Alex took this photo of us in San Francisco, after we’d had dinner at Izakaya Sozai. As we were walking back to the car, we came across a giant bush of jasmine. He grabbed and tugged at it for a minute, then he turned around, grinned, and handed me a giant bouquet. ‘For the love of my life,’ he said as he pulled me in for a kiss.
We’d spent the previous evening driving around Los Angeles, listening to Music for Nimrods on KXLU. The first time he called the station, he spoke as the Terminator. The second time he called, he was the Joker. The show host laughed every time. ‘We just got engaged,’ the Joker said. ‘We’re going to Bob’s Big Boy to celebrate our love now.’ Reverend Dan thought it was a great idea. He dedicated I Want You Around by the Ramones to us. Alex and I looked at each other. He squeezed my hand and his eyes got misty. Together 5ever.
After dinner, we drove through Mulholland. He parked the car in the driveway of a house for sale. ‘They’re empty anyway’ he said. The #consummated he wrote in the mist on the windshield still pokes through on humid days.
It was a Friday night. ‘Lets go to San Francisco! You down?’ ‘Yeah…yes! Let me call Michelle and ask if she can look after Montag for the weekend’. We stopped by the apartment, picked up the dog, snuggled and fed the cat, grabbed some supplies and clothes, and we were off.
Nothing with Alexis ever made a lot of sense. He just did Alexis and you could either embrace it and go for it, or, well, you were missing out. We drove through the valley, took the 118, then the 101, and drove through the night, Music for Nimrods was still going in the background. Reverend Dan had taken over the slot after his for the night. At the break of dawn, Alex pulled over in a suburban area near Santa Maria. We were exhausted. He took the doggo for a quick walk and we napped for an hour. Soon enough we were back on the road.
We stopped at Leo’s Café near the San Miguel Mission for some coffee. We sat outside with the dog and the waitress came out to take our order. We ordered coffee, and some bacon for the Admiral. Alex had already set up a makeshift studio on the other table. As he was painting, he talked in the Joker’s voice. He was so good at impressions. He mentioned how cool it would be to do voice acting.
The waitress came out. She was curious. Alexis asked her what her name was, and did she smoke? She turned down his offer, she had to work, and we talked a bit about religion and the Mission nearby. Alex told her all about the atrocities that occurred in the missions. The waitress said she had had no idea about that. She never really cared about going to church, she only went to please her mom. He asked her what her favourite colour was, he was going to make her a painting. She was very excited, and Alex went to work. The waitress needed to get back inside. We hung out there for another half hour, Alex toiling away under the morning sun. His composition changed 3 or 4 times in that time, adding a couple more canvasses to his work-in-progress pile because he was using them as sponges and stamps.
As the morning went on, more people were coming through for their Saturday morning breakfast fix. Alexis greeted every single one of them with a jovial hello. Some returned the greeting, others nodded mildly perplexed, but all glanced curiously at the paintings-covered table and the man covered in paint.
Soon enough, the other waitress came out to see what was going on. Alex asked her the same questions, did she smoke, and what was her favourite colour? She, too, was going to get a painting. She left, bemused.
It was getting late, and Alex wanted to get back on the road. It was getting toasty, anyway. Our original waitress had not come back out yet, so we left the paintings outside, and as we were walking out, she ran after us to thank us for being cool. She and Alex exchanged information. And just like that, we were back on the 101.
Alexis fell asleep. I drove us over the bridge and took him to the Sutro Baths. He’d never been and I knew he was going to love it.
He woke up as I was parking the car. He seemed a bit out of it. The enthusiasm of the night before was gone. We couldn’t find the doggo’s leash so I made one out of the handles of a bag we had brought with us. We walked down to the baths and Alexis perked up and just started climbing and running around. He loved it. He was so happy. The dog and I hung out and just looked at Alexis climb all over. Then he disappeared for a bit and came back to get us. ‘You gotta check this out!’
We walked back up, and crossed over the Do Not Cross line. ‘Those don’t mean shit. They’re there so the city doesn’t get sued’. He took us to the edge of the cliff. He’d climbed up the rock face earlier and found a tree to sit in. We stared at the ocean for a long time. I looked over at Alex and he and the dog were sitting in the tree, hair blowing in the wind. He looked so content and peaceful. My heart burst with so much love.
Another couple wandered by. ‘Do you smoke?’, Alex asked. They responded enthusiastically, but they had their own, thank you. ‘No worries, dude’. He rolled them a joint anyway, asked them where they were from, what they did. That’s Alex for you: always making connections, always meeting people, always giving.
They were from Georgia, in town to visit her parents and doing a bunch of tourist things. We told them to go to Muir Woods, over in Marin County, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. Alex offered we go together but I reminded him we had no space in the car. He was always gathering stuff and while we were in San Miguel, he’d picked up a wire basket and some antique glass bottles. Not to mention the dog and all the stuff he managed to cram in the trunk. He always overpacked.
‘We’ll just take an uber’ they said. And anyway, they had to get going now as the sun was already starting to set. They left, but not before Alex smoked them out.
When we got back to our car, we were starving. We’d been on the road all day, and the only sustenance we’d had was that morning’s coffee and some gas station snacks. Not to mention all the climbing and running around Alex had done. We had brought tonnes of food but had nowhere to cook it. Alex talked about this Japanese place he had gone to a few years ago with a friend. When we got there, the place was shut down. Not one to be defeated, he remembered another place in the Inner Sunset area. With stomachs growling for food, we trekked there. There was no parking anywhere in sight. He dropped me off to get us a table and left to park.
The wind had picked up. The place was busy and there was no room inside for waiting. I stood out there for 20 minutes, shivering. Alexis and the doggo were finally walking up the street. He had parked quite a few blocks away and couldn’t bear to leave the dog alone. I was fine with that, I would have done the same. The Admiral is Adventure Dog, but he doesn’t love being left behind. ‘Do you think it’s okay?’, Alex asked, taking a long drag off his cigarette. I shrugged. ‘It’ll be fine, let’s just walk in there acting normal and if they say anything, we’ll figure it out,’ I said.
Our table was ready. The restaurant is pretty cramped so walking the dog in was fairly easy. He is quiet and no one noticed him until we shoved him under the table. The hostess came by and told us we couldn’t have the dog. Alex looked at her: ‘he’s my therapy animal. I have anxiety,’ he pointed at his cap. ‘He’s a very good dog and we’re very hungry.’ The hostess hesitated for a second, then nodded.
I can’t remember what we ordered, but all of it was amazing and filled our hungry bellies with warmth and contentment. We were walking back to the car, discussing our meal, and figuring out what to do next when the giant jasmine bush materialised. Oh, what a wonderful smell! We were both so giddy. Jasmine was our jam. Alex always brought me bouquets of purloined flora, and there was almost always a sprig or ten of jasmine in them. After he handed me the bouquet, I told him I wanted jasmine for our wedding. He looked at me and said ‘Anything for you, baby. Anything you want.’
He told me once jokingly that by marrying him, I’d chosen to play life on hard mode. Life doesn’t have 1 Ups or Pause buttons. Alexis had been fighting demons his entire life, the biggest being himself. He would jump at the chance to help anybody but he neglected taking care of himself.
I love him so fucking much. I miss him so fucking hard. We had our wedding rings tattooed so he’ll be with me forever but life isn’t going to be as fun, exciting, and unpredictable as it was with him.