Wednesday, September 23, 2009

gonna party like its...

It is my birthday and I’m five shots deep into my shift. I walked in an hour late after spending the day with her, the only one I wanted to spend the day with. We were at a bar in between my house and my job and I drank five bloody marys trying to calm my nerves. She bought the first few rounds and I bought the last because even though it was my birthday I didnt want to burden her. She also brought me a pear crisp she’d made and put a candle in it and quickly sang the happy birthday song while the candle flame bent and flickered in the wind. I closed my eyes and wished love upon me and opened them and blew the flame out and looked up at her, her face surrounded by the clear autumn azure, and said thank you and smiled and meant every bit of it. When it was time for me to leave and head to work we both sighed and hugged and parted ways and I watched as she walked into the distance but she didn’t look back.

By the fifth shot my boss is clocking me from the side of her eye and she pulls me to the back and says she is leaving but will return, and when she does I can quit my shift and sit on the other side because by then I wouldn’t be able to get any work done anyway. She was right and I agreed and just then someone points at me and says, “come on, lets get you a shot,” and I tell her I have to leave and walk back to the bar. It is another regular, they are all regulars, and he knows my poison is whiskey. We raise our glasses to my old age and swallow them down. This happens repeatedly all night.

A girl I’ve had my eye on is with her friend and I decide to ignore her because who wants the trouble. She orders a few glasses of wine and I pour them with barely any words. When she says happy birthday I smile and say thank you. The music is loud and I’m screaming at customers while pouring beer from the taps. The football game is on and there is a crowd around the tv and every now and again you hear cheers and groans and the fans above blow my tips all over the place. The girl asks for her tab and I give it to her. Before she leaves she hands me her number and says, “you should call me some time jon.” I say I will and I really will but right then I’m too drunk to say anything more clever.

The night wears on and there is more cake and more candles and more flames bending and more wax dripping and more shots more shots more shots. The boss comes back and I get on the other side and people are slapping me on the back as if I won something. The home team is winning and all the devils advocates are cursing at the flat screen. It isn’t a wash out, even worse, a last second field goal that seals the game. I wonder what shes doing then —her— and who she exchanged text with while we drank our bloody marys. I push it from my mind and tell someone to buy me another shot. Afterward I go out for a cigarette and strike up conversation with another girl. Drunk but fluid I flirt with subtlety. She bites and I leave before it can go any further.

Towards the end of the evening the redhead comes in and she is carrying another tray but she doesn’t have candles and a sheet of foil covers it. I ignore her too, delaying the trouble until later. A few more friends buy me shots and by this stage the whiskey is swimming in my blood. Just like her and just like my history and just like the words that make up my history. Stumbling, I slur my good byes and I go outside and the redhead is standing there with the tray of mystery and I hail us a cab because at that point what else am I to do. In the back seat on the way home she tells me the girl I flirted with outside is interested in me and wants more of me. I laugh and say well then maybe she can have it there aint much of me left anyway. It is a spectacular weekend night and I hope I remember it in the morning.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

an epic meltdown averted

I notice shes gone about three hours into the day. I realize I haven’t seen her in a while. Since last night. Since I went to work.

I call her name in a sing songy voice. Sophie. I listen to the apartment; to the stillness of it. All I hear is Miles tearing at the couch and traffic coming in from outside. I call her name again. I kiss the air a few times. I make promises to her in a language she doesn’t understand, hoping the tone of my voice will convince her to emerge. I kiss the air a few more times and call her name again. Nothing.

I take a deep breath and try to think back to when I last saw her. She was in the kitchen. No- she was in the bedroom. She was sitting under a table on a bag she has made her bed. She was hiding from miles. He always tries to bully her.

I check her hiding places. I check under the bed. On the side of the bed. Behind the couch. In the bathtub. Beneath the kitchen table. There aren’t many places she can hide. I check all over again, even turning on the lights to get a better look. She is nowhere.

I take another deep breath and I can feel the verge rising in me. The panic approaching like a black wind. I put on my slippers and go out into the hallway. I walk up and down the stairs and call her name in a high-pitched tone I hope is comforting. It is quiet and cold and the silence is attached to all the walls and the stairs and the railing. I go down the stairs to the front door and I open it and go outside and call out into the city her name a few times. I check behind the trashcans and in the stairwell that goes to the basement door. I call her name again, this time in vain. Another chill of fear rushes through me. I try to steel myself but I can feel pieces of me falling apart.

I cant have lost her. I just cant have.

I go back upstairs and the hope in me is fleeting but still there. A faint confidence brushes my heart as I ascend the steps. She always greets me at the door. She hears me coming and races to the hallway then when I open up she runs to the nearest platform and stretches, waiting for me to rub her head and neck. Her tail jutting up and puffed out in excitement. I open the door and it is just Miles. He tries to scamper past me into the hallway and I block him with my foot, calling her name again, this time with despair.

No way I lost her. No fucking way.

The dismay grows inside. I check all her hiding places one more time. I try to calm myself. I go to the fridge and grab a beer. I sit at my computer and think again of the last time I saw her. Then I hear it.


I jump up and begin calling her name. This time stopping at every corner and taking in the silence, trying to hear the scratching again. Where did it come from? I ask miles and he stares at me with the dumb look cats have when you talk directly to them. I listen again for the scratching. I listen for a mew. I'm afraid to move in case the sound I make covers it. The creaking of the floor boards. The shuffle of my feet. I hear it again.

Its coming from the bedroom.

I race in and lift the comforter and move the bed and look all around. Nothing. I pull back a door and open a closet. There she is.

She races out, angry with me. I don’t know how long she’s been locked in there. I try to pick her up and love her and she eludes me. I let her go. I breathe a sigh of relief. I found her. I fucking found her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

second person

You sit down and you rub your hands on your jeans and imagine the grime wearing into the denim with each hard sweep from your sweaty palm. It reminds you to do the laundry. It makes you wonder why you're nervous all the time. You look down at your pants and worry if you're a dirty person. Not disgusting dirty, just a little foul around the edges. You think maybe you are and perhaps it is how you always will be. Perhaps this is the deal and there is nothing that will change your hand. You meditate on this fate. You sit with it. There is no changing what cant be changed, it’s as simple as that. This doesn’t comfort you but it’s as far as you can think on the subject.

You light up a cigarette and take a sip of your beer. It is another in a series of beers you have had this evening. You had a few before class while you read and flirted with a girl online. These made you yawn all through lecture and you remarked to yourself to take it easy the following week. After class you went to a rock club where you couldn't hear anything and had a few more beers with a friend while standing outside the crowd and leaning on the bar. Then you had a beer while eating jalapeño poppers at a steak shop in the lower east side, where you whined to your friend about heartache and rejection and he nodded and wore a half grin and you wondered if he was taking mood stabilizers. Then you came home and opened up another beer. And saw as the bottles piled up on the kitchen table.

You sit at the computer and you check your email just to see if maybe… You meander on the internet for a few minutes. Searching for something but you don’t know what. You open up a word document then go back to browsing and hope something inspires you. Nothing does. The television is off. The fan is on. You roll another cigarette. You take another sip from your beer. The keyboard gleams with residue from your oily pores.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

a very short trip to the island and back

we took the ferry yesterday, to staten island and back. id never been on it before and she wanted to take me. she thought it would be a fun outing. something different than we normally do. i agreed because it did sound sort of fun and i wanted to be agreeable. i didnt want to be difficult. but i would have been just as happy even if we sat at a bar and traded rounds like we usually do. i simply wanted to spend time with her.

we met at a church near wall street and walked to the ferry from there. she had just come from work and still wore her heels and her black skirt. i was slightly late because the train was running local instead of express but when i apologized she just shrugged it off and said it was fine. i had sort of hoped she would be a little angry with me but then again i was glad she wasnt annoyed. we walked the long way around battery park and i made jokes and told short stories to her and she smiled and nodded and sometimes giggled. we both lit up a cigarette and in between drags we were mostly silent, save to point at someone and wonder what their story was.

at the ferry terminal hundreds stood waiting to be herded onto the boat. she would look back at me and ask if i was excited and i would say yes and it would be the truth. the doors opened and we all shuffled in at once. there were plenty of open seats but we decided on a spot outside on the back deck. i set my bag down and she went to get beers and i looked out over the hudson towards the city and the boroughs and the bridges that connected them all. i checked the time and sighed and willed the nerves away. tourist stood all around taking pictures of the skyline and each other in front of the skyline wearing smiles and sunglasses. i tried to stand in the corner and not get in their way.

she came back with two cans of beer and we said cheers and took our first sips. the wind was picking up and the water was dark and choppy with thin white caps streaking everywhere. she pointed to the statue of liberty and to ellis island and we both remarked how the big lady looked small up close and wondered aloud what it was like inside her flame.

i took quick swigs and hoped the beer would dull me some. she stared out over the water and i stared at her. the scar beneath her eye and her small, even lips. her chin and the way her bangs swept across her forehead. her thin neck above the collar of her shirt. she looked up at me and asked what i was thinking.

nothing, i said.

you never tell me anything anymore, she said back.

we docked at staten island and everyone merged from the ship. her and i sat on the pier overlooking water and smoking cigarettes alone. we talked about the weather. about friends we had that neither of us knew. people in our lives outside of our life. the life we have together. i tried to be charming without seeming like it. i avoided topics that involved how i felt for her. she didnt mention how she felt for me either but i dont know if she was avoiding it or if there was just nothing for her to say.

after a few cigarettes we decided to get on the ferry going back. it was her decision even though she had said to me, "you decide when we go back, this is more your trip than mine." but i couldnt make up my mind. i just wanted to stay wherever we were and talk with her about nothing. i didnt care how long we were there. finally she said she had to pee and that is how the decision was made.

on the way back we stood on the front deck and the wind whipped through her hair and her clothes flapped behind her and i silently admired the way she leaned into it. we had another can of beer and i grew anxious the closer we got to the city. i took long deep swigs from my beer can and she took reasonable sips, keeping pace with me. the gust grew vicious on the deck and the water rolled and crashed in small white waves behind and in front of us. she buttoned her sweater and her small frame swayed from the water and the wind and i watched her curves pushing against the blasting breeze of the hudson currents.

im going to blow away, she said.

no you wont, i said, i wont let you.

and there i wanted to hold her but i didnt dare. i took another swig from my beer and she took another sip of hers. the boat reached the ferry terminal and we walked off with everyone else. one big crowd moving slowly towards the city.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

jouvert again

labor day weekend is a special event in certain parts of brooklyn. mostly in the areas with the highest concentration of caribbean folks. in the other areas its just another three day weekend, another reason to hang with friends and drink more and barbecue. but for those from the west indies its an explosive celebration filled with ritual and tradition. they start to party at 4am on sunday night and dont stop until 4am on monday night. its a wild, passionate affair that fills the streets with music, food, drink and people. bodies heaving against each other, drunk and sweaty and charged with emotion. the air is suffused with sex and anger and and joy and violence. an unruly release of a million sentiments.

for the first few years i lived here i only witnessed the parade that goes down eastern parkway on monday, i was unaware of the event that preceded it that night before. jouvert. the traditional celebration of the west indies. from what i understand, the jouvert in trinidad rivals that of carnival in brazil. a massive outpouring of jubilation that spills into the street and doesnt stop until its over, not even for death. but the jouvert in brooklyn is nothing to sneeze at either. that too, doesnt stop until it is over and that too, doesnt stop for death.

this is the first year ive been in the thick of things for labor day weekend. as ive explained in previous post, my neighborhood is very caribbean, and i can see the warning looks in my neighbors eyes that alert me to the party which will occur.

i tried to escape but couldnt do it this weekend. so i will experience first hand how labor day goes down in crown heights. it is quiet now, people are resting up. but its like being at the calm eye in the middle of a storm. you know later on the place will detonate.

i guess we'll just have to see.

Friday, September 04, 2009

yet again

i thought i was done with this.

yet here i sit fretting over a girl i can not have, fretting over a girl i do not want, fretting over the girl that will never be in my life again.

im prone to heartache and im comfortable with that. logic and reason prevent me from drastic measures. shame and vanity prevent me from humiliating myself. and it always ends, everything ends, its just the long stretches of misery before then that get hard to handle.

i try not to think of her but cant help but let her consume me. i try not to think of her but cant help but know shes thinking of me. i try not to think of her but she haunts me and she always will.

these girls. these women. they run my life, and have since i was born, shoved from their vagina and covered in their blood. the communion between love and hurt, and how one makes the other more special and how the two will never be apart. how loss always lurks around the corner and how beneath the joy lie evils waiting. jealousy. betrayal. greed and untold truths.

there is nothing romantic about heartbreak. i thought once that there was but now i realize its just another agony one experiences as they grow older. like the shock of loss or the dread of rejection. some experience it more than others, but this doesnt make them any more special or wise, it only means they are better looking or have more charm, and have more opportunities of sorrow to contend with.

writing about heartache isnt something i really like to do. it seems trite and typical, the mundane whining of a man with two many words in him. but im in such a strange place i have no other outlet from which to relieve this dull gloom. love and affection and friendship and dependence have grown into an unbearable discord within me. communication gets me no where, i will feel what i feel and i am trying to accept these fates given.

this is the life i have created for myself, this is the road ive gone down. i cant even make this post any longer for fear it'll get lost in ramblings of minor anguish. trivial woes and unearned hardship. i can only end it with a period and hope the next time i write its a little bit better.
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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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