This Side of Morning

17 12 2007

 

She was the kind of girl who makes you write. Write after a long day, sitting in your threaded shirt that you wear three days in a row because it’s her favorite and nobody minds. And you find yourself missing out on essays and poetry in favor of a diary entry that hopes to catch what happened in that blur of hours where we’d done what – hold hands? talk about life? do the simple things? It’s like eating vegtable soup with a fork. Oh, yes, see these entries tend to devolve into freshman metaphors and simile.

My favorite scene: wire-iron chairs seating the contented couple outside some small-city café, they are discussing the laissez-faire ethos. Let’s get a little closer, not enough to interrupt but to hear Jean tell me, “Why for the world would you dare give up something wonderful now for something just as good later? Only the most patient man does not see a difference between having x now and x later.” Please notice her smile, curiously hidden behind a bookish take on something simple. My reply, reflecting my not being a philosophy major, “but sometimes, I think, we wait for something because we enjoy the pursuit.” Haven’t we all chosen not to sleep with someone we could to enjoy the space between first kiss and comsummation? as if the climax portends the inevitable decline.

Again, on an airplane turning miles and I wonder what was it that made soda taste better in the cabin upon the sky than at a restaurant on ground. I’m noticing that, unlike margarine and butter which were once indistinguishable, I’m losing the ability to taste air-Coke as better than regular. Was there really no difference: was it merely a childhood imagination back when flying was novel? Or was there a genuine difference: something to do with consistency and air pressure and tiny carbonated water molecules? Look at Jean drink her Coke; she does not think about it and there is no need to. Like many others, I will not share this story. I will not complicate her life.

I can hear Jean’s voice put me to sleep after a long day; she had compassionate instincts, a warm eye for distress. Only when I couldn’t respond would she open up to me. In the restaurant, only when food was served and my mouth full. In the bed, when I was half-asleep. And in that moment, the one where our timelines crossed paths and mangled each other before cutting free.

The insolence of life’s brevity! How insistent it is! see this moment wind up like a pitch: with that exhilarating still surprising delivery landing upon such expectant tongues. She walks on the stage, entering from the right: she cannot see me yet. She asks the waiter if there is a reservation. There are none for a party of two. She sighs a modern sigh, an attractive twentysomething relegating her free time to internet-arranged dates. She looks around, skipping her eyes over me, and in them I see a string of one-night stands, dinners alone, and window-staring on empty mornings. Those glass orbs reflect pains, old abuses, unborn children, unwritten diaries, and still, behind them even further I saw a woman who prided herself on small personal successes. Who carries with her a knowledge, a confidence that eclipses the shadow of the past. Each flitting glance before introducing myself was a peek at the answer key before the exam. Before the defenses would go up. And, yes, fall down.

“Hello, Jean my name is Lacome.” She smiled, her cheeks pushing a little too hard. Her eyes lit up, her smile grew more genuine. Though I had never seen the woman before in my life, and there is no other way to put it: we remembered each other. Then, without warning, she collapsed and we were on the way to the hospital.

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