purple moon

You walk outside in search of the perfect song. Today is the day you are going to kiss the person you’ve been saving up all your spit for. You turn left because right only takes you past the apartment with the cracked door and you are way too superstitious for that. You almost trip over a spiderweb that has been spray-painted blue; how could you have missed that?! There is a song in your head from that time this person touched your kneecap…just the cap…just the shell over all the good stuff. And you wanted to sing out loud when you could feel the lineage of their skin pressed against you, but you didn’t want to ruin the moment. Instead you sneezed, and bless you killed the mood. You know almost none of the lyrics to Happy Birthday because, as a kid, you were never invited to any parties, except the one you threw for yourself on the tip of turning nine and even you didn’t show up. You have to pause before you cross the street because the moon is a shade of purple the newspaper warned you about. How can you not notice that partially lobotomized tree standing eerily. It’s not that it appears dumb or drained; it’s just that its prefrontal lobe looks tampered with. It’s impossible not to think of this person whose tongue will be in your mouth, when you hear the buzz of the wind skating over your collarbone. Have you ever heard the story of the porcupines? Or are they antelopes? You turn around because you realize the song was hiding beneath your elastic the entire time. It is what was itching you. So you scratch it until there are flakes of your skin pushing out your nail bed. This is when you open your door, tired from walking but hungry for that kiss. You lay down on your bed, which used to belong to someone else, but now belongs to you. And the person you are going to give all your spit to.

 

a door, opening

Dear Pen Pal,

They are just shapes. Squares. Angles. Equations. Ninety degrees. Trees turned inside out and shorn of hairy leaves. Decades of breathing taught me they were doors.  

dôr ]  :  A sign of entering. A revelation of more. Barrier of protection.

One lover told me I was like one of those metal doors at banks with thousands of coded locks attached. Said I was unapproachable, impossible to open and enter.

This is a lie, pen pal.  I am the one who has called myself this.

Doors can be painted in bright hues, some have awnings above them. Some have stained glass slits of sunshine’d colors coming through.

Doors can be heavy. Some can be see-through screens with aeration.

Doors can be purchased from hardware stores; doors can be made from found wood from backyards or the bush.

All of this is a metaphor for you.

Humans can be doors that upon twisting that knob of language, adventure and magic is born.

Humans are like doors in that they are tall & safe & protective & calm & still.

It was just after 7pm (or so) and a door walked through a door wearing a cap and suspenders and a room that had no meaning suddenly grew grass, acres of hyacinths and wildflowers of impossible colors.

This door was you.

We are surrounded by doors, which are doors. We are surrounded by doors, which are humans. Those who remind us to walk through, to get out, to wander. To explore.

How lucky. How beautiful. That I have fallen in love with the most booming of doors to ever welcome me through.

 

day 14: a punctuated affair

There is something deeply romantic about punctuation marks. They direct; they gather momentum; they are like fingers beckoning.

Several years ago, I was wooed by a question mark. This stunning curvature twisted around me and we made love without answers. We crossed borders on our tiptoes, twirling our tongues over mountaintops and forest hikes. I proposed marriage to this question mark and we spent our days researching our way toward a comeback.

But what started as alluring, slurred into frustration. Breath became an elongated interrogation and suddenly we found ourselves apart.

On a Thursday morning while coffee spilt into my mouth, I looked to my right and immediately felt the heat emanating off an exclamation mark. I was captivated by the volume of their speech. A week later and they plunged their screams inside me and questions were no longer a part of me. I gave up on wondering. I gave up on trying to understand what suffocated inside me. Instead, we yelled. We wrapped our skin inside howls and shrieks. This love was exciting, but. Overwhelming. And unpredictable. At times, unsafe.

We parted and I realized how difficult it can be to get over an exclamation.

I had an affair with an M-dash. This floating line asked me to undress it as we found our way inside a tiny bathroom stall in a bar on Delancey as we both tried to forget the haunt of our significant others. This extra-long dash was taller than I and so beautifully feminine. I gathered up their soft. They stained my neck with red and blue. It was only that night, but I could feel myself expanding.

I had been searching. I had an idea of what I was looking for, but could not seem to find the right shape. I met a period, but they were too controlling. I almost thought I had met my match with a comma until I realized we were in search of different ways to pause.

Then.

On a Sunday. Past the point of cold but not exactly warm. New York City. Lights. Overpriced whiskey. A semi-colon walked into the room; suddenly, I could feel the elocution of my lungs. And for once, I felt at home in my body. Perhaps because I was seeing another so comfortable in theirs. We spoke and even in our shynesses, I had a sense that I had finally met the other half of my sentence. An independent clause.

There is a pause inside us and a need to (be) complete as well. This is what is so beautifully complicated about a semi-colon. We are complete without the other half; and yet, so much more profound and elucidated by the other.

dear…

We live exactly one and a half miles from each other and I have just mailed my one-hundred and seventh letter to him. It is a twenty-eight minute walk between our apartments in Brooklyn and an eight to ten minute bike ride depending upon the strength of my bones at the time. We see each other almost every day and even with these face-to-face encounters, these letters have continued to remain between us.

I have been a dedicated letter writer for over a decade. I often make my own cards to further personalize the experience and my slightly obsessive need for organization causes me to keep track of every letter to each recipient by marking the date next to their address on a tiny piece of paper I keep with me at all times. Some of the people I write to are close friends, others are ones I’ve met only a handful of times but appreciate the exchange of words through the mail. I never expect a letter back; I write in order to give away my language.

As a writer, I recognize that words are exchanged between people all the time, though often the medium is through glass screen of computer or telephone. We rarely give away our actual handwriting or take the time to slip our words into envelopes that we must lick closed with pre-purchased Forever stamp in right corner.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a love affair through the mail.

The first time was with a beautiful Canadian I met at university in Boulder, Colorado. We met fourteen days before the end of the Spring semester and in those two weeks, we learned as much as we could about each other. She taught me the proper way to cut a mango and in the evenings, we’d stroll beneath the moon with Malbec in mugs, walk her dog and teach each other our histories. She had to go back to her home to work in the summer months and I went back to Brooklyn to do the same. As we neared the moment of leaving each other, she asked me to be her pen pal. I barely hesitated before exclaiming, Yes! During the course of that entire summer, I wrote her forty-two letters. Some would be on receipts from cafes I drank coffee in. There were letters written on tree bark, found amongst the grass of Prospect Park. One letter was just a collection of flowers I had picked during a walk, shrunken and dried by the time it reached her in western British Columbia. In turn, she mailed me pea pods picked off a tree at the camp she was working at. She wrote on postcards and on the backs of photographs. There were some letters that reeked of her salt, sweating off her skin from the hot summer sun.

When we finally saw each other again in person at the end of August, I found myself deeply in love with her. We had shared so much of our days and the words were like curled threads sewing us closer together. I exchanged more words with her on paper than in person, but this created an ease between us. We began dating, eventually moved in together and though the letters stopped, we never ran out of words. Little post-its left as love notes replaced paper pushed into envelopes.

Fast forward a few years and distance found us again. Three hours time difference. A border crossing. Two thousand, four hundred and forty nine miles between us (give or take). She went back to Victoria, B.C. to work toward her master’s degree and I went back to Brooklyn to do the same. The letters started back up, but our vigorous schedules yielded fewer words between us. We introduced other modes of communication such as Skype, though poor Internet connections often led to frustrations or fights. After about seven months, we broke up. I still sent her the occasional letter, but then that fluttered away. I realized I needed to mourn the loss of that love and let go of our letter exchange.

Fast forward once more and I find myself with a stack of stamps once again. On a Sunday in March, I stood in a fancy east village bar with paper-over-linen tablecloths, polished chandeliers and over-priced drinks. I noticed him the moment he entered the room in burgundy converse, suspenders hugging t-shirt, jeans and baseball cap. My previous methods of flirting usually existed within silent treatments. If I’m interested, I’ll usually ignore the person. Needless to say, I don’t have very much luck with this strategy.

It was an evening of poetry, music and performance art. As I took the stage, I looked over at him to see if he was paying attention. I thought: this is my chance to impress him. I’m rubbish at articulating myself, but on the stage, I find my words through my poems. I couldn’t tell if he was listening or not and by the end of the night, when I hoped to find my courage to ask him for his number, he had already left.

Several days later, I get a text message from a friend that Burgundy Shoes wanted my phone number. An hour later, I received a message on my phone from him asking me out for coffee and the next evening we met at a bar in Williamsburg at a friend’s music show. Before the loud music began, as we awkwardly shared words and drank non-alcoholic beer, I tried to gauge his level of interest in me. During one point of the evening, I stood beside him with my hand so close to his, I could feel the heat pulse off his knuckles. Unfortunately, two shy people equaled an evening of G-rated body language.

As our friend gathered up his things, Burgundy Shoes and I waited. We soon realized we were standing beside a photo booth. He slipped himself inside the tight space and inserted money into the slot beneath the bench. Another friend pushed me in and before I had a chance to get nervous being so close to him, the camera began snapping photos of us.

Photo number one: We are looking at the screen, smiles wider than a four-lane highway.

Photo number two: I am looking at him. My unruly curls hide my face, but his begins to turn from smile to serious gaze.

Photo number three: I move in closer. If photographs came with their own caption, this one might read: I am about to kiss you.

Photo number four: Our mouths finally mash together as though they had been training for decades for this moment.

We, along with our friends, made our way from one part of Brooklyn to another on a bus leading us to a different bar where Burgundy Shoes and I kissed with parched tongues, pressing our bodies together as though they knew each other for years. At two in the morning, we reluctantly decided to make our way back to our respective homes. We held hands and kissed at every stop sign and red light. When we reached the point where he needed to turn left, we said goodnight.

A week into our collision, I received a text message from Burgundy Shoes that requested my address. I had mentioned my love of mail and he wanted to send me some. Five months later and we are still exchanging letters, often daily. Sometimes, he reads me the letters in person. One Sunday, he hand-delivered one so that I could get magical Sunday post.

I found myself falling in love with this romantic, kind human through his black-inked words. I was hesitant to allow myself to feel these feelings again, having been broken-hearted several times before and not sure if I could risk doing it again. But love is thick and bold enough to keep reeling us in, even though it so often ends in heartache. It is beyond a drug; it is like a second set of lungs breathing for us. The air becomes flavored. Every noise is like a harmonized symphony—even the car honks and door slams sound like a top-forty tune.

When we end one love affair, there is a moment of readjustment. What is necessary to leave behind and what is learned? Memories stop being about the people we are with and more about the person we were when we were with them.

My desires are evolving. Who I find myself attracted to is shifting and widening. Burgundy Shoes makes it safe for me to share my reluctance for parts of my body and I celebrate the constant changes growing on his skin.

We also have a shared fondness for napping against trees. He is just as much in love with the moon and its various shapes and methods of glow as I am. He is the Brooklyn hippie I have been searching for.

Through our letters, we have grown closer in a short amount of time because every day is stuffed onto these pages and mailed out.

Love is inconsistent and scary. It is in constant rough draft mode, revising itself through cross-outs and drafts. My pen pal and I do our best not to lose track of the uniqueness of this relationship. We’ve since started notebooks where we place more of our words inside, swapping them back and forth. One of which is a tiny black book we fill with our fantasies. Words are loud and can be far more forthcoming when mailed out because one must wait. One must channel patience as postal workers diligently gather up carefully addressed envelope from blue box toward the one it is meant for. As a society, we have grown restless, often unable to wait days for things. We send out our words and expect an immediate response. Sometimes love needs to linger in the air before it is delivered to the one it grows for.