Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why you can never go home again

I'm back in Boston this weekend, for the first time since leaving in May. After living here for five years, it's beyond strange to be back as a guest. I'm staying at a friend's house, taking care of their dog while they're out of town at a wedding. I know this neighborhood pretty well; I used to spend a good bit of time here. I know the bike paths and the parks, the bars and the coffee shops, and where to get a good burrito. I know the names of streets and the north from the south from the east from the west. I walk these streets once again, tracing invisible footprints in the brick and the concrete, revisiting the past. Every time I walk to the T I pass his house. Back and forth, twice a day, four times, and still I look, and every time it's there. Nothing's changed and everything. Part of me still believes he's in there, thinks that if I rang the doorbell he might answer. The doorbell the only part of the house I don't know; I always had a key. But he's not there, of course. He moved on only a few months after we ended, and if I rang a stranger would answer. 

How shocked I was when he told me, mentioned in passing he had moved to the suburbs, as casual as if he had bought a new shirt. As usual, he felt no need for justifications. He was matter-of-fact in his telling, but you could have knocked me flat with a swipe from the proverbial feather. The self-professed urbanite, lover of tall buildings and bars within stumble-home distance, traded in his T pass for a yard and a patch of asphalt driveway? O snubber of suburbs, o turner-up-of-a-delicate-nose at all things remotely reeking of strollers and swing sets and subprime mortgages, can it really be? Friends and co-workers who deigned steer their U-Haul towards the wild blue fairly-near yonder were met with a haughty sneer, as he grew increasingly adamant about never joining their ranks. If anything, he said, he would want to move downtown, where it's gritty and noisy and you need a realtor to get a parking space. He'd move into a huge loft apartment, made out of a converted factory or office building or his pipe dream, a church, and he'd live like a monk (only without the whole abstinence thing): a bed. A table. A painting. Stark and empty and severe, rattling around in his urban oasis as the horns go off below him.
It sounded like hell, and I told him so. A flare of his nostrils, and perhaps he was thinking, just another reason we're not right for each other. And then, the end, and with no one to call his bluff, he moved to the suburbs, where the buffalo roam, and single family home-dwellers are chained to their gas-electric automobiles, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

I re-trace the same paths I have been walking for years, and I can still feel everything I have ever felt as I walked them, all in a rush, one sweetsourbittersweet burst of emotion. My house to the T. The T to his house. The overnight bag on my shoulder, the exhilaration and sweet anticipation of going to see the someone I love. The fatigue, the stress, the niggling nag of frustration at having to pack a bag to see the someone I love. Loving, but wanting all at once. O give me a home...

His house, his former house, remains silent, of course, and I continue on my way. Then I am not-home, fumbling with unfamiliar keys, and I enter, again, into someone else's life. I play with someone else's dog and I sleep in someone else's bed. Where seldom is heard...anything, really, but the occasional light snoring of the dog.  
Now, I don't give a damn about the deer and the antelope, but o, give me a home.  

Why I've lost my appetite

One thing I've learned after living in other people's homes these past few months is that no matter many square feet of hardwood floors you have, no matter how vast and pristine your tile, your cat will invariably go out of his way to puke on your carpet. I think it's just for that extra added bit of fuck you; try cleaning that, you bi-ped.

I was only more recently, and quite horrifyingly, made aware, however, that in certain canine circles, cat puke is considered quite the delicacy.

Someone's sleeping alone tonight.    

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why do they never show this on Cops?

I haven't been feeling very inspired lately, but you can go here to read a very brief account of my weekend. 

Now when someone asks if I've ever been in the back of a police car I can say, "Well, actually..." And it is better to show up to a party in a cop car than to leave in one, I always say. 

Cheers, all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Why volunteering rocks

So I went to the Wilco show last night and it looked a whole lot like this:

(Bellies portrayed are for representative purposes only, and may or may not be fans of the artistic stylings of Jeff Tweedy. No fetuses were harmed in the making of this post).

In any case, it seemed like at least 30% of the female population was visibly, hugely, ready-to-pop pregnant. Apparently unborn fetuses and their host bodies love the Wilco; you heard it here first. Shopping for an expecting friend? Try a Wilco onesie, it's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

I was lucky enough to attend this event for free, as a volunteer. I wish I had been able to hold up my end of the bargain a little more effectively, but I ended up trailing Talia mutely as she worked her clipboard-wielding, signature-collecting, community-activating charm. (I did hold some brochures, though). What can I say, she's had a lot more experience at this than I have, and besides, there was only the one clipboard, after all. And, I like to think I provided some much-needed moral support. For our hard work and dedication we saw the show and drank for free, and as it neared the end of the over two-hour performance, we packed up shop and flashed our smeared hand stamps for entrance into the VIP area (apparently missing Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins by mere minutes). Upstairs it was an oasis of subtle lighting, potted plants, attractively padded benches, and more free food and booze. I took the presence of yet more pregnant ladies walking around as a good sign - more wine for me! (Although the tray of chocolate chip cookies I had my eye on disappeared in like a minute flat).

In short, volunteering rocks. Giving back to the community is so important, and I encourage everyone to do it. In fact, now that I have the taste for volunteering, I'm hoping to do it again soon, perhaps during the Regina Spektor concert tomorrow. But only because it's for a good cause, of course.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Why cupcakes are a girl's best friend

I know it may be a bit hard to believe that there was a time when I wasn't friends with Talia; it's hard for me to believe, and I was there. But it's true; there was a period of about three years where we had a falling out and didn't speak anymore. It happened shortly after I started dating my ex, and finally resolved itself about a month or so before James and I broke up. (All just a coincidence, I'm sure...) I don't think either of us remembers what it was about, and I'm sure whatever it was would sound laughably unimportant now. But the years of silence that followed were all too real, unfortunately, as I was reminded when I was going through some of my old journals recently. This entry came from deep in the dark depths of it, in November 2005:

If you can't read it, the fortune cookie states: Reconcile with an old friend. All has been forgotten. And ahhh, the bitter, bitter bile of a black pen. Look at me, spilling my innermost personal feelings on actual lined paper like that. How cute, how quaint it all is. What did I do before I had a blog and the Internet to reassure me, to tell me that you love me, no matter what? Well, I probably spent a lot more time crying alone in my room, that's for sure. Also, I probably spent a whole lot less time checking my spelling and grammar. Because did I spell deceit like receipt? Why yes. Yes I did. And though I know I was deadly serious at the time, I admit I did get a good chuckle out of it when I re-read it, once I had a bit of perspective and Tal was back on the Christmas card list once more.

But when I think of how differently it could have turned out, I am so grateful that it turned out in this way. Because when faced with an impoverished, unemployed, homeless, aimless, desperate and wandering (and only slightly whiny) ex-grad student, it takes a very special person to say, "Sure! Come on over and stay at my place for the next few weeks to a month and a half! It'll be fun!" And for someone to say those words and actually mean it, well, that's the mark of a true friend.

Tal and I are back together again, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Add in a summer of shopping, shows and shoes, New York City-style, and that's just icing on the talking cupcake. And remember, friends may come and go, but cupcakes are forever.

Cheers, everyone! Here's wishing you a sweet, sweet summer.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Why my arms are empty but my mind is full

He sleeps too solidly, head ground into the pillow. In the glow of the streetlight his face is white, young and unrecognizable. We are polite and overly generous, a wide line drawn down the middle. An arm extended tentatively and then withdrawn. Sleep takes over and we are alone in it, dreaming of falling down on empty sidewalks. A solitary sleeper, I am a rock, I am an eye-land. I used to be like that, before, seperate in sleep, my body a stiff question mark. But that was before, long before, so long before that sometimes all I can remember is the after.

After the before we slept close, so tight together that no paper could fit between, no particle of light shine through. I woke and he woke. Roll over. Shhh. Roll over. Go to sleep. Wake, turn, shift, sleep, all night long, with never a space between. Airtight and happy, belly to back, nose to neck, every sigh a tickle, every flutter of lash a butterfly kiss. Our bodies a matched set, curved lines traced by a steady hand, two long parentheses. Comfort in this. In three years, how many hours did we spend like this? Twenty-five hundred, perhaps. Three thousand. Perhaps more. Never counting, our time not measured in hours and minutes, but in beats and breaths, in shared body heat, in risings and fallings and the slow and steady pressure of a hand on a back, on a leg, on an arm. Our sleep was as infinite as our future, as vast as the horizon unrolling before us, until we came to the end of the world, and leapt.

A year and a quarter later and I am still not a solitary sleeper. Tonight I am a shadowy figure in a strange bed, an unwilling apostrophe longing to be made a quotation mark.