Monday, June 14, 2010

Lust For Life

“Well I am just a modern guy…
Drive a G.T.O.
Wear a uniform
All on a government loan…” - Iggy Pop

Friday night headed north three hours to Taipei,
packed running shoes, a swimsuit, and magic markers for the girls,
packed a rain jacket, collapsible umbrella, and pajamas with draw strings,
packed three bananas that went black, a ham and cheese sandwich on sour dough, and an orange soccer jersey from the Netherlands,
checked in on the thirty-fifth floor of the five-star Shangri La Hotel right in downtown.
(Hartenstein orders and pays for a pizza party for this 8th graders to say thanks for a great year. Why? Just because...)

Wore a white terry-cloth robe pantless through the lobby with three children trotting alongside,
swam in the rooftop pool on the fiftieth floor,
laid in the hot tub out in the rain,
learned how to say 101 Building in Chinese but quickly forgot,
pretended the elevator was a capsule rocketing into space,
pretended that the Japanese businessmen were secretly hairless sasquatches,
pretended to be an alligator nibbling little fingers,
never took my sunglasses off once,
used twenty different towels to dry my three daughters,
left them on the floor of the marbled bathroom
read “Oh, the Thinks You Can Think” By Dr. Seuss and tucked them in
waited for giggling girls to nod off then hit the pub.
(Hartenstein on rooftop pool in the rain with his girls at Shangri La Hotel in Taipei.)

Watched the World Cup surrounded by faceless strangers,
stood elbow to elbow with singing Australians, Chinese draped in American flags, and weeping Spaniards,
saw pictures of Patti Smith and Jimi Hendrix on the wall,
hugged a Dutchman who couldn’t believe we were wearing the same shirt,
chatted with a prostitute who said this month would be good for business,
watched a Mexican man fall kicking and screaming on the ground when an off-sides call brought back a goal.
(Hartenstein, Xian, and Kinu atop double decker bus sweeping through downtown Hong Kong. Hang on, you two!)

Cheered that night and laughed and could care less who won,
made it back to the hotel just after midnight,
wrote a poem about making love to my wife,
wrote a poem about apple slices on a blue handkerchief,
wrote a poem about standing alone in the fog,
laid in the hallway and sketched grass blades from a painting hanging under a solitary light while everyone slept,
fell asleep wrapped in my six-year-old’s arms.
(Rebekah, Kinu, and Xian just after riding in the space capsule elevator and running from Bigfoot in the lobby. Ready for the pool, again...)

Woke up and watched Elmer Fudd chase Bugs Bunny on the television,
steamed milk in a tea pot and watched rain fall over the city,
ordered black coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice from room service,
tipped the boy five dollars,
explained a James Hilton novel to a four-year-old,
penned a letter on hotel stationary and mailed it to myself,
read the Taiwan Times in the pink bubble bath surrounded by laughing faces,
hit the buffet and ate smoked salmon with poached eggs,
ate shrimp dumplings and strips of crisp bacon,
ate brie cheese with salami and buttered croissants with marmalade,
sat with SungJoo drinking tea discussing where all the years have gone,
checked out of the hotel and drove around the city,
got lost looking for markets read about in a tour book,
decided to head home as rain was pounding the city.
(Hartenstein atop the city of Taipei with the 101 Building behind him.)

Packed the kids in the van and drank Starbucks with chocolate doughnuts,
listened to Mahler's symphony 21 on headphones while looking out the window,
let the girls sleep on the van floor and thought about my parents in Colton,
snapped pictures of farmers standing in green rice fields,
snapped pictures of apartment complexes and bridges over flooded rivers,
snapped pictures of the faces in cars rushing by,
thought about old loves and women I still want to kiss,
thought about far off places now close enough to touch,
thought about all my dreams and put them into lists,
dozed off with my two year old hugging my chest,
awoke in Taichung thinking all of it was a dream.

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