August 28, 2011
I tell myself it’s time to leave, only to hesitate once again. I’m entranced by her laughter, the air in the room, the darkening scruff around my jawline. I finish the drops of my OJ and stand up. Creaky floors. Hesitation. Fuck, I know this is only temporary, but I can’t pull myself to walk away from this house. The magic of the night before lingers in my imagination and I’m terrified of the thought of it blurring away. I replay it in my head.
“Well…it’s about that time. Hey now, it’s only four months. Do you know how fast a semester moves? Of course you do. It’s like nothing guys, c’mon. Don’t make me cry and stuff”.
I pass hugs and reaffirming words around the room and make my move towards the door. We pretend that the farewell will stay in the kitchen, but of course they follow me out. I hear their footsteps and small voices a few feet behind as the screen door swings open to a typical morning sunshine. Down through the front yard. The curb kisses my heels as I turn around to two anxious faces.
“Here we go again. You had to make it difficult didn’t you? Okay, good bye! Ciao! I swear, I’m practically back already!”
More embraces. And the next thing I remember is our eyes meeting one last time. A moment of pure understanding of the inevitable path ahead and of the immediate past, which I can only hope was mutually felt. I can’t tell what she is thinking; she will continue to be impossible in the months ahead. But I know how I feel. And with the spark of the ignition and gravel pinching beneath four rubber wheels, my demeanor sinks beneath my seat. I’m leaving.
Fuck. I’m leaving.
A long drive, a haircut, complete exhaustion, a half-assed sandwich that hardly worked as a pick-me-up, heavy breaths, burning gasoline, highway road-signs, pieces of memories invading every other thought, an overwhelming air of dread, and I’m here again. Downtown. Forty minutes before I was squeezing the last seconds of company with a girl I would soon admit to love. And now, as if another dimension smashed me into an unrealistic world, I’m parked outside of a heavy red house. Owls stare back at me. There must be eighteen eyes total. They don’t move at all, but the weight of a shattered heart on the brink of something undesired bellows into my body, like a supermassive black hole invading a dying star. I feel completely encumbered. The same desire that kept me attached to the kitchen moments ago now glues me to the concrete below, commanding me to hesitate. A chain link fence separates the brick behemoth and my growing mental burden inside. Six deep breaths. I enter the house.
She greets me with her usual, unworldly smile. It beams through my veins. Her roommate sends me a wave and I return it with a goofy high-five, a token of my ridiculous persona. The style of the room smoothly transitions into the two girls I now face, as if the room is constantly shifting with each new thought that blossoms from their fleeting minds. Everything is glowing. In fact, they even comment on the incredible lightness of the day outside. I take a peek through their front window. It really is a beautiful day. I turn around. The girls are moving through old clothes. Their wardrobe never ceases to conform. If a combination exists, they’ve tried it, always exploring the vast world of corporal adornment.
“Sammy! It’s so great to see you! Want a beer?”
“I’m good, thanks.” I can’t even hide my shitty attitude.
She turns to me.
“How about we head to The Market?”
It’s her absolute favorite place. I know this from past visits. In fact it’s one of the only things I really know about this girl. But that’s the thing that’s hardest to understand: we’ve never discussed anything trivial. I couldn’t tell you her favorite color. I have no knowledge of her day-to-day. Yet, with each discussion we have, I learn far more than I could ever put in words about her. It’s like closing your eyes underwater: you’ve never felt so connected to anything in your entire life. But you don’t say a damn thing. We both order food. She takes a bagel, and I grab a day old pastry.
And suddenly, outside of the coffee shop, everything changes.
I look up. She’s sitting across from me. The wind is batting her hair forwards, gently disfiguring the balance in our discussion. Everything around her is unbelievably brilliant. Wind is moving trash in the far corner of the buildings behind her. It’s as if time stopped but everything else kept its motion. I’m paralyzed. The visual experience is so intense that I lose track of my tongue. And then my thoughts as a whole. An active dreamscape morphs in front of me. I have lost track of reality.
And it’s all because of her.
May 19, 2012
We’ve arranged to meet again. Hell, was it August the last time we spoke? It doesn’t seem important at all. I know her more than I know most people. Our mutual understanding, her desire to reach intellectual nirvana, my absolute interest in everything I can imagine. We share more things in common than we’ve ever discussed. And the kicker? Our narcissism is the common-ground upon which this entire relationship was constructed. If we weren’t so sure of ourselves, well…one of us would be in tears.
I find myself driving along that highway again, the same one that sucked me in last August. I hate myself for leaving, for misleading, for kissing her when I didn’t mean it. And every single second of that summer day has been burned into my memory, the same way a molten skeleton of iron cooks inside its mold. I carried that regret with me to Europe and back. I juggled the fantasy of finding love again until it tore me to pieces. I came home to heartbreak…I analyzed it back and forth. Did that night mean anything to her? Did she think of me the way I thought of her? Does she know how I felt leaving that day? It’s as bitter as that damn last sip of orange juice. It’s as unfulfilling as that fucking sandwich. It haunts me like that drive to and from downtown, when I told myself I wouldn’t ever return.
Yet here we are, in front of that big red house again.
She’s smoking a cigarette on her porch. Her elegance is stunning. Her image is crude and organic, like a grave that’s been freshly dug. And if I told her that, she would claim that the coffin bears two things: good and evil. She stands up as I swing open the gate in her chain-link fence. We meet in a warm collision that nearly sends me off balance. I know soon enough that she will challenge my Yin and Yang, and probably smash it to pieces. I then look down and notice her funky blue shoes. She has a new haircut, too. I sit next to her as the smoke from the burning tobacco envelops the air around me.
“So tell me, what’s new?”
An hour passes and we catch up on the nine months passed. I try to enlighten her on the details, but something tells me that its unnecessary. I know she can paint the picture, fill in the gaps, make my life her own. I just provide a bit of color. She does the same. She smashes the charred tip of an American Spirit into the cement, streaking the concrete step with another burnt moment. We move inside.
And suddenly, I fucking lose my mind again.
I run to the bathroom to look in the mirror. I see myself, completely unchanged, flesh and bone staring back. Everything looks normal. But I’ve lost all sense of feeling, as if my body was completely arbitrary and unneeded in this room. A splash of water on my face. I can handle this. But another wave of delirium hits me again, like an unexpected acid flashback. I greet her in the kitchen and try my hardest to contain this swirling essence inside. I can’t concentrate at all. But I know our conversation is interactive and bouncy as always. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that the 30 minutes of talking we had in the kitchen was the most I’ve ever learned about her life. Her relationships. Her daily activities. Her career goals. And even though it never mattered in the past, I suddenly feel uplifted with the newfound information. Like the understanding that your parents were once kids too.
Everything is glowing again. Even now, I can’t explain what I saw.
We discuss the body. She tells me it’s simply a vehicle for the mind. I call her a pretentious college professor. But I agree. I tell her about my immature sexual experiences. She laughs at my partners. “We’re born naked, we should live naked too”, she states. “Why would you be afraid of your body?” Again, I agree. The conversation moves, except I become disconnected. I start to lose even more feeling. My mind takes over, it’s floating six feet above the tiled floor. Underneath is the presence of some physical being, but never has it felt more irrelevant. We sit to dinner, and her love interest joins us at the table.
He is magnificent. An attractive man in his late twenties opens his beer next to me and asks me about my life. He is genuinely interested. We talk. I still have no recollection of bodily movement, of eating, of controlling where my eyes moved. I can’t tell him I’ve lost my mind; that would invalidate my emotional response to his outgoing nature. I know I am enjoying myself, his company, and she watches us interact from the other side of the table. We step outside for a cigarette.
I watch them both from the bottom of the steps. Their energies collide like wind and a turbine in the stratosphere. I admire their honesty, their lives. I’ve never felt so happy for somebody else. My attention is to his stories, his words and the slowly decaying flame of his cigarette. I am in awe. She did it again. She slaughtered my reality, the false idea that I have control over my surroundings. She destroyed my world only to leave me the tools necessary to reconstruct a new image of myself and my goals ahead. I salute them goodbye. She hugs me first. A long, meaningful contact. Suddenly I remembered I have a body. He also hugs me. It’s rare to find another male willing to make bodily contact. I’m usually unmatched in showing affection. I swing open the chain-linked gate. The ignition roars, the tires grip the asphalt, and within seconds they are out of sight.
I come to my senses on the highway. Loud music and an open window lets the summer air flow around my body. Lightning storms, headlights, off ramps, the moonlight. I’m aware of everything again, the mind and body connected. Yet the entire experience seems ethereal, almost imagined. Our roles switched. She talked of love, I talked of the impossibility of feeling it. She talked of love, I talked of the impossibility of feeling it.
She talked of love, I talked of the impossibility of feeling it.
Suddenly I remember last August. The last drop of orange juice, so acidic and bitter. The last time I hugged that girl, the one I fell for. The brief moment of our eyes meeting. I remember what love was, what it used to be. I remember the way I threw myself towards it, like Icarus to the sun. It feels like an eternity since I’ve felt that magic. But the girl from downtown’s voice carries, her words echo like a coin rippling at the bottom of a well: “It will come, and she will humor you”. I yell those words into the night sky, affirming their potential. Lightning tears across the blackness, a gaping sound of thunder roars in following.
I press on the gas.