“Te. Mi. Xoch.”
The people walking by me, they do not make eye contact. I am repeating this one word, and repeating it pretty loudly now, too – over and over and over – but these people are pros. They know the rules for downtown Houston. When someone is out on the street and they are shouting nonsense, you pretend you don’t notice.
That’s the rule.
I’m being dismissed as a crazy homeless person.
This is not a new experience for me.
“Temixoch” is an ancient Aztec word. It means “flowery dream.” In case you’re wondering, I do not know ancient Aztec. I stole the word from a book by Paul Devereux called The Long Trip: A Prehistory of Psychedelia.
Well, not stole. Borrowed? Lifted? Learned?
“Temixoch!” There is this one little patch of new concrete here and I am walking in little circles around it. Making laps, sort of. I have some colored chalk in my pocket, only I can’t draw anything with all these people walking across my concrete canvas.
A very round black man – bearded, wearing an AIDS Foundation Houston t-shirt – steps up to me and he says, “Katy? Everything alright?”
I do not recognize this man. I nod yes anyway and then he walks away.
Right below this spot where I’m standing is an old elevator shaft. According to Harry, it used to be a freight elevator. Originally, this freight elevator would pop right up out of metal hatches in the sidewalk.
And the building was a hotel back in the day, and the guests would pull up in their cars and there would be the freight elevator with a bellboy and their suitcases on it. Waiting for them. At the curb.
“Temixoch. Temixoch!” I am hunched over with blue chalk in my hand and I am staring at the sidewalk, thinking. A toddler walks by me and he reaches out to try and touch the chalk. The way he reaches out with his finger is so gentle and so careful and it is cute, really, but his mother slaps his hand she says, “Leave that woman alone.”
The toddler is young so he does not know the rules for downtown Houston. When someone is out on the street and they are shouting nonsense, you pretend you don’t notice.
That’s the rule.
Years ago when I was homeless, I pried open the hatch for the old freight elevator and I climbed down inside. I climbed down through a pickup truck that was wedged into the shaft vertically. I climbed down and I found an old storage closet.
Sometimes I would sleep there and I named it “Temixoch,” which means “flowery dream.” And even later on, when I was not homeless anymore, I would sleep there from time to time. When Dana and I got into a fight or when I maybe just needed to get away and clear my head, I’d climb down into Temixoch for a day or for two.
Some of my Nick Cave CDs might still be down there.
But I can’t go to Temixoch anymore because some Skanska bastards came and they tore out the metal hatches. They concreted over the opening so I can’t even tell where it used to be.
“Here… lies… Temixoch!”
I am locked out. They concreted over my flowery dream and now I can never go back there, just like I can’t go back to 3400 Montrose or go back to when Dana still loved me.
It is mid-afternoon in downtown Houston in early June. It is ninety-four degrees out here and I am sweating through my t-shirt.
“Skan… ska… Skanska.”
I will go home for now but I will come back again when it is dark and I will bring my colored chalk with me and maybe a jackhammer, too.
If I can find a jackhammer…
I really want those Nick Cave CDs back.
***** END OF SERIES 5 *****