Growing Up, Moving On

“I can’t afford another cup of coffee”, I tell myself. Conversations out loud only make sense in the silence of your own home, or car- maybe even the alcove at a church as you pep talk yourself into a marriage that may not make sense at that brief moment. I remember that scene quite vividly, and the eventual fallout, divorce and stretch of time that seemed to move in painful slow-mo. So, crackling the morning air with a few open retorts doesn’t seem crazy at all—Hell, talking to yourself in a busy grocery store doesn’t sound so baleful in comparison to the ending of a union that you perceived as ‘forever’. Another cup of my free coffee here sounds great- no barista, just Tim and his 3 year old French press, desperately fighting to cling to rust and scuffs that its $29.99 frame yields. I splash in more creamer and non-nutritive sugar substitute- you know the one that causes the least amount of brain neuropathy so I can spell werdz…wordz… W-O-R-D-S. The first taste is bitter, reminding me nothing of the lush hills of Costa Rica, but ahhhh, that second and third gulp, as the temperature settles to ‘just above warm’ creates a smooth palette where pressed beans slope down as a skier would arch for the final run. I can rationalize anything. All I really want is the caffeine.

I’m an addict, an alcoholic to be specific, but you can arbitrarily plunk anything in the place of alcohol. $$ toys (things), girls/sex/porn (people) or driving to that park where my high school sweetheart and I frequented (places) are all formidable addictions; and not ready to retire—it’s all there in front of me… or behind me, if I just could let go. The rear view of my mirror works just fine. I should bring my old Wayne Gretzky Titan stick out of retirement and ‘accidentally’ lop off that mirror with a backhander. Anger- that’s another impulse worth letting go.

There was a time as a youth carousing on my basement floor- my childhood home coveting a horrid looking (and feeling) blood red carpet where my Lego’s could play freely without being lost under the dark mass of fiber. When being a kid was my job, one that I would still take for granted today, if someone would employ me for having an even worse haircut and wardrobe than today. My Lego’s were complicit and not salaried either—and they weren’t the cool Star Wars or Lord of the Rings ones that are available in 2014. They were simply colored squares and rectangles and the occasional plastic window to build a house for my imaginary Lego family. No Jango Fett teaching young Boba the rewards of a good bounty- no Gandalf imposing his will on a group of feckless Hobbits. There wasn’t any void to fill from a fatherless home, because these little figures went under the moniker of pilot or soldier or construction worker, and no kid minds when their dad is a hero- even a recognized, everyday ‘hero’. My father was around, he just was working, and working and working- I guess I should have paid attention more to his work ethic; his austere desire to fulfill what was necessary, dull, and completely unimaginative. He was in the Navy after all, and that’s pretty cool. I’ve never been on an Aircraft Carrier.

Playing independently at that age was an ideal. I didn’t have the attention span or life experience to suffer my thoughts all day long. Building, playing, articulating the basics was enough—and I never became addicted to Lego’s. I can see the lure of risqué things and it is hard to imagine a child’s toy serrating my pleasure zone. I need stimulus- an escape, something just to get myself out of my head. Caffeine, boobies, music with a fast tempo—or somebody to focus on who isn’t me.

It takes a lot to get moving in the morning, especially Mondays… to feel inspired, as if writing this all of a sudden adds insight that the morning hours can’t. Coffee, just the habit of consuming the black liquid sits directly in my pleasure zone- it awakens every impulsive nerve to excess and asks for nothing in return, save for a few extra bathroom breaks. The same stimulus is peaked by my fiancé, who isn’t available on this particular morning. Regardless of her physical absence, her apparition, her after-image lingers long after she leaves- long enough to dwell inside these walls. Not to haunt but to taunt- to sustain me until her next visit, and until our bodies can collide reminding me I’m alive. If only she was here now, present and ready to take me away from me, that guy who seems to be there no matter where I go, no matter where I am and no matter what hole needs filled.

My mood would drift inescapably into bliss. How easy it would be to put all of my focus on her, all my misgivings. I could rummage through my sons toys instead, find their Lego’s. Me and Boba Fett and the Ninjago dudes could all share the sediment left over in my French Press, and we could all think out loud—I could even talk for them, in their own voices and we could battle until lunch time. Then maybe I could forget about here, let go of the vice grip on Gretzky’s stick—release my high school sweetheart and the park where my addictions were born.

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Life Cycle of a Morning

Stagnation, roll up your sleeves, no one sees you when you hide.
And I don’t care if you redefine yourself, using crayons to color your outsides.
Smiles and lines, contours smothering air, humid and stank, leaving the room after a night of lust, spread legs and pillow talk, vitriol words that hang,
distilling into sleep or dreams, between sleep apnea and lost sentiment coming apart at the seams.
Nobody sees you but me, the real you and hypothetical me,
flogging the morning hours, a fly circles overhead and the slow drip of coffee.

This beautiful morning needs to be imperfect– we love each other for the same purpose, reminders; sandman- clean out your eyes and kiss me with your morning breath,
my lips are dry and the clamminess of skin leaving out its last sweat.

This perfect morning, piggy-backing the quiet, save for the ‘buzz’ of a fly mother who lost her maggots, coasting past the morning newspaper, poverty, shootings- things you just can’t relate to.
People who live in the skids, broke bank accts. and blistered families, burned out– so wasted.

Oblivion makes it’s case.
Compound eyes shoot a glance my way
There’s nothing left to save but face.
The lifespan of a fly and my own kids close by
as I drift back to a less complicated place.

Twisted Moonlight

*I hope you enjoy this short piece on insomnia and thoughts of ‘her’….

Derelict sounds, the path of nature out my window and the sleeping of giants- my neighborhood; the macrocosm now reduced to window dressing.

Obligations are short right now, so I have the privilege to take it all in, a feast for my oft-deadened senses, this will be a short trip. I’ve been here before, but the lucidity sparks something in my head, all the street lights that hang in the perimeter lurk in the shadows, because I’m too naïve to believe they are hunting me.

Citizens mining the corners and alleyways now subjugated by the cast iron poles, no more restless but lacking the digits to be functional.
My mind buzzes—it actually makes noise, a low grade hum that could pass for amplifier feedback, maybe a Marshall cabinet humming passively while Tony Iommi lights up a fag. My head doesn’t hurt, if it did I would recognize it as a physical attribute- pain receptors need recognized. I don’t hate my brain for failing me, or grating away unmercifully- it’s the viscosity keeping my senses on heightened alert- and I haven’t even got out of bed.

I heard her voice in my head last night, and I thought for a moment I was dreaming. Why does there always have to be a ‘her’ in the story? This was no conflict as kids; little hairless boys who only knew Mom… the only girls we identified with were on some PBS program- not real women. Ernie and Bert didn’t mind being roommates either. They knew something I still haven’t figured out.

She left me here long enough to catch my breath, admittedly, I am a shallow breather. So I lay in bed and allow my thoughts to race… up and down the walls, ping-ponging back and forth left and right of my ever ready cognizance. The moonlight was cloaking the room in its own self-contained light bulb- dull and unsatisfying. In the interest of staying awake I just laid there and counted the patterns of moon spackle that drifted through the thinned out, and dust tainted curtains. They were filthy but I didn’t care. I couldn’t sleep. The night played out like so many before.

Why my mind regurgitated the past, I don’t know. The racing thoughts seemed to have no destination and no finish line and I was hoping they’d admit defeat. The victor to the spoils—who cares? She won out, because somewhere she was asleep and I wasn’t.

My life was never overly consumed with relationships that added up to any significant stretch of time. I was good with that. Freedom isn’t a sacrifice, and it’s not a cross to bare. My life was full in that I believed my true self just functioned better alone. Not loneliness, but independence- the kind where you could take yourself out on a ‘date’ and not worry about how you looked, or how you thought she thought you looked. Those opinions never became concrete until you passed the second or third date, or maybe tussled under the sheets—playing tug of war with each other’s fleshy parts. Ok, maybe I was lonely.

My mind played out every possibility as the sheets clung restlessly to the inside of my groin- legs outstretched in some unappealing pose. The way she touches me… the ink blots telling me (at least) that her and I could be stationary and it would still manage statuesque perfection (the psychiatrist gums her pen and nods in approval). The ripples of skin attached to goose-bumps, because she’s always cold. My heat wasn’t just emanation- it was a protective covering. I could conceal my disinterest at times, and the ramblings that I heard could have been my own—but in that frozen pose where skin nuzzles skin, we found our place.

I reached below into the warmth of the crevasse of my thighs that now revealed a firm erection–nighttime and lying flat always drew the penis into an arc that couldn’t be achieved in daylight—not even with the most attentive partner. The sheets withdrawn, I began to caress and stroke myself until I ejaculated the warm liquid into a pool on my stomach. It felt like I was alive for those brief post-coitus(less) moments. I could release my mind as well. The mind can’t hang onto or focus when the redirection is simply a shallow pursuit- like masturbation.

“She should be here”, I thought.

The senses prick up when the room goes quiet and the sound of skin being temporarily flogged is removed. I let out a breath; relief crept in where the moonlight couldn’t be seen. There is always space for light- the cathartic release prevails when the mind gives way to a carnal shift. The only requirement was the stroke of my fist, not out of hate, but self-love… and sacrifice.

I drifted back to sleep. She was waiting… sometime after REM’s and the grappled pose of my body contorted into a heavy sleep—I would eventually see her there. The small of her back walking at a distance, urging me to follow—and me pretending to care, my sub-conscious having its way with my fractured mentality. I relented as eyelids turned to dead weight, slits that sealed so I didn’t have to be alone with myself anymore… the moon still desperately trying to illuminate the four walls.