It was an awkward time for us. I was starting to forget when it wasn’t. There had to be a time when this was easy. When hours slipped into seconds and we wasted away beneath a linen ocean. The sun fell out of the sky over and over again. We didn’t believe in time any more. We didn't have to. We were everlasting. All we could hear were hearts beating in tempo and lungs expanding, collapsing, expanding, collapsing. We were in sync. We were a song; my favorite song. Better yet, we were music. And when we were together the whole world, and everyone in it, was listening. Or at least that’s how it felt. Even if they weren’t, we didn’t care.
It’s a funny thing. You know you felt it. You can remember feeling it but you just can’t feel it. Not any more at least. Will it ever come back? Lightning doesn’t strike twice. Or is that some kind of urban legend? I mean, no one ever won the lottery twice in a lifetime. Then again we’re talking about two different things here. Money and love aren't the same thing. Well, at least not to some people. I just don’t see how I could ever get back to that place. I think I did this all wrong. It’s like, no one gets to paradise and then wants to leave. No one except me I guess.
He’s starring at me. He’s always starring at me. Those dark blue pools he calls eye. I used to swim in them, now I’m drowning, lungs filling with icy cold water ready to burst. The miniature black holes in the middle, at the center of his galaxy are ready to take me kicking and screaming to the very place in the pit of his chest that’s been decaying since I left, or probably even longer. There I am at the bottom of the blackest hole, a familiar setting. Why are the beginning and ending always the same thing? We always end up the same place we started. The exact place we dreamed of leaving, forever. I guess this all happened for a reason. Isn’t that always the go-to response for things we can’t explain? All the things we’d rather not face. Death. Disaster. Failure. Loss. Regret. The things we’ll never learn to accept. At least not openly, but they’ll fight their way into our reality. It all happens for a reason. The same reason you can’t erase your past. You have to be connected to the events in your life somehow. You have to be connected to every single choice you’ve ever made. Good or bad. And sometimes you’ll forget the mistakes you’ve made, but someone remembers. And something will remind you.
He was right again. I always make everything about me and my life, my dreams, my career, my beliefs. The choices I’ve made. But if I don’t live for me then who will? He says he will. But that’s just not fair. Cause no matter how hard you try to shove two separate objects together no amount of force will make them one object. No amount of force will make us one object
This hurts me too. I don’t even think he realizes that. The only thing he understands is his own pain. How ironic, in the middle of this run down tattoo parlor. I shouldn’t even be here. We made these plans before ours fell apart. He’s talking about how dark his room always is. I pick up on the metaphor but I can’t look at him directly so I stare at the needle pulsing atop his skin, over and over, injecting color into his flesh bringing pictures to life all over his arm. I wanted to ask the artist to put the tattoo gun to his heart. Give that some life again.
Here I go again, bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, between where I am and where I want to be, between whom I am and who I’d like to be. He coughs. He knows he’s lost me again.
Suddenly I’m back in that dark room he’s been telling me about except I’m alone. He’s not there. I can see him outside the window. He’s wrapped in sunlight. There he is. He’s more real in this imagination then he is sitting across from me right now. I remember him before I knew. It’s strange how you ask the questions and want the truth but the second you get it you wish you could give it back. Like he’s my receipt, it’s been less than 90 days, I’d like to return this information please. It’s strange how the truth changes your perception of reality completely, but tragedy does a lot of things to people. I can’t relate to the things he’s seen. I have my share of scars but I’ve never had to crawl out of the depths of hell like he has.
The buzzing of the tattoo gun brings me back to the parlor. Finally, everything is real. It’s all still happening. It’s so weird because no matter how I try to describe what’s happening here, another person will never really be able to fully understand. Sometimes even detailed stories leave too much unresolved. All stories are mysteries. Cause answers always lead to more questions. Like at the end of a love story or a romantic comedy. They finally end up kissing and BOOM. Roll credits. Wait?! What?! Do they get married and have kids, or do they focus on their careers before settling down? Do they argue a lot? It can’t be pure bliss from then on out. I mean if we’re going to watch these movies and read these books like they’re instruction manuals then they can’t just stop at steps one and two. I need three, four, five and six as well! We’re being cheated here. No, better yet we’re cheating ourselves. We’re treating fiction like nonfiction and then trying to live our lives based on falsified events. And it’s getting harder and harder to come to terms with the fact that nothing is as perfect as it should be. Those two giant people making googlie eyes at each other across the silver screen probably go home to someone else. They go home to another life and they’re probably wishing the same thing we are. They’re probably wishing their fake lives were the ones they crawl into bed with at night. The things we imagine are always so much better than the things that actually happen to us. Not everyone gets a happy ending. If every action has an equal and opposite reaction and if it’s fact that dreams come true then nightmares do too. And if happiness exists then so does misery. It’s all part of the theorem. Who knows?
I wonder if he ever thinks about this kind of stuff. He probably has all the answers or doesn’t even need them. Maybe having all the answers has made him this way. Curiosity always ends up killing something. His has landed him six feet under for some time now I’m guessing. The ones who have suffered the most have an incredible and somehow unexplainable beauty. It’s always the ones who have suffered the most pain that are at ease with the way the world works. I guess when life repeatedly steps on you, you have to find inner peace or you won’t make it. There are two ways to deal with life: you learn to live with it or you escape. And escapism breeds art. Cause art isn’t possible without suffering. Because the best songs are always sad. Art is escapism, the same way drugs are escapism. The same way a couple shots can make you forget your problems. I hope I wasn’t his escape, because in a sense love is the most dangerous escape.
I can’t say I don’t love him because I do. Just not the way he wants me to. Not in that epic Romeo and Juliet, so unhealthy that one of us is going to end up dead kind of way. Not the same way he loves me. We don’t want the same things; we’re headed in different directions. We’d be better as friends. And now I’m turning into a walking, talking cliché. Great. He’ll never understand and he won’t help me to help him. He’s gone through so much and I’m just adding to the equation. I’ve never been good with numbers.
Then he takes my wrist. I digress but this time he has my full attention. He’s talking in that tone. And the last time he sounded like this he was letting me in. This time I’d wished I hadn’t asked. That night, all I could do was listen as he gave misery a face and a time and a place. I really shouldn’t have asked. Coming back to today, he told me something I won’t ever forget. He said that pain is a strange thing. At first, it hurts like hell and you don’t even know if you’ll get through it. But then, he said, it’s weird, it hurts less and less. This happens slowly but it happens. Until finally you feel nothing at all. He said if there is one thing he knows about, it’s pain.
It seemed like years before I finally escaped his gaze. I looked at the new colors on his arm. I realized that he never told me exactly what he was describing but I was praying to God he was talking about the ink on his arm and the tear of the needle. I didn’t want to look up again but from the corner of my eyes I could swear I saw him check his pulse. He seemed surprised that it was still there. I guess, when it comes to life there is big difference between being alive and actually living.