Friday, January 25, 2013

The Airport


“The moving walkway is now ending, please look down.”  “The moving walkway is now ending, please look down.”  I walk amidst the noise of motion and conveyor belts.  I see feet all for as far as my eyes can see in this moving crowd of people.  Feet of all ages, reckless, restless feet, walking, running, strutting, clicking fast towards their destination.  Where is that destination?  It seems we are all constantly running, but never reaching a place to call home.  Life today needs a destination.  Cell phones ringing, people speaking, suitcases rolling and reeling.  The conveyor belt lurching—everyone pushing, shoving, screeching to be at the forefront. Airports speak volumes about us, don’t they?

            People are struggling and striving to lift those few precious belongings thought to be most important—those material objects that we cannot leave without: important enough to drag and lug across the world.  I find my own anonymous black bag that evidently needs some sort of marking like a ribbon…next time, I think.  I continue on, suitcase trailing reluctantly behind, through the roped off labyrinth that is the modern day airport, our own long awaited futuristic fantasy.  This spiraling path has energy enough within itself to move people like a gigantic herd of cattle across the Western plains—such a modern day invention: the spring-back crowd divider.  What else does human ingenuity have in store for us?

            I am wearing a skirt today, something that my grandmother always did.  Always.  She had one pair of pants hanging in her closet for years, left untouched, virginal.  Wearing a skirt is not really conducive to the heave-ho of lifting incredibly weighty luggage and hopping off and on conveyor belts that tell you what to do or where to go so that you avoid killing yourself upon propulsion across the terminal.

            Finally, I’m outside.  I breathe in deeply in order to greedily engulf more fresh air than my body has seen for the past 30 hours.  My windpipe freezes in surprise as the cold inhabits my body.  It’s been a good long while since I have felt this kind of cold.  It is trying to welcome me home, but I am having a hard time trying to feel the “open arms” part of the deal, unless those arms are made of ice.  No messages on my cell phone.  What the hell.

            I see him.  He’s one lucky bastard.  Correct me if I am wrong, but is a ride home from the airport not one of the perks of a romantic relationship?  Isn’t this one of the few roles a boyfriend is required to take on?  Gabe rolls up quickly, pops open the trunk, and I once again lug my large case into the back most inelegantly in my skirt and jump into the passenger seat next to him.  The only reward that awaits me is a peck on the cheek.  Oh forgive me! I should be appreciative that he has gallantly come to transport me home.  On the contrary.  A man should be honored to feel the grace of a lady’s presence inside his humble carriage.  “Hey.  I was wondering why you hadn’t called.  My plane was on time for once.”  We roll off into the sunset.

            Sometimes, I really wish I could go back in time, both in my own life and history.  A time when I was still innocent, like a freshly tanned farm girl, and the world was just a little less insane, apathetic, and engulfing.


She bends down to pick up her purse as she hears her boarding call.  She looks up to meet my eyes; a look of disgust infects her face as she quickly understands the motive behind my gaze, then looks away without a thought.  There is a certain art in the graceful movement of a woman.  The way she holds herself, aware of the eyes around her, then shies away as if those eyes were seeing something they should not.  Only an ankle is revealed from below the cuff of her pant leg.  An ankle in this day and age is seemingly nothing significant at all.  Yet her ankle is so vulnerable, so telling.  It redeems the coldness and hostility of her stare.  I could, almost, see inside her soul through that undulation of skin and bone beneath her calf.

I know she sees me.  I can tell by the way she purses her lips, with a slight bitter gleam in her eye, aware of and enjoying my admiration.  I’ve often wondered whether women require this silent praise in order to survive and get through life in our world of generic nameless faces.  Maybe just people in general need the validation that they exist and are noticed:  just the knowledge that someone else appreciates the truth of their own uniqueness in the world.  How does it feel to be her?  This woman, presumably in her 30’s, has the fate of the world before her.  She wears no rings, therefore she is not tied down.  Well, at least not too much.  One can only hope that she does not take her freedom for granted.  She is wearing pants, though.  A telling sign.  I prefer women in skirts. 

Nolan Returns

It isn’t like he pleaded with me not to go to Italy.  In his own little way, he worked his way under my skin, daily, persistently, until it became my own idea, from my own mind, not his insidious method to seduce me to stay put within his arm’s reach.  
            Even so, I was able to persuade myself away from the idea of staying.  My independence and will were too strong, even for Nolan.  He may have been my rock, for a while, but I needed to be free in order to test my own limits and take care of myself for a change. I needed to understand the reason I had spent three marvelous years with him and now must leave.  I not only felt the urge to leave (the same urge I had felt with past loves), but I felt myself parting from him, the inevitable insidious boredom taking over.  I wasn’t the same Sonya I had been on this day 3 years ago.  I was different:  yes, older, but more knowledgeable about human nature and the way the world worked.  I knew that, in order to grow and become stronger, I needed to test my very own faith in myself.  He would not allow me to do that on his watch.
            As I watched the proverbial door close on his lovely, familiar face, I felt unfettered and finally content.  It needed to be done, but to this day I feel guilty for leaving him.  And I am sure he will always blame me and never, ever, forgive me.

Journeying through the days, weeks, months, and years, I see now why I did it.  Why I hurt him in my quest for freedom.  His world was too small to hold me.  I was suffocating within the small confines of him and his society.  He was suffocating me with his very presence.  He wanted to be my whole world, at the expense of my own identity.  The years have been both good and bad to me.  I’ve been through tragedy and celebration, elation and depression, but never regret.  I may not have found my soul mate, if there is such a thing, but I am grateful for finding my own soul. When I saw Nolan for the first time in 7 years, my heart did not stop the way it did the first time I saw him that first night, his confidence overtaking my composure.  It merely kept beating, curiously hypnotic yet stable.  His first look was utter shock, almost like he was seeing a ghost.  It surprised me with its emotion because he had never been the emotional sort, but he regained composure after a few brief moments and approached me. 
“Sonya, how are you? You look better than ever. If that’s possible.” He expressed it as if we had never parted that day in June and with the same voice I find I have a hard time resisting.
“Fine, Nolan.  And you?”  I replied, trying to keep the same nonchalant familiarity in my own voice.
“Oh, just sold my boat.  The same boat.  Lots of memories below that deck.  I am moving on to dryer land.  I finally got that old Porsche I always wanted.  A ’66. You want to come see it some time?”
“Sure.  That would be cool.  I do miss that boat, but don’t miss the storms.”  (both literal and figurative, I thought)
“Yeah, the storms.  Can’t live with ‘em.  Can’t live without ‘em.” He laughed, that familiar crazed laugh of his.  Funny, I seem to remember being the only one affected by or even noticing the storms.
 I then caught a faint look in his eye.  Could it be nostalgia or longing for the past?  I never could know with Nolan.  He was always solid and cold as ice.  If you would get too close for his comfort, you were stung by his freezer burn.  I still felt unsettled and undone by the solid wall of stone he would put up when any sign of intimacy was forthcoming.  Any closure I had hoped to gain by this inevitable, yet fateful meeting was nowhere in sight.  But I was absolutely fine with that, and move on, I must and will.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Quick

Painful memories of reckless abandon,

Haunt my soul,

Enabling my regret to flourish,

And my rapture,

Softly creeping,

As if sleeping.

A bit smashed.

A blur.

My own quiet surrender would lead me back,

To that timeless cavern,

Carving out a bench of moss,

Sanding countless shells of loss,

Grotto resting within my fixed heart,

With secret staircase for quick


To part.

Though a painful cutting,

This quick much too close to

My undressed core.

Endless hours of solitude

Have escaped my grasp,

Attempts to recover them fail,


And Bore.

Still born.

As my body writhes and wrenches

Towards new shiny steel benches,

Endless Hurricanes,

Blindlessly striving

To become


Sans Pain,

Who I am, Who I was,

My Who.


But, those painful memories of abandon,

Continue to haunt,

As time, at once, asserts itself.

So quick to let go,

To swoon,

So quick to relinquish every thing

To the moon.

I bring.

The life blood,

The source of my own coursing,

Diverted, restless river.

Too quick to shake off this cloak I have gained,

And spread myself thin.

Too quick to drown in strange new sorrows laid out

By a fantastic deceptive dance,

Held captive,



A specter of my own deluded vision.

Shrugging off wisdom,

Time-worn consciousness,

Too quick like a butterfly discarding its own cocoon.

Looks back in grief,


Or merely moving,


With hope

Brushing the pain away,

Clearing away the precious shrugged-off dust

Of a life lived with presence,

Armed with a mind

That knows

Its own


And so night passes,

Illuminating the unseen:

The mystery, the unknown,

The soft grey halls of my inner sanctum,

Wandering on the outside

Of the endless labyrinth,

Striving towards the place without scar,

Or passed  


Losing my own wings to obtain transcendence

In disguise.

I soar above the dance,

Standing still.

My humbled heart has been hidden

Inside my sleeve,


Too long:

Too ardent,

Too breathless,


Tightly lacing.

My only request

That you care for

My stifled heart,

Delicately peel open,

Layers of tough and fibrous jade plaque

That surround its softly pliant and sanguine being,

Enabled seeing,

Unearthed for me by-and-by,

My Who,

My What,

My unborn evasive Why.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Name is Joe

The name is Joe: a typical American name carried around for 50 years by an atypical American male.  My parents still to this day tell me the story of how they both arrived on Ellis Island in the same year, 1940.  My mother arrived in May and my father arrived in July.  The way they tell their fateful story, it seems that they were on the same boat with adjoining cabins.  My mother was four at the time and my father six, both old enough to remember the trip, but not quite old enough to remember all the details. 

      I was born on November 28th 1961 and was christened Giuseppe after my grandfather, but from that day forward, I have been known as simply, Joe.  My father engrained into me that it was always necessary to deny any trace of immigrant status, and to carry forward my grandfather’s name into American culture was a regret he did not wish to create.  I learned the Italian language through osmosis, listening to my parents’ private conversations, arguments, and reconciliations over the years.  They refused to formally teach me their language and stressed that English was my country’s language, thus the only one I needed to know.  Speaking Italian so well and so instinctually helped immensely as I pondered my way through the city of Rome, taking in what I see as the true foundation of Western civilization.  I had taken part in the Rome Studies program at Notre Dame, where I attended architecture school.  My father had been my inspiration.  While only trained as a carpenter, he had a natural talent for building and understanding space and, had he been given the opportunity, would have excelled in architecture.  I am the first person in my family to have attended university, and my parents keep me close to their hearts and conversations with friends as a token of why their parents brought them to this country and the opportunities that moving here gave them.  

            While in Rome, I drew and studied both the ancient ruins and the awe-inducing Renaissance architecture along the way, fueled by espresso and serial infatuation with girls whose names all ended in “a”, in a city that I still hold as one of the world’s truly great places.  I discovered my Italian heritage and culture, free from the forceful Americanization that I experienced at home.  Friends were impressed by my ability to immerse myself in Italy and its strange habits and mannerisms and envious of my charm with the local girls and my ability to lure them into my tiny lair of an apartment containing just a few sticks of furniture.  I rose to the top, not only in popularity, both romantic and social, but in architecture school.  I eventually went on to win the Rome prize in 2001, and my name is well-known now in architectural circles throughout the world.  While no longer the typical Joe of the great United States of America, I still feel as though I am the same son of immigrants, searching for that American dream.  I travel all over the world, meeting all sorts of people.  Everyone looks up to me like some kind of perfect divinity, but have never been able to create my own place, in my own country, thus my own reflection of who I am eludes me.  I am still working on hammering my own flag into American ground.  My parents welcome me home on holidays with pasta and stories, but I eventually leave to find myself homeless again, a perpetual nomad.  The years have worn me out, and I am tired of all the movement.  Right now, I just crave stability and something to keep me in one place for awhile. My feet are heavy and their inertia has left.  I crave the freedom that standing still would give me.  At the age of 50, I am halfway there, and my enviable, exciting life no longer empowers me like it had.  

Sonya's Story

A rainy day, though not as much rainy as the threat of rain permeating the atmosphere.  Once in a while you will hear a little pattering on the concrete, but mostly just a feeling in the air of wetness and worms and a slight chill, causing you to turn around and fetch your rain jacket.  At once, I hear a sound of thunder in the far distance, more of a threat rather than imminent danger, like a man walking behind you on a dark night, with his pace suddenly quickening, his breath getting closer, so close as to almost feel it on the nape of your neck. 
            The streets are empty at last.  Some peace and quiet reign within my surroundings.  Finally, I get a chance to hear my own thoughts, rather than those meaningless mutterings of others as they attempt to get through their own sort of day.  There is something to be said about living within one’s own tranquility, completely alone—nothing to encroach or disrupt the peace, far away from the living breathing mass of humanity and its amoeba-like formation of a thousand different cries for help.  If we could only stop humanity for a split second to gaze on what is really happening, it would be like the voyeurs who visit present day Pompeii in order to see the momentary terror that these ashen forms of the Ancients were engulfed within.  Our present day faces would be momentarily frozen in terror too, only not because of any imminent danger.  The faces of our contemporaries would be frozen, terrified of getting older, terrified of admitting that they too are human, and will get old, then frail, then eventually pass away into nothingness.
            Oh, what a sin!  To be human…to have feelings, emotions, and imperfections.  To need to struggle to survive with what is available at the time, to work, and to experience heartache, distress, and loneliness.  To be human, to be a being with a need to love and be loved, a being with the need to be happy.
            Relinquishing this unique trait of being human relinquishes everything but what the remaining marble statues left by the ancients have.  Yes, these statues are immortal, but why be immortal if you are not allowed thoughts and feelings, mistakes and losses, deaths and births, love and loving, and having the ability to really see true beauty, not society’s perception of beauty.


She is still searching, searching for that person whose eyes will give her that glimpse of true sincerity.  She was created with that unique ability to always comprehend what lies behind those eyes, behind the glance or the polite phrase or gesture.  She can always have a sense of a person’s pain or loss or insecurity, and she sometimes feels these feelings as if they were her own.  This causes confusion, anxiety, over and over again, for her.  She has tried chemicals and heightened experience in order to cope, but this is always only temporary.  She must find a way to take her strange intuitions and put them to good use, without causing damage to herself.

            “Why am I this way? It just is not fair! I wish I didn’t know these things, then I could trust people and make friends like normal people.  I could just relax and be at peace.   I would never feel that threat of danger arriving in the near distance.  People would see me as being happy and pure, untouched.”

  We cannot fight who we are, though.  Somewhere in everything we possess lies a gift waiting patiently for us to find it.


I am startled.  How dare someone tap her rudely on the shoulder!  I turn around ready to snap in an instant.  Standing there is a woman without any arms.  Well, maybe half arms, it’s hard to tell.  (How could she have tapped me on the shoulder after all?) Now, I feel embarrassed for getting angry at this apparently disabled lady.  “Hello there! I just wanted to say Hello.  I see you walking here everyday.”  She wears a bright smile as if nothing in the world could be wrong today.  “I was wondering if you’d like to talk some time, anytime.  I usually come here in the afternoon, and I always see you walkin’.  You know, I like to walk too!”  I can’t say that I have ever seen her here.  After all, wouldn’t I notice someone without arms?   What she doesn’t understand is that I come here to be alone.  I come here because it’s the only place I can feel at peace and feel silence.  The last thing I want to do is to talk.

A few moments pass and this time, more quietly, she says, “My mother just passed away, and so I come here to try to deal with it. You know, it feels good to see other people who are alive, like me.  To get away from all the pain and anger at home… you think you would like to sit and talk sometime?”  She starts to get choked up and weepy.  “My name is Fran.”  She does not hold out her hand.

Samantha's Story: The Next Installment


            When darkness lured me up the staircase to his bedroom later, it was like crossing the threshold into another man’s home.  His bed was an unruly mess; the blankets and sheets were strewn everywhere, pieces of clothing were dropped like Hansel’s bread in a line leading to the bathroom.  A large framed print of a graphic black and white typescript hung over the bed.  It read, “You must learn to Be Bad before you can Be Good.”  I tiptoed out of there as if I were exiting a crime scene, leaving none of my own traces behind.  I guess I won’t be sleeping in this bed tonight.  It is probably too hard anyway.
            As I proceeded down the hall, I came upon the guest bedroom.  The bed there was exceedingly better—carefully made and tended, sheets tucked in, corners neatly folded. There was a note on the bedside table.  It read:  Samantha-I hope you can be comfortable here.  Enjoy your stay.-J.  I think I can take this note as a confirmation that this room is where I should be sleeping.  The room was lovely with its own private bathroom, complete with claw foot tub and lavender oil resting on the window ledge.  I brought my bag in the room and proceeded to fill the empty drawers with my things.  Everything thing fit just perfectly-almost too perfectly, and I pulled out my nightgown to change.  Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted, through the closet door slightly ajar, a long black string; kind of out of character for the neatness and primness of the room.  I walked over to the door and peered inside.  The string was apparently coming from the literally packed in clothing on a much-too-small garment rack.  I pulled the string, and something fell from off the top of the rack.  This strange string led me to a very small lovingly hand-knit sweater that was quickly unraveling, and if I had pulled harder, would have quickly disappeared.  Now, I’ve seen everything.  I simply cannot figure this guy out.  What in the world, in his unpredictable world, could he possibly use this for?  I stood there simply stunned as I felt something brush across my leg and froze.  Something black and furry---a cat?  Joe, Joe, Joe, you could have told me you had a cat.  But then, I’d have to charge you more.  I caress the cat for awhile, until he lies back down on top of his little plaid cushion in the corner of the closet.  I lie on my own new-found bed, and close my eyes at last, remaining lucid for at least a short while. 


Don’t get sucked in, I repeat to myself.  That’s what the guy outside, Roc, told me.  It’s funny.  Now I am starting to wonder about my new client.  I have never seen him (I only know him from his home and his dog), but somehow he is intriguing me.  So many contradictions all around, the dog for one (such a cutie) certainly doesn’t fit.  I would picture, from what I know of this man, him having a Doberman pincher, ready and on guard to attack and consume any intruders. This man, a fancy architect with presumably money to spare, is living so simply in a bungalow with a non-pedigreed dog.  Something is, to put it simply, just not quite right here.

I drift off to sleep and immediately, so it seems, begin a vivid, very intense dream.  I dream, from what I can remember, of meeting a man in a strange place that I have never been to or recalled.  Almost like a warehouse/artist’s loft, I encounter someone in a dark, empty hallway waiting for a large delivery elevator.  I remember asking, “Is this the only way down?” and he responds, “No, but it is the largest.” We both enter the elevator.  Next thing I remember, we are driving in his car, at least I think it’s his car, in a strange, almost desolate part of a city.  He has one hand on the wheel, the other on my leg.  I can almost feel the warmth from his hand.  He turns carefully into a narrow driveway, and a man opens the door for me.  The original man escorts me into an obscure doorway underground (we descended three steps down), his arm grasping mine thoughtfully, almost caringly.  We enter a place filled with people, but it is not a bar or a club.  It is more like a large, sophisticated party with people who I have never seen before, but I seem to know them all.  They do seem very familiar to me, and I remember having a feeling of affection and being part of this group of beautiful, lustrous people.  Lustrous is a good word for them.  They have an almost iridescent quality in the light of this underground space.  I do not remember much about the man next to me, only this:  his eyes were intensely dark blue, not navy but more like the color of the sky the moment before it gets dark, and loving.  Somehow I knew that he loved me and knew me quite well.  A loud scratching sound wakes me from this dream, and I quickly realize that I should have kept my door open for Harvey.  I open the door to let him in, notice the clock says 2:37 and immediately wish to go right back to sleep where I had left off.  I can honestly say that it was the most fascinating, warm, heavenly dream I have ever experienced.  I wish it had been my waking life, but no, I cannot say I have ever felt so loved, free, so accepted. 

        Those eyes, though.  They are what haunt me now after that dream.  There was something about his eyes that remind me of someone I used to know, briefly.  He had told me once. He said it only once, but I will always remember that one moment. He had loved me and told me, and I knew that he spoke the truth when he said it.   I remember that moment, especially his eyes, as he spoke those words:  his eyes shed innocence and need, fighting back, through his composure, passion and desperation.  I was privileged with the knowledge to grasp that those eyes had only known loneliness, and he wished me to be his cure, his future, his last attempt at happiness.  To me, his eyes were a symbol of the momentary, the feeling that change and renewal is possible and can happen at any time.  Just one look into such sincerity would give one the feeling that, if just one person could be true to themselves, then others will follow.  He was the universal hero, the lost idealist without a quest. 

This is where this most curious dream had taken me, far away from that strange but quietly accepting, party.  Somewhere, deep within some hidden plan of our world, there is a system, and this system is disorderly, chaotic, and forcibly intentional.  Is there room for my old hero within this plan?  There seems only to be room for difference and puzzles without solutions.  Therefore, he and my dream will remain lost and irretrievable.  This person from my past will remain nameless now (it is much too painful to remember fully those days), the missing piece of this unsolvable puzzle.  I reflect on how interesting it is that my current job presents itself as a tiny glimpse into just how cryptic and totally unsatisfying life can really be.