this is what happens when you stir the pot.
Faded Memory #1
We were sitting in the restaurant. The booth next to what would ultimately be "our" booth. We talked about how unhinged our parents seemed to be. We both had homework we were ignoring. She and her coffee--she never took cream, mind you-- and me and my large DP. We talked for hours and accomplished no homework. We accomplished what we really meant to. We were together.
I don't remember who thought it up, but somehow we decided that we were Hamlet and Ophelia. "Does this mean I'll end up killing myself?" she asked. "Geez, I hope not," I said.
We both sat silently for a moment, contemplating that Hamlet and Ophelia were lovers--an idea up-to-that-point unspoken between us. Uncomfortable laugh. Averted eyes. I'll pick up the check. (Should we have based our identity as a couple on tragic lovers?)
Faded Memory #2
The booth across from ours, unfortunately occupied by others before we arrived. She and I and her roommates. I was working on something else, but stopped to help her friends. They were reading Hamlet. I rambled on for several minutes about major themes and symbolism. I answered their questions. I helped them study for specific essay topics concerning the play. They said I helped. We all got up to leave. She let her friends pass and hung back a step, leaned up to me and half-whispered, "Back there, when you were reviewing with them--I've never found you so attractive." I smile, speechless. Who knew test review could be an aphrodesiac? (But how long can that last?)
Faded Memory #3
I wish I could have taken it back. But in a sudden fit of unprefaced honesty, I had said something in the vein of, "I can't promise for sure that I would never cheat on you. I don't think I would, I don't plan on it by any means, but it's just not something you can guarantee, you know?" Apparently she didn't. Or she knew too well.
Later. She's crying, sitting beside the fountain. She says that we had been going out for as long as it took her last boyfriend to start cheating on her. That he played mind games. Really messed with her head. I hated him for that. She was worried that I would turn into him. I promised her that I wouldn't. She was afraid our relationship would end up like the last one she had. I promised her it wouldn't. (Back then, we believed in forever.) I swore to her on earth below and stars above that I wouldn't end up like him, that I wouldn't treat her like he did. (I'd like to believe that I kept my word, but I'm not sure that I did.) Finally, finally, she calmed down. She believed me. She seemed to trust me a bit more after that. (But was that wise?)
Faded Memory #4
The plans discussed and dreamed upon for months all fall apart in the space of five minutes. I'm driving 85 miles and hour on a four lane highway bracketed by cement walls. My eyes are blurring, and I blink, sending burning tears down my cheeks that I don't wipe away. Why would I? I've earned them. My throat's constricted, and I'm choking. And all I can think of, all that's going through my mind, is "what did I do wrong? what should I have done better?" Lucky for me, I have plenty of time to figure that out. (I'm still compiling.)
Fresh Memory #1
I finally watch a movie I'd been looking forward to for months. I expect it to be brilliant and beautiful. It is both. But what I fail to see coming is the impending wave, like the witch's spoon, stirring the pot, raising the eyes of newts and tails of dogs up to the surface, as the brew swirls swirls swirls. In the middle of the stew I swim, overwhelmed, drowning again, cursing myself. And I can't help but wonder what she thought of the film, and who she thought of. Did she feel anything approaching nostalgia? Did she think of me fondly? Did she curse my memory, and hold her lover tighter? Or am I but a footnote in the glorious parade of characters in her pageant?
Read me the bones, magic man. Throw them down, pick them up, throw them down. Tell me, magic man, tell me what they say.
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