A Different Kind of Embrace

“No you don’t.”

He really had to say I love you. It really couldn’t wait.

“I do, though,” he said.

“No. You don’t.” I tried not to laugh uneasily.

“I think that love is when you see someone’s shadow, and you don’t run” I said. “Maybe you’d even see something you never wanted to see. But you decide not to run.”

I can’t say if that’s how others have ever loved me. But that’s how I learned to love. A miracle of some kind. Because nobody in my lineage of relationship train wrecks ever taught me that. But it took too long to learn. My mind wandered to my true love. And what I knew made it true.

“Love is when you meet someone’s shadow, and forgive them for it. You distinguish it from yours, but you decide to embrace it too.”

Unless you don’t know how to do that. Then maybe you love and destroy. Maybe love gives rise to the very impulse to destroy. If you don’t know how to treat it. If you don’t know what you are doing.

Love is an action taken. Love is a decision. There’s no rushing it either. This is just an attraction, nothing more. It has no actual meaning. It is only the beginning of potential meaning. But potential is hollow.

I was looking for a different kind of embrace.

“Do you love me?” he asked.

“No.”

“Really? You don’t?”

“Not yet.” I tried to put it more gently. But I didn’t. And I wasn’t sure I could.

“I don’t know your shadow,” I said. “And you don’t know mine.”
















He got up to use the bathroom.

My eyes filled with tears as he exited the room.










All There Is To Remember

I took photographs of the long row of palm trees in the way off distance that we’d soon enough cross in the car.

The palm trees looked like fairy flowers, the kind you pick and blow wishes off when you’re a kid. Like dancers of all different heights, lined up in unison. Like the way your heart feels inside, when free of comparisons and worries.

I watched you as you talked, for the right moment to take a photograph.

The first lights of cars on the other side of the freeway began to flicker on. Dusk was not that near. Some must have been daylights auto-sensing impeding change, prematurely.

I focused on the line of your jaw. You looked handsome but I didn’t tell you. The landscape flat, the clouds thin, orange trees and wiry weeds to the sides.

I wanted to talk to you about music, but didn’t. I was tired of feeling stupid. I do it to myself, I guess I find others to confirm it.

Later, once we’d settled in to the cabin, once we were walking, the mood was about to shift.

I sensed the irritation when I lingered too long at the top of the hill. I love you, I thought. I’m sorry. I had to take more photographs.

I’ve never seen clouds like this in my life. It’s special, I’m sorry. My heart was sinking. I had to get the pictures. I tried to take them faster.

I recall the gorgeous picture of the palm tree in LA, the one you’d sent me in the very beginning, when we first met. Large imperfect leaves reaching into irregular directions that collectively balanced out into an odd symmetry.

Not a banal snapshot; it captured a wildness. It wasn’t about the tree – it was the way you had framed it in the shot. Your style of looking. You get it. You were speaking my exact language. I thought “this is my man.”

I don’t know if it was on purpose or an accident, the innate sense of choice. What’s called an eye. Or maybe not even that – maybe you just understood how to capture a feeling.

“Why can’t you catch the next flight, I’ll pay for it” in a smile I could hear over the phone.

I don’t know if that was the real you, or if this is.

We have different sides of ourselves. I guess I held the sides of you, that you’d rather disown. I held them along with the rest of you, with all of you, or I tried so hard to, but from your point of view, maybe, there was only one side to be on.

It just, wasn’t mine.

Artists are immature. Artists just need to grow up. It’s just, not very adult.

I didn’t understand.

It was all a mistake, a misunderstanding.

I focused the shot on your silhouette in the light. Beautiful.

Hurry up, I told myself.

Hurry.

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Freedom In Constraint

You have said something about them, you have tossed pennies into the fountain in far off fantasies in your mind after all they’ve done, you have gone to pick up your image in its water somewhere beyond sensible and wasted yourself incautiously dipping your hands into its greenish mud puddle feeling the mossy bottom and the stone underneath it, wasted yourself watching a kaleidoscope of colors swirl around your wrists, watching green diamonds and blue gems morph to purple and magenta on the water’s oily surface in the angles of sun around tanned arms and through reflective fingers, and you’ve fallen behind the others, picked up incomprehensible images from exotic pools to sink yourself into and create yourself from, not borrowed from your own origins as you should, not done what you’ve been called upon by those who brought you, instead you have pulled out a starfish inedible and invasive multicolored and textured and other vain nonfunctional fascinations.

You have picked flowers all day.  Rearranged letters of the alphabet all day.  A candle left burning in your room to follow the mazes of wax and the loops of smoke taking your attention, then the fan left on for a clearing.  Trails of warm lemon juice cleansing negligence, you have sprayed perfume yet left no scent.  It was you who did the leaving, you who did this to them, you whose body is too soft to resist the most simple attraction and mind not soft enough to yield controls, you who betrayed trust by telling stories, who let yourself be eaten by worms of curiosity, you who gulp foolishly not more than banal beauties and ugliness.  To squander yourself insulting those who brought you, you who created universes invalid from real pennies and distorted realities from nebulous transparencies.  You are the kind who survives on chocolates.

You hearing them rehearsing, how could you do this to us?  How could you do this to you also.  You have said something, you have seen something.  Stuff that doesn’t matter, waste like this.  Crap like this, let it go and the box flies open.  Make your mistakes for they call them mistakes not choices.  Let it all out of the trap, let the mystery of this trap triumph if you absolutely must play so rough but don’t ask us to look, don’t ask us to see, don’t ask us to hear, don’t ask us to act.

Heirlooms are survival too.  You are too green for us, too blue, too purple, too much for us.  You haven’t done enough, organized enough this territory, you will never catch up.  You do this to us, do this to yourself, look.  Listen.  You’ll see, you’ll hear this.  You do this.  To us, to us.

You.

 

 

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You

 

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