Dear gods does that ever sound like the beginning of some misbegotten piece of real person fanfiction that I probably would have gleefully written at age 14. Probably did. [Insertnameofprobablyabassistordrummerhere and the Christmas Tree].
However, that is not what this is. “This” is all the way at the bottom of the post if you want to be that reader who has to know the end first. This is also a story of an improbable day that begin with a 20-mile run at 5:30 in the morning that would be the end of several very, very dark mental days.
The run, for the record, kind of sucked, though it was in one of my favorite places, and I could see the ocean. For those who may read this who also follow me on FB, you know I spend about a quarter of my time working south of home. You know when I am there because I torture you with pictures of sunrises taken while I watch surfers and drink coffee. My spirit animal/place/thing (yes, I am being deliberately vague. Why should become clear).
After my 20-miler (that, though it sucked, I finished at a 9:51 pace for the final mile–suck it, brain), I walked back to my (other) apartment (don’t I sound fancy? It’s a room. With a Murphy Bed and not even a hotplate or coffee maker, don’t get all excited), which is about a mile and half from the shore (which makes up for the small and non-hot-plateness) if I head to my favorite coffee shop (which makes up for the no coffee maker). Which, of course, I did.
Wandering to my favorite post-run resting place for coffee-guzzling, I look up and see Zacky V on a ladder, Christmas lights in hand. I know good and damn well that my big ass deathbat tattoo is visible (running shorts!), and I have this intense and possibly ridiculous concern about making him uncomfortable (you know, no one who likes the band lives in the same area. Of course), so I sidestep to keep my leg hidden, but catch his eye nonetheless.
He’s fucking beaming. Hanging lights and looking utterly beside himself. I congratulate him on the fine job he’s doing, and he says “Thank you, man!” He’s gleeful. I’m a bit gobsmacked.
I should explain something here, because I wasn’t just sucking up. I love Christmas lights. Most readers (since most of you do, indeed, know me) will realize that this is merely an offshoot of my love of all things gaudy. Sparkle is my friend and close companion. Sequins are next to godliness. My aunt sent a picture of a pink Christmas tree to me this year, not because I love pink so much, but because it was tacky as hell and would look FABULOUS with a couple carefully arranged flamingos.
Peacocks and feathers? You should have seen my mantle a few years ago, to say nothing of the AMAZING wreath I had at the time.
Oh, wait! You can!
Because I am such a klutz and so bad with heights, I’ve never done much with exterior lighting, so I deeply appreciate those who do.
Where I presently reside (3/4 of the time), there aren’t many kids and, I suppose as consequence, not much in the way of holiday exterior decor. But, in my spirit animal/place, there is much, much, much to be found. Like dozens and dozens of Clark Griswolds (there is one corner about two blocks from the shore that I could just stand on and stare at the exterior lighting battles going on for hours. I didn’t, but I could. I wasn’t there for more than like 20 minutes. Really.) all over the place doing battle for the most holiday spirit via lights, garland, really big balls, and reindeer. When I walk around (which I do quite a bit of when there), I talk to more people than I ever do in my daily life. And during the holidays, I chat up the decorators, because I am so very pleased and grateful.
To wit: there is a house, and I now know the true meaning of picture window, by the way, with two giant stuffed reindeer artfully (because how else) arranged in the picture window. They are so freaking big and realistic (and wearing bells and whatnot!) that I had to get uncomfortably close to the house to assure myself these were stuffed animals and not taxidermy. I am still not sure, and I confess to having been a bit concerned about approaching the artists involved.
So, back to the story.
Because of the brain crap, I hadn’t even been arsed to put up a tree. In fact, as I came to find out, I had thrown my fake tree away last year. I think because I had donated just one too many quarts of blood to the damn thing. I grew up with fake trees. I have nothing against a fine fake tree. In fact, the faker, less tree-like the tree, the better. Hence the flamingo pink tree my aunt found. I never quite got used to having real trees, so I abandoned the notion when I moved out here (well, after the cats broke the last real one, but that’s another tale).
In my real life, I haven’t been able to even get my tree up (or discover that I didn’t even have a tree anymore), and here I am watching a man just absolutely delighted in Christmas lights. Utterly, visibly delighted. I was kind of expecting him to start skipping.
I sat in my favorite coffee-guzzle space, which is still in sight of the decorating festivities, and marveled at the whole affair. As was pointed out by one of the other local decorators, a curmudgeonly soul near the coffee shop, my offering of cheers about the decorating meant I had to come back when the lights were all on to really see the awesomeness.
So, after dinner, I wandered around looking at all of the places I had seen getting set up. Candy canes, santas, icicle lights, and that starshower thingy they’ve been advertising of late (there were a shit ton of those around). It was fabulous. And, because I had to see the end result (and because it was on my way unless I wanted to add a whole lot of walking, which, having started the day with 20–remember that?–I wasn’t especially inclined to do), I walked back to Zack’s.
It was dark (as you do if you want to see lights) and a weird hybrid and warm/chilly that had me taking off my hoodie and putting it back on over and over again. As I come around the corner, who should I spy but Zacky himself, admiring his work. I asked if that was what he was doing, and he affirmed that it was.
We talked for a bit, and the jist of it was how happy he was. He was clearly proud of the work–it was, he said, the first time he’d done this by himself–and, in spite of the dark, I could see the sparkle in his eyes (aided, no doubt, by all the Christmas lights). I don’t know jack about anything else in his life, save what he chooses to post, but I do know that he had one of the happiest lilts in his voice that I’ve heard in a very long time.
And, weirdly, it broke through something.
I’m now back to my 3/4 home. And I have a tree up. A gaudy, unmistakably me tree. And while I can credit the glee in his voice for kicking something over in my head Saturday night, let me assure you that the gaudy is all me. His lighting scheme is not, granted, the pent-up WASPy candle and wreath in each window and white lights only thing, but, it is also not as delightfully tacky as my 6.5 ft silver tree with multi-colored lights and a Star Wars blanket as a tree skirt. That sucker is all me.
It also lacks stuffed reindeer, for which I think I am grateful, where it equals both his exterior decor (and if he has giant stuffed reindeer indoors, that is both his business and my delight to NOT know) and my townhouse.
Anyway, that’s the story of how Zacky V
saved Christmas shared his joy with someone who, clearly unbeknownst to him, really, really needed it. Consequently, he bears some responsibility for the big-ass silver tree, covered in sparkly (and, um, not-quite sparkly) ornaments, now in my living room.
Thank you, man.