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Saturday, March 15, 2003
Baby Grand Blues 4

Last day in this place. It's dawn now, the movers arrive in two hours to take all the furniture, what's left of the books, which is still a lot, too many to read in three lifetimes. I like looking at them.

Last time I will have slept here. Last time I'll write from this place. I have to tear down this system as soon as I finish whatever I can sneak in. Hurried last rites. He was a fine fellow. Well, most of the time. Made you think. A bastard too, no doubt of that, but let us not speak ill of the dead.

The peace symbol upside down was an anarchist thing. I used to wear mine upside down. I was a teenager in Binghamton, New York. I was very political. Upside down it's some sort of rune that means: the man lives.

When I erased her messages, among the earliest was one where she was saying "I think of you as the prince of the imagination." It sounded like Prince of the Imagination. And something coy about how she liked the way I tickled her fancy. I did. I had. It was hard to delete that one. Hard to delete all of them.

"You make things up, Chris," she said at the end. "You imagine things." Something must have happened in between. Something that's not worth thinking about anymore. Not worth trying to figure out. A car backfires on a street in Detroit. You are not walking point in a Southeast Asian jungle. So why are you ducking like that, diving for cover? It's just a car, see? Nothing to get hung about.

She told me that the last guy she'd lived with was a pathological liar. I was surprised. I couldn't imagine her being with someone like that. I was sad for her. One day we were walking around outside here and she thought she saw him. She was scared, wanted to get back inside as quickly as possible. Why, I wondered. Now I know. So he wouldn't meet me. Say something I shouldn't hear, perhaps. I'd like to meet him today. Two liars comparing notes. So let us not speak falsely now. Two riders wondering what they'd made up, imagined.

I played her Sanatana's cut off Supernatural, You Are the Love of My Life. She was. But she seemed distracted. Embarrassed. Tentative. Protecting her boundaries, perhaps. Who knows. And at this late date, she said six months later, I have no interest in explaining it to you again. Ice in her voice, the cold she told me I was imagining. "You always expected the worst," she said. I wonder why. I make things up to explain what happened. I imagine things. Quod erat demonstrandum. Demonstrate. Demon strait. The devil, as ever, in the details.

I wake in this almost every day, a year later. In the twisted wreckage of ground zero. Drink my coffee, listen to the birds she loved so much. Still does, I imagine, sitting outside her house four miles from here. Might as well be four thousand. Might as well be that we've died. Though we have not. The man lives. I don't know about the woman. I imagine her as I saw her once. How I loved her so. How glad she made my heart. Did I imagine that too? That she once made me a prince in her own mind? Made that up?

Of course. In the course of human events, these things happen. Like a newborn baby, the Stones sang, it just happens every day. The girls go by dressed in their summer clothes. Young girls are walking to the canyon. And in the morning I can hear them laughing. Sampling. Stealing. Borrowing, I like to think of it, like any thief. Words that said it better, and it had a soundtrack. Lines woven into my life that wouldn't make sense until much later. Or would make a different sense as I got older. I have to turn my head until my darkness goes.

The man lives. He does not forget. He carries these things with him in his heart and tries not to break. Not to dive for cover in the lovely spring sunshine, the birds singing for joy at another new day. Blue sky. These incredible mountains. So I will leave here now, not going very far. And I would like to leave some of these things behind. I should. Forget. Start over. But I have already started over. I'm writing again and I will write till the sun burns out. Till the jungle fills me, folds me into itself. Takes me home.

Imagine that.

7:53 AM | link |

Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Blogging from Starbucks

Hey, is this a great country, or what? I just signed up for the all-you-can-eat-anywhere T-Mobile plan. And I'm OUTSIDE, which means I can, you know, SMOKE!!! So you can bet I'll be drinking a lot more espresso. And what does this mean for you, Valued Reader? More quality hi-test blogging, that's what! Yeah, fuck, who needs to calm down. Not me. Oh no. Somebody asked me in mail yesterday if I was really paranoid schizophrenic (see below). Now what do you think? If I was that fucking nuts, don't you think it'd show? I mean, show more? Anyway, just wanted to blog a little intermission amongst all the recent heaviness. But there'll be more. And to all those who've asked (all five of you) if I'm OK, yeah, I'm jes fine, Jack. I'm sittin on top of the world. But now I gotta go get some more psychotherapy....

2:48 PM | link |

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Baby Grand Blues 3

I'm moving.

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....]

12:33 PM | link |

Monday, March 10, 2003
Baby Grand Blues 2

A year later. Almost a year since I last saw her. We were in bed, had just made love. She was shouting into my face. Why, I said. Why are you so angry? I'm agreeing with you about almost everything. Almost. That was the problem.

"I'm protecting my boundary," she said, "for lack of better words."

I've been looking for better words ever since.

She'd been asking me if I took it personally when the valet parking guy wasn't anywhere around and I got uptight that my car was parked around the corner out of sight with the keys still in it. No one steals cars in Boulder. They're all too nice. But I haven't always lived here. Some places the car would be gone by the time I got back, up on blocks in some chop shop getting a new color. Did you feel like a victim, she asked.

I knew where this was going. Got pissed. Said yeah, I had a psychotic break. My paranoid schizophrenia got the best of me.

"Why do you always twist my words?" she said. I thought of telling her about R.D. Laing's Knots, Gregory Bateson's breakthrough ideas about the double bind. You never say you love me anymore. I love you. Oh, you're just saying that. Fucked if you do, fucked if you don't. But it didn't seem the right time. Between knots and binds, the right time would never come. Do you want me to leave, I asked. She said, do whatever you want to, Chris. I left. I didn't know in that time-lapsed moment that I'd never be coming back. I didn't know much of anything.

Later I replayed that scene in my head till I was almost crazy. No, for once, not almost. What could I have done differently that might have stopped it? What could I have said? A victim? Who me? Of course not, baby. And no, I don't feel like you're holding a knife to my heart, that any move I make it will go in, find the place that will cut off my life with you, end it right here, for good. For good or ill, better words escaped me.

When her father divorced her mother, she once told me, her mother had said to her, "You destroyed my marriage." I wondered why she was telling me this. It was back when she still trusted me. I thought. Up until Switzerland, I think now, though it had started much earlier. Twenty-some years ago in fact. Fact, what there is of it in love. What there is of it ever. But it was lovely there then, the coffee delicious as we sat together looking out over Zurich See. We were as close as it gets. Close as we ever got.

I'd brought my new digital camera along. New then. So much was still new then. I wanted to take pictures of her naked. It seemed an ideal time to ask. An ideal place, away from everything familiar. New ground, new territory. I was in Zurich to speak about risk assessment. I could give a different talk today. Learning experiences. What would we do without them? Live happily ever after. That was my plan. You laugh. I think of Elvis Costello asking what's so funny about peace, love and understanding. All the jokes about Rodney King, poor naive bastard, kicked and beaten and wondering why we can't all get along. Didn't get the message the first time, I guess. Some people never learn. Sometimes, she said, things just don't work out.

She wasn't comfortable with the idea of photos, but she let me take some. Then she wanted to see them. Sure, no problem. I thought she looked beautiful naked. Which is why... do I need to explain this? It was exciting what we were doing. Letting each other see. If you show for me, said Peter Gabriel, I will show for you. Or was it chauffer? We all hear what we want to hear. The art so often in the ambiguity.

She didn't like the pictures I'd taken. Didn't like how she looked in the flash light. Understandable, I thought. Some of them were pretty awful. But not all. Some I would have treasured. To remember her that way. She made me delete all but a handful. I could have argued it, started to, thought better of it. No, not better. More like a pick-your-battles kind of thing. Risk assessment. But why were we turning toward battle? The joy was out of it. I deleted anything that showed her truly naked. Funny about that. Not that you see me laughing.

It wasn't really about how she looked. That was just the see-through premise. "What if you got angry at me later," she said. "What if you put these on the web?"

Oh. Uh-huh. I see. I was wishing I didn't. How many times had I wished I didn't. When I did, when I said what I heard, she would say I was twisting her words. No win. Not that I ever wanted to. I love you, baby. Don't do me like... you ended up doing. Do you know what that means now? Or are you still drawing a blank? None so blind. As I was then. I wish I'd said you got lucky, babe. I didn't. Thought it would've sounded too petty.

"The web?" I said. "Why would I do that? Why would you even think that?"

When we first started talking by email, she said I pray we don't break each other's hearts. I want to do a new pattern with you this time. Because we'd done an old pattern, long ago. I called her up one night in 1981, offered to come over and show her the cool gun I'd just bought. Knowing she'd call the cops, have to get out. Be on those same streets I was wandering homeless, insane. There was no gun. I wondered this time, afterwards: in a new pattern, would there be? I thought about it. Had to get out of bed at three one morning about eight months ago, turn on all the lights, shake myself, make coffee. To stop thinking about it. A new pattern, yeah. It took everything I had to stick to the old one. She'll never know how close she came. Close as it gets.

In a stash of photos I later downloaded -- pornography; we could get into that one later maybe; what it means, how it feels from the inside -- I found two pictures that look a lot like her. At first I thought it was just a resemblance. I was forgetting by that time what she looked like. But the more I looked at them, the less sure I became about being unsure. The bed and the windowsill matched the configuration of her bedroom. Exactly. Could be coincidence, of course. Of course. Except that there are none. Not really. Not ever. Were those pictures really of her? Maybe not. Had this happened before? Maybe so. I want to do a new pattern she said. What was she afraid of? What was she thinking would make me that angry? Questions of a thousand dreams. At the end, she said she could never trust me. Of course. Of course not.

Much later I realized why she told me what her mother said about wrecking the marriage. No shame. She was looking for sympathy. And underneath that, she was bragging. Whatever she'd done in her life, she was proud of it. Nothing has changed. She still is. "He sees me," she told her friends, amazed at the beginning. She wanted me to see her. See her power. It would be a long time before I understood what I was meant to see. And meant not to.

[to be continued....]

4:41 PM | link |

Sunday, March 09, 2003
Baby Grand Blues

Where do you begin?

I look up into the night sky and ask myself. I wonder seeing you, whoever you are, with your two year old kid at the pasta joint. So beautiful. I wanted to ask you. Too late now. So many of us out here. Perhaps we'll bump into each other again. What are the chances? I'm waiting to see. I'm playing the odds. It happened once. Once upon a time...

"It's real simple, Chris," she would say. Said it more than once. On several occasions. I wish I could remember the context. Doesn't matter, though. None of it matters anymore. Except that I understand now what was going on. Understand better anyway.

It was never simple. And although I've forgotten the various contexts, the way I know this was the contempt dripping in her voice when she said it. Contempt. And the flash of anger for just a second, like unexpected lightning on a summer night. So beautiful. And then the ice. The anger she always tried so hard not to show. I took it.

I took it because that's what I'm best at. That and writing. That and trying to understand: where do you begin?

I took it because I thought I could change it. Turn it into love. Albedo, nigredo, mysterium coniunctionis. In the white foliated earth, transmute fear into trust. Defense into welcome. As it turns out, this is harder than it looks.

One day we were talking. I forget about what, but I said something about a Tom Petty song. Don't do me like that. And she was suddenly interested. She wasn't always. Often I wasn't sure if she was even listening. "What does that mean?" she said. In retrospect, retrospect being all that's left at this point, I know why she wanted to know. Does it show? Can they tell? Am I that transparent? Trans parent. Yeah, good word. Deep fathom five. Thy father lies. Long story.

You know I love you, baby. Don't do me like that.

"My mother had no inner life," she said. Telling. Telling me how it was for her. Not meaning to, but I'm a good listener, even though I often seem preoccupied. As if I'm somewhere else. I felt that way a lot around her. With her and yet not really there. For the longest time, I thought it was me.

She was sad for her mother, a trophy wife who always sought to please. A victim of circumstances. Or so it was supposed to seem. Why would anyone sacrifice so much? Concerned with appearances. The right clothes, the right delightful laugh. The soft spotlight centered always on herself. That's why.

And her mother, who had no inner life, raised her to know these things. How it worked. How to make it work. JonBenet Ramsey. At an earlier time. In another place. A mirror for Mommy. Say hello to the nice people, Honey. Spin and twirl little girl. A flash of anger, and I took it. Both barrels.

[to be continued....]

10:16 AM | link |

Just Want to Say...

...that I was only thinking out loud there. I mean, about blind people. I hold no animus. Anima, well... different story. Altogether. Working on it. Working it out here in the background this morning. So much happens in the background. Had you noticed that? But back to the present subject, some of my best friends were blind. Maybe that's why we lost track of each other. Those white canes will only get you so far. It's like the Bible says: "There are none so blind as those who cannot see." Or wait... is it "will not see"? And I'm in the ubiquitous background wondering: is there a difference?

9:21 AM | link |

"RageBoy: Giving being fucking nuts a good name since 1985."
~D. Weinberger
28 October 2004

Chris Locke's photos More of Chris Locke's photos

Until a minute ago, I had no photos. I still have no photos to speak of. I don't even have a camera. But all these people were linking to "my photos." It was embarassing. It's still embarassing. But I'm used to that.

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