Heavy

A heavy sheet of paper is tucked, folded into thirds in a nightstand drawer. I read it exactly once, when it arrived in mail a year and a half ago.

The naïve boy in me did not see what was coming. She was busy, I was patient, and reading into situations is not my strong suit; I am a face value kind of guy.

If there are pink slips in relationships, they are actually yellow and ruled, with that thin, vertical, double red line on the left.

“She’s just a girl,” they say. “You’ll get over her.”

It is not that simple – for a fella who is okay with words, I am still unable to express the attraction, the…stuff that made this special. History has a little to do with it, so very little because I never told her then.

And you never knew
How much I really liked you
Because I never even told you
Oh, and I meant to

– The Smiths

This morning I picked up the paper by accident; it’s one of those things I’ll never be able to read again. It felt heavy, like all of my feeling, the same feeling I have missed since reading it, was sucked into the words and weigh down the page, and the emptiness inside is largely due to a lack of care.

Dead.

One time I wrote a thing describing how my heart and mind work independently, never together:

“I’m not looking for any trouble here,” I say while tearing my beating heart from beneath my ribs and offering it to you.

Maybe my heart beat just once when I was born and every sound it has made since is merely an echo.

Needs

Also from my old Tumblr, again, as inactive as my romantic life…

The world shrinks. No exposure to current events, cutting ties with social media, and allowing in only people whom I trust with my life.

The forest, the plains, the ocean all wait quietly, going about their natural day while we bury ourselves with our own lives. It is time to unwind, time to smile, time to giggle, time to take chances, time to be real, time to live, and time to love.

Now, I don’t know how to do that last part. I’m going to need patience and tolerance and help with my timing and warm hugs and calmness and a hand to hold every day.

Every day.

She cannot be afraid of goodness and must trust my rough edges and know that at the end of the day she will be safe next to me as she falls asleep with my gentle breath trickling down her clavicle and my hand on her hip.

Star Cross’d

Is that you, Hope?

He hadn’t seen her in so long that if she answered back, he might not know how to respond, but he missed her enough to risk it.

Having gone their separate ways years ago, neither entirely abandoned the consciousness of the other. Memories of fluttering hearts and deep breaths, of sweet smells and soft sounds were stored in a vault, brought out to play like prized toys, although there was no one with whom to share.

The depth of their love was uncharted. A lifelong dance, her head on his chest, waist embraced firmly, hands clasped with an assurance that she would always be safe with him.

After the split, he would close his eyes tighter and tighter each time she was summoned to appear in his mind. He was certain beyond what he knew that she could hear him, even if she wasn’t there to see.

I won’t forget you, Hope. I’ll wait for you.

Birthdays came and went. Ritual and habit continued to salvage what little he had to cling to as her memory diminished with each day, like daylight during December.

Years had passed, and Hope was fading. Days were bland and he had all but forgotten the flavor of life. Waking hours were simply motions to wander through until he could adjourn to the place where dreams are made.

If I don’t recognize you when you come, please don’t forget about me.

Little did he know that every day, Hope was watching from close by. She saw how his smile had eroded into an expressionless flat line. His eyes weren’t angry, but they were fairly dim and lacking expression. He walked slower and didn’t seem interested in talking to others.

She hadn’t forgotten him, but she could not bring herself to be seen. Once his heart was filled with her; she reflected through his eyes, she made him kinder, and she tamed his demons.

But they were estranged. Where to start?

She decided that he would have to find her again, even if it took an entire lifetime, which is the same conclusion he had drawn, right before his memory faded completely…

…and her memory was beginning to cloud…

Colors

Abandoning her luggage at the door, she collapsed onto the couch in a weary heap. A faint symphony of water playing in gutters soothed her closer to dreams. Her flight had been delayed, and sleep on an airplane is never as sound as in the comfort of one’s own home.

“If only I were closer to my bed.”

After a few minutes of internal discussion, she willed herself to stand and opened the curtains.

The sun had dawned, revealing beautiful streaks of blue and pink running down the street in front of her second-floor apartment. She hadn’t the energy to figure where they came from, but the unusual presence of color on shiny, wet pavement brought a smile to her face.


He stood back to survey his work, a lump of pink chalk resting in his hand. Words from a poem she had inspired sprawled on the street from curb to curb, words which seemed too important to read from paper or a computer screen.

Surprises weren’t on her list of favorite things in life, but he felt his strength complimented her romantic blindness. Sentiment was a chasm filled with words; words she didn’t wish to read, but words he needed to say nonetheless.

She would soon be home to read her urban welcome, and he only hoped the weather would hold. He hadn’t seen her in two months and wasn’t sure he’d get another chance.

Rain began to fall.

She never saw his words, and he never saw her smile again.

At The Crosswords

A weathered green book rests on her nightstand, where beautifully frightening verse lays unread, pressed between the pages. The front cover features a magnetic clasp which has yet to be disturbed. The gift had arrived in mail a few days prior, and it was her option on when to consume the content, if at all. She was unsure what to do, so the story remained unknown, night after night.


He was the kind of man who knew only that he felt, and was good at expressing it. Not in a maudlin or pitiful sense, but in a rugged, authentic manner. Perhaps it could be perceived as weakness that words spontaneously spilled out of him, but they were coherent, meaningful, savory words describing the sound his heart made as she waltzed through it.

From the moment they met, he knew there was something substantial about her. Memories flooded back from before his chin was grey and when lives were simpler. They were kids once, and she made his heart feel young again.

The poetry had accumulated over weeks. Her birthday was approaching, and what better gift than to show in his own hand her influence on his well-defended fortress of a heart?

He dedicated his finest penmanship to each page, each line, each letter. t’s were tall and slender, for grace. g’s swung low for dramatic effect. He thought of writing left-handed, because he could, and because at one time this impressed her.

But this was about the words, not the method.


Sealing the journal in wrapping paper and ribbon, he carried it to work for mailing that evening, never thinking twice about how his words may effect her. She was not one to wax sentimental, but this is who he was, and she seemed to like it.

With a quiet smile, he dropped the envelope in the mail bin, listening for its gentle landing on the sealed packets of other people’s words below.

This was the right thing to do.
image
The cleats from his cycling shoes rattled through the lobby like a cowboy’s spurs with the few brief steps needed to reach a massive bank of post boxes. The sound of a key turning lock tumblers to open his own tiny portal cut and echoed through the silence. Within the chamber rested one solitary envelope, leaning against the side, seemingly timid and wishing to not be noticed.

A letter from her.

Receiving handwritten mail was one of his favorite things, and an unexpected surprise. It was late and the lobby was empty, so he sat down to reveal his treasure.

The yellow, lined paper unfolded crisply between his fingers as he focused his eyes on the greeting:

Dear John…


A weathered green book rests on her nightstand, where beautifully frightening verse lays unread, pressed between the pages.

This is all he knows. This is what he believes. This is what he dreams, because dreaming any other outcome is more tragic than knowing the truth about words crossing in the mail.

She was still worth the risk.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

This one has been sitting in drafts since July 28. All contents remain valid.

…but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need.

Life has evened out recently. After a turbulent decade which has resulted in discovering my own identity, other changes have ensured that life never gets so easy that it loses its edge. Injurious family quarrels. Time away from bikes (injury). Loneliness.

After losing my job and moving back to California, taking a lower-paying yet more satisfying job, and meeting more people in six months than I have in the previous five years, change has become relative. Knowing what I want and what I need are more clearly defined, yet still separated. Sometimes they are the same, or they exist on both sides of the delimiter.

What I need is touch.

It has been so long since anyone’s fingerprints have been on my soul that any ensuing reaction to touch that deep would be alien, leaving me to wonder if I’d truly experienced touch.

With relocation being the most sensible alternative after being unable to gain new employment in Colorado, I was forced to leave my house in the Centennial State to renters and live in the family compound in California. It is a senior community tucked in a quiet nook in a now busy and crowded beach town.

Each morning, people within this community walk their dogs or simply stroll through the grounds to take in the fresh ocean air. Among these people are barky dogs who seem to forget who their neighbors are each morning, and cranky older folks who won’t acknowledge a wave and a smile.

But who stands out are a couple, walking at a brisk pace while all the time never losing contact of held hands. They’re adorable.

This is what I want.

This is what I need.

It can’t be gifted, it needs to be earned. Even fought for. Every last platitude has worn thin, and I no longer just sit and wait for the universe to drop in my lap that which everyone says I deserve. That which we all deserve.

True love.

But how do we know what we’re looking for? When the radar has been quiet for so long, do we broaden the search radius? If so, where?

Many an online romance have been whammied by distance, by current relationships, and by age. Sometimes a combination of all of them. Talking platonically to married people seems ok because we’re all adults, but those conversations shouldn’t ever influence the outcome of an existing relationship. It is a dangerous path. Someone will be hurt.

Distance is tricky because most people are tied to where they live; for family, for work, or any other number of reasons. Often times passports and societal elements are involved. That’s never easy.

Age. This seems to be the one variable posing the least amount of complication. Assuming the two individuals are local and single, all that’s left is what they have in common; how their souls match up. Is there chemistry?

Of course chemistry plays a part in any relationship, and it is difficult to find that with people a generation removed in either direction. Chemistry needn’t be immediate; some reactions are a slow burn, but a more successful result for the wait.

In a perfect world we end up marrying and dying with the girl whose hand we held walking with, hip-deep in snow to kindergarten (Hi, Lisa Sartore), but the world isn’t that kind or that simple, so we learn as we go and adapt when needed.

It’s been six long years, and the radar pings regularly at 12 o’clock just to let me know I’m alive.

Soft Moments

“Fate is the collision of patience and coincidence.”

Satisfied with this assessment of the present, he leaned back and squinted at the words, sprawled across the screen like a banner headline during wartime. Fatalists squint a lot because there are so many signs to read, and we’re always looking for directions. At least we men are.


MAY 1993

Open windows of the rickety U-Haul scooped in fresh, arid, mountain air.

“Utah gets a bad rap” he thought, winking smoke away from his eyes. The truck bounced like a rollercoaster, accompanied by the tinny sound of talk shows and latino music fading in and out over the AM radio.

The cigarette ash was longer than it should have been, yet it clung to its butt for dear life. The passenger seat contained an atlas and a half-empty pack of Lucky Strikes.

Packed tight with a life lived thus far, the truck coasted to a halt, punctuated by gentle crushing of roadside gravel. It was time to stop and take stock of progress.

cracked-cloudy-roadSlowly, the cab door creaked open in an place that couldn’t produce even a faint echo. Surveying the landscape in both directions, he ambled to the yellow stripe dividing lanes and stood staring at the horizon with hands on hips like a superhero, the sweaty concert t-shirt on his back a mock cape. The tarmac was warm and surprisingly inviting.

He was made for long journeys featuring uncertain outcomes. That’s what superheroes do: They grind out victory from a handful of uncertainty.

“There’s destiny up there.”

He allowed his hands to fall into the pockets of his plaid bermudas. There was no traffic. The sun beat down on his strong, young body, a bit weary from the miles, but he was always good when the heat was on. Returning to the cab, he extracted a cigarette from its rumpled pack with his teeth and flicked the lighter.

Again.

Again.

Damn.

There was a lighter in a box of miscellaneous belongings packed near the back of the truck. Straddling the trailer hitch (a car was being towed), he lifted the portcullis to his mobile life.

*plop*

A larger box had dropped as if being pushed, and a book tumbled to the ground. It was a dark blue hardback with silver accents and the pages were grey like those shirts that garage mechanics wore in the fifties. Squatting down and resting his arms on his knees, he picked up the book which had opened to the homecoming section, but before closing it, took a long gaze at a picture catching his eye without release.

She was radiant in black and white. A focal memory in a gown and a mischievous smile, filed away under What If a decade prior. Her eyes were certain and confident, right brow lifted slightly, accessorizing the smile. Her arm rested gracefully within the arm of the boy accompanying her on the court, a lucky boy whose name was I Once Wished That Were Me.

“I should’ve asked her to prom. I should’ve been more confident. You weren’t that goofy of a kid. Sure, quiet and shy, but maybe she would have said yes.”

He paused and looked up from the memory, blinking rapidly.

“No one should wield the power after an entire decade to stop a man cold like that in scorching desert heat. It’s just not fair,” he mused to himself.

It was so quiet on that ribbon of highway, he wondered if he’d unknowingly spoken the words.

Desolate silence provided the score as he sat, perched on the yoke of the trailer with the book in his palm. Rummaging through another box with his free hand, the lighter was found and he Struck Lucky. Only a few more moments of this utter silence, after which the pages of the past were pressed back together with a sigh of resolve. Life was pretty complicated right then and was only going to become more complicated. He knew this, so these soft moments counted extra.

The book remained closed, but in the front seat for the remainder of the trek to the Rocky Mountain plains.

She wouldn’t cross his mind again for almost seven years, but every time she crossed it, she left faint footprints.


Coincidental fates are determined by time and patience. What one wants and what one needs will blend when the time is right, and we don’t dictate time. Time is steady, independent, and consistent, like Capricorns. Soft moments are to be savored, for I believe if we truly appreciate the moment and file that moment away, it will remain preserved for when we need that lump in our throat, that butterfly in our stomach, or a soft moment to ponder…

…fates.