So I did.
I walked as he talked and as he talked I listened. There were his words, yes, then there were the words below the architecture of sound, a series of alliterations and syllables holding their shape regardless of the radius of their rhythm and sway.
He frightened me awake, this man, then stayed for my reaction.
The freak-out of writing. Well, who hasn’t been there before?
(Me.) Yes I’ve been there before but never in a near-stranger’s company. Crisis are reserved for a beloved few still held at a distance through text or email. Crisis are shared only with writers and artists in arms, a battalion of the similarly lost looking to stay lost even as we locate ourselves within our mediums. Even as we are found.
You tired yet?
No. No I am wired awake, shaken awake by the realization of how much of myself is out there and how often I’ve walked through a crowd of people, trench coat open, everything on display.
Thank Christ there are deterrents to peeling back my skin and walking around with my hypodermis showing. If I could I probably would, just because I could, just because I would want to know what it looks like and how it feels.
We continued walking. Toward a window and away from a wall. Me, counting every step, every rise of my arch and every descent of forefoot to floor.
So what now Tasha? How do I redress myself with his gaze upon me, perhaps appraising my words but more likely appraising his own?
You don’t. Besides—do you really want to?
No, I guess I don’t. I need words too much and writing too much and that requires getting naked. Often. Or if I’m too drunk on life, liquor, procrastination, or writer’s block the time spent stumbling around, leg jammed up in the cuff of my stovepipe jeans, pin-wheeling for balance as I try to shake loose, well, that counts too.
‘A’ for motherfucking effort as far as I’m concerned.
So I won’t redress, won’t even cover myself with the illusion that redress is an option. I don’t want it anyway.
Words Matter—and expression from which I am not exempt. I have a newly instilled sense of responsibility. I’m not talking to myself—I’m not alone here.
We all hold the power to harm or heal and I’ve let other people into the invisible places where the good, the bad, and the easily overlooked come to play.
I felt myself growing defensive in that smiley, slightly stupefied daze of a way that allows me to seem funny and normal for short bursts of time. But only to myself—that I’m feeling defensive may well be evident.
No! So stop fucking asking me.
I looked up as I said that. I looked up and realized that we were no longer alone, that more than one pair of eyes looked back at me, eyes lining the corridor waiting for mystery doors to open and holy shit, anything that passed even remotely as balls climbed back into my lower body as I failed to smile, smile, smile. (And no, I don’t have balls; that was just an analogy. And yes, I took creative liberties by commandeering other people’s balls for the sake of illustration.)
And then I stopped smiling because I no longer felt obliged. Then I smiled again because this kind of crazy is rather amusing.
It’s hard to pull back.
It’s even harder to hide behind walls thicker than an army bunker in WWII after I realized they were only ever in my head and my words betray my secrets at every turn anyway.
I stopped smiling for good then because I was laughing so hard.
Did I say something funny?
Maybe. But I missed it.
That was the end of our walk—he tired out before I truly began. Que sera. That’s cold perhaps but so was our walk down that marble corridor and I’m more awake for it. Awake and alive and ready to pace out some of the sentient knots that form in sentient beings.
Walk with me.
I like it. I like it a lot so I think I will. I’m going to put my head down and one foot in front of the other, maybe counting and maybe not as I stumble or strut along, one foot stuck in my jeans or not, adequately dressed or not.
I’m going to keep walking forever. Not in that corridor but in the cold clarity of knowing that I’m living a semi-dressed life and I can’t do anything to change it without dying inside.
Walk with me, just for a little while.
Well why not I suppose? Who the hell knows where you’re going to end up…