“There are wounds that do not heal with time. Instead they start hurting again given certain “weather conditions”. If this occurs, subconsciously we will withdraw into ourselves in interpersonal situations, or be oversensitive and react in a hurt manner without apparent reason – or we ourselves become particularly hurtful, without actually wanting to. However, if the weather is fair, as it is now, you have the opportunity to bring these painful things to light – preferably during a personal conversation with someone who is close to you. Looking into painful experiences in this way can make you freer in your behavior, your close relationships and your relation with your body. It can also prevent you from hurting others.”

— astro.com

Yeah, whatever.

Saw some very old family friends today, which was nice.  Had to leave much earlier than I would have liked due to transportation arrangements and family obligations.

I am not feeling the sunny weather.  What I’m feeling is probably as close to jealousy as I get, which is fucking odd, and which feels mostly like regret mixed up with self-accusation and a bit of emptiness.  What makes it jealousy, and not a usual in-my-cups phenomenon, I guess, is that I am sticking particular faces onto the feelings.

So, some vignettes.

I.

I remember your face and your hands most of all.  I can still see your face in the kitchen of that house, stirring something warm and smoky with cloves on the back burner and telling us kids to hurry up and get ready for bed so we would have time to watch the meteor shower before bedtime.  You made the smells happen that I still associate with childhood — the yeasty sweetness of cinnamon rolls, the smoky tang of your favorite incense, the acrid but somehow warm green-brown taste of pot smoke from the next room.  You had freckles on your hands, and freckles on your chest, and you smelled different from anyone I had ever known and ever will.  Your hair was the curliest I had ever seen, and smelled of patchouli.  You dressed like a goddess, and let us drink sips of mulled wine when the moon was full.  It was only many years later that I found out that my romantic images of you had not been all my imagination, that you were spending your midnights intent on transforming yourself into something that could travel between consciousnesses, that could see through the eyes of a cat or a snake, that could spy on the man that had spent the last eight years betraying you under your nose.

***

II.

When we were kids, I thought you fair and fey and far too clever, and I admired your handmade archery targets but couldn’t bridge the gap between younger-boy and person-emerging, and age was the crown jewel in the pre-adolescent pecking order.  Then one day I turned around and you were grown, and we were trading tapes of our favorite music and talking about photography.  We ended up with the same friends and occupying the same spaces, fifteen years after we first got to know each other when we were sharing homemade organic baby food at your mom’s house, scratching our mosquito bites with chubby fingers, and running around chafed from cloth diapers.  Your mom had a poster over your crib, at the crass digs in Monterey, that said “War is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things.”  My mom still has a picture of you and your older brother in it.  At sixteen you were still fair and fey and far too clever, but you had hardened into widow’s peak and strong chin and high cheekbones, slim and muscled and strange and warm as a knife dipped in honey.  You were breathtaking and I adored you, feeling proprietary, and feeling like I had all the time in the world to see how the game went, as I wasn’t eager to end any of my other ones.  One night we climbed into your car and rode too fast on pitch-black country roads, listening to Love and Rockets and talking about how we wanted to go to college, my love for you growing deeper and more desperate with every breath, every deliberate wrong turn, every track change, every ridiculous cul-de-sac and detour.  When you took a turn too hard and lost control of the car, it was almost perfect, as we’d been holding hands for exactly four minutes and that was about all my current universe could contain.  The headlights aimed up into the air for a moment, as the car went off the road and over a small embankment, and seemed to light up the sky that we used to lie on our backs and watch, slapping mosquitoes, when we were kids – and then they fell, and so did the car, into a large backroad ditch, where they went out, and so did we, forever.

***

III.

The first time I saw you must have been in the parking lot of the Coffeehouse, before I had figured out how to sweet-talk the old lech at the door into letting me in for free, a small lap-sitting, eyelash transaction that would serve me well for years.  Your skin looked like it tasted like olives, and that you never drank or smoked meant, to me, that you would taste somehow pure, clean, organic, like water, if I could ever kiss you.  I finally did, but it was later, when we were away at school, when I realized you would never sleep with me without a man involved, and so I dedicated that academic year to arranging a dizzying series of threesomes with a dizzying series of tattooed artists, most of whom listened to ska, which clashed with your scent.  But I took what I could get.  I gave you my boyfriend, and watched as you kissed, crushing the Rembrandt sketches you had been assigned for homework, the ones you had slaved over every evening for your portfolio for weeks, the ones I almost cried looking at because they promised me there was a someone in you that might be able to see me, if you ever took the time to look.  I was so jealous of your eye.  I was jealous of what it could see and translate to your fingers and I was insanely jealous of everything you drew that wasn’t me.  You never did draw me, though.  I tried to draw you, once, after the “blizzard of 93,” when I took a hundred pictures of you in the rare Alabama snow.  I took my favorite picture of you, brown-eyed and honey-skinned and soft and round and young, and painted you from it, and it was terrible.  I gave it to you anyway, as a gesture of giving up.  But I lied to myself about that too.

***

IV.

When you’re not talking all that much I kind of like you.  I like the way your skin looks, and I like the way your arms feel, and I like the way you stretch against me.  I like, sometimes, the way you make me laugh.  I like to talk to you about magic and the past and blood bonds and graphic novels and the crazy shit our kids do, and I like it when you do what I like in bed without having to be reminded for the hundredth time over fifteen years that I’m not made out of glass.  I like to make you come.  I like to kiss you.  I like it when you act sort of cool and laid back and don’t call too much, because… well, because what I don’t like is that you love me.  And I am just using you every other weekend when your kids are with their mom.

***

V.

I heard your name long before I ever met you, and I tend to think, still, now, after years of relative sobriety and Official Adulthood, that I had heard it long, long before I ever set foot in that crazy little college town that would stick its hooks in my back and never let go.  Your name preceded you as a cross between a joke and a curse, and when you finally appeared — part magician, part scholar, part architect, part backwoods redneck, part computer genius, part sadist, part little boy, and all black denim drenched with the scent of Captain Black — I could hardly believe my eyes.  I felt like the kid getting the prized piece in a collection of baseball cards.  I felt privileged.  Later, you had a great deal to do with me losing part of my face and knee on the rain-soaked streets of 8th Ave. S. in Birmingham, and a great deal to do with my being psychically mauled, and a great deal to do with the ritual and not-so-ritual deaths of a whole hell of a lot of animals in the valley of Montevallo, and I rethought my original fascination with the gun-toting, scene painting, wench-wielding local Lord of Chaos, but much like the town in which we met, you’re just in there, still, no matter what I do, part of my personal map of who I am and where I have been, and I’m still reading your own personal mythology and looking for clues to myself.

***

VI.

Once I thought you would save me from myself.  I wasn’t sure what that meant, then, and I am not sure I have anything to say about that now.  I loved  you from a distance, listening to you play your guitar on the quad, and chiding myself for falling for somebody who was So Damned Dramatic.  But I couldn’t help it.  When the Trinity of high school took a college-era fourth member, and the sparks flew in the hearth of anger, jealousy, blood lust, and misplaced sense of ownership, that guy who is still on my list of things to do threw me into your apartment across the hall from his, after a tussle that made its way into the landing of the second floor on Bloch Street, and I saw in your eyes a disdain for our antics that I couldn’t live down.  For all your glam wardrobe and your on- and off-stage theatrics, there was something about you that knew more about some things and some people, including me, than I could even quite imagine, and I thought for a while you might hang around, and I was willing to listen to you Worry about me to have you in my presence.  I remember one night at a party, when I fell apart and you took care of me, and I was sick at myself for acting like a total fool, wine-sodden and tear-soaked and with snot leaking out of my nose onto my boots.  I think that night pretty much sums up our relationship, such as it was, and it’s hardly a wonder that you found saner things to do, quick.  But I still miss you, weirdly, sometimes, even though I have no right to, even though you probably have good reason to sue me in a court of law if I ever mention your name in public.  I still have a picture of you, dressed like a cat, at a party, howling into a microphone, and I still wish I had been a little less sick and self-indulgent when I knew you, when it was still okay for me to tickle you behind the ears, to bite you on the nape of the neck and get kissed instead of kicked for it.

***

VII.

I wish most of all that I could hate you.  I wish most of all that one of us were dead.  It would make things simpler, and much more compact and satisfying in a dramatic sense.  It makes for better linear flow, and it would make for the end of this particular chapter of this particular drama that insists on not ending, on keeping on seeping around the corners of my thoughts and actions.  I could stop this ridiculous stream of shit I let out when I opened up Pandora’s Box this time and  thought I would be happy to take the consequences.  I could stop yelling at myself for being a perfect fucking fool.  I could stop thinking I was fine and it was all forgotten, subsumed, and then I turn a corner and then there you are all over again, still alive, still breathing, and still with the audacity to walk down the street without feeling like the sidewalk is caving out from under your feet as they carry you in the opposite direction.  I have always broken my heart against hard surfaces.  It’s become a dance I know all the steps to, even when I want to forget them, or learn a jig, or trade in my red shoes altogether.  I have always been hungrier than I knew how to cook for, louder than I had an ear for, clumsier than I had the space for, angrier than I knew how to swallow, more passionate than anyone wanted around, and bigger and messier than my five-foot frame allowed.  Once I would have spread out into you and had some faith that together we would have made something good and solid from two collections of broken parts.  Once I thought I only needed to learn to play an instrument, and you already had written the music that would one day be the masterpiece.  Once I thought I would see the end of the apprenticeship before my hair went grey and my eyes got dimmer and my flesh got sadder and softer, before I could no longer see truly what I carved through eyes that got dimmer every day.  I thought that learning to mix the two disparate things that we were would mean some sort of gold.  I am deeply, deeply sick and ashamed for having thought so.

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