I walked with my girlfriend to the river. We had no being business being together.
We had reasons. Physical touch. I held her hand, so basic, so
Intricate a hand.
I think we were intrigued, curious about each other. Me, open, aw-shucks, unsure.
Her, rigid, certain, anxious, vain.
We were of a moment.
We sat in the grass in the pre-dawn. A few bodies here and there, lying in the grass, canoodling, embracing as one.
But she and I were two, definitely two, together in our separateness.
It’s harder to be enmeshed in the summer, when it’s so hot you don’t want to touch or be touched.
Everything is close and sticky. You want to be alone in your room with an a/c unit blowing on you.
“The city is hot as a cats mouth and smells just as sweet.”
Is a line I wrote down that night, to be used later. Now, as it happens.
We sat for awhile under flickering pressure sodium lamps, knowing we weren’t long for each other, but wishing each other not un-well.
We regarded the lovers, the far lights of Hoboken terminal twinkling in the humid distance across the river, and rats darting across the new-mown grass.
She had, has, a crooked smile, a New Yorker’s impatience, ambition, hustle, a flat matter-of-factness.
Fun. she wanted fun, craved it, chased fun outside of herself when really it was her inner self perpetually throwing a bucket of cold water on her own abandon, clamping down on any fun, checking its watch, looking across the room at her and tapping its wrist.
I was part of her yearning search, her desperate quest for fun. Some Jack Kerouac roman candle crazy fizzy sparkly fun she was after and thought I represented.
Ironic, because technically she was the libertine and I the religious fanatic.
Well, I am kinda fun. So maybe she got what she was after.
Also, I was a project. Someone for her to help. She made me try out for “the Voice.” She stood in line with me for an entire Saturday afternoon. That’s another story. (I didn’t win).
She wanted to sing with me, always. She wanted more music in her life. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, she was a Lefty, after all. A “red diaper baby” she said. Her grandmother was a communist. Her parents. It was as in her blood as my Christianity was in mine, and here we get both to the nut of our difference, and the source of our attraction. We were just so different. We fascinated each other.
Not that we disagreed that much politically. We voted for the same people. But her preoccupations were different, her visions, her solutions, her desire.
Her unrest met my rest and we shared an uneasy moment. For a hot sticky summer we were up for anything.
We sat in the grass, saying not much, then we walked back to an un-air-conditioned apartment I shared with 2 geriatric cats and a restless ambitious (another New Yorker) sensible roommate who told me very day to break up with my girlfriend for pity’s sake and get my life together. She wasn’t good for me, didn’t treat me that well. Why were we even together? I didn’t know.
My girlfriend and I stood outside my apartment. I hugged her goodbye and she walked back to the A train alone, where she rode it, alone, to her apartment way way uptown.
I patted my pocket: Keys. I walked back to the river to retrieve them, and there they were lying on the grass where they’d fallen out of my pocket, amongst the still-canoodling couples, lying together, oblivious of the heat, the impending day, heedless of everything but their own singular embrace.