Saturday, April 12, 2014

Shine Guys

Had kind of a surreal night----there's no one here to talk to so I'm going to gibber at the box.
The mural party was great. In a life of social media posts and stories that come and go one after another, like calendar pages flaking away sped up (like in a movie where the director couldn't think of any better way to show time passing).... it's nice to be a part of something you feel like has a chance to last a few years.

Socially I felt like an alien, but I am an alien, so I'm used to it.

As I was leaving a mostly stranger said, "I knew you when you were young," which was weird, since I've only lived in Norfolk for five years, and we hadn't met before that. "No, I know," he said. "But you were young and hopeful then. Now you're beaten down like the rest of us."

1. Going from 29 to 35 are probably the years most people go from looking *young* to non-young. So that's fine. Being stripped of our youth is a horrible affliction we've all got to deal with.
2. But it's true though! At some point along the way I did leave a hunk of hope at the door. I can see the last 5 years on my face, too. They're not the lines of a fight I lost, but some points of impact never fade. Scars that mirror knuckle creases. I'm listening to Lana Del Rey in my headphones--she's right though: we are born to die. We're born with a will to survive and a drive to procreate, yah; but are those Truths? The only universal truth of life is death. No matter the drugs, money, sex, children, legacy, all paths lead to forever, and we're not taking these bodies with us. Some of that hunk of hope left at the door, maybe, is the hope of eternity. If not for everything, why anything?

I was supposed to have a date after but I got stood up. Which was weird. She'd sent me all these texts the day before about how even though we'd only hung out once she adored me. Her mom said I was the kind of guy she should be with. All those sweet and lovely selfies where it felt like she was looking right at me and only me---I've been missing that. So what the fuck, right. I've had that happen a handful of times recently. A woman will reach out, tell me she's stoked to hang out, and then bag out when the time comes. What could it mean, what could it mean. Bah, anyhow. I don't expect love these days. Maybe that's what the guy saw in me at the mural party. Maybe that's part of what being an adult is all about----------the potential for love's not at the next lunch table; it's not in the eyes of the next cute girl who smiles at the bar; it's simply a potential less palpable as you get older, like being able to feel on your skin it's not going to rain that day.

I went by Bob's to check out that mural. So many colors, shadows that look like you could climb on them, purposefully disorienting, insanity falling from the sky in color bricks. I got to talking to a guy outside the tattoo parlor who seemed pretty fucked up. He was telling me how Norfolk doesn't want mom and pop shops or local culture---that the City sets the rules up that way. Well, fuck, right. At least there's a little body electric on Bob's now. atleast.

I stopped by Cure to wait for official word that I'd been stood up. The guy next to me at the bar knew who I was. "I've had a lot I've wanted to talk to you about," he said, and then to the barista, "this guy, whatever he wants, on me." He didn't want to talk about Norfolk or writing or any issues. He wanted to talk about me. "You're a shine guy. Shine guys need people's eyes on them," he said, counting one with his finger. "They need money," he said, two. "Or they need pussy. You seem like you've got two out of three. I hope you do, on the last one. You can't tell me you don't like the eyes on you when you walk in a room. I know there's some ego there, but you're a shine guy. You're special."  I tried to explain to him that I don't like the eyes---and while there's some ego there and I can guess what it looks like, it's the other side of it for me. I feel like I have to prove myself every day, multiple times a day. I always need to re-earn the love. Self-love is that rabbit the dogs are chasing---a rabbit rigged to always be just out of reach.

"Nah," he said. "Then there's something wrong there. You're a shine guy. You shouldn't feel that way." And then he got it in his head that what I needed was to get into a fight. With him. Right then, in his backyard around the corner. "It'll be good for you. You need it. Trust me."

"I'm not going to fight you."
"Fight me."
"I'm not going to fight you."
"You can have the first shot."
"The first two shots."
"I do believe your intentions are actually pretty good in this fucked up proposition, but I'm not going to fight you."
"Yes you are," he said. "Fight me."

The place was closing. He promised me he wouldn't try to fight me and we went around the corner to sit in his backyard. "I'm kicking my wife out of the house tonight," he said. "That's her car." He was Saran-wrap over the world drunk by then. I probably was getting there too. He was a rich guy---after talking for an hour, now he started talking about Norfolk and working together. "You're not where you're meant to be," he said, meaning what I'm doing with my life. "You can't be happy."
"I just hope the ship is pointed in the right direction," I said.
"Bullshit," he said. "You're a shine guy. We need to figure this out for you."

A light on the second floor flickered on. I motioned towards it.
"Your wife's awake."
He nodded.
"You got anything to drink in there," I asked.
"Nothing she knows about."

We talked about drinking, jealousy (pity the man his wife's been talking to if he ever has to face this guy, FUCK), the 4-way nature of forgiveness (both have to forgive the other and the self), and what a motherfucker it is to process the fact that the woman that you love has loved other men just as much. I asked him if he wanted to make it work with his wife.

"It's too late."
"That wasn't my question---do you want it to work?"
"Then it isn't too late," I said. "What are the first three things she's say she needs you to change to make it work."
"Drinking and women."
"Can you give them up?"

Except he wouldn't know himself without them. Except all of his hope is at the door. Except the road to nothing may as well be lined with liquor and women if that's where it's headed. Except there's no one here to gibber at except this box, with Lana Del Rey taking Jesus off the dashboard, and an entire day ahead of me, wide open, my face a year younger for the knuckles that didn't hit me last night.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Women I Have Loved

Somewhere in the shared space of memories and dreams. 


When I met K she was in New York to audition for American ballet companies. I've never made out with a stranger in a bar like that before or since. We fell in love that night, we fell in love again at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the next week, we fell in love again every time we saw each other. When I hear this song I remember us---we'd be holding hands as we walked and we'd come across a bench and I'd squeeze her hand and she would jump on top of it, dance the length, and then float back down next to me, still in step. It incited the most lovely smiles from strangers. We didn't know it, but her ballet career was already over. K is forever dancing around the frame of Washington Square Park in my mind.

H was like a firefly, except the whole world was the jar she was captured in. I'm serious though: you couldn't develop film with H in the room---I'm surprised people didn't ask me to put her away when we went to the movies together, she had that kind of brightness. I was going away to South Africa for 4 months. We both knew I loved it there. We both knew K was there. But we were also crazy in love; if we had ever had children, H+J could have provided the reaction necessary for our kids' active volcano science fair projects. We were in the parking lot at the airport, not ready to go in. I sang her this song and then she put me on the plane. 

A was dancing by herself at The Beauty Bar in San Diego. She had some great line, something like, "I think you're cute but I don't dance with boys." They had a row of those chairs where women sit under those clear domes, waiting for their hair to curl or dry or who knows what. We exchanged MySpace information--a fact I ask both reader and writer to ignore at this moment in the name of romance. I might have looked at A's pictures once a day for a year. Women like A are why so much of humanity's great art is meant to represent the female spirit and form. It was a damn tough year for me; for moments, looking at A's pictures, she was hope as distinct as a hard candy on my tongue. She came to my sister's wedding but it was just after my dad died and I didn't realize how far I had to go and I shouldn't have been dragging any woman through the mine field of my space (I know), no less a woman as sweet and lovable as A. She made me a mixtape. This is the song from it I play on repeat when I'm trying to write somewhere between my mind and whatever's on the other side of it. 

4. Teasing the Koi at the Pagoda. Camping in Charlottesville turned into couch surfing turned into sleeping on the floor of an empty house with the back door unlocked. S took me to this church in the country where the people were passing out in the name of Jesus. "Drunk with the spirit" was the way she put it, though I had a feeling a few of the true believers were proper drunk too. S and I dreamed about what it would be like to run an orphanage together. She went away on a mission trip and called me one day, possibly malaria high, and broke it off because I didn't share her faith in the way she wanted from a partner. Love falls from grace. Love resurrects. S's dream now is to live at the 24/7 prayer chapel they broadcast online from somewhere in the Midwest. Her beautiful brown eyes closed, long eye lashes curved like dancers, palms stretched toward a camera she feels--no, knows--is a portal to God.

L is too fresh. Wilco will have to be enough.