Tuesday, November 12, 2013


(Lava Tube, from And Cheese, 2013)

I go to the small places, if the party scene is too loud for me I find spaces underneath furniture, behind the fridge, under the covers of some one's bed and make myself as small as possible and wait.

During the time I was most afraid of Satan and demons possessing my soul I was out in this field stretched between my friend Ben's house and the Episcopalian church my mother would take me four times a year.  It was dark and a few of us were playing hide and seek.  It was my turn and I was determined to stay hidden for far longer than the others.  I found a nice hole in the ground that was surrounded by scrubs and yuccas and curled into a ball.  Time passed slowly in that hole and I could hear their voices holler in the distance, "Did you find him yet?""Where the hell is he?".  I kept at it, that human ball.  Their voices came closer and I grew excited, I didn't want to be found but at the same time I wanted to get out of that hole and join my friends again.  I kept quiet, someone even jumped over me.  What felt like half an hour passed by and I was sure I now held the record for longest hide-n-go-seek time ever.  When the second person jumped over me I immediately got up and yelled, "HERE I AM!"  Sean nearly tripped when he landed, they were all surprised to see me there, covered in dirt with thorns and all.

I had to run away that one night, my friend was leaving in the morning, all my things were there.  That was my bed for the weekend, the doors all locked behind him.  In some alternative universe I would've gotten to know someone better, create more inside jokes with a stranger, and let a moment carry on into the next.  The door closed and drunkenly I returned to the norm.  Over time those moments are all acknowledged and perhaps I grew too used to the saying, What happens happens: everything has meaning but most of it is meaningless to us, especially in the moment.

That saying came out of this one encounter and has haunted me since.  I was living in Chinatown at the time and I was going to art school.  I was across the street of the school where this religious paraphilia shop was (that doesn't exist anymore) when all of a sudden this stranger approached me, looked me in the eyes, and gave me the most beautiful smile.  I was catch off guard, and almost frozen in the scene as she carried on wherever she was going.  I could've ran after her, made something up in one or two seconds that declares that I'm not a weirdo, nor creep, just curious, curious like a boy but man enough to do something.  I couldn't think of anything and so I let it pass me.  Deep down I knew something, that that moment was too significant, that that person wasn't just a passerby, and that I will end up seeing them again and again.  I also told myself I won't let her slip away.  Damnit, I won't.
Months passed by and as I was walking with a group of friends there she was again, at the same school I was going to, and that eye contact, that smile, and this time I mustered a smile and she smiled harder.  She is playing a game I imagine.  Months passed and spring was on its way.  One day, I went to meet a friend and there she is, trapped in a room and that would be the last time we saw each other as strangers.  And that would be the last time we saw each other as strangers, as strangers, as strangers.

A letter was written years later.  I said everything I had to say on one US Letter standard, typed on a typewriter, then corrected by pen by hand and given in a moment that was carefully orchestrated, a trap was set, a scheme schemed, and I made things happen.

And that was the last time we saw each other as strangers.

Then another letter was written (there were several in fact but this one was very particular).  It said a lot of stuff in it and it summed up everything from the first letter to that particular moment.  It was also handwritten, corrected by pen by hand but this time it had instructions.  Like the first letter it was read with my presence in the room and like that first one I wanted to run away, never more awkward of a moment.

And that was the last time we saw each other as strangers.

Under some pile of winter coats, scarves, and beanies is a blanket and under that blanket is a full-grown man that appears to be sleeping but is completely awake with eyes open.  He doesn't look you in the eyes but just stares off, perhaps in shock that he was discovered.  He is still in the dirt, curled up in a human ball, surrounded by scrubs and yuccas in a dark night somewhere in New Mexico fearing the devil and wanting to be with friends again.  At the same time he wants to disappear.  He is neither and eventually he looks you in the eyes and the movie ends with a suggestion that the two hook up.

And that was the very last time we saw each other as strangers.

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