Driving towards the big city I start to get scared when the road goes from two lanes to seven. What was I thinking? I pull off at an exit with a mall and sit in a coffee shop parking lot, watching people. Big city people. Men with pressed khaki pants and women with imperfectly applied, yet bright, lipstick. The air here smells like the air in LA, which is where everything bad happens.
I take a million deep breaths, sing some silly songs, and walk around with Bro before I get back on the road and see that I’m down to a quarter tank of gas. Always better to get gas further from the city, these days. I get off at the next exit and dig into my cash stash. Only eighty dollars. That’s so not good. I put forty in my tank and drive around to find internet.
I’ve heard for years and years how awful the stripping is in this big city, but topless housecleaning’ll go over anywhere, right? I put up another craigslist ad and turn my work phone on. I’m only an hour away, but soon the traffic thickens and I pull over again. The phone still hasn’t rung. Bro and I walk around and I think about going into a coffee shop for soup, but I’m poor and I gotta conserve that forty dollars I have left. The phone still doesn’t ring and I decide maybe I should wait until traffic slows down to head into the big scary city.
About the time that I do start driving, the phone rings. “Hello,” I purr, “this is Tara.”
“Hi,” he says, “I’m at the store getting cleaning supplies for you to clean my house, but, um, what do I need to get?”
It’s adorable. I talk him through getting cleaning supplies and I get directions to his house. When we hang up I pull over to shave my pits, take a baby wipe bath, and throw my heels and iPod in a cleaning bag.
He’s nervous, when I get to his house. He’s got this little city life where he went to school and got a degree and now he has a good job and lives in an expensive apartment in the cool part of town. This is his first craigslist encounter. He asks about me and I tell him my life while I scrub his floors, my ass up in the air. Alaska, Texas, Arizona… my life is epic and foreign in the context of this little world. Something between National Geographic and This American Life. He loves it, and I feel exotic in a dirty way.
After cleaning I give him a lapdance, and then, for an extra twenty, another. And another, and another. A hundred and sixty dollars richer, I walk back out into the city night. I’m parked near a grocery store, and I’m starving. It’s a bad habit, stuffing myself with relief every time I make money, but I do it anyway. I sit in my van at 1am in this big, strange city, and I eat sushi and drink a fancy blueberry juice. It’s decadent, and I win.