I skid across black ice. The Volvo’s brakes grumble with anti-lock distress. Their distress is my safety. My mind spins, fresh and raw, voluptuous and hungry, animal. I float the ship into its cave, slide in to the warm cavity. Ok, I like my garage. I like it, but not as much as Johnny. Oh Johnny boy, take me to your haystack and shine your sun on me!
Yes, Johnny redeemed me, resuscitated me, brought me back to reality, to the reality of sense, of sensation. He reminded me to cherish the sweetness of life as it happens, from as early on as you possibly can. Johnny “hungry skin” was perfectly hungry, salient. Connecting with his velvet skin, giving my pleasure back to him, sharing it just for the moment, carefully, formally, we did a little dance of mutual healing in a crowded bar. He danced and shimmyed up to me as if I were the only one for him. Yearning, but with open eyes, embracing, a shocked vermilion flare engulfed me. Then he moved on to say hello to the next hungry skin. There is one lesson. There is only one lesson. Cherish.
I don’t try to kid anybody. I take it as it comes. I flop around a lot. There is no turning back, no redemption, just gratitude, giving in, giving over, finding the music of just being, just breathing. Man the Juice. Be mindful of the juice. The juice is what pulses through us with joy. It only happens once, each second, each moment of pleasure.
Panting, I get out of the car, push the buzzer button hooked up to the auto garage door. I walk out into the huge, silent cold. I pause, facing the scene I’ve seen dozens of times a season, tonight crushingly new, daringly new. My breath hovers around me, ghostly.
I glance over at the Christmas lights decorating the house across the street. Electric icicles hang along a steep roof angle of the A-frame. Expensive, adorable, kitschy, gay but not gay, they are annoyingly perfect, Martha Stewart-like. But it’s ok. We need to feel that something can be just right. We need beautiful illusions. We need to feel complete, like we’ve arrived, if only temporarily. I smile at those lights.
I stand in the driveway, pausing, knowing I’ve paused safely here before. The wind chimes barter their wares, seductive questions, partial answers, sampled sirens messages. Their alto pings swim between two notes, a chant of poles, tides of a question.
I look up at the magnificent beast looming over my house. It reaches anciently toward the sky. 300 years gives this green sage some perspective. How does it see our frantic lives? Now denuded of its summer cloak, its gnarly limbs pose dramatically, frozen time, at least to me. One of it’s great, gentle hands, with long, almost grotesque spindly fingers, cradles the three-quarter moon like a baby.
The wind chimes pause, hold their breath. Silence.
Regal yet demure in her shroud, she notices me. Facing sideways, alluring, she looks somewhere beyond what I see, gazing across the neighborhood, over the house with the perfect lights. She draws clouds around her noctilucent face, swirling them in a slow liquid, curled silver glass.
She listens as I watch her hover in the oak’s stringy fingers. She calls deeply, shows me myself, my weakness, my perfection, my meaning. She somehow touches inside me, calls up my innocence, my child, my hurt. She tells me it’s ok. She lets my tears out. They flow from far, far inside me. They wash over me. I stand there, looking up at the moon through the arms of the great, gentle beast. I cry, wailing inside. I wail silently, not wanting to wake the neighbors with the perfect lights, not wanting to disturb them, their contentment. I cry for all I cannot do, all I have failed to do, all I wish to do, all the things I fear. I cry for those I cannot help, those I have not helped, for the love I’ve failed to give. I have so much to learn. I have so much to live. The moon gazes gently beyond me.
The chimes tap my shoulder, resume their muted sighs. Chilled from the steely cold air, I go inside the house. I am greeted by my two little furry friends, Merlin and Punker, whom I ignore way too much, as I do many of my friends. Why do I do that? Why do I let pass so many perfect, sweet, gentle moments in favor of some kind of thrill, a rollercoaster ride? My interior life demands me, snares me. I get hooked on far out orbits, swinging low, way low on a glittering chariot.
My little purring pals, free, reliant, so poetic, they know me and cannot speak. Yet they ground me, tell me things, remind me to eat, to sleep, to breathe, to love, to hug. They wait. I am sure they embody some subtle, effulgent fragments of a great spirit. I see this and I am afraid. Afraid and somehow comforted. Something cradles my fear. Merlin and Punker gaze at me, kiss me with their eyes, waiting for food.
How come we do the things we do? Why do we feel so much, and know so little? How can we be so sensitive and seductive and still so dull, as we crash and flop across exquisite landscapes, barely noticing, just passing, blinking, wandering into some strange night?
I cross the bridge, walk away from the river into the open fields. The moon calls me. The trees stand guard. I weep quietly in the long, dark night. I begin.