Love lie lorn on a floor that was once solid. I felt the warm, impenetrable face of the wood beneath my cheek. I breathed in dust, vapors du wax and the spent dreams of the faceless which lie forgotten around me. I could not move. I could not move. The weight of an unfathomable sadness bore down on my being. My eyes were shut, squinched tight, as if shutting out reality could help me find the truth which had evaded me. Truth had departed.
Why when we seek happiness do we so often find in its place a collapsing emptiness that folds in on itself?
They say to live is to dream, take chances, swallow the brew of life whole… They said. They never said how it feels when terra firma disappears and dreams are eviscerated by disappointment.
In my dreams, Vivienne is flying northwards, a pinpoint on the horizon that winks like diamonds. The sound of her beating wings are tinkling chimes that beckon me to follow, or be left in their wake. I run to keep up but am kept from my goal by the weight of memories.
Ruthless memories, which play unceasingly across my inner eye, the one I cannot shut. I feel her hand, lovingly graze my cheek on our first date. I smell the bewitching scent that is her pheromone signature wafting upwards to tease my nose just like she used to, leaning in at any given moment, to whisper in my ear. I see her smile, brilliant like gold in undiscovered mines, flash at me as we drove across the stark, arid beauty of the moon drenched Sahara. I hear her deliciously infectious laugh, infused with child like wonder, as we soared on swings, or spent a day careening skywards, then earthward and hit repeat, on stomach dropping rides at Great Adventure.
I see us, Vivienne and me, drunk on an art filled day at the Metropolitan lying in the sun. We stared up at the great blank windows on the East side of the museum, drinking wine and nibbling gourmet treats. I remember the way the grass cradled our forms and how with each turn her cotton dress caressed her thighs and ass until I was jealous and bloated with a passion that begged release. A release that I would take anywhere she would give it to me.
We were a living, breathing sculpture of skin, teeth, sinew, bone, tongue and liquid fluidity. Our mingled breaths a gale that swept through deserted offices, sumptuous hotel rooms, public bathrooms, or wide open spaces where nature was our happy voyeur. The consummation of our desires reaching a crescendo when she emitted long, slow, piercing, jazzy moans. My deeper pitch adding the bottom required to make an unforgettable trio whose alchemy was forever imprinted upon my inner ear.
She said it was the same for her… That way madness lay. To think of all the things she said and their truth, or untruth, would surely drive me careening over some interior edge. Ah, but I was already there.
My instinct was to run from the pain but a final, unwelcome memory waited it’s turn in the line-up. This time, she was quietly vivid. Her wild spirit tamped down, hair slicked back, in an emerald velvet dress drinking Veuve, and making her rounds at my gallery opening. I smiled to see the mask of adultness and not the wandering, bewitching, adventurous, girl child whom became my lover, that lived within. She was all grown up – the day before she left me. My mind stalled on this memory and my eye went dark.
A brief respite, only to be followed by tears which came, one by one by one, to fill the saucer of my lids begging release. Sweet surcease, as I gave in and opened my eyes to a watery world. It was here that she had left me with the memory of her kisses beginning and dying on my lips. I knew her body now as well as I knew my own, the mole behind her ear, the imperfect beauty of a cloud shaped birth mark that adorned her lower back, I knew the honey-tan-chocolate landscape that was her breasts, the valley in between and the whorl of her fingertips that memory had engraved upon the skin of my lips.
The world felt wrong, I was wronged, bereft, lonely, and empty like a husk with all the tears that had spewed forth in the time since she left. She left me for greater things, a better job, a richer lover, another continent and I could not compete.
And so I lie upon the floor for untold hours listening to our favorite CD’s on repeat. The phone rang, the neighbors banged till they grew tired, the alarm went off and I registered it all from a great distance. Myself shut down until all I became was distilled to a curled up embryo left behind on someone’s floor, plagued by memories, tears and loss.
Who would save me from me?
I was not up to the task of rediscovery as my splintered selves, the one whom had left with her, and the wretched soul that she had left behind, struggled to merge. A whole day passed before I could move to the sheltering arms of our bed. There I slept and woke consumed by dreams of running on an endless empty beach. I woke only to eat, call in sick and fall in bed again. The dreams returned. No matter where I ran I ended up in the same beautiful, pain filled place.
It was Giselle that woke me. Three days of uncharacteristic silence bought her to my door with flowers, chicken soup and books by Nin, Morrison and Maya in tow. She opened the door with her key, held me in her arms, and listened to the disjointed ramblings of how my fairytale ended. There was relief in that to expel the nightmare in my head to another human being. There was relief in finding compassionate solitude in the arms of my friend. She dried my tears, fed me, read me books, washed my hair and held me as I cried myself to sleep. She took off work and stayed with me for four days until I was a former semblance of myself, divided but standing, once again.
Life would not stop. A week passed and I found myself on the sidewalk, blinking in the sunlight. I had emerged. Changed, missing a piece, haunted, more somber, less trusting and more cynical but at least I was out of the apartment. I learned to live with the most silent and pervasive of enemies, grief.
Time taught me a new trick, it divided. Internally, I now measured my life in segments, the time before and after Vivienne…
INSPIRED BY WASTED TIME by Me’Shell Ndegeocello