He was old and when I kissed him he tasted even older. And I was an old soul with a timeless, restless heart that beat like shoes running on pavement. My favorite thing about him was that I didn’t have to sleep alone. He slept clinging onto my body, his tiny hands grasping at any part of me he could reach, as if he thought I was too good to be true, as if he was afraid that I wasn’t – true, that is. And I wasn’t.
Somewhere beyond his bedroom window the sun was rising and I was rising with it. I lifted his thin, sweaty arm off me and slid my body away from his. I willed myself to be quiet and graceful as my feet touched the floor and I made my way through his apartment. I took a couple blank pieces of paper from his printer and pulled a pen from my purse before returning to sit on the floor at the foot of his bed. The carpet scratched against my bare skin and I could see snow falling outside the window and hear the faint rattle of the “L” as it went to and from the Loop.
Naked on his bedroom floor, on that snowy Sunday morning, on what would turn out to be my last winter in Chicago, I wrote about brightness. I wrote that I was afraid that I would never feel clean or light or fresh or bright again. I wrote about how the night before it had been too warm to snow so it has rained instead and the streetlights had made the raindrops glitter silver and gold upon the black city streets and he and I had run together down the sidewalks of Lincoln Park. I had held a rose in my hand but I wouldn’t hold his. And it may have been a beautiful night but it wasn’t. It wasn’t beautiful. And I could tell that he loved me but I didn’t.
A couple months later, in France, I wrote about brightness again. I wrote about it every day. In France everything felt clean and light and fresh and bright and possible. And in Cannes the sea air was easy to breathe and anything bad that had ever been was made beautiful under streetlights and stars as waves broke against sand and cement. Even the breaking was beautiful.
But I don’t live in France. And so I love like I live – entirely in the moment. I used to have a couple theories about love and happiness – and I even had some on that snowy Sunday morning – but they all relied on a belief in the brightness and the only thing I believe in now is that brightness fades. And it is always possible to awaken in the dark beside a sleeping body and think and write and be someone that they don’t realize they don’t know. All we can have of one another is an idea – some are just better than others.
And so I look for a moment with a man who can listen to a song with me and know it by heart the way I know it by heart even if we can’t know each other as well as we think we do. And if the song that saved me from a bad day and a worse feeling can save him too and we can be momentarily saved together, then maybe we can share an idea of angels and god and brightness.
***The title of this post is taken from "An Almost Made Up Poem" by Charles Bukowski