Matt Potter 7:27 a.m., May 22
The clock reads 5:45am. My girlfriend keeps the clocks in our place ten minutes ahead so upon waking I perform a mental subtraction exercise. Let’s see, what’s forty-five minus ten? Thirty-five? So it’s really 5:35? She gets up at six but does she get up at six actual time or…
“OH! Uuuuuh! UH! UH!,” interrupts my train of thought.
“What the heck?” I mumble.
“AH! AH! OHHHH!”
Every few weeks a woman’s voice resonates from an unknown window in the building, echoing the most incredible orgasms. Even with the windows closed the sound of pure enjoyment pierces through and tickles the eardrums. Somehow it isn’t lewd. Somehow I’m moved to feelings of congratulations. Someone is starting the day off making love. Sweet love. Someone once said that “It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” God bless ’er!
Beyond that I hear exclusively male grunts and heavy panting. “More sweet love?” I wonder. No. It’s a couple of a guys in the patio at the halfway house below moving through their exercise routines. The woman’s voice has got to have an effect on them too. They share a house with twenty-three other men and have not seen their families (including wives and girlfriends) for months, yet, as her voice sings, they stay focused and carry on with their workout. God bless ‘em.
At 6:05am my body is screaming for caffeine. I’d like an orgasm too but I’ll settle for a coffee buzz.
“What the hell!” I exclaim. “Why has the pot only made a cup? I poured six cups of water!”
“It may be my fault. I think I bumped it with my arm,” says my girl. “Oh yeah, it’s because the pot is misaligned. No harm done.”
“Sheesh! Why don’t you yell at me?” “I know better.”
I flip the TV on to catch the morning news (and same three commercials) while gathering my thoughts and provisions for class. The echoing orgasm is gradually being replaced by obnoxiously loud tractors and the shouts of working men giving one another instructions in the vacant lot below. Beyond that is Market Street upon which the number three bus comes to an easy halt. Beyond that is a mostly empty 5-Star parking lot. There’s a Winnebago parked within it that houses a man in a wheelchair and his wife. “I hope the economy picks up and they gain more comfortable housing soon,” I think to myself. As I’m reflecting, something is moving fast through the parking lot and it catches my eye. It’s a perfectly fit woman doing her lunges. She’s dressed in black - tight pants and a sports bra, her rock-hard abs visible to all. “If I had a six pack I’d flaunt it too,” I internally sigh. “Why don’t I have one? I’m still young. Why don’t I work out more?” As I turn away from the window back to our studio apartment I see a pile of dirty dishes in the sink, a bed unmade, a half pound of chicken thawing on the counter, and my abnormal psych textbook waiting for me on the kitchen table. “Oh yeah,” I remember.
By 8am the construction work below is at full force. Overlapping “Beeeeep, beeeeep, beeeep, beeeeps” tell me that trucks are backing up. The first ambulance of the day races by. A few more guys are lounging out in the halfway house patio and their random bouts of mischievous laughter and cursing punctuate the scene. I hurry to the windows to close them so I can concentrate on my studying and I see one of our neighbors out walking. He’s one of the most interesting people in this building. A black man from L.A. with a French-African accent. He’s got muscles to spare, is super-polite and extraordinarily cheerful. When he greets you in the elevator he sings, “Hellooooo.” If Dick van Dike’s role in Mary Poppins would have gone to a brotha, it would have been this guy. I lose sight of him as a fire truck races by and obstructs my view.
Noon. Studying for the day: done. Online class lecture: done. Start that essay: will do. First it’s time for a bathroom break and cold slice of pizza. And maybe I’ll take some time to fiddle with my latest iPhone app addiction, City Friends. By now it’s quite stuffy in the apartment and as I’m re-opening the windows I see our cheerful neighbor returning. There’s less spring in his step at the moment and he’s got a towel in one hand - he must have been at the gym for the last four hours. That would explain why he’s so darn fit. He’s making his way back inside this building, exiting the cloud gentle chaos that is downtown San Diego’s afternoon: the parking lot across the way is fuller now. The number three bus goes by more hurriedly this time. Familiar neighborhood drifters are wandering about, occasionally greeting one another with smiles, handshakes and shouts from opposite sides of the street. The guys in the halfway house patio are shooting hoops. The construction has ceased for the moment, giving way to the sporadic cries of babies and the city’s collective hum. “Think I‘ll have a beer,” I say to myself.
My girl is off work early and by 4pm we’re heading out for an early dinner, probably the new Smash Burger on Market Street. We pass a liquor store where a man is several feet up on a ladder, replacing the lettering above the entrance. “Wow he’s up high with no one holding the ladder at the bottom. Someone could accidentally bump it and knock him down. Or worse! Intentionally push him!” I imagine to myself. Not two seconds after we pass by, a young red-haired, bearded man comes running up the sidewalk in the direction of the guy on the ladder. There’s an intense, purposeful look in his eyes. His leather jacket conforms perfectly to his thin build - I instantly had the image of Val Kilmer and Chris O’Donnell as Batman and Robin. Then behind me I heard a thud that was the unmistakable sound of human flesh hitting cement. “OH MY GOD HE PUSHED THE GUY OFF THE LADDER!” I assumed. Nope that wasn’t it (thankfully). He spotted a damsel in distress that somehow our eyes had missed: some random street thug was getting in her face and Batman rushed in and knocked him on his ass! It happened so quickly that the only evidence the man was ever there was a trail of blood, the honk of a car that almost hit him as he ran away, and the oral recount which Batman was giving to a police officer on our way back. “Never a dull moment on Market Street,” I commented.
5:30pm. We’re in for the night but the city is just now awakening. The construction guys are frantically hauling, lifting, pulling at levers, backing up, sweeping up, locking up - it’s quitting’ time. The guys down at the halfway house are grilling steaks and the mouthwatering aroma is inescapable even all the way up here on the 5th floor - a reminder that they generally eat better than we do. Market street is a steady flow of angry honks, tire screeches, illegal left turns, and yellow-light daredevils. The Winnebago is now parked on the street rather than inside the parking lot. Padre game attendees have filled the parking lot across the way to capacity. “Wish I owned a parking lot,” I mutter.
“Hoo-ah!“ Scent of a Woman is on TV. Down in the patio below the hoops have gotten serious; four letter expletives mark each missed basket. I can’t see the Gaslamp from here but I can feel it. As night rolls in there is a steady flow of police cruisers, limousines, taxicabs, and pedi-cabs out on Market Street as the nighttime energy of downtown San Diego emanates from the west.
If ever you happen to pass by my window after dark you may see a red dot bouncing on the sidewalk in front of you or on you shoes. During the commercials on Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, I practice my favorite pastime: laser pointing. Little black dresses, white shoes, and guys who stroll down the street as if they‘re in a music video are among my favorite targets. I don’t do it maliciously, it’s just my way of saying, “Much love, San Diego!”
Bedtime. “Wow, I did almost nothing today,” I think to myself. “Best make Saturday count. Old Town, margaritas. Done deal.” As I peer out the window I realize that the guys down in the patio are probably thinking the same thing. There’s a single, dim lamp lighting their space as they’re kicking around a hacky sack, attempting headstands, swapping stories - trying to keep their minds off the fact that they’re stuck at a halfway house on a Friday night. I take one last glance at Market Street and see the streetlights standing guard. Lying in bed I hear motorcycle engine roars give way to a couple’s squabble down on the street. They sound really mad at one another and I strain to listen for any signs of it rising to a physical fight, ready to dial 911. It dies down and I exhale in relief. I close my eyes, kiss my girl goodnight, and within seconds hear echoes of, “Uh! Ahhhhh-ooh!” Knowing that sweet-love being made nearby, I smile and prepare to have sweet dreams. God bless San Diego!