tales of a girl in the city

octobre 29, 2005

Where I Am

Leroy and Hudson

I wore the blue sweater, the one I had been wearing when I conquered my fear of heights. I did it on purpose. I knew leaving you would be harder.

I could never remember your apartment number.

I sat up in bed while you were still sleeping and watched the moment go. I looked around your room, and felt you there, and counted your books, and stared at your ceiling, and saw you, them already disappearing though I tried and tried to paint them into my memory. I rested my hands in my lap and felt the day pass through my fingers. I even left your room, I couldn't take so much at once. The moments tumbling past faster than I could catch them. This one and this one. Watching them go. Feeling the end as it happened. Feeling the love, and the loss and the time. Right there, as they happened. The price of gleaming.

You and I, each for each. Our gleams, our faults. Aligned there and eluding capture. (If I were only a different kind of artist. If I could have poured paint into the sky and fooled the day.)

Leroy and Clarkson

I am holding you close. I am telling you, again, for the last time, what you already know. Around us there are taxis and rain and other people's lives going forward. Other people in taxis going home. You are wishing for things that can't happen. I am wishing our lives could go on to become one thing. One long, quiet, simple, difficult, loving (and you could read to me and touch my face) thing. Instead, we stand there, breaking. And then, finally, we go.

Now our lives move forward. Separately. My knowledge of yours ends there. As though at the close of a book: He got into a cab and drove away.

1000 Fifth Avenue

A sugar bowl from 1789. The gold, drop earrings of a Greek woman, 330 B.C.. Even the plaster angels get to last and last, circling their arms around one another today and tomorrow and, still, even the day and the day and the day after that, they will not get tired of reaching.

I have a million thoughts I want to tell you. Instead I write them down. Instead I call my mother. Instead I wander from room to room for hours. I press them into pennies I leave in a fountain.

In the Park, I drop them behind me like a trail of crumbs.

Fifth Avenue and Bergen St.

On my rainy October walks home I see airplanes, and--even if the day has been otherwise as easy as yellow, as clean as mint--of course I think of you. A thought will fall inside me quietly as a leaf. I'll pick up my pace, change the music, skirt around a puddle and the edge of sadness.

Or maybe I won't. Maybe it is a day where I like to be sad. So, instead, I'll slow down and look into the windows of all the brownstone houses. I'll see families circling blue-light tv's, couples on couches, and wonder what it is they know--what Galatea secret?--that has made their love so real. I'll wonder what it was we were, or weren't, that left ours as just a feeling: the air inside the museum, but not the statue.

Apt. 2R

The day I left you all my gifts seemed like a punishment. I felt the price, the penalty, of being me. Of having known you.

But, here, on my bed, filling the boxes of these words with memories and with love, I see the gift of them again. The rings of you slip from my fingers and fall into my thoughts as I type. And I know I will save you inside of a book someday, fold you among its pages, to keep with all of my other glad and favorite things.

And someday, too, in some place where you are, a party, maybe. A dinner. Suddenly it will come over you, If she were with me now, what would she say? And you will know the answer. And you will tell the story. Begin it with A friend of mine once....

Ah. I see it: (The air lasts longer than the statue.) Loving you was the reward for gleaming, and not the price at all.

octobre 24, 2005


I am at my desk, and I can hardly see because I'm crying so hard. Over IM comes the message from one of his best friends: It will just take time. I know he's right. It will take time. Or, rather, time will take it. Chip at it little by little, carry it off to be dumped into the quarry along with all the other fossils.

But we all know there are some faces you'll always look for.

Even having moved on to other names and other happinesses, even after time has done its chiseling, there are the ones who sank into bone-level. The ones who saw you. Who knew about the price of gleaming.

And now the phone rings, here I go: "Good afternoon! The **** Building. Sales Office. This is Kathryn! How can I help you?" Just like a trapeze artist. Swinging from mood to mood.

I have a shadow puppet of a date tomorrow night. The silhouette of the shadow of a mask of a date, over a dinner that I will not taste. And I'm going because I'm scared to death that I'll never find anyone who wants to read aloud to me again. And who will amaze me? Who will let me be me? Because I showed you everything about me, everything I am now seems tied to you.

octobre 23, 2005


When he walked out on stage last night this is what his body language said:

In about forty-five minutes, every single person here is going to want to fuck me.

I didn't have anyone there to snort with--who is this Simon Trpceski person? Can you believe that strut? Instead, I looked around at all the old people next to me, all of whom were taking the moment to refasten their large rhinestone pins, or shift in their tweed suit coats. I was hoping that there'd be someone to exchange a knowing look, with: This guy's cocky, eh? Sadly, no one seemed to share my fascination with Mr. Trpceski's obvious bravado. So, I looked back at the stage, and delivered my own mental challenge to the pianist. Ok, little man. Bring it.

And he did.

It was Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 in D minor for anyone out there who cares about such things. For everyone else, it is the kind of piece the rain would play if it had fingers. Endless falling. The first movement is simple: a sparrow in a puddle. Then, gradually, it moves from drizzle to downpour. Drenching. Sound heightened the way a garden is heightened during a storm--greener, deeper, more red, more abundant--all the leaves sopping and swollen with water.

Rachmaninoff in Trpceski's fingers became the story of rain itself. An account of the journey from formlessness to form. One moment you are grey and undefined, a molecule that rests in the anonymity of a clouded sky. And the next you have become a bright, plummeting, separate thing. You are falling from the belly of thunder. Then impact; the piano scales are the rain encountering shape. Listen. Your rain-self breaks against a surface. You discover the miracle of texture with your rivulet hands: a shingle, a crevice, a paper cup, a pebble, the smoothness of a windowpane, the roof of a taxi, the lightning-rod tip of the Chrysler building. A tiny bit of skin just above someone's collar.

And then the last movement. Rachmaninoff's Finales-- after all the tiny, personalized flourishes, after all the piano's singular turns--always return to boundlessness. No more scales, no more droplets. Back to the whole clouded sky and the pounded thunder of octave reaches. The finales are about the rain's gift to the garden. They rise, they don't fall. They're the change. They're the growing.

I sat in my seat and let the sound break me open.

octobre 21, 2005

Starting Up

I have begun the day by dancing naked around my house to Billy Idol. Well, scratch that. I really began the day at 6:30 this morning when Mom and Dad called to sing the traditional, "Happy Birthday to you," over the phone. And then I fell back asleep and began the day again when my brother called to sing from his house in Minnesota. And then again, and again when my phone beeped with text messages from a couple of friends.

And then it really was time to get up and start the day, but I didn't. Instead, I stayed in bed for awhile, knowing that it was raining, knowing that I could just be there for a bit, under my covers, looking to my ceiling for answers.

Ceilings suck at answers. Even on your birthday.

But still, I might've stayed in bed all day, keeping the company of my silent room. I've got good books, writing to do that can be done just as well in bed. Short stories to look at for my writing classes. Words, words, words. But I'm tired of words for a little while.

And since sex is out, for the moment at least, I settled on naked dancing.

octobre 10, 2005


Suddenly, I am nineteen again.

"He's where?" I ask my mother.

"In New York. On the Upper Westside. Waitering, I guess. Auditioning. I didn't ask his mom too much--I hate to ask too much."

Right. My mother. Hates to ask too much. Hates it. Right.

And because of this newly discovered hatred for nosiness, my mom failed to find out the details of what exactly my high school boyfriend is doing in New York City.

I suppose there are basically two kinds of High School Boyfriends. Well, make that three. There's the kind that you look back fondly upon whenever you're going through old pictures. Maybe, deep down, you even hold a little flame for the guy. Wonder, every once in awhile when you're home for Christmas and totally soused, sitting in your living room, wearing your dad's long underwear because you forgot to bring pajamas, what might've happened if.... What if prom hadn't gone so badly? What if he'd gotten his braces off sooner? What if you hadn't reminded him over and over (and over and over) that you SO kicked his ass on the SAT? You go on like this once a year or so, mostly when you're home for the holidays, and you look through old yearbooks until the feeling passes, or until you pass out.

Next--if you're from a small town like mine in Wisconsin--there is the type of HSB that you have almost daily contact with. This is because he is currently a) your dentist b) your gas station attendent or c) your spouse.

And then there is the kind of HSB that makes you shake your head rapidly and repeat over and over with new emphasis each time, "What was I thinking?" Mine falls into this category.

The fact that he has moved to the City kills me. New York doesn't seem big enough for the both of us somehow....

octobre 01, 2005


I'm hiding.

A boy text messaged me today to with a (dim, poorly worded, but honest) proposition:


He was hoping I'd duck out of work for a half-hour quickie. So easy to arrange: a flimsy excuse to my co-worker. A short trip to his penthouse down the block, sly smiles exchanged with his doorman, who hasn't seen me since we were dating. His apartment door would've been cracked open for me, and I would've been naked by the time I found him in his bedroom. Easy to do in the dress I'm in today, just one smooth tug, and everything I'm wearing would slip noiselessly to the floor.

You're unbelievable. That's what I wrote back, realizing, even while I typed my response, that some part of me was equally unbelievable. In a matter-of-fact, Freudian voice, I heard my own enabling thoughts: Sex is a vaery nahtural tsing. Vehn two people can come togehser tsa pehsion szat rehsult is narmal unt healsy.

And as much as I hated to admit it, I understood W's next response:

I know but i work so damn hard i feel like being direct saves time.

Whoosh! Like in one of those laboratory tests, he had removed all the air from our particular glass container, leaving only the absolute reality of his proposition. Small. Hard. True. It offered itself up for study. Me at my desk on Sixth Avenue, him in his bedroom on Seventh: we are busy, we are single, we are attracted to one another.

We can still fuck.

Such a clear, pure pebble of an idea. It pings around the glass jar it has been placed in. It does not apologize for its simplicity. Entirely, only, openly--it is what it is.

But, I am not so easily reducible. What I am is complicated. What I am is lonely and angry and sad. And I would bring these things to his bed, contaminating the experiment.

For a moment, our trial run might seem to be a success. My anger, truthfully, might spark and catalyze. With my teeth, I might tell him how furious it makes me that I am the recipient of text messages and propositions, one night instead of many. I might pound into him, with my palms, with my thighs, the infuriating difference between being wanted and being loved. Rake my fingernails sharply across his skin, drawing at least something out from deep inside him. Hotter and hotter and more rough and more mad, our sex could be the kind that staggers toward the edge of violence. A brief, ecstatic punishment. My retribution for all the penalizing nights I spend alone.

My recent months of isolation might make the encounter seem meaningful. Skin on skin could open locked boxes, releasing from my dark, kissing mouth the moths that sleep inside of loneliness. They could land on his shoulders, confused by sudden contact, delivering messages filled with all the wrong, old things. They could cover his face and mute his features with their brown wings. With the help of their desperate fragility, he could seem to be someone he is not.

This is my hypothesis.

If it were an experiment only. If he and I could be just molecules, clashing together in an airless chamber. If, like chemicals, our interaction could make us vaporize, releasing us from the consequences of an After. If our mutual solitude were simply the result of our own elemental purity. Then I might have gone. I might have fucked him.

Instead, I'm sitting here. Hiding.