I think we fell in love with the hopefulness of it all. It was autumn in New York and we could eat dinner at a taqueria on the Lower East Side and then step outside, grab a taxi, and speed up the FDR towards your bed and all the newness of a love that had not yet been defined, and as the taxi sped uptown we could watch Manhattan and Brooklyn and Queens rise and shine above the East River. Or we could take an early evening walk by the boathouse in Central Park, just as the moon was gracing the blue-purple sky. And the air would feel heavy with the deceptive permanence of fall. I remember when you said it was passion that you saw in my eyes, but I think it was hope. Bright and shiny hope. We were still young enough to believe that dreams can come true and just old enough to worry that they might not; our hopes had never been higher or more precarious. It was a beautiful thrill. When I smiled because I had just said something clever, or because you had, you pictured me smiling like that forever and my smile held all the hope you had for yourself. And you held my hope too. When you laughed my mind moved between now and eternity, until forever felt like it was already happening – and I believed it was.
Monday, June 24, 2013
I had a dream that you led me up the stairs (or was I leading you?) in a house that I had never been in before, and as we turned the corner in the second floor hallway, sunlight spilled through the window onto my black chiffon dress and my legs that stood tall and almost bare beneath it. I leaned my back against the window. You stood before me. Maybe we were laughing, but it was serious. You put your hand on my hip, just as you had done that first night and it felt just as warm as it had felt then but my heart felt even better. I heard your voice without hearing it. You said, “I brought you hear to tell you --“
And I knew what you were going to say before you said it. I knew what the kiss would feel like before I felt it. I knew what I wanted before you said you wanted it too. And I woke up before it happened.
And I lay in bed, with my eyes still closed, trying to get back to the dream.
You had told me once, when we were awake, but I still felt like I was dreaming, that you were having trouble being in the moment. You’d already been in so many moments, now all you wanted was to get back to them, so you close your heart to the here and now, and the try to dream your way back to what used to be.
We dream while we’re awake and we live while we’re dreaming. It’s all real and it’s all false; it’s all about perception. And now and then there are days that become nights and we drink and talk until we’re almost asleep – or almost awake – and we know with the striking clarity of dawn that the dream could come true. We know that we could reach out our hands, lean into the kiss, say the words. We know how it would feel before we feel it. And we know that dreamers always wake, so we know better.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
It was summer and the claustrophobic air of the room and the pit of unnamed anxieties at the bottom of my stomach gave a feeling of timelessness and nothingness and immenseness and I was listless and lying on the rough carpeted floor of my bedroom, once my mother’s bedroom and once my bedroom before that and once the bedroom of a woman who neither of us knew but who left her breast cancer treatment directions in the snap pea green bathroom across the hall. My naked body was sweating against the old carpeted floor. I was twenty one, almost twenty two, but I could have been thirteen all over again; I could have been ageless. Listlessness was floating all around me, ever existing in the heavy, humid summer air of my childhood home.
It was September. Pale yellow light spilled through the blinds from the city streets onto the two of us as we sat on your white cloud bed, our foreheads resting against each other. We were just breathing and breathing in the soft halo of light. And then you said, “This is heaven.” And then you said, “I love you.”
It was the beginning and I was spilling myself on you. Sweat and wetness, warm and coming forth into crevasses, both mine and yours, and onto bed sheets that were yours but that you soon began calling ours. Late at night I spilled my soul, secrets and shame and hope all a fluid sound in the dark. In the morning I spilled my make-up on your bed, the colors of my face spotting the white of your blanket. Stains that I hoped you wouldn’t want to wash away.
It is summer. The claustrophobic air of my new room and the same pit of anxieties at the bottom of my stomach render me sleepless and I lie the night away, telling myself the same stories I told myself when I was thirteen or twenty one. Stories about love and a comfort that is better than the best bed. My naked body sweats against my sheets. I am aged and I am less. Listlessness floats and so do I, in the time between heavens.
Friday, June 14, 2013
As spring rained into summer, I played love like a tambourine, shaking and rattling it – but it was music all the while. It was a time when I was mad. Crazy mad like a starved fox in heat. Mad for really good sex and strong tequila and rock’n’roll and men that wouldn’t shy away. I wanted a love that was as fierce as I felt when I walked down the street in my black boots. I wanted a love made from sweat and teeth, ripped lace and walking shoes. And I drank because most nights I couldn’t find it – and because, some nights, if I drank enough, I would think I did. But, in the sunny, sober, morning hours, I would remember that it wasn’t love that I was looking for – it was timelessness. It was that ever fleeting, ever forever, feeling of a first wine-drunk night and a great first kiss and the luxurious carelessness of youth. It was a time when I was becoming aware that every night as I was getting drunk -- and every night I wasn't -- I was also getting old. And the feeling I had once had of endless possibilities and infinite passion, was dying as fast as the minutes and hours of the night. So I had to drink and have sex and dance and cry and scream and listen to really good music because in possible self-destruction, there also seemed to be a kind of self-resurrection; a kind of saving grace -- as I think there is in most madness.
Thursday, June 6, 2013
I wished I was in a pool or a lake or an ocean. I wished I was swimming out beyond the point at which my toes could still graze the bottom while water splashed my chin. I wished I could go under, submerge myself entirely, hold my breath and swim and swim and swim until I lost all sense of direction, until light and sound and breathing were muffled memories, until – Until they weren’t. Until instinct to breathe came rushing back, propelling my body upward. Until I broke the surface and felt the light before I saw it. And still, for a moment, I would be treading water. I would have a distinct sense of nowness beneath the open sky, with only an abstract sense of place – only a learned sense that this is life and I am in it.
Instead I sat at a desk beneath a concrete ceiling and florescent lights, overwhelmed by my sense of place and lacking all sense of time, unable to believe that hours or days or years existed or had ever existed, unable to believe that seasons happened or that change happened or that it was possible for anything to happen other than this – this fact of being there. Right there. In a windowless office, beneath florescent lights and a concrete ceiling, surrounded by blue cubicle walls. And I had a sense that I had gone under, that I had lost all sense of direction. And I couldn’t breathe. And I was shaking – or was that my heartbeat? And I wondered what instinct would come rushing back to me. I wondered what would save me.
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I don’t know if I believe in romantic love, but I do believe in gin and whiskey and wine and good conversation. And sometimes I believe in cigarettes and beer. And, sure, I believe in love – that’s how I mark my maturity, by who I say, “I love you” to. Recently I went back to Chicago just to tell my friends I loved them. These days I say love easily to friends old friends and new friends alike almost instantly because I like to think that I appreciate the indelible fickleness of time.
These days, when I say, “I love you,” I am saying, “I think I might share the idea you have of yourself and if you want to drink to forget it, I will drink with you, and if you want to cry about it, I will drink with you, and if I want to cry about it, I hope you will drink with me.”
And, of course, I believe in romance. I believe in midnight bottles of wine and 4 a.m. walks and the way it feels to hold hands in a crowded room for the first time.
But when it comes to romantic love, call me a hopeful atheist. I think it’s all a bunch of evangelism. It’s not out there – but I hope I can be proven wrong.