It’s these lyrics that keep running through my head but the song hasn’t been written yet. They wake me from black sleep, and I carry her in my pockets like memories of a trip to Paris, which is somewhere I haven’t been. There are so many stones in my pocket that I wear my pants at my ankles. She’s this candle on the windowsill with a snow white wick and my fingers are warm. An apple in my stomach that I will eat at my desk tomorrow morning. It’s like this to love her. I am weary with love and I slept the soundest sleep last night in my black bedroom. Singing birds woke me when the night was still on its knees. I did not want to shoot them like I normally do because they were singing the song that I sing in my head. That’s what it’s like, loving her. It’s like birdsong, singing a song that hasn’t been written, in a black bedroom in a blue night.
Freedoms we’re still working on:
- Religion, to have or have not. We’re all of us holy, and some of us believe that to be an extension of God and some of us believe that to be an extension of the universe or of life or of anything pretty.
- Gender expression/gender identity.
- Marriage/commitment rights for all.
- Civil rights…in regard to everything and nothing, simultaneously. Civil rights are human rights and should have nothing to do with anything other than humanity.
- Animal rights/protection, specifically in regard to abuse. As living creatures, animals should be afforded care and safety. No questions. Humans who abuse animals should be treated as abusers. End of story.
- Fair taxation that doesn’t reward the wealthy and exploit those who struggle
- Access to healthcare for women, including reproductive rights.
- Access to education, in regard to children in need of FAPE
- Reasonable and affordable access to education, in regard to adults who wish to be able to learn and to eat simultaneously
- Access to mental health care if desired. Peace of mind is a human right, and each individual’s peace of mind contributes to the well being of our world.
- Access to healthcare, regardless of and probably in direct response to level of need. Those in need get what they need. Done.
- Safe housing. Hallways that aren’t dark. Stairwells that aren’t scary. Doors that lock, windows that open. Quiet. Joy.
- Access to support with addiction treatment if desired regardless of financial circumstances
- Access to culture, knowledge, and experience: libraries, museums, technology, parks…in all cities, everywhere
- Gender equality
- Access to safe childcare
- Freedom to childhood. Freedom from abuse in any form. Freedom to feel safe and valued.
- Freedom from exploitation. From domestic abuse. From trafficking, racism, sexism.
- Freedom to be forgiven without punishment when it doesn’t endanger others to do so. Freedom to learn from mistakes.
- Freedom from shame.
She knew shit was bad when lines from poems kept popping in to her head when she waited in line at the grocery store or shaved her left knee without shaving cream. Snippets of heartbreaking poems woke her like bad dreams. She felt like an aluminum popcorn popper shaken over the stover burner, bursting with sadness and apathy and anxiety. She was tired of herself.
She quit drinking on a Thursday. She woke up after being awake since 2:00 AM which is what always happened when she drank too much. She was, as she always was, disgusted with herself and reeling and thinking about how much she sucked at life. She stood in front of the bathroom mirror after she showered, and her skin looked pinker and fresher than it had for years. Her teeth were whiter and her eyes clearer and her hair was drying in a kind of wavy, fancy way instead of hanging limp. This was strange because she had not slept and was still likely drunk and all around, she was hating herself and this day pretty intensely considering that it was only 6:45 AM.
His house was the size of a postage stamp. This is a true story. The roof was even edged with scallops, just like old fashioned stamps were. The kind you had to lick.
When Noreen touched her, she felt like she was being prayed over. And under and through and into. Noreen wrote prayers along her arms and across her stomach and she wrote prayers in the air around her and pulled her hair into long, shiny prayers that were very heavy and very light at the same time. Noreen filled her like water tipped into a vase so that things could begin blooming and the air hummed with yellow and prayers and flowers breaking open in the morning air when the sun burned off the last parts of the night.
It wasn’t so much that she was bossy, although it’s true that the was bossy. It’s more that she was what her grandmother would call a Nervous Nellie. She could work conversations in a certain way, building up interactions and breaking down others. She pulled this string and that leg kicked. She pulled that string and this hand raised.
Title? Prayers, Puppets, and Pumpernickel
She lived in an apartment above a liquor store. All windows to the liquor store had been boarded up years ago. Her attic apartment had to windows at either end, and beams of sunlight met in the middle of the floor.
She sat at her desk going through unimportant emails and she reached down beside her hips to grab two ends of a seatbelt.
I knew the potatoes weren’t soft enough. I knew they should cook longer. I knew I didn’t need another beer. I knew things were getting worse.
She kept biding her time, waiting until something came along that was a joy. She kept waiting for joy. I told her over and over that that wasn’t how joy worked. Joy wasn’t going to come along and sit its fat ass in her lap and let loose a bouquet of balloons into a sky washed with a paintbrush dipped in blue. Joy didn’t work that way.
She didn’t listen. She didn’t ever listen. It didn’t matter. I was desperately in love with her. I wanted to name each curl that sprung from her scalp. I wanted to give them middle names and throw each curl a bat mitzvah and a confirmation party and a sweet sixteen. I was at all times twisting garlands of paper streamers and breaking broccoli trees into manageable little bushes to roost beside bowls of dip. She was the party of my life.
I met her in an economics class. It was the second time I’d taken the class. I failed the first time. It was a hard class, but really I failed because I stopped going. That whole experience taught me the importance of failing. Failing will sit you in a plush seat in an ampitheater and raise a red velvet curtain with a fluorish. The curtains will part like the seas and there’s no need for Moses because she will be standing there in the wake, her curls snapping, her eyes flashing.
I haven’t seen her in years. I’ve bought three houses and sold two and cleaned my fridge maybe two hundred times and shaken out clean sheets over a quilted mattress maybe seven hundred times. I’ve made love over and over and slipped my head in to the laps of a parade of women. She still sits in my lap with a carboard book of matches, lighting one match after another and giggling while they fizzle. She still sits her fat ass in my heart, building bonfires and pumping the billows. I smell like sulphur and have spent years in the burn unit.
To contemplate: a story about someone who fell in love with you, instead of a story about you falling in love.