Future in the Past

Bridge of Promises

The world seen through the window, and that’s most of what I’ve been seeing of it lately, darkens down to olive: they’ve been forecasting storms and torrents for weeks now, and all we ever get is the tailing sigh of humidity. Except when the deluge is drowning the subway, and isn’t that fun? Today we’re headed for rain, rain at last, severe but normal rain. Thunder is grinding in the distance, the rain flicks its first warning spatters onto the Friday hustle home. Outside the light is mossy, the air smells like freshly-cut grass.

Misheard Lyrics: I was never a big fan of Tears for Fears, but I liked them well enough back in college’s radio days. Apart from the big bland hit Mad World — I favored Pale Shelter — there was some good offside material on their first album, which is the only one I know well. My sweet and wistful side curled up with Memories Fade one long night after a few ruminating plays, and never left.

A few months ago I discovered that I had nearly every line of that song dead wrong. The heart of my inner Memories Fade is close enough to the one Roland Orzabal wrote, just with different words. The biggest (and best) of the blurs is in the chorus.

Song says: Memories fade, but the scars still linger.
Linus hears: Memories fade, but the sky still lingers.

Which has always been my sense of broken, dying love: we with our ragged hills of beans, under a mute regretful sky.

Today, or yesterday, or around here somewhere, is when my girlfriend was supposed to come to New York for a couple of weeks to visit. She’s not here, she isn’t coming, and she isn’t my girlfriend any more, and the last weeks have been gray and snubbed and sad. I wouldn’t mention it, really, since gray and snubbed and sad is part of the regular routine here at Chez Pepper — OK not always, but I didn’t say always, did I? — but I was so happy these last few months: multi-colored, we might say, happy and confident, full of bubbly stuff.

We live 668 Googlemap miles apart, my ex-GF and I, including a detour around the butt end of a Great Lake, and we had only a handful of days together. Then again, we had two years of joshing and jostling and looking at each other across the Internet before those days, fleshed out with endless time on the phone, a volume or two of emails, and daily cascades of text messages. My current phone is just a few months old, and nearly every minute of the 62 hours of talk on there went her way. I would go to bed with the cell in my hand, drifting to sleep on a raft of randy texty talk. And wake up on the shoals of day to an insistent buzz: Morning, sunshine.

By the time we finally held each other and stripped the clothes away in the smackdown hot of crazy stormy lunar June, we already knew one another in every way but taste and smell and touch. We carried all those months of trust and confidence and desire together into life and into bed and landed, tangled and sweated and whirled, on a ground that felt solid. Do you want to give this a try? I asked her, and she buried her face in me, let her hair swarm my head and body. Yes, she answered, Yes. This is what I want. Yes. I was delirious. It was a miracle we’d found each other at all, and a gift that we had the future ahead of us.

But I’m not to come out to see her in July, because she’s busy. I don’t think that’s a great idea, given that a glorious weekend is the start but not the spine of a relationship, but in exchange we’ll trade up for a longer stay, two weeks, in August. When the bulk of her busy is done.

In June, we tremble with love. You, this, us, she says: the most beautiful thing that’s ever happened to me. In July she is reticent, distracted. By early August she has lost the power of speech, and why am I so unreasonable? Don’t I know how hard it is to deal with all of the stuff she no longer tells me about? She thinks she might have time for me maybe by December, but there’s no guarantee. What’s all the fuss? Didn’t we see each other just a couple of months ago? That’s all I ever think about, is sex. Well she has needs too.

It’s a beautiful day — a Saturday — as we nail the last 90 minutes into those 62 hours. I’m watching a tugboat push a barge up the Hudson, I’m watching the joggers pushing up and down the shoreline paths. I’m thinking of all the things I love in this City that we will not do together, all the places we won’t go. After goodbye I walk until it is full night. The photo above is on the homeward leg of that walk, on the near side of the Brooklyn Bridge. My body feels like wind. It moves, and if it didn’t move it might not exist. It moves, but it contains nothing.

Outside tonight’s storm slouches in, grumbling each gust of the way. Out the window it is glowering black; it is blank green; it is poisoned orange. The sky still lingers.

Prints of the photo above are available for purchase from the ImageKind online photo service. Buy a print, and support your local Peppers (me)!

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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