Friday, August 31, 2007

September Days

September comes around again, and with it the knowledge of what was happening a year ago at this time, and a year before that. I measure my life in cycles, annual ones, monthly ones…this time it’s a second degree detachment, my remembrance of the disillusionment I experienced 350 some-odd days ago. How things change.

September of 2006 found me humming the Modern Skirts’ “September Days” with a furrowed brow. The words circulated through my head like so:
“September days are the nicest days of the year
Everything changes and green turns to brown in your eyes
Anticipating anxiety and disbelief
September days are the greatest days of the year
...I'll be painting the windows of your hotel
Aaaahhh” followed by a bouncy piano sequence reminiscent of cabaret music.
And so on.

Back then I was measuring. I was craning my neck 180 degrees to the left and seeing how I had felt the previous Fall when “all this” had begun. By “all this” of course I meant the relationship that was disintegrating around me at the time. That’s all the “this” my brain had room for. I was looking backward and remembering how wonderful it had all been when it started, the twelfth of September witnessing our first kiss in the wee hours of the morning on a dark couch in his living room, the way I seemed almost to swirl bodily in the progressively cooling air I was so swept off my feet. We giggled and stared into each other’s eyes. The leaves fell and everything was bathed in violently beautiful colors and he was violently beautiful to me, and I felt violently beautiful, too. I remember surveying my ungainly happiness with a kind of suspicion, the knowledge that something’s gotta give, that this joyful nonsense wasn’t the stuff real life was made of. The time between last September and the one before watched as we loved and grew annoyed, squabbled, laughed, made passive-aggressive comments, cooked together, traveled abroad, drank, read, watched movies, sang songs a major third apart, frowned at textbooks, frowned at friends, frowned at ourselves, rocketed toward an eventuality that seemed only to include us. Late summer was hot and we forced affection, napping in the muggy daze that had become our togetherness. His bed felt too warm all the time, the room trapping all our restless heat inside until we stewed in it. And still I clawed at him, wrapped my fingers around his arm and dug my nails in. The year has him stamped, scribbled, painted all over it. They are Siamese twins, the year and him. All the things, pieces of myself I acquired during that time, are pieces of him whether he ever knew it or not.

As September approached, the heat and the humming overpowered me, and I recognized more than anything that my feet were a little too firmly planted on the ground. I was swept away by nothing, and these did not feel like the greatest days of the year.

September melted into October. The days finally cooled slightly, but I wore short sleeves the night it ended. I got in my car and drove away, the days of wailing at him concluded, only to give way to days of wailing on my own. And that was it.

September begins tomorrow, and with it comes “anticipating anxiety and disbelief,” but not disillusionment. The song never speaks of whether the anticipation is ever fulfilled. I think not. Anticipation at such a level can never truly be lived-up to—at least not in my schema-driven universe. When I look back one year ago, I shake my head almost imperceptibly with downcast eyes. The only similarity it poses with two years ago is that yet again I felt like flying. Only this time, it was with the disappointment that flowed from me with such force I thought I might lift off from the ground and disappear forever.

Maybe this year i'll be painting the windows of my own hotel.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Study On Love Songs, #1

Pink Bullets by The Shins

I was just bony hands as cold as a winter pole
You held a warm stone out new flowing blood to hold
Oh what a contrast you were
To the brutes in the halls
My timid young fingers held a decent animal.

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short but the days were long.

Cool of a temperate breeze from dark skies to wet grass
We fell in a field it seems now a thousand summers passed
When our kite lines first crossed
We tied them into knots
And to finally fly apart
We had to cut them off.

Since then it's been a book you read in reverse
So you understand less as the pages turn
Or a movie so crass
And awkardly cast
That even I could be the star.

I don't look back as much as a rule
And all this way before murder was cool
But your memory is here and I'd like it to stay
Warm light on a winter day.

Over the ramparts you tossed
The scent of your skin and some foreign flowers
Tied to a brick
Sweet as a song
The years have been short but the days go slowly by
Two loose kites falling from the sky
Drawn to the ground and an end to flight.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A Study on Phobias and New Residences

It’s early. I imagine things crawling around the edges of my room, their tiny legs whispers of the thoughts that crawl through my mind. I am waiting here. I toss and turn, become a caterpillar of sheets and blankets, linens that hold in my heat. I boil. Become a burrito, the likes of which my sister was when she hopped through the house in a sleeping bag 15 years ago. The things I have done…they come back now, their images forever immortalized in full-color, sepia, black and white. I am haunted by them, as I am tormented by these creatures that scurry. Their trajectories criss-cross my memory and make me up. I am ample and untapped, teeming with stories and emotion.

This marks the first time I’ve woken up well before I had to and gave up my attempts to return to sleep. If insomnia is to plague me in years to come, I have two things to say about it. First, I am thankful that there are years to come. Second, I hope that things will pour out of my fingers during this time. Ink will drip, words will jumble and re-string themselves in thoughtful and brilliant patterns, and I will finally look at something I’ve produced and smile.

The birds hop and peck, arranged in hopelessly random patterns, but patterns that when viewed from above seem to take shape in predictable form. They are unknowingly creating the fabric of life, existence driven by instinct, by the haphazard, but also by some thought, some glimmer in someone’s eye, some harsh and cruel happiness unfathomable and insecure and mysterious, that reveals, if only one small piece at a time, the next step to take, the next place to flap our wings and fly.

Furious and defeated. Birthday overshadowed by battles with various arthropods. We stand, incapacited, clutching our water glasses and broms nad economics textbooks, our instruments of battle, our weapons against these voiceless and utterly creepy assailants. We, two college-educated adults, terrified and dismayed by something that cannot hurt us, does not want to hurt us, and has stumbled accidentally into our world. By mistake. Well, the mistake is ours. We are the unfortunate ones, even if it is the one that meets its demise. (this last is probably untrue.) We break our moral objections to hurting other living things, to toxifying our environment. Our peace is degredated. Chaos begets chaos. The piles of miscellaneous items haphazardly strewn abou seem to bred mystery...and things that crawl.

I wonder about these walls, what they’ve witnessed. The door frame shows telltale signs of having been kicked in, once up on a time. The wooden pieces are broken diagonally, the seam painted over unconvincingly. The walls bear so many small holes where dozens of pieces of personality have adorned the place.

This is some weird headspace. I watch the bug, of which I am so afraid, struggle in the plastic, cylindrical, airtight prison we’ve given it. And then the strangest thing happens. I feel sorry for it. There is no way out. We’ve ensured its suffering and bestowed upon our household an aura of death and dying.

I lock my door with satisfaction and step out into the stifling haze and blinding light of Atlanta summer. I've run around this neighborhood now, the anonymity of only peers evaporated as I leave the College Town permanently behind. The old man on his front porch rocking chair waved as I worked my way slowly past. Here, there is pen on my sheets and coffee on my breath. The mail man, when approached, talks for too long, hungry for human contact on his lonely rounds. The crepe myrtles burst with ugly pink and white blossoms, littering the pavement-ready street with derelict beauty-infused petals.
Now I stand at a computer at my new job. My head bends over my receipts and I click the end of my pen in fruststration. It's so dark here.My shoulders droop in the familiar uniform, everything so similar but so different. The faces smile blandly bewildered at my sudden appearance, my built-in knowledge, my strange position of pseudo-power. They ask me what I studied in school, what a five-letter word for "fancy feather" is, but now who I am or what I'm doing this weekend. I leave the cavernous, dark store with a pocket full of five-dollar bills, a bag of food and a hollow feeling in my stomach that isn't hunger.

They smile at one another, acknowledging some strand of wit, some comment against the establishment that has passed between them. No one finds it strange that neither of them fits easily into a social category, or even into a predictable sexual orientation. They are accepted, their peculiarities a badge of honor. Without the others, they would be shunned perhaps. Why, then, must they necessarily posess the same peculiarities as everyone else does? What value does a blonde streak and a dirty t-shirt lend to a person? A piercing? No one is any more qualified than another to proudly declare themself the outskirts of society. Still...there are many forms of beauty. And I find that this batch of people, with all their mild hypocricies, infinitely more capable of appreciating more of them.