Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Women I Have Loved

Somewhere in the shared space of memories and dreams. 

1.

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.

2.
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. 

3.
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.

5.
L is too fresh. Wilco will have to be enough.