Wednesday, September 30, 2009

strange analogies under normal circumstances

Breakfasts take preparation. She walked into the kitchen to find him in his button-down shirt but still without his dress pants. His tie was flipped over his shoulder to keep it from mixing with the eggs he was scrambling. She shifted her weight in the doorway, wondering if he could feel the love exuding from her or from him. She looked down the moment he turned. In three strides he crossed the linoleum tile, kissing her swiftly on the mouth, taking her aback. He then bent to kiss her stomach, asking if she wanted avocado in her eggs.

The magic lost. The same tears barely filtered and reused. They still take walks around the neighborhood. They do not hold hands. He does not kiss her before work. The house feels smaller, with one door permanently closed. They ate dinner one night in front of the television. They endured a short but tense conversation about repainting the room. The room remained unpainted and dinner in front of the television became frequent.

She was driving home from the park. He had gotten off work early and given her a call, wanting to take the pair of them out to eat. She called to the boy, still on the swings, and they loaded into the car. The boy sat contently in the back seat, strapped in tight. He kept making faces for the rearview mirror, hoping every time to make her laugh. Last week for Mothers’ Day his father had coaxed him to wake her up in the morning by saying, “Mommy, you have the most beautiful laugh in the world.” She had smiled, watching her man smirk, arms crossed, in the doorway. At dinner she would tell him the story of the boy gathering the courage to go down the big slide.

She sits on the porch. Raspberries are in season again. The house behind her feels quiet. She smashes the fruit forcefully against the roof of her mouth. They slept in separate beds three months after it happened. He left in a taxi three months after that. He left in a taxi that morning. She could not taste the color of the fruit. She curled her legs onto the chair and into herself, abandoning the weight of her own footsteps.

She crushed the raspberries against the roof of her mouth, feeling them burst as she placed them one by one, savoring the texture and the taste of the color. She sat in a wicker chair on the porch, her legs curled and tucked into herself. He rode by on his bike, showing off for her amusement. She smiled at her man, riding out in front of her lawn and her house. She let the smell of fresh paint waft over her. She liked the way it mixed with the smell of sun-drenched grass and sun-kissed fruit. She stood to take a walk with him around the new neighborhood. They held hands the entire way. She liked their new life inside their new walls.

The truck struck the passenger’s side of the car. Her head hit the side window. She woke up hours later with just her husband at her side.

The house felt complete now. There was the bedroom for sleeping and the boy’s room for story telling and the kitchen for cooking lessons and the bright room upstairs for painting. She liked leaving the curtains open, letting the sun wake her. She cut the edges off peanut butter sandwiches and so did the boy, her man laughing at the pair of them, insisting it all tasted the same. Every day was filled with laughter, and every night was filled with peace.

Friday, September 25, 2009

not nobody, not a thousand beers, will keep us from feeling so all alone

An Italian film told us this week – “You must demand to live in a better world. Don’t be content to merely survive”

I believe that, and the following, is why many of us came here in the first place: The stadium lights on so loud, forgetting it’s dark; Loneliness as crime: look each other in the eye; How there’s not enough time for one man, in one life; How there couldn’t be enough lives for the time needed; Every night seeing the cigarette put out under the tap water; Gold satin strung in lonely branches; Third weeks being the hard weeks, heard before, proven after; And we live and we live and we live without end

Even if we can’t see the seams currently, they have to exist somewhere – which begs the question –

what happens after eternity?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

skies and ceilings and their manifestations

My life in Italy, looking anywhere but level:

Sunset over the river, taken during a balcony sort of evening, orientation. Stone bridges traverse across to the other side. One recent night two of us climbed over the bricks to a small ledge right over the water, backs to the wall as to be hidden from the headlights and eyes of passing traffic. It was a day of hibiscus and June blossom infused tea and discussions of artist as vessel or creator with a perfect end.

View from my apartment window, sky ready to break. The sky here is more emotional than most places. Threats are to be taken seriously. And if it pours, you are required to dance.

Classes are in the Villa Rossa. Grand center staircase. The paint is warm and the staircases are like strange stitching, weaving around the rooms and often (but not always) connecting on alternating floors. There are big oil portraits hanging over bigger mantles. I like the way shoes echo after morning rush.

Every evening in one of the piazzas, an American guitarist plays a set. We sat in the still-summer air, singing softly and sketching the statues by moonlight. He has a life I would like to sketch. There are many lives here I would like to sketch. In Florence, artists are collectors of one another.

The marble caves of Carrara. The stone has been untouched by sun for millions of years and when it does, it turns from gray to brilliant white. It's not "like" magic. It is magic. Michelangelo picked his own cuts from the same mountain. From these stones was formed the counterpoise.

San Vitale: Vincent Scully's class, come to life. There is another chapel in Ravenna with two frescos on either side of the central aisle - one depicting the blessed, the other depicting the damned. And I thought it a strange thing to be married there, between heaven and hell. Dante's tomb called out for a recital and we paid our tribute.

The seaside towns of Cinque Terre. I plan on running away here and losing myself in the olive groves for months at a time. I hiked nine kilometers and got dusty and sweaty and it was wonderful. I want to add a lock on the first path and tell stories of fishermen, painting their houses bright colors so they could see the point of their beloved, even while at sea. I want my lock to have a story, to be retold over and over in whispers in the groves.

A protest gathered at the church adjacent to our apartment. We stood on our balcony, watching dots of candlelight mushroom and multiply. I asked someone why, days later, and he told me and it felt like a secret, to know.

The water was more blue than the sky, a more delightful blue. I felt I could fly through it more readily than any air, a far smoother sailing. And later I did, hands clasped with another brave aviatrix. And we glided, cold and salty, past the poisonous barbs and away from a world my mind was buried too far, too deep.

Mayday Club. There is a membership card in my wallet: commemoration of the evening we spent mesmerized, dipping strawberries in peach vodka after watching a Beatles cover band. The talk that buzzes with specificity centered around an essay of a man’s hatred for endives and neoplasm, and a woman who did a photographic documentary in which she posted photos from each ex-boyfriend, cutting out the face of each with a perfect circle.

Delirious on the bus, I awoke to hundreds of birds, bathing in light. My breath caught on itself.

We climbed to the top of the city. We climbed to the top of our world.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

three of my favorite people, so far


He lives his life for display, and for display only. Displayed on his walls are the milestones of his life - framed photos and newspaper clippings, tickets and programs, post-it notes and love letters that he feels “tell a story” by being public rather than private. The walls, if you can’t tell, are a cream, chosen specifically as not to contrast with the copious amounts of keepsakes hanging, ranging from maroon to aqua to gold. The colors melt, permeating through the room and creating a ceaseless band of hues.

He keeps his furniture simple and chic. His closet is color-coded and his shoes are lined up neatly, many even staying in the boxes of their original wrapping. He has one of those clear refrigerators. With such a thing, the contents are also, naturally, neatly arranged. He keeps organic fruit and imported wine. He doesn’t like either, but others like that he had such things and so he continues to buy them from the independently owned market down the street, popular with many of the tight jeans and headband-wearing crowd for its kombucha.

He himself prefers tight white jeans in the fall. Paired with his black moccasins, he is a study in contrast. He purchased a camera less than a centimeter thick, partially because of the little room the jeans provide. He later upgraded to carrying a messenger bag, dark brown Italian leather with the capability of being slung exclusively over the right shoulder. This also allows him room to carry his moleskin. It was the legendary notebook of Hemingway, you know.


They parted at nearly ten to eleven, he storming out of the room once before returning for the announcement of its finality and storming out a second time.

She, the one whose side we are on, had brought up a sensitive topic that he bluntly wished not to discuss. Leaving was his way of ending the conversation, this time permanently. The scenario twisted itself between the sheets of cold-sweat dreams, tossing and turning as strange thoughts fired off stranger details both true and non-existent. She awoke at three in the morning to the radiator scorching the room with heat and faint lines imprinted into her skin, mimicking the folds of the linen. The sundry moments of peace that come from awaking after a thought-canceling sleep passed.

She observed the cool concrete ground four stories below, comforted by the barrier of the closed window. So was the closure of such an option, her forehead grazing the cool glass.

He answered his phone. She kept him entangled in the back and forth as she rapidly traversed the distance between her apartment and his own, her state described to night by her sole donning of a thin button-down and tights. She hung up when she reached his door, looked at herself, and went home.


Anyone Pro Daisy Miller.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Quality of Light

“Time that is moved along by little wheels and gears is no time at all. And people who are wound with cranks and equipped with springs are no people to speak of.”

It seemed as if my recent past was dominated by scribbling things like the above down, trying to make up for pale memories I had already started to lose. I dressed my words with India ink and my pages were stained from the intentional carelessness of nights with red wine. And from within all those empty nights – those late nights of arriving at your quiet room and knowing (feeling) that all that is there is you – comes some vague notion of what it feels like to be human, privy to aging and regret. Relentless regret, for there is time yet for decisions and indecisions and revisions of each, once. Twice. Thrice.

And so I turn to the people next to me – the girl at the coffee shop with friendly eyes looking over her novel, that boy in that band who spouts drunken philosophy with startling accuracy, the individual with whom I choose to share my (__) – and I say, “Let us go then, you and I. Let’s make a decision without need of revision, to a place where our thoughts touch the sky” And they look at me. And they think about it. Sometimes they come with me. More often they don’t. Most often I remain as well.

I came to Italy to refashion and to rethink. Where we call “home” is just another choice.

Here the stones in the cobbled streets are smooth. As I roam, my eyes cut shapes: ovals and diamonds, ovals and diamonds. I walk new streets every day, sometimes on purpose, most often on accident. The smell of the sky washes me in sticky pastels; slightly fluid and heavy air; a darker spice I cannot yet pinpoint. Light is integral: light warming that space on my back between my shoulder blades while I ride my Florentine bike on a new adventure, while I cook eggs in the kitchen of my new (first) apartment, while I picnic in the piazza. I wake up to light.

Every so often, if I keep the space between my top lashes and bottom lashes miniscule, I swear the colors blur, mixing and befriending one another. My ceiling is white and my blankets are black, so therefore the air must shimmer with grays and silvers. But I never catch them, and by the time my eyes are fully open the colors are set, pretending to not know a thing.

I was scared, once, by the sound of a wine bottle crashing in the road. The glass pieces sparkled unnaturally, reflecting the glow from the streetlamp, and suddenly the sound was worth it.

People here are light. I meet artists and musicians and other mortals with good heads and good ideas that fill them. They could ask my name, but they do not. I could ask their names, but I do not, though I could easily meet them again. But they seem free and undaunted by the way a person can so easily slip in and out of one’s life. So I mimic. I want to be free like them. So I say goodbye and I mean it.

Instead I go home: home is what I am choosing to call this temporary apartment. I will sleep in my small bed and wake up to the light, first on my face, then on my arms, then on the rest of me. By the time my eyes open the walls will be white and the blankets will be black and the air will be whatever color air is. I abandoned the India ink and am in search of permanence. I have come, and I will continue to go (for now, just I). I make decisions, free of revisions. My thoughts surpass the sky.