As I re-engage back into life.... and here I have to stop and think with some irony-- still life?.... I decide to come off all of my anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. The decision to do this is instinctive. I don't know why, but it is a personal experiment. I think that the real anxiety has been other people. It has been Dean with his unbalancing affect on me, his erratic moods that have constantly set me in a state of instability. You see, I see now that I have always been better on my own. I don't need anybody and never have. I am me, I am mine, I define, I belong to me, and I am fine. This decision is personal and I choose not to discuss this with my doctor. I want to see if I am right. I think I trust myself better than anyone, it is when I have depended on others that I have always been mislead.
It has been unusually warm in Detroit the last few days. Yesterday it was so beautiful with the trees and the leaves and Autumn in full bloom. It was unscheduled, but I got a call from Zack-- he asks me to call him Zack.... he asks me to meet him for an extra sitting. He says, “on location for a personal piece.”
Right now there are stacks of boxes in the apartment. On one side of the interior I have organized all of Dean's belongings. I have his boxes stacked neatly. I am being methodical in exacting what is mine and his. I give him most things because I think I want to have only things that are not attached to my life with him. I give him the every day dishes we have used, I give him the silverware. I keep only the things that I came into this life with him with. It is like how I have removed all my jewelry. I removed my wedding ring, the chains around my neck, I wear no earrings since the last tests I had to do at the medical facility. The bareness is part of the shedding. Like the medications I have chosen to stop using. The need to reach the core of me. To be unafraid of being naked. To be just me. Only me. Bare and essential.
My passions are often best expressed through my writing as it allows me to reach my inner vortex.... thus long suppressed. Yet now it leaves me scratching my head, lost and fallen down a rabbit hole, knowing there was a wormhole that was awakened from its long dormant state and was finally revealed. And devoured. Yet I tread carefully because I was afraid. I should have been more cautious. You know in my life, I don't remember ever being openly challenged by anyone. Before. No one ever really saw me. Or bothered to.
I see it was better to remain in shadow. I don't think the real me is meant to be exposed. Which is why I keep my words mixed up with tools of literary metaphors. My codes. My shields. My best friends. I think my message may or may not be understood. It could be by chance the way I fell upon Bronte's words at just the right moment. Sometimes the most powerful influences that change the world are so subtle that they are almost invisible. I work my best undercover. I like my anonymity. It is my true power. Why? Because it has no motive. I think people mistrust a powerful force, they believe this force is trying to control them. They believe even the most benign of positive energies have ulterior motives. I have no motives. I think sometimes I am only on this mission as some kind of duty of humanity that I feel intrinsically within. I want no satisfaction from this. I try only to touch people and leave them better, but they seem to always …. suck me dry in the end.
So as I am aware that Zack may have an interest in me more than for the muse that I provide for his work, I have no choice but to stay closed. Because it is not even a choice. It is not even a decision to protect myself. It is that I have come away from life at this point more wise. Or world weary? Well, at this point, shouldn't that be?
I arrive at Zack's studio on this crisp beautiful day. It is sixty degrees outside in late October! So unheard of in Detroit. I don't know what his personal project involves, but when I go inside to his shop I hear him call from upstairs,
“I'll be right down, we're going for a drive....”
In the past, I would be curious. Right now I am like stone. Yet light enough to blow with the wind. But the air is still today.
I walk around his shop. I look at his paintings. The ones leaning up on walls, I flip through, because I have caught glimpses by now of all the others. I am impressed with his depth of color and tone, studies of layered hues and depth, his awareness of light. I am drawn to the sensitivity of his eye. I feel strangely touched by his work. It reaches some place inside me. That place that has been recently harmed. It is like some kind of soothing balm to look at his art. And I go from one stack to another, pulled and drawn. Drawn.
It is awhile before I see he is standing in the doorway watching me. I wonder how long he has been standing there. Only, had it been anyone else, I'd have jumped. Because Dean was always doing that. He was always spying on me. Looming like a skulking presence.
I notice that when Zack watches me it is with the observation of an artist. He is waiting to see something candid revealed. Not to plunder though. He only wants to capture it and internalize it before he gives it back. He gives it back. He does not seem to take.
But they always start out that way, don't they? In the end, everyone takes.
He is standing there in shadow watching me. He wears his jeans and worn out boots. He wears a denim button down shirt left open over a burgundy henley. He has broad shoulders but he is boney so his clothes fall in drapes that becomes his frame. He is tall and I can tell by the ease that he walks that he is well muscled. I don't know his age. He has one of those ageless appearances. Like those people who have found peace within themselves and move through life with accepting grace.
Yes, I am aware that he is good looking. But, you see, I am so raw. I can only note this with detachment. I don't really care. If I wasn't so fresh from a gun-shot state, I know I would have liked him. But artists have always been my weakness. Their illusions wrap me up.
“Why don't you pick one?” he asks me.
I don't at first get his meaning. But his head gestures towards the stack I am looking through.
“you said you're moving. I'll give you one as a house warming gift. Pick one.”
I smile and move away from the stack I had been flipping through. I turn my back to him,
“I.... couldn't. I know what you sell these for....”
He walks up behind me and takes out the last one I had been studying. The one I had been studying the longest. The colors are deep, ranging in alizerin crimson and yellow ochre. The textures are so warm. He pulls this one out and sets it on the counter,
“I'll wrap it up when we get back. It would have been the one I would have picked out for you.”
I start to walk to the door and feel myself burning with some kind of awkward embarrassment,
“you don't have to.... I feel bad taking it--” and quickly I change conversation, “where are we going?”
“Autumn,” he answers as if this is an answer. His hand reaches above me to get the door, he holds it open.
I love men who hold open doors.
I step outside. It is a crisp day. The sun is so warm and the air has the slightest chill. We walk out to where our cars are parked and he leads me to his pickup. He opens the passenger side first and holds it open for me to get in.
I don't even care where we are going. I think anywhere is better than standing still. Lately, all I want to do is keep moving. I hate standing still. A part of me wishes that I could run and never stop running. As if I could escape.... but what I seek to escape is inside. Deep inside. And it chases me.
As he drives he explains,
“this woman I have befriended since I have been in Detroit.... she an odd old lady. I'll tell you some other time how we met, but-- she has this farm. It's right around here. She just grows vegetables and she has chickens which she only uses for eggs. Anyway, she's visiting her sister in the U.P. She asked me to watch her place. She has cats. So we're going over there right now so I can fill up their bowls with water and food. But there is another reason....”
The odd thing about the Detroit metro area is how fast you end up on a dirt road. How you can go from the grit of graffiti straight into deer country in a matter of minutes. As we drive I listen to him talk and I watch the beauty of foliage that is so amazing about his part of the U.S. Autumn in full bloom. So to speak.
This reminds me,
“what do you mean Autumn?” I ask.
He looks blankly at me from the windshield, I see he is also caught in the colors. I watch how the light and shading outside leaves impressions on his wavy hair. I never noticed how shiny his hair is and how the light hits the waves. His hair is a warm brown, thick and alive, like his skin. He has that healthy look of someone who spends a lot of time outside.
“When I asked where we're going you said 'Autumn'” I remind him.
He smiles widely as he makes a turn,
Off a main street, hidden behind some trees is a tiny house that sits on a nice plot of land. There are trees everywhere. The gravel we walk on makes me stumble, so I slow my pace behind him and watch him walk up to the house. I watch him walk. He walks like a hiker. And suddenly I remember that part of me. How much I miss my hikes through wood and country.
I watch him feed the cats and change their water and then he holds the kitchen, back door open for me and gestures.
Once outside he says,
“when I saw the weather report I knew we had to do this. This may be the last chance we have before the cold starts to come in with the leaves this perfect. It's warm enough and no one is around here. It's completely deserted.”
The ground is carpeted with fallen leaves. We crunch as we walk. The sound of cars have dissappered. You can hear the chickens only. But even they are faint.
“Are you cold?” he asks now.
I am familiar with this question. I sense his meaning. I realize he has been holding a digital Nikon camera all this time. He is looking at the shaded tree with long limbs and the very thick trunk. The amazing textures of the trunk.
I take a deep breath and say what I realize he means,
“do you mind? It's private property. And it's for me, I'm not going to use this for the contract. It's for my gallery pieces. I realized that I have to capture your colors. And the lighting is great today. This is probably the last day to do this.”
I don't know why it should make a difference. Out of context, out of doors.... I can't help it. I hesitate.
“Or we don't have to....” he says. “We can just sit here and enjoy the day. I brought a bottle of wine in the truck.”
I think the reason I don't want to is because I know that I can like him.
And I don't want to.
But we are here now. I feel bad. If I say no, I will have disappointed him. But I don't want to. And now I feel a brick weight in my stomach. Is it guilt? Or fear?
I throw myself down on the ground to sit. I do this because my knees are shaking. And it is so nice here. It makes me think of it being a good place to write in my journal.
“I'll be right back.”
I hear him walk away.
So why do I think of Bran now?
I feel my eyes fill with tears. Why does it still hurt? I thought we got past the pain. Didn't we? We covered it up. We cut it out. He means nothing to me. I think I even hate him now. I hate him for making me love him. I hate him and his memory. I hate myself for still longing for him. For longing for his voice, his thoughts. I hate how much my sex still craves him deep inside me. How much I still long for his penis. How the very thought of orgasming again would kill me. Because it is his sex that I want inside me.
I know that I will hear Zack return, so I let the tears come. I cry as I sit there longing for Bran. My inner vortex, the worm hole that he awoke from a long deathlike sleep. I long to be Ophelia now.
So when I hear the sound of gravel approach I guard up. Smear away the tears and put on my facial shield. I hear him sit down next to me but I don't look. Can't trust myself. I hide behind my hair. The sound of a cork being pulled and then popped, then the pouring of its contents. He hands me a ceramic mug. It looks handmade. It is celestial blue with silver stars. His is green and gold. We drink silently.
“Are you OK?” he asks me.
I don't look at him. I just reach my empty cup for him to fill.
And he fills it.
I drink most of it.
“do you want to tell me about him?”
“I'm a good listener,” he says.
I shake my head.
“I'm sure that where ever he is right now he can't escape memories of you because you are all colors of Autumn. You have the warmest brown eyes I've ever seen and your hair reminds me of a red maple. That's why I wanted to do a study out here.”
I think it is this that makes me change my mind. Or the second cup of wine. I finish all of it. I feel the heat from it. I get up and undress.
I am drunk under a warm, autumn sky with the bright sun over my head. I am numb. So numb. It may be the alcohol. But no, I think it is my heart. I don't care. I don't care about anything. And I like it that way. I don't ever want to care about anything ever again.
He puts dried leaves all over my body. He places them between my legs, at my sex. He stretches out my arms and turns me like I am a doll. His hand runs down my arm and leg and he says,
“I love how pale your skin is. The contrast of such bold color against that whiteness....”
But I don't care. I am down that wormhole. Devoured.