Thursday, March 4, 2010

Road trippin' pt. 10 (interlude)

I've been sitting here this whole time, and somehow, throughout the night, right next to me, you've ended up with four of the five pillows underneath your head. Your neck crests on the makeshift goose down ziggurat that's supporting your head, and your dark hair is caught in the single beam of Utah moonlight saying hello through the sliver of curtain that remains open.

The moon's a lot brighter tonight than it's been in a while, and it awakens a werewolf in me. You're snoring in that way I've never told you that you do--I've told you that you snore, of course, but I've never really told you the extent of it--and I wonder how you can stay asleep over the sound of your own nasal rumblings. You can sleep over anything, I realize: pouring rain with racquetball-sized hailstorms, freeway drives from Ikea with a backseat full of poorly-constructed glass stemware clinking nervously, and the clickclackclickclack of my too-loud keyboard poundings as I hash out story of how things are in an alternate universe.

I stop typing for a few minutes as I wonder how I'm supposed to proceed from here. This story has gotten to be something bigger than I had initially anticipated. Its scope and reach are both far beyond anything I really understand, and I'm struggling with the next steps to take. Do I have a destination in mind for these people? Do I want to pick one? Is there a goal in all this? How will I know if they've arrived if I don't know where they're going?

I wish I could Shyamalan a twist ending out of this somehow, but I've got no idea what that could be.

Maybe she's dead before the story starts and he's visiting her grave or he's gonna go spread her ashes where she asked him to or he's just gotta hit the road to clear his head and grieve and he finds a dog that looks exactly like the one that she had when she was younger, the one that slept at the foot of their bed, and he adopts it and teaches it to jump through rings of fire and they join a travelling circus and he realizes that Life Is What You Make Of It.

Maybe she never existed and she's actually just a standard in his brain that he's established, some weird Frankenstein composite of Rory Gilmore, Liz Lemon, and Carmela Soprano by which to judge anyone that he meets and then he'll get to that bar in San Francisco that he likes, The House of Shields (real bar, in case anybody's wondering, and yes, they DO have shields all over the walls) and there's some girl there drinking a Roy Rogers it turns out that she's exactly perfect, they run away, move to a small town, and the story devolves into my usual go-to, small-town, reductive bullshit and it ends with someone dying and he realizes that Life Is Going To Happen If You Let It.

They get to San Francisco but the Golden Gate Bridge is closed when they wake up the next morning because the zombie apocalypse happened overnight and they join up with a renegade street gang and they manage to win the gang's grudging respect and a pair of membership cards with their killer breakdancing routine set to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and they eventually make it into the city and save everybody by eliminating the zombie source (these are not Romero-universe zombies, obviously) and they decide to rebuild and there's a swelling James Horner score in the background as they overlook the ocean and realize that Life Is Worth Fighting For Because People Are Awesome.

But none of these sound like particularly interesting paths to take these two. I like them too much, I think, to let them be anything but happy with each other. I remember this Kurt Vonnegut interview in the Paris Review where he interviews himself (yeah, he is that cool) and he's asked (by himself) why he never writes love stories, and he said something about how that's because it's too distracting to a story to try and see when they're gonna get together, when they're gonna just accept their love, and so I thought I want to write about people who have just accepted what their instincts have told them, and any drama/narrative struggle/anything comes not from their relationship, but from external forces beyond their control. These are people who, in a fairly short period of time, have become dedicated to each other in a way that allows them to not worry about what the other might do, because they have enough trust to know, if not what the future holds, at least what the present does.

My throat's dry. I haven't typed a sentence in--I examine the clock on your iPod dock--seventeen minutes. I set my laptop down on my solitary pillow and crawl over your crumpled frame. Soft steps to the kitchen and my bare feet hit the freezing linoleum and I yelp loud enough that I worry if I have woken you. I peer back into the bedroom and you're still out. Phew.

I turn on the faucet and let it run for a few seconds to get cold. I fill a clean glass and drink it down faster than it took to fill up. I fill a second and do likewise, and finish half a third glass before feeling like I've gained five pounds in water weight. I lean back against the counter and look at the kitchen.

I always thought I had everything I wanted as far as housewares go until you moved in. I had the holy quadfecta of refrigerator, oven, microwave, Magic Bullet. But I didn't even know what I didn't have until you brought your stuff in. How long ago was that, anyway? I can't even remember how many days, weeks, months, years ago it was. I remember the day, though.

And now the counter has been filled with appliances. You brought a coffee maker, a panini grill, and a shake machine, all of which stand next to the espresso machine that was waiting on the kitchen table when you got here, a housewarming gift for the big step we were taking. It was something we were both terrified to do, and the intense amount of caffeine and the ease with which it could now be delivered made it a lot easier to maintain that high before we settled down into this new phase. The lattes kept us warm in the winter and awake at nights where we silently, individually second-guessed what we had done before accepting that there's nothing wrong with a little uncertainty.

"Babe?" you say, having snuck quietly behind me and putting your hand on my shoulder. I'm caught off-guard and gasp, dropping my half-full glass onto the ground. Its shatter splashes shards and water all across the floor.

"Shit," I say, looking at your feet. "Sorry, I didn't hear you come up. Did any glass hit you? Are you okay?"

"Yeah," you say, your eyes wide with shock and startle. "I'm okay." You turn on the light and I start moving the chairs at the kitchen table so I can vacuum up the pieces.

"What were you doing out here?" you ask.

"Just getting a drink. Dry throat."

"Were you writing?"

"Trying to. Not getting a lot done."

"Why not?"

"I don't know," I say, picking up the bigger pieces with a paper towel. "Just don't know where they're going."

"Do they have to be going somewhere?" you ask.

"What do you mean?"

"Can't they just, I don't together? Is that enough for them?"

"I just thought that they were headed somewhere, and now I'm not sure. Maybe, though."

"I don't think it's that bad for them to just be driving somewhere."

"Yeah, but I set it up from the beginning as this 'why I believe in God' thing. I don't want to disappoint the, uh, four people that are following it. I'd have to completely abandon the initial premise."

"Is that so bad?"

You have a point.

"You have a point." I plug the vacuum into the wall. "I'm gonna turn it on now. Cover your ears. It's pretty loud."

My right hand pushes the vacuum over the tile, catching all of the pieces that have spread themselves out across the floor. They're each catching rays of the porch light peeking in through the window above the oven, so they're easy to spot and remove. But you find my left hand from a few feet back and you take it in your own right, stepping carefully two feet behind me, your eyes glazed over with half-sleep and your shoulders slumped with slumber.

I turn off the vacuum.

"You missed one," you say, pointing to the far left corner of the kitchen.

"Yikes, that could've been bad." We walk to the shard and you pick it up with your spare hand, holding it up to the light between your fingers and examining it before tossing it into the trash can.

"Are you coming back to bed?" you ask.

"Yeah," I say, "I just need to pee."

"You're so romantic." You kiss my hand before releasing it and stumbling back to the bed.

I close the bathroom door before I turn on the light to spare you from its sharp glare. The three small bulbs above the mirror show my face in a harsh glow that is not flattering to my face's noon-the-next-day shadow, and my eyes are heavy and bagged. I lift up the toilet seat, take care of business, put it back down (I'm a very considerate live-in boyfriend) and wash my hands, noting that we're running out of hand soap. I splash water on my face with clean hands and dry myself off with the green hand towel hanging adjacent to the sink.

Light goes off, door opens, and I tiptoe back to bed.

I'll try to write more tomorrow. Right now, I just sort of want to be next to you.


Kels H. said...

I like Twist Ending #3, though I feel like the tone might be slightly different from parts 1-9. I felt like those would have a soundtrack of Rogue Wave and Neil Diamond and Coconut Records and David Gray (and Snow Patrol, not cause they fit, but because I just like them a lot). But somehow, I just don't think you can have a Zombie Apocalypse paired with "Harvest Moon"... it would put a really gruesome spin on the lyric.

Diana said...

If Road trippin' weren't already my favorite, this segment would make it such. Brilliant. And I'm not using that word lightly.

k love said...

I'd like to point out that despite the lack of, literal, direction, your glass is still "half-full"


Andy said...

K, you're assuming that it's my glass. Come on.