Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dear everyone,

I'd like to keep September in a little box. September was all birthday parties and telling secrets, funny jokes and adventures, delicious food and cute company and a glint of silver in the beam of a flashlight. I wore a lot of green and did a lot of laughing. It's my favorite so far this year.

Florida is hard. Family is more important to me than it perhaps should be, and it's tough to split my time here between my disintegrating grandparents and the splintered rest of my family. I have a bad habit of feeling guilty for things that are not my fault, and the fact that my relatives have become distant and crazy definitely falls under that category. I miss my life, and I'll be so glad to head home tomorrow.

But if the fall keeps up the way it started, we're going to have a great time. I'm going to be making clouds and ribbons and happy bunnies out of whatever is handy, wearing scarves and a green jacket and making soup. Right now is the next big thing, I just never noticed.


Friday, September 28, 2007

I recognize this sky. This sky is bleached pale blue and limp, every molecule of air tired of having to move so fast.

As soon as I step out of the airport it's there again, the wave of damp air that wraps its fingers in my hair and kisses me full on the mouth. The heat down here is that guy in the bar with three fingers and the smell of cheap bourbon and urine, the guy who puts his hand on your upper thigh and whispers stickily in your ear while you try frantically to dissolve into molecules and disappear. This heat is pushy and refuses to go unnoticed, and it only takes the trip from the airport to the car to remind me why I left.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I see that you've drawn your maps without oceans, there.

I've got all of my pencils sharpened and my tights laid out for winter, and listening to a certain bass line almost doesn't make me wince along all of my vital organs anymore. But I've still got only this one hammer, and still only enough iron under my skin for this one nail. I don't want to pull all of this left over together with strings but I really can't say how long it takes to grow back the stuff for one more nail. If growing ever really happens again.

The scissors that you used to cut your strings were scissors you bought from a shark, their teeth matching and sharp and strangely fitting together. You used clothespins that opened like eyes to hang your bundle out the window like a sign, a flag announcing what could only be called open.

And still there's this landlocked map waiting here. I would hold the mirror up to it, to see if it fogs the glass, still breathing, but you stole all of the silver to line your eyelids. The soil misses the ocean, I can see it in the droop of the continents, but I have used up all the longing for this year, and all that's left is to hold this map close while the sun breaks over the crest of its brown hills.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sometimes I find myself sleepwalking, waking up to realize that I am already awake and standing, moving in a direction I don't recall intending to move. From what I can tell, since I live alone and can't be sure how often it actually happens, the things I do when sleepwalking seem to be directly related to two things that I worry about. When I am thinking too much about home concerns, about furniture or rent or my plants, I'll wake up in the middle of checking to make sure my refrigerator is working, which is something that I tend to obsess over in my sleep. When I am scared from a movie or book or thinking about the past, I find myself checking the locks on the doors and windows, convinced someone is coming in.

All of my dreams lately have concerned my ex stepfather and going to Florida, and last night I woke to find myself locking and unlocking the front door to make sure the locks worked.

But sleep and I have always had a difficult relationship, and I'm still not sure what it means when I wake up believing that there is a pile of snakes next to my bed, when I'm not even afraid of snakes normally. Since I live alone now there is much less documentation of my embarrassing sleep-talking habits, but my college roommates would be perfectly happy to tell you all about the ridiculous conversations we had while I was sleeping, all of which they wrote down to provide years of future embarrassment. Which, you know, is part of why I've lived alone ever since.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I get to be a little obsessed with getting my hair cut before each trip to Florida, to make it as short and red as I can handle. I think that what happens is that when Hair and Shoulders meet, they start passing notes with Shoulder Blades, and I start thinking like long and brown and wavy. And really, friends, I'm just not that girl anymore. Thankfully.

For fall I am very into bright green coats, cozy asphalt grey sweaters, pink high heels, guitar solos, friendly dogs, telling secrets, lasagna, shocking people with inappropriate jokes, champagne, kissing, and learning how to make things. Please plan accordingly. I learned to silkscreen last night, and once I learn to sew, which starts in two weeks, I will perhaps be able to realize my longtime dream of owning a skirt that has the giant squid attacking the Nautilus on it. I don't think there are words to properly convey how excited this thought makes me, and I'm fairly certain that I'll end up compulsively documenting the whole process. That is my way.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I apologize for standing so still lately, but I am trying to remember things too important to be forgotten. My earliest memory, of sitting in a wicker chair with a parasol in hand for some sort of studio picture. The exact shape of the dimples at the base of baby fingers. Certain trees from below and others from above, the taste of a too-ripe orange, and the sound of waves on white sand just before dawn. Nights when the sound of your breathing might have saved my life, the feel of a rough thumb across the line of a wrist joint. The taste of vintage bourbon and cigarettes, the wiggle of an accidental snake between my toes.

I am standing very still because what I want to say has landed lightly on my shoulder like a butterfly, and I can't move to see what color it is because it might fly away. Because everything is landing softly on my toes like champagne right now and if I step away it might chase off all those tiny bubbles.

And you remember the poem about the man who built a Cadillac in his attic, right? Who left it there to be found by the next tenant, by the landlord, with no explanation. "For the looks/of astonishment he'd never see but could imagine." I stand very still and think about that, about the sound of sprinklers turning on after midnight, about the soft thump of a pulse under my palm.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Summer ended pretty firmly this weekend. Somewhere between playing frisbee in the sun and soft chill on Saturday and waiting in lines in the rain at the fair today it was over.

I am so ready for the fall, for sweaters and coats and scarves and gloves, for watching the Dick Tracey colors of my city blend in the rain, for kissing and sitting in steamy bars and making gallons of soup.

I'd like to say that my last sunburn for the year has come and gone, but I'll be in Florida melting into a cranky little puddle next week. But after that, it'll be time to start planning for the next big thing.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

There was all of the time spent half-drunk on the fumes of your gaze, taking the moments when it shifted to catch a breath and squeeze my eyes shut, trying to settle the frantic whizzing of my brain. Looking steadier than I should have, certainly, a three-legged cat on a greased ridgepole. Not time wasted, but a lot of it spent nonetheless.

I would have moved your mountains, but you turned them into caves.

On foggy mornings I might eventually consider that the spins that you kept in the bottom of your eyelids could have led in a different direction. I think I would find myself remembering them fondly in that case, like an old blanket that was very soft in memory but when on hand, pulled out of an attic full of boxes, also gives a rash.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Just when I think it isn't possible for one small girl to get any clumsier, I manage to find and conquer whole new levels of stumblefootedness. Last night the doorbell rang while I was napping on the couch and, skipping the transition between asleep and awake altogether, I careened around the end table and against the back of the couch in such a way that the last finger on my left hand went in an entirely different direction from the rest of them. By the time I woke up this morning whole sections of my hand that I didn't even know existed were making their presence known.

My doctor--who you, if you've been playing along on the home game, might remember as a lady who likes to laugh and prescribe a houseboy whenever I do things like get hit by a car crossing the street or come down with strep throat--laughed again, told me that spraining my finger was a bad idea, and told me to keep my fingers taped together for the next few days. (And also to get a houseboy.) Do you know how hard it is to type with two fingers taped together? It's not very easy at all.

This afternoon I bought new pillows again, which involved spending a lot more time on the floor of the store than some might deem ladylike.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I met a noodler once, in a dank bar down alligator alley during the road trip years. Alex slid in next to him at the counter; or at least, he would have slid, but the stool was sticky and had one leg that threatened to buckle, so he lifted himself gingerly on to the seat. The man's hands were scarred, the skin buckled and twisted, wrapped around his glass. Half of his right index finger was missing, lost to a snapping turtle. That's the danger with noodling, with plunging your hands into murky holes in the hope that what bites you on the hand is what you want to be bitten by. I remember hearing stories about noodlers who accidentally stuck their arms into a nest of moccasins, men who had not compensated for the weight of the creature they would be pulling to the surface and drowned with their hand clamped firmly in the mouth of a fish. Swamp justice is harsh and biblical in that way.

Yesterday, as the bus sat at a red light, I watched a man in khakis and a button-down shirt stand in the park and practice his fly fishing casts, tossing a bright yellow line back and forth across the grass. At least from a distance, both of his hands appeared to be intact.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I found my bicycle built for five the other day tucked in an alley behind a mound of tangy rotting oranges, drops of juice seeping from fissures burst in their skin and soaking into the pavement. Some of the fists have melted out of my hands, and I sat on the middle seat, ready to ride away, only I got jumped just then by that same old jukebox. It was still playing the one song that runs faster than I do and man, did those fists jump back into place right quick.

I guess it had been hiding on the other side of those oranges.

What I wanted was to fold a bit of my DNA around a few of those seconds like scotch tape around an inchworm, but they moved faster than I did. And now I'm tired of waiting for them to come back around. Let's move to the desert and start a seafood restaurant instead. Let's find a swingset and go as high as we can, daring the momentum and the sweet breeze to fall in love with us.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

And now we are 25.

The thing of it is, friends, that I'm very happy these days, in ridiculous, hyperbola-inducing amounts. Life is a lot smarter than I am, and even though I keep thinking that I should be doing other things with my life, that's not actually true. I think I might be doing exactly what I ought to be right now, and I'm doing it surrounded by people who will play at the park until 3:30 AM on a weeknight, people who leave trees on my doorstep, people who don't look away even when my edges are showing. I'm surrounded by and overwhelmed with love and affection right now, the luckiest girl in town.

Everything is always getting better somewhere.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Today is my birthday! Since midnight east coast time--which is, after all, the Timezone of My People, since I was born two weeks late and backwards in Jacksonville, Florida, to a Floridian and a transplanted New Yorker--there have been: a handful of dirty drunken east coast text messages, a phone call and an email from a cute boy, a birthday whiskey with some really fantastic people, a poignant Amy Grant moment on the sidewalk between us and a stranger, a whole lot of high fives, a few other emails from equally splendid and adorable people, and a handful of myspaces.

I'm pretty much overcome with fondness already, is what I'm saying, and it's only morning. Everyone, I like you so much too. I will see you at Linda's tomorrow.

Dear samantha,

Try not to screw this one up quite so badly, huh?