Saturday, November 21, 2009

I have this theory.

This theory that all of those dreams created in relationships before they failed, all of those plans that went through, the things you failed at while desperately hoping for success, the life you envisioned for yourself, all of those things build up inside you, hollowing out a crater in your chest, filtering into your stomach, into your blood, pulsing to each limb, your body weighed down by hopeful promises the future was unable to keep.

Winter is hardest for me.

The cold air solidifies all those shattered bits and they weigh down my movements.

I heard a poet say that if a heart truly broke, his would be a pile of red confetti by now.

I feel that way, sometimes. Like my spirit is leaking out of me, trailing behind my body in the form of insubstantial dust motes before being carried away by currents of air. Pieces sliding off my skin while I sleep, waking in the molt of my dreams, of the person I could have been, should I have pursued a particular path, if certain words had not be spoken aloud, if an action had been taken instead of withheld.

Winter brings me memories.

Autumn seems so promising. Transition between extremes, shifting winds, scents of leafy decomposition and soil.

Summer is heat, the countdown of degrees to autumn, is the long days spent roaming, free and easy.

Spring makes me uncurl from the womb of cold, feeling the temperature trickle up, measured in decimals by mecury. Waiting for things to change.

But winter, winter is memories and empty nights, interrupted by the occasional male figure.

Last year, it was Hardwood Floors. It was poetry, it was 48 degrees and kissing perfection under a streetlight on Beverly and Fairfax. It was maroon sheets and his gold-sheaf hair, his clay-scuplt face and wild eyes. Heat and perfect rhythm.

The year before was Darkeyes, my resentment, his apathy towards the holidays unless they involved parties and booze. I celebrated the season alone, watching Rankin/Bass films.

Two years ago, it was AJ. It was playing rummy with his parents, playing dangerously without condoms, the giant stream-lined reindeer his mother designed arching into the sky across their frontlawn, tethered to the ground by white christmas lights, illuminated reigns.

Three years, four years, Rick. Rick meant Idaho. It meant snow. It meant cracking the window of the basement room open an inch, just to get the breeze he desired as the hot pipes beneath us heated the house. It meant running around on all fours in two feet of snow, making mounds, knocking them over, then falling over myself, laughing like an idiot in the winter sun. It meant launching sleds down a frozen driveway, taking ATVs into the mountains, moving frozen logs and ducking our wind-reddened faces under icicle-weighted branches.

Five years? Six years? Who was impacting me? Who kept me warm on the front porches of southern California?

Even when we forget, our bodies remember.

Shedding snowflakes of memories.

Crater icing over, the water expanding the hollow of your chest before freezing for the coming months, aching with cold.

I try not to be lonely.

I like to say that I never feel lonely, only alone.

And then the excitement of autumn comes, and then winter climbs on my back and I remember when there is no one to share my joy, to share my family, my happiness, my memories. Christmas movies are watched alone, curled up by myself under blankets. I walk residential streets at night, admiring the Christmas-laden houses, the lights I love so much, seeing the families walking together, their children trailing at their feet or perched on a set of shoulders, sharing the emotional magic the holiday season brings.

I go Christmas shopping alone. I love to wander the malls and sit on benches with hot chocolate, watching the bag-heavy shoppers, listening to the Christmas music that leaks in from hidden speakers, the line wrapping around wreath-bedecked pillars leading to Santa and grown men dressed in festive tights and pointed shoes, jingling with every step. I sit in front of the Christmas tree and read by the fire, the words constantly shifting as the lighting changes with the erratic dance of the flames.

I wrap my gifts on Christmas Eve, hurriedly, amused that I always put it off to the last second.

I wake up in the morning and walk downstairs, my favorite blanket around my shoulders, dragging on the floor. One of the few times breakfast is made, hot chocolate procured, I drink out of a mug with a ceramic snowman inside, his tophat revealed first as I sip. The fire goes, the tree's lights are plugged in, the cats wage war on wrapping paper, bows, and the occasional ornament if no one is paying close enough attention to yell before that paw hits the round glass.

We take pictures, we laugh, my father repeatedly leaves. He does not like Christmas. His father was born on Christmas. Jazz plays in the background, in the family room. I usually stop and dance with him to cheer him up, on the balls of my feet, shimmying across the dark wood floors.

And then it's over. We shove the paper into bags and put it into the recycling. My mother takes the pile of bows she has horded during the denuding process and puts them back into storage for use next year. Presents are stacked and moved to their needed locations.

Usually, afterwards, we will go to my cousin's house in Rancho Santa Fe. I always try to drive seperately. I love the curves of the 5 freeway as it winds down the coast, coming to touch the beach and then heading inward, only to do it again and again. I put in a CD, turn on the heater, and roll down the windows for the drive home, letting my face freeze, letting my singing get dragged out the window to the ocean.

This year we're staying in Los Angeles. The Jonathon Club. I'll likely try to drive seperately, if only so I can spend Christmas night sitting on the patio in the back of Hotel Figueroa, looking at the sky of downtown LA.

Letting the weight of the ghosts of lives that could have been climb down from the crater in my chest and sit beside me. Wondering if it will all be worth it in the end. Wondering if I will have to redefine happiness in order to be happy. Thinking of those alternative futures, those lines of reality that could have kept moving even without my presence, if I should have stayed on them, if I could have stayed on them.

And if this is all truly for the best.

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