I wanted you. Before all this — when I was young. I wanted to be inspired. I wanted to hear songs carried by some ancient magic, echo through the hills as I walked barefoot down a grassy path — to meet you. I wanted the fields in front of us to open up like a giant white canvas, so that we could roll naked in paint and fill up the world with color and heat and desire — and love.
I wanted you — to swoop in on a giant horse of white with flowing tale and mane and grab me ‘round the waist and kiss me again and again. I wanted to ride off through the spiraling winds of fate with our fingers intertwined. We’d gallop through the foam of seas and play in the crash of waves. We’d swim with mermaids and flying fish and dine under the stars on a deserted beach. We’d lie on our backs as the earth softly breathed and rock gently in a boat painted by a smiling fisherman who chose a bright peacock blue. Together we’d be stronger, wiser — we’d make all our dreams true.
I wanted to be someone more. And with you, I thought, I could. You would help me grow, to make me beautiful and whole. I wanted to matter — to someone. I wanted life to mean — something. I wanted big gestures and fields of wildflowers and a sun that never set without a kiss. I wanted, so much then, but I got so much less.
I got a small apartment in the city, in a basement of a building that drooled and desperately needed a cane. A building whose steps outside were worn and cracked from years of housing lonely people and all their pain. I got a place where children, who were not my own, spilled from the door in mismatched clothes and frowns with snot flowing from their nose. I got a gaggle of cats who stood watch from the window sills on the first floor, with eyes as yellow and off-putting as sour milk. I got a neighbor upstairs who threw furniture at his wife and one with an eye-patch who never spoke. I got a flea ridden dog who refused to look at me and I nursed a never ending cold.
I got a home with one small window above the kitchen sink. With a view of the neighboring building several feet away — and the little light that managed to find its way in was at such a steep angle, one could mistake it for a searchlight and nearly miss that it was day. I got mis-matched furniture from the thrift store down the street, a tiny living space pieced together from the discarded parts of other peoples lives. A saggy love seat, worn from many years of two people sitting close and a cracked linoleum table with the words scratched on the top — A.C Loved Rose. I got a rocking chair with a ‘breastfeeding rocks’ sticker on the back and a rug that reminded me of Kermit the Frog— if he’d been hit by a truck. I got stacks of bills and empty chairs and brown water from the tap. I got absence, of friends, of music, of laughter — of love.
This was the life I got.
There was no light for art here, no space for creativity or passion — no you. But there was plenty of room for want. Want stumbled around the enclosed space, drunk on cheap wine, with shoulders down — defeat on its face. In the mornings, it tugged at my foot dangling from the bed and taunted me from a height I could not reach. I swatted at it, begged it to just go away, but it stayed day after dreadful day. I’d choke down my coffee and dry toast and try to avert my eyes, from the dirt on the pans, from the small army of ants carrying my crumbs. And I’d turn away from the stain on the floor. I’d fix my gaze on the door, the only way out. And, on good days, I’d allow myself to wonder. Dangerous — wondering, for it bordered on hope. Wonder wore shoes that sparkled with the dust of dreams. And when it danced with want they went spinning and dipping and expanding — until I could barely breath.
One day, I’d grab on to their clothes as they climbed the stairs out. And wonder and want and I would finally step into the light, leave behind the smells of loneliness, tears and old sauerkraut. I’d see a shiny white limo waiting for us to slide in, as if it were Prom and we were kids again. As if the whole world lay ahead just waiting for us to arrive — as if we still had time. And we wouldn’t drive off, we’d glide — wonder, want and I. And so smooth would be that ride, that I’d forget the hot tar the bumps and cracks — or that there ever was a road at all. We’d slip like silk over the pot holes on 5th and circle the downtown square. Then, it’d grow wings and we’d be floating through the air heading for some distant star — like some fairytale come true. And suddenly it wouldn’t be a car at all. It would be strong arms and hot breath and beating heart. It would be dancing laughter and stones that skipped. It would be the light filtered through the trees at dusk —golden and alive. It would be you.
It would be you.
For the image above, and other artwork I created inspired by my short stories, please visit my artist page on Redbubble.