March 15, 2011

smoke/signals



How long had it been? I had a habit of appraising the gravity and temperance of everything into its accumulation of presence-- physical and mental. It didn't matter how far we got, or how many meals we shared or how many secrets were divulged, or how many things had been ignored or put off in the process (not that that was ever an issue with me, really). At some point, awhile happened. Had I checked your odometer I'd have found that I've spent roughly 1,630 hours on you, like some manifest sans destiny, just a vaguely nomadic ball of yarn. Maybe a third of the way through you had started drawing maps, consulting compasses, crossing our paths. And still. All I could argue was, "Wait, we've only known each other for about 87 cumulative hours!" Not that any of that mattered, but I found comfort in the numbers. I wasn't sure if they were a warning or a threat.

Sometime around the 37th cumulative hour I promised myself that I would not be the one to go first. Not that I ever keep those kinds of promises. At this point, I believe I make them to be broken because what's more fun than destroying something so self-important and arrogant? (and don't ever promise yourself you aren't going to do something. If you're ever going to do something as futile as a self-promise, promise yourself that you will do it right.)

I'd like to think it was not the circumstance that made me break it. It was the cool bedsheets on my bare legs, the weight of the light bearing from your work lamp, the unfamiliar music. I was here with you in this room and I'm pretty sure I've been in this room before but it was here too inside itself, with us as much as around us. It breathed velvet, dimensions jut into the shadows and enveloped all rules of physics (well, the dumb ones anyway). Every doorway led to here. Gravity lost its instinct and flung our masses to all four corners. So we clung to the center and laid there, I kept you from falling up and you collected every bit of me, equal parts anchor and buoy. Our eyes were saucers.

It was the circumstance that made me say fuck it, but you were the one to claim the words. They belonged to you anyway. I was just holding them for when you needed them. For once I was grateful that you cut me off, snatching the tail end of my prelude and professing my own stupid broken promise. I didn't know what it sounded like, but whatever molten sentiment I had brewing beneath the bunker in my chest solidified at the sound of your voice. I echoed what felt fiercely right and terrible.

"This will sound stupid," I began, appropriately, "but I promised myself a while ago I wouldn't be the first to tell--"

You cut to the chase. It was the phrasing that surprised me most. Falling in love. As if you too were privy to the reckless discard of gravity and bottomless everything everywhere. You made it sound endless. A deliverance and a verdict.
We'd rarely agreed on much until now. I wonder how long and how sure. There was a multitude of clues you would slip, intentionally or not; I couldn't tell if you were testing me. Otherwise, the richer the silences and lulls became. It loomed.

"I've never been wrong with anybody before," you told me after a few beers last weekend, "but I've been wrong with you."
"You mean you've never admitted to being wrong before," I said, but the music was too loud and we were already dancing.

I might have guessed it then. And I might have guessed it every time I asked you with my silence. When I would blame you for the stalemate I imposed upon myself. When I didn't know what to do with myself. It creeped in everywhere I wouldn't initially notice, chewing holes in my socks and slyly setting my watch ahead or behind. I lost track of our hours.  It didn't matter anyway. I knew I made that promise just to see it break. To make sure it would happen at all.

1 comment:

adam said...

i had something smart to say but now it is forgotten

it was something to do with genuine appreciation.