Walking down 3rd Street, passing across Washington, we phase through ethereal fog. We can taste the smog, the ‘city-water’ sitting water splashing under endless tires, me and my daughter. The aftertaste of old pennies and nickels permeates my palate. I can almost taste the tableau of top brass, Thomas Jefferson, under the steel skyscrapers. The contour of the skyline sharply engraves itself on the curvature of the night sky’s full-moon like the flavor of the etching of the executives on the change in the pocket of my mouth. The rigidity of the urban iron and the awful aroma of alloy is obnoxiously noxious, but despite my derision, I stay stone-faced in disdain.
Cars cruise past the far lane as I try to keep sane through all this pain. I look down at my daughter for some respite and she’s already looking back at me with a crooked smile in delight in the light of the city at night and I can’t help but wonder when we forget that everything will be alright. Her face scrunches in playful disgust as she sticks her tongue out: sensing the same sense I’m sensing. I just can’t help but wonder at what age do we hide our true feelings behind closed doors behind closed doors behind closed doors behind closed….
Sometimes I stare. But I just can’t help myself from looking at the back of that pretty head. And those slender arms that come to a gentle rest in front of her, dainty fingers drumming away at an invisible tune of a popular song I’ve never heard of. She’s perfect. Her brown hair, her turquoise shirt with all the jewelry, and jeans. I don’t know anything about her, but she’s perfect.
It’s just this feeling I’ve got. An instinctual calling of fate that tells me “this one”. I can tell because my hands get sweaty. I can tell because when she looks towards me, I get hyper-aware. I start to feel my taste buds slide against the inside of my mouth and I can taste my early-morning saliva and lead-ridden drinking fountain water. I have to remind myself to blink every 15 seconds or so. I realize my foot has been tapping, and when I stop it, that potential energy builds up my anxiety. And all this happens with her quickly turning her head to the side to adjust her hair over her shoulder. When I pass her in the hallway, I realize the patter and rhythm to my walking until I start walking with a hobble. My lips feel uncomfortable just sitting there and I move them around until they’re fixed into some sly smile. But I always make sure not to show teeth- they’re not white enough. Maybe there’s something in them.
And as much as I hear “this one” ringing through my head on repeat for hours and hours, I can’t make myself do anything. If she was interested, I’d know, right? But why would she? I can smell my 3-day unwashed jeans when I sit down. Sometimes when she sits down, I get the faint whiff of name brand dryer sheets and mall-grade perfume. She’s perfect. But my shirt has a hole in the collar and I could probably use a haircut. Maybe after some new clothes and grooming I can maybe say ‘hi’.
I like to wonder what would happen if I just collapsed in the middle of everything. Who would rush over? Who would run away? Who would just watch? Who would care? I think about this scenario constantly in many different places, with many different people, but I can’t stop myself from always picturing her to run over first and be upset. Really, really upset. Her eyes filled with tears, holding my lifeless body and sobbing. It’s perfect.
“The petroglyphs told the story of an unusual event.”
An event so precisely parsed even William could tell. Our handicapped language is still working, but I still can’t effortlessly illustrate this devastating event of a feeling – a muted implosion of serotonin and adrenaline through capillaries that discharge blind aggression like kerosene between teen King and Queen Dopamine. I need three bottles of codeine before I try to convey this allegory with metaphors, analogies, and similes like a Professor Dickens teaching the difference between two cities. I could borrow a French expression, add an Arabic adage, and toss in a Portuguese epigram. I can’t do this. I have to postpone this interpretation to deaf bones. I have to escape it – this feeling, this pain, this pleasure. I’m prone to combat these, although I don’t condone, trazodone until I’m monotone.
Bridgette, you’ve done so well to get this far. You’ve been driven down by so many people walking all over you. I know you’ve cried rivers that could challenge the strongest levee- dam. But you still look so pretty.
Bridgette, I know you feel bipolar. You’ve always felt so divided. I know you feel like two different people. But you’re connected to both sides- they’re both you.
Bridgette, you’re not being used. You’re not just an unappreciated tool. You have to understand that you’re helping people.
Bridgette, all this success has been eight years in the making. You’ve really been making big strides to normalcy. But you’ve got to open up to me.
So I'm completely breaking this challenge. I apologize for such destruction and delay, but without further to do, here are 3 of my favorite quotes.
“”I myself own a flower,” he continued his conversation with the businessman, “which I water every day. I own three volcanoes, which I clean out every week (for I also clean out the one that is extinct; one never knows). It is of some use to my volcanoes, and it is of some use to my flower, that I own them. But you are of no use to the stars.”
– The Little Prince [after talking to a man who collected stars], by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (My all-time favorite book. Read it if you haven’t!)