blog, poem

August

I’m writing this in the back of a caravan as it scuttles across the empty plains of West Texas. August comes around and always feels like a Sunday. Three years ago, I was hungover and in love and drinking iced coffee from the garden level of a north Denver apartment. Now, after spending another week back home in Colorado, I feel the same: pining for love, hungover from a lazy summer in the sun, sipping from a mug.

I know my writing always reads something romantic. Truthfully, though, it’s rare anymore that I feel any sort of desire to pursue romance. I’ve become too self-serving over the years, too busy pursuing a myriad of goals that benefit only me, too interested in spending time alone. I enjoy my quiet time. I know many folks my age that have also given up on the cinderella story, on the boomer lifestyle of 1950’s jello adverts.

Sometimes, though, the heart will flutter and seek flight. Now is one of those times.

I was back home this week with a group of running friends on a road trip. We hiked up mountains and slept on the floor and cooked and cleaned together. A week straight with these folks and it only felt like family, like symbiosis. Guiding them through my old haunts brought back an expected nostalgia, certainly, but it also helped me see these spots anew. I ordered different meals, different drinks, walked into new buildings, snapped out of the plastic shape of old routines.

On my mind throughout the week were the relationships I left here. Understanding that I took that love for granted while it was abundant and present leaves me feeling foolish. Walking along the same avenues where first kisses were planted on unassuming heads opens a monologue with your younger self, one that ends without resolve. I can’t rewind time, even though the junctures still look so familiar, as if it never passed. Standing at one of these, a corner near a science building on campus, I feel the pulse of old heartbreak. I also feel a sort of heightened awareness to recognize the love when it’s around. The type of cognizance that comes with learning a very physically painful lesson.

And so this affirms this lingering thought I’ve had in my mind for a while, one that has been absent for half a decade, one that I’ve feared and barricaded and ignored in favor of nurturing the self: that I am ready to give it away. I would like it real and good and poetic and pure, and it feels something like escaping a cocoon.

It must be immaterial and private and between only us. I hope to leave it unnoticed and mute; my favorite relationships are those that I know least about. Keep it secret and intimate. Sex is as good as the sum of its parts, but making love is transcendent. Making love feels like leaving earth. It feels like one of the only few ways we have left of being entirely present. The muse of art and war is born in the dark sheets between two bodies unraveling into one another. I want this. I want the mundane and the annoyance and the discomfort of merging two lives together, and I also want to make love.

I’m tall and lanky and funnily shaped and have a childish face. I don’t wear great clothes and make little money. I’m shy around the girls that smitten me. I observe more than I participate. I think too much. My confidence is fickle and often frustrated. I assumed, by now, I would have ironed out these insecurities, but they tend to solidify when I’m most lonely. And that feeling waxes and wanes with the moon. But these things go away when I have someone to call.

When I have the love, I’m nicer to my mother. My grandpa stops worrying. I have perspective and a reason to stop in the gift shop. I write more, I sleep well, I learn new tricks. I see new places and shake new hands and live a life more spontaneous. I begin to share. And that’s the kicker, really: I want to share. We are calmer when we can split the bread.

It’s now quite dark in East Texas. The clouds have become a silky sheet of deep purple in the sky above. Soon this life will become overwhelmingly busy with the duties of a career in progress and I will return to having very little time to myself. I will doubt and dismiss the idea of pursuing a partner. But for this moment, out in the middle of nowhere, on the tail end of another setting summer, I will imagine myself in love, quietly, and rest my head to the thought. The rolling fields of windmills swim by, and I think about her.

She lets quartz hang from her ears. She buys things from old women. She drinks cucumber water. She makes love on top. She leaves a thunderous wake, a pinkish swirl, a scent. She wants me around.

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blog, poem

Radiogirl

You are rad.

Rad like a palindrome, rad like frayed scarves.

Like a Wilhelm scream ripping through the hollow undertow.

Rad like the loudest symphony, like the first chair violin.

You got a goddamn good name and I like saying it in the tub. You got a schedule of shit to do. You got a paycheck coming in.

You are rad and lovely and firm, in that order, like a cabin in the woods.

Lovely like buttermilk, firm like Arnie’s bicep. A butt tucked into gray sweats tapered at the ankle. Black nikes, a little scuff.

A couple of middle fingers up, for your insecurities, for the ticket stuffed into your passenger side door.

A hazy voice floating through the atmosphere, falling on a microphone, into the radio waves, onto my canned headphone eardrums, like silky smoke from a tan candle.

Let me kiss your lip like butter, my goodness, let me show you off to momma. Let me show you to the thirsty desert, to a linoleum grocery store. Let me grab your hand and pinch your hip and piss you off just right.

“It comes with cheese?” a quick chuckle from your chest, “a little cheese on top,” and the waiter nods and grins.

You don’t interrupt.

You swing a red leather bag and glide through the snowy city streets. You tip three quarters at the deli and hug the owner Jim who gives me a hard time. I play along. You seem to own the room, everywhere you go, you take the whole place over. The boring couple in the booth stops to stare. Their spoons hovering over tomato soup and cornbread, spilling a little, splashing onto their napkin bibs.

I follow in your breezy wake.

You spin the key, the deadbolt pops. You throw your coat onto the couch and put an album on.  Something funky from the 80’s. I kick my shoes off and tumble into your living room. We drank too much, I think. Your cheeks smudge my glasses. It’s midnight.

“Where should I write to you?”

“Here. The mailman comes on Thursdays.”

“Do you check your mail?”

“Sometimes.”

I squint to see the lights outside. You nudge.

“Leave it on the radio.”

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blog

Two Years Gone

I keep little notes in my phone of outfits I see on folks that look particularly nice. I write them down in a hurry.  Like this one:

  •   brown khaki jeans, white shirt, white nike runners with a blue swipe and gum soles

He was a student getting on the bus. Some people look nice in the easiest of ways, and he was one of them. I think he could wear anything and turn it into a note on my phone. Or this one:

  • worn black jeans, olive flats, beige sweater

I liked the way this girl walked around. She made her flats look cozy. She made her sweater look like it meant something to her. And:

  • dark blue dress, thin, light, with shiny mustard flats

Some folks have a confidence about them, and they radiate it right through the clothes wrapped around their body tight.

I ate eggs benedict on a sunday morning with avocado and black beans. I drank three mugs of coffee and scratched my ruffled hair and paid the tip. The lady who served us last time had a spiffy set of curls that bounced around and a sliver hoop in her nose that flickered under the diner lights. I spot her from afar, and she’s smiling all the same, just at a different booth.

We ordered a strawberry pancake and split it 70/30. It was too dry, so the syrup went on twice. The couple next to us kept threatening to leave: she stood up, fixed her shirt, crossed her arms, then sat down again. I’m no longer interested in keeping the black beans separate from the benedict so I throw it all together in some lazy casserole. It tastes good.

I think about the way people bond better over breakfast. I think about sweatpants and hangover teeth and the way lethargy makes your shoulders slouch. The way that stress won’t let you just sit down and take it easy for a minute. But breakfast at the diner doesn’t let you stress your shoulders up.

Across the glossy floor, at the table snug against the wall, I spot another note:

  • gray pants, light red shirt, white shoes

My head is down as I type it into my phone and the waitress snags the plates away. My arms fall over my belly and I grin. It’s good to eat. It’s good to be a human and eat a real nice meal. Two bright red credit cards hold down the receipt, keep it from floating off the table and onto the sticky floor.

I think about all the love I’ve shared over orange juice and waffles with whipped cream. I think about my heavy heart and the way the diners blend together. I feel it in my skeleton. Sometimes your smiling, naked cheeks, dimpled and full across the table shine right into my head, and I miss you. I miss all of you.

The sun blasts through the windows as we weave through the waiting crowd.

Into your apartment and onto the unmade sheets we wander. Our heads fall into the pillows and you toss your leg over onto me. Open your phone. Chuckle. I stare at the ceiling and wonder where the day will go. If our lazy will just keep moving through the moments. If we will lay here until monday. Your roommates aren’t home and the dusty air blankets the room. I play with your hair. You don’t notice.

There’s nothing to it, really. We’re just here, and it feels good.

Soon, I’ll be gone again, and I’ll leave you here, and I’ll do my best to remember all of this. I’ll make a note in my phone. The scent of your sweater nestled into my chest, the way it follows me home, all the way up the mountain and into my room. I’ll text you.

We’re awake, into the day. I notice you’re wearing the same thing you wore when we did this the first time:

  • black leggings, pink hoodie, canvas flats, big hair

I still see them now, two years gone, all those breakfasts.

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Ouroboros

When speaking to anyone, you must assume one of two things: the first is that their mother is dying, and the second is that they just made hot love.

When you assume these things, you will notice that is impossible to complain. I think we are being violent to our friends when we complain about anything to them, and even more so when we choose to be negative to those with whom we are less familiar.

Before you speak to your friends, consider the idea that their mother is dying.

Entertain this thought. Try to imagine what is living in their heart. Try to imagine tying your shoes in the morning, and losing the bunny knot, and erupting, because your mother, your mom, the one that taught you how to eat with a spoon, is not going to be around much longer. And you’ve known this for a while. It makes tying the bunny knot feel like an impossible task.

But you must tie your shoes, and make your coffee, and catch the bus, and go. So you push. And soon you receive a text saying:

“ugh, forgot my fucking lunch at home. kill me”

You bite your tongue. They don’t know, you think, don’t say anything. So you respond:

“mondays”

Such a fleeting, everyday, offhand and hyperbolized and unimportant comment. You know this, and yet somehow you feel worse. Your mother is dying, and kill me sticks to the gray tar lingering on your mind.

When you consider this, you will no longer want to yell at your friends. You will no longer want to complain about your exams, the traffic, the rain, the money on your credit card. You will likely not want to talk at all. You will see the weight they carry and try your best not to add to it.

What I’ve learned is that, no matter what, someone’s mother is dying, and most of the time they won’t tell you.

So you must assume.

You must also assume, in the fortunate event that their mother is in good shape, that your friend just made hot love. Today, he is quite jubilant, and is likely having one of those glowing, hopscotch, blue jay kind of mornings. Smiles and quick steps and holding doors.

You notice their bright yellow mood and squint your eyes through a mix of envy and disdain. How dare you prance about? My car broke down this morning, you sick fuck.

Like with a dying mother, this sick fuck is likely not going to tell you that he just got mega laid, either.

So you must assume.

And when you do this, you will again notice that the last thing that sick fuck wants to hear about is your shitty car battery. This is because his endorphins are raging through the roof on account of all the sweet, savory, sexy, sex he did this morning.

Soon, on account of all the complaining you haven’t been doing, you yourself will begin to notice the blue jays, the rain, the money on your credit card, your aging mother. You will see that you are desperately not unique in the face of a dying car battery. You will see that violence and death are indiscriminate, that traffic is an orgy, that you are now the one giving the exams.

You will see that all this, too, will happen to you (even the hot love).

And so, quite frankly, you shut the fuck up, make your coffee, and go.

It’s Monday.

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January

I’m nostalgic and I just wanna write.

It’s funny just how quickly it all moves. I read my favorite post from last year, called “July ” and it inspired me to write the follow-up, which is this one. I remember that summer day so well, because it was my favorite one…and somehow it’s all completely changed. It wasn’t even six months ago.

I just ordered some Thai food. I’ll probably go get that once I’m done writing. I like that when you order Thai, or Chinese, you have to speak really clearly. Well, you don’t have to, but you sort of automatically start speaking really clearly, like you’re giving a presentation to an old folk’s home, because you know that the other little voice on the end of the line didn’t grow up where you did. They come from somewhere else, and they probably miss someone there, someone who rides a bicycle in the summer and has hair that gets messy in the wind. I think that’s a really nice gesture.

I’ve been having these really vivid dreams. For months, I’ve just been seeing all sorts of folks from my past. And they’re warm and they smile, and we’re in a town or on an airplane or in the basement of a nice home back east. Last night, you were in my dream, and you kissed my forehead, and I remembered what it was like when you still looked at me with fire in your eyes. And I had to cross some sort of busy highway just to get to the bus that would take us both away. I didn’t get all the way across, though, because cars were zooming past me like lightning, and suddenly I just woke up. I didn’t want to wake up, but I did. Dreams like those, they’ll wake you up.

I’m sitting here and it’s really quiet, but it’s not the nice kind of quiet. I think that January always brings some sort of void. Maybe it’s because everything happens so fast during the fall, and this is just the echo of a very huge bang! like smoke from the firecrackers at midnight. I think everyone feels it, because when I walk on a busy street, people are looking at their feet. I wonder sometimes if men know the importance of a good shoe. I don’t think that’s what they’re thinking about, though, when they walk around downtown in January.

I overheard some students today at the coffee shop and all they could talk about was people on television. They could only talk about people that they know on campus. They kept talking about changing their majors by using abbreviations like “comp” and “polysci” and “soc-“. And somehow they all looked the same, and they all sounded the same, like a battalion marching in cadence. They just sounded the exact same. I don’t know why, but I just couldn’t believe them. I couldn’t believe anything they were saying to be real, honest thoughts. Why do we fill the air with such empty blabber? I felt sorry for these young people that could only talk about television.

I read a perfect book recently. It’s called “The Little Prince”. Have you read it before? I went to a bookstore and I found it on the very bottom of the shelf, nestled right next to my favorite book, which is called “The Catcher in the Rye” (and actually I forgot to tell you: I had to sit down cross-legged to find this book, and the carpet left a funny pattern on my leg, which I noticed later when I started reading the book). (Oh, and I also forgot to tell you: I bought this book because someone told me it was their favorite book, and when someone says that, I think it’s important to read that book, so that you know what that person’s soul is like). (Oh, and please remember one more thing: all grown-ups were once children, although few of them remember it. That’s from “The Little Prince”). (I think I’m going to read a lot more books now).

Recently, I decided I wanted to become better at drawing human faces. I think that a lot of people are really beautiful, and the best way you could make them believe that is by showing them their own face. Except it’s their face made by your hands, the way you see them. I admire people that can draw faces really well because they’re quite difficult! If you ever try, you will notice that people have two differently shaped eyes. Most of the time, one of these eyes is just slightly more closed than the other, like the person is almost ready to wink at you. You will also notice that girls are much more difficult to draw, and that is because they are much more beautiful. It’s quite hard to draw beautiful things. It’s quite easy to draw ugly things.

I think that nobody comes from one place in particular. I think that you actually come from a hundred places, because you’re always moving around. For example, I think that I come from a city in west Texas, but I also come from the corner of “University” and “Broadway”, and that’s because I spent quite a lot of time there, thinking about myself, and drinking coffee, and talking with strangers. You come from almost everywhere. I think that’s why we get nostalgic, like the way I feel right now. We get nostalgic because we can remember things, and people, and places where we used to be. It feels strange to remember them, because they feel closer to your heart when you think about them, even though they’re very far away.

Anyway.

I think that it’s probably time to go get my Thai food. I ordered the “Stir-fry Veggie Noodles”, in case you were wondering, with medium hotness. When I get to the restaurant, there will be a man there who wears a wedding ring and smiles all the time. He always calls me “sir”, even though I’m much younger! I think he comes from a country called “Nepal”, which I understand is near India, and I think is also where Mt. Everest sits. I wonder who…well, I just got a really really scary phone call, and that leads me to this:

I think that being alive is really something else, and that remembering things is why we love to live so much. I wonder what it would be like if we couldn’t remember anything. I think that would be very frightening, and I don’t want to think about it. I would rather be alive, exactly like this, and remember everything.

I’m nostalgic and I just wanna write.

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