Dear J Waves,
This all feels like it’s decades ago. . .
When I could not get him to speak, and only feared putting on pretty piano music, seamed stockings, hair clips, lipstick.
Tiny, tiny orange roses littered terrazzo tiles with a carnival background, a merry-go-round of sound.
To me, he was the third man, the seventh face of Dr. Lao, the pioneer of all things hideously guilty and completely charming. The guitars would drop to a minor arpeggio, the flutes would pretend they were the forefront of innovation, the dogs would be lonely but content, the dinners would be dry, tasteless. We would never learn how to speak to one another, a star would be born, a galaxy would die.
Some of us were not ready to face the crowd and sing out-of-tune, play with their ill-advised bangs and rake their feet across the boards. I could hear rats scurrying and chirping, my faith in his silence dwindling, clay bricks crumbling, showing signs of stagnant water and age. Eroded fountains house cherubs in mid-flight, pouring buckets of green onto any barefoot feet brave enough. I cannot be entirely sure, but I may have been quarry-sick, locked in asylums and forced the gruel with wooden spoon and palms to the face.
I could only satiate him with liquid bubblegum, Geese and Bulls, stampedes in china shops and hologram placecard holders. I was forced to occupy the children’s private seating at Thanksgiving, thanks to our combined decibals and horrifying fashion sense. The highest octaves were the eeriest, and I was taken against my will and tucked into moth-eaten sheets and I could not adapt.
I would let them dress me up when I lost a bet. While the left hand is away, the mind is allowed to wander into times when I wore a combination lock on my schoolbag, or a rat trap clamped to my purse strap, or safety pins delicately forced through my earlobes. Paintbrushes were singularly dipped, masterpieces were formed when his blue flame hash-pipe eyes would find mine in a pitch-dark hallway, you refuse to say they have any deeper meaning at all.
Together we were Bonnie and Clyde, we were Dennis Nilsen’s toilet. You cannot help but have the silver flyers catch your eye, waving in the wake of the taproom exhaust fan. There was a time in a black, black womb when his arms were around me and we were lighting the wicks of potential scandals all over town, the clack, clack of stripes and pre-recorded voice messages turning my mind over to things that should have been blocked out years ago. The dingy theater seats and rendezvous in the bathroom of the condemned Manhattan Thai restaurant. The warehouse with exposed water pipes running along the ceiling.
I knew that at any time I could run away with him and stay in clapboard mansions and eat divine pre-packaged meals in the shadows of Miami bungalows. I do not need a pair of Banana Republic jeans to make me happy, though it helps; I only ever needed the way his pursed lips fall open while he dreams. That was enough entertainment. Here there is no two-year visitation rule, there is no moat between sentences. Here I could keep my finger on the pulse of every machine with a “rewind” button. Here there was only a well-deserved nuzzle and he laughed at all my jokes. We attended luncheons with the living dead, the easily duped. My life was perfect for these minutes and he may or may not be at home composing tributes, picturing the rainy cobblestones of the French Market, the awful smells we grow so accustomed to.
The Dragon Den’s awful construction blueprints framed in our minds, the notes in air from Cafe Brasil, the way the pedestrian signs change when we drew near, it is like they knew we were royalty. It is heaven for marionettes and matadors. We switched between the hats, and fulfilled every role until we riled the souplines up again with our giggling and secret handshakes.
And now where are we, you ask? What’s he up to? I see him all the time, and I know exactly what’s going on.
He will clutch his pillow at night and convince himself I am over him. A pillow can be transformed into anyone’s body when the floodlights are shut.
He is always three vertical steps away from a cherry dress and an abundance of perfume. I prefer it this way, and we spend remainders of certain workdays cohabiting and not speaking, when the beginning of the whiskey drought threatens to turn our imagination back to pumpkins.
This is what we have been reduced to, and I am glad, mostly.
How’s YOUR love life?