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Blow Me Down

28 Dec

threadsI am a succulent in the botany of love. I thrive in isolation and neglect, and I wither beneath an over-abundance of life-sustaining hydration. Please, let me dry out alone here in the sun, but do pass by on occasion with a drizzle of sentimental connection. I will soak up each molecule and enter my most blissful state, that of the sometimes forgotten lover.

Were you at a bar we once frequented, “running into” my dearest friend, who happens to be a very cool DJ who sets a very cool scene? I’m glad I was able to make you look good in front of your sister and your friend from Hong Kong. Would I love to meet these characters I’ve heard so much about? Yes. But I know, I see. You travel at the frayed edges of our fabric, gleaning the occasional tassel of affectionate reverie and then moving on.

Tell me you want to play records for me, discuss plans and drink scotch. Remind me that you owe me ice cream for my birthday, and pretend you will actually appear anywhere near that date with an offer that we get same. I crave each droplet, basking in the very specific comfort of dejection and closing my petals against better offers.

You, you give me just enough sustenance to carry me through months that I know I will endure alone.

You are just like my father. So triple cool and busy and knowledgeable. So brilliant and witty. And showing just a shard, a tiny shattered glimmer of sweetheart every now and then. Dangling this enveloping comfort as a possible outcome so that I chase it like a hummingbird sipping for a tiny drop of nectar.

When last we listened to records together, you tugged at my arm and pulled me down from sitting to repose with you. Your eyes were filled with tears when we heard notes from early Chicago soul. I fell, and I am still falling. So when you promise records again now, I think of the painting on your wall of two faceless people snuggled together in an armchair, the lady’s arm dangling languidly over the needle on the record.

It is a form of intimacy we both crave, but we are astrids in sand, and our spines fold at the prospect of too much constancy. We never had it, we tried to manufacture it, we rejected it, and in so doing built an exoskeleton of spiny scaffolding around our hearts. Nothing will crack us, not even our lingering tendency to reach for one another when the sand becomes too dry.

You will disappear when the work week resumes, and I will pretend to flourish, ignoring the watershed of interest I receive from other cultivators wishing to pull a harvest from this broken garden.

Hashtag sigh.

Muscle Shoals

10 Oct


“Can’t have, now want.” It’s a simple principle, my friend said, and frankly a tragedy that it would be exhibited by such a person to whom I’d elevated to such heights. But there you have it.

It happened again this week. Every Thursday the latest Aloof Engineer has a pang for me. This time it was triggered by his having read my latest Letter from the Editor, which, oddly enough, I also reread the same day at various desks around an office I was visiting on a site visit. (I’m so famous in my tiny pond that I see my words on the fresh new issue of my magazine on desks everywhere I go. In my tiny pond.)

Anyway, I was polite, deferential, glad to be of use (Prufrock), but I responded to his shallow, sudden invite with an “I’m so busy” of my own.

Now I lie here, head encased in raging pain, as usual, huge career change afoot, trip to Providence planned for tomorrow, and “Free Bird” in my head. The latter is truly odd. But I can’t stop thinking “Can’t have, now want.”

But remember, each action has an equal and opposite reaction. Last Saturday night I went out on a date with the Aloof Art Director, a character so ancient, only some Bunky readers will know him. Foolishly (and all Bunky readers will know that I’m most foolish when it comes to mistaken affection), I thought we set a new pattern of earnestness on that evening, and hoped we would soon be seeing each other again. I mean, at least within a week. Boy, was I wrong.

Have now, don’t want.

While men throw themselves in front of buses to ensure that they won’t have to spend two consecutive evenings with me, every time I was taken out to dinner by a colleague this week, I was offered new work left and right. Meanwhile, because these guys occupy so little time or attention in my head(ache) lately, I’m on track to finish a novel revision before December.

So, hey, universe, I get it. No one man will want me until I like myself for the work I’m doing. No wonder my head hurts.

‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now
And this bird you cannot change

Bleeding Hearts

3 May


The turbulence began high in the sky, twelve stories up, under plastic tents raised against potential precipitatory calamity. Sun shone with roundness, lifting all on the rooftop and softly tracing the stubble on his cheeks in a halo of romantic hero glow. His eyes glowed blue even in silhouette, and his squint measured the trajectory of our new interaction.

“Have you been to the New School?”

“Actually, I was just there the other day for my first-ever piano lesson.”

Eyes actually twinkled. Verifiably.

“The new building?”

We compared addresses, no, I was in the old building. The new building, which he had just finished taming acoustically, was what he was talking about. “The roof,” he said, maybe four times, gesturing out over the balcony and pointing into the open air beyond, “the roof,” shaking his head, “the roof has grass on it.” And then smiling, incredulous relief.

Oh, yes, a green roof, I thought. And it’s probably not grass, but more likely a variety of native plants. But I’ll give him grass for now, let him think he has brought me something wondrous and new. My mind flipped through images of green roofs I’d visited in San Francisco and Amsterdam… but I nodded.

“That’s what I thought when I got outside here with you, they’re missing the grass.”

It was a hilariously, amazingly, and oh so rarely clumsy move by Mr. Romantic Hero. My eyes slid away from the calamity and found the balcony suddenly quite interesting to contemplate. A pause while he regained his composure.

We haven’t seen each other since the winter, and we both speak of significant others now. Before that though, I ask about his daughter, and he surprises me with some really heart-wrenching facts, which he’s apparently handling the same way I’m dealing with my mother’s decline. Startled by the irony of our own lack of acceptance, our inability to really let a reality move into our minds.

Boom, significant other talk, and the mood lightens. No need to fear that I am going to pounce, Mr. Romantic Hero. You may reveal more without fear. And I, well, I always impress more when taken.

Sunlight, I hope, echoed his blue eyes in my own, and I saw him distracted possibly by that detail while I spoke. I am your equal and your twin, and we both know everyone in this room. They all come to us while we have this little solitude of conversation at the fringe.

You are someone I admire from across the room. When I arrived this afternoon, I acknowledged some closed nodes and saw a flicker of dapper on the horizon. Ah, perfectly chiseled jaw and cheek bones, cutely anachronistic haircut, eyes and freckles that belie wisdom. I know you! I break the conversation I’m in and say I need to go see your name, your name that sounds unusual.

“You’re going to see a what?” asks my cohort.

I depart without much more explanation and opened to this conversation where you are now asking me about my trip to Scotland and telling me there are highlands named for your ancient family. You were heathens, apparently, plunderers. And you laugh in your trim sport coat and advanced-collar shirt.

We sip prosecco.

Felt so close the moment we met but resistant all the same, you didn’t even know that I’d moved back to New York. Well, let’s tour the New School next week, before you go to Abu Dhabi. You repeatedly sprinkle into the conversation this exotic place name as if it might impress me. I’ve heard you say it before numerous times, and I know you travel for work.

But tonight, tonight you’re telling me that I’m the rockstar, I’m the celebrity that is always going somewhere, where am I going next. You so admire me, from afar, but we’ve worked blocks apart for seven months. Well, hello. We look exactly like the cover of a Nora Roberts novel. Not too turgid, all propriety, but underneath, a sizzling passion… to be understood.

Sun shines and prosecco pours, I look at my watch, you use your phone to plan my route to the ballet, where I must meet my amazing significant other, who is of course so enamored of me, he would wither if I was even a minute late.

It’s all fabrication and false edifice. Please think I am strong enough so you don’t have to support my needs. Find me intriguing enough to talk to me more as you do tonight, about feminism and strength. I’m more honest with you tonight, but I still shellac every comment with a dare to you, to find me exceptional.

Let’s go to the New School next week. See “the grass” on the roof. Let’s tumble down upon it together in Classic Romantic Hero fashion. Let’s have a minor conflict of availability versus protective walls. Then let’s both admit we’ve always been destined for each other when our respective stand-in lovers fall away to allow the blue eyes to meet endlessly in sunlight.

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