terms

Was thinking about you one night at a bar. A night when a drunken Irishman was berating me for slouching in my barstool. He gets like that. Because he cares. I told him I was still taller, even though sitting (and slouching) was I and on his feet was he. I think he tried to tickle me. I think I tried to think of anything besides wanting to be left alone so I could talk with my friend or not talk at all and think about what it would be like if you walked in.

Speaking of thinking and talking, I think I’d try to tell you what I think about what I think you’re thinking about me if you’d ask. Why don’t you. No, don’t even ask, just tell me. You’re always thinking something about something, and something about me, I think. Maybe I’d just tell you that. Maybe you’d tell me you think I’m wrong, probably, but I’d probably think so anyway. It’s just what we do.

Maybe you’d tell me I go around secretly wishing that everyone out there is secretly longing for me, secretly across distances great and small, high and wide, while way down deep beneath that secret wish I have a hope, fearful and forestalling and even more secret than the secret wish, a hope that those secret satellites, real and imagined-real and really imagined, never actually really try to do much of anything about their maybe-real longing. Maybe I’d tell you you’re right. Pine for me, yearn for me, wish for me, imagine me, but don’t ever try to come and get me, don’t try to make me real. These are my terms.

To you, though, I’ve never been anything else, because you see, yes, and because your terms of real are different.

* * *

Each moment lived is a serving of almost-new and never-done, like the chorus of a song. Declarative, distinct, encapsulated, derivative, and sewn up by exegetical, relative spans of prose-verse sung, hummed, and written in between, they put their stamp on the whole, saying it all the same again but different, just a little farther along each time, sometimes even in new terms that I sometimes, often, usually make the foolish mistake of believing signify that the terms have changed. But it’s just chorus, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, in tune and out, same old song but different.

Chorus. On a whim and a hunch I open Jung to a random page and find this: “How much respectability and apparent morality is there, cloaking with deceptive colors a very different inner world of darkness?”[1] Ok, but what else? I walk around, look at the bookshelf, look through notebooks, think—there’s got to be something to round that out, to balance it and wrap it up and help me think what I’m thinking. Then I remember Rudy F. said “Sometimes / there is a ‘help me’ / chained to the ankle of an ‘I’m doing alright’,” and I think, alright, yep, that’s it, I’ll just hang that out there in the breeze.[2]

Verse. I don’t care what you call me, I just want you to call. And want something. And say so. But you wouldn’t, would you. You’d say you heard a song (I’d like), saw a movie (I’d like), read a book (I’d like), found a line (I’d like), made some food (I’d like). I’d say I’d like that and we’d joke a little, without too much laughter, speak our language a little, without complete immersion, quietly humming parts of our tune, and then we’d come back from the fringes of Our Reality to realities more and more separated into yours and mine. Your terms, my terms, our terms again, new but not really, playing on repeat. It’s the dance we do, same song, and we’re still dancing—used to be in the living room, now it’s across town, same song, still dancing, different rhythm, different steps.

Chorus. I’m all messed up again, still, because you did call, on a just barely February Saturday afternoon, and you wanted something but neither of us said what we both knew it was. And I’m just stuck back there on the puzzle, the one where you’ve got someone new, where you’re not sure if something’s missing or if it’s just different. And here I am writing it again, still, because you still feel something sort of kind of like my person, while the we that we’ve become revolves at a kind of here-now-gone distance that my secret wishing alone could never so artfully achieve.

Verse. It’s your special mien of willpower and persistence, articulated, inchoate, it doesn’t matter, and it radiates from you like heat from nothing less than a sun. You take my terms and turn them over and get inside on yours, just by being possible, just by being remembered, just by being proximate, just by being kind of sort of almost within reach. You adjust them ever so slightly, astutely and swiftly, the way you’ll walk into a room and move things around and rummage and get into stuff, and then say here, look what I’m doing and what I found and what I did (for you), it had everything and nothing to do with you and it’s better now, see? What do you mean why? Why not? You you’re always there, somehow in here, like that, but here I am and there you are acting like you’re not, like you’re just wandering around the same city, never aimless, never far, over there on your terms while I’m over here on mine.

Chorus. But I don’t tell you any of this over there, of course, I tell you over in down here, because it really is just me—it’s mine and all me, holding on to something I can never quite explain and don’t want to explain away, because… how to say I don’t know how to say it… bookshelf, notebook, memory… maybe Rudy again, he’s always got something… …ah, here, try this: it’s because “I love you in a language that I don’t fully understand. In words that I haven’t found enough courage to forklift out of my chest.”[3] Perfect, or close enough.

* * *

This is us, isn’t it. Me wondering if you’d ever ask, you wondering what I’d ever do, neither of us saying or doing much of anything, playing on repeat, the same song now in a different tune, volume way down low in the background.

Lost with you, lost without, thinking, wishing, wandering; respectability, morality, cloaking inner darkness; I’m doing alright, slouching in my barstool, just wondering what it would be like if you walked in, and on what terms.

 


[1] C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self, toward the end somewhere, you’ll find it.

[2] Rudy Francisco, somewhere, I don’t know where. Try the internet. It has a lot of stuff.

[3] Rudy again, again somewhere, I don’t know where again. Worst citations ever. Go message him on tumblr and ask. He doesn’t respond to me.

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