Except it never goes away, does it? This feeling of missing pieces. Loosed-leaf paper dancing in the visible billowed wind as the fan scans the heated bedroom. It’s 12 p.m. and I taste your sweat on my lips, the tip of my tongue swollen from the thirst of you. || Faltering at the edges, staring at stars. Your eyes. Your skin. The waves of your hair. Reminiscing the six-in-the-morning thoughts that run through my mind like night stallions chasing the mares. || Your love: a mixed tape the car stereo ate; a sell-by-date; batteries not included; rough around the edges; scentless potpourri. || Heated weather. Sweat stains on the sheets. The scratches on my arms. || We were each others first disappointments.
There’s a question I hate and it’s been asked a lot. I’ve mentioned this before. At lunch, I settled down to the stir fry. Made it the night before for lunch in hopes that my bank account will thank me later. So after reheating it, I sit at the table. My copy of M. R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts is left to just the side. Meaning to read it as I eat, of course. Though, I’ve never been able to read at eat. Watch TV? Sure. Play a video game? Yup. Work? Why not? But not read.
Most civilized societies know what certain social cues mean. An open book or wearing headphones/ear buds means the person is not open for a conversation. A closed book, on the other hand, means you’re about to get asked some personal questions. Questions that you’ve managed to dodge for a while now.
“So Guillermo,” the unwanted conversation starts, “are you in school?”
“No,” I respond.
The conversation veers a bit, but it’s back on track soon after. Why aren’t I looking into a graduate program? She thinks I would enjoy the library science program. It looks like it would suit me. “Have you thought about going into computers?” “Yeah, I thought about code before,” I say. It’s a half-truth. I did look into it and felt unbelievably bored looking at all the nonsense. Sure, it’s important nonsense; it’s just not the sort of nonsense I’m into.
“You’ll regret it when you reach my age,” she half concludes. How much older are you than me, lady? “Did you ever think about going back to college?”
“Sure. I thought about pursuing my MFA in creative writing. But I stopped writing a while ago.” Again, not entirely a lie.
“If I were you, I would have published a book by now.” Yes, because it’s that easy.
I finished my lunch. I grabbed my book. I left the lounge. It wasn’t abruptly. I’m not that rude. I hid in the supply room and read my book.
Work has been pulling on my nerves. Yesterday, I had a small lecture about a text sent after seeing nothing was set up the day because some oaf didn’t pick up after himself after Saturday’s event. The text was misconstrued as angry. I have to remember that this isn’t the team from the past. They’re not used to my nuances. They’re not too sensitive, and I can see how I was in the wrong. Suddenly feel like others are seeing me as the loaded gun with a hair trigger. It’s utter nonsense, I’m sure.
No matter, though. No matter how bad my day goes, our text message conversations eases it. We talk nonsense. We talk about work. We talk about whatever comes to our minds, whatever our imaginations give birth to.
And that’s something to look forward to.
Old romances haunt dreams as the names of new infatuations cascade through lips untouched. Fractals of disinfectant youth wailing on a live mic. Words are like a 90’s mixed tape left on the side of a road, waiting for someone to discover it. All the while I acted as your cartographer, tracing out the paths of our body. I studied the topography of your curves, the dips and plains of your tits, your ass, your belly. Read you like Braille. So that at night when dreams of her slip into my subconscious, the images of you slither in uninvited.
He cries out her eyes
As blue as her fingers
The curve of her ass
Heaven is harsh
A fire ungrateful
Like the bird that you hold in your palm
I spend a lot of time walking through bookstores. Well, just one bookstore. When Hastings closed several years ago, Barnes & Noble has been my one source for instant book gratification. Well, that and my Kindle. Most times I buy something. Sometimes it’s just therapeutic. Tonight I picked up J.R.R. Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien even though I haven’t finished reading The Girl with All the Gifts nor have I started Michael Crichton’s Dragon Teeth. Lingering in my head as I made way down the aisles, scanning spines for titles that were familiar and new, was Shaun’s counseling session.
A few months ago, Jeanna and I agreed we’ve give child counseling a try. After all, we couldn’t explain Shaun’s sudden change in mood. Sure, part of it could be school. But his silent treatment and whispered conversation began to spread across non-school days. He no longer wanted to go to the movies because he feared the loud noises. He hated going to stores that weren’t Barnes & Noble for the same reason. We couldn’t figure out what exactly was going on with our child, so we looked for assistance. And today Shaun just wanted me to go into the room with him, while Jeanna waited in the lobby. A decision that I didn’t anticipate.
I won’t go over the details of the conversation, just the part that stuck in my head.
“Have you ever been to the beach?” his counselor asks. “Yes,” Shaun replies. “When was the last time you’ve been to the beach?” “A long time ago. But not too long ago.” “And who did you go with?” “Mommy and Marcos.” “Is Marcos another little boy?” “No.” “Who’s Marcos, Shaun?” she asks. He hesitates to answer, so she continues, “Is he Mommy’s friend?” She gives me a look, a pained smile across her face because maybe she’s uncertain if I knew about this possible interloper. “Yes.” “Is Marcos nice to Mommy?” she asks, and I understand that this is protocol. She’s not insinuating that the man who’s been planning secondary parent is abusive, but my intestines still clench with anxiety. “Yes,” he answers.
There was a time I saw Marcos as my competition, my adversary. It’s the first time I felt the bite of jealousy in my thoughts. This was before coming to terms that I was no longer in the running.
There are still times when I’m William Borgens “staring through the window into my ex-wife’s new life” and how seeing them together is “like turning on a familiar sitcom, and realizing they had replaced one of the lead actors with a stranger.” How the show remained the same but the actor who played Guillermo for nearly ten years was gone.
I close my eyes for a bit. The last night catching up with me this morning. I’m not a drinker, mind you; I’m just not as young as I once felt. The counselor pries a bit, but Shaun, like his father, holds back on discussing his feelings. Maybe when he learns to put his thoughts on the page, he’ll find a way through them. Until now, counseling sessions with this woman. After the session, she asks Shaun if he’s ready to visit her without one of us in the room. He wasn’t. Not just yet, anyway.
After eating and giving Jeanna the quick rundown on what was said about Marcos, I came into my room and just crashed onto my bed while Shaun played with his cousins. I placed my phone on the charger and started texting a girl. Someone who’s been on my mind a lot lately. Someone I’ll go out of my way to talk to, even when there’s nothing to discuss. Someone who’s like a better version of me.
Someone who’s found away to make me smile.
Me: So Shaun decided to give me the honor of going with him to the counselor’s room without Jeanna. It got awkward when Jeanna’s boyfriend was brought up.
Her: So, interesting day?
Me: Very. Because he doesn’t seem to understand what he is to her.
Her: Oh boy… Definitely awkward.
Me: And because I don’t interact with either of them (meaning counselor and Shaun) during the session, I just sat there dissecting everything in my head. The counselor just gave me this semi-pained smile.
Her: So, no reading?
Me: No reading. Just good old raw awkwardness.
Her: But no zombie apocalypse. I know it’s not much, but it’s kinda a bright side.
Me: It means a lot that you can put a positive spin on this.
Her: I try.
I’ve been transparent about my feelings without so much as voicing them. I’m uncertain about them just as much as scared of them. And while she’s met Shaun, he knows she’s just a friend. Not the same type of friend as Marcos is to Jeanna, but a friend. And I couldn’t ask for a better one during this second wave of uncertainty and existential crisis that a malevolent programmer might have set up in me.
Man, oh man it’s been too long since I sat here on Daddy’s laptop and typed out one of these posts. So long it’s a different laptop since my last post. The last time I did one of these, I was an almost-three-year-old. Now I’m five years old. And guess what! I survived my first year of pre-k (that’s short for prekindergarten for those who don’t speak in abbreviations). It was rough at first, but I got used to it. Sort of. Don’t ask!
I’m in the midst of my first summer vacation. There’s always been a summer, of course. I mean this is the first year where it actually matters to me because I spent a good chunk of last year and this year in school and now I can just relax at home and not worry about things like numbers and alphabet and computer mouses (computer mice?). Oh! And the bestest thing happened to me today! I met Blue.
No, not the color sillies. My cat. My kitten, I should say. He’s soooooo cute! He’s so tiny and his face is so adorable. Imagine the cutest thing out there in the world. The cutest thing you know. Now add like a hundred to that! He’s much more cuter than even that. Dad warned me that he’s still a baby and he’s getting used to living with us so I shouldn’t try to rush him into being my bestest best friend ever, but it’s sooooo hard not to! He likes to sleep a lot, though. And he’ll sleep anywhere. And I mean anywhere. Yesterday, Daddy sent me a picture of him sleeping on my books! (Well, Dad has his books there, too, but that doesn’t matter, right?)
There’s video of me playing with Blue, but no pictures on Daddy’s phone. He’s on the old one again, because his newest one died on him. He isn’t sure why it died, but he says that Sam’s Son has a log of explaining to do. Which is weird, because I thought Sam only had a daughter. But he promised the moment his eight plus is replaced, he’ll be snapping pictures of me and my cute little kitten whenever we hang out.
Ok. I’m going now. But I’ll try to type more later. I just wanted to tell you all that I’m still growing AND that I have a precious kitty now. Bye bye.
I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts onto a single page. An avalanche of dialogue rushes from my fingertips with no clear origin. Once stated that my stories started off as a voice in my head, a character willing me to tell his story. Now all the voices have joined in raising their volumes, talking over each other into a cacophonous symphony orchestrated by first-time players of instruments in some back alley dive where drunkards and the sophisticated share shark stories. I am their vessel, unable to take orders because the tales of rotten childhoods and abortions no longer land the way they once did ten years ago when that world seemed more familiar than my own. Each passing day, the voices grow louder while my own softer. There’s no shortage of stories. A writer once said that he didn’t have to come up with the words; they were always there. He simply just plucked them from the air and arranged them in his notebook. While mine only have sketches of forgotten dialogue. Ruined ideas. Quotes from sources I failed to jot down, wishing they were of my own invention instead. There are stories there. Somewhere along the margins. Penned in fading ink. Hiding in plain sight. Among the cliches.
Just waiting for me to find them.
Texts to Sam
What if I’m a bad kisser now, Sam? Or that I’ve forgotten how to hold someone’s hand and mean it? What if something as simple as date night becomes a complex labyrinth of small talks and questions about the weather? What happens then, Sam?
Sam, can you tell me if I’m a good person or do I just do good? Can you decipher this text conversation, Sam? Are we talking or are we talking? Sam, I think I like this girl but I’m not sure. Am I flirting? Is she flirting? Have I found someone just like me?
How do you balance the dorkiness & the beauty? Sam, if I met a girl who’s half the person you are I’d still be a lucky guy.
I apologize for the TMI, Sam, but you’re my best friend and I think this comes with the best friend package—I’m a bit on the frustrated side. Because I’ve been the most typical minded guy today. I had to fight my thoughts for control of my brain.
I was walking. I missed you. And kids almost ran me over with their bikes. I’ve never had a kitten as needy as a dog. Or as whiny. They’re like little low self esteem furry people. I already have me for that. Except I’m not furry. I have like 12 chest hairs total. Ok. Like 20.
Sam, you’re awesome. I don’t know if I tell you that enough. And I love you.