Part 5: On lonely girls and broken hearts

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Plz find Parts 1234 by clicking on the numbers. 🙂

A few days passed since my exodus and yet I hadn’t heard from him at all. It was the biggest break we had to date in terms of communication. Eventually I called him but he didn’t pick up and didn’t call me back. I called again, nothing. I left a couple of concerned voice mails. Nothing. It was all around confounding. I didn’t know what to think. I’d never been an alarmist but I started to worry for him, as he was now marooned up in that house quite alone, not counting the wine. I texted him a few times too requesting a confirmation of life, still there was no reply. Finally, right when I was ready to drive over to check on him, he shot me back a short text, casually letting me know that he was fine, but busy. This was followed by another period of radio silence. I remember feeling very confused and anxious and finally penning a heartfelt message which questioned the state of our relationship, while reminding him of my friendship and love. He did respond then, denying the validity of my concerns and reassuring me that nothing in fact had changed between us. That exchange I, for some reason, remember in its entirety. He insisted that our friendship, despite evidence to the contrary, had undergone no change at all and that I was still “singularly unique and special” to him. This was, as i had shortly learned, a flat out lie, as he was in fact done with me for good, but putting me out of my misery would have required too great a generosity on his part, it was no 4$ latte or DVD after all. To be clear, the crux of my injury wasn’t that he had a sudden change of heart, demoralizing as this was, the real hurt emanated from his not caring or respecting me enough to simply take my call and tell me something-anything real. If he had, I would undoubtedly still have been hurt, but I would also walk away with as high an opinion of him as ever and a mind to healing.

No measure of wariness towards J could have prepared me for this turn of events. I was, in all honesty, soul-crushed and for a long time thereafter truly, deeply sad. If his disappearance from my world seems innocuous as far as transgressions go, let me assure you it was not; it was acutely, painfully felt. Sure, dropping the proverbial curtain and exiting stage left is every person’s prerogative, but sneaking out under cover of night is not. To this day abandonment ranks on my list of painful experiences as one of the worst and most contemptible. I hate to be dramatic, but I think he could have just as well punched me in the stomach. It felt in every way like a violence and a theft. Had he indicated his intentions to disengage, extended any, and I do mean any, courtesy explanation aimed towards closure, or even just a stock Good Bye, I would have been able to process it differently. It was his silence, evasion and complete lack of basic human regard for me that shocked my system, and although it mostly bruised my heart, it was also a blow to my pride and my self-esteem. (Admittedly, the latter was struck the least)

It boggles my mind even now that this seemingly earnest, tender hearted boy (..or man I guess) with his love of dogs and his rare gift for words could be so inexplicably thoughtless (cruel). Though obviously, I misunderstood completely the degree of his attachment and care for me, what surprised me most was how sorely I misjudged his character. He was in regards to me indecent, an utter failure. At the time I would have bet my arm that underneath the charm and the words, there was a conscientious person of substance and heart. I would have lost that bet (and the arm) as words proved to be ALL he was.

Before now I never talked about any of this, because, in part, I was ashamed of having let myself fall into it as I did. After all I was and always will be the only one responsible for my own feelings, the fact that I got hurt was, as they say, on me. Victim girl or Foolish girl were not monikers I cared to take up and “vulnerable” is perhaps a word I detest most and in general, god forbid it be spoken in reference to me. Pride and unresolved confusion further conflated into a kind of secretiveness. On some level too, I think I hoped that the story still had a chance of finding a better conclusion, so I kept it tucked away in a cognitive limbo. That’s the trouble with hope, enduring as it is, it doesn’t fall within the purview of good judgment or reason.

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A few years later, with hope finally abandoned, I wrote J an email outlining how I felt. It was a way of self-generating the closure he couldn’t give me. I wanted it to be finite, so I asked that he not respond, even if by some chance he felt inclined to do so. I don’t remember what exactly was in it, I imagine it was some version of all this, and I don’t know that he read it, but if he did, he heeded my request obliging me with his continued silence.

The overall experience marked me indelibly, but it did not change or callus me. In all fairness the universe did make ample karmic recompense to me shortly thereafter, turning Lonely girl into a decidedly Lucky girl (so lucky). I am still genuinely concerned for J’s happiness and still only wish him the best. I think I’ll never stop rooting for him, and that is something I don’t dislike about myself. The most significant thing I carried out from it all, besides a purple heart bruise, was a lesson in accountability. From that point forward I was always painstakingly careful not to lead anyone on whom I did not intend to keep.

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Part 3: On lonely girls and broken hearts

writing

Read Part 1 & Part 2 here

How do I squeeze into conventional terms a completely unconventional love. It feels a bit like trying to explain to an orange what it’s like to be a shrimp. Regardless, one important note I’d like to make is that I’ll be using the word “love” in this story differently from its usual application. The love I’ll be talking about is not amorous in nature; it is not fraught with romance, physical attraction, sex, vows, obligations, promises, valentines, commitments or hopes of some future together. It is a different kind of love, irreverent, somewhat indescribable and quite punishing in its end.

I ran into J again years later, completely at random. I was around 23 by then. To my Mother’s extreme jubilation I ventured north for a second date with a plastic surgeon, a Jewish one at that. Following our first lackluster outing conducted in my neck of the woods over a salmon kale salad and a hefty serving of decidedly bad jokes, the doctor invited me to join him on a yacht in his lovely homestead of Santa Barbara. It was a kind of a sailing fete hosted by some of his fancy doctor friends and, if nothing more, it meant for me an exceedingly picturesque drive up the coast. Scantily clad in my nautical best; stripes, shorts and of course top-siders, with Mother cheering at my back, I set out on my adventure into proper maritime society with an optimistic hope of, at the very least, a very merry time.

Two hours later I was almost there, driving into town. A car cruising in the apposite direction caught my attention and I spun my head around trying to get a better look at its driver. Although I barely caught a glance of his profile, instant pangs of nostalgia filled my stomach. I thought I saw J. But what were the odds really? It couldn’t have been him, so I shooed the idea away and moseyed on. A few minutes later, I finally arrived at the designated address, parked, hung my feet out of the car door and, as per my custom, surveyed my surroundings. Once again, my heart jumped, this time, unbelievably and indisputably, J was getting out of a car right across the street from me. I yelled out, he turned his head, our excitement to discover one another in this way was palpable. Laughter, hugs and all around gaiety were quick to follow. Our reunion was rousing but brief as we were both en route to other appointments. I scorned him a bit for falling out of touch, he protested, I gave him my email address and we dispersed, filling the air between us with promises of fast reunion.

From day one I knew in my gut exactly who J was. I knew to dispense with all expectations in regards to him, unless I wanted my heart broken and scattered in his wake, along with all the others.  I knew this because he was to me what I had on plenty of occasions been to others. He was aloof and inconstant and there was a part of him that few, if anyone, could reach; a kind of karmic taste of my own medicine. Years ago I had taken the necessary, conscious steps of steeling myself against him. Although I wasn’t completely successful at wrangling my attachment, I did manage to will my heart into a formidable check, so his departure didn’t much affect me then. Now i had to once again remind myself, that although he could mean everything to me on one day, he would as easily be gone the next. This had already been lightly confirmed by our history. Furthermore, I had to consider that despite the numerous, excited promises made on that sidewalk, I wouldn’t hear from him again.

But I did, I heard from him right away. Here is an excerpt from that email, it is the only correspondence of ours that I was able to find, luckily it’s just right. It set the tone for J & M version 2.0, our ill fated reboot.

“I’m living in LA and YOU are officially my only friend there— this entails for you a number of abject responsibilities, like hanging out with me regularly and pretending to adore me.  My old email address got overrun with vaguely pornographic adverts re: enlarging the penis, shrinking the dating pool, so I abandoned it years ago– guess I threw the M out with the bathwater. I traveled, then I went to Berkeley, then I lived in San Francisco and worked as the definitively MALE host at a transgender restaurant/bar, spent my time preening and flirting and being pretty obnoxious I suppose, indulging in different forms of wickedness… this stint eventuated in something crisis-like and I left the bar and city and scampered back to Father in the Pacific Palisades to be an innocuous, aerobically inclined non-smoker who doesn’t pay rent and eats well… I work for dad flexibly as a verbally adept pseudo-para-paralegal with almost no responsibilities and vast groves of free time. I have been reading more than writing but always with a view to writing– I’m going to take some writing classes at our paltry Santa Monican Alma-Mater this summer, one in fiction, one poetry workshop.  In the Fall I’ll apply to PhD programs in literature and, depending on my productivity this summer, maybe MFA programs. Most importantly, I’m in L.A. indefinitely and you simply must be my friend– I’ve missed you (you who stands out from and over a boggled vastness of less resonant memories and persons from my earliest twenties).  Anyways, i have to insist that less time separate our last meeting from our next, less time than our custom would have it– if you’re exceedingly busy, too busy for idle socializing, I’ll commission some tennis lessons.  Warmly, moi ”   

The quickest way to a lonely girl’s heart is through a perfectly crafted sentence that tells her how significant and singularly special she is, how she is not to be forgotten. This knowledge is not to be misused, as lonely girls are an endangered species, and playing with their surprisingly squishy hearts is not only ill advised but also strictly against regulation. To be fair though, no heart should be played with, as most are quite breakable and none, in fact, are toys.

J and I met that very night for coffee, the fire flickered from its artificial coffee house pit, words swam in streams, more fervent than before; we had both grown some and not at all. It was as if no time had passed between us, and once again, against my better judgment, I found myself teetering dangerously close to his edge.

To be continued in  Part 4..…….

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Part 2: On lonely girls and broken hearts

writing

These last few days I struggled trying to formulate in my head this “Part 2” of my “Lonely Girls and Broken Hearts” blog post, because it is the part where I gotta get to the actual story and stop waxing poetic about what a beautiful, special person I am. 😛 I find myself facing a few obstacles, one is that while I still have a firm grasp on the meat of the story, my feelings, my impressions, I no longer have all the bones i.e. the facts. I worry that I’ll be constructing a kind of tottering Frankenstein with no leg to stand on, slumping on a crutch engineered haphazardly out of fiction.

I knew J twice. The first time was over a decade ago, I think I was 18 or 19, he was 21 or 22? I met him in a community college classroom. Inexplicably there were numerous occasions when I took random classes at SMC while enrolled as a full time student at UCLA, I am not sure why I did this, but it definitely contributed to the extravagant 6 years I spent as a UCLA student working on a paltry undergraduate degree in comparative lit. J was there, like me, on an academic hiatus of some kind, but from Cal. He wasn’t someone who immediately caught my attention, admittedly because he just wasn’t at all my type. At the time I had a pretty specific penchant for men of considerably greater age, stature and accomplishment, so peers hardly ever registered on my discriminating radar. In fact I never dated a peer, never ever. I remember that when I finally noticed J it wasn’t so much he that caught my attention as it was the way in which he commanded the attention of all the other females in that classroom. His obvious sway over them was what really piqued my interest. Closer inspection revealed that, although to me he didn’t appear particularly attractive, he was by conventional standards quite comely. Medium height, well built, very athletic, with wild, curly hair, light eyes and a bright smile. Further examination was necessary and thoroughly conducted, it proved that he was wickedly bright, intelligent, ironic, self-aware, free thinking and completely, disarmingly, dangerously charming. Additionally, to my surprise, he was easily one the most literary people I had met to date. Despite all this I wasn’t quite sold on him yet.

I remember as I was getting to know him along with some of my other classmates, it became evident to me that he had spent time out of class with one of the girls who was in our shit-shooting group. The way she looked at him one day let me know that something had happened with them. He proceeded to make a comment to her about her alluringly transparent blouse, calling her an enchantress, she laughed and sort of blushed, but I knew then that she was in trouble. His compliment was executed publicly and jovially, playing to the audience rather than to her. I read that playfulness for what it was, a way to trivialize whatever had transpired between them. One thing about me worth noting is that I always spoke rather fluent Male-ese, the male agenda was as obvious to me as a circus parade, which is actually quite ironic given how the rest of this story unfolded. Later that day, the girl in question confided in me that they did hang out and that something sweet or intimate transpired between them, like he held her hand, and maybe there was a kiss? I don’t remember now. I also don’t remember how him and I actually ended up spending time together. I think he may have given me a ride home one night. When I later teased him about whatever had happened with that girl from class, he shrugged it off and steered the conversation elsewhere. It didn’t much matter to me, and really wasn’t any of my business. But I guess in retrospect I could assign it the metaphorical meaning of a tiny red flag.

As little time went on I became more and more taken with him. I was impressed with the way he thought, the things he said, the words he used. We were able to talk and talk and talk on the subjects of so many things, and although our opinions varied, I felt we always understood one another completely. I found a true counterpoint in him, as well as an intellect vastly superior to mine. Let no mistake be made though, it was a truly platonic friendship. I never for a second wanted more, in fact had he attempted more I would have been sorely disappointed and the whole thing would have gone left. Luckily, we were of a similar mind on the subject, he never indicated to me that I was of any interest to him as a woman, which flattered me rather than otherwise, as I got plenty of that kind of attention elsewhere. His friendship flattered me all around, he wooed me with it like a professional tamer of tigers and lonely girls, and before I knew it I was quite under his spell, purring like a kitten. I finally had a friend who understood me. It was as if I had dreamt him up and the universe obliged me by spitting him out in human form, but only for a pinch.

Our time together ended as seamlessly as it began, he went back to Northern California, back to school, back to some girl he loved and pined for and I continued with my lonely girl life. In the years to follow I frequently thought of him with great and rare fondness. I knew that he had backpacked through Europe for a few months at some point, I think this was something on his agenda shortly after going back to Berkeley. Our shared love of romantic poets meant that we were likely to have somewhat matching itineraries, especially in England, so when I went to Europe at a later time, I thought of him quite a bit. When finally I rode horses in Hyde park and visited Lord Byron’s grave, I wrote to him, J not Byron.

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It seemed like of everyone I knew J would best understand the revelry of those particular experiences. It also felt like the thing to do, whilst I was so inside literary history, to reach across time a little into a history of my own. The email went unanswered and, as I later learned, unread.

According to Exupery, we are responsible for those we have tamed, I subscribe to this religiously now, but certainly neither one of us knew it at the time.

I didn’t see him again for quite a while. We were reunited some three or four years later under strange and serendipitous circumstances. It was a true chance event that seemed to be imbued with special meaning if not for any other reason than its timeliness and randomness. It was a reboot of J & M, version 2.0, but don’t be fooled, the newer version is not always the better. Our reunion yielded a peculiar revival of our long lost friendship, transforming it and, in a somewhat dramatic fashion, ending it completely….

To be continued in  Part 3……

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Part 1: On lonely girls and broken hearts

writing

This is not a story about romance or young love, although in a way it is a story about a kind of love at a time when I was young. Recently I read a blog by Erin. J. Bernard, where she described a past romantic dalliance of unique nature, and a brand of rejection usually reserved for the weirder, lonelier segment of humanity; writers, artists and misfits. I found myself reminiscing about a person and a time in my own life which to my mind mimicked her experience. It was not a lasting or, in the grand scheme of things, a terribly significant event, but it was singular and it left an indelible mark on me. Like all of life’s harder lessons it was necessary and dutifully learned.

As I take inventory of my past, I find that, as usual, memory is at best a precarious mechanism, disorganized and not at all trustworthy. I wish I was the journaling type then, as to have at my disposal some authentic reference material, but no such luck. Trying to commit to an honest account of a time long gone is admittedly a bit more difficult, than I originally anticipated. If science is correct in its assertion that all cells in the body, including brain cells, renew themselves completely every 7 years, then I can say that none of what I was then remains in what I am now. Except of course for these scattered memories, but don’t get me wrong,  they are nothing to scoff at. Memories are, to my heathen mind, one and the same as soul. And so, for lack of journals, I guess I will have to prod at my soul.

I was always that weird, introspective kid clutching a book. From the very get go I knew that I understood things differently from others. When I was little I tried to explain certain truths to other five year olds, like the rate of seconds as they tick on the clock, they laughed at me, absolutely rejecting my completely correct take on time. This was just one occasion amongst many to come when I was completely right about something only to be rejected and ridiculed by the ignorant majority or by the uppish adults. I am not and never was by any means a saint, but I knew I was different, in some ways I knew I was better. I understand how it sounds, it’s quite wrong to say and vexing to hear, but I am not afflicted with false modesty. I never experienced jealousy or envy, if someone was more beautiful than me, received more praise, had nicer things, better toys, I was happy for them. To my mother’s relief I did not covet, so she never had to explain to me why I couldn’t have something that was had by someone else. I didn’t lord my advantages, whatever they might have been, over others; I couldn’t understand the pleasure of being boastful or the point of being popular. I couldn’t understand why winning mattered, how putting someone down or leaving someone out could be fun. It baffled me that while I lived comfortably so many others in the world suffered. When I was 8 I wrote a letter to God, who had not yet at this time disproved himself to me. I asked that he take some of my food and clothes to the children in Ethiopia, and packed it all up nicely into a suitcase. My mom was not amused. In short, I wasn’t motivated by the same things that motivated my peers.

The only reason I wasn’t ostracized or actively mocked for my obvious deviation from the norm, was that I was attractive and hailed from marginal privilege. The latter seemed to eclipse all of my more divergent qualifications. It was very clear to me from a very young age that the lottery of good genetics and favorable economic circumstances was responsible for my good standing in the world. Who I was on the inside didn’t much factor in.

I had a hard time connecting with people and subsequently a very hard time making friends. I wasn’t much different from that really weird girl with greasy hair and bad skin, who made everyone uncomfortable. She sat in the back of class, got made fun of, ate lunch alone and was left out of everything. I knew I was more like her than anyone else, yet I was treated differently, I was welcome at most tables, into most groups and at all sleepovers. I was offered regard and consideration, merely because my packaging was more advantageous. I became aware of this unjust truth first when I was 10, and although it undoubtedly made my life easier, it also mostly made me sad. As it followed I didn’t value that acceptance and didn’t try to maintain it. I became a unique kind of outcast. I didn’t fit in with the cool kids, even though I was welcome, because in reality we had nothing in common, but I didn’t fit in the with the weird kids either, because I was externally too well adjusted to share in their experience of the world. 

I am offering this lengthy prologue to explain the precise kind of loneliness with which I was afflicted for the majority of my life. It wasn’t that I couldn’t find friends, as in bodies to surround myself with, I just couldn’t find any I wanted to be surrounded by. In high school I spent most lunch periods in the home room, in the company of a book and Miss Ellis, the English teacher. I went to the movies mostly alone but sometimes with my grandmother, who was in fact one of the greatest friends I ever had. I carried out no connections at all from any of my school years. If I went to a high school reunion I wouldn’t know anyone, and I doubt anyone would know me, except maybe for a handful of boys who were, reportedly, sweet on me. I cultivated a few random friendships during college years, these friendships were seldom and short lived, mostly because of me, but not always. Unfortunately, if I was very drawn to someone, then most likely there had to have been something wrong with them, more wrong than there was with me. And I don’t mean something obvious or nefarious, like a hidden tail where there ought not be one or a penchant for squirrel dissection. No. I am talking about subtle inadequacies mostly related to the function or rather dysfunction of their proverbial hearts. Out of those few I can think of only a couple that mattered. One such that mattered is the subject of this narrative, if ever I can stop talking about my lonesome childhood and get to it.

….To Be Continued in Part 2

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On STRIP CLUBS & scallops

humor, writing

I went to my first Strip Club when I was a tender 19 year old. A much older male friend took me, hmmmm, to think of it lots of my education occurred under the caring tutelage of much older male friends. Such is the lot of an ingénue type. I know what you are thinking, you’re thinking that sounds unsafe, nothing for a nice girl like me to get mixed up in. But worry not. I picked my mentors wisely, no lines were ever crossed, not to say that a seldom, feeble attempt wasn’t made here and there. Feeble it was because they were almost always exceedingly decent, albeit somewhat eccentric folk. Anyways, who could blame them, I was a cute young thing, and not entirely unaware of my prowess…I am lying, I was entirely aware. I read lots of serious books, loitered for hours in museums, used big words and was overall a lot more erudite than I am now. Plus, there was also that je ne c’est quoi, commonly abundant in Eastern European girls. That aura of maturity, entirely delusive as it is, which makes older men think that a relationship with a much younger woman is not out of this realm of possibility. What can you do, it’s almost genetic.

That very first strip club was Plan B in Santa Monica, Ca (still operating if you want to pop by) girls kept their panties on, I don’t remember if their tops stayed on too, and nobody seemed to break a sweat doing anything exceedingly taxing or acrobatic. This club is very Santa Monica-ish. If you have ever been to Santa Monica, or caught the numerous references made to it on film and television, you know what I mean. It’s a progressive, pricy, bourgy, yoga infested, melting pot of a beach municipality, with Venice (hippies) to the left of it, and Malibu (seriously rich folks) to the right of it. So Plan B, it’s probably a classier fair as far as strip joints go. I remember that their kitchen was excellent. I ordered a burrata salad and a king scallop entrée served with roasted squash and eggplant pure. Both were top rate, and at 1:30 in the morning no less. The vibe at Plan B was probably more anemic than tantalizing. The men sat around distressingly well-behaved, hands folded placidly in laps, and that entranced look on their faces, like they were so lost they needed a map and a guide dog to find their way to a vagina. My male companion did try to lure me onto a stage and around a pole. I remember an offer of cash was involved, 1k if I recall correctly, although the entire thing was packaged like an innocent dare, and nothing like a wanton scheme of a lecherous old man. I considered it, sure, I mean what’s it to me to twirl around on a pole for a hot second. I never drew parallels between personal choices, be they sexual or financial, and morality. Freedom to do with myself as I please has always been my mantra. But alas, I couldn’t let my scallops get cold, and in reality was probably never quite as freethinking as I estimated myself to be. All in all, I can’t say that Plan B left me with any kind of an impression. The men in there seemed sad and, hmm, flaccid? The dancers appeared bored, save a couple of enthusiastic girls with definite earning ambition, but not the moves. The few couples dining, us included, were exceptionally weird for obvious reasons. Shrug.

Last year however, the strip club industry had a chance to redeem itself. I attended yet another venerable stripping establishment while in Vegas with my girlfriends on a girl trip. Now this was a full on experience. Obviously, as a fully grown woman of undeterminable age ;), I was committed to taking in all the sights. This place was buzzing, there was lots of movement and agitation, girls swarmed patrons without much consideration for each other, like hungry locusts. I could smell the catfights in the air, both past and future. Strippers were dancing their naked butts off. They twirled, leaped, crawled, spread and bent their bodies, working the audience into a bona fide frenzy. Money was everywhere, and it was ripe for the picking. There was no denying the talent or the authenticity of the whole affair.

In the first 5 minutes of being there we found a vial of coke on the floor…yep…then one decidedly used up, older stripper tried to grope me despite my expressed resistance and obvious horror…repeatedly. It was, overall, very illuminating. I learned a lot about myself, like for example that I HATE having my breasts fondled by strangers. Who knew right? In the end a beautifully nimble black girl nuzzled my face in her velvety bosom. Although her assets were, by every definition, lovely, superb natural represen-ta-ta-tives 😛 of the human form, they did nothing for me. Mehh, I thought, I got those too, what’s the big woop. And sure, we partook in the requisite tradition of making it rain. My soul cringed, as I watched 8 dollar bills fly out of my hand and sail away into the ether. I comforted myself with the idea that my money would be spent on something good and necessary, like formula for a hungry infant. It’s not unrealistic.

I discerned right there and then that, in all honesty, Strip Clubs just aren’t for me. What’s that noise? Oh that’s my best friend (whom I love so so much) weeping somewhere in the distance. Unlike me, she had both, found her religion and tapped into her inner black man at that noble establishment ;P. But at this ripe old age I got to be honest with myself, even if it makes me a bit of a buzz-kill and a total disappointment to ALL (by all I mean both) my friends. I’ll never say never though, because who knows, if there was a good plate of scallops on the table, I might reconsider.

P.S> Spell check keeps flagging the word “vagina” in the body of my post as incorrect, hmm is Spell check uncomfortable with my rampant use of synonyms for female genitalia?

P.P.S>This post was inspired by a very entertaining post at the You People Are Monsters blog, titled A Fond Look Back: Vomit And Strip Clubs. Nostalgia set in. I tumbled down memory lane and Voila, I blogged!

Desert & her Rain

miscellaneous, writing

It’s 3 am and rain is falling. The melody of his decent permeates everything around. He pours down hard, with urgency, diving into the earth as if the two of them were epic lovers, reunited after long separation. Long it has been. The desert has not seen her rain all summer, but there was another suitor. The sun has courted her without relief. At first he brought her light, then warmth, at last he gave her heat, still he was not the one she yearned for. Scorned was the sun and scorching was his fury. Deaf to her pleas, he burned her flesh and did not spare her beauty. His final gift to her was death. Critters, birds, frogs scattered across her plains, all dead, bitter reminders of all that is unrequited in this world. When earlier tonight the air grew still and thick, I  knew rain had come back for her and readied for the flood. For hours nothing stirred. There was no wind or movement in the night, even the stars had hushed their glow and all the rest laid quiet in parched anticipation. At last rain had arrive. He swept her up into his arms, as if no time had passed between them. He spilled across her body with abandon, covering every inch of her and leaving none exposed. He told her of his love and of his sadness, he begged that she forgive his passing madness. He kissed her face, caressed her skin, nourished her wounds and wiped away the death, then he made promises again he would not keep and swayed her with the sweetness of the breath.

Chapter 9..or..The chapter that tripped me up

writing

“Who is it?” I asked surveying the treeline.

“Not sure, usually we get some stalking rights, a little time to check things out, haunt if you will, but this one is an unscheduled drop in.”

“Were you watching me long?”

“Since you got off that plane.”

“That’s a long time, that’s days!” I exclaimed, surprised at the idea that as I was getting off of the plane, blissfully ignorant, this pair had me in their sights.

“It’s not the longest we had, but it’s nice for us you know, technically we are working, but really it’s more of a loitering situation…in which we eat hot dogs and milkshakes, no such thing in this place.” He motioned around himself with his tiny doll like hand.

“So do you know anything at all about this person?” I really wanted to understand what and whom to expect.

“He won’t be like you, he is an “intentional” He looked at me meaningfully “It’s going to be a rocky arrival.”

“They call it suicide, Dog” chimed in Peotr.

“But it’s a man?” I wanted to keep the conversation on track, before it veered off on another of their bickering tangents.

“Yes, what’s with all the questions, give it a rest will you.” The kid waved me off like an annoying fly, but over the days I had gotten used to his lack of patience and bouts of moodyness, so it didn’t discourage me. I had more questions, I redirected them more specifically at the dog. The animal had become as common to me as a tree, I hardly noticed his uglyness anymore, and the fact that he functioned more like a grouchy uncle than a dog had ceased to rattle me.

“Dog, can you please add anything.”

“We rarely have more than one charge at a time, it has happenned exactly two times so far, but nothing in this realm happens by accident, there must be a reason they want you to meet, there is a lot of pain with this one, a lot….but lets just wait and see.” This channel of information was closed as well now. It was as if in the hours before the arrival of this mysterious person, the dog and the child had gone into a trance, they hardly stirred at all come sun down and sat motionless, staring into open space. A warm wind started to blow some time after we stopped talking, it lifted a web of leaves off the ground, but curiously rather than getting blown away, they swirled around and above us in what appeared to be a kind of halo. Heat picked up shortly after, followed by an intensifying humidity. Within a few hours the climate had changed drasically. Becoming unbearably hot and humid, it closely resembled a sauna or a steam room or Florida. Breathing in that hot, dense air, I could taste the granules of salt landing on my tongue. An opaque wall of dust and leaves formed around us, drowning out much of the light, still my companions remained calm. I tried again for an explanation.

“Is this normal?” But my words died as soon as they exited my mouth, the space around us was no longer conducive to the circulation of sound. It was quite like being under water. Stubbornly, I raised my voice and yelled out as loudly as my physiology permitted. My words floated slowly but steadily, reaching my companions with a palpable delay.

“Not really, this is unusually bad, I had not seen this sort of thing……..” Dog paused and glanced at Peotr as if not sure whether he should continue “….. since Peotr’s arrival.”

“Does this mean anything?”

“Anguish I think, usually the weather phenomenon is a reflection of the one it carries with it …..” Mumbled Peotr under his breath, and even though I couldnt hear his voice, I heard him.

Thunder cut through like a giant slapping enormous palms together right on top of our heads. In a moment everything went quiet and all the wetness in the atmosphere seemed to have been pulled together to form a giant floating sphere of liquid. It hovered above our heads menacingly. I sat paralyzed with my head thrown back, watching it complete awe. The sphere floated off slightly to the north and suddenly, like a balloon pricked with a needle, it exploded. Its contents came crashing into the earth with a resounding boom. When the dust settled, I found my surroundings had gone back to completely normal, if you don’t count the newly formed lake just off to the right. It was lovely and still, its glossy surface bared no evidence its tumultuous creation. It resembled very much the lake I woke up next to just a few days earlier.

“Wow.” I exclaimed.

“Shhhhh.” Peotr put his hand to my mouth and whispered.

“Be quiet, it’s harder with men, they punch at their fears, it’s important we tread softly”

I undetstood. It made sense that while women maybe ran or screamed or swooned upon discovering themselves in a strange wilderness with an eerie child and a talking dog, men just started swinging. So there we were, sitting about forty feet away from the lake, in open sight, waiting. We didn’t have to wait long, within minutes we heard coughing and spitting, a figure of a man limned itself on the other side of the water, he was crawling out of the lake on all fours. When he had finally made it to dry land, he tried to get up, but his legs shook, giving in at the knees. He collapsed onto his side groaning.

“Oh, good, he seems very impaired, this is the best kind, you two already have something in common Charlie” snickered Peotr, getting up off the ground. I looked at Dog questioningly, as I had come to do whenever the child was dispensing information in his typically snide, cryptic fashion.

“It’s common amongst drinkers to arrive here significantly weakened.” offered Dog

“Alcohol is the only substance which can travel here in your blood “

Peotr began making his way around the giant puddle towards the man, who was still scattered on the ground, groaning. We followed. When we walked up to him, I expected a scene, a panic, screaming, maybe running, but to my surprise none of those things happened. He sat up, holding his head in his arms with his elbows perched into his knees, and surveyed us from under his brow. He seemed indifferent. Peotr extended the water flask to him. The man took it without a word and drank greedily until there was nothing left. When the man was done with the flask he let it drop to the ground. Peotr flinched and broke the silence.

“Oh come on, seriously, what happened to common courtesy, hand the flask back.”

The man stared at him for a second with tired bloodshot eyes, as if he couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of what was said, then picked up the flask and handed it over to the child.

“Sorry.”

There was another period of silence interrupted only by the scratching noises of Peotr trying vigorously to clean the sand off of his flask. I took the moment to examine the stranger. He was a man in his mid thirties, medium height, he had that strong stocky build which often lends itself as an advantage to shorter males, compensating for lack of stature. He had an open face with a pronounced jaw line. Half of him was covered in a thick layer of wet sand, the rest of him was just wet, still there was a boyish handsomeness to him. I was embarrassed to have noticed.

Having finally cleaned off his flask, Peotr broke the silence, evidently he was still quite irritated.

“No, you are not dead, yet…no this is not hell…blah blah blah”

The man continued to stare at us indifferently, oddly the expression on his face did not change much when Dog finally decided to interject.

“Stop, vermin, go sulk somewhere if you can’t do your duties properly.” Thusly scolded, Peotr glared at us, then turned around sharply and stomped away into the bushes, with all the conviction due a pouting child.”

The dog spoke to the man much as he had spoken to me earlier. Our guest started to come to, I caught him glancing over at me questioningly, as if looking for comfirmation that indeed there was a dog talking to him. I nodded lightly, realizing, that in a way I was the only thing there, that wasn’t somewhat absurd or unreal. He took in the information remarkably well. I thought it was commendable that he stayed so composed in the wake of such jarring news, but later I realized it was more of an indication of how down he was, rather than how adaptable. I always found sadness could be akin to madness, it seemed that he was a perfect example of a man so profoundly hurting, that he was capable of accepting everything and cared about nothing. Nothing could surprise him, impress him or bother him. Having made his introductory speech, Dog turned around and following in Peotr’s footsteps, disappearing into a bush. The stranger and I were left alone for the moment.

I sat down next to him.

“I don’t know what to say, that could be helpful” I exhaled…..”I dont know much about any of this, until now I thought this was all a hallucination, it still very well might be….”

He maintained silence. I got back up, reasoning that maybe he would benefit from a bit of quiet, but as I made a step away he stopped me.

“Last thing I remember was driving, I think I am dead?”

“I don’t know, the way Dog said it we are not dead, we are in between.”

Again silence.

“Last thing I remember was drinking a lot and taking some pills.” I shrugged. He said nothing.

“You wanted to die?” It wasn’t really a question, more of assertion, he said it with some relief it seemed.

“No, I can’t say that..but I think I almost did, by accident…I just wanted to forget. You wanted to die?”

“I do.” He said it in the present tense.

“Why?”

He shook his head like it didn’t matter, with resignation. His eyes turned up to me, they were a clear blue, almost translucent, tears were brimming on the edges of his eyelids, ready to overflow their confinement. I knew the answer. I could feel it. Grief.

Our companions had reemerged from the bushes and walked back over to us. Peotr tapped at the top of his right wrist with the fingers of his left hand, as if he had a watch there.

“We have to go” He said.

Unquestioningly, the man rose from the ground, and without bothering to shake the sand off, started walking behind the boy. His head hung low.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Aries.” He didn’t ask mine, so I volunteered.

“I am Charlie.”