A Random Image
 

Jett Superior laid this on you on || September 9, 2009 || 12:16 am

I am in the car and for once I am a passenger: With one state line behind us and another yet to cross Erinn expressed to me that she wanted to grip the wheel for a while, can I pull over at the next gas station? She knows things about me, and one of those things is that I would not dare call for a back-up driver. Another of those things is that I would surrender the captain’s seat without hesitation at particular times.

Gas station. Girl bladders. Caffeine for four-sixths, restroom for one-half. Chinese fire drill and we redistribute, a do-si-do of journals, books, pillows.

Settled into the back, the car’s official quilt drawn up to my chin, my eyes trail the sky that was minutes ago raining easily, the drops in no hurry to reach their destination….just like us. I am surrounded by women that I love who love me right back. They are scattered between the twenty years before me and the twenty years after; this is the way it goes with my life. I seem to be the unintentional center more often than not, so that when I am on the fringes I feel vaguely disturbed rather than relieved, as any normal person might.

I am retardedly backward; stop forgetting that.

I haven’t slept with any certainty for weeks and weeks now. I’m sure it shows to others –they who know me best, I reckon– somehow but they are maybe too polite to mention what a fucking mess I am, stumbling all over words and the tiniest of gestures, responsibilities, human interactions. More and more lately I’ve become convinced of this feeling that I’m only being tolerated rather than enjoyed, as I would prefer. It is my perpetually wide-open eyes stoking this fire, I’m sure. Severe loss of sleep induces paranoia and self-pity, some edges of everything curling forward and others bending back in a way that distorts the center of things.

I’m twitching slightly in that come-down way, but I haven’t had the benefit of favored chemicals in years because I chase after them hard, wanting to not come back when I’m in the bosom of their ferocious comfort. I politely request Hooverphonic be booted up and am gracefully acquiesced to. The music is easy and tinged with everything I could never whisper to anyone but the Wretched part of my being, trying to speak some comfort and hope and release to it, hearing the responses that are audible to only me and God. The index finger of my right hand slips from beneath the side of the blanket, curling just slightly around it. Shelley begins stroking that one digit lightly with the tips of three fingers, her eyes falling without regard for their own personal safety into mine, and she sings the word ’sleeeeep’ to me paper-thin in concert with and over the music that is pulsing into damaged space around me.

My road-dreams are dancing from one face to the other, not leaving me with any one of them long enough to accomplish a fucking thing the dream me would like to. In my dreams I am always dying in the attempt. In my dreams I am beholden to the whole world. In my dreams I pay attention because I don’t know how to not do so. This particular set of behind-the-lid stories are unified by one theme: There is a rope ladder to the sun, it is fireproof. I can’t get to it no matter the landscape and (WORSE OH MY GOD SO WORSE) I can’t convince anyone else to start climbing, either, even though it is paramount that we all do. “Fuck you,” the dream-me says, not really meaning it, “Fuck you, I’m not staying here, I’m climbing the ladder whether you will or not.” Spitting, seething, sad but not showing it for fear of being perceived as weak. The dream-me has a fearful heart for the ignorant and unlistening. The dream-me cannot get to that ladder. Why can’t I get to the ladder when I’m trying everything I know how to try?

I wake, strangely alert and at peace and –dare I, dare I say– enthusiastic. I’ve slept for only forty-five minutes, Erinn tells me, but my body says it was three months. I am still due for twenty-one more of those months but given the recent lack I will settle blissfully for the three. I stretch as far as confines will allow; all sorts of joints slip and crack audibly, my body’s applause for a job well done. Erinn is listening to NPR; I whisper-hum a tune mutedly to myself and my sleeping fellows and begin to be quietly astounded at the number of red cars that have taken up position around us as we fly across a hunk of map.

We have a suite for the weekend, which I keep calling ‘the SahhhWEET’ because it entertains me. It entertains the juniors as well. After they’ve socked back a couple of drinks, it entertains the above-twenty-one set, too. Everyone ceases calling it ‘the room’ and ‘Suite ExKayWhy’ in favor of ‘the SahhhWEET’. We listen to Massive Attack while we arrange our hairs and paint our faces. We lob zings across one another’s bows, we consider where brunch reservations over the course of our trip might be made. We are unabashedly female and giddy. Our menstrual cycles begin to synch up (oh I’m just being hyperbolic with that one) and we are in the running for getting a Pulitzer for Peace. Or a Nobel for our collective memoirs. Something grand. You know.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

Later on, bellies full, we plan a fly-by of the mall. There are all sorts of events in town, one of which is Black Gay Pride oh-nine. The mall is teeming with homosexual men of color. I wait to embrace them, I wait to be embraced. I don’t care about the color of a skin or the identity of a sexuality. I have a myriad of hang-ups, but racism and homophobia are not among their ranks. I come away sorely disappointed and more than a little righteously indignant, because we (even the sixteen-year-olds) are jostled and receive palpable hostility for the grave infraction of merely existing. From all sides we evidence this: There is a chip on one shoulder as a result of being born black, there is a chip on the other as a result of being gay and those chips seemed to have tipped over to be propped against heads, squeezing all sense out of them.

Why does pride have to be so brusque and offensive, I want to ask them. Instead I run contrary to self: I pretend that my ears aren’t working and I pretend that my tongue is a dead thing incapable of expressing slights (real or imagined) against myself and others. I don’t recall ever playing it this way. I staunchly refuse to give up space to those moving in and demanding it. I adopt stupid-cow eyes, unfeeling, unaware, unconcerned. “She must be deaf,” I hear one of rudey say to another. This makes me smugly satisfied. My girls, most of whom are stricken passive, edge from all corners of one shop to my side. “You are our touchstone,” someone says. “I don’t need a touchstone,” Bonzai spits, “I need a baseball bat and a bullhorn. Fuck this nonsense, can you believe the level of self-importance and selfishness?” She begins to get loud and red, as red as her hair. Bonzai, all five-feet-and-two-stray-inches of her, is not a person to be dismissed. She’d be the first person I’d want lashed to my back in a barfight. I hug her to me, laughing, and consensus rings the bell labelled Let’s Get Far Away From This Place.

::: :: ::: :: ::: :: :::

We pass the time taking in art encapsulated in various forms. Scout buys a delicate vintage floating thing that she will pass off as a dress. Erinn finds an enchanted, jingly necklace cobbled together of once-castoff things that have had new life breathed into them; she is so taken with it that she buys it even before she can finish her browsing. Shelley requests then eats sushi for the first time, and also seeks my guidance in selecting her first book of portry. I ask bold questions, seeking the parameters for this. I too buy portry, I buy a Bukowski I’ve never read and one I have; I buy some Sam Shepard (I have a crush on his voice, both spoken and written, and –strange as though it may sound– I admire him for having fucked Patti Smith) and a massive tome of so-modern-the-ink-isn’t-dry portry. Nick Cave has a new book and it nearly topples my stack; I am delighted to find these are all forty percent off. Bonzai buys a painting on the street, telling us her plans for its framing and LeeLee seeks out the artisan bakery to purchase us all dainty sugared finery for our tastebuds.

We frown intently in the hunt, we raise arms exuberantly and also hug one another triumphantly over treasures found. I want to buy the teeny painting of the sweet monkey wearing a crown, a white dress and looking heavenward expectantly, but I have spent all my money on books and wine and gasoline and the stray impulsively-procured cards and ceedees. I know that were I to state my connection to this beautiful little thing, my fellow travelers would gift it to me, but I do not. The monkey in her little elaborate gilt frame will be mine of my own volition if that is what is meant to happen.

I am homesick. I am never homesick. I want to share Maxim’s bed, I want him moving inside of me. Finally I am home and this is happening. “You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen,” I tell him. He is on top of me, eyes boring in, hands securing my own, anchoring me to this moment, to myself. I feel right again for a little while. Then I am tangled in the sheets, slicked lightly with sweat, while he rounds everyone up from other places and takes them out on a surprise trip for ice cream.

It is in this alone time that I read a book, swallowing the paragraphs whole, the room silent and cool around me. I try not to let the forty trains that typically hammer around my head overtake the moment, the words of another, the blessed stillness.

I’m spiraling and spiraling and I’m sick, so sick of myself. I want someone to take the wheel without my having to volunteer the information that I’m really too tired anymore for the job of sailing us quickly and deftly across the miles and state lines that we all so desperately need to see ticking off behind us. The only responsibility I want right now is the one that has me bounding out of the car, expansive and smiling, ringing out the arrival greeting, “We’re here, we are herrrre!”

4 worked it out »

  1. Seaweed 9.9.2009

    Reading this brings on that unique collision of feelings that I frequently experience reading your stuff: you’ve been some of the places I’ve been and I love that, and you can describe them so perfectly, and I love that, and I can’t do the same, and I hate that. Thank you for all of the above.

     
  2. Coelecanth 9.10.2009

    You’ve demonstrated time and again just how far one can go, how it is possible to empty emotions onto a page and live to do it again. Perhaps I’m not climbing your ladder to the sun, I wouldn’t presume so much, but I have indeed heard you and I’m the better for it.

    Thank you Jett.

     
  3. Jettomatika 9.10.2009

    Lord knows I love you both.

     
  4. TwoBusy 9.11.2009

    I don’t even know where to begin here. I’m stunned by the sheer wonderful of the whole thing, and transfixed by brief, shiny bits that catch my attention like glittering lures masking the barebed hook.

    1) reading this, I’d now be stunned if you didn’t enjoy the hell out of the new Nick Cave.

    2) tolerated but not enjoyed. Yeah, I know exactly how that one goes.

    3) I’m it sure if I find you terrifying or intriguing. Probably both.

     

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