I like when singers contort their faces to relive the emotions of their songs, even after a hundred renditions, but not for the reasons you would think. It makes me laugh.
I like to watch a conversation fall apart; I like to hear all the things behind every phrase, pinpoint the turn, hear the echo of the argument in reverse. My brain whispers, subtext, subtext, subtext, and I concentrate on freezing my face so it does not betray me.
I am at that weird, child of an alcoholic stage in my life — I start to hate the smell of wine on breath when it means it is close to me as I’m being served soup at eight o’clock dinner, feel so hysterical when I watch a grown woman fumble with chopsticks that she’s used her whole life: it’s funny! Yes, it’s funny! But it’s coming to an end. I can feel it.
And I love to drink wine and go to parties and flit back and forth and let precisely organized anecdotes drip from my mouth like I’ve just placed a spoonful of honey under my tongue and I’m trying to talk as though it isn’t there — so the gold is slowly leaking over my lips, and it’s disgusting, it’s grotesque, but I know that the petulant college kids watching me are imagining what it would be like to lick it off me just the same.
So how long do I say to myself, “I don’t have the alcoholic gene. I am in control”? And when does it become a lie?
My mother saves the hair of the dead. I am trying to make a cancer metaphor, trying to understand if it is all healing memory or strange salvation or just an off, wrong kind of mummification. Chemotherapy. Psychotherapy. Brain and heart and liver and stomach in jars. Eyes withering leathery, papery shut.
I don’t know what I save. I thought I wrote to remember, but I have been having these horrible moments at which I try to recall precise dates and ages, but I just conjure disconnected images and conversations. On which day did you kiss me for the first time? What is that date? That hour? And yet I remember the strange tingle course down my legs — not sexual, not yet, just the gritty glitter electricity, that magical sparkle of finally getting what I want. I pointed my toes. I bid the feeling to stay.
I remember learning to tie a shoelace. It was a bright, beautiful day, and I was sitting in my backyard, on a boxed-in palm tree, bark digging into me. This is one of my earliest memories. I remember tying them over and over, meticulously practicing, increasing speed. I tied them rudimentarily: a tie, two loops, and tie the loops. I remember the epiphany moment of learning one loop and a cross-through.
I am trying to learn to tie a new kind of lace, but it is hard because I have been wishing for so long. I have wished for you through tunnels, holding my breath in traffic, lights going hazy around me, risking the dizziness and the vision of passing out and spinning into the centrifugal force of a car wreck, all for the hope of you, all to wish for you. Every 11:11, every time the clasp of my necklace finds the hollow of my throat, I have wished for you. I have pulled out eyelashes to create more wishes. I have wished for you with such force and conviction and earnestness that I feel as though I could break at any moment, that I have spent too much pushing outward, leaving only the shell of myself to collapse upon, collapse within. I can feel you slipping away and I cannot understand why or what it is worth.