Love is like a rainbow of colors that come out more vibrantly when the sun inside of you shines through bad weather. It’s pathetic; fertile optimism, the desire to keep expressing these colors, to keep shining. Like the song, this little light of mine, it has a way of bleeding into the ever-morphing fantasies and never dying. The fantasies come to life from there. The lives coexist in my head. There’s always plenty of room for the realistic optimism and childlike compassion for happy endings. Beginnings can be just as happy. As a rule, the beginnings are always happier, unless you’re at a massage parlor that is. Then beginnings are just awkward.
I didn’t have any hopes or prayers about longevity or making it to any kind of pot of gold with this latest bed buddy, if you can even call him that. He was more like a bed moth; a field bug that thinks your home is a place to lay eggs and chew sweaters. Curiosity claimed the resolvedly unsociable poet in me and I let that curiosity give faulty green lights. Truth was that I was bored with being alone and in boredom, one succumbs to watching moths flutter around lights while coming up with mushy sentiments about hopeless rainbows.
So one Friday night, while nursing the insomnia and laughing at moths trapped in the lamp shade, my phone rang. It was precisely 2 am, closing time, last call for ass. It was this guy Daniel, the mystery blond in my dream journal.
“Who is this?” I demanded.
“Pretend like I’m Layne Staley.” He croaked.
I didn’t want to pretend. I know Layne enough to appreciate other people for who they really are. But I knew who I was talking to now.
“Daniel. How are you?” I asked gently.
I was surprised and amused he had called so late. In unpreparedness, I went with the route of acting like a bubbly twat. Acting; it’s a necessity when dealing with men who think they are God. The realist in me was rolling hapless eyes and thinking of slapping him for not attempting to communicate during daylight hours, prior to the ungodly intrusion. We got the initial quirks out of the way. Daniel rambled on drunk and basically invited himself over to my house for some kind of afterhour’s party. My need to mother and spiritualize misguided men went strangely and smoothly along with his late night impulses. Here’s where the faulty green light begins to flicker. But the more moths the merrier and hell, I was awake anyway.
Less than an hour later, Daniel barged into the house and started to talk all damn loud. His voice isn’t irksomely high pitched but it has a squealing quality to it that reminds me of a cross between brand new brakes and the chirping male cardinals in the back yard. I love those birds. This boy, I don’t know. I shushed his flow of chipper with a sharp hand motion over my mouth, pointed up stairs, and made sternly perturbed eyebrows at him. Aurora was out cold. I reckon a bull horn couldn’t stir her once she’s out, but I shushed him more because my ears were still all sensitive. I soak up everything--every feeling, every sound. I agreed to let him come so I could soak up his uninhibited energy. So I could connect to something besides isolation. It’d been deafly quiet for hours and hours in that house until he rang me. I wanted to see his face up close again. It’s an abstrusely triangular, diamond shaped face, but a scandalous face to say the least. Layne’s face is much rounder and trustworthy, whereas this kid has “sneaky bastard” written all over his forehead.
He managed not to crack any infantile jokes for the first few moments after sloshing through the door. Maybe because he had a three foot bong in his hand and he didn’t want to laugh at his own slapsticks or make any sudden farcical statements that would cause him to lose an already instable grip on his prized smoking device. I strode into the den. He practically skipped. I’d cleaned the white tile floors hours earlier in the day and the entire house still retained the scent of oranges and pine sole. I savored the smell of clean and almost tried to just ignore that he was there for a few seconds. He kept on talking at ninety miles an hour, making selective deafness impossible. I glared at him to let him know I was listening but perplexed by his inability to shut up. Finally he put down that dang bong and wasted no more time in hugging me. For a few blessed seconds of stillness, he stopped talking. It felt natural when he hugged me, when he touched me. I almost resented how much I enjoyed it. Without warning, he lifted me up and started spinning me around like he wanted to take me for a ride on the blond carousel. It thrilled me. I wrapped my legs around him and pressed my nose against his dullard hook of a nose and let my face sweep his face until I gave in and kissed him. I kissed him more to prolong the silence. He ruined it and started apologizing for the foul stench of beer, but I ordered him to shut up and kept on with the kissy face. I love his nose, I have been turbulently aroused by it since the moment I digested its matchless shape. It looks as broken as mine and it’s easy for me to love broken things and broken people. I’m the same sort.
We sat on the couch, sunk in all gooey eyed at each other. His eyes are like blue barrels of beauty. The vibrancy of the blue resides in a cosmic spectrum of its own splendor; I’ve never drank a color quite like it in my life. When I close my eyes, I still see the radioactive hue of his eyes. God must have gone crazy dabbling in cans of light until he found a color perfectly arresting enough to paint on the eyes of that man. He pulled me onto his lap. It was all way too fast, like teenagers in the back of a car. The thrill suddenly vanquished, replaced by valiant logic. I didn’t know anything about Daniel. I just knew his face was scandalous, his eyes were too blue, and I felt like I missed the ship with him once before. The delayed navigation of that ship was the only reason I didn’t punch him in the ribs.
I tried to spark some kind of intelligent conversation, but he extended mindless hands and started grabbing my boobs, making his lewd intentions known. I was so horrified that I gave up trying to speak, my lips turned numb and heavy until I didn’t feel like moving them at all. He kept feeling up my chest. It made me feel all slimy and uncomfortable, like the doctor was checking my breasts for lumps. He made no honest effort to kiss me back and it became more evident that my boobs were just some kind of squishy toy to him, like a dog slobbering on one of those squeaking squirrels. I was so alarmed by his lack of censor, by the absence of the respect filter, that I couldn’t muster a word. My face was torn in taut confusion and bore little sign of life. The joy in my eyes drained out into a green glob of stale gum. I’m pretty sure I choked on it as my throat began to constrict and get scratchy. I studied Daniel carefully and read his thoughts. I was not impressed by his thoughts. He struggled to keep his eyes open, but his hands kept sweeping over my skin like a razor. His skin was like sea foam, delicately white and clinging to the grains of sand on me. I tried looking at his eyes as some kind of courtesy but he didn’t look back at me much. He definitely didn’t look at me like Joshua used to. The strobe thought of Joshua made my stomach erupt into anguish. The anguish rapidly spread to my heart and began to burn like battery acid. I hid it well. I wanted to tell Daniel to stop touching me. I didn’t give a fuck how blue his eyes were. He didn’t give a fuck about who I was, he hated it that I was a single mother and I knew that and it made me feel worthless and depraved of meaningful affection. At least Joshua kissed me like he had a heart. The boy next to me had some kind of heart, but it was like one of those wind-up timers that tick artificially loud, reminding you that it will ultimately stop and ding. And then the timer will grow legs and leave to piss off another unsuspecting person, merely by reminding them that the window of time exists and it brutally stops when the timer says so. In this case that moment unfolds when the blue-eyed boy sleeps of his alcohol, locates his clothes, and stumbles out of my house and onto the next squishy toy. There is no discussion or compromise about it, the timer has the last high-pitched laugh as he’s ignoring the sight of your house in his rear view mirror. Tears and common sense do not stop these kinds of timers. They are oblivious to the people they use, hurt, and harass with that annoying ticking sound. I’m pegging him for a Virgo. My father is a Virgo and I know he didn’t look in the rearview mirror when I was 11 and crying. Dad was more concerned with his middle-aged clock telling him it was time to leave.
Because I felt so puny in the world, in my own house, so malnourished and indignant in missing Joshua, I let Daniel and his ticking arms keep grabbing at me. Part of me wanted to cry and crumble and make a scene in front of him, to demand he leave and let me be, leave me with some kind of celibate order. How could I not care about myself, about my own boundaries? The last thing I wanted was to play the part of the vulnerable woman, but I fit the description perfectly. I was a single mother, famished and forlorn for any kind of positive male interaction, human interaction with other angels in matter. I’d been locked in my writer’s studio for three weeks solid, pounding away on the keyboard in a nerd effort try to distract myself from noticing how much I was decaying inside from the cancer of my own despair. I couldn’t pretend I didn’t know why it was terminal. I was drowning in devastation, reeling in the absence of Joshua. Every time I revisited the memory of kissing Joshua, I burst into trembling tears of liquid love. I cried because I connected to him and I barely connect to my own stubborn self. Daniel seemed like a nice way to find recovery, a way to figure out how to laugh it off instead of crying. For that I’m thankful. But I still think he’s a sneaky bastard with a scandalous face.
Seldom do I acknowledge that I’m similar to everyone on this planet; that I’m made of the same soul substance. I probably have a scandalous face too. Behind it, I don’t admit that I need love like every other person; that I yearn for consistency and serial monogamy. Usually I am too busy trying to offer and provide love to my loved ones to bother with such puritanical projections. But when Joshua was here, the cynical romantic outlook and humane denial changed. I changed. I wasn’t a lone polar bear pawing at the ice of the universe anymore. When he was here, there was no more needing, no more urge to ice fish. I stopped craving a missing piece. It was like the needing never existed, everything was fulfilled. I didn't trade my love for Jesus for loving Joshua, it just enhanced it all so beautifully. Joshua put the salt in the mermaid shaker. Daniel was just putting filler rice in it so it wouldn’t clump up and stop shaking again. Either way, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but you have to keep sharing your salt and shining through the storms.