Sunday, January 31, 2010

“It sometimes does not matter what you do in actual space. You just go on writing. I find that we exist in language and we exist on the city street, and that it is possible to believe you are doing one without knowing you are doing the other.
     When I say “we exist,” I mean to be making a statement about urban living, how it goes on without one’s full participation, how it insinuates itself in one’s sentences. While I had been long aware that I was city living, I had not yet grasped that I was city writing too.”

--Renee Gladman, To After That

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thursday night. Half-peeled moon. Don walked into the living room she’ll be home late. And in almost the same breath: want to smoke a little before bed? I nodded, followed him down the hall, into the bathroom. Along the bottom of the door, he placed a wet, rolled-up towel. Opened the window. With no room to turn or sit, we leaned against the back wall, shoulder to shoulder, almost touching but not. With the utmost care, he lit the joint, rolling it between his lips. No breeze. Sweat through our jeans. The frank scent of his body. 6’6 and thick—not fat—big. When he leaned over, ashed out the window, I backed away without knowing why. Knocking his elbow against the sill, he laughed; leaned closer and closer still: you make me nervous.

When the window slammed shut, we propped it open again with a jumbo roll of toilet paper. Don re-lit the joint, said you remind me of Susan except. It wasn’t that I disliked him. When he entered a room, I simply tensed; however, I could understand his appeal. You’re not like Anthony either, in that—. It didn’t matter what was said in-between, he ended with I understand.

The window slammed shut. Handing me the withered joint, Don said she’ll be home any minute. I took the last ashy hit then flushed it down the toilet. Already past midnight, I laid down on the brown couch, listened to Susan park her car, shuffle across the front porch, unlock the door. Without so much as a glance towards the couch, she headed to the bedroom. Through the walls: Don asked how was--? Their voices lowered. The whole house stilled. To sleep is to reach an abrupt ending, without looking back. But there was something inevitable about the sleep that followed smoking where rest was no longer a great and painful finite but the inevitable act of the body slowing like dust settling.

Catawba Falls: campsite 124. A sign nailed to a pine read many rare plants. Do not trample. Susan asked ready to unpack? Although the river was tame enough to swim, we boated. Don insisted on building a fire, sent Anthony trotting off into the woods for kindling. At the picnic table, Susan chopped an onion for chili. I boiled a pot of water on a Bunsen burner. Dinner dishes finished, Don laced his hiking boots be back in a minute. Susan opened her mouth then shut it again; dealt a game of conquian. When Don returned, he was not alone. Three boys, two girls. Site 136. The girl with braids lit a cigarette: he said you had a bon-fire. One by one, the boys hugged my shoulders, grabbed a beer from the cooler we’re from Cali-for-nia.

Gathered around the fire, we peeled tangerines, talked about the Grand Canyon. Don’s shadow stretched to the edge of the woods: you never? Astonished, he stared out at me aw honey. The girl in the leather vest stretched her arms wider and wider like this. The boys nodded in agreement. Four beers later, the girl in the leather vest detailed her first acid trip. Don laughed kitten, when I did—. She blinked in the moonlight what’s that? Before answering, he eyed Anthony: like acid but a little more intense. Don ploughed on: when I was with the Melon Group. One of the boys asked how much land? Pulling her hair into a ponytail, Susan said enough. The girl in the leather vest asked: were you wild in love? Susan flushed. As always Don remained ad libitum: monogamy is inherently a matter of mine. Everyone leaned closer. We believe in sharing. He lit another joint; eyes already threaded with blood: am I right or am I right? The boys shook their head yes. Susan nodded, almost mockingly at first, then, sincerely—continued to nod even after the others had stopped; her head bobbing above the smoke.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

At dusk Anthony called come watch the magnolias drop. Sprawled on the floor of his living room, we stared out at the trees, ordered take-in. Four chimichangas, a burrito the size of my head. With our mouths full of salt and grease, we talked about Anais Nin and Henry Miller. I loved Anais most of all because she had a husband on each coast. Two. Anthony said could never get past the abortion. I took a sip of water, folded a tostada wrapper into a triangle, smaller and smaller. Not that she had an abortion but how she wrote about it. When the song on the record ended, another one began; it was not the same song, but I could not tell the difference. Anthony handed me a cigarette, already lit: in the diaries like she was a goddess, something about a purity ritual. I exhaled towards the ceiling; box fan blowing it all back in my face. When I unfolded the tostada wrapper, fifteen tiny triangles. I said think it’s more complicated than that. Anthony rolled another cigarette, paper sticking to his fingertips: what do you mean? Interrupted himself again and again: she didn’t even tell him. I let the silence widen. Anthony ate the last of the burrito: that’s just like you. True, I simply lacked the energy to continue. I stretched out my legs, leaned over, into him. That nothing is anything but itself is almost enough.

There was little Anthony could do to truly annoy me. My loyalty to him was simple: we were occasional lovers. The first night I slept at his apartment, we ate sunflower seeds in bed. He said promise you won’t be creeped if I play my nature sounds CD. I need it to sleep. We listened to Weeping Willow #3. I knew if he turned the light off, I was going to be touched. His eagerness startled. I realized then that he hadn’t touched a naked girl in months; that I could be any naked body belonging to any naked girl, and he would remain this eager, relieved me. When I fucked him, or anyone, is was as if my body emptied itself out. I was not attracted to Anthony, but I knew that what you did with someone superseded Who They Are.