Archive for August, 2012

Falling for K taught me a lot about the way relationships work. It felt good, and I felt liked for the first time in my life. She was older, and so full of life.

Not dating K taught me a lot about the way relationships break down. The day she left I fell asleep on the couch and slept for fifteen hours.

Trying to get K to stay in my life taught me that relationships rarely translate into friendships. And, perhaps more importantly, that both people have wants and needs – that those don’t always match up.

K, in many ways, was the purest romantic fall I’ve ever experienced. It had all the joy and life of a good romance, with all the messiness of two people coming apart.

She was older. She had dark hair. Her nose was adorably a bit too large (her words, not mine). She liked music, had a complicated family. She needed to be loved, and I filled a void.

I had no idea what a void was. I rattled admirably. I made noise. I demanded attention. I look back on those times with a mix of anxiousness and clarity. Sometimes I flick through my regrets – that we lost contact, that I never kissed her, that I still have her birthday present from 2009. Still wrapped, with no foreseeable home.

She brought out the best in me. And I think that’s a big part of the reason we fall for someone – the idea that they see something pure and benevolent in us. The we we’d like to become.

I did awful, romantic things to try and be with her. I loaned her my favorite book (narrowly returned to me), wrote her a forty page letter, made her music.

Love was, and in many ways is, so much about the little trinkets we share. It’s having something to carry away from the adventure – a war trophy, like a sword or feather. My trophies are in a box somewhere, but I know they’re there.

Failed relationships give us a pinhole to the past. To the people we wanted, desperately hoped to become. To the future we foresaw for ourselves, and the ugly brutality of secrets and lies we tell each other.

The lie, though. The lie makes the whole thing beautiful. Even when it’s burning.

I wish so much sometimes I’d had the vocabulary of affection to run my hands over her. The words now to be something more than a passive, shadowy figure offering occasional encouragement. I struggled a lot with being exiled from her heart after we separated – it’s not a daily ache, but sometimes I still do.

Her hair is a different color now. Her abruptness, once the ultimate come-on, seems atonal. She is off to a wide world of adventures, ones I will hear fettered through a hundred other dreams.

I’ve become a foot-note in her heart, a scar now so faint it’s become indistinguishable to the examiner. We worry, I know, that the marks we make on one another won’t last. We try to ink them in anger and promises and grand declarations. Hurt, masks, pressure. We break skin to be together.

And then one day they’re gone. Or they’re not. We close the book, returning ever hesitantly to the chapter.

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The first time I saw him, I think, was in some classroom in Illinois. He was handsome, of course. In fact, I’d never seen anything like him.

I spoke to him a few more times that year, although nothing ever came of it. He was so tight-lipped in that way. Once, near the end of the year, I realized we’d been dressing alike. I had unconsciously copied him.

That was the nature of our relationship, I suppose. I stole and stole and stole from him without ever pickpocketing his heart. I wasn’t that brave then, and only so brave now.

If I ran into him now I think we’d end up in some bathroom somewhere. I think I’d want something ugly, maybe vicious, to make it easier. I wouldn’t want to know about his parents or his dreams, just listen to him talk about his art.

When I talked to her about it for a few minutes, she told me it would be that way. That it would mean something, or not mean something. That I’d be better off just focusing on his lips. She said she mostly fell for their art, too.

I like people like that.
Once, quietly, another one affirmed that I’d fallen in love with everything. That I had, in a way, been falling in love forever.

She smiled, simply, and said – I like that about you.

I don’t know if I do, but it seemed like the most faultless elegance to not care about being hurt, or consequences. Maybe it was one of those rubies of youth. I needed a kiss right then.

I needed them to know that I’d love anything in that moment. That I’d dreamt about him, delicately sequestering myself. Hardly a heart, just a mouth and neck.

I wanted them to know that I was so many, maybe too many, things for that moment. I wanted to feel that way without belaboring the essence of special – because you are special. I think you’re the most special.

If you asked me, I’d tell you. If you loved me, I’d show you. If you don’t, it will still be 2 AM and I’ll still be reading. I’ll still be trying to piece together my childhood with pages.

But I can’t just be anything but me.

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I do think fingers are meant to peel out, to discover, to excavate.

I’m reminded, somehow, that everything is so much more multi-faceted than it seems. And somehow the work is do-able, and somehow distance is equivalent, and somehow that part of me is changing. Somehow change is like a carapace, strip off (shell on), and life can be born out of change.

Somehow I’m learning the language to the reality of change. Like dreams and feathers. Paint them on your body, remind yourself that your bones are actually aching memories, shards of glass mirrors, painted together to uncover something like a psyche.

I didn’t know that much about it then, and I don’t know much more about it now. But the words begin with the tongue, uncoil around the body, become the frame.

There’s still a lot more I need to learn about texture. About fabric. About the things between words.

But I’m trying really hard.

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Lay me on the table
Lay me on the table
Scorched earth
Sun spot
Make me
Feel like my father

Push against me
Doctor, against me,
Electric shock
Smart bomb
Leave my insides

Please be the surgeon
Maybe cut me open
Thumbs stroke
Tongue drawn
Fix me soft
Then hard

Red eyes bloom
Blood operating room
Your hands are
wires running

A flower of bruises
painted by sparks,
laying on the table
with you
make me
feel marked.

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Working in the morning, too late waking. Just one of those things like wilderness. Rhubarb. Thorns peel, body open, like mornings without waking. Like Virgin Mary, spilling red out of you.

Always some fair-skinned creature. Let this one thing happen. Untame yourself like the birth of a star. Pressure points. Always eyes and hair curled like a puckered moon. Always with you. Here or there, early mornings.

Legs on the dresser. On the floor again. Say it’ll be sore. Say it’s a good sore. Tell me about sixteen. Put them back together. Angled like a chair, like perfection. Like something lasting. Like something that won’t last. Like something I didn’t feel.

Taste like wine. Taste like regret. Taste like the moon.

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She said:
Someday you will be remembered
for your love letters, and
handed me the box
of ashes.

I learned, somewhere,
that there is a place
beneath the breast
and plate
between sinew
and fiber
where –
if you press
your mouth
against it
and tell

And sometimes
a mouth, loaded
like a toothy
cannon, fires
off – for blood
or something like
lust, I mean
anything not
to talk,
not to whisper,
not to blow
the strands
of glass

I tried,
in the moments
after the accident,
after the words
and lies
and faces between
the lives we
shared, to
kiss you there.

The words were
jumbled and
my mouth did
not fit.

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Messed that up today. Not exactly big-time, but enough to feel shitty and remorseful.

Those are prominent emotions in my life. And that’s okay – they should be. Things will always go wrong, and it’s our job to try and fix them. Sort of. As best we can.

It’s been a minute since I’ve hurt this much, or ached that way, or started to forget. It’s been a moment since I’ve seen so many people, or felt so much energy, or overwhelmed, or apathy.

I’ve never felt apathy in that way before – wrong word – it’s like the mystique wears off. Like flowers were just spray-painted steel – fabric illusions.

It’s not that. It’s not like that. I’m just tired because I had a long, rough day.

Those happen. It’s tomorrow that counts.

Keep learning. Keep learning for the next day.

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