Some Fires Just Burn a Little Brighter

I’m a subscriber to love. I don’t believe there is one type, or a specific intensity. I don’t believe that young love is a myth. There’s a woman I fell for when I was fifteen years old that I still miss deeply and hope the best for. I do believe love can be foolish and reckless and selfish, especially when someone doesn’t have much experience with it, or with life. You can love young, and you should love when that feeling presses up against your heart and seeps into your lungs, but it doesn’t always mean it’s going to work out. Love is messy, and like tungsten carbide, it can be the strongest thing out there and still shatter with the right amount of pressure to the wrong spot.

You can probably guess where I’m going with this.

Seven years ago, I still fancied myself an actor. I love acting, to be honest, but though I have a small circle of friends who were always seated in the front row for my shows, I don’t think I was particularly good at it. Keep in mind I moved to Los Angeles a year later to try and actually do it for a living. It backfired spectacularly.

But this is before that. This is before I could enter an American bar. I got into acting late in high school. The first show I ever did was the Outsiders (Dallas Winston. My very first performance, I yelled out FUCK in front of the entire school when my gun got stuck in my coat pocket during my super emotional death scene), followed by Grease (Kenickie, because I’m a whore and a hickie from me is like a Hallmark card: when you care enough to give the very best).

I did some community shows afterwards, including playing a lead in a Halloween show about werewolves where I played a pastor (*cue laugh track*). That show was great. The uncut script was phenomenal, and though we had to trim it down for time, it still ended with my stage wife blowing me away with a rifle.

Strangely, I kept getting cast in musicals. I’m a terrible singer. I never did choir, I don’t sing in the shower. I don’t like my speaking voice, let alone my singing voice. Then there’s the dancing. I’m the clumsiest, least coordinated guy you could meet. Now I’ve got to master dance moves and sing and act and holy shit, how many scenes do I have in this thing? I was the Pirate King in a showing of Pirates of Penzance and though I look dashing in a goatee and a red coat, I felt like an asshole trying to co-lead that show.

Anyway. I did that Halloween show and she saw me perform, although I didn’t know that at the time. We would meet a few months later, during a musical (again) in which I had a mercifully minor role. The show was set in 1920s France and I was set in the most ridiculous costumes I’ve ever set eyes upon. We met for the first time during our first rehearsal. I think even then, there was a connection.

We talked. A lot. The girl I was dating at the time broke up with me over text, and I didn’t handle it very well. It hurt my feelings, and I was mopey. This beautiful actress, six years my senior (older women is my fetish. And younger women. And women my age, but at 20, hey, this older women thing was something new and different and flattering) did a lot to build my confidence back up. She made me feel handsome. She encouraged my writing. She made me feel talented, and through spending so much time talking to and being around me, she made me feel desirable during a time when I really held myself to being worth so little as to be a throwaway text.

The first night I went to her apartment wasn’t a graceful one for either of us. We had met up for food at the tavern about a block down from her place and she invited me back for drinks. Adele was playing from the CD player, Chasing Pavements, the first time I had heard the singer. Candles were lit. Glasses were pulled from the cabinets. We both had a little too much wine and, coupled with the pasta she had ordered earlier, the night ended with my holding her hair back while she let everything return from whence it had come. She was embarrassed, and she told me so then, and she told me so later. I wasn’t bothered. I held her until she fell asleep and then I made my way home.

I fell for her then, I think, in that moment. Not because she was puking. That’s not… I’m not into that. Maybe because she was vulnerable and she trusted me enough to hold her there. I remember her nestled against me, my arm hooked under black and full hair. I recall the light freckles on her olive skin and the way her chest rose in soft breaths, exhausted from what she had just been through with the food and drink.

We talked about it the next day and hung out soon after, and I think the fact the experience hadn’t turned me away or shaken the feelings I was having for her made an impression that lasted. Not long after, we began seeing each other in a fashion I guess I would best describe as being intensely passionate and equally torrid.

We couldn’t keep our hands off each other. Not during the show, not after the show wrapped. When we were around each other, the chemistry was unbelievable. Rarely have I looked so deeply into a woman’s eyes and found so much art and life waiting to rush back at me. I wrote poems for her. I wrote short stories. I’ve written about muses and love before, and I’ve left this woman out, I think in part because of how things ended, but she was a fire inside me for several months and she lingered in me for years after.

She made me a journal. The cover was custom designed, and the pages were sporadically filled with pictures of her, of us, of my favorite things. There was a picture of the Eiffel Tower from when we lay curled around each other, wistfully talking about running away to Paris together. I lost it a couple years later in a cab in Los Angeles. The thought still pisses me off.

She introduced me to the Woodshed, the karaoke bar that became a second home to me for many years, a place that has brought me some of my favorite stories and best friendships. She was the impetus for my throwing myself into a life of art, be it acting or writing. Jesus, I don’t know if I ever would have had the balls to actually move to Los Angeles if it hadn’t been for her, and though that move broke me in ways I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered from, it still changed my life in a lot of great ways, too.

I felt confident with this woman. My creative synapses were like lightning around her. I’ve had very few physical relationships that were as full of intensity and aggression and expression as when she and I were together. Sexuality, emotion, inspiration ran together in a single, twisting, uproarious current.

Of course it didn’t last. In my experience, things like this rarely do.

See, here’s the rub: I fucking loved her, and I know she felt strongly about me, too. I don’t think it was love for her, and that’s fine. She wanted to be around me and with me, and often it was a companionship that vibrated with a whole different level of energy. But I was young. 20, 21. I liked to party, and party hard. I was dumb. I lacked the maturity that comes from tragedy and actual relationships and general life experience. She was in her mid-20s. She liked to party, too. She was deep in an art scene and fresh out of a relationship with her eyes on the world.

We were good. We were great. But there are other great people out there. And there are plenty of debilitating distractions.

We began to fight. I grew jealous. She was partying harder than ever, and I began to worry about her health. I expressed this by getting drunk and angry and yelling when she refused to listen to my concerns. I was a wreck. I was immature. She was merciless in her comebacks. It got bitter. We grew apart. We stopped seeing each other. We stopped talking to each other.

Years later, I had moved back to Alaska after two years of struggling to find myself in California and Washington. I was working at a jewelry store, a job I kind of really hated, and I wasn’t feeling too hot about myself either. A beautiful, familiar woman walked up to me while I was standing at the front of the store counting minutes. She said “Hey,” and flashed a smile. The smile, her smile,  the one I used to kiss hungrily, the one that left me weak in the knees, the one that made the words come quaking to my fingertips, begging to be unleashed upon the nearest parchment.

It was the smile I remembered looking up to from that fucking break-up text right before she told me things were going to be alright.

She apologized to me, saying she wasn’t in a great place back then. I told her she didn’t need to apologize, it was me that was in a bad place. We talked briefly. She’s married now. At the time, she had one kid. She has two now and is still happy, still in a good place.

I ran into her yesterday after watching the World Cup final. She was performing on stage, her voice as silky and lovely as I remembered. She came over to speak to me afterwards and we caught up. She dug up an old story I had written for her and e-mailed it to me. She seems happy, and I am so happy for her. She deserves it.

What’s funny to me is the timing. I don’t believe in fate. I’m not a believer in a divine plan. I do believe in chance, so maybe I just got lucky, but our paths crossed at a time in my life where I am hitting absolute rock bottom. I wake up in the morning feeling gutted, I’ve been bleeding money on bad decisions and intangible nonsense. Seeing her reminded me of some very positive things. A passionate love that, though tempered and tucked away in the art gallery of my heart, still remains. I was reminded of a woman I wanted to run away to France with, of a time when I saw the world in a woman’s eyes.

She found a good life, one full of art and passion and love and family. Maybe some day I’ll find something like that, too. She gave me one more gift, after all these years, after everything that’s happened: a little bit of hope.

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La Petite Mort

With a soft moan
The door
Opens
Like a lover and
With a breath,
The breadth of distance
Closes
She is there like warm smoke
Filling my lungs, clinging to my clothes
Bright and bare as the moon
Searing as the sun, hot to the touch
We become cartographers
Mapping trails across each other’s skin
Hands grip and knead
Unraveling knots
Caught up in the moment, we
Fall
For the moment
For the other
To the floor
Tightly wound, bound around one another
Pressed lips slip, drift
Across and down
The sounds of fire’s desire cut through the room
A knife and
Life thrums under every inch of skin
Crackles down every vein
Thunders in each chamber of the heart
We find our places, begin our paces
The walls around us become a temple
Cries to God sanctify it
Nails dig scripture into flesh and
Breath comes quick and heavy
Heavenly
Our coils twist and tighten
Senses heightened and
When release comes, it is as
A flash of light in a storm

No one ever told me a little death would taste so sweet

Muses

I fell in love with the voice of a photographer. While her talent behind a lens is without dispute, her voice is something altogether different. At times haunting and ethereal, at other times upbeat, crackling with the kind of energy that gets the foot tapping and the smile spreading, it’s the kind of voice that sucks the air out of the room and decides on its own the rate it will give it back.

It’s a voice that draws up every eye, a voice that quiets the chatter of a tipsy crowd. When she sings, the drab and poorly-lit world of mundanity peels back and away, and I’m left with explosions of color, fantastic concepts, and veins filled with ink ready to be spilled onto paper in thousands of words.

I fell in love with the soul of a painter. I don’t know where in the world she lives or even her real name, but that’s the funny thing about souls: they are elusive things, hard to grasp but filled with the purest content of a person.

In a world where millions of strangers can connect via a brightly lit screen and a few taps or swipes of letters on a digital keyboard, I found a kindred soul in a creative artist. She both creates and appreciates beautiful things, be they color on a canvas, the breath just after a kiss goodbye or the dance of prose in poetry. She finds beauty in love and in lust, the sculptures two bodies make when entwined with each other, the intimacy born in passionate submission to one’s id.

Sexuality and beauty, art and form, concept and creation. Through her understanding and elucidating the heart of these subjects, I found myself glimpsing a bit of her soul, and I found it was a soul that ignited a fiery love. A love for the love of lovely things.

I fell in love with the challenge of a thespian. Not that she was unwilling or abrasive. She was not a thing to “get”, not a goal to accomplish. She challenged me and my preconceived notions of myself. Through alcohol-infused bluster and arrogance, through oblivious ignorance, I spouted off about myself and my experiences with the fairer sex because…who the fuck knows? There are plenty stories in that chapter of my life filled with humor and circumstance, drama and ridiculousness, but the fact that those stories exist does not inherently mean they should be shared.

Instead of balking or scoffing or admonishing me, all of which would have been in her right, she called my bluff. I was unused to someone who would correct me grammatically or question my sensibility, someone who would match my barbs as one would parry and riposte. I was unused to find someone who paid attention to what I was saying, who saw through my walls and my distance, not because she wanted to use me or belittle me, not because she was blindly infatuated, but because she is alert and interested in the human condition and I had blundered my way onto her radar.

She was and is a strong woman, incredibly intelligent, immensely talented on, off, and in every direction of the stage. She is a woman who has a firm position on her interests and goals and accomplishes them from a humble position. She doesn’t bother with the bullshit. She likes to have her fingers on the pulse of the heart of the matter, and through the course of our friendship, she has forced me to do the same every time we’ve met.

She intimidates me, not because she is conceited or condescending, not because she is overtly threatening, but because she is honest, insightful, and supportive, and no matter how absurd or intimate our own connection has been, I have found myself in awe of her all the same. She intimidates me because she challenges me, effortlessly, subtly, and I am left constantly wishing I could impress her. I wish I were better at writing, better at life.

I fell in love with that challenge, because it is a constant pressure to keep my feet moving forward.

I fell in love with the lie of a love. I don’t know how big the lie was, or when it started, or if it was one or one of many, but I loved it. I loved that lie because I was vulnerable and scared and hopeful.

I had lost my mother figure and was stressed at my job. I had been lied to and cheated on, abandoned and abused, and nestled in the ribs of the Halloween skeleton that was my life, I found an old love, a connection that had casually faded into the years only to come back in the darkest time of my life. I picked up that old love and dusted it off and nurtured it, because I saw a flicker of light there.

She met me halfway and with enthusiasm. I fell in love with that, because she called me “my writer” and told me she loved me, because I could hold her in my arms at night, and when I felt broken down and weary, she would hold me. I fell for it because we would wake up in the middle of the night just to make love, and for once, I didn’t feel alone but truly cared for.

And it was a lie. And I loved that lie, even though it almost broke me all over again.

I wrote once about the times I fell in love. There is the faintest amount of overlap here, but where that previous article was about connections born from actual relationships, this is something much more abstract and subjective.

I have written of people who have affected me. I have written of the lives of others. I have written of love. These are things I have to write about. This post, though, this is about those who inspire me to write. I have created poetry and stories because of these people. I have been driven to work on my novels, to produce content simply because these people have spoken to me or shared their art with me or shared their lives with me. It’s something more, something that rails against definition by way of words.

Visual arts inspire me. Snippets of conversation, stories, scenery. But it is rare that I find inspiration – not content, mind you, but the desire to create and the metaphysical wind-filled sails to do so – because of a human being. These people are muses in truth, each for their own reasons, each with our own histories.

There is a beautiful thing in art, and there is art in love. In expression, there is vibrancy, and there is vibrancy is love. There are many types of freedom, and there is freedom in love. There are many ways to love, and many reasons for it, and I find more every day.

Passion

In your absence
I stare into my memories of you
A delicate specter sinuously
Drawing me in
Making me want
Making me crave

So when you are here
Simply
I savor you

Your skin is soft
Fair
My fingers run across it
Tracing gentle roads of pleasure
Invisible words that seem to
Come to life
Softly
With your murmurs of consent

I kiss
Faintly
Along the nape of your neck
Scant more than a brush
A beginning stroke of a
Perfect portrait of passion

My hands move in
Seductive synchronization
Needing, kneading
Working a long week into a
Weak kneed appetite

Your back arches
A gasp glides through a mouth barely open

Suddenly there’s necessity
Immediate action is required
You turn into me, press against me
Pressure
Aggression

Your eyes flare with desire
Beads of perspiration cast a shimmer under
Moonlight
The heavens survey attentively
Millions of eyes sparkling in a black canvas

And so we dance

Timidly at first through sheer force of
Will and strength but
Soon, soon, soon
Now

The tempo increases
Our hearts are timpani pounding in our ears

Furrows appear in my back
As you
Grasp for a small measure of control
As you
Lose yourself in every turbulent note
As you
Hold on for the waltz’s finale

Your shivers foreshadow
Climactic tremors and I
Hunger
For the way my name spills from your lips
Those plush, inviting, temptational lips
In ghosts, then a summons, then a declaration

The veil fades
Vision returns
Breathing comes heavy
Nestled in the crook of my arm, you look
Empyreal

— I wrote this several years ago and not even for someone. I’ve met a few women since that it would have been appropriate for, but at this point I would just feel disingenuous. It’s still one of my favorite pieces and I don’t write poetry as often as I used to (I may scrounge through my archives and see if there’s anything else I feel worthwhile), so I thought I’d share it with you.

One day down booze-free. I got a good eight hours of sleep last night and while my dreams were almost torturous, I woke up supremely rested. So far, so good.

I’ve been talking to this girl for a few weeks now. We had dinner on my birthday and I’ve found we have a lot more in common than I had expected. In any case, a conversation last night inspired me to write a more positive blog post or two about my family (in comparison to the crushingly depressing one I wrote on Friday), so expect one of those to pop up today or tomorrow.

Bonjour, mes amis!