January 3, 2015

auld lang signs

An unexpected guest is either a spark of forgotten delight or else a drawn-out tedious formality. I always tend to wax and wane from one to the other all in the same evening. Whatever sentiment arises from the surprise is at times convoluted by present circumstance. It doesn't take much.

Strangers are barely themselves anymore, anyway. There's always some cobwebs clinging to who they are. I'd be lying if I said I didn't collect them. In the future everyone is micro-famous. It's an exclusive relationship that no one mentions in fear of deep social shame and also because the worshipping of other humans is inherently creepy. Religious zeal and adoration should only be reserved for spiritual deities and theological figures because they can't put a restraining order on you.

It's with a strained enthusiasm that I might meet my idols. Brief idols, wherein a flicker of earnestness is doused by ill-timing, only to be rekindled by some small brush of fingers or a furtive glance. There is a temptation that bears resemblance to something I can only imagine Catholics live for-- the sin of trading in your faith for a ride on the back of a motorcycle. Or something like that. I begin to believe that sin is not so much a transgression as it is a currency for living. You are always left wondering if it was worth it afterwards.

I wouldn't hedge my bets on your face, your charm, not even on the way you look at me. They're merely neon signs illuminating from someplace I never meant to be. If you know what is good for you, you already know what is supposed to happen. Sometimes nothing is supposed to happen at all. You don't need souvenirs from every place you go.

September 24, 2014

American solitude

I use to enjoy being alone. The amount of trust I put in the consistency of solitude is incredible when you consider that statistics of American marriage as opposed to the great unstudied virtues of American solitude. Were I without you, I would be the same as I am with you, just with more shares and stock options. Were you without me, I am certain your sun would rise each morning as it would set each night whether you were there to see it or not.

There's no rush and it doesn't ask much of your time; you give it up so easily anyway. The only haste I've been able to experience is a retroactive one that laments the speed of time and my inability to catch its coattails, if only to delay it for a couple breaths. It's not time's fault. I was busy doing other things, wasn't I?

Time spent alone is time spent selfishly, so I have been led to believe. There's nothing to be learned from solitude but self-preservation, a looming misanthropy, and rattling perception of intent. You teach yourself the misinterpretation of others, the segregation of heart and mind, of right and round, of you and me. There is no moment I spend alone that I do not wonder what would happen if that moment never ended. If purgatory was the meat barring me from an eventual ending involving you and others. Maybe I am only meant to lead to me. Maybe you came along for the ride because you couldn't see that either.

The knowledge of your impermanence and transgression turns my solitude from a quiet lake to a rip tide, sweeping me out from beneath my own feet. Drowning in it isn't ideal, like such few good things-- to have too much of it serves only to turn against you. It's a strange thing to at one point find comfort in it and at another point catch fever to a poison.
Solitude was my vaccine for loneliness. You can't really tell if you're lonely until you are alone-- you are only able to suspect it in the company of others. The best way to find out is to try and stand it as long as you can.

April 1, 2014

Halves and Half knots

If there ever was a reason to fight, I found it in every speck of dust that would not sweep. I found it in the high ringing noise that you never notice until it's gone. I found it every time the portals between us shrank into itself. A rope I could not break, no matter the weight it pulled.

That was when I thought that it would not be enough to love a person to keep them. Ultimately, you can never keep the things you love. It is its own cruel nature, the entire gimmick. How it is measured in what can be lost, never had. That we aren't doing it right unless we are suffering. That our intrinsic nostalgia forces us to rely on the things we once kept or that once kept us. Every lunge I made, a dive towards your slate body, all blind jabs into curtains. There's no more I could divine from your flesh that would teach me anything more. If love was a vast and endless void, I never heard an echo return to me.

I kept instead the grey mist in front of my eyes that hid the evergreens miles away. I rolled the car windows down even though it was winter because you took me to the first rainforest I had ever been, and I wanted the wetness rising from the snow in curls to touch my face. I kept the damp smokey scent of your house; it always lingered in your hair. It always rained but nobody seemed to mind. I kept these things instead. I kept the things I knew would not change.

I never had a reason to keep a person until I had to love them. It was barely a choice. It felt as much a natural phenomenon as phantom pains and just as mysterious and bizarre. To feel something that wasn't there but you swore that was. To feel someone beside you who once was there but no longer is. It's when you swore you had known the route, you had seen the portals and passed through them, and now you can't conjure them no matter what. You can't even be sure they ever were really there, or if you had fever dreamed it in a fit.

But even phantoms and fever dreams are real. You will know it if you've ever woken in the middle of the night and felt for the warmth of the empty bed beside you. Absence makes itself familiar to you when you are already lacking. It fills itself with itself, an ever-present beast, a thriving hyperbole. I've felt it was a much more manageable guest than most other presences. I had a lot there. It withheld nothing from me that I hadn't withheld from myself, a reinforcement for the rules. The rules were simple. The void required sacrifices. Whether it was your phantom void of love, or your self-accruing absence. Dump your burdens, leave everything you can live without and live with what is left.

October 30, 2013

flat tire

There were the things I knew about you and the things I knew that you had done, they coincided briefly and smashing for a moment. An iron's strike against my flint. Your love was no mystery, only the whims of your desire. They sought safety in the cradle of sycophants while my arms remained crossed. I may never know the breadth of their grasp. Did you give in? DId you want to? You can trust a beast in the wild more than your own neighbor. Your fear outweighed your guilt and I could only carry one.

I could have asked you when you beckoned me to the lake. I climbed into that canoe, hesitantly, not knowing if I would. If I had known how deep this body of water was, I might have gauged it better. I could have asked you in the middle of the night when you came back from the bathroom. But I didn't. What's the use of asking questions when you already know the answer?

I waited until we were back on land. We stood in leaves wearing our white coats, your arm around me, keeping the chill at bay. It was yours and my first New England autumn and I couldn't look you in the eyes when you lied to me. Your face became murky when I closed my eyes, a tunnel vision of the unknown future. I remembered what that psychic told me. 5 years. I saw myself smiling in sunlight. It was the first time I referenced that path and you weren't there. You came as often as the yellow dotted lines on the highway and I was frightened because all roads run out eventually. You either stood at the end of one or in the path of another. I waited in a roundabout, asleep in the passenger seat.

September 20, 2013

True Northwest

There were no shortcuts to take when it came to this. The straightest path led me to the quickest ends. Who knew I belonged there right then? I stalled your engines. I emptied the ashtray.

Your heart peaked over the horizon of your tongue. Every time you opened your mouth to speak, a vision of pulp. The things you felt were too decadent for my own plain-hearted affections. I held it high above the waters.
One time you told me you would die without me. You will die whether you are with me or without me.

The fear is that it's a trick of the light. You saw yourself once in a field, and then you cannot remember where the field is. The fear is that you never will again. Fear is its own belief system, better than the religion you neglected with absent diligence. I love you as much as I fear you. It's more than I can say for most.

I found you once in my bedroom, making my bed as you lamented the ashes you felt my heart was soon becoming. I found you that time at the beach when I thought that you left me alone on the shore-- a speck on a boardwalk, shading yourself from my breezy sentiments (or maybe you found me that time). I found you bereft when I found the things I wasn't supposed to. When I thought you had found somebody else. Dark and warm, everything I knew became a house of mirrors. My own nothingness stared back at me tenfold. I waded in your tenacity, the determined earnestness of your losing hand against my empty pockets. You knew something I didn't, but you don't know that yet. But you felt something there, didn't you?

It stirred into existence by sheer inertia. I peered over the lip of it and I felt your magnetic field. It was there all along, the person you were beneath an iron curtain of fearful good will and shattered grasping love. It had turned polar from mine until I found myself pulled into you, suddenly remembering myself deja vu in a dream in a field.

In cloud canopies, I filled your ghostly imprint with my own. You could've been vapor and I'd still find you. And still, you drew the needle towards you. It always points back to you.

October 4, 2012

practical tragedy

After I left, there were two things to consider. One was a a bobby pin I was never going to get back. I forgot it on the bureau for the maid to find. Or worse, anyone else before her who would trespass (good-natured as they were) that red Do Not Disturb tag hanging off the doorknob. It would lead straight back to me. It was too early for concern but not too late for later.

A few hours earlier I stood outside his three-star hotel, discreetly shivering in my sweater. I listened to his in-articulations that seemed to make things clearer to me with every stuttering lull. It was the first time I had asked a man what his situation was as I eyed the wedding band on his left hand. I was not confused, I already knew. I sluggishly mapped my path home in my head, but I let him go on.

"It just wouldn't be practical," I digressed. "You know neither of us would sleep. We'll be too stressed out."
"You're right," he agreed. "I would be too nervous to sleep."

Until now I had only scriptures and vague perceptions of how those kind of vows bended and bowed to our humanity, what was permitted and what was not. I could not ignore when he told me that he had no one to call to fetch him from the airport.
I could not ignore a sort of giddy loneliness when he said he could not remember the last time he felt this happy. It might have been the tequila but I suspected other convictions were at the helm. Whether they were mine, I couldn't tell. Happy was maybe the wrong word.

We fell asleep on the largest bed I'd ever seen. White blue flashes behind my eyelids from whatever movie was playing on HBO kept me awake. Or was it those convictions? I probably need to discard my preconceptions of innocence and guilt if I want to get any rest whatsoever. One of them scratches at the door. The other shifts beneath the covers.

I stayed on my side, not certain what that really was. If not for what was reaching, I could have claimed much more than the naive truth that it was just a bit of indulgence. Indulging loneliness is a house of mirrors though. It's the inescapable reflection of your own pale-turning fears.

I know they would be soothed soon enough. Sooner if his flight was not delayed. The more deliberate his silence to my well-wishes would confirm the things I was past being afraid of. I slept through it. Maybe he dreamt of decisions in a drift.

Neither of us could stay and it doesn't matter to me if that's sad or just the way things are-- the facts will question themselves, hovering on a sleepy moment in the morning when I had forgotten them. He traced it on the skin of my back. You tend to remember those illegible pleas. It marks the moment. That you had one at all.
The whole thing thrives off its ephemera. How it loomed like fog, deftly compensating any reproach I could possibly consider. That was the second thing.

August 27, 2012

Summer reaping

An FM radio is a temperamental form of entertainment for a weekend getaway. I would still prefer it to a collection of CDs that appear to be curated with designs to alienate me, but when you are sitting shotgun in a friend of a friend's car, it's not really up to you, now is it?
I only know the names of these bands and albums from hearsay, the rest is happening now and I don't have a whole lot to say about any of it. When I left the city I opted to leave those extraneous bits of cultural baggage there with it. The very idea of an alternate place to exist in, even if just for a little while, had been some kind of seven day mirage of a soundless oasis.

When you start indulging in expectation, you stop watching the wire. You just respond to the vibrations of the momentum. A peach-colored harvest moon dipped around each bend in highway and over trees and brush. I realized most of the summer's potential under that moon.

"Just have fun," B whispered, squinting under a beach umbrella. "If nothing else, just enjoy this." She looked towards the ocean. I looked at my feet. You do have a magnetic sense of being at the edge of the world. Nothing ever makes me feel more exalted than throwing my whole body into it. Fun is an afterthought.
It is difficult to have fun when you hold fun against certain emotional regards. Everything you do becomes everything you could've done differently. We were at the mercy of ultraviolet discretion. I let the tide divy that up.

Nighttimes, we would perch ourselves around a campfire, invoking some idea of the Gods of summer as though those totems still held authority. My faith was out of practice, so experience was my only truth. Smoke rose, my prayers wafting into my eyes, stinging. There really is little to no ritual to fire anymore. No offerings other than beer cans and cigarette butts. He placed an arm around my waist. It was the nearest thing faith could muster.
The silences we shared became weighted ceremonies. I'm across the room eyeing the distance that started spanning the day we got here. I kept silent, listening to the depth that it would go, waiting for the bounce-back echo that never comes. He was never still enough for a minute to catch it and I sank the invitation heavy-handedly.

In the morning, on the last day, belly-down splayed across white sheets, knees bent upwards and that stupid half-punked hairstyle flopped over his eyes. I don't remember if it was his cell phone in his hands or nothing.
I think I loved everything about the sight of that, right then. And then I blinked. I turned away, blushing, into the bathroom. The spoils of getting what you wanted-- the sooner you do, the less of it you can keep.