I remember a couple years ago in Oakland, I knew A Girl From The Internet, though I had never met her in person. Her name was Simone and, like a lot of people I’ve known over the years, we pretty much only communicated in the middle of the night. It is good when two people like this find each other, because then you both feel less lonely after everyone else has gone to sleep. There was absolutely nothing romantic about it. We couldn’t sleep and liked talking to each other. That’s about as honest as it gets!

One night, maybe a few months after first speaking, she texted me at midnight and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was at Lake Merritt, by the little pavilion with the white columns. I don’t know how I ended up there, but I was watching a dozen or so people dressed in black juggle flaming bayonets and bowling pins and wands. It was surreal. There were maybe two dozen people there, and we were all standing around watching these people do things with fire in total silence.

After a while, Simone walked across the grass and stood next to me. She had come from the direction of Fairyland. I said, “Oh hey, Simone,” and she turned and hugged me. She reeked of liquor. I asked her if she was drunk and she said, “I mean, yeah.” I thought that was so cool for some reason. She told me she had seen a show at the Fox Theater and that it had blown her mind.

We split a joint and hung around the fire jugglers for a while. And then we did a thing I like to do, which is to walk a complete lap around Lake Merritt, which takes about an hour. When we finally got back to the pavilion by the water, everyone had left. I walked Simone home. She lived a couple of blocks away.

I said good-bye to Simone and she hugged me again. It was a nice hug. I reckon you can tell when they’re sincere like that. She went inside and I saw her go up the stairs.

I don’t know what ultimately happened to her. We talked a lot but I only met her that one night. She seemed to get a little sad there towards the end, and then I know she left for a while and went to the sea. She was always sending me these pictures she had taken from the hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean. And then one day she just sort of disappeared.

Something reminded me of Simone the other day and I remembered her. She was a cool girl. I hope she’s OK.