Hair in its infinite stages of death can be far more beautiful than any orchid or moonlight or kiss.
This is what I was thinking when I watched the German with long, blond dreadlocks, parading death down his back like frozen stalks of sun, speak to me about getting lost.
We were in the front room of Bob’s Youth hostel located on a street in Amsterdam I still have difficulty pronouncing. I had been staring at him for what felt like hours, burning my hazel into his whole milk skin. I finally got up and sat across from him, asking if he’d write a poem with me.
“Yeah,” he said, “but I don’t really know how.”
“I don’t really either,” I said. “But if you can rummage inside your gut for the words which feel most potent, I think,” I paused, “I think you may find something there.”
So I gave him my tiny red notebook given to me by a lover who I had just started learning how to kiss, given to me to fill up during this two-week trip away from New York.
This was supposed to be an adventure on how to move toward who I was or who I wanted to be. My relationship with a different woman had ended just a few months earlier, one which I thought was the one I might marry, even though I did not believe in such a word.
It was a mourning trip.
I watched as the German, fingers sprinkled with fine commas of bleached hair, pressed his handwriting into the pages.
His dead knots became whispers soaring past his shoulders, for as he wrote, they shook. I wondered how many secrets were hiding in the decease of his hair.
“One must get lost,” he spoke. “Where are you from?” he asked me, handing back my pen and closing the book.
“Brooklyn. Quite a faraway land from here,” I said.
“Leave your maps behind, Brooklyn,” he said to me.
“No need,” I said. “I never carry them around. I get lost even when I do not intend to. But I like your reminder.”
He smiled. He had a tiny chip in his front tooth like the curve of a hammock. I wanted to lay in his mouth and nap beside his ridges.
He told me traveling is about connecting to the land, not the pages that speak about it.
“You’re beautiful,” I spat out. His eyes walked over the length and width of my face. I could feel his lashes even though we were an arm’s distance away from each other.
“Yes,” he said. As though I had asked a question. Or maybe he was answering something that he had heard much earlier. Either way, I enjoyed the oddity of his syllable.
“I’m trying to lose myself here. Bring another version back to New York,” I told him.
“Smoke enough hash and that will happen without trying too hard,” he smiled.
“I am trying to let go of a love. One so big, my heart still has stretchmarks.”
“There is not enough smoke to inhale, which will get rid of that,” he said. “But how about this. Actually…” he paused. I watched him remove the tiny, hand-rolled cigarette between his fat, slightly blush lips. With the tip of two fingers pressed together, he put out the fire on the end. Then, I watched him peel it open, drip the nicotine out and hand me this frail rolling paper, half wet from the spit of his mouth.
“I can see from the rest of your notebook….pardon my snoop,” he interrupted himself, “…that your handwriting is bitty. Write what you want from love on this.”
I held this disemboweled cigarette in the palm of my hand. As though it were a tiny space alien, which had fallen from the sky from a spaceship that our eyes couldn’t quite fathom. With the fingers from my other hand, I poked at it.
“It may not even be words,” he said. “The love you lust may be symbols.”
I thought about every word I ever learned. The ones I kept and the ones I could never quite remember. I wasn’t thinking about limbs; instead, my brain began to conjure up images of smells. Music of taste.
I dropped the cigarette from my palm and grabbed my pen.
The German smiled and I could feel him get up, though never let my eyes wander away from the paper.
I began to finally get lost.