elizabeth lane lawley
michael "OC" clarke
e v h e a d
sweet fancy moses
wood s lot
m. melting object
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Baby Grand Blues 3
Boxes and bags stacked up here in my living room, waiting for me to load them into the trunk, back seat, front seat, anywhere they'll fit. It's a short trip to my new place, a condominium I just bought, miraculously, because I'm flat broke at the moment. Hoping it's just for the moment. The moment I'm living in, yeah. Not like chopping carrots in the aesthetically satisfying Zen center, where the moment is imbued with that ineffable peace and tranquility and spiritual import The Moment is usually invoked to imply. Nuh-uh. Just now, this morning, right here, unavoidable. As opposed, I suppose, to voidable. Some guys are working outside my window, landscapers lopping limbs off the little pine tree I've passed on my way out the door for nearly three years now.
It was high summer when I first moved in here. Transporting my last load of stuff, my computer and all the wires, peripherals, the tangled mess of stuff necessary to get it all up and running again, back on the net. It was maybe 4:30 in the morning and the sky on my left as I drove was glowing red. First light. I flipped on the radio and it was going Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news. I got a bad case of loving you...
And I did. She was on my near horizon, about to rise again, I could feel her coming. Speeding across Foothills Parkway at dawn, no cops in evidence, radio up full gain, the bass socking me, rocking me, pushing the envelope. A sky full of promise and I'm running down a dream.
Tantra Lake, that's the name of this place, no kidding. There's an enormous belly laugh in that somewhere, but you had to be here to get it. Had to be here for all of it. The Buddhist invasion 25 years ago. I was part of that. These mountains I only look at today. Magnificent as the clouds last night, backlit by a half moon. When the wind is high, it's hard to tell stars from satellites. Something about relative motion.
I'm moving on, as they say, as the helpful books all suggest. Just put it behind you. Get on with your life. Seems like good enough advice, well meaning. Except that my whole life is behind me and whatever's ahead can look a lot like karmic back-pressure. A half-serious theory I've toyed with. The future pushes back into the present, affects things. Too often, infects things. As does, more understandably, the past. Skipping the meds this morning, for a while anyway. No pills gonna cure my ills...
So Tantra Lake. It's a 300-unit apartment complex that's been around for 30 years or so. There's a big pond in the middle with a fountain and all kinds of waterfowl. It's a stopover on the migratory flyway for mallards and wood ducks and Canada geese, lots of them. There's also a pair of swans, Romeo and Juliet, that have lived here forever it seems. Out of time. They eat from my hand, swim across the pond when they see me. Have I brought them bread? I look at them, talk to them, see the intelligence in their eyes, amazed at how real they are.
Some devoloper recently bought the whole setup here and there's a major condo conversion going on. Major. Everything around me is changing. It's kinda cool. This place I've been living for nearly three years is being transformed every day. I walk outside and the building facing me across the parking lot is not the same building that was there last year, last month, last week. New exterior designs, new colors, new landscaping, workmen putting up scaffolding, wrapping whole buildings in plastic sheeting. I found my downstairs phone on the floor one day. Knocked off the wall by some guy's hammering, it flew halfway across the kitchen. Someone's sawing through the wall I'm propped up against, still in bed at three in the afternoon, talking to my angel. Her demon lover not a figure of speech. I got lucky, babe. But that was much later.
I'm moving then, but only about 1000 feet. Into one of the units that's just been renovated. New carpets, new paint, black marble counter tops in the kitchen, ceramic tile in the bathrooms and around the upstairs tub. Sparkling white new appliances. I don't usually even notice this kind of stuff. But it's like a new car. Everything feels different for a couple weeks. Maybe a month or two before it all fades into background again. So I'm marveling at my new refrigerator for a while. At my cherry cabinets, washing machine, microwave. With everything different and new, the odd thing is that the layout is exactly the same as the apartment I'm sitting in now, writing this, putting off the packing and hauling and reinstalling I should be working on. But it seems more important to say goodbye to this place. Acknowledge what happened here, honor it in some way. This is the only way I know. To try to say what it was, how it was, even if it's over. And it is. Roger that. Over and out.
Back behind these buildings it's all Open Space, land that's been set aside by the City Fathers in their great wisdom for future generations to enjoy the benefits of Nature. Capitalized. Upon. By the smug bastards who populate this lovely berg. I'm becoming a Citizen, paying property tax, how weird. Not buying in, though. Not joining the club. "If you don't like it here," she said, "why do you stay?" We were coming to the end. She was letting me know I could go now. I stay, motherfucker, because it's this way all over. I stay because I want to rub your noses in your snotty exclusivity. You'd like me to disappear? Yeah, I understand that. Make me.
But that's just leftover attitude. I know. I know more than I want to. Always have. And unless something unimaginable happens, always will. Because it's imagining that gets me through. The night. The days without reason or purpose or direction. I imagine you. I imagine us. Burying something in that wild strip of land to the east. We did that, and it wasn't just something. Wasn't just oh by the way. A ritual you said. Some way to bless our love, exorcize the demons of our past. You brought something to put into the hole I dug back there. I brought something I wrote. About our child who would be 21 this year. I think of her as Pleasure, the daughter of Eros and Psyche, conceived at the end, after all was lost, and only then true love discovered. You told me back then, not when we performed this rite, but earlier, much earlier, how good it felt to be pregnant. How you could feel new life surging though your body. Knowing I would never feel this. Knowing that the date was fixed for the abortion. It felt so wonderful you said.
So we put all that into the ground and covered it with rocks and earth. Blessed it with our tears, what we could recall of tears. Calling on what we could recall. Which wasn't much, as it turned out. Walking across the parking lot some days later, you said we were dating. It was a casual, offhand remark. I stopped. I asked you, is that how you think of us? That we're dating? "What would you call it?" she said. A change of voice here. You to she. Something flipped. Something inside me turned off. You were no longer there. She was. Suddenly and once more a stranger.
The Dating Game, sure. "Well, Bill, the sex was good, but he was so intense, you know? Always thinking about something. The guy just wouldn't shut up."
She really did say part of that, when I'd call her, years later, years before, in the time between, to say I still loved her. "Well," she would say, "the sex was good." And I wouldn't know what to say then. So three years ago, when we tried again, I was thinking how strange it was, what she said that day. I was thinking how many times, on a date, have you buried your own child?
[to be continued....]
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