In childhood Colby's first father-figure was Steve. He was his mother's high school sweetheart, shaped most strongly by the rustic Maine lifestyle and his service in Vietnam. He has a thick Maine accent, which takes into account Maine's location - between Boston and Hallifax. It's easy to see that he views Colby as a son, and in turn has always opened his home to me.
In Steve's bathroom was a catalog of workmen's clothing that I continued to flip through long after I'd finished peeing. The standard leaf-and-trees camouflage was there, along with Timberlands and pocket machetes. There was, however, one shirt I had never conceived of. It came in neon orange and sulfur, with a breast pocket and suspender-like strips of reflective tape (which continued onto the pocket). In a non-rushed way I felt that I had to have it.
In the coming weeks I'd search for the shirt online and wouldn't be able to find it. I visited the L.L. Bean megastore and the employees weren't sure what I was explaining. Reflective vests are everywhere but a t-shirt was something I must had imagined.
In New York for a week, visiting friends and monuments, I tried to walk everywhere, especially on interborough trips. I walked from Williamsburg to Long Island City from my friend Jason's apartment to my friend Gabby's job. I followed Nassau Ave to McGuinness, where I looked for places to buy cigarettes. I got to a corner and got the green light to walk. I passed a store I'd seen many times that sells construction-site apparel. When I had crossed half the street, a car stopped to my left, I went to blink and the shirt glimmered behind my left eyelid. I continued and almost made it to the corner, jigged a little, and then turned around, ignoring how crazy I was about to look. I then jogged into the man's man store. In celebration of summer my friend Todd organized a BBQ on Rockaway Beach. I went and wore my brand-new shirt, bright and blaring as the sun. It brought me to the attention of strangers, who would narrate my actions: She totally just peed in the water. She has a beer in her pocket! She's been here all day.
In the evening I made a stop at San Loco (on the Lower East Side). As I waited for my food, sunburned and stinking of salt, a woman looked to me and said, "You look like you've been doing community service all day. Like that shirt, it looks like you're on parole."
"Yeah, I've been by the highway picking up garbage. And now I'm getting a guacoloco."
In a book I was reading today, which was lent to me by my friend David, a young mother on acid named Mountain Girl told a quick story: "We got 'em at the uniform store," she says. "Aren't they great! There's this old guy in there, says, 'Now, you ain't gonna cut them flags up for costumes, are you?' And so I told him, 'Naw, we're gonna git some horns and have a parade.' But you see this? This is really why we got 'em."