles. California is as far as we can go from Michigan without leaving the contiguous states, but I also have a couple of my own reasons for picking the Golden State. Every new trend always seems to start in California before it spreads to the rest of the country. It's like California exists partly in the future and that really appeals to me. Also, I'm curious about California girls. They have this very wild reputation, if you know what I mean, and I want to find out if it's true.
All I know is I have to get out of this town. The last thing I want to do is hang around after high school, get some crappy full-time job in a factory or somewhere and pretend this shithole is Shangri-La just because I happened to have grown up here. I've seen a lot of guys do that and it's really depressing. They start looking used up before they're thirty. It's like they're scared of going out in the world or something. I want to see as much of the world as possible before I kick the bucket. I'd even go to Mars if I could get a ride on a space ship.
I'm not sure what I will do for a living after I get to California, but I have a little money saved to last for awhile. To be honest, I don't look forward to joining the nine-to-five rat race. I get depressed every time I think about working for the next 45 or 50 years years. By the time I retire, I'll be too old to enjoy life anymore. The whole setup looks rigged to make most people unhappy. I'm no pinko or anything like that, but it seems to me there must be some better arrangement for an individual to survive and still have a chance to be happy. My old man would have a heart attack if he heard me say that. He's always accusing me of thinking the world owes me a living, but it's not true. I'm willing to make my own living if I can just be who I am. The problem is people always want you to be fit in and be like everyone else. They expect you to be a cog in some employer's wheel and keep your nose to the grindstone until you're as old as Moses. I try to avoid thinking about lifelong employment too much. If I dwelled on it all the time, I'm afraid I might off myself like Bernard.
I do have this crazy fantasy about California. It's supposed to be the land where dreams come true and I dream about meeting a beautiful rich girl out there and sweeping her off her feet. Her old man would hate me, naturally, and tell her I was only interested in her money. But the girl would be so in love with me she wouldn't believe I had gigolo motives. And she would be right. I would really love her and the money wouldn't matter. We would go traveling and see places like Hawaii and the South America. And then one day I would take her to my hometown and drive over to old man Lancaster's house in her Mercedes convertible. Just to piss him off and let him know he was wrong about me not being good enough for his daughter. Pauline would be married to a drug addict and pregnant with her third brat, living at home because her husband spent the rent money on heroin. My beautiful rich girlfriend and I would only stick around long enough to rub it in, then we'd drive off to New York to see a Broadway play or something.
I realize this probably won't ever happen, but it's fun to think about when I'm not feeling so hot, which is most of the time lately. I guess I shouldn't wish that kind of luck on Pauline, though. I know it really isn't her fault her old man is a bastard. For some reason girls tend to worship their fathers whether they are bastards or not. I just wish Pauline had shown a little more backbone under the circumstances. She would never believe this in a million years, but I don't think any guy will ever love her as much as I did. I really don't. Maybe some day she will realize how much she let me down, but I'm not holding my breath or anything. You can't hold your breath when it involves a girl coming to her senses. If you did, you'd die years before it happened.
It's a long drive to California and if I can't picture Pauline married to a junkie, I'll have to find some other way to keep myself entertained along the way. Otherwise, I'd go crazy looking at all those wide open spaces in Utah and Nevada. I'm used to green trees all around and empty deserts spook the hell out of me, if you want to know the truth.
In California I plan to take dancing lessons. Pauline was right about me being a lousy dancer, even if she was only teasing. I learned a few moves from her that I'll never forget, but I need to know a lot more to land my dream girl in California. Girls appreciate a good dancer as much as a handsome face or a muscular build. If you don't believe me, take a gander at a Fred Astaire film sometime. He had beautiful girlfriends in real life as well as in his movies and it sure as hell wasn't due to his looks.
Some day I might go to the Himalayan mountains like Larry Darrell. They're called the roof of the world, which is a pretty classy description when you think about it. I wonder if I could find out why I'm alive by spending some time up there. With my luck, though, I'd probably run into the Abominable Snowman and get eaten while I was looking for a good spot to watch the sun rise. Wouldn't it be funny to end up as Snowman poop on the roof of the world?
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