I’ll Meet You Between the Lines

OnrampRight turn onto an on ramp…

This is the place where wheels drive on shoulders and sometimes stop for directions or just to break down. Or sometimes we get too close and dent each other and we pull over to assess the damage, swap information and say, “Y’all. It’s going to be alright.” And it will be despite the rotting carcass of some unidentifiable animal that’s close enough for you to know it without seeing it and hold your nose at the odor as you step further away from the solid white line towards the grass thinking to yourself that may be you if you’re not careful. You fold your arms as if it’s all the affection and protection you’ll ever need from this high speed, easily broken pieces of American/Japanese/Dirtyknees… weaponry.

It is not often I admit to myself I want to meet the woman of my dreams between the painted lines of a highway or an interstate sparsely decorated with semis and other drivers. Perhaps at the height of noon so the sun won’t be in my eyes as I’m sailing Westbound wearing black shades, destination unknown. Because that’s what I do when I want to be alone, you know? I take to the long stretches of asphalt sandwiching ditches of grass and intermittent, unusable U-Turn lanes that are only inhabited by the State Troopers so you don’t get caught using them.

There will come a time when I will be so focused on me I will have completely forgotten what I left my hind me and lost sight of my immediate, peripheral, surroundings when that persistent wailing of wind caressing the body of another car and the whining of rubber tires will catch my ear and only gently shake me from my reverie. The road will curve to the left a little so, for a moment, I feel like it’s NASCAR and I have to correct for my movements as well as those around me and that’s when I’ll see the body… of her car and I will pay no more attention to it other than to avoid dangerous collision.

When the road straightens out I will look out of habit at the driver beside me and I won’t be able to make her out perfectly. But in the moment that you can’t see our eyes meet through our black, UV resistance shields, we will know each other’s stories. From the way that we drive and the plainness of our bodies with the doors closed and the windows up. She will forget where she’s going and I will follow her anywhere because i know her.

Meet me at the truck stop for dinner for two. I’ll bring the fine $5 wine if you wear your prettiest dress. We’ll get married in the chapel trailer that I just found out exists. We’ll figure out the rest as we go. We’ll throw rice from the height of the overpass and dance to the music playing from the door of the car parked behind us, lit by the headlights.

I want to meet the woman of my dreams between the painted lines of a highway or interstate. Someday…

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Daybringer

August 6, 11:45 AM

After this much time, I shouldn’t be surprised at how fast things change.

If you’ve been keeping up with me the last week or so that I’ve been faithfully keeping up with my blog you know things have not been the greatest or even good for that matter. Lack of sleep, rapid-cycling moods and terrible, terrible anxiety and depression have almost completely wrecked my life in almost every aspect except for a few good relationships that I still have. Thank God.

I can remember going to bed and praying, “God, please let this be done with. Let the withdrawal symptoms go away and let me get some uninterrupted sleep.” I wanted things to go back to as normal as humanly possible for me at least so I didn’t have to worry so much about my job and doctors and all of the fun things that go along with my life. I remember praying this a few times before I’d go to bed. I didn’t get the answer I was hoping for.

That is, until the last couple of nights.

Saturday night I went to bed around 1:30-2:00 AM in hopes of making it to church for the first time int at least a couple of months. That didn’t happen. I woke up before my alarm which was way too early for me. I shut it off and went back to sleep, waking up just before noon. I haven’t slept past 9:30 in weeks. There was some fitfulness that night and so I was pretty exhausted by days end. It still beat the nights of waking up every hour or two. Then there was last night.

Since I don’t have a powerful mood stabilizer to rely on for sleep onset I’ve been relying on diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and melatonin to help me sleep. I also discovered something interesting and I don’t know if it actually works but I was desperate so I’ve been listing to binaural beats as I’m trying to fall asleep. Supposedly, the frequencies used alter your brainwaves to prepare it for sleep. I’m not sure if there’s any fact to it but I have used it the past couple of nights and have fallen asleep within or somewhere around the 15 minutes the track takes to complete. It’s calming to listen to nonetheless so I use it.

And this morning I woke up once. And that was 8 hours after I had gone to bed. I got up and did my workout, having the energy and drive to do it for the first time in three days and it feels great. I won’t lie to you, I am still feeling a bit tired. I can feel it in my eyes. But my panic mode over the status of my job and having to deal with doctors has been suspended at least for today.

And that’s the thing I have to remember. With all the stuff I have to worry about in the future: my last year of college, getting my bachelors, my plan to ship off to Seattle afterwards to attend graduate school, relationships and such. That’s all good and things to strive for but for now I have to “take it day by day, one step at a time.”

What new hope will the day bring?

Reflections, battles and bears

The weather here is fickle
almost capricious
like a bipolar bear
running roughshod through
the hallways and stairwells
of my house
caged
Oh wait.
That was me.
The manifold ways that
winter affects me
ought to be inscribed on
a plaque and hung from
my neck like a disclaimer:
“Warning: Do not feed,
do not poke with care,
do not thought provoke.
This animal’s mood is inevitably
in transit
in spans of seconds
sending spiraling down into
an immobile brand of misery
that should only be marketed
to boys who look like
girls and wear pants so
tight as to cut the circulation off
to their surely minuscule genitalia.”

Yeah, sometimes my disclaimers
they get rough with ya but
the truth…
the truth is my face
in a mirror
Where you can see the lines in my eyes
stretch for miles with the luggage
under my eyes.
And that luggage has travelled.
It seems like it stacks up
like rings on a tree,
you can almost see the age.

From the beginning ’til now
it’s been accumulating
but I won’t bore ya with the details
I’ll just give ya the
highlights.

4 years ago – Panic attacks
that left me numb to the
touch and over-oxygenating
breathless, deflated.

3 years ago – A relationship that
was supposed to reach into forever
lasted a grand total of 8 months
and fell flat and died on the spot
in my car a week before Christmas

A year go. Oh, a year ago.
Catch this:
I got entangled in the grips
of a red-haired dream brought
to life, breathed into and
tied across my back with
the strings of my heart,
her hands gripped in my hair,
and 4 vicious stabs
into the deepest part of
my guts.
(The stench was awful)
But that same knife,
she used to cut herself
free and run away with
apologies, tears and a vow of silence
that is still quiet today.
But she did not leave without
a parting shot, planting that knife
square between my shoulders.
I’ve since forgiven
but, trust, I haven’t forgotten.

Now, listen, this isn’t written
to elicit some pedantic, pathetic pity party
from ya because
I may not know you,
but I do know what I don’t need.
And that is exactly, perfectly
the complete definition of it.

It’s just that, to everything
there is a season (turnturnturn)
and this one has the same amount
of happiness of a bunch of kids
who discovered there’s no Santa
but before they were assured
they’d still get their presents.

Can you feel it?
Did you know your face has a memory?
That if you configure your features
into a visage of perfect sadness
your memory will evoke the appropriate emotion
that’s attached to it? To your face?
Memory is that detail-oriented,
that it remembers how you look when you feel.

And when winter comes to me,
face to face,
I mimic its expression and
I spiral down.
It remembers my sadness,
like the kind I feel when
I think of my grandpa
dying in a sun room
to a noonday nocturne
withering away like a flower hung
upside down for an extended period of time.
I’m just waiting for him to dry… die.

So, this bear lumbers through the
cold wind and the snow just to
tell you that
maybe I’m on a journey
where my memory is learning new faces
where the graves finally give up the ghosts
and maybe, just maybe I’ll learn to rest.
This is a test of my endurance.
In hoping for hope,
let me battle hard to find joy.

Learning to Whisper Hope Again

She doesn’t know
She doesn’t know how
She doesn’t know how
to believe anymore.
[sharp inhale]
It was apparent that she was
one of a kind, different
a set apart creation that
washed the eyes of
standers-by clean of color
So wonderfully proper
that you’d never forget her.
She used to play the organ
at her church and sweat out
hymns to the congregation
and at the sound of her voice
you could see her wings unfurl
like two great, feathered sails
catching the breath of the air
and the pipes of the organ
as she played.
She always made sure she
was pitch-perfect and
stroking the correct keys with her
finger because
the unspoken understanding from
this homemade choir
that took their places each Sunday morning’
was that perfection was expected
but if you couldn’t get there they’d
pretend to understand.
And so she’d practice hours on end
going through the hymnal page after
page like she was poring over
holy scripture and
she’d tell me that sometimes
she’d play so hard it felt
like her fingerbones might snap
and she’d never be able to play again.
And somedays she hoped they would.

I was just your normal stock of sinner,
believing that some day the Man who saved me
was gonna come down and make
everything new again, like when we were kids.
I spent no time inside this building
where they worship themselves
and their pride gives birth to every
step of their walk down a dangerously wide path
I could hear them every Sunday,
standing outside their house of praise
only to hear her play the organ
with the only grace in that sanctuary,
every note perfect and every
note sang not a cent out of place.
And I would pray for her every time,
as my words were lifted to heaven with
the smoke from the cigarette on my lips
praying to God from this sinner that this
bird be free from her cage and
that her wings spread wide and
break these walls so all could hear
the sound of this one songbird
amongst the carrion crows lift
her head to the sky without
worry of amazing disgrace,
so that the well of love within her soul
was no longer contained within
the pipes that accompanied her throat
and she’d fly free, y’all…

I had heard that words started to fly
like daggers secretly slipped into the back
of each and every one of us outside their circle.
They learned of my association with her
and my tendencies to forget myself and
fall short of Glory and that perfect was a word
I could barely spell sometimes, let alone be.
She told me they asked why a saint such as herself
would bother to fraternize with a sinner, a wretch
like me.
And rather than sell me out and forget me like
some cheap trinket she picked up on a whim,
in a fit of fancy,
she held on to me like I was the last hymnal
she’d ever read and she sang for them
a song of forgiveness and pointed to them
their hypocrisy.
That love is not based on a balancing scale,
we are not meant to believe
we are the most holy in the land because
they were all just like me but didn’t have the eyes
to see their flaws;
their pride was far too great
that she could feel it fill the room
each Sunday as she played her organ
with open wings.

And one last time, she played and I listened outside
with prayers fervently uncoiling from my mouth
in smoke formations in front of my face
over and over, chainpraying for her strength.
But it was when I heard her miss a note on
what I found out later was a song called
“Whispering Hope” written long before
she and I ever knew.
I didn’t know the song but I caught a few
lines of the first verse:

Soft as the voice of an angel
breathing a lesson unheard
Hope with gentle persuasion
Whispers her comforting word:
Wait till the darkness is over,
Wait till the tempest is done,
Hope for the sunshine tomorrow–

And that’s as far as she got before I heard the
animals scream.
What sounded like a pack of wolves or jackals
tearing into the flesh of their noon-time meal
came from inside those brickandmortar walls.
In great panic I just stood there, waiting.
Because if this church was as perfect
as they claim, I did not want to anger God
by stepping across its doorstep.
I just keep breathing smoke and
praying that the worst-case scenarios
reeling through my head were only
projections and not the truth
and the truth would set me free from
such illusions. That my imagination
had only run away a short distance
to stretch and it was about this time
that I saw a sullen figure, blackened,
solemnly step through the glass front
doorway guarded by the awning.

It was my angel, my great-winged songbird
from whom I slowly learned the art of praise
and whose wings could span eternity while she sang.
As she walked away from there, a man
dressed sharp and nice in a suit and tie
poked his head out of the door and
told her she wasn’t perfect and she wasn’t
allowed back here no more.
She was soiling their perfect, see, and her wings
weren’t bright enough and
then he saw me.

His chest puffed out great and mighty
like he was God himself and told me
that I had ruined her now and she was no longer
allowed in this safe place he had built for
people who never sinned, never drank and
didn’t have any real problems and they liked it
just that way.
We had no place here and we needed to leave
the premises or risk bein’ chased out with force
because there were a lot of strong men in this
congregation because strong men are strong enough
not to sin.

It was then I noticed a feather on his shoulder,
and more were wafting out the space between him
and the doors.
I told her to turn around.
Her wings were gone, they’d been torn asunder by
the hands of men who had no concept of beauty
beyond their own reflection and of course their wives
if they weren’t too busy tending to the children.

Now, stripped of her glorious plumage she
cannot sing.
I’ve asked her many times on the offchance that
maybe she’d squeak out a few notes for me
and some day her wings might grow back.
The seeming futility is not lost on me but I keep
coming back at it, I am the chorus
“beg” on repeat.
Always returning to the beginning of the verse and start over
But she won’t.
Sometimes I think she can’t.

She still dresses her finest on Sundays but
doesn’t go anywhere.
She just sits at the organ
used for practice every day of every week
for as long as she can remember.
No strength to even put her hands to the keys
to pound out a few notes, she just stares at
the floor.
Her wings gone.
And I can tell she wants to believe.
She wants to believe
She hopes…
I tell her:

If, in the dusk of the twilight
dim be the region afar,
Will not the deepening darkness
Brighten the glimmering star?
Then the night is upon us,
Why should the heart sink away?
When the dark midnight is over,
Watch for the break of day

It is then that I notice tears run down from her eyes
and plummet to the hard-wood floor and pool.
I can’t see her eyes so I sit hunched like a
child on the sidewalk at the end of a parade,
hands empty, left in the aftermath.
I tell her to look me in the eyes and
tell me what’s running through her mind,
the freight train that just derailed betwixt her ears.
She slowly raises her head as if controlled by
tensile cables, pulleys and a motor and says to me

Whispering hope, oh how welcome thy voice,
Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

[Note from the writer: This piece was inspired by a photograph that I found whilst checking my DeviantArt account.  You can see the picture here.  The parts in italics are from the hymn “Whispering Hope” by Alice Hawthorne in 1868.]