Friday, December 08, 2006

Hiroshima, Mon Amour

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A flashback in a flashback....

Oh my God, he wants to kiss me! No! I can't! I better not! Oh well, I'm doing it anyway... I thought to myself. I had just run into John, walking with a guy I didn't know, on Sheffield, in front of Medusa's, one chilly December Sunday afternoon, and he leaned in to kiss me on the lips. This was a custom I had never practiced before I had moved to Chicago, and it freaked me out whenever it happened, and those same thoughts raced through my mind each time a guy leaned into me, lips puckering. In 1985, when this occurred, two men kissing on the lips as a greeting was a very this is my home, this is who I am, and screw you if you don't like it greeting to show the world. I took me a long time to not look over my shoulder when I walked away from a man I had just kissed hello.
"Brian, this is Bill!" John said. "And Bill, this is Brian..." And John paused and looked at me funny, and said "Cats!", as I said hello and pulled my cat Gidget out of my coat.
"I'm taking the train up to Jeff's place, and didn't want to leave her alone"
She was very content, snuggled in my coat, for the long train ride.





When I gave Danny my number, I didn't think he'd actually call me, but he did, and when we realized we lived across the street from each other, he was soon knocking at my door. I used to take the Halsted bus from Waveland to work, and I would get off the bus a few stops early, so I could visit Danny at his work. He worked at a now long gone fancy deli on Fullerton east of Halsted, who's name escapes me now. We'd talk while he mixed pasta and diced vegetables behind the deli counter, for an hour or so. He'd yell the craziest things to his coworkers and the customers, and before long he'd have the whole place in hysterics. The thought of seeing him was the only thing that could get me out of my bed early.
One day we ran into each other on the bus.
"I'm thinking about changing my name from Daniel Wickie-Poo to Danielt Wickie-Poo." I laughed.
"What's your real name now?" I asked.
"Daniel Ebert Wickie-Poo Junior" He said as he pulled out his driver's license. Holding his license in my hand, I said Wow, you're for real.

Danny floated into my apartment like he was made of glass. He looked like he belonged on one of the mirrored display tables at the glass crafter's booth that came to the mall across the street from my dad's house each Christmas. Seeing the big, greasy man turn chunks of yellow and orange and blue into his version of mid-seventies delicately beautiful horses and giraffes and the like, was what I looked forward to the most each holiday season.
Danny was dressed in all white, and tied his hair back with a sheer blue scarf, all of which set off his clear blue-green eyes.
Around his neck was a necklace of laminated cards.
"What's that?" I asked.
"A story I wrote." He said as he took it off so I could read it. It was a beautiful story about a girl and some boy troubles she was having. What struck me most about his story was the way he wrote it; he somehow told it from the inside out, he told it from the perspective of the girl's dress, and he was now wearing his story around his neck.
We spent hours talking that day and into the night, about his classes at the art institute, his plans for the future, growing up 'different' from everyone else and the pain it caused us. He was so free and easy with his emotions, and the truth of them, to this day he still inspires me. We bitched about the constant, horrible noise that started everyday at 7am at the The New York high rise construction site, (It turned out we had both put a curse on that building to fall down, and after 9-11, I went back and took the curse off.) He told me about his trip to London, when Philip Salon fell madly in love with him. (I was insanely jealous of everyone I knew who had direct or indirect contact with Boy George. In 1990 I got my revenge, when I talked to him for hours at the London Limelight...)

I guess Danny thought this was a date, for we made-out a little, but I didn't know what it was.
Thinking about writing this, over the past week, and putting it off, I realized this was the time, winter of '86, when I was living with Jody on Pinegrove, that the finality of my breakup with Doug hit me with giant, ugly fist, leaving a ghastly mark that took years to fade. We had stayed in touch when he left Chicago, and for some reason I thought he was eventually going to come back. When he started telling me about a guy he was seeing, and kept telling me to get a boyfriend, the truth dawned on me.
It dawned on me when I came home from a Saturday evening run, a rare occurrence for me back then, but a boyhood habit I was trying to re-start, and I felt great and rejuvenated. Jody was gone for the evening, the apartment was spotless, the weather perfect, and Doug wasn't with me. I was alone. I was still waiting for him to come back. STILL! I was still waiting! I sat on the couch and lit a cigarette.
I ate. I got fat. I thought I was over him! I drank. I did drugs. I thought I didn't love him! I locked myself in my room and wouldn't talk. I smoked a thousand cigarettes. Was I so fragile, that a tiny push would send me over the edge, crashing to the floor, into a million pieces, never to be put back together? I guess at the time, I was. Maybe because this was the third time I had a relationship with someone I truly loved that ended badly, or just plain ended, and I felt hopeless and gross.
I got a sick pleasure from prodding those memories, and used them to justify any behavior I felt guilty about.

It's not easy, dissecting your past, but whenever I turn around to face it, it spins me forward again, and in the right direction.

2 comments:

Aaron said...

Breakups are so awful! I'm so glad I'm an embittered spinster who doesn't have to be bothered with such things anymore...:-)

beth said...

where is Danielt??
does anyone know??