I felt it the first time I saw you. My heart stopped its incessant beating upon the sight of you walking down the busy city street, a little windswept and breathless with your cheeks flushed, hair messy and your lips slightly parted as if you were asking for a kiss and I wished I were the only one who could give it. It’s what gave me courage to talk to you. This was the time when I finally understood the likes of poets like Shakespeare, Debussy’s longing and the stuff of silly songs sung by the town drunks with their guitars and slurred perspectives. It was like flying. I was walking on air and floating in bewitched water. I saw it in the color of the crimson hue in the roses I bought you, that dress you wore, the color of your cheeks and the color of your lips when you leaned into whisper in my ear your vow of eight letters, the prospect of a future that no longer promised me loneliness. Each night I heard it when you were in my arms and the whole world decided to quiet down and stand still like a child halting the spin of a wildly spinning top. In the smallest moments when all that pervaded me was the scent of your hair, the hint of your smile, your warmth and the palms of your hands over my beating heart, I have never felt more contented. I have never known people could be happy and elated like this. For once in my life I think I could never tire of seeing someone, of wanting to become part of them, of knowing every flaw and every well-kept secret. In the half-shadows of the lazy afternoons we spent together and the sleepy mornings tangled up in sheets, I saw our dog, perhaps children and then 20 years of marriage.
Perhaps once upon a time, a long long time ago I met it a few times and each with a different face. I saw it in the way a mother held her child as her most valuable possession, the warmth of affection and the smell of home on her skin when she embraced you, kissed you when you stumbled and picked you up when you fell. I saw it in a father’s pride, his secret admiration. I remembered my own mother and my own father and all my bravado left me. Once upon a time, I read it in my mother’s bruises like a map, the ones my father lovingly decorated her with in strikes, punches and eager beatings. I felt it every time she kept her bags unpacked and put away the bitter ****** aftermath of the underlying storms with a forced smile on her lips and the promise that everything would be okay, that I had just been dreaming. Even then I saw it in my father when he came home-- the twisted way he held her close and said his sorries, the way he treated her like a queen and tried his best to keep his promise. In the days he told me to be strong and in the days he really did try hard, I found it difficult to blame him—I could not place the hate I felt for him and why my fortifications threatened to dissipate and crumble. I never noticed this before but it was always present in the way my mother and father laid to rest their hopes and dreams, buried them in a lot of filthy graveyard soil when the wretched curse that was me took away all their aspirations and they selflessly sacrificed their whole young lives ahead of them full of travel and the irresistible seduction and sparkling lure of opportunity to work like dogs on their hands and knees so I could live my own fickle life of wasted hours and silly daydreams. Money did not grow on trees, darling and yet for every mistake you made, every useless rebellious decision that only resulted in heartbreak and derision their forgiveness knew no bounds and they threatened no abject beleaguering, no threat of desolation. By and by, you fail to see their infinite patience, the hope and the investment—the silent prayer for all good things and mighty rising sons and daughters.
Again, one day, I saw a couple in the park holding hands, their faces lined with age that told their story with their depth and their number. I saw their narrations told, young buds and blooming then the bad days that came and the sad days that kept repeating. In their intertwined fingers and the slow steps on rocky beach, bathed in glowing sunset sunlight, the twilight of a remarkable 20 years or so and maybe one, two or twenty sons and daughters, I wondered if you and I would come around like that—battle through decades with our feelings unchanging. I thought about your face and the way you slept, and the first morning that I saw it and decided that yours was the one I wanted to wake up to everyday for the rest of my life. I wondered if you and I, darling, would come out strong and happy, still holding hands after the lagniappe of challenges, the labyrinthine years of madness. I decided I would not die with you in the manner of Romeo and Juliet, the drama of Shakespeare but I wanted to spend every waking moment that I could live and breathe on this desolate earth spending it with you or else thinking of you and going through it for you. Why would I waste our precious time with grand, suicidal gestures when I could just show you in little ways, every day until we grew old and grey together?
Then I forgot you were only temporarily mine, that I could not keep you. I lost the feeling. It only turned to rot in my hands and I only grew bitter. I forgot that butterflies in mason jars died, and so did the red roses, the bouquets of flowers. It was it how I felt when I saw you in the arms of another man, laughing and smiling. It was not how I felt when my heart threatened to burst and split, along with my knuckles and hanging picture frames now lying shattered on the floor. It was not how I felt when you left, said goodbye and closed the door. It was the hope I felt when I thought you would return but it was not the face I saw when I accepted you weren’t going to. I know not the ugliness it carried, the blackened underside of a two-faced coin but perhaps this was the price paid for such elation, for years of bright colors, laughing and slices of heaven. I realized that when it was all over, when the rivers run dry that it was the emptiness that made the winds cold, the world gray, the streets empty, the people cruel and the cold winds bite and the trees shiver. It’s what turned hearts into rock-hard gemstones and what makes hopeless romantics wither. It was the wind that left me, the feeling I felt when I could pinpoint the exact moment my heart dropped to my knees and bled to the floor when I looked into those eyes, those lovely eyes, for the last time. I would forget your face, but the marks, the scars, the things you taught me and the way you made me ache for beauty and an invisible power would stay in me forever long after you have gone. It was not the feeling I felt when I let you go and didn’t run after you.
In its pursuit, and in the withdrawal stage of emotional drug use and admiration, people struggle to constantly search for the fleeting high, the temporary feeling of wonder. There are girls that walk the street in short skirts, high heels and revealing blouses searching for the right things in all the wrong places in between soiled sheets and pockets full of paper. I see the beggars ply the crowded city streets, some with eyes that know the danger but hunger still and some with just innocent ideas, feigned knowledge and naïve understanding. They search the faces of people and window shop at bars for their favorite pair of jeans, the man or woman that will fit the hole where the heart had been, heal the wounds and the body that will curve and fit theirs so perfectly into a perfect puzzle. It is not what they find on the silver-tongued strangers with sweet lips and deliberate touches. It is not in his lies that sound so much sweet music; that feels like climbing up ladders. It is not in her games, her daring looks and sweet whispers. It is not out in streets, it is not ours to claim ownership over.
homework assignment from lit class grew epic proportions. a bit of word ***** here and there, but that cannot be helped.