I’m writing a personal essay on “Play It As It Lays” and it needs a lot of work. I wrote a short story that’s good, that I never finished. Things got in the way.
I want to continue revising the essay today but I have a hair appointment, chapbook covers to print for work, a potluck I’m hosting at the writing center. It’s not much but it’s enough to interrupt.
Maybe I’ll write late at night. I have a dentist appointment early in the morning and a long day at work. I think it’s OK, I’ll have time to write at some point. I wonder if that’s true.
It took me a while to wake up and the cat where I’m housing sitting, jumped on the bed, curled up next to me and purred. I lay there, drifting in and out of sleep.
* * *
I keep thinking of a part in “Play It As It Lays.”
“‘If you want to live that way, O.K. There’s not going to be any money and there’s not going to be any eating breakfast together and there’s not going to be any getting married and there’s not going to be any baby makes three. And if you make money, I’ll spend it.’
She said she wanted to live that way.”
I’m wondering about the way I want to live.
* * *
There’s bright red heart shaped balloons outside a bakery. There’s heart shaped sugar cookies with pink icing in a glass jar. There’s chocolate covered strawberries on display. If there weren’t, I wouldn’t realize it was Valentine’s Day. I wonder without much interest if I care and realize I don’t.
* * *
The last Valentine’s Day I cared about was a long time ago.
That year, a few days before Valentine’s Day my boyfriend bought a heart shaped cookie from a cafe in El Cerrito. We sat across from each other and he broke a piece off the heart shaped cookie and looked at me and said, You broke my heart.
He was quoting Elliott Smith at the Henry Fonda show. I knew the line and I smiled and tried not to look at him. He was skinny and gray. He was already gone, unrecognizable, someone else.
I was breaking his heart, he had broken mine. Later when I thought of us, I thought of the song Elliott Smith’s “Half Right.” I thought of the line “Would you say that the one of your dreams, got in you and ripped out the seams. That’s what I’d say. That’s what I’d say.”
The last Valentine’s Day I cared about was the day I broke up with him. We had breakfast together in Oakland. He had researched breakfast places and found a cute brunch place. We sat near the window where there were yellow curtains. I tried to tell myself that the sunlight streaming through the yellow curtains were making the whites of his eyes seem yellow.
After breakfast I took the 101 South and drove down to Zuma Beach. When I got there I sat on the beach and wrote him a long letter on pink legal sized paper. When I walked back to my car I had a voice mail from him. His brother had taken him to the Emergency Room that afternoon. He had jaundice. The drugs had affected his liver.
When I returned from Los Angeles I handed him the letter. We sat on the old white couch in the living room and he read it. He said that he thought he deserved a second chance. But I said no.
We sat there, side by side, holding hands. I put my head on his shoulder. We were both crying. I asked him if I was a bad person and he quoted Kill Bill and said I was his favorite person.
* * *
I moved to an apartment in Oakland, near Lake Merritt. One afternoon I found myself driving to the house where we had lived. As I drove to the house where we had lived (the house near the train tracks and the empty lot, the house that was always cold), I told myself if it didn’t work out with him, it wouldn’t work out with anyone. I remember thinking that, I remember believing it. I told myself I would never love anyone again. I felt my heart slam shut.
I arrived to the house. I still had the key. I unlocked the front door and walked into our bedroom, which was empty. I looked at where our bed used to be, our dresser, our desk. I looked out the window at the garden. A woman who lived in the back studio kept a beautiful garden with bright flowers. I looked at her garden through the the bedroom window. I had never looked at her garden when we had lived together. We could’ve looked at her garden, we could’ve seen something nice. It could’ve been pretty. I turned around and walked out.
* * *
I go to Cranial Sacral sessions at a yoga studio in Silver Lake. Cranial Sacral Therapy is a form of a energy work that I discovered from Amy Fusselman’s 8, which was the last book I loved.
I’ve been to several sessions for a year or so. I’m hoping to heal. I think things are blocked, I think I’m holding on. I’ve done therapy. I’ve sat on the couch, I want to work with my body now.
She’s told my heart is shut down, I know she’s right. I think of that time I drove on the freeway to the empty house.
I went to a session on Friday. At some point during the session, she bent my legs and pressed them into my chest. She held them there. She asked if I had a memory related to that position and I said yes.
She asked what feeling I could attach to it.
The words that came to mind were terrifying, were trauma.
I said, Scared.
She said, How old are you in this memory.
I said, Nine and twelve.
She said, Do you think your nine or twelve year old self is still stuck there.
I nodded. I said Yes.
What would you tell her if you could?
I thought of telling her she was safe now. Things would be OK. But I didn’t know if those things were true.
I don’t know, I said.
Do you want me to leave?
She pressed my legs into my chest and I kept remembering being in a room and she was not herself but someone else. I thought the body memory was already gone, I thought I had release the memory a while ago. But she found it, it was there, it was alive.
Actually, she said. I have the feeling that you need to tell me to leave.
She was right. I wanted her to stop holding me in that way, I wanted to tell her to leave me alone.
I said nothing.
* * *
A man who wants to be my friend writes me. He tells me his girlfriend and him are hanging by a thread, actually he doesn’t know if the thread is there. He tells me they’re constantly arguing. I think he’s lucky but don’t tell him so. Some people don’t follow that kind of logic. But I read his email, thinking of a part in “Play It As It Lays.”
“…There was an argument outside, and the sound of a bottle breaking. Maria held onto BZ’s hand.
‘Listen to that,’ he said. ‘Try to think about having enough left to break a bottle over it.’
‘It would be very pretty,’ Maria said.”