be, greater

I’m at Wishville tonight with my window open and my hands are cold. They’re playing “Superstar” on the radio. Sonic Youth covering the Carpenters. It’s one of the darkest songs I know and I haven’t heard it in years. Probably about ten.

Ten years ago tonight I was curled in your enormous window, leaning out over the frigid city night. I was cold — I was always cold — and you gave me your nubby oatmeal sweater. Smiling slowly, I was dazzled, blowing bubbles out into the frosty December air. The bubbles froze as they left my mouth, dancing in the night sky, spinning in a curtain of foggy breath, the lights of the Citgo sign twirling like a discoball on their surface. Wearing brown corderoys, my tangled hair too long, drinking Andre pink champagne from the bottle, that windowpane — chipped from a dozen coats of paint that never stuck. We were listening to Sonic Youth. You loved them; they made long, loud noise.

Nine stories down, the city was sleeping. You played my black Takamine guitar with the purple butterfly, your hoodie pulled over your wild magenta curls. The soles of your boots were secured with duct tape. Your eyes always looked surprised to see me sitting there with you.

These are my pocket-sized memories. I carry them around. There was nothing extraordinary about that night, but I remember breathing softly into the cold air, oatmeal wooly sweater covering my hands; there was nowhere else in the world I wanted to be.

You had your fixed gear bike, matte black with the little bird on the handlebars from a McDonald’s happymeal, with flight goggles and a hat with earflaps and a tiny propeller that spun when you pedaled. You gave me your sweaters, even when you were cold. And you let me sleep in your bed when I was too tired to walk the six flights of stairs to my room.

I bought a piano this morning because I can’t have a puppy.

This city doesn’t feel like home no matter what I do. It won’t let me in, won’t let me love it.

I went running yesterday in the inky morning. At six AM there is no light. Mt. Rainier was brooding, a sleeping hen behind the skyline, and as the sun breathed into the horizon, the mountain got blacker. The dock was slippy with pre-dawn ice, and I caught my breath as I almost fell, remembering the night on Broadway when my left leg collapsed beneath me and I landed in bed for a year.

Bones heal, for the most part. My softer parts do not.

I am at Wishville tonight. Strangely, my loft is #224. Just like Myles Standish Hall in 1995.

The warehouse is unlit and empty; I’m the only one here. Next door is the Ballard bathtub factory with a million dusty windows and concrete tubs wrapped in cellophane, stacked three high. I want to go roller skating inside, no lights, just the glow from the People’s Storage sign broken in red shards on the cement floor.

I have a tattoo on my neck in your handwriting. Umi — the sea. Because I’ve always been that mermaid who traded her fins to walk on land and will forever miss the ocean.

Some nights I like to pretend I wouldn’t drown if I jumped back in.