Days go by where I feel that I am OK. More than OK. Feel good again. And happy....
….And then.... I don't know what it is, but something is suddenly different. Something has altered --as if-- the lighting has changed subtly that it shifts my mood and perspective. It drifts across, wafting like an intangible, though tactile sense that traps me and clamps around my deepest self.
It is not that I fall back. Or that I even knowingly go back. Because, deliberately.... I boxed it all up. Literally and figuratively.
But.... something about him somehow enters my thoughts. And it isn't intentional, it is only some echo that feels to be calling me back. An echo that is returning from infinity from that wormhole. And it is like being pulled down into quicksand. It clings and sucks at me. It fucks with me. Sucked within seaweed, his voice and words that wrap around my head in a sleeping consciousness
almost like a scent.
Released from a box
that was meant to be forever sealed away.... and erased.
I was not OK before I knew him. I think I am more OK now than maybe I ever have been. I couldn't see the forest of my mind. Buried under the morass of interloping and heavy sea-logged weed. I was like drift wood or dead wood, sinking fast, swallowing and choking under the waves I had forgot to care or notice were crashing over me and pulling me down. I didn't even want to care anymore.... like that song by Nada Surf, that goes,
….You woke me from a long sleep/and I'm almost back/closer than ever to finding the hidden track/if I told you the truth/ You wouldn't like what I said/I almost believed I was dead....
I listen to that album on repeat for hours. How appropriate that it is called Let Go. It is my soundtrack. I don't move sitting on the wooden floor staring outside the window into darkness as I close this chapter of my life.
I am torn between guilt for leaving the shipwreck of my marriage.... like I am abandoning .... and feeling raw from how it was Bran who woke me up to see that my marriage was destroying me.... and then lured me to love him.
But I never wanted to hang on to some raft that would take me to shore. I always liked best those moments of inner calm when I was alone and just finding my own way. Like those times I have gone walking through woods, deep in solitude and stumbled over the inner, sacred grove.
And I was there until today. When he came to me. Like somehow he was physically with me and in the room ….and it hurt like a fresh open wound; I could feel the swell of my emotions rip me open from the inside. A jab leaping out from within like that creature in Alien. The Hole.
Encoded in dictionary form.
The apartment I am moving to is small. But the location is in the middle of a quaint, busy little village with independent shops and cafes. It is right by Jamie's school and next door to the library.
I stand here in between dimensions. Step out of one. In neither. I look in at either side and wonder if I should jump inside any or none or just stay here detached. In between. You know, I almost think I would be better off just staying here. Neither here nor there. Because I don't think I want to feel again. I would rather exist with only …. this sense or state of cerebral objectivity. This logical and very safe place of pragmatism, this place of disassociation. Not everyone is capable of becoming toughened with a thicker skin....
and for those of us.... maybe then the only adaptation to survive that exists requires ingenuity. To metamorphose into a new species or genus …. or something beyond organic.
But I have to get out of here. The capsized ship I have been tied to suffocates; an anchor that has been sinking me down. And now I have to throw everything overboard. Flotsam and jetsam. I want no more memories.
Like running from a house on fire.... and my hands cannot tie my boots up quick enough. But I don't know where I am going. I just need to leave this apartment with walls that have begun to echo like ghosts wails as I empty cupboards and closets and drag furniture to the dumpster. So at first I walk. But then turn back. I get into my car and drive. And then I find I have gone the way down Zack's road. And knowing before I get to where his studio is that.... this feels like a familiar old pattern of mine.
I shouldn't be doing this. Why am I here? I shouldn't be here.
So I just sit here hidden by hedges between his house and the one next to his. Only because it is somewhere to be. This is somewhere.... That isn't connected to what I am running from. Just an escape. A place, maybe, just to dive from.
It is now pitch dark. And creepy. But I need to be somewhere there are no ghosts where I can think. I think about Dean and that he is coming out of rehab soon. The sympathy I feel for him is far greater than the ability to forgive the fact that I could not go on trying to be his pillar. There is something missing in my intelligence to permit me ….anything. For me. Especially when I see how attempting to try this only causes me to appear cruel.
And I think of how giving into need, anyway, lead me to crash and burn over Bran. And just surviving.... does not fill the hours enough. Not when you are an artist with a soul that gets its inspiration from the pounding thrill of the highs of passion both poetic and physical.
I jump when I hear a loud tapping on the driver's side window next to me. It scares the shit out of me and I am nearly deaf by the pounding of my heart in my ears. It takes awhile to realize it is Zack leaning down to look inside the car at me through the window. When he sees I understand it's him, he grins at me that shit eating grin of his, the kind that causes grooves of his dimples to appear. He motions me to take down the window. I turn the ignition and press the window button down.
“What are you doing?” he asks me, almost laughing at me. Blue eyes penetrating me with the same intensity as he uses his gender.
I look away.
“I don't know. I had to get out of there. I was just driving around.” I look at him again.
He nods with a kind of satisfied triumph as he looks back at me,
“mmm-hmmm.... so you came here.... is that right?”
“I was....” but what was I ….?
“Uh-huh,” he says and he is now, obviously, smirking at me, not even trying to hide it. “So why don't you come in then? Or were you just planning to sit in there all night freezing your ass off?”
“I didn't really think about it. I guess I was just-- needing to run away.”
He reaches his hand inside and unlocks my door, pulling up the button. And then he opens the door from the inside with a kind of personal familiarity, as if he is digging his fingers into my sex.
“Come on,” he says,“let's go inside,” and he reaches across me to open the seat belt and pulls me, taking grip of my hand.
When we get inside he draws me into his kitchen and pours steaming hot water into a cup. He brews me tea and then pulls me to stand by the heat of the woodburning stove, and wraps his arms around me.
“You're freezing,” he tells me pulling me to lean up against him. And I wonder why it is that he is so warm in only a sweater and blue jeans and I am wearing a coat that he is now pulling tightly around me. He says into my ear, “did you come back for more, baby?” but he laughs when he says this, “how 'bout some body heat? Hmm?”
Is it the excuse to not have to examine thoughts? Because words often.... trip you up. They can be full of bullshit. All talk. No action. All talk and empty promises. Just such a lot of talk. Talk that goes no where.
“You're shaking,” he says against my ear, “tell me what's wrong.”
“We both know that's not true.... let's go up stairs, come on,” he takes the cup of tea from me in one hand and with his other, he takes mine and leads me up the stairs to his room that smells like cedar. “Here, have some tequila. It'll warm you up fast.” There is a bottle on his bureau and a glass. He fills it and hands it to me, holding it to my lips> He says in a deep whisper, “you have to drink it all down at once, OK—ready?”
In a few minutes the cold has gone away and the magic of tequila removes much else of concern which had been troubling my mind.
By now I have become well-acquainted with his bed. And in my state, there is no censorship to impede me from making myself familiar with the warmth of it. I reach for the tea he has put on his little table that is next to his bed and drink half of it. This is not the first time he has made me tea. I think he has mastered this art because I believe I prefer his to the way that I make it. I fall back onto his pillow and feel the room swim. There is now music playing. He shuts off the lamps and lights candles.
“You've been packing,” he says as he lifts my hand. My arm feels like a heavy weight of iron.
“How do you know?” I ask looking up at the ceiling where he has mapped the constellations in phosphorescent paint. And it occurs to me that I can feel the motion of the earth.
“Because your fingers are all cut up. I told you if you need a hand I would help you,” he says but he nudges me over and puts his arm around me, pulling me close next to him. “So what is it, what's on your mind?”
He is playing some weird music. But I like it. I don't know what it is.
“I have to tell you Zack....” I begin.
But I have forgotten what I had begun to say. Maybe it was important. But I don't know. Part of it is still there, but only vaguely. It is cottony and cloudy but I know I am close.... “the thing about being close to anyone is-- maybe it is an unnatural state, you know?”
He makes a sound, not exactly a laugh, but not quite a scoff as he examines my fingers and then says,
“but how can it be unnatural if two bodies can give each other so much pleasure, huh? Tell me that, Beth.”
“But that's not what I mean. I mean.... you know.... Mars and Venus, there is no way even if the survival of a species is.... ensured because-- you know-- look at how we've overpopulated this planet, right? Because—”
“People like to fuck,” he finishes my sentence.
But I'm pretty sure that was not what I was going to say. I mean-- don't think it was. Maybe vaguely. There was a deeper point I was reaching for. I realize I have lost the thread of it. I say,
“I think that tequila shot got to me because now I can't make sense of what I am trying to say.”
“That only means you need more,” he says and sits up and reaches toward the table. I hear liquid slosh into the glass. “Sit up,” he laughs because I only get half way up.
“Not right now you aren't,” he assures me and pulls me up, pressing the glass to me. “That's it....easy there.... here, I'll share it with you.... You know I was going to ask you something but maybe now isn't the right time 'cause you're not going to remember any of this.” He is laughing at me.
The way he laughs makes me laugh too. What is it about laughing that makes everything else feel better? The candle light gleams gold in his hair. And then I remember,
“I don't want to feel anything ever again, OK?”
He stares into me with a blue that is as warm as the Mediterranean. The kind that gives you gills and makes you a mermaid.
“Mmmm,” he says thoughtfully pealing away my coat and wool sweater. “I'm not going to try and change your mind and I'm not saying you have to but.... some things aren't so bad to feel, you know? So why don't we just start with that for now?”