You once told me about the cactus you kept in the bed of your truck. How’d you drive, parading it through the city. You told me people would give you looks. Maybe even a quizzical lift of the brow.
I wish I saved those emails so that I can paint a better picture – the one who painted with your words. Because all I imagine is a bed of sand with your cactus planted in the middle. I don’t imagine the nopal, but the saguaro as it is the most referenced in popular culture.
I can’t remember the color of your truck, or if you ever told me the model and brand. But I think of an old red pickup, the sort abuelos drive.
We reconnected when I was in college. You found a review I made on Amazon and that led you down the rabbit hole to whatever social network I was using back then. Probably MySpace. We emailed each other, old friends catching up. You were always pushing me to share my work, find my voice.
And I eventually did, though I’m sad you never got to see me recite one of my poems on stage. Never heard me voice my characters.
I still wear the rings you gave me. These biker rings that appeared on Facebook. Rings that became the bane of my former employer’s existence. Rings I wore to push the limits one October and never took off until my weight got away from me.
And the moment my fingers allowed me to put them back on, it brought me so much peace. I can’t explain to you how exposed I felt without them. Every time I forget to wear them, a part of me is missing. And I’m sure you’d have loved to know that.
In some small way, I always felt that I carry you with me when I wear them. When I thought of buying new ones, I second guessed because these rings were from you.
Among other gifts you sent me, a Harley Quinn tee shirt, copies of your sister’s books, a book I never read, and several inappropriate birthday cards. How I loved those inappropriate cards.
I’m sorry that I stopped making that effort. Sorry I never held my word in writing those things for you. It’s easy to say that life gets in the way. That I was raising a child when I still didn’t feel like much of an adult. Sorry for never writing or reaching out when that illness began to take you. You were a better friend than I ever deserved.
It’s just that I scare easily, and I make it a habit to keep people I love at an arm’s length. I always think this will make the pain easier to take, but all it does is leave room for regret.
And there is a lot I regret these days.
As you know, I don’t have much faith on what lies beyond this life. Whether we simply stop existing or go into a higher plane of existence – be it Heaven or whatever. But I do hope that I see you again.
You once sent me this song and told me that you were the pretty girl. You didn’t care if I was Dr. Dre or Eminem.
For the sake of my mental health, I decided to go for walks. This isn’t a new thing for me; in the past, it was what I did almost every day after work. It started off as something more serious – I’d walk and began pushing myself further until it was a sprint, a job, a run.
These days though, I walk in hopes to build some strength back in my lungs.
For those wondering, people-watching is essential to creative writing – be it fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Jose Skinner taught me of its importance, though it had been a pastime of mine for some time.
When you observe your surroundings with a creative eye, you register things that would otherwise be overlooked. The way a young wife moves away from her husband when he sits next to her. Or how a child darts across the street while his mother scrolls across the screen of phone. Or the mannerisms of a young couple.
They paid no mind to the scent of rain that lingered in the air; they were more focused on studying each others smile. The groove between their hands, their teeth. With the first drops, she pulled him into the open space. They wrapped their arms around each other.
It took me back to a moment in life. One taken for granted. When a girl pulled me outside to kiss in the rain.
We all think about it at some point, don’t we? The purpose of our lives, the time we spend at work – all the things we miss out as we while away the times doing a job “that makes us happy.” Perhaps it’s become more prevalent in my life as I watch my son grow, wonder what important things about his life I have missed. There are moments when I notice the aloneness that has crept into my life. When I wonder if someone will enter my life who can hold my interest and I theirs.
Are we more than just a life of errands? Do we long for more than providing what others need? Do we only await to embrace our next commissions?
For the fourth poem, I have chosen Leonard Cohen’s “A Life of Errands.” I hope you enjoy it.
Did you ever believe that you’d live this long? As a child, we used to map out our futures. What we’d be like as teenagers. In our twentysomethings, batting away quarter-life crises. And we’d imagine being 32. Then it was just dark, unplanned. Nothing lay beyond its horizon. It is uncertainty whether we thought our story came to a halt at 32, or if our imagination was limited. This Saturday, we will meet for the first time and we will have outlived our expectation by six years.
Sometimes we create fantasies because the reality isn’t worth facing. We create happy marriages when all we think about is running out the door. We glue something broken beyond repair in hopes that things will get better. We do this because the alternative is scarier than what we have.
After we split, I spent hours every day day dreaming that she’d come back. There were mornings I’d hear her trying to sneak into my room like she had in our college days. I’d feel her warm body curled beside only to find her side empty when I opened my eyes.
And I spent hours contemplating the outcome of “the talk” I had with V. How, in every scenario that played in my head, things turned out better than they did. Because I had this one right. I read all the signs correctly. In the end, I projected my feelings onto her and just read what I wanted to.
Maybe it’s time I stopped clinging to this maladaptive daydreaming and accept reality for what it is. Take charge of the things I can control. Focus on my return to writing, book/movie/television reviewing. So I dropped $60+ on a new theme. It was time to start fresh, you know?