Sunday, December 09, 2012

Heavenward


   The sky was smooth and gray against a sideways sea.

   I was sitting in the sand, still damp from the high tide. I held my knees pulled up to my chest, my cheek resting on top of them. I felt small. And lonely. And sad.

   I felt his arms fold around me -- holding me, enclosing me. They created an invisible barrier between us and the rest of the world. He set his chin on my shoulder, turning his face against my neck.

   "Is it as bad as all that, Angel?" he asked.

   I didn't say anything, watching the waves break against one another, strangely quiet.

   "It is then," he said after a while, as if that settled it.

   I took his hand in one of mine, tangling my fingers in his. I wished he wouldn't say anything else because there was nothing I could say around the lump in my throat.

   Everything was wrong. All wrong. And I couldn't for the life of me figure out the moment it had changed.

   So we sat in silence. We watched the water and the unchanging sky, growing neither lighter nor darker, as if no time was passing us by. And just as I thought that perhaps it was true, and time had stopped, he pressed his lips to my neck and then stood, pulling his arms from around me and his fingers out of my knots. Although he provided no body warmth, I felt colder without my back against his chest, without him holding us suspended from reality.

   He stood beside me, still looking out to sea. I sighed and looked up at him, though his face was obscured from my vantage point. When he looked down, I thought that his eyes looked almost as sad as mine. But he held out his hands for me.

   "Let's dance."

   I didn't feel like dancing, but I put my hands in his and let him pull me to my feet as though it took no effort at all. His right hand found its place in the groove of my spine in the center of my back. My right hand in his left, our bare feet in the sand. We moved to the silence, not even the waves providing any music. I rested my cheek against his chest, letting him lead me.

   I felt the cold water on the tops of my toes. We were dancing in slow circles deeper into it, until it covered my ankles and climbed up my calves.

   "Where are we going?" I asked.

   "I'm going to dance you home."

   He held me tighter until the water was at my thighs, and then he reached down and put one arm under the back of my knees, lifting me out of the water. I put my arms around his neck, my cheek barely straying from where it had first been. I was looking down, at the water, but he said:

   "Look up, Angel. Keep your eyes on the sky, heavenward where they belong."

   And as I did, I could feel the water closing around his arms, my waist, touching my elbow. It would cover us both soon --

   And then we'd be home.




Dream date: September 4, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Words


   I want him more than I want the words.

   It's the strangest feeling. --Because the words are always there. Swirling around madly like the glitter in a snow globe. But when I think of him there's a sudden hush. And it's like every piece of glitter settles to the bottom, making momentary peace from chaos.

   And yet -- he is chaotic.

   He exhausts me in this beautiful way that I want to hold on to. He makes me want to turn the light inside of me further outward. And, of course, to bask in his own light. It's wonderful and terrifying all at the same time.

   But the words. I haven't been able to find them lately.

   I know that it won't always be this way. At some point (if this strange magic lasts) the moment will still come when I once again want the words more than him. And it will be through no fault, let alone of his own making. The words are separate from love. They are immutable. But I worry -- I worry that I might mislead him. That I'll accidentally make him think that I will always choose him over the words.

   I don't want that.

   I need him to accept the words. To live with them even if he doesn't love them. To be patient instead of jealous. To remain the stationary object in the swirling storm -- to ground me when the words would otherwise drown me.

   The time will come when I will want to give him some of the words. --That's when it will start. They'll start as a gift, but then they'll grow, and they'll consume me. But that doesn't mean that he will no longer consume me.

   I believe that I can have it all. Love and words both.



Thursday, October 25, 2012

10 Year Anniversary


25 October 2012
Washington, DC

[Unsent]


Dear Long Lost.

   I still think about you.

   More on this day than any other.

   --I think about pears, too. But that's another letter.

   I wonder sometimes what goes through your mind on this day. If any part of you relives it, or if you push away the memories, press them down so they can't rise up fully to your consciousness.

   I wonder if you forgive me for knowing before you. I'm sure that sometimes you forget that part, but when you remember, you must hate it. What I never told you is that I hate it, too. I wonder all the time if I should have just told you and damned the consequences. --But I shudder to think what the consequences might have been.

   Did you check your phone today? A nervous habit, every few hours, just in case? It's been three years, but did you wonder if maybe I'd still call? Ten years since it happened, after all. Perhaps you thought it would be too big an anniversary for me to pass up.

   I hate to disappoint you.

   It's not about me, though. It's about you. And most of all, I wonder if you've forgiven her.

   I hope so.

With unsent love,
--



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

If nostalgia is a poison


   Who would have thought -- how could anyone have known? -- that after all these years he would still be in my heart and in my head? A slow poison. But not the kind that kills.



Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Rules


   Everything has an exception.

   Everything.



Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The rain, wash away


   I stared down at my rain boots and thought: This is what I asked for. This is what I wished for.

   I wished for rain.

   The water ran in a thick stream along the right side of the sidewalk. At the corner, the bus shelter was crowded with people pretending not to notice how close they were standing together. In contrast, the streets and sidewalks were empty except for the stray umbrella, hunched shoulders and quick gait of someone hurrying to their next "inside."

   I stared down at the tops of my boots, the water pooling around them. For a minute I just wanted to melt into the ground, into the rain, and rush down the sidewalks and the streets and down the gutter, wherever that leads. It wasn't a hopeless feeling; it was a tired feeling.

   Tired of trying so hard. When all I want is to enjoy the rain.



Monday, October 01, 2012

October


   I was thinking this morning, It's October already.

   It gives me a strange combination of dread and comfort. It's a month that holds one of my saddest memories, but right beside it, one of my most cherished ones. They're linked such that without the sad one, I might never have had the other. And now, years later, I find myself loving them both -- bitterly and sweetly.

   I was thinking this morning about a place called home.

   You can leave some things behind, but that doesn't mean they won't change. All the places and the people of those two memories have changed colors and shapes so that when you hold them up against the frozen images in my mind you would hardly recognize them as the same. But then there are the tiny, intangible things that let you know they really are the same. It's those things I hold on to and those things I go back to.

   I was thinking about forgiveness this morning.

   I was still thinking about it this evening, too, if I'm being honest.

   Such a big word. Such a big task.

   Such a big, big thing to feel.

   And yet...I was feeling quite capable of it for some reason. As if I was finally ready to let go of this heavy burden I've been carrying around that I suppose is unforgiveness. It's not quite that simple though, is it?

   It never is.


Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dunes


   Whenever I think about that summer, I think about standing at the top of the dunes, one hand on my hip, the other shading my eyes as I look out over the lake. I remember the feel of my fingers on my face, pushing strands of my own hair out of the way as the wind disassembled my ponytail. But more than that, I remember the feel of his hands on my face doing the same.

   We knew somehow that it was wrong to touch each other. We knew that it would gradually tear us apart, but we did it anyway. Maybe it was the glare of the sun, or the sound of the water washing up on the shoreline, but something seemed to drive us deeper into our own folly. Which is really what it was -- folly. There was no bravery in it whatsoever. Bravery requires a certain carefulness, and we were careless as only teenagers can be. Because life is stretched out endlessly before you at seventeen and words like "end" and "over" have no meaning. Youth is an eternal summer and you can't fathom that there will ever be a winter.

   The laughter echoes in my head when I think about that summer. I hear it over the waves pounding against our nearly naked bodies. I hear it over our feet slapping the sloping sands, over our heavy breathing, the sound of gulls calling to each other in the afternoon. Maybe we spent all our laughter on that one summer and didn't save any for the ones that followed.

   I have this perfect memory of him. Soaking wet and running toward me. My shoulders hunched as I braced for impact. Don't, I told him. Don't, I said out loud, but I knew I didn't mean it and he knew it too. One minute my feet were firmly planted on the ground and the next I was over his shoulder, screaming -- laughing. He ran with me up the beach to the foot of the dunes and then he pretended to throw me down, but he did so gently, his body on top of mine, his face so close. I hadn't been the one running, but my heart was racing all the same as he smiled and I thought to myself, There's my heart.

   But I didn't mean the beating in my chest. I meant all of him. Sun-kissed skin pressed against me on the sand.

   It was wrong, but we couldn't care yet. He kissed me on the forehead before getting up -- only on the forehead to acknowledge it was wrong but still to let his lips have something. He pulled me up, my hands small in his, and he said, Race you with a grin as he started running up the dune. I watched him, not even trying to chase after.

   One hand on my hip, the other shading my eyes. My hair blowing in my face. Watching my heart run farther away from me, but calling for me to follow.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"I don't have to wait for this road to diverge in a wood"


25 January 2009
Washington, DC

[Sent]


Dear Long Lost.

   Home again.  (One of them at least).  It felt nice for the first few hours, but I feel myself growing restless again.

   I've been thinking a lot lately about lives of quiet desperation.  Back in college, the instructor for my fiction workshop used to always note that my stories tended to revolve around a common theme: the quiet desperation in all our lives.  It seems to me there's always some piece of our past that haunts our present and keeps us holding on a little desperately.

   I've been feeling almost desperate lately, which is why I went away this weekend.  I'm torn apart by the desire to leave and the instinct to stay.  I'm still so young, Long Lost.  Why shouldn't I leave?  Why shouldn't I reach out and grab hold of adventure and change and a different sort of life?  I don't have to wait for this road to diverge in a wood, I can leave the path anytime I choose.  So why, why don't I?

   Because there's the equal desire to stay.  To be stable, reliable, to believe falsely that I know exactly what's about to happen next.

   Don't you ever feel this way?  Surely you do.  Surely we all do.  I find that every time I bring up this painful inner argument, people's eyes fill up with utter empathy.  I'm putting words to something we're never supposed to talk about.  But why shouldn't we talk about it?

   What if we had run away once when we were younger?  What if we had put to action all those plans and dreams we used to toss about so carelessly?  I think about the pictures, the memories I could have made taking a motorcycle trip to British Columbia.  I wonder about meeting up in Europe, in all the places that I went alone.  I think about Cadiz.  I know I told you once how I couldn't bring myself to go.  I didn't want to go without you, didn't want to take the pictures I knew you should have taken yourself.

   How different would my life have been had I demanded life more forcefully?  More adamantly?  If for every push, I had pushed back?  Don't you ever wonder that too?

   Don't get me wrong, it's not a sad sort of wondering.  Not even a regretful kind of wondering.  It's just that little niggling thought in the back of my brain, informing all the decisions, all the actions of my present.  How then, can I sit still?

With love, toujours,
--



Sunday, August 19, 2012

This Person I've Become


   My grandfather would have been 90 today.

   I wonder sometimes what he would think about this person I've become. He hardly could have guessed when I was so small what I might have grown into. Would he be proud regardless?