some things are out of style

16 03 2006

My young friend once wrote in a small letter on the back of a “Williams and Bakers” menu,
“The ice balloons float above this sky,
The silver tired eyes disappear tonight,
And we were …”
Many thoughts entered his head, visions of wonder, a beautiful swirling void of thought. Nothing of the strange terrors of life entered his mind, the years spent at the windy docks, the way infants’ necks snapped so easily, how strange men can pull a gun and steal your car and never been seen again, or the fear that creeps over you when you first wake up and hear slow, muffled breathing from behind your closet door. He smiled as if the world was not what it was. “It is, my dear, as I believe it to be”, he once wrote in a letter that was mailed in an envelope that was sealed, stamped, and beige that was carried to the post office, where it was taken to the wrong address, where a man in a black coat opened the letter and laughed after he threw it in the fire.

He glanced around unsure of what the next lines would be. “We were … we were … what were we doing,” he asked himself aloud. “Poetry is not artistic redundancy,” he reminded himself, “but instead the wondrous confluence of thought and emotion.” He had a way with pretty words.

When I met him once, he was without his girl. He seemed relaxed, he had none of the apprehension I feel with women. They tend to be quiet, at least the ones I’ve had. I get queasy, I doubt myself, and I find it awkward to tell them about myself. It’s always a risk. Anyone can know anything if they care hard enough to find it. I once walked this pretty girl with large, pink lips up to her bedroom, and she seemed excited. I can’t quite remember how I was. I can’t remember. I don’t want to remember. It did not happen. He was without his girl. That happened. My friend spoke to me in his famous serious voice, “The art of love is that there is not a drop of art in it. Art is something that men create to represent natural truths. Love of all sorts cannot be conjured by a wand or wave of the hand.” He turned away from me and as he walked away in his brown blazer I overheard, “I always tell them what they need to hear.” That’s always bothered me.

I sat down on a bench in a nearby park. Parks seem to be out of style. I hope they come back in style soon. There were a thousand thoughts in my head. Where should I go to work? Why am I still here? Who was that girl I kissed? Am I easy? What time is it? Does time matter? What is love? How good are books? Will I ever be a writer? Why can’t I ask anything but yes-no questions? Am I stupid? Why do I doubt things so much? What is honor? Am I typical? I stopped. Am I typical? I hate being so predictable. God, I hate it. And then the questions started again. Do I believe in God? If there is one is he good, all-powerful? Does he care? Will I ever find some purpose or …

A few days later, I smiled. I took a photograph of a young couple years ago standing against the rail on the boardwalk. It’s one of my best ones. Funny how proud you can get over something that doesn’t matter. I cried that day. I went home and I bought myself a typewriter and began typing. Maybe it’s something you’d be interested in:
”I was in a world stuck in time, I want to go back to her, she was mine, I want the reasons again, I want the absurdities to go to bed, The singing in my head was the sound of something I said, out of something I read …” It goes on. I didn’t feel like copying it all down. Don’t worry; I know it’s pretty bad. I can’t write like he can. I can’t believe he even enjoys it.

The young man sat at his desk. His girl came up to him and kissed him, smiled, and cried. He told me about all this the second time we met. I’ve tried to put everything down on paper. After he told me about that kiss, he mentioned something about how the world is easier if you risk letting it go. I almost yelled, but then I quietly said, “What do you mean, let it go? Kill myself? Let down my friends my family? Or do you mean let it go and just rot in my second-class crapartment? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get upset.” I never got to see him much and he was so happy; I liked being with him just to get happy. He nodded and told me that “it was quite alright.” I’ve never seen his girl though I imagine she’s very happy.

I don’t much understand about letting it go. I know he meant for me to let go my perfectionism, and live up to a new idealism. I can’t quite separate the two yet, though I bet I will in a month or so. I always say, “Just give me time.” I found this girl the other day. She likes to draw, she likes to talk, and she likes me. We saw a few movies and ate lunch. I’m pretty sure she’s not the one. Even if she is, there’s no way she’d get through to me; I’m so fragmented, I’m not even sure I can get to me. Things always turn out worse than the way they started. I wish it could be different with this one. I found a poem I wrote, dated “two years from now”:
“Her eyes washed away my prior sins,
My thoughts were pacified by her breath,
The soul understands itself, but not with words,
I heard her voice two years away,
And my dreams will rest on distant wars,
Slow is the walk into those arms.”

The last time I met him, the young man said to me, “Woe to the man who cries, ‘The world rests as I lie awake; the questions ignored by everyone else I cannot abate.’” As I strode out the door, I replied, “Woe indeed, you empty beast.”

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