Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Sometimes, we dig down.  I like to think of it as digging upwards.

There's a pain in my shoulder.  I wonder if the pain of that is equal, greater than, or less than that of the pain in my mind caused by my past relationships.

So much is written over such a topic.  Love.  Relationships.  Romance.  The heart.

What is it, though?  Is it truly something that is a figment created by our own minds?  Is the true love really found within; do we need others to cultivate it, to help us nurture it?

Of course, it differs, person to person.  Of course.

Recover, recovery...  From these drugs.  The dependence, the addiction.  Are we really ever free?  Addicted to food and shelter, to water, to life itself.

It this not just another symptom of living, of life?

What makes certain things better or worse than others?

There's a picture painted.  Many pictures, in actuality.  The fools we are, we forget that most pictures are just a split second of time.  Without context, without the actual moments, we know nothing of what the picture is about, what went on the second before and after, or the emotions tangled within the bodies in the photograph.

I see a smile, but I really see a soul that has not evolved.  Part of me wishes to aid that soul again, and part of me wishes to be rid of it, for its toxic grab poisons my own spirit.

We must let go.

We must be free.

When she left (did she really leave?), did she take a part of sense with her?  Were things going to turmoil, only to be "made better" by the mask of sickness?  Should she not have been taken, would life have been going to the trash?  Have we been made stronger, or have we been made to rebuild ourselves differently to make up for what has been lost?

The books on my floor are not the same as they would have been with her presence.  I feel like they might not even exist.  Every moment, every happening, is altered, but meant purposefully.

And my heart?  It is really my mind.  Chemicals, I suppose, nerve endings, muscles and things that I do not understand working together to formulate thought and what I feel is emotion and feeling.  Subjective.  Objective.  Fighting.  Obsolete.

Feel.  Be.

Chad once wrote on my drawing wall about living with passion, but being careful.


Ed wouldn't be happy, but he'd understand.  Or have empathy.  Or guidance.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Everyone else drinks lemonade

I can hear the ice against the glass.

Clink, clink.

Small beads of condensation form and roll down their vertical slip-and-slide, an iced tea that has yet to be touched.

A small piece of hair slides across her face as she leans to place her book and glasses down.  She doesn't brush it away, for she is not bothered by its presence.  Meredith is like that:  unfazed by little annoyances, always a pleasant aura around her.  Her hair is the color of a fawn in the sunlight, an innocent light brown.  Her skin is creamy and smooth like silk; it glows like a peach when she blushes.  Lips the shade of skin stained by raspberries, a mouth that breaks into a heartbreaking smile whenever someone tells a funny joke.

I first met Meredith when I was fourteen, young, and impressionable.  She was sixteen, and, oh, how I looked up to her.  She drove an old, beat-up Volkswagen Rabbit and smoked cigarettes at the time, a habit that her mother begged and pleaded for her to stop.  "I just can't seem to do it," she had said to me once.  "I try, but they always seem to end back in my hand.  It's like twisted fate."

"How did you start?"

"Oh, a party, you know..."  She looked off into the distance and took a drag.  "I went to my friend Chase's New Year's Eve party.  Two years ago.  I was stressed out; my parents had been fighting, my grades were slipping.  Chase had started the year before and offered me one.  I figured, heck, he doesn't seem too bad.  I had heard that smoking made you age faster and ruined your vocal chords.  But Chase still looked seventeen - he was seventeen then, three years older than me - and had a sexy voice.  So I took a chance and tried it.  And, dang, it felt great.  Like cinderblocks were lifted off of my shoulders."

I studied her face, watching as she pondered over her memory.  A melancholic smile formed at the side of her mouth and her eyes glistened slightly.

"I'll stop," she said, looking at me.  "I'll stop for you."

She touched my chin lightly, eyes locked with mine.

Sweat is starting to creep onto my forehead.  I brush it away with the back of my hand and shake it onto the grass.

Clink, clink, clink.

Meredith is taking a sip of her iced tea.  The delicate muscles in her neck ripple as she swallows the icy drink.  She finishes off the glass and catches my eye.

"Let's go lay in the hammock."

We rise from our seats in the sun and walk through the grass to the shady area in her backyard.  A big, majestic red maple tree stands there, its trunk thick with age and wisdom.  It's known Meredith her whole life.

I steady the hammock; Meredith climbs in.  I follow, sliding in next to her, our shoulders touching.

The hammock sways, our bodies feel almost weightless in our cocoon.  Meredith lifts her hand to shade her face from some of the sun that breaks through the leaves and licks her face.  She keeps her fingers spread and plays with the light.

I remember the time, early on in our blossoming friendship, when Meredith invited me over to her house and we laid in this very hammock.  We had been reading George Orwell's 1984; she had to read it for assignment at school and I offered to read it with her that day.  I was reading to her about O'Brien when she grabbed my hand suddenly and said, "Wait."  I stopped reading and glanced over at her and, before I knew it, she was leaning over me, the hammock swaying, and a kiss was placed on my lips.  It was ever so brief, so quick, that I hadn't time to process what was going on.  For that split second, I had felt the warmth of her lips, so soft and velvety, pressed against mine.  Time stopped for me, a whirlwind of confusion and a fireworked sky.  And then it was over and she was back to laying next to me, the hammock swaying like a ship in the sea, mimicking the way my mind felt.

We're swaying.  Meredith has her leg off of the side of the hammock, moving it back and forth to give us a light pendulum movement.  It's calming, laying there with her.  She runs her fingers through my hair and speaks of the future.

"I imagine I'll be on the beach, wading in the waves, soaking up the sun.  Maybe I'll even learn to surf. Wouldn't that be cool?"  She doesn't wait for a reply and continues on.  "I mean, I have decent balance.  I just need to learn to conquer the ocean."

She pauses, going off into her daydream.  I turn to look at her, see her face as she's creating dreams in her mind.  Her eyes have that distant look; her face is glowing and smiling.  Her eyes catch mine.

"You can visit, you know.  There will be plenty of room, and I'll make sure there is a spot for you."

I smile and turn my head back to look up at the leaves.  "Yeah," I say, "that'd be cool."

Once, when I was twelve, I asked my mother what love was like.  I so desperately wanted to have it, but I didn't quite understand it.

I sat at the kitchen table, feet going back and forth, back and forth, impatiently waiting a reply.

"Oh, I don't know, honey," she said.  "It differs from person to person.  And there is all sorts of it.  Like how your father and I love you, how I love your father, how I love my friends like Lindy and JoAnn."

I wrinkled my nose, disappointed in that answer.  "But what's it like with you and Daddy?"

The sun has moved and is starting to change the sky's color.  It is still warm out, though I no longer feel sweat forming on my body.  I reach down and put my fingers into Meredith's hand and wrap them around hers.  I can feel hers squeeze mine.  We lean our heads against each other.  I have nothing to say; I am simply enjoying the moment.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Soup Door

There's a can of Campbell's that's been sitting on the kitchen counter for weeks now.  She brought it home after shopping for some groceries.

"Look, Sam!  I found this.  Reminds me of Billy."

She placed it on the counter, and there it sat.  Campbell's Minestrone, its red and white label staring at me.


Billy loved that soup.  I remember him walking through the door many a day, dropping his bag, heading for the cabinet to grab the small can.  A pot would be already be on the stovetop, waiting for him.

"Time is money; money is time," he'd say.  "No point in putting it on the shelf when I'll be needing it, right?"  He'd grin, a cheerful, gripping grin, one that won every girl at the bar over.  How he did, I have no idea.  But he did.  Fuck, he even won me over.

"We'll have to invest in a gas range.  I've been saving up.  This thing's shit."

Slowly, the smell of savory vegetables and broth would fill the kitchen and our small apartment.  Billy'd whistle as he poured himself a bowl, taking care not to spill.  His hands moved with grace.

She didn't understand why he left, at first.  She thought he was away on a business trip.  Like the soup, she had brought other little things home that reminded her of him.  A stuffed lamb.  A book about coffee tables.  A pamphlet from the new Chinese Takeout place that just opened up on Broad Street.  All of these things just became clutter, sitting around the apartment.  He never came back to see them like she thought he would.

"Why can't you just sort it out?" she'd ask, her big eyes full of concern.  "You were so close...  I just don't understand..."

I can't stand the way the can looks.  The way the letters of 'Minestrone' are formed, their cheery, rounded edges, saying, "I'm friendly and tasty!  Pick me!" bothers the Hell out of me.  I keep staring at it, imagining the paper peeling off the ribbed metal like sunburn.