In the Dark Brightly

​When I was a kid, the snowmachines would plow the roads in my neighborhood and leave the snow in a large pile in the middle of a cul-de-sac. The neighborhood boys would go out and mess with it and turn it into half a fortress and half a King of the Hill battleground.
The winters in Alaska are long and deep and often clear, and I was lucky in that my grandmother would often give me a little more time to spend outside after the street lights came on.
I’d find myself out on that snow hill alone a lot. In my snow pants and my snow jacket and my gloves and thick hat, I would lay down on top and stare up at the pearls that sat atop a clean black silk blanket. I must have been ten, twelve years old.
I didn’t think about love then, or at least not in the same way I do now. I didn’t think about death, or success, or what it meant to be happy. I was a troubled kid. I grew up in a healthy household but parental addiction and strife were always in the periphery and I was bullied a lot.  So a lot of who I am now was there then. Maybe even the purest, most enduring part: I just wanted to be. I wanted to… I don’t know, experience. Something. Anything of value. I was a kid staring into the cosmos, for a brief moment away from my loving but sometimes overbearing grandparents, away from my dad smelling like sweat and cheap beer, away from my mom asking me for cab money on my birthday. I didn’t know what happy was supposed to be, or sad, or normal. I was just a kid looking out into a deepness I couldn’t quantify and wanting to step out from where I was into somewhere autumn, somewhere with street musicians, somewhere paupers got to share a short conversation with princesses.
I read a lot then, as I’ve written about, in order to escape. And with a mind full of stories and an open sky above me, a quiet night holding me and with the straw colored glow haunting the snow around me… it was still. It was all so still. My wild mind could find a moment of peace to just hope for something different down the line. I didn’t know what I wanted then, and what I’ve actually wanted has changed over the years, but I knew I wasn’t fulfilled. Something in the night sky, this unfathomable depth beyond the stars, spoke to me of fulfillment. That it would be there somewhere.
I’m much older now. I view the same sky with more critical eyes, and more tired ones, and eyes more prone to tearing up for no reason. But that stillness still steps beside me. That calm still takes the coat from my shoulders and the hat from my head. I see the same stars I ever did, and they still tell me that they’re waiting for me to join them out on the patio with a decent beer, but not a fancy one. That high-end, blue-collar shit.
Nearly two decades later, I’m still that kid on the hill. A little more bruised. A little more scared. As home as ever in the dark brightly.

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Sun and Moon

​There was Sun and there was Moon. They were lovers, estranged because they had to be, because the universe had rules, and those rules placed a planet between them for all but a few days each year. This was how the universe was meant to be, with celestial bodies knowing their place.

But celestial bodies are bodies like any other, craving closeness and companionship.

For millions of years, Sun and Moon lived for those scant few hours. They spoke of comets kissing and the vastness of space and the glory of eternity. They told each other every time they could that everything felt less empty when they were face to face. Every once in a while, luck would lean in their favor and they would catch a glimpse of each other over the planet that divided them, but it wasn’t quite the same. It was never the same.

Their love was an old one, an ancient one. One that existed before paltry people came up with a vague idea of what love was, let alone a definition that could never live up to the actual thing. For millions of years, Moon loved with a breathlessness that matched his atmosphere. For millions of years, Sun loved with a heat that put her skin to shame.

At some point, they realized that they could be more than their collective existence. They could branch out from themselves – craft a body, an outlet – provided that their love and dedication was pure enough. It would be a risk. A gamble. So they hatched an idea together, as they watched the planet pass between them each day, hoping for a look at each other as Moon did his dedicated circuit around it.

And one night arose that the skies were clear and Moon was exposed fully to the planet. With great effort, a part of him pulled free and formed itself and slid down through the exosphere, the thermosphere, and each layer after, through the troposphere, until his feet touched  earth and he was able to look up to see the night sky from a brand new perspective. There were stars glittering out there, little pearls, pale glass, and none of them could ever measure up to his Sun. But he fell in love with the night all the same. He saw his body, the prison destined to circle the planet, and it glowed and he glowed with pride in seeing it.

And Sun. Sun rode the auroras. She lashed her whip around the shifting greens and purples and slipped down, around the magnetic curve of the world. She settled down and hooked her hand over her eyes as she watched the body she separated from hover in the sky, a constant, a promised heat, a light that flickered and flared with temper.

Sun and Moon had taken the hearts of themselves and infused them with soul and humanity. They left their bodies behind and allowed their love to create something grounded.

Yet.

Yet as accustomed as they were to vast space and the magnificence of the cosmos, they failed to take into consideration that – once they were reduced to a planetary level – the Earth could be a very big place. They did not know where they were, much less where the other was. They were no longer sentinels of the sky. They had become drops in an ocean.

Sun and Moon wandered the Earth aimlessly. They learned things. They loved things. The scent of flowers in bloom. The haunting notes floating from a street saxophonist. A little girl letting a stray kitten drink from her water bottle. A young man paying for the coffee of the elderly woman behind him in line. Sun and Moon learned. Sun and Moon loved.

Sun and Moon were so, so lost.

Sun took up the flute as a hobby, the piping sounds reminding her of the hours just before dawn, when dew still slept on leaves and the stags tread lightly through the forest. Moon took up writing, the obsidian sky beckoning his thoughts, begging them to become new constellations. They played and wrote with broken hearts. Millions of years barely spent together and yet the mere months apart upon taking Earthly form may as well have been forever.

Sun left the home she made for herself one day, left it for a beach, a foreign one, one where her body caressed the water line at night and she could watch herself paint deep colors across the evening wind as the day wound down. She walked across the sand, bare feet, grains between her toes.

That was when she saw him. Moon. Sitting there, just out of reach of the high tide, the waves lapping at his feet, promising to be cool, promising to be clean. Moon was writing poems, poems of love, of longing for the heart behind the body that left him at the end of each day. He had written many and saved them all, but he had been desperate to know where to send them, where to let Sun know he loved her.

Their eyes caught at dusk, across the beach, alone except for the waves, softly crashing, gently coaxing. Sun and Moon, face to face. Then body to body. Finally. Finally.

Celestial.

Infinite.

Eternal.

My First Porn Star

Sometimes half the fun of these things is coming up with a title.

Last night (or two nights ago, technically. This happened Saturday, June 28th.), a local bar hosted an event called Judigras. And it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: Mardis Gras in June, or at least a facsimile. It went how you’d expect. There was revelry and beads for boobs, body painting and heavy drinking. A live band played (a live band is almost always playing at this bar), there was a wet t-shirt contest, a twerk contest (for fuck’s sake, why?) and some other stuff I missed because I spent the bulk of my night on the deck.

See, my friend is the bartender on the deck and he and another friend and I tend to spend most of our weekend nights shooting the shit and getting some fresh air. Most of the people go out to the deck to smoke. I don’t. I just prefer the atmosphere out there. Plus there’s a grill set-up and this guy cooks a mean reindeer hot dog like you wouldn’t believe.

I was there Saturday night to get drunk and have a good time. I had the following day off, I knew my pals would be out there and I feel like I keep making an ass of myself with a girl I like. Additionally, in a twist I should have seen coming but did not, Judigras ended up scoring about a half dozen women I dated and/or slept with as rabble-rousers, so I was on the edge of losing my mind.

I did run into an exotic dancer friend of mine I hadn’t seen in quite some time. She’s a beautiful, creative soul who shares a lot of the same tastes as I do in terms of fiction, film, fashion and art. She’s very intelligent, which made it an absolute delight when some almost-jocks recognized her from the club, talked to her as if she were on the clock and she promptly shot them down so hard and brilliantly that all they could do was stare and mumble something.

Gentlemen: strippers do not give a shit about you. They do not mean the nice things they say while you’re fishing your money out to buy a drink that costs way too much. They don’t want to fuck you just because you pay them to pretend that they do. And if you forget that they are actually women with a job and you treat them like objects when they’re not at their job and thus have no reason to tolerate your sexism and idiocy, they will put you in your place. Hopefully I’ll get to see it again. It’s a goddamn delight.

Anyway, I hung out with her and her friend for a couple hours, catching up, engaging in witty banter. They got painted; I did not. I did get green glitter brushed all over my face. I haven’t looked closely in the mirror since then, but I’ve already prepared to look like I took a fairy money shot for the next ten years.

The biggest draw of the evening, however, and what brought the three of us together for a little bit, was that Jenna Jameson was IN THE HOUSE. She had done a meet and greet up in Fairbanks and then flew down to show up for one night in Anchorage.

I didn’t think I would get excited. I don’t think of myself as the kind of guy who gets easily star-struck and seeing as how Jenna is mostly known for being naked and often penetrated, I don’t know that being star-struck as a single male in this case is necessarily a good thing.

But I did get excited and I ended up being a little awkward and once I had a chance to think about it, it didn’t surprise me all that much.

Before I ever knew Jenna Jameson was a porn star, I knew her as a knockout blonde that I thought was a model. Sure, I had heard she did Playboy, but so did Marilyn Monroe. Discovering later that she did porn didn’t change my perspective or make me think less or more of her, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I just want to point out that I had this deep and abiding crush on her as a teenager that continued for years based on knowing almost nothing about her.

Was it shallow? Absolutely. I was a kid with hormones whose hobbies were trying and failing to hook up with girls, and masturbating. And comic books.

Come to think of it, that list has pretty much stayed the same for ten years

Anyway, I thought Jenna was one of the most gorgeous women I had ever seen. I haven’t read it, but by most accounts her autobiography (How to Make Love Like a Porn Star) is prettt excellent, and my respect for her grew just by knowing that. She was also married to Tito Ortiz, because I also apparently needed to know her significant other could, in fact, kick the shit out of me.

I grew older and grew wiser (probably) and developed relationships of my own with a wide variety of “types” and found beauty in many different areas. My single-minded lust of that poster image faded into the past as I matured while the respect for the woman more or less stayed the same.

Truth be told, before a week ago, I hadn’t thought of Jenna Jameson in a few years,  not since the girl I was dating at the time (and yes, she was at the bar Saturday, too) was telling me how great the autobiography was. And that’s probably natural, not thinking about porn stars regularly, so I feel like I’m in the clear. All the same, the nostalgia of this hypersexualized image that I looked at every day for four or five years (I neglected to mention I worked in a comic and collectible shop that sold posters; hers was on the outside) came rushing back, so I was curious to see what was up.

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The first thing I was surprised to find out was that she was letting people take pictures with her for free. Not just one picture, but at least a few. Not only that, but she was a fucking champ. She adapted easily to whatever pose requests she was given. She didn’t try to rush anyone off the stage. She was friendly to everyone and eye-banged the hell out of whichever camera was flashing.

The second thing that impressed me was that she was charging $10 for an autographed photo of herself, but that it was going to a breast cancer charity. I hadn’t intended on buying one before that knowledge, but:

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“Take me,” it says. Oh, Jenna.

Finally, it was my turn to go up and meet her. She was skinny. Tan. The work she had done on her face was obvious, and yet when she smiled or puckered her lips, if you looked into her eyes, that beauty was still there. She seemed a little flighty, but if I had to meet a bunch of drunk assholes with dirty thoughts in Alaska, I’d be drunk or high off my ass. The guy she was with, and I don’t know who it was because – and I can’t stress this enough – I really need to not be invested in the love lives of porn stars…the guy she was with was a gentleman. He smiled at everyone that came up, he made sure Jenna knew to sign a photo (it got a little crazy on the stage considering how many people were there), and was just generally really chill.

I shook Jenna’s hand. I don’t know why I did that. That’s such a weird thing to do. Then I kind of awkwardly suggested some poses. The conversation went like this.

“I was thinking it would be funny if, maybe, like if you grabbed my tit.”

“You…want me to grab your…tit?”

“Well, my chest. Yeah, like if you were groping me instead of being groped, cuz…like a joke.”

“Uh…sure.”

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And then I did this, because I’m a fucking weirdo.

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And then she signed my picture, blew me a kiss, and I left to go get another drink and think about how I couldn’t possibly have been less suave about the whole situation.

Jenna Jameson has changed a lot in ten years, as would any person. I didn’t go in expecting to see the woman from the poster I adored. Shit, I didn’t go in expecting to meet her, take a picture with her or have her grope me, either. I went in curious and though our encounter with each other was brief and not terribly special or noteworthy, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction anyway. Seeing how receptive she was with her fans, how willing she was to just provide a good time and a fun picture, it was rewarding. It was such a deep pleasure to see someone who has achieved notoriety and fame still be an absolute gem to a crowd of people who each weekend largely seem to try to prove that they’re horrible.

Jenna Jameson is not the first woman I’ve seen naked. She wasn’t my first fantasy. She wasn’t the first adult starlet that I turned my filthy eyes on. But I had a big, fat, ol’ crush on her for a long time. She’s incredibly sweet. She’s the first porn star I’ve ever met, and I couldn’t be happier at how it turned out.