Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Manhandling Animals

You weren't smoking a cigarette, but the smoke curled around your eyes even though we were in doors. The drums ticked in the background, the clarinet player wildly swinging and jerking his arms around in time. The jazz bar was filled but our friend--my friends-- and you, we sat in the back where old fans and African figurines dorned the walls. The couchs were soft, and I didn't know why, but your drawl kept me listening and my cheeks hot when your breath came too close to mine. The artwork crawling down your arms towards your wrists marked years of terrible ideas and memories you'd maybe rather forget, but you are not bashful. My leggings tucked into my leather boots, my hair tied back in taught bobby pins and you felt every word I said, even though I didn't and don't know why: all I know is it made me feel stripped clean of everything I was wearing and everything I had done. Like you had forgiven me before you ever even knew all the wrong choices I've made because you made the same ones, and often times, worse ones. Cigarettes and caffiene carefully calculate all the years you spent with pills and powders, but you wouldn't pretend you were anything different. You wouldn't make light of the fact either. The fact is it is only fact, and facts are everything, and nothing standing alone. It's only when you've finished talking and your smile fades a little and your crows feet give their squinting happy eyes a rest, that I see right into you, an observative and curious boy peeking through the layers of years all encrusted and mended on top of your blood cells. I can't help but forget much of what we talk about. But I know it is different, and not at once deeper. But you feel me just the same. I never knew I could be felt without someone taking hold of a submarine to reach my depths. My intensity just some old strings left to be plucked running the length of my neck and down to my legs. But you didn't pull on my strings, and for that, I am thankful. That night where we met too many odd strangers who kept your lap for their sitting, we decided to laugh for hours at the most serious movie, and keep the door closed when you slept for 30 minutes and I for none. You held me close and kissed me. Held me there for a moment like you hoped you were kissing through to my soul. Your nose at the back of my neck and your hand held mine close. But I'm no longer the one who needs bandaids and for all the things I don't notice, the fact that I'm alright isn't one of them. I'm doing so well that none of this could matter if it all disappeared tomorrow. But the thing is? They won't. This is the dusty old path that my shoes decided to kick themselves down and you were there, long before I noticed you, plugs in your ears and all. Who you are and what your business is, I may never know. But you are there nonetheless, all smiling and waiting to take your part. I wonder how your years match and outlive mine, by six, and by what standards? Does your age match your mind? Have the decisions you've made waisted your time, or do you like drinking and not eating? Are you the person who likes to make up excuses? Or are you just as down on this earth as I think you are? Honest and open and willing to let things go. Willing to let thing be as they are. Because they just: are.

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