Sunday, August 30, 2009

In case of 2007: Mid-July

Danny to me in the video store: “Why not get this one?”

I paused, biting my lip.

Danny, YOU could be biting my lip right now, I thought. Let’s go. Let’s tuck ourselves into a closet somewhere and you can kiss me as hard as you want.

But maybe it was something in the neon blue lights or the DVD he was holding. He just raised his eyebrows and waved the movie in my face.

“I don’t want to.” I said. “That one’s lame.”

“It’s funny.”

“Who wants funny?” Yes, I said it. Sarcastic and mean, just like that. But, you know, don’t get me wrong. I was in favor of funniness. I’m a funny girl. Danny was just not getting it.

He sighed and put the boring movie down.

The point was: we were young. Do you know how often you get to be young? We were young and on that particular night, we looked amazing. My hair was down, brushing my shoulders. Danny’s collar was open and I could just see his collarbone, curving beneath his skin. But it wasn’t just about making out, either.

I just wanted Danny to realize that we were young. That it was a night in July and there were crickets chirping out there in the darkness.

He was standing there, holding a romantic comedy, and probably not thinking about it. He was probably thinking about popcorn, probably about work in the morning, and, yes, probably about sex – but only in that brief, idiotic way men typically do.

He shoved his glasses up the bridge of his nose. I adored those glasses. They were part of his charm.

Somewhere, someplace, there once were two young people. And they went to the beach on a July night and wrestled in the sand. She rubbed sand in his face and when they tried to kiss they knocked their heads together. And the next morning she woke up with her hair in knots and her shoes soaked in seawater. And then he wrote it or she wrote it or they told a friend of theirs who wrote it. And that’s where Danny’s lame movie came from.

Danny wanted to watch something someone else had lived. And while it might make us feel good for a while, really, it would just get lost in translation. Because probably they didn’t even really knock their heads together when they kissed, but the person who wrote it decided that nobody would believe it if they didn’t knock their heads together. Because the truth would actually seem less realistic than the cute quirkiness of people who can’t kiss right. Good kissing is so done. The time has come for bad kissing and knotted hair and shoes that smell of the sea.

To Danny, it didn’t matter what had happened to these people. It only mattered what the writer wrote and what the two beautiful actors did. To Danny, that was all there was.

And he just stood there, lanky, glasses glinting in the fluorescents. For God’s sake, I know why he wanted that movie! Because he was only halfway on the beach, had only one foot in the closet, only one arm draped (very loosely) around my shoulders.

I wanted to know if Danny and I would ever knock heads. I wanted to do something that would make a good movie later.

But, at the end of the night, Danny and I watched his lame DVD. And, five years later, I wrote something I just made up.

And Danny and his tall blonde wife thought it was great.

Friday, August 21, 2009

In case of 2007: June

I guess we’re never promised anything. Not even this: the chatter of strangers and the silent bumper car collisions of their spirits. I’m writing a paper, ironically, about the function of religion. The airport is perfect for it, seemingly so ordinary – women staving off old age with too-red lipstick, little girls in Barbie shoes, heavy bags slung over shoulders.

This is the church of travel, the sanctuary of transition, and the harried flight attendant is our priestess. This businessman takes communion in his coffee.

I wonder how many souls are as deeply entrenched in living as I. How many are as determined to consciously breathe and to know the flickering red-yellow-green-go­ of passing moments? Oh, Creator of the air in which we’re prepared to trespass, send a tremor through space. Send turbulence or déjà vu. Send words to accompany my expansive ache.

This, then, is the function of religion: to explain the boy who wears socks with sandals, the striped ties, the thick blood/glass eyes/brittle marrow of passing bodies, the answer to Eliot’s overwhelming question.

The answer (with as much precision as we’ll ever get this side of a downed 747).

I find myself in love with the most unlikely people.

Oh, painted toes, round glasses, braided hair, and rustling newspaper – know that steel and sky only imitate a deeper motion. Know that it is only love that holds you aloft. Know that we’re never promised anything.

Not even this.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In case of 2007: April and May

I get the feeling I’ll look back on this and either remember how and not why, or why, but not how.


Circumstantial evidence:

  1. I am wearing a pair of his socks.
  2. The movie is stopped somewhere in the middle.
  3. I have no idea if it’s rainy or sunny.
  4. The fridge is empty.
  5. My earrings have disappeared.
  6. My fingerprints. Everywhere.
  7. The corpse, still warm, in the middle of the living room floor.

Yep. I think there’s enough to convict me.


One line slashed down from his collarbone to his hips and ribs materialized around it. His frame bled and grew, budded into shoulders, deepened into almond colored skin. I watched with fascination as Eric blossomed beneath my gaze. He seemed to me to be a man of clay. Ash and bronze and pyrite.

The earth moved beneath me and beside me on the living room floor. He yawned once, curled himself around my body, and kissed the small of my back.

I ate Cheerios (witnessed his birth.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

In case of 2007: Early January

He hunches sideways in the chair, long backbone wedged at an awkward angle, arms folded gracefully over the left armrest. I watch; my eyes trace the angular lines of his body, making a mental sketch of this pose in crude slashes of black ink and red lipstick. I will remember him in this instant – the minute threads of tawny hair, the freckle constellations, the feathery eyelash shadows on his cheeks. No one else can have these details; these are visible only from the precise distance between my eyes and his.

From his glance, I realize my locket has fallen open. I snap it shut.

Deep breath.

Like bad actors, we’ve lost our place in this conversation. We fumble with our scripts. The audience grows restless. Coughing. Programs rustle.

“I’m growing a thorn bush,” I begin.

His lips twitch slightly, listening.

“I’m still mad, I mean. At Bobby. I’m mad that I’m not over him. I thought I was. But this thorn bush has been growing. I realized it.”

The eternal theater critics lean forward in their chairs.


“He made my sister cry,” I say, plowing ahead with my monologue. “She was visiting and they talked – they were friends, you know, before. I went to bed. She woke me later, crying. She’d just believed in us so much and had never really had a chance to grieve about it. It made me mad. Most of the time I’m like the Queen of Hearts, you know? Paint the roses red. But every now and then, just for the hell of it, I go over and – are those thorns? Shit!”

He smiles. I’m on a roll.

“I don’t know. At first I was mad because he didn’t hurt me worse. He could have been cruel. Maybe that would have made this easier. But even if he had been, I wouldn’t have believed him. I can’t make my heart believe him. Which means that I’m living in this thing that isn’t true. And that pisses me off.”

He absorbs this, then asks, “Do you think you’ll get back together?”

New territory.

I improvise, “Part of me thinks so. But another part of me tells that part to forget it. It won’t happen. I don’t know.”

“You told me that love sometimes dies.”

I look up at him quickly.

“I don’t believe that,” he reassures me. “But you do.”


Silence. I bask in the glow of his faith. He is suddenly so old to me. He is ancient and I am ancient. And we go on, walking, talking, our ancient hands clasped firmly together. The veil of the other life hangs paralyzingly close. The watchers hold their breath.

But my coffee cup is empty.

We are so young. I let it go. Sand through my hourglass.

A shining, beautiful grain of sand.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

In case of 2007

Today, while I was tidying up my room in anticipation of Jans coming tomorrow (!), I found an old spiral-bound notebook. As most of my notebooks like this one tend to become commonplace books – that is, full of everything from writing to doodles to class notes and phone numbers – I was intrigued to discover that this particular book contains a pretty accurate reading of my entire life from the year 2007.

2007 was an eventful year. It started with an incredible secret fling (as I was rebounding from my breakup with Bobby), moved from there into our mad and manic production of Flutter, took an unexpected twist in my romance with Eric, dipped low into a lovely, languid summer in the Pinery with Jes, then wrapped up with my last hectic semester of college at LAFSC in Hollywood.

Plus, add in there my sweet friendship with Jeremy McDaniel, visits from Tyger and Margie, a whole crammed month at Act One, and the perfect marriage I found in Kevin, Katherine, and Rian.

2007 was maybe the best year ever.

And so, for the next few entries, I’ll be posting some long lost essays and scrawlings I found in the 2007 notebook this morning. I know they won’t mean as much to anybody as they mean to me, but I thought you might like to come with me on this trip to the not-so-distant (but distant enough) past.