Run

Airports.

They’re all well and good and exciting until you’ve got a four hour delay ahead of you.  Stuck elbows deep in poorly made frappacinos and rumpled US Weekly’s… I am waiting for the plane to touch down.

I’m on the phone, arguing with the latest entry in a long line of mistakes.  My fingers turning cold from nervously running around the rim of a tall iced tea for the better part of an hour; the strangers pressing, forcing forward against the black tape that separates them from their loved ones, holding off for touchdown.  From back near the Starbucks they look like an impatient ocean.  Swelling in ebbs and flows.  Waiting.

Everyone is tired, hungry, bored, and probably writhing in anticipation.  We’ve been waiting all day on an international flight.  We have agendas with old loved ones and near strangers, and I am peeling the whites from my fingernails.

I hang up the phone.

There’s a previous flight that touches down, full of someones from somewhere.  The ocean bursts forward in an explosion.  It’s chaos.  People are screaming out in languages I don’t recognize.  The flight attendants are shoving people back behind the lines, a man with an accent is being dragged towards the door by the police, but in the midst of it it… there’s this girl.

The girl in the red shoes.

She can’t be more than twenty.  She’s probably not even eighteen.  And her arms are hung tight around a boy, face pressed into his chest.  His head is down, nose in her hair, and the bags at their feet, the noise, the crowd…. they’re forgotten.  I can see her body heave a sigh that carries out with it all the time she’d been waiting.

Slowly the ocean of travelers calms.  The girl in the red mary janes picks up one of the boy’s bags and smiles.  The airport is as it was and the people come and go.  I am still waiting for VS107.

I can feel the weight of her happiness lingering in the room – that particular joy, that youthful brand of crazy – and suddenly I wonder if anyone saw her but me, and if anybody cared.  I stare back at anxious crowd and wonder why it’s so rare to see anyone much older that she is running forward, falling into someone’s arms with tears or excitement or passion.  Maybe really, truthfully, I’m not wondering about the state anybody’s in but me.  I’d like to believe it’s still inside me.  The excitement, the abandonment.  To F* all the world when you see what you want.  To rush towards it with open arms and let yourself rest in it.  Emptied out and safe.  I’d like to think it’s still there.

I toss the last of my drink and join the ocean.  Forty-five minutes later my toes are giving out for standing high on them to see over the crowd, and I’m wondering if I should just give up and wait outside.  I’m too small to see over the swell.  The crowd is pressing forward and the airline employees start to rush against the tide.  I bite my lip, near resignation, edging towards the door…

Until I get the smallest glimpse of the person I’m waiting for, and my feet can’t carry me fast enough… the world starts sliding past me, as I break into a run.

Want

“My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.”

― Jack Kerouac

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I want the smell of skin, hands in my hair, my head on the pillow. I want the twisting, pulling of it.

I want.

I want.

Last weekend I went to a museum with a boy and we had that conversation. We talked about that particular person who can make you stay in one room for five days straight – who makes you fail all of your classes.

I came home from my semester in England with a string of F’s that I managed to swap for withdrawals. He was the Yoko to my Lennon. He loved me, I loved him, and together – we destroyed the Beatles. Five years later, after putting a ring on my finger, he also effectively destroyed my life as I knew it.

The boy at the museum said, “It sounds so … “young.” And it is young. Can desire exist in a contained space without sucking out all the air? I’d like to think I can choose to not let the world waste away but still hate to leave you to go to work in the morning. I’d like to think I could call in sick when I’m not sick, just once. I’d like to think that despite the foresight to know better, the lip biting, heart aching taste of it is just on the tip of my tongue. Just a whisper out of reach.

Sure, you can be older and wiser. But what about younger, braver, bursting at the seams. Kerouac, of course, reminds us that this supposed greatness is little more than burning the candle at both ends. Even the man we espouse as this icon of youthful wandering eventually gave up life on the road to become a celebrated author who lived in one stationary place. The “roman candles” he wrote about fucked off to be nobody in particular.

I am not quite twenty eight years old. And besides, it almost killed me once already. I should have grown out of this by now.

But do we really grow out of it? Or do we teach ourselves to be satisfied with the comfortable instead of the kinetic. The timid instead of the tantalizing.

I am a bundle of nerve endings. All lips and tongue and fingertips. I am alone in the vastness of all the not knowing, waiting in the darkness for something to spark.

One.

Every mother has one story about each child that, over and over, they still love to tell. In this one, I am standing in the grocery store, maybe four years old – up to her knees or so – and I tug on her jeans.

“Mommy! Mom! Moooooom!” I say, eyes full and round.

She crouches down to my tiny level, cream cheese in one hand and lunch meat in the other, and as she does I throw my arms around her neck and breathe in deep.

“Mommy,” I say, “I would know you in the dark. You smell so good.”

It’s something a child that small would say. It is earnest and endearing, because it is honest.  Because it is true.

I wonder what it is that makes us feel that kind of tethered connection to another person. One could argue that it’s biological. That we know those joined to us through twisting strands of DNA, cavorting in the minutia of space. One could argue that it’s emotional. That we form a bond by choice, by desire, by proximity and repetition. That we nurture our decisions to follow through. That once we’ve chosen something, we feel the need to back it up, regardless of how illogical or nonsensical it might truly be. We’re hooked, reel us in. It’s too late.

The neurons in our brains, they dance. But they like to dance the dances they know. They look crappy trying out new shit on the dance floor. Maybe we’re just replicating the past in endless loops of static electricity, failing to notice that it’s all just rhythm with no reason at all.

My friend Shanna likes to look at the world as energy, all connected, moving in force to and away from itself. She says that we don’t know why we feel it, but we feel it. It’s how your mother knows when your broccoli goes bad and your heart is broken. It’s the reason your married ex-boyfriend texts you out of the blue after two years of dead air, when you’ve only recently stopped thinking of him. They do, in a way, have radar. Energy moved away from them, and although they don’t know why, even though there could have been years of silence between you, they suddenly felt a loss. The clip of a string, a free flying corner in the breeze. The weightiness of you is gone. They can feel it.

I don’t know if I buy that crap.

My married ex boyfriend texted me because he was drunk on a Thursday. My mom knows my broccoli is bad because I’m always emptying and filling my fridge with sporadic fervor and no sense of due process. There are reasons, I say. It’s logical, mathematical even. Read a book, I say. Duh.

My heart never presents it’s arguments in complete sentences. Allowing me to amble onwards with a quiet ache, though pain and subtlety, it warns my body that something isn’t right. A tiny, persistent wonder, a needing to touch and be touched. I can hardly stand to admit it, that despite all of my arguing and rationalizing, I feel it. My tiny hope that there a line to grasp. That there is something to hang onto in the panic of the deep.

For a year and a half, desire seemed impossible. Everything was scorched and barren. Everything tasted like ash. But now, peeking from the depths of a heart that speaks to me in silence, I know a part of me is still waiting. That I feel a blind, mad hope. That despite everything I’ve been through, despite everything my mind tells me is true, my heart feels a tug from a cord, even though I have no idea what lays pulling at the end of it.

I am groping around in the mess of things, blind. Feeling my way desperately towards something that feels like home.

When everything is peaceful. When I am still within myself. When I lay with him in the quietness of it, satisfied in silence, I’ll know it. I’ll reach across the counterpane of the sheets; my fingers will find his.

And I’ll say to him “I knew you. I found you in the dark.”