Tuesday, March 30, 2010

another one of them

the name of her wont come to me right now and i suppose, when i think of it, that this is fitting. i knew her when i went to catholic school in second grade. we all had to wear uniforms that the school sold us. the boys wore light blue shirts with navy blue pants and they came folded and wrapped in plastic. the girls wore pleated plaid skirts and the same light blue shirts as we did. there was an insignia on the breast pocket and i would finger it absentmindedly while thinking of the things you think of at age seven. toys on a saturday out of earshot of my grandparents. sugar cereals getting soggy in sugar milk. weeds growing up from cracks in the sidewalk. all the etc's of innocence and youth.

i noticed her one afternoon as we all filed in line to go back into class after recess. she had light brown skin and straight hair pulled back in a pony tail that revealed a face sweeter than all the sugar cereals in a summer of saturdays. she had legs that struck up from her socks like long sticks of cinnamon. and arms that were smooth and thin and seemed to absorb all the sunlight. at least thats how i remember her, but some memories are like melodies you cant place but just run through your head. this is how the past becomes legend. how legend becomes myth.

i spoke to her. trying to flirt before i knew what flirting was. i made jokes and poked fun of how she pulled her socks so far up. i smiled at her a lot and tried to get her to smile back. at recess i would lurk around her and her friend and make a fool of myself in attempts to get her to laugh. id get crushed under her reactions. when she wouldnt look id get disappointed. when she would laugh id feel the day worth every breath.

i began to walk her home, it was only slightly out of my way. her towering apartment building only a few blocks from the curvy brick street i lived down. i would dance around her nervously, like a curious dragonfly around the foliage of a lake. she would smirk and watch me dance and with her large eyes follow me slyly. i never stopped moving or speaking for fear that in the space between she would realize who she was with and ask herself why she was with them. we never held hands and we never hugged, we never let our skin touch. i just tried to make her laugh and she smiled and giggled and said very little back.

on a day that followed a snow storm, when the streets were a light blanket of snow, i walked her home again. it had been a few weeks and we had fallen into the habit. she would sometimes even wait for me after school, but i was rarely late to the exit gates and usually stood there waiting for her. where she lived was a straight walk down the street the led from the schools entrance. if you stood in the right place at the right time you could see her towers cast its looming shadow towards the playground.

that day, midway to her house, i realized i had forgotten my backpack on a bench. i asked her to go back with me but she refused, saying her parents wanted her home right after school and if she was late even a little she would get into trouble. i didnt ask her twice because i didnt want her to refuse me again. it was cold and evening was approaching fast so i just said goodbye and ran back alone.

i got to the corner across the street from the entrance and looked both ways before i crossed. i dont know how i missed it, perhaps i wasnt thinking. perhaps i was looking as a routine but not really paying attention to what i looked at. my mind swam in the colors of her. all i could think of was the following day after school and walking her home and making her smile. even the sound of tires screeching on the pavement didnt pull me from my trance. even the car horn blaring was a distant alarm never meant for me.

i didnt feel it hit me but i remember flying through the air and the grey sky above me whooshing by in a dreary blur. i remember lying there crying and i remember a woman looking over me and she looked like she was crying too, which made me cry even harder. i dont remember the pain but i remember not wanting to move. the commotion of concern. the screams for an ambulance.

i was in the hospital overnight as the doctors ran test. they said i had a few bad bruises and a couple minor fractures but that i was a strong kid and would be ok. they said i should be more careful. they said i was lucky.

the day after i returned from the hospital i stayed home from school again. i didnt want to but my grandmother thought it was best. one of the kids from my class brought me a card all the kids had made telling me to get better and wishing me the best. i searched for her name to see what she had written but it must not have been much, because i cant remember if she even signed the card now.

when i got back to school some kids made a fuss but most didnt. children are self absorbed creatures that dont know the meaning of worry until they have experienced significant loss. we were too young to have such unfortunate wisdom in us yet. she was distant but i pretended not to notice. after school i lurked behind but didnt wait at the gates. i could see as she met another guy and as he began walking her in the direction of her home. i could see as he danced around her and as she followed him slyly with her eyes. i could see his backpack was loose and he kept shrugging it up onto his shoulders.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

close call

i woke up today unsettled. not for any particular reason, at least not one thats front and center on my mind, but unsettled nonetheless. there was something wrong, some invisible defect to the day. i was groggy and i made my coffee and i let the feeling linger and spread in me, hoping it would reveal some origin that i could then untangle. but it didnt.

so i sat at the computer and my eyes were half open and i checked my email and said hi to people online. the sensation was still in me, like a slow acting poison, but i tried to ignore it, hoping it would pass. i made as if the day was just as pleasant as it appeared. the sky clear and blue and cloudless. the sun charming the streets with a delicate warm. i sipped my coffee. i smoked a cigarette. the feeling stayed. i wondered why.

in an attempt to produce something of the day i decided to do some homework. my head was still filled in the hanging smoke of long nights past. i sipped more coffee. i wondered what was wrong. i searched for my backpack.

i searched for my backpack.

i searched for my backpack.

i couldnt find it.

the feeling inside began to gel, to coagulate into something real, something you could touch. i let the panic lurk in the deeper distances of me. my backpack had to be somewhere. i look under the couch. under the bed. in closets. everywhere i know it isnt. my house is not that large. you can not hide many things in my house.

i couldnt find it. i sat and let my mind go over the recent history of my week. i was here with it i was there with it i walked everywhere with it i felt it on my shoulders still. i rarely go anywhere without it. where could it be?

i call a friend maybe i left it at their house. i know i didnt but i still call. then i think more. harder. slowly and more deliberately.

the bar. i was at a bar. i was drinking tall pints of high alcohol content beer that came in strange shaped glasses that make it seem as if youre a scientist celebrating a great discovery. i had a few shots of whiskey and i put it all on my credit card. i was smiling and my nerves were faint shadows on the day. i felt good. i had my backpack on the floor. i had my elbows on the bar. i had another shot before i left. i tipped the bartender well. i always do.

its been two days since. i hadnt wore my backpack yesterday because i didnt plan on doing work and i wanted to hear the sounds of the city, the buzz of the subway, the din of traffic, so i didnt wear my ipod.

it must be at the bar. it has to be.

i call them. no answer. i call again. no answer.

i do chores around the house and the poison is spreading in me. a slow acting virus climbing up towards my throat. i call the bar again. no answer. i never lose my backpack. ever. its part of me. it holds everything i hold. physically and metaphysically. it holds my hopes and my hopes are on the sheets of paper that are in my backpack. what am i without my hopes.

i try the bar again. someone answers.

"hi, i think i left a backpack there on tuesday nigh-"

"what color is it?"

"its dark black and gray, its a swiss army backp-"

"yeah, we got it. its here. its safe."

"thank you god. thank you god."

for that, i drink a beer. i sigh a sigh i will remember for years to come.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


it is the kind of day that begs you to be outside. the windows are open and and the shades pulled up. clothes are thinner and layers have been shed. an almost unfamiliar happiness begins to ripen with in us. people stroll slowly down the avenue and stare into the trees. searching for the promise of spring; the comfort of bloom. but nothing is growing yet. not yet. its coming though.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

bad posture

I am sitting on a red chair that I inherited from an old friend. It is a cramped little thing of delicate aesthetic that used to swivel but swivels no more. It hurts my back after I sit in it for long. But I sit in it for hours, so I guess I'm asking for it. I keep saying I should get a new one. It’s on my list. An ergonomic one with a tall back that reclines and has nice soft, thick cushion layer on top a sturdy back support. But I never do, for a variety of reasons.

I get up to stretch and go to the store across the street. As I reach the corner a young couple kisses good-bye and she smiles up at him and you can see that all her heart is in that smile and the beat of traffic seems to stop between their eyes. For a moment I'm overwhelmed and hypnotized by it. Then she begins to walk away from him still looking back and his hand lingers on her arm for a breath. They part and he looks forward into the street and she looks down at the ground, still smiling, walking ahead.

I walk into the store and there are a few men talking with one another, packed in the front while an older woman stands thinly behind in one of the aisles. The men are all wearing heavy dark coats, unfooled by the balmy day. The woman is in tight pants and a small top with a light jacket that doesn’t reach her waist. She is shy and frail and I think probably looks older than she really is. The skin on her face hangs unevenly. One of the men interrupts what he’s saying to usher me forward in line. He is not ready to purchase just yet, he is still conversing. I buy a beer and a pack of cigarettes. The man who let me forward in line is asking his friend why, if he didn’t have any weed, he is buying all that candy. The friend is muttering and the man is asking what? As I leave I nod at the man and he nods back and then I glance at the woman and she stares hollowly.

I am sitting on my chair and my friend is talking to me about the situations that surround us. I am drinking my beer and smoking a cigarette and mostly listening to him. He has this idea that the universe has a history of bad patterns, as if the veins of reality were filled with gloom. He is telling me that everything is meant to be defective. It’s never going to work out in the end. That only a very select few of us are every really happy, and the rest of us just suffer through a series of painful trials in hopes to maybe have a brief spell of enlightenment before we die. I told him he was in a bad mood and I stubbed out my cigarette, then i shifted in my seat a little because my back began to ache.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

one of them

i was young and at a nightclub in san francisco. it was a meat market and i didnt really belong there. it wasnt the sort of club i was fond of going to at that time. i was more into clubs where the music was the focal element, and the sex was just a consequence of things. at this club the sex was front and center, everyone had the same agenda. the music was just there for distraction.

i was standing at the bar and unconsciously sipping on a long island ice tea when i noticed her dancing there. she was in a black dress and her hair was up and her eyes were ice blue and her mouth was full and round. she had a piercing, a hoop in her bottom lip. she was dancing with her side facing me and her hips rhythmically thrusting forward and her eyes on my eyes and her bottom lip between her teeth. i stared back at her. when i left i had her phone number and she had mine.

a few days later i called in sick to work. i dont remember why, i guess i was just feeling under the weather that day. i hadnt talked to her —her name was sarah— and in a way i didnt plan to. she was gorgeous, out of my league. i was lucky to have even met her. i took it as an accomplishment that i even got her number, and filed it away for bragging rights. i never wanted to sully the experience. but she called. right there in the middle of the afternoon on a day that i happened to call in sick to work. it was like kismet. i was immediately smitten.

we began to hang out fairly regularly, which was maybe once or twice a week. we spoke on the phone every day. she lived across the bridge with her mother. i lived with roomates in the city. when we could manage it, she would come over and we would watch rented movies while drinking vodka cranberries. i would kiss her on the couch in between laughs. when we were both drunk enough i would fumble through nervous sex. i always tried my best, but im not sure i ever satisfied her.

she began talking about an old boyfriend from new york. his name would just pop up in the conversation more and more. she had partied fairly heavily with him, he was a drug dealer of sorts, and had seemed quite taken by his rebellious courage. i had partied a lot, and was quite proud of my battle wounds, but she said he took partying to another level. one i didnt even know. you wouldnt even want to know, she said.

i was a dj and was sometimes writing for a music magazine but it didnt seem very impressive to either of us. i hardly djed and wasnt very good at the time, and i never got paid for my writing. i was always broke. i would always fumble.

i had a friend who was a music producer and dj himself. he seemed nice and shy and introverted and we got along well enough. one day the three of us went to a concert. she drove. her and i had gone through a little spat, where i had gotten insecure for a bit and tried to ignore her to get attention, but she gave in and that night we all were in good spirits. i dont remember the show, who was playing or how well they played, i just drank my nerves away and toyed with her hands.

when she drove us home she dropped me off first. i was hurt and disappointed that she didnt want to come upstairs with me, but tried to play it off as if it didnt matter and said good bye smiling. the next day i called her but her mother said she wasnt home. i called my friend but he didnt answer the phone. the poison of jealousy infected me. i walked near his house looking for her car. i knew something was up. i didnt see her car so went home and called them both again. there was no answer on either end. my head was racing. i sat and stood and sat and buried my face in my palms and then sighed. i call her again and she didnt answer. there was a hollow fear and sadness inside me. it was growing dark. i called him once more and he finally picked up. i asked him if she was there. he said yes.

they both said they felt bad but i called her a whore and i scolded him for being a foul friend. me and her stopped speaking. me and him stayed friends for a little while but i never rid myself of the poison and it was never the same. eventually we stopped speaking too. he turned out to be a disagreeable person and there was a bitterness inside me that i could never let go of. cest la vie.

i only say this because a broken heart remains. it never goes away. and i hadnt posted in a long time.
Creative Commons License
:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.