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He didn't think of her all the time. In fact pretty rarely. but when he did it would overtake him. Maybe it was when he was sad, that he'd go back to the image of her. No. But was it only when he was happy? Nah. There had been plenty of times that her face, faded in his memory but burned there too, would visit him when he was at his lowest. As he slowly washed the dishes, something she always liked to do, he realized that maybe it was when he thought of love that he understandably remembered her.
There's something unmistakenly beautiful about looking in people's windows. "Not in a misdemeanor-type way of lurking in the bushes," she thought as she rode her bike toward their new house. But how often do you really get invade strangers' lives? By the color of the light or the sightline you have into a living room as you amble by on the street she would create full-bodied stories, histories really, about these people. She would imagine the love that hid behind bedroom windows, the pain squirreled away in locked bathrooms and the hopes, filled or not, that called these houses home.
You dreamt of living your whole life in this town. With its revolving door, a contented yet dynamic culture and the stale aroma of possiblity. Now too are the streets without sidewalks but yards filled with tree flowers. But it's the exposure that keeps you one bag packed, one foot out the window: Listening to the Magnolia Electric Co., for the second time makes you think all the Greyhounds going north on 6th Street have it right. The "I'll miss you" she sobbed rings in your ears still when you walk past the now deserted bus station on Fourth Ave.
He wanted a difficult life filled with the unexpectations of love. I wanted to feel the crawl of her skin and the small of her neck on my arm one more time. She clung to the dreams of a fierce passion, desperate as it was soothing; comforting without inspiring complacency. Someone to make me laugh and make me cum were you're requisites. And here we live silently in these 4 colorful rooms, in 4 plain houses along this one rain- soaked street. If their dreams were ever to sneak out the back door they might make beautiful lives with one another.
"Two Blue Lights" had played on the AM station this evening. Its softness was beautifully amplified by her truck's ancient stereo and the gravel road they travelled down. Later that night Molina did take a Coleman lantern and two fishin poles into the woods. They walked solemnly to the lake under a midnight-blue sky lit by the cold, dim moon. "Why was making sense of this all so hard", he wondered as he and she drank cold cans of beer. They had grown apart but were slowly reconnecting. "Death has a way of doing that" she mused sadly to herself.
They all glowered at him with unveiled contempt. He had hurt their friend, their comrade by not loving her hard enough. On the stage Molotonic screamed about love being jail and it all seemed to make some sort of twisted sense. His guilt, their unbridledness, the resolution everyone was looking for. And the band played out, screeching out their mix of pop and politics. She would scream the chorus, unable to mask the rage and confusion in her soul. He would leave every ounce of passion and energy on stage, drenched and slumping over his beaten guitar, far past exhaustion.
Time was, you could go downtown. We had what we needed: The Hardback, Café Expresso (er, Depresso), the Covered Dish, the Happy Hour and the Hipp. But now the Orlandoization is nearing its final stages. And to the delight of idiots everywhere, downtown has become a "destination". People don't come here with a purpose anymore. Now they wander in hair-gelled, overdressed, frat packs, emptily searching for "the" place to be. Fuck them, all dressed to the Nines. What ever happened to dressing to the Fours? Or the Threes. The people responsible for turning this into South Beach north will pay.
"Pathetic fucking loser" she thought to herself contemptuously as she floated back to the dance floor. What a unavailable dolt. What would it take to have him pay attention to her, she wondered not passionately but with a hint of determination. She had held their hug a second longer than custom dictated, put her hand warmly on his leg and laughed as he told her some ridiculously lame story about dancing at weddings. She had even motioned to him flirtatiously from the dance floor. "Does this idiot even have a pulse" she asked her friend in the bathroom. Fucking loser.
I am continually amazed at how completely stupid my mom's husband's son is. I sat there throughout dinner waiting for this moment. The one where the sheer idiocy is too much to bear. Or maybe I was looking for the opening where I knew I'd win. I had jabbed on the Asian History Month thing (pointing out there is, in fact, one), and kept eating my Ceaser salad instead of responding to the battrey of insanity he kept serving up. But I just couldn't hold back when he proudly proclaimed that "Social Security is nothing but oppression by the government..."
They would push each other to wake, the way they did everything else. Sometimes in the still-potential dawn they would make love to a soundtrack of delivery trucks. Sometimes they would slowly warm to the idea of another day by touching each other playfully but without purpose. She would get out of bed first, quick to the shower while he made great cheap coffee. The stuff that tasted like it had been sitting in an interstate gas station just a few minutes before too long. She always chose the music and today it was the new Twelve Hour Turn album.
He sobbed quietly as he shrank to the floor of the old elevator. He knew now that there was no hope. Everyone had gone for the week break and he was doomed to finish out his life in this cramped tin box. Minutes passed to hours before he realized that his thoughts of them would be revealed when they discovered his journals. Out of the blue the missed opportunity with Shannon before she moved away 11 years ago popped into his head. Otherwise, he was surprisingly content, proud even with what he had done with his days and his heart.
She walked solemnly along the weathered bridge. It crossed over the intercoastal waterway and was the staging area for not only wonderous sunsets and but breathtaking sunrises. She loved those the most, walking home after the graveyard shift. Sometimes she would buy a bottle of wine on her break then enjoy it slowly while walking south on A1A. This time of year always bugged her, with the Spring Break idiots everywhere. She was mentally cursing them as she sipped from her bottle. The night was hot and cool at the same time the way only Florida in March can be.
You miss the anticipation that love carries with it. Like that bottle of wine she carried down the stairs or the wide open conversation the ride promised on the way to and from the show. Tonight the sweet taste of hope lingers in your mouth like the notes in the bar after the music stopped or the vision of her after she's left the room. And maybe its nothing more than the potential of love, the desire for desire. The whispers in the room on the other side of this wall. The sweet recollections of love and sex and intimacy.
She noticed that the cuff of his shirt had frayed. She didn't remember it being that way when she picked him up but now, after a night of playing pool, people watching at Café Espresso and drinking (and then drinking some more) here they were: tangled on her couch underneath the gentle glow of the candles that she had placed and spaced around her hand-me-down apartment. His body felt soft to her, unkempt. She wanted something more than this, something of some permanence. She daydreamed often at work of having someone to saunter down the supermarket ailses with on Sunday.
Here are the things he had remembered from that wonderful evening:
Her pulling up to his house in her beat-up Volvo. Unlike most of her friends she had just one bumper sticker: "Union YES!"
Walking down Main Street awkwardly figuring out what to do on their "date". He really wanted to sit and talk; she wanted to play pool. They compromised on getting a cup of coffee and a beer at Café Espresso and seeing where that led.
Making out on her couch. He was embarassed that he wasn't a better lover, and that his clothes weren't a little shabby.
His philosophy, such as it is, was summed up by the way he carried himself. The short cup of coffee that sat on the picnic table next to him as he scratched out a letter to the woman who would have been his wife. His shirts were worn but not worn out, like the burnt brown of the wood floors in his small, but neat apartment. He loved passionately, listened to music that didn't make you hate yourself and pushed himself and those around him to fight to make this world more just, more free. What else could he do?
Leatherface blared from an unseen window as they walked down the summertime sidewalk, fingers twisted, hearts beating, arguing about the impending war. Both, like 80% of the rest of America, were against it. But they were arguing, as lovers and comrades, about impacts. He was making the point that the war was illegal under both domestic and international laws. She didn't disagree, she kept saying, but felt like the emphasis should be more on how Americans are affected by living
an Empire. That as workers, citizens and unionists we have much less freedom than we're being led to believe.
Its like something out of Star Trek. "Make it So" declares this President (who, not to belabor the point, but for historical accuracy, didn't actually even win the election). He stands pittering out cliches claiming, like Joseph McCarthy before him, "We have intelligence, proving..." When ABC News' tagline of "When Diplomacy Fails" occupied the screen we couldn't help but point out that a more appropriate slogan would be "When Democracy Fails". All the TV talking heads are calling this inevitable. Forget or refusing to also call it illegal and immoral. Can we stop an inevitable war? We'll damn sure try.
The night was thick. That was what ran through her head as she lay quietly in her big comfy bed with her daughter. Riding their bikes home from his house, still coming down off the thrill of their evening, she realized that the only resistance they faced was that of the muggy night air. It was like walking against the ocean current in water up to your knees. Along with the weight of the night, she could feel traces of his kisses and his ideas all along her neck. And there were traces, rememberances of his hands on her back.
I thought of kissing you tonight. Or of trying to as you dropped me off. There is something about drinking and being honest and having right on political discussion that made me tingly thinking about it. Thinking about making out till way too late, of falling asleep wrapped around each other. And maybe I was imagining it but it sounded like you stopped out in the street before pulling away. Maybe you were waiting for me to get in the house, or maybe you were waiting for an invite in. But it feels like we've done this too much before.
He had the feelings rush back to some more safe, comfortable but ultimately confusing time as she sang through the speakers perhced on top of his file cabinet. The desk had an odd assortment of things: A bottle of pain killers, 2 candles, a camera, an NCAA bracket and an almost-finished bottle of wine. He missed her the most at quiety times like tonight: Drunk, not tired enough to sleep and awake enough to remember, and alone. Always alone he feels like he's been since she left him. Swig from the wine bottle. Shiver. Type. Rinse and Repeat. Repeat. Retype.
The exhaustion he felt reached from his aching neck, pierced through his weary and broken heart and shot down his slumped spine. He had lost the ability hold his head up, to square his shoulders to the world. A mix of his own miserable mistakes and her radical skills of hyperbole met in heavyweight bout that went the distance tonight. "Well not really" he thought as he drank a beer on the porch under attack from mosquitos. By most announcers account he had actually thrown in the towel during a latter round. He just couldn't do this with her anymore.
"You're so on my shit list" she screamed from the hallway. They were waiting to go out and he had come by to pick up some of his things. Admittedly tonight was not the best of times, but he was tired of their lives dragging on like this. He picked up the a few CDs and a book she had given him for his 42nd birthday. Without saying anything he walked out and put them in his bike basket. On his way home he passed a car mutedly blaring music with two students making out in the cramped front seat.
As the crappy four track recording wheezed over the stereo he felt the weariness wash over him. He would get up and flip over the seven inch record, a fond reminder of the years spent travelling 'round the country with her, living out of a blue Econoline van and living off their guitars and passion. And on his way back to the typewriter he'd steal a look out the window hoping to see her driving up. It had been 6 years since they broke up but he loved her every bit as deeply as when she'd left him in Chicago.
A half-drunk glass of Guiness was making a nice little design on the napkin the cute punk waitress had left her. She pushed around the sweet potato fries and twirled her braclets with anticipation. Finally not able to take it anymore she got out of the booth, walked over to the guy and said "Look. You've been stealing glances from me for a little over 25 minutes. Are you fucking gonna do anything about it? I've only got 7 minutes before I have to be at work!" And with that she kissed him hard on his unexpecting but soft lips.
But it is a good question. I mean what are the relationship of freedom struggles, of people's movements to what their governments are doing in the name of freedom or justice? I'm not one of these folks who thinks the means are completely more important than the ends they accomplish, but it begs the question "can the US military go in and actually help the ascension of a freedom movement?" Or as someone put it the other day during the town meeting, "Name me one place the US has gone in and left it better than when they got there"
He was pleasantly surprised by the ease in their conversation tonight. She seemed geniunely appreciative and her new girlfriend didn't act like he was an invading army when he stopped by. They very well could have been having sex when he knocked on the door and walked in. That Sinead O'Connor CD that she liked so much was playing and the house smelled of vanilla candles. "Had it really be 7 years and 2 months," he mumbled quietly. Memories of the first time they kissed, drunk on not-so-cheap red wine in the undergrad art stduio rushed back to him.
There were four more names on her housecall sheet. Between her hunger, the 6 hours of sleep she got last night and her car acting up, she had half a mind to just blow them off. But she forged ahead. Next house: Rob Edwards. As he greeted her through the screen door, her mind did a quick comparison of him and the lover who had left her in Ohio. Somewhere between his "hey" and her "Hi, I'm Leigh from the staff union at the University…" she could feel the crush coming on. Some 22 months later they were actually married.
For some reason seeing the three women walking to the bar, allowed him to think giddily of the future's promise. Tonight held no such potential and he didn't think of the timeframe in days or weeks, but rather in chunks of a lifetime: That sometime during
chunk he'd feel that beat, that pulse again; that he'd have someone to hug tightly at bus stops or whisper to in the total blackness that came only immediately after turning off the ligths for the first time each night. That was the future that filled him with a thirsty hope, infusion, drive.
He could feel it slipping away, like so many things before. He could feel his mind, body and heart harden to the monotony of this everyday living. Lying on the couch he could hear the calcification of his life. He was fat. He was directionless. He was in debt. And most of all, no one
him. Yeah they might miss him, might selfishly wish him back among them, but that seemed different to him for some reason. Something had to give. So he put on a jacket, grabbed his camera and walked out the door. He never looked back.
A whirlwind. 12 hours, almost 400 miles, 2 cities. Record time to St. Pete. Miss the first 3 innings of the Boston Red Sox season opener. Cut to bottom of the 9th they're up 4-1. A half dozen batters later they dejectedly exit stage left following a 2-out, 3-run homer by the Devil Rays. For Sox fans its never to early for "maybe next year". Anticipation for the Cursive show piqued when I found myself one table over from them at the Thai/Sushi joint. Ended the evening watching the most beautiful woman in rock demolish with her cello: Gretta Cohn.
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