Bent Words

Bent Words

November 17, 2020

So that's what it's like...

On an evening when the darkness stuns you and invades every corner. Sitting in your car wishing the red light would change so you didn't have time to think -- about your breath visible in front of you and the chill that rises against your thighs, about the details you've missed during a day in which you've done too much, about what you were thinking going out on a night when ambition barely matches your current actions. Turn up the tunes that might, on any other night, raise your spirits and still you're staring straight forward, lost, hoping to hear something else, see something different or something you recognize.

The streets you drive down heading toward your destination are familiar but they belong to a different time. They are incapable of really bringing you somewhere new for they only take you to those days where all you had to do was drive a little faster so as not to come in last. They belong to the tires of a thousand motorcycles, still slick with new rubber; they belong to the smiling, daring heart you once held inside -- not the expression you hold now. They belong to the girl who held the world at her whim, risking sense and trading logic for that singular feeling of adoration. They belong to the unhesitating corners, the hills you sank into without a helmet, the building on the right that never failed to find you a final destination. These streets seem empty now. Unclaimed. A little less busy. Significantly less impressive. You pass them as you would a graveyard -- detached but awakened to how all good things must end.

All at once, you're there. Wherever it was that you didn't really wanted to be in the first place. The lights in the parking lot, the neon sign to your right, the couple you notice in your rear view mirror, walking up behind your car and huddled close together -- all the life spinning in the background of your world that you would have rather disregarded on a night like tonight. It's almost too late to go back but you sit there anyway, looking around for another vehicle you recognize, hoping to find a reason for a way out, hoping that someone would notice if you were missing but not wanting to explain why you were.

Five minutes solitary in your car and you say "Fuck it." Slam the door like you mean it and struggle, briefly, to find the damned entrance before you turn yourself around.

The entire bar holds a yellow hue with the light reflected on the wooden floor. It seems unnatural, unreal, a little off. The other patrons have their space, their chairs, their company, their drinks, their distractions and so you feel like an invasion -- as you almost always do. There is no slinking silently into a bar, going the short distance unnoticed, claiming a space all for yourself. People turn their heads to see who has arrived. You can see how they inspect you, looking you up and down, parsing your every move. If only you had a drink in front of you, already, a person to call, a likely reason to be so entirely out of place. But the bartender doesn't care a stitch -- she has a better chance for a weighty tip with the trio of guys who celebrate their birthdays three times a year. One more drink, another shot, a near stumble and a navy salute finally relieves her of her duty.

"What can I get ya?" she asks seventeen minutes into your arrival. And you almost forgot you were in a bar.

You fold the edges of your napkin, tip the bottle you can't let go of, swirl the straw amongst the ice much more often than necessary hoping to hear something other than the boys behind you fighting for a turn at the box, hoping to see something different here or something you recognize.

Finally, a tap of your shoulder, a welcome smile, a familiar voice, a group of folks for whom you can play a part. You talk about the chill rising outside of every door; you fondle the notions of change in your life and comment on the comments running readily from their lips. You joke, you jest, you find a way to raise a smile and produce a few of your own. The more you drink, the easier it gets. Unfolding, pretending, jesting. You casually toss away the very things you hold dearest to your heart -- intrigue, fine conversation, intensity, bewilderment. You make it easy for them and they keep it simple for you. You can't get too deep, you aren't allowed to get emotional, you can't reminisce or analyze or throw out the poem that drips on the tip of your tongue. And so you dance their dance, talk their talk, play their songs, nod at their epiphanies. And right when you can tolerate it no more, just when you've had enough, you beg to be rescued though you don't expect to be rescued.

But there it is. That something else you were hoping to hear, that something different you were hoping to see -- that which you recognize.... barely.

What a welcome intermission.

You shake off your shoulders the droll tones of repeated evenings, you whisk off the shawl of indifference and replace it with a moment of intensity so real that you forget why you didn't want to go out, you forget the lingering chill, the pull of the past at your memory, the half-hearted laughter, the familiar hand gestures and hopes of degrading indecency. The damned debauchery is gone and all that is left is the possibility. You dare yourself to look into the eyes of intimacy, the unblinking opportunity, the unyielding push of reality and, there it is. Yours. For the taking. A piece of life.

You quit this place without glancing back. You race down familiar streets so as not to come in last. You let the wind fill your face and feel it without its cold sting or harsh inability to forgive. You risk sense and trade logic for the moment; for that unhesitating feeling of adoration. You not only greet it with alacrity but seek it out as though it were your last. And it's not as though you are insensible -- far from it -- it's just that you cannot take another moment of the platitudinous motion you call life. You cannot take another stagnant breath or another tentative step. You cannot be ignored or disregarded or forgotten or unheeded for another day because, if you do, what else are you? Ignored, disregarded, forgotten, unheeded.

You deserve the stimulation, the esteem, the passion -- the unguarded emotion. You deserve to be real, asked after, thought of, listened to.

You fall backwards and let the lingering light fall where it may, followed by fingertips and sweetened lips. You let your senses come alive, slowly, one by one and linger over the passing touch. You swallow the taste and take the lead, allowing the rest of the evening's worry slip away with the passing minutes. You find tenderness and tension to rise as one, you relish the fading resolve and relinquish all your power, all your fear, all your timidity. You give it all and receive more.

That's what it's like.

When your call is answered. When your voice is heard. When your desire granted. Your body held.

And to think you had almost forgotten...

Written at 7:04 p.m.