September 25, 2012

F.U. Shakespeare, and F.Ur sweet sorrow


Reclined in bed, I maneuver another heavy book on my thighs. The light is on and the air is hot. We have an air conditioner buzzing and the comforter is strewn back to my side because my reptilian skin is nonetheless always cold. Generations of Melvills and Gansevoorts parade before my eyes, but their Tea Parties and Battles of Saratoga are just clouds in my coffee.


My warrior is sleeping next to me. Out in the world, he has the bearing of a boxer about to enter the ring, always alert, always ready to protect and defend. Lying next to me, his body has a way of making itself scarce underneath the sheets, as if it were hardly there, as if I might be sleeping next to a ghost. Baby is a restless sleeper. He has places to go and shit to take care of. I tuck a foot underneath his leg as a rope back. He always makes it back, he has for aeons, but love makes it a little easier for all of us.


I have done this before. Lived abroad and travelled a bit, and sometimes train stations and airports get the better of you and you don’t know whether you’re coming or going. But never before did I feel that going home would in fact be leaving home. Home is elsewhere now.


Tomorrow he will hold me and shiver before he takes me back to the airport and hands me back to my world so that I can finish what I have started and pay my dues to both our governments. I will fall apart as I wash my last cereal bowl in the kitchen, forehead against the wall, the salt of the sea mixing with my tears as it seeps in through the open windows, enticing me to stay.


His gorgeous face and loving eyes still burning in my brain, I will be pulled onto the conveyor belt of airport security, passport, boarding pass, laptop and ziplocked fluids. I will have to ask three times before I am told that it is explosives that they are testing my hands for, and wonder what would have happened had he taught me how to shoot his shotgun like we said. Perhaps it is time to finally get that “No one ever suspects the short ones” T-shirt, see if that rattles TSA’s cage.


Tomorrow my kids-size-3 feet will stomp escalators and silently scream I don’t want to go I don’t want to go I don’t want to go with each step, just like he kept repeating You can’t go you can’t go you can’t go as I sat on his lap and we listened to music the night before. I will bring the smell of the Chesapeake to Europe in my suitcase, salt, diesel, bottom feeders, warriors and all. I will present my passport to the artless immigration officer, and she will stamp it blindly unaware that this planet will never be the same again.


Oh it’s too soon, too soon, my love. I was here for the rebirth and the summer, and I will want to be here for the birthdays and the winter. I will want to be here when the ospreys are gone and the storms kick in, and our pier is covered in snow. I will drop my tropical tendencies and yield to the cold just so that your furnace can wrap itself around me. I will dream of the Christmases and fireworks that are waiting just around the corner while I write to you.


But for now, my love, I leave you with the coffee grit at the bottom of your cup and my flip flops underneath the dresser. The wine stain on the carpet and Sir Basil’s plucked flowers scattered around his pot. Dents in sofa cushions and echoes of laughter, lettuce picker hats and kisses blown across the room. I leave you with our molecules imprisoned between the sheets and that solemn vow that was spoken in the darkness of that very same bed.


I will be home soon. I promise.



September 17, 2012

Permafrost time


We got caught in a thunderstorm on the Key Bridge that day. Got engulfed in a single epic cloud of rain, 180 feet above sea level. Cars slowed down, turn signals blinked. There was nowhere to look except right in front and at the steel trellis of the bridge above. People squinted through the downpour, squirmed in their seats, prayed that it would be over soon, but not you. You were in your element. You are a chaos monger.

 

By the time we drove back from Annapolis, the sky had cleared up and the lanes ahead of us were crawling with four-wheeled junebugs, all shiny, metallic and cumbersome going uphill. You held my hand across the center console, and I wished to God I could just freeze that moment, my name on your mother's calendar, the silly spaghetti commercial aria on the radio, and the fuchsia sun stuck to our rearview mirrors. Like the time I flew from Minneapolis to Spokane seven years ago, when three hours on an airplane felt like a neverending journey into the sunset, I wanted the road never to end and imagined the sun sticking to the back of the truck like a stretch of pink bubblegum.

 

_______________________

 

 

I was lying on the couch, belly down ass up. We had spent the evening at your local little haunt, and I was introduced to the sweetness of yet another one of your friends, and yet another suggestion to stay forever. Grape pucker shots and beer over the Ravens game made for intimate, comfortable mellowness that kicked in at that very moment when the front door closed and we were again the only two people on the planet. You lay down on top of me, covering my pint-sized figure from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. Your fingers stroked my hair. You were heavier than your body; I etched the sensation of your weight into the memory of my frame. Your lips whispered secrets of the universe into my ear. I was anointed, uplifted, loved, worshiped as your breath mixed with my tears of release, peace, and devotion. Your body pinned me down into freedom.

 

Months ago, in a letter, I had written to you that I longed to feel your heaviness, all of it, just to make up for the decades [centuries?] that I have had to live without your touch.

 

I got my wish.

 

_______________________

 

 

The first time I saw pictures of the wooden pier behind your house, I would have laughed at anyone that might have told me I would be sharing it with you one day. We were in different places back then.

 

The first time I walked its planks, you ran back into the house for another beer and I took a mental snapshot of your knuckles knocking on the bark of the oak tree, the house and your truck in the background, your determined, springy walk making its way across the lawn. It was difficult to believe that the tiniest home in the neighborhood could offer space enough for your spirit to stretch its wings and house all that you are.

 

You could be standing right next to me, but I swear to God, when I see your truck parked in front of the house, my heart settles into peace. He is home. He is safe.

 

Just a few nights ago, we went fishing off the pier. You brought your beer, I had my wine. You set up your paraphernalia and studied the water and the wind; I took pictures of crab traps, my yellow Chucks, and reflections of the sun on the water beneath the boat suspended right next to us. I looked back towards the house, and your truck was parked in front. The bubblegum sunset stretched out across the sky. The oak stood in her place and you were next to me. Wink.

 

All was as it was supposed to be and the world was well.










September 12, 2012

We are real.


“I’m not fucking around here,” he says to me.


“This is real. We are real.”


We dance to “I’m a believer” by The Monkees, put on the Jukebox by the bar proprietor, not without symbolism. We danced in the meat aisle at the supermarket earlier that day, and we will dance to Nat King Cole later that evening just before we go to bed, twirling cheek to cheek underneath the ceiling fan in the center of the house.


Friends take pictures of us. He flips them off with a huge grin on his face. The unassuming local joint hosts some handpicked kind souls as regulars, and somehow our little dance becomes the focal point of energy that night. The place feeds off of his happiness so palpably it makes my heart leap. He is loved and admired and desired by many, although seldom seen for who he is – both by choice and by necessity. I am playfully, quietly proud and not a little flattered that my jagged little persona seems to fit in his world so well. I observe, and participate. Participate, and observe.


He leans into me as he waits his turn at the pool table. His backside nestles in between my knees as I sit on the bar stool. I wrap my arms around his waist and breathe him in, burying my nose between his shoulder blades. I have yet to discover a position, embrace, or angle in which our bodies respond to each other in any other way but effortlessly.


Another dollar at the Jukebox, and people are surprised to see me intimately familiar with “Long Black Veil.” I am a reluctant performer, tiptoeing between shyness and exhibitionism. My voice doesn’t carry because it’s been ten years since my last singing lesson, but I don’t miss a note. The foreigner steals a little speck of the spotlight and earns herself an applause; this is no night to be shy, for we are among friends.


As he goes out for a smoke, those same friends will take turns expressing their love and support to both of us individually. They haven’t seen him smile this much in a long time. We seem to be made for each other. He needs, and deserves, someone like me. When am I leaving, and do I really have to go? Let’s win the lottery and keep you here. Or we can just hide you in the spare room. He is loved and admired and desired by many, and without prying, they are glad that someone seems to have finally cracked his code. Privately, he and I know that neither of us would be here if we were not worthy of cracking each other’s codes.


He takes us home, the truck resounding with our tipsy chuckles. The horizon of the evening slowly narrows to a single spotlight presiding over the pair of lovers in the corner of the stage, dancing to Nat King Cole underneath the twirling ceiling fan in the center of the house. My face burrows into the scent of his carpentry, somewhere between his neck and shoulders, and he holds me like a long-lost treasure, delicately but firmly, gently but determined not to ever let me slip through his fingers.


The last thing I will hear before falling asleep, spoken softly as he aligns his broken and beaten bones underneath the covers, his naked body radiating heat towards mine, will be


“Can I love you forever?”





September 5, 2012

Brackish water detox


These days I can be found working under a hundred-year-old oak tree at the sea shore, curled up in an old white Adirondack chair, books parading through my hands like lovers. If I told you that the bruises on my legs came from the weight of the volumes pressing my knees against the armrest, you probably would not believe me.

 

The oak’s branches reach all the way above water. As I wonder if it is the salinity that is making her leaves brownish and her branches droopy, she drops an acorn on my head to reassure me that she is already older than I can ever hope to be. Don’t you worry your pretty little head about it, hon.

 

I flip-flop across the freshly cut grass and the dewy leaves stick to my bare ankles like begging Gypsy children. I make my way to the wooden bench and the two Adirondack chairs, smiling all the way because they used to be on opposite sides of the bench, and now they are next to one another. I pull my legs up into a lotus position as I plant my ass on one of them, laying the book in my lap. My eyes follow the wooden pier as it stretches out into the water, adorned with a boat lift and another boat floating tied next to it, crab traps and boxes, spider webs and fresh seagull poop.

 

A group of cormorants will land on the water, and if the sun is at the right height they will resemble a bunch of downsized Loch Ness monsters. The solitary duck that comes and twirls its little webbed feet around, bobbing about in the sea grass, will get freaked out by what seems a random fish bite from below the surface. It will take him a few seconds before he can get his fat duck ass to lift up into the air, but he will quack his way to escape eventually. The giant rockfish head stuck on one of the thin pylons of the neighbors’ pier looks like a fat Cheshire cat to me. And oh boy is it grinning.

 

The yip of the osprey above will render me melancholy. The perfect amount of plaintive and joyful in their voices will never cease to amaze me.

 

I sit with my legs crossed and can feel my own pulse thumping right underneath my solar plexus. The chakra of personal power, yellow in symbolism as well as the bile it is capable of producing if unattended to. A pang around my right ovary makes me wince a little, clamoring for its own morsel of attention and reminding me that stress is a bitch. My sinuses won’t be ignored either so I sneeze like a donkey. The body that was screaming for so long for balance, some rest and finally some peace, has been treated so well that can hardly believe its luck as it lets its toxins evaporate.

 

You would be surprised at what you might hear if you tone the universe down for a second, and dare to listen in on yourself.

 

I have so much tension in me it’s not even funny.

 

The wheels in my head won’t stop turning.

 

Suspicion, distrust, defensiveness, passive-aggressiveness seem to be spilling over from one organ to the next, refusing to leave my system. My ego is an obnoxious little pussydog, most likely a Pekinese with Great Dane delusions. It yaps and bites and won’t give over even when slapped across the nose with the newspaper and told to sit in the corner for awhile.

 

My kernel is in danger of a meltdown, and it is all his fault. This house, and its one precious perfect inhabitant, are melting me down. What do you mean, you love me for who I am? Don’t you know that is next to impossible? How can you offer your home so freely and tell me it is mine to roost in and feel safe and comforted in? Aren’t I supposed to be permanently displaced? What do you mean, you love me unconditionally? Not even my mother is capable of that.

 

So I sat in the old Adirondack chair, next to the black water, talked to the ducks and read my book. I saw Ahab off down the ocean vortex one more time, that pitiful old fool and sad slave to his mania. I wept for him and for my own mistakenly chased white whales, wrongly barked-up trees and rotten eggs that I so meticulously collected in my basket for so long. Any other cheap metaphors you can think of?

 

This brackish water is doing me good. It is murky and full of sediment. There are undercurrents, sea grass and bottom feeders in it. But I’ll be damned; it hosts rockfish and ocean liners just as well as the deepest fathoms of the Atlantic do. And this rugged angel handles me better than anyone ever has.
 
 
Thank you, my love.