It came upon me so suddenly, just when I thought it was safe. Too young to know better, too old to let it go, I felt the slow turmoil work its way through my head, my heart. I thought I had learned to separate them, but no. Not in his eyes, not in the world of possibility he dangled before me. I challenged everyone to say no to him, and my friends, fools and disbelievers, did their best. I would not hear of it. My heart longed for him, and he was so bad for me. The kindling was thin, and bone dry, splintering in the fireplace, preparing for the combustion. The flames always came for him, but he was quicker. It was madness to follow, madness to trail in such fiery wake, and I ran into the burn with watery eyes, daring him to singe me when he couldn’t even be bothered to care.
The stranger sang a theme
From someone else’s dream
The leaves began to fall
And no one spoke at all
But I can’t seem to recall
When you came along
In those days, it happened in much the same way. A careless but kind gesture, a simple unintended innuendo, a crinkle-eyed smile just a little less than vague ~ and me, reading too much into it, hoping and craving some sort of intimacy so badly I pushed reason and wisdom aside. As if a twenty-something guy could have much of either. I don’t know… I don’t know why I fell, so hard, so often, so stubbornly, but there I was, and there I will be.
The nights spent pacing cold hardwood floors, the cool embrace of rumpled sheets, the sad sounds of solitude – the rustling of fabric, the creak of a floorboard, the sigh that filled the room, spilling into other, empty rooms, and more empty rooms after that.
Slowly, those rooms filled, with some who stayed, and some who stayed and then left. They held quiet nights of close friends, and loud gatherings of boisterous parties. The rooms grew in size and scope, widening and lengthening, leaving the past a shrinking corridor growing darker ~ the doors opened and closed, and the parade went on and in and through, and all the while one or two would capture my attention and interest for a while, and when I was lucky I’d capture theirs too. Those were the moments that mattered. Those are what I will remember – the times when our trajectories mingled, side by side, hand in hand, following the same trail of stardust, casting our own shadows upon the moon, making our mutual mark on the firmament. But it was never enough, and few can travel in such perfect tandem for too long. That didn’t stop me from trying, from flailing with pathetic desperation, a fish fallen from the sky, squirming in mid-air before the scoop of a net – savior and killer, and just let it be the end.
Then the release. The unsteady righting of oneself in the deep rolling sea, the return to darkness. And the rise all over again – too many fish in the sea indeed. After a while a hunter learns, follows the patterns, senses the signals – but even the best get tricked sometimes. I smiled at the subsequent falls, after crying for a while, and I learned to love the danger, the ebb and flow of the heart, the strange fickle fascination some men held over me. Every time I gave my heart…
I just don’t know what to do
These days, I find myself just starting to miss those days, when I was so ready to thrash and throw myself upon the mad shore of crashing waves and brutal, raw, uninhibited passion. The access to obsession wanes with each passing year, slowly dimming as time fades, closing itself to the smallest pinprick of light – yet from such a small vantage point a picture of immeasurable wonder can yet be seen. The possibilities open up, upside down and reversed and righted in the end, for it always goes right in the end, always goes the way everything is supposed to go. Maybe that’s the reason for the growing calm. Or maybe that’s why it’s still such a thrill.
My fire burns for you.