Archive for September, 2012

Elle, part one.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 26, 2012 by darryl zero

Name changed.  Distilled version of the conversation; some of the details are less important than the meaning.

The late summer heat in Boston wasn’t getting to me so much as it was simply the constant go, the stress, the trying to piece together bits of the city in my head as I went along, the concern that I wasn’t going to be able to get back to where I was sleeping in Somerville.  There was the disappointment at being stood up by Nrnthn and the embarrassment at being completely rebuffed by the barista at Thinking Cup, even if the flirtation was halfhearted and more implied than asserted (I simply wanted to know what was good to do once the sun went down).

Not wanting to be in that crowded shop any more, wanting to feel the outside air on my skin, I crossed the street and went straight for the first bench I could see on the common.  A girl was sitting on it; she had on a fedora and a huge pair of glasses, too big to be hipster and too stylish to be anything but, with an explosion of curly hair and the indifferent expression I’m starting to think all women just figure out regardless of culture or upbringing.  I noticed her in that I noticed she was there, taking my position on the bench, nursing my iced Americano and trying my best to seem unobtrusive.

I flipped through my phone as I reached out to the others I knew or had business with, in Boston or otherwise, and tried as hard as I could to resist the urge to take off the jacket.  Having spilled a bottle of lavender/frankincense body mist on my blazers, I quickly (and, perhaps, foolishly–I haven’t examined it to find out for sure) grabbed the summer-weight Hugo Boss jacket before leaving Iowa, I didn’t want to know what constantly walking with a thirty-pound backpack was doing to it.  It was part of the costume, I suppose–the jacket I loved and enjoyed serving as armor against the fact that I really had no business spending the money going to Boston, even if I did finally get to meet Lis, and she ended up being better in person than she was as the avatar of hopes and dreams thousands of miles away.

The girl next to me shifted her weight.  I only noticed because I felt her move.  It was a wonder I did; she was a wraith-thin, bony shoulders poking up from the black blouse-thing she wore in that gravity-defying way women do, white stripes cutting across her angular frame.  I noticed all of this in retrospect, mind you, as I traced the moments in my brain, wondering why I’m able to notice these things instead of others.  I glanced to my left; her bag had settled against the bench, a white bag with the Marimekko logo on it.

I was still a bit off from not having slept that Tuesday night; the words jumped from my mouth in the way they often do.  “Is there a Marimekko store near here?” I asked.

The girl turned, startled, out of some reverie or out of distrust I couldn’t tell.  She hesitated a long time before responding.  “Yes,” she said, mouth forming the words precisely.  I immediately revised my observation; she wasn’t a hipster, she was European, as there was something about the softness of her voice that, while far from being meek, definitely indicated something about her that was more thoughtful, as if the words had to cross some kind of barrier before emerging from her lips.

I immediately chuckled to myself, starting the timer for when she would leave, discomforted at the thought of being chatted up by this Black stranger, twice her size, clearly with some kind of angle that couldn’t make her feel safe.  I didn’t blame her, really.

She turned head back up the street, staring off into space.  Almost a full thirty seconds elapsed before she added “on Newbury Street.”  She was definitely foreign, her accent slight enough to show she’d mastered English and had no problems with it, but it clearly wasn’t the first language she’d learned.

“Thanks,” I said, smiling, before returning to my phone and trying to find a karaoke bar for the night.  I tapped on the thing relentlessly, debating various options, my love of the city setting in fully at that point, trying not to look up at the buildings along the Common and loving them in the way one loves something they can never truly grasp.  I must have been smiling; again, in retrospect, I realize I did an awful lot of that in Boston, something about the city just catching and burning in me, or maybe it was just the being somewhere else, being somewhere I decided I was going to be.

“Excuse me.”  The voice was definitely hers, but there was something to it that I wasn’t expecting, something that caught me off-guard.  “May I ask you a question?”

I lifted my eyes from my phone and turned to face her, arming my steely expression for some stupid comment or question about my hair.

She looked at me, dark eyes gravely serious, but with a distance created not by the glasses (which now rested somewhat crookedly on her nose) or by her gaze (which would occasionally point away from me), but by something else, something clearly internal, a gathering cloud of thoughts and ideas through which her words would travel before being translated into the language she knew I could understand.

“If someone told you that…” she began, then trailed off.  “If someone told you that they knew you were a good person, would that freak you out?”

I wasn’t sure if it was her accent, her style, or just her energy, but the dynamic immediately shifted, and I immediately re-estimated her age, dropping it by no less than ten years and as many as fifteen.  Teenager, I thought.  “Well,” I said out loud, “what do you mean?”

“Well,” she continued, “I’ve met someone, and he just…there’s just something about him.  I know it sounds strange, and it’s something different for me, because I don’t–I’ve never dated–I mean, my religion means I don’t…date, but I’m considering it, for him.  I’m going to leave here next week, and I told him I’d stay–he’s that special…”

She trailed off again, and this time the energy came through, unfiltered, that kind of observational skill amplified by a deep and abiding love of the details, large and small.  In that moment, she reminded me very much of a younger, teenaged version of myself, running around Portland for the first time, getting the city under my feet, learning there was more to the world beyond Iowa and what little of Hawaii I’d been allowed to see.  I thought of Anjali then, grown up, having surpassed me in every way, and I saw a bit of her in the girl, too.

I smiled.  I knew right away that I was going to like her.

To be continued.


8:14 (77)

Posted in eight fourteen with tags on September 25, 2012 by darryl zero

I always remember our conversations, but usually on a level that appears whenever I’m doing something else, like starting my car or lifting weights, or just thinking of something other than what I should be doing.  It’s funny; she’s the one I’ve talked to the most since I left Portland, even if she’s still there.  Conversation is easy with her, even if I’m nervous, even if we’re just shooting the shit, because I wanted to make it seem like there was absolutely nothing to the whimsy that drew me to her in the first place.  It’s easy to remember that there’s no future with her, because there’s not even really a present or a past, so it’s easy for me to hear her tell the stories behind the stories she writes about, because at the very least it’s someone telling me something other than some carefully orchestrated means of avoiding the truth, the necessity, the things that need to be said.  It’s all out there with her, how she’s not the kind to have anyone’s baby, so I don’t even mention it, and the fear that I have about being lonely evaporates with the sound of her voice, because she’s where I am, only by choice, and it makes it easier for me to not have what I want, because she’s there to ask me exactly what that is, even though I don’t have an answer.

She asked me that once when I was beginning this new break, the beginning of my end, and I was talking about my grand plans or my grand lack-of-a-plan, I was telling her about how I was broken by it and she asked me

“well, what do you want?”

and I felt stupid when I talked to her, like I always do, because I didn’t have an answer, I never do when I talk to the ones that are smarter than I, that’s why I like to listen and set up my fiefdom from a distance, watching them as they adventure through whatever and wherever, it’s safer this way, really, I learned it as a lad even as my heart ached before it really knew how to, this is how I cut my teeth, watching a phone line away while someone else made someone else what they wanted, even as what I wanted slipped further and further away,

and the empty pit in my heart expands and swallows everything around it except my brain, cursing me to be aware of everything even as my dreams quickly wash into nothingness,

leaving only her voice and the comfortable world it comes from.

i won’t be coy, when i say “her,” i mean “everyone,” because naming names only gets me in trouble and zero ain’t about the trouble anymore, only the need, the ache, the one that you can’t fuck or scream away.

Time’s up.

naked vulnerability.

Posted in Uncategorized on September 22, 2012 by darryl zero

this week, the love of my life got married to someone who isn’t me.

she will always be the one i wanted more than anyone.  i had every chance in the world, but either fucked it up or was too scared to take a chance.

i feel so very, very alone, and i fear i always will be.