Monday, April 22, 2013
I didn't hear what his name was when I first asked him and refused to trouble him with the question again. I was percolating some coffee on the camp stove and the cold Pacific was nullifying other noises with her gray slapping of the shore. You were still asleep in the tent as the sun was rising behind me for the first time in my life.We were on Pismo beach and this was the first time I had seen it in the day light. I was staggered by the brilliance in front of me. Arriving in the middle of the night we had a hard time being quiet knowing everyone else was asleep. The tent went up effortlessly and we kicked off our shoes before treading to where the ocean could wash our travels from our feet. You put your feet in and shrieked about the coldness of the water. I felt the cold hard sand under my head as I layed back and stared up into the clear sky. I slowly made love to you,trying not to wake anyone. When you plopped down beside me and asked where the beer was I woke up from my revelry and treaded back to the Jeep. The grin on my face held our future as I came back to you with two cold bottles. I didn't dare speak. You were witnessing the Pacific for the first time and some how a distant transistor was belting out Al Stewart's "Year of the cat".I had barely started to hum along to the song, I had barely clinked my bottle to yours, I had barely said cheers when you rolled on top of me and kissed away my thoughts. If there had ever been a saltier wind worn romantic moment in my life, it was erased.I wrapped my trembling arms around your perfectly still hips and settled in. The rest of the night seemed effortless aside from feeling like I was going to drown if I didn't admit the love I felt growing. I kept quiet and put us both to sleep. He accepted the cup of coffee and sat down at the picnic table. He was 85 and was camping his way up the coast to meet a couple of guys that he camped with every year for the last forty years. They were his brothers from the war. Normandy was just an eye close away. He liked to keep his eyes open. He had a reason for being here and his gentle but strong presence was very welcome as we shared the coffee. My insignificance didn't faze him. He noted how far I had traveled when he saw my Virginia plates and told me how his wife used to make this trip with him. She was feeling her age and didn't want to be in a tent anymore. As he said this I saw him look into our tent and take your young bare feet into account.There was no turning the clock back and I had a strong feeling that he wouldn't even given the chance. He wasn't wishing to live another life, he did not want time back, he was doing as he had always done. He was taking every moment on it's own merits and I was lucky enough to enjoy a sunrise and a story and a couple cups of coffee with him. The conversation never ended, it just stopped. There was no farewell, he just made his way back to his buggy and I woke you up. You blinked your eyes open and I remembered why I was alive. When I leaned towards you, you nibbled my ear. I knew I had a woman feeling her age and I knew that if I paused the moment would pass me by. I took the kiss, I took the ocean, I took the old man, I took more than I probably should. But I took it. As I dusted the sand off of the tent and packed it into the jeep you asked me what was wrong. You did not wait for an answer. You sucked the tear from my cheek and we put the highway under us.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
"We are nearly in California" I said as you stirred from your sleep. The sun was throwing Frisbee's of light at us as the terrain ceased it's incessant sameness. "Would you hand me my sunglasses on the floor between your feet?" You just blinked your eyes and stared at me. I looked to the road then back at you. Your gaze was unwavering. I started to speak but you reached over and cranked the volume to the stereo up. The song was "Amie" by Pure Prairie League. I smiled and we both began to sing. When the song ended I thought we would start talking but the DJ had the upper hand on me as he plowed ahead and spun "Lay Down Sally". As the sun hit your pretty face I wanted to kiss the DJ for playing the perfect song at the perfect moment. The song was saying everything I wanted to say, but better. You reached over and squeezed my leg as you kissed my ear. You turned and reached down for my glasses. You didn't hand them to me. You wiped them on your shirt and placed them on my face. Just in time too. I was getting choked up and for some strange reason I did not want you to see the tear that was straining to get away from me. With the shades on I could finally open the other eye. I felt my headache leave me in an instant. A toll gate appeared ahead of us. I wasn't sure where my wallet was so I asked you if you had any money handy. You smiled and pulled a wad of cash out of your bag that you had snatched off the bar in Leadville. We were both laughing as we pulled up to the gate. It wasn't money they wanted. They wanted to know if we had fruit or vegetables in the vehicle. When I answered yes, we were told to turn around and go to a little picnic spot where we could either eat the stuff or throw it away. I was perfectly fine with throwing the stuff away but you were having none of that. You had learned growing up that you never knew where the next meal might come from. You also put value on things that many people took for granted. I steered the Jeep; towards the picnic area and parked. We opened the cooler and took inventory. Two Tomatoes, two Apples, one Banana, three Jalapenos, and some lettuce. I looked at it as garbage, you looked at it as a perfect salad. You pulled the cutting board out and went to work. You could have won one of those dumb ass cooking challenges with what you did. While you put it together I turned up "Your Bright Baby Blues" by Jackson Browne. You and this god blessed DJ were really working the right mojo on me. I pulled two cups out and reached for water when I realized how stupid I was being. I had hidden a bottle of Champagne for when we made it to the coast. Instantly I saw that we were at the gate to the coast and a celebration was in order. I was learning a lot from you. On my own I would have thrown perfectly good food away and kept on trucking. Your poetic approach to things put out a fire that I had not even realized was burning. I had felt at peace before of course. But now I realized I had felt at peace behind a foggy front. You cleared the air for me. All the sudden everything came in to clearer focus. I blew the cork into the air. Your pretty head turned when you heard the pop and just gave me the most satisfied smile I ever had seen. I did a little silly jig through the sand toward you, kicking up dust like I used to see the roosters on my family's ranch do. I poured us two cups and clinked mine to yours. I went to take a swig when you let out a yelp. "Hey! Can't a lady get a kiss with her champagne around here?" I leaned in and I swear I thought you were going to steal my soul with the way you kissed me. As we pulled away you immediately started talking. "If we ever had a daughter I would want to name her Sally." This really came out of the blue for me. I did not even know if we would still be together after this adventure, even though that was my goal. "Why Sally?" "Not sure....." "Does it have anything to do with my calling my best friend Chris, Sally?" "Hmmmm...., maybe. Yes. Actually yes definitely. I would want you to have that kind of love for our daughter. Elevated maybe? I don't have many answers Patrick, I am just feeling things right now. Is that okay?" My thoughts were beyond elevated at that point. "Of course it is okay. I feel for better or better, that inner wishes should be brought out into the light. How else do you find out what you really want or really need? Kate, I just want to say that I really like what you are saying. You are speaking to my soul. I don't want to sound foolish talking like this but I am more afraid of being a fool by not talking this way." I could feel the waves of emotions starting to suck me under. I wanted to tell her how much I loved her. I wanted to ask her to marry me. Of course I did not. It was too soon. I would ruin everything if I showed my hand too soon. Or so I thought. The champagne splashing on my hand due to the addition of a raspberry being tossed into it brought me back to the moment. I had been day dreaming longer than I thought. I looked up and you had two other people with you. "This is Chris and Kelly. I traded them a tomato and a jalapeno for some raspberries. I hope you enjoy babe." I stood up at that point, shook his hand,walked around the table and gave her a kiss on the cheek. They seemed very pleasant indeed. My mind was off on that magic carpet ride again though. Babe. Babe. Babe is how you referd to me. That seemed to me like a bigger gate to go through than the one that had inspired this impromptu picnic. I walked over to the cutting board and scooped up the pepper slices and threw them all in my mouth. I started sweating. I started howling. I started dancing. For once in my life I did not care if I looked the fool. As the heat started to taper I ran to you and wrapped you up in my arms. "Babe!" I barked in a heated breath, "Let's get through that gate! I ain't never seen the Pacific ocean and I am dying!" You gave me the most luscious kiss at that point and said good bye to our new friends. As we rolled through the gate and entered California the DJ hit us once again. As we crossed into California Gilbert O'Sullivans masterpiece "Alone again (naturally)" was playing. Maybe my heart or your heart or both of our hearts would be lonely again. We didn't give a fuck about that. We were together and we were going to see the other side of this country.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
I thought the whistling of the wind coming through the broken window was going to be the end of me. I was wrong. As the sun gained some height in the morning sky I could feel my left eye throbbing. My neck and my right hand had let me know when the adrenaline had wore off hours ago. The eye was new news and not welcome at all. I reached for my sun glasses in the visor and they fell to the floor between your feet. Fuck! I didn't want to stop to safely reach them and I didn't want to wake you so you could hand them to me. You had refused to recline your seat when I knew you needed to sleep and so there you sat upright with your pretty head on the window. I felt my hands tighten on the wheel as my thoughts were allowing me to be in a quite and still place holding you close. As your hair fell on my shoulder and brushed my cheek I thought of a Yeats poem. The lines started slowly coming back to me like lyrics from a favorite song, " He bore her away in his arms, the handsomest young man there, and his neck and his breast and his arms were drowned in her long dim hair". Damn fine line I thought as I closed my left eye to the sun. It helped a bit. I was glad that the road was straight and lonely. I held the wheel with one hand and the back of your seat with the other as I leaned towards you. I got my nose as close to your neck as possible and took in a long swallow of your scent. My mind skittered back to when I first met you. It was your scent that first let me know that you were made for me. I had always associated so much with smells. I could still pick my first girl friends perfume off a lady that I passed in the street. Anis Anis, I would think to my self. I never thought a lady's scent would make or break a possibility of a great relationship. It was always in play but it never grabbed me by the throat and stood me up until the first time I was close enough to really smell you. We were on the roof of my best friends apartment. He had met you recently in Union Square and had squired you away with his charm. After a night of heavy drinking he passed out and we made our way to the roof. The city was as quiet as you could hope as every thing had closed and the bridge and tunnel crowd crawled home. Aside from having too much energy this late and enjoying your company and another drink on the roof, I had no thoughts in my head. I followed you up the spiral stair case and would not avert my eyes as I thought how lucky my brother was. When we sat down our chatter stopped. The buildings around us and the streets of NY below us were mesmerizing. We eventually started talking. The second time you came back up from using the bathroom and getting us another drink you stumbled and sat down right next to me. You giggled and I fell into your eyes. I went on with some gibberish and you stopped me with, "It's too bad we didn't meet sooner." I could not believe you were saying exactly what had been on my mind all night. Hearing it didn't make things easier though because now I knew I was not imagining the chemistry. I foolishly leaned in for a kiss. You smiled and pulled back. I felt foolish. I regained my senses and jerked myself into an upright position. The damage was done though. It was not the end of our night. No, we carried on. It was the end of me searching. I had gotten close enough to you to really smell you. I can still feel my nostrils open up and take in the perfect blend of sweetness and muskiness. I felt my spine curl and snap back straight like a screen door slamming. The hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stood up as if to blow a bugle cry from the top of a mountain in case I might miss the signal. I felt like I had taken a sip of you as I felt your effect register deep inside me. I was dumbfounded. I was elated. I was more sad than anything. How could something so perfect be right in front of me and I could not just reach out and take hold of it. The buildings fell around us and the streets buckled. Steam rose up and I was on a ragged carpet floating above the Hudson heading away from you. I wanted to cry but I was dry and didn't have the strength to pull water from the river below. You brought me back with a slight touch to my hand. "You look like you have a lot on your mind. It was nice talking to you. I am going to turn in. Good night Patrick". As you turned and went down the stairs I fell back and felt the gravel under my head as I caught sight of the few misty stars that had enough courage to burn though the tough light of the city. I wondered if I could ever muster enough light to burn through my own fog. If it had not been for the on coming tractor trailer I might have driven off the road trapped in my thoughts. I opened my sore eye and looked at you sleeping. I put my attention back to the road. I had something beside me that once seemed like an unlikely dream. It was not cold but I turned the heat on in hope that it would blow your scent toward me.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
It was late and we were too tired to move on. I got out and opened the back door. I found the sleeping bags and rolled them out. I pushed the rest of the gear out of the way the best I could. When I felt there was enough room to sleep, I went around to your door and tried to wake you."Babe, babe, wake up..... babe, come on honey." "what the fuck are you doing?" "Just trying to get us comfortable. Come on, let's get in the back." You looked like a little girl as you rubbed your eyes with your balled up fists. "I'm too tired for this shit Patrick!" Fuck. This day just would not end. I opened up my door and found my pack of smokes. I lit one and looked up to the cold clear sky. I could really live in Colorado I thought. For an instant I thought I saw a huge shooting star. No. It was the white light of being hit in the head. I faintly remember my knees buckling as I thought in slow motion that I should have more control. All I could smell was the dust shoved in my nostrils. I could not move. From my perspective, all I could see was the rear wheel of the jeep. The breaking of the glass sounded like a fire cracker that hadn't done it's job. Safety glass shards danced around me. I was hit in the face by the fall out and dreamed of getting to my feet. I heard you scream and rough voices answering you. I was trying to furiously rub the dirt from my eyes and find my way to my hands and knees when I was dealt a breath stealing kick to my ribs. I rolled and tried to climb under the Jeep. I was grabbed by my ankles and drug back out. These fuckers are going to kill us I thought. I caught a piece of the under body with my hands and dug in. I started kicking and pulled myself back a bit. I could hear a lot of cussing and commotion. When I heard you scream everything changed. A switch had been flipped. Killing me was one thing, taking my girl was another. I instantly pictured where every tool was in the Jeep and how I could use them. I had nothing and being under the Jeep was doing me no good. I would rather die. I scurried for the back of the Jeep and came to my feet with a hand full of dirt. As I shoved the dirt into the jack asses eyes, I made my way around to you. As I cleared the other side of the Jeep I saw you kicking and punching. Two mother fuckers were trying to drag you away. I slowed just enough to reach in the open door and grab the tire iron. I swung it and felt like my face was splashed in my own sweat. You seemed free as one of them let there grip go. You broke loose and ran toward me. "Let's go!" I wanted to follow you into the Jeep. He stood there looking at me. I broke into a gallop and tackled him. We both struggled for a while. I could smell his horrible breath and see his sick eye as I tightened my grip. I let him go as he passed out. Full of hate and death, I walked to the back of the Jeep and gave dirt eyes a good kick to the head. ""I feel dirty." I said as I climbed into the Jeep. "Let's get a motel tonight and clean up." "Okay babe." "You okay?" I ask as I start the Jeep. "I suppose. Are you?" "No, not really." I jerk into drive and pull out. "What can I do honey?" Nothing, I think as I pull out on to the road. Everything, I think as I pull out on to the road. As I floor the Jeep I feel the low howl of a vehicle and I sit up straight for the first time all night. "I need a kiss babe. I need a real god damn kiss." "Well, I think I can give you that." "You think you can? Fuck. I need to know that you can! What the fuck just happened? Who are you? Who are we? Am I losing my mind?" "Babe kiss me." "I don't know if I know you..." You cleared the sand from my eyes when you wrapped you arm around the back of my neck. As you pulled me in I started to say how much I loved you. "Shhsshh, silly boy". Yeah, I know, I thought. I steered for the sand and drove the Jeep off the road. When we came to a halt I reached for you. "Give me your hand Kate." I don't like when your bossy Patrick" "Me either. I like when I am natural and ask you to join me. Bitch" I wasn't surprised too much when you gave me a small smack to the chin before you lassoed your arm around my neck and pulled me in for a kiss I could get no where else.
Monday, September 12, 2011
I opened the door for you and you proceeded to fall straight down on your ass. Your legs were straight out and the points of your boots were straight up to the stars. I reached down for your hand and was surprised when you didn't bat it away. I held your sweaty hand tight and slowly pulled you to your feet. I reached around and dusted off your ass and you just stood there smiling at me. No teeth, just a clinched lipped smile. As I looked into your clear eyes I swore I was witnessing a carnival from times past. I could see the little girl leading the pony, I could see a gimp rigging ropes for the swing ride, I could see the fat man with the waxed mustache struggling to keep it all together as the twin strong men fought each other for the right to ring the bell first. The Barker roared in and demanded to know why the crated fighting hens were in his trailer. The monkey seemed depressed, the boa was running a fever, no one could find the wax for the Palomino's saddle and the clown was so damn sad that his makeup would not stay in place with all the tears running the paint off. I looked to the left and then to the right. It seemed that the carnival had moved on. I pulled you in for a kiss. You took it and wrapped your arm around me. You slid into the seat and I went around to the other side. As I secured my seat belt I looked over at you. "Ready to go babe?" You didn't answer. You leaned over and I heard a click. My seat belt retracted as you slid onto my lap. As you squared off with me, eye to eye, you said, "Yeah, I'm ready to go." The keys dropped to the floor and once again I reached for the unexpected.
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
I should have seen it coming. You got lit up pretty quickly with all the shots the locals were buying you. I was tired and trying to come off the buzz of the road as I sipped my beer. You were coming from sleeping in the passenger seat all night. You had some rest on your side, but you also were aggravated that I did not stop last night. You had insisted on Colorado. I agreed but wanted to go through on the way back. Instead of fighting with you I jerked the wheel Northbound. I ended up on 285. I just followed it along through 17 and eventually we were on 24. My anger slowly slipped away as we rolled up and down the passes. When we hit Leadville we both agreed it was time to stop. Yeah, we were in a town perfectly suited for us, a town time had forgot. The buildings were old and we didn't see many lights as we rolled through. The lights from the tavern weren't that bright but we could see it was open. As I found a place to park you were yanking the door open before I came to a stop. You reached in the back and found that old pair of black cowboy boots you found at the second hand shop in New Mexico. You didn't hesitate for socks, just kicked the sandals off and slid them on. As I was trying to gather myself all I could see was the dust from your boot heels as you made your way to the door. When I came through the door you were shouting and slamming your shot glass back down on the bar. Aside from you, it was like stepping back in time. The bar was ancient. The inhabitants just a little less. I walked up to the bar and reached for the other shot glass. "Yeah, fuckers!" You grabbed it without looking at me and downed it. I looked to the bartender for a little help. He looked at me and dismissed me. You realized I was there. "Where you been?!?" "Get me and my man a drink, dammit!" Old grizzles looked over and just stared. "Who's paying, sweetheart?" I started to say something as you erupted with, "My god damn man is!" He grabbed the bottle and held it above our glasses. " Well, are you son?" My teeth floated but I tried to see straight. "Yes". That's all I said but in my mind I was saying " Just pour the god damn drink asshole!" As I pulled the dried up bills out of my pocket he was snatching them before I had a chance to lay them on the bar. You downed yours without looking at me and made your way to the juke box. After I downed mine I got a beer and tried to be one with the shadows. I was sitting next to an old guy that didn't have much to say. I was thinking about tomorrow when the commotion started. I looked over when the bar stool bounced on the floor. You were on the bar now and kicking your heels in every direction. I could see the spittle of your admirers flying from their mouths back lit by the juke box. You were in your element and if I wasn't worrying about our safety I would have taken you down on that bar. I started towards you. The song ended. I was not near you when you bent at the waist and started picking up the bills they had been throwing at your feet. My panic paused as I took in the vision of the back of those beautiful legs. I thought if I was going to end with one last vision, I was there. One of the jack asses reached out and grabbed your ankle. I broke into a gallop. I never made it there. The old boy I was having a beer with had come out of the bathroom and punched him square in the temple. The boy fell. You continued grabbing your money off the bar. You hopped down with a tremendous yelp and screeched, "That's right fuckers!" You ran for the door and I followed suit. As I hit the street your beautiful ass was heading to the Jeep and as I followed I wondered if we would rest tonight.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Traveling Wilburys " You took my breath away". When this came on I was driving through the dark on a very welcoming open road. Your head was resting on your shoulder. You had fallen asleep with out tilting your seat back. I had never heard this song before. I had become familiar with the group many years ago. My brother had told me how much he liked this band. When questioned as to why, he simply replied, "Because no one in that band has ever pissed me off". It was the best musical review I had been party to in my life time. Now I had a fresh perspective. I had never gauged how much I liked something by how little it pissed me off. I was only nineteen and whistling down the road in his truck on our way to a grueling day. He had his own under ground utility company and I was working part time for him and part time at my life guarding job. My other job was easier but I liked this better. I was learning something. I was working with grown men who weren't in the middle of college like me. It was real every moment. All the sudden I wasn't looking at life as just one fun situation that of course leads to the next irresponsible fun. I didn't have much time to ruminate on this. Before I could blink, he was in boss mode and I was in helper mode. As I trudged along the field that would soon be a housing development with two five gallon buckets of wet cement in each hand heading toward a hole in the ground, I could feel my mind strain in unison with my shoulders. Something clicked and I took one step toward being a man. There was no place for boy hood silliness in this environment. I climbed down the hole and some one else lowered the buckets by a rope. I actually had a better job than the guy up top but I had earned it. It had nothing to do with being the bosses brother. It came from the way I had floated cement for him when he was doing more traditional cement work. I had the touch with the trowel and later that would lead me into becoming a great plasterer. That was years down the road though. For now I was hunched up in a pipe union that would later direct the water that would eventually throw through it. Four pipes came into the union I was squatting in. I had a pile of brick and ten gallons of cement to work with. This had to be right. I put the angle wrong and things are flowing back down hill. I could have been non chalant about it and just put it together how ever I cared. Eventually my errors would come to light and my brother would be responsible for tearing up a street that didn't exist yet and making it right. No. I was in that hole by myself. It was cool and dark but I was hot from the pressure. I needed to get this right. I started by two of the pipes and started laying my mud down. I carefully selected my bricks and squeezed them down until the mud started showing around the sides. After the main course was set I had to start breaking the bricks with the back of my hammer. It felt unreal as I watched this solid material break exactly where I wanted it to. I fitted the slender pieces and then turned around and started from scratch on the other two pipes that completed the juncture. When I crawled out of that hole proud of myself, I was given two more buckets and pointed at the next hole in the ground. There was going to be no back slapping out here. As I made my way to my next cool escape I heard my brother behind me shout, " Keep getting it Snow Pea!". I knew I was doing OK in his eyes if he was using a nick name on me that one of my other friends had come up with. I smiled and climbed down into the hole. I did what I needed to do and came back to the surface. As I rode back home I looked over at the bay and didn't care that we were stuck in traffic. He reached behind his seat and handed me a cold beer. If I never made it again, I at least knew I made it that day. .... As the darkness slipped past my steering wheel I wondered how I could have two things at once because of a song. Fond memories of past times with my brother and an over brimming realization that I just had heard a song that I would want to sing to you for all my years to come. As I reached over and put my hand on your leg you came to. "What the fuck? Where are we?" "Between here and there babe. Go back to relaxing and enjoy the ride." "Patrick, god damn it! I thought we were going to stop. My back is sore!" I couldn't look at you. I steeled my eyes toward the flickering road. " I'm tired too. We will stop when it is time." I could feel the salt in your anger as I gripped the wheel a bit tighter. I looked ahead as I drug those buckets into the hole knowing how important it was that the water flow in the right direction.