September 29, 2006

Technicolor Dreams

Isn't it curious how some sensations stay in your memory forever, how they are burned into your heart without a chance to ever be removed again? Memory is a fine invention for sure that way. Some situations, feelings, people just remain, no matter how much you twist and turn, evolve and change. There's always some memories that are vivid and tangible to you even years later. In Technicolor with Dolby surround sound and digitally remastered. And nothing that happened in your life can tarnish these memories. They are preserved in their original state, the purity they had in the moment you experienced them. People say memory tricks us. It leaves out the bad things and glosses everything over. In some cases that's true. However, I have more vivid memories of horrible experiences than of good ones. I will never forget the shame, when a boy made a very mean joke about my breasts on the schoolyard in seventh grade. How I could feel every fiber of me blushing and wanted the Earth to swallow me right there so I could cry my eyes out. And I will never be able to suppress the memory of the black devastation I felt that year after Stephen died. How I was so numb I didn't care in the least what happened to me. I will never get over the shock I felt when my mom told me my aunt had killed herself, leaving my cousin, who was just 15 like me, all alone in this world. How I instantly felt the heat of tears on my cheeks and my heart break for my cousin.
But for all the Technicolor memories of unpleasant moments, I also have a few Technicolor dreams that are so delicious, I will be able to feed on them forever. I am glad all later events didn't completely twist my recollection of the original feelings I had. That happens sometimes. There are people you once liked or even loved, but what they did to you later leaves you unable to remember how your original feeling for them felt. You always have a bitter aftertaste, you can't tell the story without resentment or disappointment in your voice.
I never used to understand how people could go on loving and defending someone if that someone treated them badly or wronged them all the time. But I think I am beginning to understand. There is people in this world I wouldn't believe you if you told me something bad about them. There is people in this world I will never stop loving and defending. All of them friends. That's right. Friends and family. None of them a lover.
The one man I have a Technicolor dream of, I claim not to have loved. We didn't know each other well enough to speak of love. We both believed love could only come with explicit knowledge of each other and we never shared that. Nor did we attempt to. There were ways in which we just knew - by instinct - what the other one needed, but we never explained ourselves to each other. We knew it wouldn't have done any good. I know when I finally do love a man, it will feel different from what I felt with him.
But one of the first nights when I got to know him, will forever be my favorite Technicolor dream of black and white people. I can see the tables arranged in that bar. I can recall the unusual music from the musicians on stage, jazz with a xylophone. I can smell the sausages and mashed potatoes on his and Graham's plate. I can hear Graham laughing at my horrible attempt at an English accent. I can let my finger run across the wooden table surface and the holes burned into it. I wish I had worn a different shirt now. Something prettier. I wish my hair wasn't all static from my wool sweater. His blue eyes sparkle in the dark while thoughts form. I swear they are dotted, they aren't just blue. His hands are so big, my face gets lost in them. I could draw an exact line where his lips touched my forehead. "You are beautiful." The urge will not go away, to wanna touch him, just once, then pull my fingers away like a burnt child. He touches me instead, my hands, so childishly small in his, receive a gentle kiss. Words must have been spoken, my mind is glued to the deep aura he has. I can feel myself falling into the darkness, I have no idea what's to come, I fall and miss my last train home. Right, home. I am going home tomorrow morning. A flash enters my mind briefly, but ceases, because I know I have no choice. I don't want a choice. I want him to make the choices tonight. And then left alone with him, the music coming from the stereo, I take my first breath. I tell him about my darkness as he asks. His voice drifting over the table that is too wide now. I am miles from where he is and the wind carries my words across to him. I know right there I can never reach him, but I stretch and touch his index finger. He smiles and expresses he cares, he worries, he wants to make sure I'm okay. He can't help, but he says I have to take care of myself.
Everything's warm. The bar filled with smoke and laughter. My body filled with mesmerized stillness of every fiber. The November cold outside kills the warmth and the intimacy for a while. Everything is too real out here, the light of the streetlamps too harsh. He leads my way, I don't know where to go. His leather jacket with woolen lining hangs perfectly crooked on his shoulders as he carries his bag on one and walks along. I can see him walking now. Down every street I see him walking. His jeans, the wrinkles they have, his brown leather shoes, the little speck of orange hair I can see, even though his head is lowered against the cold. I would have followed his presence to the end of the world that night. Drawn in by something that has managed to evade me until now. How naked I felt standing there in his room. With half my clothes on I had nothing more to hide. All my weapons lowered I looked at him more openly than I have ever looked at anyone ever again. He could have taken me out of this world that night. I was nothing more than a faded figure standing on open fields, waiting to be swept away by powerful winds. He reads to me from his book about the religions of the world and when I closed my eyes, I could hear his voice calling me home. His skin is so soft I believe I have fallen asleep and am dreaming of my childhood days, when the only other thing that ever felt this soft was my mother's touch when I had woken up crying in the night. There is nothing to hold on to, my hand flows down his skin unhindered. Later I call it peachy. Peachy skin so heavenly warm and soft all I want is to be wrapped up by him forever. Not a minute I spend sleeping. I listen to his breath in the night, it makes me laugh, it's so unromantically loud. His heart beats, steady and confident. My fingers hold nothing when I touch him. The shelves are empty. There's a white table. On it my clothes. None of us is home here.
His alarm raises us. Like a ghost I stare into the bathroom mirror and wonder why there are five tubes of toothpaste if only four people live here. When I return to his room, he stands in the half-light in his underwear. He looks so tall and strong to me. Nothing can knock him over, no winds will carry him away. He reaches for me and I expect him to pull me into his arms. Instead he kneels down in front of me and rests his cheek against my stomach, his arms wrapped around my waist. I can feel his heavy breath on my leg and a tear on my face. He wants to hold on. I bury my hands in his hair. The hair I played with all night. Gently I caress his face and know I cannot make this better for us. I don't want him to contain himself. But he kisses me right underneath my belly button and stands up. And I am freezing. For a long time after I am freezing. The closest I come to warm, is when we hug halfway into the subway station. My face resting against his chest behind a blue shirt. This dirty dove blue. "Turn and walk away." One wish he grants me. And he climbs back into the light, while I take the stairs down.

"It's getting so damn creepy just nursing this ghost of a chance, the fiction, the romance and the Technicolor dreams of black and white people." (MB20)

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