Only Parents, Children, and Dead People (8)

12Feb13

Sailor Jerry Cllipper Ship

Middle of Left Arm, Underneath 20’s Girl – Clipper Ship – 31

Kristen buys me a book on Sailors and their women; she buys me an album with a clipper ship on the front that looks like the label of my favorite scotch.  We see play about pirates, women who dressed and passed as men, women with swords and strong fists.  She wants to be like that.

Its spring and we’ve been dating a few months, a surprising relationship that snuck up on us between college classes and late night drinks and discussions about art and writing.   She is much younger than I, but I accept her 60’s ties and dress pants, the fact that she doesn’t want to be touched like a woman.  I accept her fully because she accepts me.  She knows I am still in love with Derek, even though he has been locked up in the psych ward, rehab, and group homes since we broke up last fall.  I am still in love with him despite the smashed windows, the broken doors, and the complicated flower gardens he left behind that I cannot tend.  I am still in love with him despite all the lies.

She reminds me of Derek, soft and gentle with sad eyes that reveal too much, though her words reveal too little.  She likes animals more than people, and I can show my eccentricities without shame, the funny voices I use when talking to myself, my enthusiasms and ideas that fly high, my depressions that make me wonder why I was ever born. We talk about childhood, how she used pretend she was an otter and make intricate lines in the carpet for her toy cars to travel. I talked to myself in the closet when I was scared, convincing myself that there would be a better life for me someday, somewhere.  We promise to communicate and not fight like we did in past relationships.

The clipper ship is colorful, balancing on a Kool-Aid red flower that pops against fern green leaves.  There are clouds with fiery, angry red shadows that promise a violent storm or tantrum is on its’ way.  But it is beautiful and tropical even though something unnameable hovers above.  Some guy named Saul does it because Adam left months ago.  I lost track of him somewhere in-between his divorce and his new French girlfriend.  I heard he moved to Paris and glossy tattoo magazines were displaying his work.

Saul’s voice is flat, not with pain, but boredom.  He his hands aren’t heavy and brutal like Xavier’s, precise and artful like Adam’s.  They are young and light without cuts or scrapes.  The clipper ship is nice and sharp, but Saul doesn’t know how to love his work.  As he finishes, I know that I will never see the new beginning I want to symbolize.  Instead of the freedom of wind and travel, of leaving behind the past I no longer want to carry, I will only see the mark of a man who doesn’t understand the meaning of good-byes.

A few days later, on a grassy median near a busy street, I pull fistfuls of grass and throw it into the gutter. I tell Kristen we’re over.  I tell her I don’t know why.  But the storm that’s on the horizon is fiercely taking over – the battering of addiction, of drugs, and troubled relationships that drag behind it.

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