by Amy Rossi
Cotton balls, Q-tips, a pre-cooked chicken. Loopy script, three lines. A pen mark at the fourth, but no item noted. The list was abandoned by its maker and maybe the shopping trip was too. Or maybe she decided it wasn’t worth the hassle of a list, of remembering to put the list in her purse and take it out of her purse and mentally or with a pen check off three purchases and then remembering to discard it or else find the paper months later at the bottom of her handbag when looking for keys or a lipstick and getting lost trying to recall what it was that required this particular alchemy of products, lips unstained, door locked.
It is a bookmark, an incantation, a guide to life. I bring the yellowed list down to the pool with me. When the waiter who is wearing an eye patch on a different eye than yesterday brings me my first margarita, I set the glass on the edge of the paper. Under the cardboard coaster of course; I respect my artifact. It flutters in the breeze. At least I think it’s the breeze. It could be traffic, all those cars pushing down Sunset, movement created by the need to be somewhere else.
The list found me in the dressing room of a vintage shop in Palm Springs. I was trying on a bikini from the 1960s not just over my underwear but over my jeans too because I am working on a different kind of careful. And there it was, in the corner, nearly blending in with the faded gold carpet. I put it in my jeans pocket and bought the bikini and checked out of the black and white desert hotel the next morning.
I am in that washed and rewashed bikini now, surrounded by richer women, women circling fame, women who have women to write their lists for them. They create a buzz with just their being and it rubs off on me. I feel it in the way the margaritas appear, in the doors that open a second before I could be in view. Tomorrow there might be another sign that I should get in the car again and keep running, that I am not yet in the place that will let me settle into a life where satisfaction is more than a vintage bathing suit and palm trees and a castle of a hotel in the distance and less than that too, an agreement to stand still. Today though, I am fine. Today I have all I need.
The black and white Palm Springs desert hotel is a place I stayed at in 2010, in a different life. The next time I flew to California, I went alone. That hotel in Palm Springs still sends me emails all these years later, trying to lure me back. I open each one and I think: Not yet. Someday, but not yet.