And No Fish Tacos Were Had: Wandering, Disappointment, and Paying Attention

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Yesterday, the Palinode and I set out on a fish taco adventure, or at least we tried to.

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Not those kind of fish tacos.


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Our intent was to go to Taco Del Mar to try their fish tacos, but it turned out that Taco Del Mar was busy being transmogrified into Mad Ta c o, a restaurant I can never go to now because of its overwhelming kerning issues. Really bad kerning and a blatant disregard for design give me a case of the sads.

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Also, no fish tacos could be had! The universe obviously hated us, or at least it hated the Palinode. I was fine with it, because I won't eat fish tacos on principle. Cooked fish smells like a toilet to me, and I can think of several things that make better taco-filler.

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So, we started wandering.

One thing I like about not having a car is that you are more given to adventure. If we had a car, we would have just gotten back into it and driven somewhere else, but, as it was, we had just gotten out of a cab and weren't about to pay twice as much to go nowhere we wanted to go, so we set off on foot.

We didn't have a map. We didn't consult our iPhones. We just wandered in a general southwesterly direction through 1970s suburbs in the hopes of running into a Chapters book store.

We didn't choose not to consult our gadgets. It just escaped us to do so. I think we were supposed to wander and forget for a few hours. People used to do that.

In the 1990s, I had a pile of magazine articles I'd saved about ideas I wanted to think about, and one of the articles was about just this kind of wandering. It reminded me of when I was a kid and I would secretly pack a snack and set out on my own to get lost somewhere. I often ended up walking or biking right out of the city and would find myself watching the highway from a farmer's field.

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We ended up in a large, empty field we didn't recognize next to a highway we didn't recognize, just like it was 1983.

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And then we ended up on a wide, empty street we didn't recognize next to another road we didn't recognize.

It felt good. If you don't know where you are, no one else probably does, either. You're free.

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We ended up in the parking lot of dying mall at the edge of town where a Montana's restaurant vacuumed us up and pushed as much fat and sugar on us as it could. Their menu defies any adherence to an ethical sense of the social contract.

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Before the food we ate had a chance to make us feel bad about ourselves and society in general, we took comfort in coffee and our cool booth.

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I am going to write a book called How to Take Awkward Self-Portraits and Endear Yourself to Waitresses.

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Also? Montana's should stamp your distended gut with its logo on your way out. It would create a more fully integrated experience. Moo. I am now a diabetic cow.

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We found Chapters! I passed on buying the book of poetry I really want again — Anne Carson's Nox — and I don't know why. It looks delicious.

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We had walked so far that I could still feel my thigh muscles going pop pop pop while we drank our coffee.

I was besieged by the feeling that I wanted to buy something, but I wanted nothing in particular. It's unsettling to want to spend money with no object in mind. It makes me feel insecure and shiftless. This is what places like Chapters do, and I know that, but the feeling sneaks in and tries to convince me that I need to by a pad of paper in the shape of a butterfly or sheets of fake chalkboard that claim they probably won't stick to my walls unless I repaint them.

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It is important to stay critical. Your attention will be stolen and your life will be lost with all of the looking at things that are not actually related to you as though they are related you.

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Thinking back, I should have just bought that book of Anne Carson poetry, though. Sometimes denial is just masochism.

My Giant Baby Kitty

Grace in Small Things: Sunday Edition #99