Love potion #8 (&1/2)

It was becoming harder to blow anything like life into the animal metaphors, they were becoming ridiculous, as if we were starting not to believe in each other any more.  I started off the year as a dog, and ended it as a horse, absolutely, but not entirely, if such a thing were possible.  Instead of being the one who can run freely back and forth across the dividing line between the living and the dead, I was one who carries, one who is mounted, one who has to respond when they are called.  It was bigger, a much bigger role than the year before, and there was more limits to my movement, but there was also a sense that this sense of place would give me more freedom than I had ever imagined.  Eventually.  I wish I could say I found it all on my own, but it happened the way it always does:  I am sleeping, someone calls me, and by the time I wake up and answer, she is sleeping.  Sometimes we wake up in time, but usually we wake up when it's already too late.

The boy in me wanted to improve his reflexes, to narrow the gap between call and response, and I found myself waking up earlier and earlier, turning my body leaner and more graceful, more like a horse than a dog.  The adult in me just goes along, pretty certain that closing the gap won't make a fucking difference to anyone for anything.  If the soup is only ready for a short amount of time, maybe it's better if we don't eat.

"Kikiribu Mandinga, Kikiribu Mandinga," is a coincidence, a video of a woman dancing her way into the head of a drunk, or just one of my muertos come teasing, trying to wake up something I'm swallowing, because if it opens up my mouth won't stop, and I don't know what my mouth wants to do right now.  I'm stuck somewhere between high school and that soft poetry that happens on a couch in the middle of a grey day when the house is warm, but the muscles in my chest keep emptying and filling with blood, and this is more like magic than anything simple.  It's possible that everything that has to do with falling in love is a kind of bewitching.  Always a spell, always an enchantment, someone is doing something they are powerless over, and when it's better (or much worse), it happens to two at once (or three).

I can never tell the difference between the image and the reflection, and I'm more aware to the idea that both of these things are where everything gets lost, and it might not matter if there is a difference, practically speaking.  I have a perfect love somewhere in me, and by the time it reaches my head, it's way too many other things to make any clear decisions.  Sometimes the best thing to do is to keep waking up in the morning, that gives me the chance to see if these things are still true for me.  Most mornings I wake up and my house is wide open, the doors unlocked and the windows blowing through with cold air, all the ghosts are still here.

Love stories that end in pornography are the ones we always really want, but are afraid to say out loud, where the couple rolling around in the waves eventually get carried away, and the clothes are gone and the line around the belly becomes the central point in the adventure.  Those stories that play out in real time almost seem enough to take away the pain of the love stories that end with one or the other lying awake at night, alone or with another lover, wondering suddenly if they might have missed something.

And that's where my stories stop, and I would like it if they stopped stopping right there, with that sudden turn at the top of the trail, looking back only to realize that the one that got left behind has already turned into a pillar of salt, and there's only a road ahead.  I like to think that there might be one last thing we could say to each other that might make the story turn, so I try, I always try, but my mother is one who destroys utterly, where there are only endless combinations of traces, notes and lipstick stains to puzzle over while the next story is starting.  I would like to think that we get second chances, but we rarely ever do, and they even more rarely come when someone is waiting and hoping for it.

I also like to think that you can't lose someone too many times, that eventually we wake up somewhere a little older, and realize that we have a chance.  But I've woken up plenty, and gotten older plenty, and understand now that I tend to lose the same people again and again, and I'm lost to the same people who don't want to lose me again and again, and on some nights it seems funny, and on others it's the worst pain in the world.  This isn't hard, but it is impossible.

"Everyone thinks they love differently, and in more complicated ways, than the rest of the world, as if anything about this can be original.  Everyone thinks they reinvented it."
"I know," I said, "I meet them all the time, and it's impossible."
"Them?" she said, "I'm talking about you."

I was trying to keep my eyes on the road up ahead.  I thought about how she said this looked promising, and that sounded right, and I wanted to be able to feel what it might be like to feel like something up ahead was promising.  But I was aware now more than ever that the tightness in my belly and the dryness in my skin meant that I was either bracing or being braced, for something large.  I knew it was going to be dangerous, but I also knew it was bound to be beautiful, and if I could have told her all the secrets about the ground beneath our feet, I would have, but she would have to believe me.  And we live in a time when we don't believe each other.

It was very hard to tell if this were sunrise or sunset, and even though I had plenty of ways to find out, I decided that just for now it was probably better not to know for sure.  It looked like I was ending the year in the same shape in which I began it, a little restless, a little beat up, and very hungry but not ready to eat.  I wasn't unaware that I kept losing the same person over and over again, and my heart was no less tired that it ever was before.  I also wasn't unaware that I kept meeting the most beautiful person in the world, and every time I lost her, I got closer to telling her what she was waiting to hear in this life.  It was not my favorite place, but that was me at my best.  Close, on the verge, ready to burst, that painful intercession between the thing that wants and the thing that knows, it made for sweet music whenever I was in between things.  But in that particular moment, it was too much, much too strong, like the open vein of the earth where the lava flows through; that, she said, is what makes the poet drunk, makes the dancer lose their footing, makes the one who counts the moments of time lose their ability to speak, and takes the breath away from the prayer.

So if I keep looking for her, then I'm a fool, but if I stop looking, I'm a coward, and I've never been able to stay not brave for very long.  She matches the holes in my favorite shirt, the space between my teeth, the space between two pairs of shoes wrapping around each other awkwardly in a car on a cold night by the ocean.  She has plenty of faces, and plenty of names, but there are some I'm more drawn to than others, and anyone who understands reflections like that, anyone who knows how to weigh hearts, and anyone who can understand that one of the most gorgeous things in the world is to wake up and realize that you are no longer changing your mind about this, knows what it's like to lose something, and that's the one I want to keep.  


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