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while cutting foamcore (sp?) board for a trial exhibit, i cut my finger. didn't even notice, not until drops of blood appeared against the smooth white surface. in the bathroom i washed the cut in the sink, and took up the task with more caution. i will likely cut my finger again on a scissors, maybe by using them in a similar way, at some point in the future. so it should be unsurprising to enter, good-heartedly, into a relationship, warning myself (aloof, independent, disinterested enough, won't last) only to find myself desparately holding on. again, but so it goes.
forward is uncertainty, backward is the same. he says to plan my own life. he says he loves me, but he won’t consider compromising by narrowing down his choices for the future—and now, exposed, i wonder why i said anything when i knew this would be his response. even though he told me it was different, even though his own words lead me to consider us. why be with someone who doesn’t love me enough to consider a future, to at least sympathize with my concerns. with him, i can’t bear the thought of going back to being without.
the buildings hug the curb and tower overhead. sidewalks crack and tire, but are still walked on. timecards brutalized with punching, they get no vacations. faces that haven't noticed the buildings, the sidewalk, the timecard they punch march atop robotic bodies, riding buses, trains, to work each day, making money because this order is about money and moving up the ranks to make more money and have a more impressive sounding word to say at parties and bars when they meet people for the first time. and this society we've built, this reich--is it the best we can do?
snowflakes cling together like frightened lovers as they fall helplessly from the dismal sky overhead. they join a community of snowflakes built on cars, fire hydrants, meters, buildings, occasionally on actual ground. the community stops growing, but it is pleased because it has covered up the city grime and made everything beautiful, clothed in white. but then the sun, which was once a friend and spotlight, takes its toll. their numbers decrease. and even faster when the city that should be grateful throws salt among them. but they go, quietly into nothing, not afraid, but happy having survived the fall.
inextricably intertwined with intrigue. but to what end? will she give up, like with guitar, chess, things she cannot figure out, or will she solve it, like zelda, and then toss him aside and become disinterested that complexity has fallen to her command? today she has no answers, she can only feel her way, like through the dark hallways of her aunt’s house, where she stays on vacation—imagining the path to the bathroom may make logical sense, designs all alike. she stubs her toe and cries out, and he emerges from behind, turning on a light. his expression: nameless.
ice cream, empty bottle, chess, one step ahead of the game, baths in candlelight, nudity, frank lloyd wright homes, big bowl and hancock tower, composing sound, amelie, dancer in the dark, near-tear goodbyes, flirtatious correspondence, no barriers, trust, say anything, las tablas, blue man & ba ba reeba, sounds of agreement and pleasure, squeezing tightly in a moment that can never be long enough, tennis, so much tennis, botanic garden and body condoms, reggae, learning to share the unshareable thoughts, learning to fight without pain. listening to love spoken through off-handed comments. loving the me with you. holding loosely, loving.
piles of books, papers, notes grow into one mass of hysteria. tables of contents, order, syllabuses (syllabi? lawyers the ridiculous hangers-on of latin, with doctors). soda/pop/coke, where am i living? chips and real world, movies beginning and ending before i pass chapter one in whatever godawful subject i had to take because there were no decent courses after eleven. maybe i should have attended more class, maybe i really should have done all the reading. too late for that now. three months for a three hour performance measured by the standards of someone i disagree with. futility, repeat. repeat. repeat.
bank account dwindles. once i get used to it not being in double digits, i worry out of proportion with actual danger. still, a rent check to clear, roommates to reimburse for utilities, and books to buy next quarter, my last quarter. sunrise, sunset, never been to texas yet. the watery kind of coffee on the wrong side of hot. grease-stained bagel bag (hey, aren’t these supposed to be healthy? oh, not the chocolate chip kinds, maybe.) computer screens, diverting attention from windows, outdoors, where winter bows out as spring, that show-off of seasons, starts to sing off-stage. making mayhem.
my friend calls. i’ve not seen her in six years. when did i get old enough to be able to say that sentence? in a week her door will be in front of me. we look much the same, so we’ll know one another. even if we don’t, i have an address and a name to call out. having gone through so much apart, episodes of life that we’ve missed, can we catch up in moments and be comfortable and interested? maybe we made a lasting connection all those years ago—or do we all go through the same motions?
so this is the humdrum that life becomes when it is happy enough, consistent enough, secure enough. when i meet no new people and rarely go new places. patterns, similarity, and suddenly the thought of change (which must come) becomes more frightening than it has been in years. every time something new, someone new, and i tell myself not to get comfortable, because to grow comfortable here only keeps me from moving on, to pursuing new, other, things. things i thought i wanted. maybe i really have stopped wanting—or maybe i’m simply duped by the soft seduction of security.
done. finito. freedom! done before it is finished, really. it feels decided a week, a month, the first damn day of class i can predict i’ll get the mean, or lower, but certainly no better. you can tell, based on who’s there. the girl who sits, barely moving, like she’s hunting for prey in the dead of night, she’ll get an A. and those kids who don’t come to class who won’t be confused by the stupidity of wrong answers and ill-phrased questions, they’ll definitely get As. which leaves me in this place even before i sit in my chair.
clinging to those words like a baby blanket, i trust and secretly plan and put off action. “we’ll see,” like asking parents for a too-expensive toy that would cost an entire decade of christmases, but they only say “we’ll see.” they hope i’ll forget it, ask for something else tomorrow, the fleeting desires of children are like that. but now, here i am, in a place i find foreign and ugly, trying to like it because you do. i forget why i’m trying. but, geography seems such a stupid reason to deprive myself of the smile you wear for me.
i wake, shaking. crying on the sofa, you on the hard, concrete floor, falsely comfortable beneath too-thin carpeting. you take the couch. i hear you fall asleep in the night, after three, four hours of tossing and turning. i will fall asleep still two hours later. and in the morning, i cry in spite of my resolve. and you hold out your hand to me. how can you do anything else? even through our apparent break-up, you comfort me. and i shouldn’t take your hand, but i do. you don’t want this, neither do i. so, what is the point?
the pacific coast highway, a red campervan with a fridge stocked with beer, limes, chicken, and cheese. we ride in silence because we know what’s going on in each others’ lives, and we know each other, and the tape that you slide in the deck to make the CDs play through the car speakers won’t stay in no matter how angry i get. so you bust it open, and the parts go flying. together, we pick them up, and it takes several minutes to line the washers and cogs up, but we do. even then, reassembled, the deck doesn’t play.
old friends. i appear at her door, nearly unannounced. found the little street on a map in a convenience store, and we navigated our way. and while the boyfriend smokes outside (i’m on holiday, i can smoke), i go upstairs and greet her. she used to smoke, she was proud of her tattoo, and she was so stubborn and independent. now she has a beer can outside for her friends’ cigarette ashes, she’s on day three of tattoo removal, and she won’t leave LA because her boyfriend lives there. still easy, seeing her. ours must have been a true meeting.
the beach. it’s important to you, so i try to understand. why am i so resistant to see things through your eyes? i’m afraid i’ll forget how to see without you, a sort of love-induced blindness. afraid of losing myself in weak, capitulating agreement. afraid of having no opinions, of losing mine in yours—even though they are often similar enough that they subsume one another. (we do often agree). what is it about love that scares me so much? maybe it’s a fear of losing myself entirely in “us,” only to be left alone, stripped, foolish in my nudity.
not my element. this bordertown in mexico, where americans go for spring break to drink and party and act like fools. not that being foolish is itself a degrading activity. the foolishness of spilling ice cream on white clothes, too wholesome maybe. the poolhall is much better. although looking around i realize i’m the only woman in a room with a dozen pool tables and 25 or so mexicans. still, we play with the locals, and drink mexican beer, and i explain i speak little spanish, in spanish, and this is better than the pandering to rich american tourists outside.
san diego, after a night in a campervan in a motel parking lot on the border. we get up early, dress, head for the zoo. this is the kind of day zoos dream of, if zoos dream. maybe it’s the type that their corporate leaders dream of, if the zoos are incorporated. sunshine, warm and consistent. tour buses with amplified guides alone interrupt mostly silent viewing. in cages often sadden me, but these seem happy enough. in the end, care makes the difference. food and water provided with only life demanded in return. he holds my hand. the day, perfect.
i guess i’ll meet his dad tomorrow. he drives, i drive, i fall asleep to his music, too mellow for driving, but it works for him. i love it because he does. i fall asleep in the back, wake up, it is nearly one in the morning and i climb back to the front and ask him to pull over, worried about him as he continues to drive. we stop somewhere in silicon valley, and we just park in a residential street. and i guess he’s decided it’s uncomfortable, or wrong?, to have sex in the van. no romance. desire?
napa is beautiful. you talk about owning a vineyard, and i wonder if i’ve ever told you my dream for retirement is to live on a working vineyard in italy. own one maybe. just a small one, a few acres, and learn how to make wine, and live the leisurely, sort of exuberant life i imagine winemakers have. although touring the wineries, it looks like more work than fantasy would will it to be. i guess that’s always the case. like being with you. why can’t i get myself to work at it? i feel we are worth it, but—
you leave early to return our van, that has been sleeping in front of the hotel for two days. that was yesterday, but i’m thinking of it now. off somewhere. you leave me in bed, and i wake. showering i wonder whether i want a future with you. yes, no. i waiver every moment. i feel sick when i think no, then better. i feel sick when i think yes. this is love? you return, and you glow as you run to me, (attack!), missing me, even though we’ve been together every day for nearly a month. this is love.
yesterday, berkley. the day before alcatraz. tonight dinner with your friend. (you gave yesterday to only me. and i offer to stay at home, so you can have alone time with her, but you want me there, even now.) the exploratorium was tiresome. i think i’m ready to go home. i feel, far from you. distant. as you have an argument with her that you had with me, and handle yourself so much better. i guess my disagreement does to you what yours does to me. so i must disagree less, but i’m afraid to lose myself in your opinions.
last night, coming home, you and your friend beat me to the train. crumpled dollar bills that don’t buy tokens. and when i descend, you are both gone. horrified you would leave me, not even knowing the train stop, i sit and sulk. i leave my leftover food in a cardboard box for a bum to find. angry. and i get home, buzz, and you are not there. he wouldn’t just leave you, she says. he wouldn’t? he gets home, she jokes i’m not there, and he curses, upset. then i appear, and he sighs, i’ve been looking for you.
at home i check your email. something in your distance makes me suspect, and i find emails from your ex to you, during the first month of our relationship, about where she’ll move to be with you and that you two will be together in the end. tears, betrayal. but it was so long ago. and haven’t i betrayed you in breaking into your email when you asked me not to? can we go on after this? we’ll take a few days, apart but together, to think. already we’re talking. ending? but, we have only two months in this world.
two months left in law school, and we won’t make it. i can’t do a half-assed relationship, even with you—someone i love. and it’s easier to believe you now. because even after i’ve been awful, you still love me. so now, now i believe. you can’t trust me, but i’ve never trusted you, not where the ex is concerned. never gotten over the betrayal of a year ago, a year and a half? a long time, and as friends i forgave, but in intimacy i suspect. so protective of me and my love. i’m sorry now. trust is everything.
only a day after six months, and i am up to my old tricks. trying to thwart our continued relationship because i know it isn’t healthy for me. it’s hard when i love you so much. and i think i should change me to fix what isn’t working, when we’re just growing apart. i never imagined it possible. we’ve known each other nearly three years now, and we managed to not grow apart in that time. what’s different about intimacy? if we had remained friends, this would not have happened. but i had to know. i do now. fuck. love.
yesterday you ask why i moved in class, why i’m not sitting with you. maybe because i’m undergoing the break-up ritual. you ask to talk to me, and i say i’m going through that. do i want to break up? i don’t know, i say. and you ask me to come with you to pick up your loan check, and on the way back i hold your hand because i cannot resist, and we take the cement slabs two steps at a time, running to make it on the big ones, and you laugh at my joke, smiling. what now?
can’t eat, can’t sleep. so two nights ago i go to your house, because you haven’t called yet and i can’t sleep without talking to you. midnight comes and goes, and i lie on your futon, to distract myself with a movie and wait for you. at 1:30 the key in the lock, and you call out my nickname, and i emerge from that room, afraid you’ll be angry. and we embrace each other, you’ve been talking about me with your friends all night, you miss me. with you next to me, snoring, i sleep. can’t let go of you.
painting. i see the figures in my sleep, how can they be better? what am i really thinking about? same old shit. but in the midst of that there’s a future to plan for. why are we are told to live for the future, taught to expect greater happiness in it so that current happiness is diminished—or must be—if we are to not be tragic, distraught, depressive creatures? and that is nitzche’s view of religion, i suppose, that it only distracts from today’s emotion, for good or bad, because it promises a happiness only in the end: death.
you write me a disjointed email at 11:30 pm on a friday night. i read it early saturday morning, awake because i don’t know what to do about you. i can’t let go, and it seems easier for you. i want to ask how you do it, but i don’t want to follow such advice. your email assures me i don’t have to worry about making you care more than you do. what is it, then, really, that we are both so afraid of? commitment, seriousness, where this will take us... i will never take you anywhere you cannot go.
easter. a sermon seems written for me maybe six times a year. faltering attendance makes the number even more pessimistic. hope. how to have that hope when you do not have it. at times this cements it for me. how can i have hope for us that you are incapable of, hope that stems from a faith or belief or source you have not tapped? at times i do see it in you, but it isn’t for me to bring out, i don’t think. so i just come home and love you for as long as we have. and hope.
The Tip Jar