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I don't look a thing like Jesus but I talk like a gentleman.

Monday, September 20, 2010

two letters

Nerina Pallot  
Nickindia  
Fires  

Sunday morning. You lay asleep beside me. It was a special morning, one that came at the heels of our first night together. Outside, the sun was looming behind the curtains. It threatened to take away everything that took place here.

In a world that constantly forgets, who will remember us?

I feared for my memory was weak. I wanted to document everything so I would never forget. I wanted to write about the way the light danced from the swaying curtains, the hum of the air conditioner and the bead of sweat that trickled slowly down the small of your back as you rose to get a glass of water. I felt bad that we were leaving this place without any proof that we were even here.

There is only one way to leave your mark, a voice said to me. Write a letter.

When I was a kid, my mom enrolled me in a school that was very close to her office. Convenience, she said but I think she just wanted me to be close to her at all times. While most kids spent their afternoons playing with friends or watching cartoons, I spent the hours after class in my mother’s office watching her work.

On a particularly boring day, I told her I was claiming an unused desk at the northeast corner of the room. I need the space, I reasoned. To do my homework and stuff. At that time, it was the closest I had come to becoming an adult. The location was prime. There was no one around to bother me. The drawer proved most useful. All at once, it held my books, crayons and lessons learned.

I was very sociable back then. I made many friends in different departments and floors. One time, the seventh floor guard gave me a piece of Stork. He was a pretty notorious bully but even he couldn’t resist my charms. After I devoured the candy, I kept the wrapper in my drawer as proof that there is good in everyone’s hearts. You just gotta dig deep sometimes.

There was this other time when I was running around the office in my white socks. I think I was pretending to skate or something. My socks would often turn gray those days but it was a fun way to kill time. During one miscalculation, I ended up slipping and crushing this huge ass bug on the wall. Upon closer inspection, it was a beautiful insect with many colors. I started crying, the guilt of having taken a life deep in my gut. To remember how fragile life is and how some mistakes are irreversible, I wrapped the bug’s body in toilet paper and stored it in my drawer.

There were many stories, each one with a different lesson and a different addition to my collection. I learned a lot that year and it didn’t take long before I had enough stuff to fill the entire drawer. On my last day before summer vacation, my mother told me it was time to clear my desk. Next year, I would be studying in a school closer to home.

I had an urge to leave something behind, something to prove I once occupied that space. If I didn’t, it would be like I was betraying all the lessons that I learned. I decided to leave a letter in my special drawer. I wanted the next user to know how special it was to me. I wrote everything down in my crooked second-grade handwriting on a page I tore out of my notebook. Right before we left that night, I pushed the letter into the now empty drawer, hoping that my message would find its intended recipient.

In a world that constantly forgets, who will remember us? I asked.

Write a letter, my eight-year old self replied. Put on a show and no one will ever forget.

I started writing in my clumsy twenty-four year old handwriting on a pad of hotel paper. I wrote about my search for love and how it took me to different beds and different hearts. I wrote about giving up and resigning to live alone. I recounted all the mistakes I had ever made, mistakes that somehow led me to this hotel room and in your arms. And then I realized it was too long and too emotional. No one wants to read stuff like that anymore.

I crumpled the page and started anew. I chronicled each kiss, the way our bodies moved as one, how I was you and you were me. I retold Hedwig’s Origin of Love* and how each touch, each kiss brought you closer to me. I wrote about how I entered you and how it felt like we were jigsaw puzzle pieces who had finally found each other. And then I realized it was too erotic and I didn’t want the next resident to think it was that kind of hotel.

I wrote about the conversations that we had over cigarettes at the balcony. I recounted how I felt when I woke up beside you, your chest rising and falling gently with each breath. I described the wonderful, warm fuzzy feeling love brings and how I wanted to die and be reborn as that mole in the middle of your chest. I wrote about how we slow danced to a Sade song* that was playing in my mind. And then I realized that it was too cheesy and I didn’t want them to think I was some fool obsessed with love.

One thing was clear. We had stumbled upon something very important within these four walls. I just couldn’t seem to write it down. The concept was elusive and each attempt to capture it felt like a betrayal. After many drafts, I realized I was down to my last piece of stationery.

Make this count, my eight-year old self said. Use no other voice but yours. Ours. I looked at him in his navy blue shorts and graying socks and I automatically knew what I should write. He was there for a reason. His drawer was my hotel room. I furiously wrote down my letter, my penmanship heavy and excited. Right after we checked out, I ran upstairs and slipped my letter in the bedside drawer. There, beside the Bible and the room service menu, someone would find a letter. It would contain the most important thing I know.

Dear 3A Resident,

There is magic in this room. It taught me that love exists.

NL

Photo Credit: crumpled-paper

Sunday, September 12, 2010

reprising little boy sam

Liz Phair  
Only Son  
whitechocolatespaceegg  

As a child, I had dreams of Superman. I valued his morals and envied his strength. I thought the world of him. In many ways, he took the place of my father. I always abhorred the latter for not being strong enough, brave enough or even honest enough. He was never around for the big stuff. He was always out working. His politics paid for my education, the roof above my head and the food in my gut but in no way did it afford him my love. Money does not raise a child, a father does and I was determined that the greatest power in the universe was to be my new father.

My coming out to him was a sign, at least to me, of respect. I probably wanted to tell him first because on some level, I blamed him for how I turned out. Needless to say, he didn’t take it well. He called me names, even tried to hit me a few times. He would always stop right before his fist hit my face. He punched the walls, screaming in a voice I had never heard him use before and in a language that seemed of a different world. Resigned, he cursed the heavens for what happened to his only son. He looked at me with the eyes of an animal. I had never been so delighted and terrified at the same time.

My lover Grey greeted the problem with a response that was equal parts ambitious and arrogant. Elope, he said. Fuck him. Fuck them all. He put his lips around his middle finger. His spit glistened in the distant moonlight. With a child’s attention to detail, he raised his finger towards an imagined figure of my father and mouthed a subtle fuck you.

But not after I fuck you first, he added as he pulled me under the covers.

But there would be no need to run away. Days later, the fates decided to throw us a bone. I went to my father’s office one afternoon to talk to him. It was his sanctuary, his Fortress of Solitude if you must. Using the key that he kept hidden in one of the building’s many crevices, I unlocked the door to find him naked and in the arms of Luther, his childhood best friend and longtime business partner. I hid behind the door, quiet as a mouse, listening to him moan as another man took him from behind.

Now tell me, who’s the disgrace now?

That night, I stayed up to watch him creep into our house. It was past midnight when he finally came home.

Long night? I asked. He dismissed my statement and went up to his bedroom. Outside, a lonely dog was howling a lullaby. You know, you and I, we’re not so different. I added, right as he closed his bedroom door.

Superman was not the greatest power in the universe. Denial was stronger and like glue, it put together what the truth was trying to take apart.

Father, come out, I said to him, even though I knew he could not hear me. This cross is ours to bear now. There is no one left to blame.

Photo Credit: grapesfrappe
Original Post: continuing the straight path

Monday, September 6, 2010

leaving

Kelly Clarkson  
Irvine  
My December  

I knew he was leaving. The signs were clear. I just didn’t want to think about it.

“If you wanna go, then go,” I said to him through my bedroom door. He was silent. The only sound I could hear was the gentle clinking of metal. My entire house moans as another lover leaves. I didn’t think it would hurt that much. I’ve certainly had my practice. But it seems all that I have of him is all that he’s left me, a single key on top of the countertop; a reclusive reminder of a love that broke before it bent.

He did not know. There was no way he could. As he left, I closed my eyes, pressed my ear to the floor and listened for the shuffle his feet made on the wood. I was waiting for hesitation, for the sound of his steps to grow louder and louder as he came to my bedroom door. I wanted him to beckon, to beg me to come out, to tell me that he was going to fight for us. I needed him to hear the words that my pride wouldn’t let me say. Please don’t leave me. Not you.

Each year, my fishbowl gets fatter and fatter with keys returned, love disposed of and the sound of footsteps walking away. As my front door ushered him out, I wondered if anyone could see how I was doubled over, weeping on my bedroom floor. Could anyone see the tears that have come to bring me slumber?

---

Like animals, we learn to adapt. We change because we live, because we can, because we refuse to be victims of our circumstances. It’s like severing an arm to save the rest of your body. We do this because as humans, we see patterns. We do this because only a fool jumps into the same fire twice.

---

The moon looked ripe that day. We were fighting in the kitchen. It’s a scene I’ve learned to memorize from years and years of repetition. The story is always the same. It’s just the actors that shuffle. This is the part where you leave.

“If you wanna go, then go,” I said to you. You looked confused. Experience has taught me that this would be the last time I would ever see you. I sat silently on the countertop but in my head, I was already in my room, head on the floor, listening to the sound your feet would make as you walked away.

“I wish you’d stop that,” you said, waking me up from my little daydream.

“Stop what?”

“Stop assuming that everyone you love will leave you. That’s probably why you’re so strange sometimes, how you’re warm one minute and cold as ice the next.” I looked up from my spot in the room. There was a strange calmness in your voice. “If you really want this to work, you have to trust me without contempt. You have to love me without fear.”

Were you there that night my first lover left? How do you know these things when I have built so many walls to keep you away? How do you know the thoughts in my mind when my tongue bleeds from being bitten? Was I that transparent? How do you know me so well?

“I’m sorry,” I said, finally breaking down.

“I’m not going anywhere,” you promised as you wrapped your arms around me. In my heart of hearts and to the lonely moon, I prayed you were telling the truth.

Photo Credit: leaving