Monday, February 28, 2011

Seeing a girl

What do you see when she passes you by?

Do you see a girl with skinny arms, forever brushing aside the mane of dark hair that insists on falling over her eyes?
Do you see a girl in a floral dress, reading a book, waiting for you on that bench?
Do you see a girl in a hurry to get to work on time, even though she doesn't really give a crap?
Do you see a girl? Do you see a woman?
Do you see a girl who speaks the same language you do? Or one who speaks in tongues? Is she from Babel, perhaps?
Do you think she belongs?
Does she disturb you? Do you see a chameleon?
Do you simply see a girl who's sitting on the seat you should be sitting?
Do you wonder whether she prefers writing letters to e-mails? Whether she's a cat or a dog person?
Do you see a broken heart?
Has it ever occurred to you to just ask?
Or does she merely... pass you by?

And none of us actually leave any footprints on the sand.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


I found myself staring at it on the subway.
How can something so insanely meaningless be attributed such importance?
Are my priorities wrong? Should I... reset them, mayhap?
The world seems to be in an endless rave, while I waltz with myself.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


"All romantics meet the same fate someday: cynical and drunk, and boring someone in some dark café."

I still remember that time. These bottles piled up in front of me, they stop me from seeing everyone else at the other tables – but they cannot stop me from seeing his ghost. The ghost of his presence and his words.

I’d left the party earlier than I’d planned: I was bored. And as I went by the bar I heard someone calling my my name; there he was, almost buried amongst all the bottles. With a cigarette in his hand, he waved for me to come in.
As I sat down he smiled his half-smile at me, which, coming from him, was basically royal favor.
“Where are you coming from at such a late hour, young lady?” he asked, ironical as always.
“From a party” I answered, grabbing the only bottle with something left in it.
“And it’s already over? What a pathetic party!”
I laughed: “It’s not over, I just… left. I was bored there.”  He looked at me wide-eyed, faking a surprise I knew he was far from feeling – he was the very epitome of blasé.  
“Bored? At a party? It is so hard to entertain our youth nowadays!”
I laughed once again, indulgent: that huge number of bottles had obviously not affected his unpleasant sense of humor. I didn’t mind it.
“It’s not my kind of party, that’s all." 
“Well, I don’t know… people were only interested in sleeping around, and… it’s all so cheap.”
“And are you a virgin?” he asked, indifferent.
“What makes you think you can ask me that question?” I replied, calmly.
“The fact that I know you’re not, young lady.”
He smiled – a smile herald of uncomfortable and questionable truths he was so fond of. Without saying another word to me, he called over the waitress and asked for two more beers.

While we waited, he remained in silence. He was content with examining me from the other side of the table, smoking his cigarette as if he were not aware of doing it at all. I felt awkward, naked even. He was not only staring, he was x-raying my every thought.
The beers, at last. He opened one and gave it to me with these words:
“So: I have a romantic in front of me, huh?”
I was surprised: “What makes you say that?” I asked slowly, drinking my beer and not at all sure I wanted to hear the answer. But my wanting an answer or not wouldn’t make much of a difference. I went on: “Just cause I’m not fond of sleeping around?”
“No, not at all! I’d never say you’re a romantic because of that. I’d say you’re frigid.”
I choked on my beer. He ignored it and continued.
“But your sex life does not interest me. I say you’re a romantic not because of your actions, but because of your convictions. You’re quick in labeling: sleep around, cheap… labels, just labels.”
“You’re saying I judge other people?”
“You judge yourself. Not by what you do, but by what you don’t do.”
Check. I didn’t have an immediate answer for that, and silence fell upon us. Finally:
“Are you my analyst now?”
“Were I an analyst, I’d abstain myself from giving you my opinions. You clearly know nothing about analysis. You should study more instead of going to parties.” He finished, letting his eyes wander around the bar.
If his goal was annoying me – of which I was almost sure – he was getting dangerously close to it.
“What’s your point anyway?”
He deigned to look at me once more. “I thought it was clear. You’re a romantic. There.”
I sighed. Did I want to continue that conversation? He knew he wanted to: “You’re not a virgin, but you firmly believe sex should exist only between two people who love each other. Right? You never say so, but that’s what you think.”
I looked back at him.
“What if it is?”
“No need to defend yourself, I’m not attacking you!” He opened up his arms, in a defenseless gesture. I said nothing. “That’s the worst kind of romanticism: idealized and coward. The worst because it’s the hardest to get rid of. It’s more deeply rooted in our nature than anything else – just like our cowardice.” He gestured vaguely with one hand, while the other raked his dark hair.
I still said nothing, looking back at him with hostile eyes to which he paid no attention.
“It  eventually ends up like this: cynicism and intoxication, boring someone else in some dark café. It’s our fate.”
“You put yourself in this group?”
“I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Is it all still because of her?”
He didn’t answer; I knew I’d gone where I shouldn’t have, and I regretted it instantly: his face twisted for a split second in an expression of the deepest pain - but before I could even process that, he was back to his usual indifference:
“You know it’s true. You may laugh, you may think you’re immune… you’re not. Take a look at your eyes, those dreamy little eyes of yours. They dream of roses and kisses by the moonlight. Lies, little girl, lies… pretty, but still lies… when are you gonna realize that?”
Silence. He’d said everything he wanted to, and I was still trying to cope. He was beyond drunk – but did that make his speech any less true?

Dawn was making its way into the world already, and there were only the two of us in the bar. There was still a song playing – something melancholy and depressing, and he hummed along, while the waitress was already cleaning everything up.
I finally attacked: “You haven’t really changed, you know, and you’re not as bitter as you think. You just… like to romanticize your own pain. You think your eyes have tombs in them, but truly, listen to what you’re humming right now: a love song. When are you gonna get back on your feet, anyway? It’s about time.”
He stared at me, bewildered. Bull’s eye, and we both knew it. I was triumphant, he hadn’t expected a counter-attack. Finally, as if reading my thoughts, he answered, clearly amused:
“Checkmate. Fine then. You can take my king, young lady, but someday you’ll realize the moral victory is mine.”
I laughed out loud: “Aren’t you a sore loser!... You may not agree with me right now, and that’s okay – but there’s no greater feat that falling and standing up once again… young man! ” I finished, parodying him.
He bowed his head, in an ironical deference.

That was the last time I saw him. After some time, we were told he’d gone abroad. And when he came back, a year later, he was married. Married! They say his wife’s adorable, they’ve even been seen skating together on the lake. They’ve got all the comforts of a modern house, such as a dishwasher and a coffee percolator. His bar-pilgrimage days are over: he drinks at home now, by his wife’s side. They drink, watch tv with the lights on and are happy together. Some say they wanna have a kid.
The bar’s about to close. The waitress is once more cleaning everything up, just like that other night seven years ago. She may be a different waitress, but I wouldn’t know. There’s no one on the other side of the table, and I wouldn’t have it any other way: I don’t want anyone coming over, I’ve got nothing to talk about, to anyone. He was right. In my innocence, I took his king, without realizing the board and the pieces were his. All I’ve got left is the romantic legacy: hiding behind a dozen bottles, in a dark café.
Someday, I shall pass it to someone else, and fly away from my cocoon. But until then, only the darkness of a bar.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Going nowhere

Humanity, you never had it from the beginning.
(Mockingbird Wish Me Luck, "Those Sons of Bitches", C. Bukowski)

The doors open, and I'm shoved in along with everyone else and by everyone else. The metallic voice announces where we are and where we're going - as if it really knew. 
I look around me, wondering what all of us are thinking. What worries us, and what crosses our minds so early in the morning. I wonder if we think at all.
I get violently elbowed in the back - a huge woman, who doesn't even look back. I shrug, and try to disappear in the crowd. I don't wanna be seen, heard or noticed in any sort of way. I hate crowds, they make me feel lonely, like I'm at war.
I don't wanna be touched either, but that's a much harder task to accomplish. Thousands of hands touch mine as they all slide either up or down the pole, grabbing it desperately - as though it were their only salvation. As though it were the only safe port, and we were all drowning. 
Perhaps we are.
I look at a hand right in front of me, and then its arm, shoulder, chest, neck, face, hair, feet, my feet, my own self again. I see other hands, other chests, other faces, other feet. They're alll the same, despite their trying to be so unique.
Some of them are tall and unbelievably fat, with breasts drooping over their bellies, bellies drooping over crotches, crotches drooping over nothing, and their clothes don't manage to cover it all. All that saggy skin, and I'm forced to look at it.
Others are incredibly thin, it's like there's too little skin for too many pointy bones, and their clothes hang loosely on them. Like new clothes on a hanger at the store. 
Some wear thick glasses, while others don't - even though they visibly squint in order to see anything.
And I think to myself "what an appalling world." Our only beauty resides in our being pathetic.
We never did stand a chance, did we? We get on that thing, and we don't even know where we're going.
And the doors closed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Going Back (or: Moving On)

I'd never truly believed that one could go back to being friends with an ex. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to believe it, but there was no evidence that such a thing had ever been possible. Or even desirable.

And then there was K. We'd been good high-school friends for almost 2 years, and he asked me out on our prom night. Cute, right?! I'd had a crush on him for some time, so I immediately said yes.
He was a great boyfriend, and our relationship lasted for exactly a year. It ended mutually, discreetly, and with no drama whatsoever. We'd simply... grown apart. And I forgot all about it in a month or so. Since then, we seldom talked, and led completely different lives.
But 2007 came; I was having some problems (of my own creation, I might add), and no one to actually talk to. So I decided, one fine day, to go for a walk. And before I realized, I was passing right in front of K's building. 
I stopped, hesitated for a split second, and went in. After ringing my fingers into numbness, he finally answered the door in his pj's, his cute little ugly face and hair all over the place.
"Sleeping?" Not really a question, he's got this uncanny ability of sleeping till 4pm.
"Yeah... come on in." He didn't seem surprised to see me there, 3 years later.
He turned on the TV and went back to bed, while I sunk in his armchair.
"Tell me."
I did. I talked for an hour or so; when I finished, he just shrugged and replied I was an idiot. I agreed, and he offered me lunch. Not sure ramen qualifies as lunch, but that's beside the point. We watched MTV for a really long time, even though it was utterly idiotic and uninteresting; in the evening, some friends called him.
"Up for a night out?" "Sure thing", I said.
I had fun like I hadn't had for a really long time, and I even stayed up all night talking with everybody - something I'm usually incapable of doing (I generally stop functioning at 2am). He told me all about the girl he'd been pining for, and I gave him whatever advice I could.
At 5am we found ourselves sitting on a bench at the beach, in complete silence, watching the pink sky make way for the sun. 
At last, I broke the silence: "Thank you, K."
"Nah, don't mention it."
He gave me his bed to sleep in, while he took the couch. In the morning, I did the dishes he'd neglected the day before. After that, we started haging out quite often - till we both began working our asses off, and time was a luxury we couldn't afford anymore. But that mattered not: the damage was undone, and we were friends again.
He's now married to this really nice girl; they moved to the other side of town, so we rarely get to see them. But I can always count on them for my birthday parties.
This whole story kinda restored my faith in Time. It doesn't heal all wounds, but it does make you see that some wounds are but superficial scrapes.
And I have yet to see a more beautiful sunrise than that.

That's not really the sunrise I mentioned, but I had to have something!