Friday, December 31, 2010

dirty talk.

i just spoke to the girl i adore more than chocolate & cute boys. you know how people say they talked someone "down" from a mood or a decision or what have you, well, my e, she talks me up. up from whatever pile of existential shit i've found myself underneath. in my former life i must have been a french philosopher.

e isn't quite 30, but she is wise as the sky is endless. she has lived many lives already. when she's not being wise, she's being hilarious, and oftentimes she is both at once. her russian love is away at grad school and a frequent topic of our conversation. this evening she told me how she "tears his skin off at least once a week" on the phone, and how he tells her—in what i like to think is his count dracula accent bc i've yet to meet him—that to a man, the only difference between committing and not committing is "different p*ssy," and so the reason he doesn't cheat on her is that no other p*ssy is worth losing a girl with such fire. smart fella. i like him already. and speaking of the p-word, my e told me something else this evening, about luck and life, etc., courtesy of her brother: "if it was raining p*ssies, i'd be the one to get hit by a d*ck." i've yet to meet her brother, but i think he's an alright guy. plus i know he's covered in tattoos and likes pit bulls and is accordingly unruly...check, check, check....and if he didn't have a girl and a kid i would've hightailed it to southern wv many years ago to chase him around. will travel for boys. what? cynicism ain't gonna keep me warm at night forever.

anyhow, i started this evening under what i thought was an intractable cloud of grumpiness. then came my e, and a few p-words, and here i am now, totally fine sitting in the dark by myself, drinking coffee on nye instead of mingling w people who don't give a damn about me much anyway; nor i, them. mutual indifference is acceptable, you know. although in the south, indifference is a no-no, or at least the appearance of it. people act like they care, bc they think it's polite, that is, until it infringes on their right to party or do whatever else is more important than being considerate. oh, did i type that out loud. why yes, i did. my fingers took over. it happens to a writer. besides, i can be verbally expulsive about all sorts of taboos and then call it art. if i were a visual artist, i'd be like basquiat and draw people crudely, bc, as he explained to the reporter played by christopher walken, "most people are crude."

it's almost 11 pm now. i'm not sure how long i've been writing...i guess a few minutes after i hung up with e, after i wished her a safe trip to see the russian, after she told me she loves me more than i know. i kinda know, though. and the very best thing about this nye eve is, i did get my wish for something to happen to redeem this year. i realized that calendars are an affront to the natural movement of time. time doesn't respect the calendar. so neither should i. i also remembered the perfection of a good laugh w a good friend. it's better than a chocolate-covered cute boy. hey, do they sell those anywhere? i'd like one for valentine's day. who's got a pen? write that shit down.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

postscript.

for the past few hours i have been sleeping and watching "julie & julia." i didn't fall asleep. i was already lying down, and it's been a long day. i had already fallen. sleep was sure to come. i caught the important parts of the movie, i'm sure. but now i'm totally upright, awake, here in the dark, blogging on xmas eve. my dogs are still in the bed. they slept through the whole movie. i woke up again, right at the end, when the postscript-thing appeared on the screen, saying something about how julia child's husband died in 1995 and then julia child died in 2005 and how julie powell the blogger became a writer, and her blog about julia child became a movie. the movie i just watched.

if she can write a book before she's 40, why can't i. and that's why i got out of bed.

a little while earlier, a text from my best friend at home woke me up...you are truly missed. everyone kept asking where you were tonight. my family goes to church on xmas eve, and i don't go, so for years i've been going to my friend's family dinner. when i was a kid, grade school age, before my dad started going to church, he and i would go to my uncle's xmas eve party. if i close my eyes, i remember it exactly...black outside because there were no street lights, snow on the ground, dad parallel parking his blazer on the super-narrow street, he and i walking down the super-steep steps to the covered porch and then through the kitchen door, where my aunt with the forever smile and the koala bear eyes would be scurrying around the kitchen. she made the best cookies. then we'd go into the living room...it was so dark in there, maybe even darker because their house was built into a hillside and one wall of the living room was bound by earth. i'd sit on the outside bench of the table that resembled a picnic table but wasn't. that living room in my uncle's house is where i saw the very first music video on mtv, "video killed the radio star." i remember lying on my belly in front of the tv, trying to stay awake for it. and how my uncle's daughter, my cousin, had a barbie doll house and a canopy bed that i coveted for years. i never had either. i'm glad, now.

my life is never going to be...that was what i thought after my friend's text, after realizing i'll probably never spend xmas eve w her family again, that those days are gone. and like the box of unwrapped xmas gifts my mom sent me, so was that thought. i had to leave it unfinished, because i didn't know which words would finish it. i couldn't say my life is never going to be the way i thought, because i've never been quite sure what i think. at times i've thought maybe i'm not one of them. "them"...they are women who marry and have children and are always w family for holidays and special events. maybe i do need to move to the city, because i'm not one of them. i remember, when i was 12, standing in the hallway by the row of lockers in front of my home room at central jr. high and imagining myself carrying a brief case and wearing my hair in a bun in new york city. that might have been the day when i wore my new bongo jeans w the wide black belt that my mom got me, right around the time when i thought she and my dad were getting a divorce. i wasn't upset about it. i thought it would be exciting, mom and i on our own. i have wondered, as an adult, if that was a typical reaction for a child my age. it seems so detached.

on my way out of bed, somewhere after the text and in one of the interstices among all my maybe-ing, i thought about julie powell, the blogger whose life became the movie i'd just watched. julie powell was cute and innocuous and dressed conservatively and married the nice guy, and she still said "fuck" in her blog and wrote about her personal life for all the world to see, so tonight i'm not going to hold back, either. fuck it.

this has been a miserable xmas. so far, at least. i suppose something unforeseen could happen tomorrow...like some absent-minded business person could forget it's xmas and call to offer me a great job, writing for their website or co-authoring their book or hell, even working in their ad agency part time. a girl who isn't sure what she wants can't be picky, can she? or i could win the lottery...or boys could not be eternally pointless to bother with...or my dryer could start working again after it quit a few hours ago. right after i'd forgotten my leftovers in the oven and burnt them, and not long after a phone call with my mom, whose defeat was painfully obvious after hearing that her daughter would not accept anyone's invitations and would be spending xmas alone. but why, honey, wouldn't it be better to go? no, mom, i don't think so. and then the dryer breaks. come on. it's really kind of trite, all this stuff happening on one day. like, lifetime movie trite. except lifetime movies have happy endings. i don't want happy, nor do i want an ending. i want contentedness, and progress. both are ever-evolving. which is why i can say: this xmas sucks. and i can know it sounds awful to say such a thing for public consumption, but, well, who cares. who cares, because it's the truth anyway. and who cares, because today is already over and tomorrow is only 24 hrs. and who cares, because mostly, except for that thumping scarlet mass in the upper right quadrant of my chest, i am made of steel.

merry xmas. i'm still hoping to wake up to snow.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

i kissed myself under the mistletoe.

low and grey, like storm clouds. i never think i should blog in this mood, because what if i say too much. mind you i said blog rather than write—both are me, undressing. though one is for all to see; the other, just me. once i start typing in this box, the distinction between the two becomes a line in the sand...and with one sweep of the foot, it's gone. as if the line were never there. i'm rarely serious about distinctions anyway. if i were, i'd draw lines in wet cement.

despite it all...all being life and money and shifting moods and such... i still have the eyes of a child. in the ways that most matter to me. i'm glad for it, because although it lends to being let down easily, it also brings the most amazing moments of joy. joy. that's a word you rarely hear, except at christmas. joy is underrated. and christmas is under-appreciated. people get all bent out of shape and decide they don't want to be part of it all, because it's too commercialized and too materialistic. as if the world isn't that way already, every single day? so why not just enjoy christmas as a reason for people getting together and giving a damn. make it your own. do it your way. let the fools stand in line at 3 am to get their kid a toy that every other kid in america has to have, because the ads told them so. i could say something here about natural selection, but that wouldn't be very merry christmas-y of me, would it.

truth told, my holidays are never what i imagine. but i imagine them, nevertheless, every year. for what they could be. in my mind it is small gatherings of friends or family in the evenings, in warm, low-lit houses with tables of food and drinks, and people are laughing more than people ever laugh collectively...it is at one of those gatherings, sitting in his lap just long enough to whisper merry christmas, baby, let's get outta here...it is baking and cooking with my friends, or my mom. she and i never had that tradition, though i wish we had. my mom, in all her fiery ways, is quieted by one thing—need. she will never ask for help. and although i always thought of offering, i could never bring myself to ask it aloud. i bet all these years, both of us were wishing the other would speak up.

recently i received a christmas gift from a friend who, like my mom, says very little about what she needs or wants. she'll drop a hint here or there, and if you don't pick it up quickly it'll fall among the crumbs in the cracks in the floor, and for a long time afterward you won't know what's going on with her, not until the next crumb falls. also like my mom, my friend will never pry. she'll ask how i'm doing, nonchalantly, and because i know her, i know it's her way of saying i'm ready to listen, but only if you're ready to talk.

her christmas gift, it was something i needed but couldn't afford to buy for myself. if it weren't christmas, she wouldn't have had an excuse to give me that gift, and i wouldn't have had a reason to feel grateful. the material gift was perfect, incredibly thoughtful, but it was a vehicle for a better gift. it's pretty amazing when people you care about show you they care about you, too. in small ways, big ways. it really doesn't matter to me. it's a moment of joy. i don't take it for granted.

so people can go on being resentful about christmas. i'll keep on liking it, every year. draw that line in cement.





Saturday, December 18, 2010

a deep freeze, a slow thaw.

verdana is a font owned by microsoft corporation. i learned that yesterday at work, in a legal disclaimer as i was sorting through the tedium of a very important, very worldwide, very ridiculously pedantic client-of-my-client, which is not microsoft but probably pays microsoft an ungodly sum to use verdana. when i saw the fine print, i think i rolled my eyes, or sighed out loud. what is life coming to when the the wealthiest corporations in the world need to own a font. get over yourself. client-of-client has endless listings and pages dedicated to what you can and cannot say, words you are forbidden to use, what colors things must be, where things can and cannot be placed, etc. ad nauseam. i'm sure, originally, their intent was to simplify. keep things clean and clear. simple is good. beautiful, even. simplification is decay. not the beautiful kind.

on the way to the office yesterday morning, in my rush to get there by 8:34, bc four minutes late is not as bad as five or ten, i stole two extra seconds to look into the eyes of the man who looked like he thought he knew me. or something. i didn't know his eyes, but his nose and lips, i had seen them before. maybe on another face. noses, i find them offensive, usually. misshapen, obtrusive. not nice to look at. i have a thing for mouths. they are living oil paintings...every smile or word is another stroke of the brush, layering over the last stroke; every pucker or flinch of the lips, a touch of color from a quick flick of the painter's wrist.

there's a tiny space in time, immediately before and immediately as a smile comes to be. it's my favorite; it's when the mouth does the most wonderful things to look at. my friend, she has the most fantastic smile. the right side of her upper lip rises and curves outward, away from her teeth, ever so slightly, and it looks so nice against her skin, which is so smooth and has not even the hint of age and is never, ever hidden under a layer of blush or powder. i have a picture of her, where that perfect moment in her smile is captured. it's in a box of old ones, before digital. sometimes i come across it, and her smile makes me smile, and it just endears her to me all the more. i've said many times that i don't know what i'd do without her. you know how that sort of thing goes...i'd just say it casually, as if i were dropping off a package at her doorstep. here ya go, friend. recently, though, i actually stopped to realize how true it is. it's as if my mouth knew all along, but the rest of me had to catch up. there are a precious few people i am attached to as i am to her. i like it that way.

last night my friend said i have an icy exterior. before he said it, i saw the thought forming on his face, his mouth especially. it looked like the thought was a piece of candy he was sucking on—a fireball or a lemonhead came to mind—and he was trying to decide when to spit it out. whatcha thinkin? and he said he thinks i'm crabby, always mad about something or other, which made me laugh, and then came the icy part, followed by "but i think it's a front"...i laughed again and said no, it's real. how much of that ice will form, and how it will form, well it just depends. it's tedium, complicated. i'm uninterested in it...except when it's entertaining. but either way, it's as much a part of me as the soft, warm part that realizes i'd be lost without my friend w the fantastic smile.





Tuesday, December 14, 2010

letting down.

there are three loads of laundry waiting to be folded on my bed, a floor to vacuum, that book i've been reading, the friend i owe a beer, the biscuits i wanted to make from scratch. i wasn't going to write this evening. i sat down here at my desk, for what was supposed to be a quick second to see if that email i'm waiting for was there, and then i remembered how that mirror in the bathroom at work today seemed to multiply my grey hairs before my eyes, and now here i am.

the email, it wasn't there. there was another email. from one of my oldest friends back home. the white to my black. the girl whose laugh will tickle you, just like a cat's tongue. in high school she had the delivery guy cut her pizza in half and bring the other half to me. i kept the box for years. in her email this evening, what i noticed most was, there were no erroneous capital letters. she always does that, usually the first letter or two, because she forgot to let go of the caps lock. she was upset that i won't be home for xmas. i have to work. i'll be here. i've spent xmas here before, the first year i moved. the worst part about it was the $20 i regretted spending on breakfast. this year, i thought about getting a hotel in oxford for xmas eve. i've never been there. but who would watch my dogs. and when the day arrived, i probably wouldn't feel like driving anyway. so maybe i'll just stay here and bake and watch movies. the strangest part is, my friend and my mom both said the very same thing when i told them the news: but you are our gift. it's not the same without you. we love seeing you.

this evening a little dog ran up to my car. she was the color of "bit 'o honey" candy...they're one of my dad's favorites. her ears stood straight up and her eyes inquisitive, like a small child's in the house of a stranger. i squatted down, and she licked my hand, then darted off. we played that game for a while. i tried to grab hold of her collar but she got away, ran into the road, nearly clipped by a sedan, and then again by another sedan. my stomach knotted up both times. come here, come on, pretty girl. i tried and tried, but she wouldn't come closer again. i watched her zigzag from one side of the street to the other as she made her way up the block. i should've followed her. i went into my house instead.

a day. that's all it was.

Monday, December 13, 2010

the weight.

here we go again. many times my posts are—as this one—the result of abandoned fb updates. i start typing in that white rectangle and realize i have more to say than the 200-character maximum, or whatever it is. who am i kidding. i always have more to say, even when i don't say it. my mouth is a faucet, like the one in your kitchen w a lot of play in the handle—it takes some finessing to get it to shut off, and even then, there's usually a slight leak.

i thought about a cabin earlier, and it reminded me of all the things i've never done but always wanted to do. it's a short list, though an imposing one. i've had it for years. i won't say what's on it...i can't give away all my secrets. the cabin is a fine example anyway. why have i never been to a cabin in the winter? i grew up in west virginia, after all. lakes and ski resorts are as plentiful as beat up pickup trucks...which, btw, are on another list of mine: things that make me feel like the world used to be much more interesting than it is now. abandoned warehouses, farmhouses, dingy mechanic shops, back roads, and an old coffee can full of other visuals are also on that list.

when i was in high school, a group of my friends rented a cabin at canaan valley for new year's eve our senior year. i wasn't invited. i vaguely remember being resentful about it, although i can't recall if i actually wanted to go or if i was just pissed bc i thought they were rude. probably the latter. no one ever told me, but i'd guess i wasn't invited bc my on-again, off-again boyfriend was part of the group, and maybe even his other girlfriend would be there. i sort of knew about her, and she sort of knew about me, and both of us managed to justify the dysfunction of it all. so no one else dared invite me to canaan, obviously. who knew what would happen. back in those days...oh my. it was if i'd just discovered my heart, and realized what a terrible weapon it could be against its own body.

my heart, it's my mom coming out in me. in her day, it was trouble, too. she was something, my mom. bedeviling, i'm sure of it. tall and curvy, icy blue eyes and pale skin, long, straight hair that matched her morning tea, and a temper just as hot. untamable. she still is, it's just that the scenery has changed. mom would never tell me all her secrets for fear i'd repeat her mistakes. i'm certain i've repeated a few of them anyway. she and my dad in their younger years, they partied. she'd never say it that way, but i've seen the pictures. a new year's eve party in particular. early 80s in our old house. the black leather couch, the wood-paneled walls, the friend with the curious mustache, his date w the long chestnut hair, feathered away from each side of her round face, and a scar very visible on her lip, or maybe it was her forehead. and my favorite aunt in the dining room, wearing a silk blouse, staring at the camera with her lips slightly parted, though not as if she were about to smile. she was stunning...tall and thin like my mom, her shoulder-length hair dyed strawberry blonde, her lips dipped in glossy scarlet, her big eyes rimmed in black liner. i love those pictures. i love that my mom and dad had a good time together. they married young. i'm glad i didn't. but okay, i'll give up one secret: i have felt envious of young couples. not the married kind, i mean the kind who are too young to think about how serious they are and they are ridin' life till the wheels fall off bc there ain't a care in the world yet. i always wondered what that would be like. exhilarating comes to mind.

maybe i should throw away that list of mine. and live whatever life i want. here. now. till the wheels fall off.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

the trouble with a raised hem...

about 6 years ago i bought a size 10, mid-calf wool skirt from goodwill in morgantown. it belonged to some well-to-do woman at one time. i know bc it has a nice lining. good skirts are always nicely lined. i paid 3 bucks and took it to the seamstress, the asian lady who worked in the back of the dry cleaner on high street. on the way to her room we had to pass through the work area, prefaced by one of those old-fashioned blue-grey metal boxes full of time cards. the workroom was a big, open square with a low ceiling, w workers busy at their task, no one smiling. the old-ish, short, italian owner was always somewhere in the back. i only knew that because i could occasionally get a glimpse of him in his office from the seamstress's room. the scene would've made jeremy bentham proud. it was very panopticon-y. bentham, he's one of my boys. i'm not sure if we agree, but he is alluring nonetheless. the panopticon being the least of my interest, btw. it's what he says about pleasure and pain that bends my mind the most. bentham says human behavior is governed by pleasure and pain—the pursuit of one, avoidance of the other. it's much more complicated than that, once you start reading. i'll read about it until my mind is sufficiently blown. then i'll forget most of it until the next time i'm compelled to look him up again. you know, for old time's sake.

i went to that asian seamstress numerous times. every time: through the work area to her dark room in the back left-hand corner...her delicate index finger pointing me toward the dressing room to change...her other delicate fingers prodding my waist and hips and inner thighs and ankles as she measured and pinned...a murmur here and there...a paper handed over, w a price in her stark handwriting...another nod, a brusque "okay" from her, an uncertain"thank you" from me. our interactions bothered me. they felt like what i imagine to be the interaction between a hooker and her john: the lack of conversation, the awkward touching, the service performed, the payment arranged.

i wore that wool skirt a few times, then decided i didn't like it. it would be better much shorter, and w some cool boots that i don't yet own and some other lady's shirt i've yet to buy from goodwill and then cut up into a new shirt. new to me, i mean. so a week or two ago i turned morgantown well-to-do lady's skirt into a mini. hopefully not too mini. i haven't tried it on yet. i don't like skirts much, actually, nor do i have much cause to wear one. maybe on a date. i had this notion recently...maybe last month?...of taking myself on a date. it was during one of my spells in which i thought memphis was as pleasureless for a girl like me as the town i grew up in and what am i going to do and why hadn't i just moved to the city instead. my thoughts, they are a little balloon, apt to stray into troublesome places if not held fast to...something. i have very few fastenings, though.

my date. it would be at the peabody hotel downtown, where i would sit at the bar in the lobby. it's dark in there. tons of travelers, too. i'd probably meet skirt men all night. businessmen, lawyers, doctors, they like skirts. if the term weren't antiquated, they would refer to women as skirts. skirt men like to impress women w compliments and expensive meals and the like. i've been out w a few of them. i didn't wear a skirt. and i found not a one of 'em great company. not for long. some of them were nice enough guys and even had what appeared to be decent intentions. i don't know, maybe i'm just not one of those girls, the ones who...like their pleasure up front, no nonsense, immediate. it's too easy, i suppose. so is that explanation.

so is no-nonsense pleasure what bentham intended? i would be let down if that's the case. or did he take into account that sometimes the way to pleasure is through pain? maybe that's why he insults me and intrigues me all at once—the guy is dead, and i'll never know exactly what he meant.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

match point. game over.

i almost chose trebuchet, just now, until i realized i had chosen it for the past few posts. so then i purposely chose a different font. what are options if you don't use them...right? it vexes me, wanting to know the difference between settling and deciding.

the line at brother juniper's this morning was obnoxious, naturally. i got my coffee and sat next to the late-20s girl w dirty blonde dreadlocks and the kind of narrow eyes that are underscored by creases that perpetuate a just-woke-up look at all times of the day. when her boyfriend w the russian accent walked in, she became, for a hot second, a smitten preteen. i thought it was cute, solely in the sense that her appearance belied her demeanor...but so what. i like that sort of thing. i also like dreadlocks on girls. if they weren't so permanent i'd have them, sometimes. as i waited, drinking my coffee and reading my book, i chastised myself for spending money on an outing i wouldn't enjoy all that much. brother juniper's food is good. other than that, i knew it would be overpriced and bright and loud and anxiety inducing. i should be inured to it by now, however, i just keep on being disappointed that this town is full of nowhere peaceful and dark to hang out.

i've thought of opening my own coffee house. it would always be dark. even in the daytime. maybe it would look like a tiny log cabin, or a library in a gothic castle. i'd do it if i had the money. if i had money, i could also afford to get away any time i please. that's what i'd do. i'd leave memphis whenever the walls started closing in. and then i'd come back when the novelty of wherever else began to wear off... bc eventually it would. everything is novel, you know. most people just choose to ignore that fact so they can go on w the trappings of daily life. i'd come back to memphis bc...see i can't bring myself to say this is my home...although just now, just this second, i realized it's the closest thing i've got.

last night i went out. i was supposed to meet a friend but didn't hurry to get there. as i walked into the bar, i was glad to see no one i knew, and i was dressed in black from head to toe and my boots had really high heels, and all those things combined—in a brief and completely nebulous way—somehow made me feel like the old me. i was anonymous and free and didn't give a damn about one person in that entire room. it felt good. it felt good when somebody's dad—who was giving me eyes that somebody's dad shouldn't—wormed his way next to me and kept looking, waiting for me to acknowledge him, but i didn't. i pretended i didn't notice him, even though his shoulder was touching mine. i had lost respect for him the minute i saw him nudge his friend, somebody else's dad. they had high-school age kids at home, i'm sure of it. they were out bc they're divorced...or they're married and want to play with fire (the idea of it, rather)...or they're married and wielding a matchstick, waiting for the moment to strike phosphorus and burn down the house. maybe the life they left at home last night was what they had settled for, years ago. maybe their wives had settled, too. maybe that's why they were out last night. trying to forget. they were visibly older, but not much better or worse off than anyone else in the room, merely two more drips of despair and disappointment to add to the night's collection. bars are reservoirs of misery. it might not seem that way, what with people laughing and singing and pressing up against the person they'll take home tonight and not call tomorrow. or maybe it's just me, silly girl, carrying a microscope instead of a matchbook on a friday night.

i didn't stay long. i was in memphis, and these were not intriguing strangers, and i would not meet anyone all night with whom i could talk shit and have no desire to see him again and then go home, alone, perfectly satisfied. it wouldn't happen that way. damn microscope.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

a grin, a ghost, and a girl.


for the past few years i have been dreaming about a man. we were once together. sort of. my usual...on again, off again. lots of endings, no real beginnings. it took a while after it all ended — the real ending i mean, when i was finally the one to say stay away for good — to know it wasn't love. i had loved before. twice, to be exact. with him it wasn't so much love as it was determination. "honey, just give it a chance"...that's what my mom said every time i called, looking for a reason to get rid of him. giving chances in the absence of attraction — the immediate kind — was never my way. but when i met him i was over 30 and figured i should, i don't know, grow up or something, date the kind of men who want girlfriends. i even checked up on him..."he's a great guy," said the people who didn't know or care about me. and i'm sure it was true. for them. into my jar full of life lessons i tossed another penny: people will tell you a lot about a man, and it means absolutely nothing. you can never know someone until you know him.
it was maybe 6 weeks after we met when we parted ways for the first time. a few weeks later i went to the park to meet some friends at a game. he looked happy to see me. we sat side by side on the bleachers, flanked by strangers, friends, the sky. i remember thinking how i missed him, and that surely he missed me, too.
outlined against the soft blue of september he turned to face me, ragweed posing as goldenrod. his head lowered and he looked up at me, making his big eyes bigger than normal, buying time for his rusty jaw to fix itself in that lopsided grin of his; i watched in slow motion as it spread unevenly across his sun-stained cheek. that day the longer i looked, the harder the sun glared, making me squint until i couldn’t see his smile at all. the aluminum bench was warm, but not hot enough to burn. he bummed a cigarette, told me it was too bad he couldn’t stay long, and then cackled like he did when he got away with something. he was always getting away with something. in the months ahead, he would get away with even more. he would show up with the wind, gather up my kisses, my loyalty, my trust...and then he would leave just as fast, scattering all the parts of me along his way.
one night he showed up, very late, very drunk. as usual. i had friends staying over, so we met on the front porch of the house in front of mine. he walked up the sidewalk, that grin of his leading the way. you've missed me...i said it with a smirk of my own, and wasn't at all sure it was true but saying it gave me some semblance of power in a situation where i had relinquished too much already. he looked at the ground: i do miss you...i just don't know what to do about it. i could count on one hand, and with a finger or two to spare, the times a man has told me he missed me, so at 3 am, standing in the driveway, watching a mistake walking my way, i forgave myself for the few seconds i allowed myself to savor it.
we sat in my landlord's folding chairs and talked for a minute or two, long enough for my heart to fall out of my hand and roll off into the far corner of the porch, cluttered with leaves and dirt and hair from the nameless, homeless cat we fed. it lay there, forgotten. there were other, louder parts of me yelling, inside, while he and i whispered, outside. within a few syllables i crept over to his lap, kissed him on the cheek. it's a habit of mine, collecting a few seconds of sweetness in the most loveless moments.
as i walked barefoot back to my house to get my shoes, he followed behind for a few steps, then let out a low whistle...you are the sexiest thing i've ever laid eyes on...and i remember it perfectly...how i looked back at him, tracing the back edge of my waistband with my index finger, lowering it just enough that the hint of my tan line was visible from the pale yellow glow of the porch light.
i left my friends at my house. shortly thereafter, i left him at his. in his stupor he murmured something like "you don't have to leave"...it makes me wonder, did he know...do men ever know?...that it would have meant so much more had he just said, "i want you to stay." maybe it was that night that i knew he didn’t know me at all. he had never even tried.
...or was it that day on the bleachers? when that cigarette burned just as quickly as my hopes..."gotta run. i have to be somewhere. it was good seeing ya, dani"...and then that grin. the lack of honor in it mixed with the sweat dripping from his temple...i watched it trace his jaw line. we sat close. as close as the crumpled pack of Camels to my left and his right. closer still to becoming ash.
months later, he told me he had been thinking that it was too bad i looked so good on a day he had a date.

Friday, December 3, 2010

baked goods.

yesterday i stood by the back door to let the dogs in and heard someone singing "kumbaya" on the other side of the fence. how in the world did some crazy ass wander back here? and how long is he gonna stay? i wasn't worried, just curious. then the girl in the guesthouse came out on her porch, giggling..."the neighbor can hear you!"... and then a santa hat smothering a mess of shaggy brown hair popped up and a bike appeared through the slats in the fence and he went riding off to the street. it was her boyfriend. he looks about 17. he does dishes, slowly and badly, at a family-owned restaurant and is always late and stoned sometimes, too, but doesn't get in trouble because he's too endearing for anyone to stay mad. that's my guess, the work part at least. he's definitely stoned sometimes. maybe he doesn't work at all and guesthouse girl supports him. she's always on the move in the mornings. late for work, i guess. she and i have a routine: i'll sit at my desk with my first cup, and soon enough she'll scurry past my front window to her jeep, then back to her house, at least one or two more times. it makes me smile. she must be like me, always forgetting something. sometimes it takes me 3 tries to leave my house. some days her hair is curly, some days straight. she has a few tattoos, too. so we have a few things in common. except i'd never have a boyfriend who follows me like a puppy. i only recently learned baby boyfriend's name, but i think it should be "shaggy" anyway so it doesn't matter. one day i got out of my car and he walked up, looking at the ground, then sideways, then anywhere but in my eyes and said, "hey, uh, we knocked on your door the other night but you weren't home. we had a little party." i like that he told me i wasn't home, as if i didn't know. i kinda want to bake him cookies and hug him and tell him to be a good boy, but i can't figure out if i'm old enough to be mothering toward a kid his age or if i'd just come off as the cougar next door. hmm.