Tuesday, December 25, 2012


The room is filled with coffee lovers, or just lovers in general, or maybe lonely souls longing for connection, just like me.  Everyone is gathered in pairs, two bodies, or one body and one device, acting surrogate for a real body’s warmth and engagement.

He can’t stop smiling, sending his text messages to a secret love, or maybe a distant partner he wishes were across the bar from him.  I want some of what he’s got.

Ray LaMontagne drifts out of strategically-placed speakers, singing “I will hold you in my arms”.  I think of Hawaii, the days I spent staring at the hexagonal skylight from the softest bed in the bungalow, earbuds pressing the same lyrics into my brain, setting off dreams of the honeymoon we’d take there, how you’d take my hand and sing to me quietly as we swayed into sleep. 

I’m in love with a fantasy, I know.  It sustains me in a way reality never could.

She’s reading a magazine or a newspaper, re-dipping her teabag into a lukewarm cup, pushing a wild thatch of hair away from her forehead and tucking it behind one ear.  Now and then I spy her glancing over the top of the page, reaching out through the bubble around her, quickly casting her eyes back down.  She's afraid to hit her target.  Afraid to miss it entirely.  Afraid, afraid. 

They’re clearly in love.  He surrounds her with his right arm and leans in for a kiss, marking her on his way up to the coffee counter.  Mine, he says.  All mine.  She seems to enjoy the safety of being owned in a way I know I never could.  All I know is holding.  I have no idea how to be held.

I turn back to my laptop screen.  Everyone is gathered in pairs.

Two shorts on relating

What happens next

You tell him you love him, because it is honest and true, because a world of hand-holding and inside jokes and being-togetherness waits impatiently behind a velvet curtain for him to say yes of course me too, only what he says instead is oh…thank you. You learn to laugh at your own jokes and hold your own hand, but slowly.


This morning I prepared a cup of coffee the usual way, mixing in sweet rivulets of cream and sugar. I stirred in two spoonfuls, three, even four but the inky, bitter blackness remained.  When I asked about it, the coffee looked away and said “Oh, I’m sorry.  Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to be exactly what you want.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Where the line is

The breathing helps, slowly in and out, which is good because I’m pretty sure what I want out of this evening is not to vomit into my half-finished bowl of crab bisque.  I look down at my hands and realize I’m squeezing them, one clasped around a spoon, one choking the life out of a crust of buttered baguette.  You’re telling a story about work.  I’ve got butter all over my fingers.  I lift them to my mouth without a second’s thought until I notice you watching me.  I change directions and slide them through my hair in what I hope approximates a confident, casual grooming gesture.  This is not how I wanted this to go down.  In my mind I was perfection, a vision of lithe coolness as I slid the key across the table to you, casually inviting you up to my room.  In my mind you were all too eager to go, drawn to me like a magnet’s pole, dying to touch your midsection with my midsection, complete.  In my mind your warm hand covered mine and you took the card key as your eyes burned a message into my retinas composed of a thousand ways to say yes yes, more please.  But now your eyes are the coldest stone, your mouth pulled into a thin line, extinguished.  Now I’ve got butter in my hair and the crab bisque is churning into jelly in my stomach.  The key feels like a hammer in my pocket, so much heavy potential if only someone would wield it.  I can already tell it won’t be me. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Sellwood.  Hipster man is two cars in front of me, crossing the road with a girlfriend on his arm.  A truck charges him, breaks their invisible safety bubble and the man gesticulates wildly and angrily with his fist.  Don’t you see me here?  I saw him but the truck didn’t until it was already too late.  I saw him but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t driving the truck. 

I am waiting in line to buy books.  The blonde woman in front of me has a kitten calendar.  The clerk at the counter finishes his sale and turns away, stacking books on the hold shelf.  The woman steps forward and slams her kitten calendar down on the counter.   Don’t you see me here?  I saw her but the clerk didn’t until she was already irate.  I saw her but it didn’t matter because I don’t work there.

Our favorite dinner spot is almost deserted, perfect for drinks and conversation.  I study the warmth in your eyes, recording the exact expression on your face for use in a future daydream.  You fill my water glass and tell me your latest dating story, another cold woman who doesn’t share your interests.  I think of the things we have in common, smiling until I realize you’re still talking about her.  You like this horrible woman.  I look away.  I want to disappear into my water glass.  Don’t you see me here?  I see you but it’ll never matter.  I fade into the seat in front of you, a nodding smiling ghost.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A blogger's lament

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