Sunday, September 27, 2009

the chosen one

we met when i was young. just a child. for my part, there was no attraction: i found his long hair distasteful, and there was a greasiness to his skin that repelled me. but he loved me still with a fortitude that belied his innocence. on the back of his steadfastness, our friendship was formed. and it was perfect.

there is more than one way to fall in love.

we kissed at a new year's eve party. drunk, i repeatedly threatened to strip for the crowd. it was the new millennium and public nudity was the only frontier left to cross in the asinine clamor for popularity or, at the very least, renown. he stopped me. his firm, gentle hands grasped my wrists at my waist and when i struggled in protest, he drew me close to him and held me there. i realized for the first time that he smelled at once like the small white flowers that grew in my mother's garden and the tobacco that lingered in the fibers of my father's shirts. i wondered what he would taste like.

because i was suddenly still, he could feel my heart beat a little quicker. were i more sober, i might have felt his. but the heat is what i remember: hot breath against my ear and right shoulder, hot chest warming mine. our groins touched first, and then our lips. his lips were warm, supple. i think he was surprised to find that mine melted against his: he gasped a little. perhaps he was shocked to find that i was returning his kiss. i was actually returning his kiss. and the room - to us - was silent.

the courtship, like what came before, was perfect. nothing changed, but the discovery that we could extend our playfulness into another realm: the sexual. spoken communication transformed itself into a kinetic energy that transcended intellectual understanding. we knew each other. we came to know each other well. when he walked in a room, my hairs stood at attention. my breasts did too. our favorite thing to do was kiss each other goodbye when he left for morning. exhilaration was finding a reason to walk with him to the station, ride with him on the train, and kiss again just before one of us darted out between the closing doors.

our mothers watched us from afar, amused. they had seen the inevitable, and for reasons best known to them, embraced it. they themselves had a bond. neighbors, friends, then sisters, they related through a mutual dissatisfaction with their respective marriages. and yet they wanted us to marry. i remember with sharp clarity - abnormal, for me - the day his mother drew me into her kitchen to ask when i would be ready to join their family. i laughed: the thought had crossed my mind, but surely she understood that it was not a choice for me to make. because i was honest, and because she preferred me that way, i told her to address her questions to her son. i'm not sure if she ever did.

time went on, rosily, and our comfort grew. i had eyes for no one else; he spoke daily of his devotion to me. we should have known.

we made love one night, and it was spectacular. twitching and convulsing after what we had managed to do to one another, we fell asleep in each other's arms, assuming it was a night like any other. but it wasn't. that night, our firstborn was conceived. oblivious, we continued to enjoy each other as always: lazy weekend days strolling through museums, nights at comedy clubs on the strip. one night we went dancing, and drank until we could barely see. groping each other in the darkness, before we fell into bed, he commented on how beautiful my breasts were and proceeded to devour them in ecstasy. the next morning, he looked at me thoughtfully as i slept, then got ready for work, still pensive.

i was cooking when he came home. as his key turned in the lock, i ran to meet him with my usual kiss...but his face was different. i kissed him anyway. but i frowned. he took me by the hand and led me to the bathroom, gave me a brown paper bag. i opened it: there was a pregnancy test in it.

i said, you can't be serious.

i just want to know for sure, he returned, in his usual calm way.

there was only one stick. downstairs, the chili i was making for his favorite meal, dirty rice, was coming to boil. because i didn't want to argue, and because i was secretly also afraid he was right to worry, i drew down my underwear and peed as he watched.

one line. then two. positive.

rubbish, i said. but he was already stroking his chin, which he always did to delay panic. we'll just run to the corner shop and get another one, i said. my tone was clipped, matter-of-fact, trying to convince myself as much as him. we were 23 years old, old enough to take care of a child, yes. but entirely too selfish to want to. he went back to the store, i returned to the kitchen and turned off the range. there was no telling when our appetites would return. i drank one tall glass of water, then another.

when he returned, he brought a double-pack and i peed on both tests. pregnant. and pregnant.

i don't know why, but i started to cry. irritated, he snapped at me: is that how you're going to react? how can that be how you react? were i less dazed, i might have returned his insensitivity with a withering look, a slap on the cheek (we fought and made love the same: with passion). instead, i fought to control my tears but could only manage to wipe each one away as it fell. and try as he might, he could not hide his disdain. i'm sorry...i'm sorry, is all i said. all i could say.

he walked out, leaving me to pull myself together, alone. he thought i was stronger than this, this weepy person who could not react sensibly nor help him make sense of an unexpected situation. it was the first time since our love affair began that we didn't feel a part of one another. it was the first time he had left me.


romancing the keys: an ode to my compaq

ah, how i have missed you.

the words come to me slowly. i have been out of practice.
these fingers: they move more quickly than before, but clumsily. i do not remember you as i once did.

this is our last hurrah.
soon it will be the last time.
i have fallen for another.

three years we have known each other.
you have brought songs out of me, poetry. stories.
of discomfort. soreness.
new beginnings.
unexpected ends.

the tale is complete.

and now your turn has come.
discarded onto a heap of electronic garbage, perhaps.
pulled apart by the deft fingers of the impoverished,
experts at discovering hidden value.
exploited for needing and knowing so little.

or handed down to one more needy, also lacking,
though more privileged in many ways.
little brother.
distant cousin, learning you in a ghanaian village.

you are magic.
but your sparkle has dissipated.
it is time to move on.

but for now
you remain
to tell the story of a closing chapter.

of romance that bloomed only to disappear sharply into a void of 'once-was'.
i am grateful.
of misery that tugged and pulled at itself until it discovered the hard seed of self-fulfillment.
my eyes have been opened.
of friendships, both quick and long-lasting.
i will cherish them. all of them.
of that which is new and will continue to reveal itself.
i will explore.
i have explored.

there is much to offer, and you have shown me this.
at once a tool and confidante,
you have served me well.
with fondness,

i bid you adieu.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

sitting solo

The quiet moments are the worst. Minutes, hours spent gazing out an open window, deep in thought. There was a time when I always knew a call would come. A text, maybe, to disrupt my revelry right when I was on the brink of a definitive discovery. Infuriating at times, welcome at others, I knew it would come and I waited for it. A skipped heartbeat. Anticipation. A need satisfied.

Now all that remains is the wretched sting of knowing that there is no one who is obligated to care what I am doing this quiet, quiet, unending moment.