Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Last Night

                               My stepdad got a job in another state on the other side of the country. Perfectly convenient given the summer I had just spent with the very amazing, very captivating Ruben Ramirez. I received this information when I returned home on the second day of school. What could one do but accept the grueling terrors of my parents’ decisions that I believed would ruin my life? That’s sarcasm of course. I cried, I told her to let me stay with my friend Charlyze, my friend Kat, anyone so that I could finish out the school year in my home, the first place I ever truly felt I belonged. I told her about the poets, and how much opportunity I had if she would just let me stay. As it turns out, never in my life would staying with my parents really have any benefit on my creative talents in any way whatsoever.
            It was decided that I would leave. Out of a couple hundred guys lined up to take the job; my stepdad had to be one of roughly 5 or 6 who would actually earn it. The entire reason we had moved in the first place was because he had gotten a better job than he originally had, now, after a mere 3 years, he was doing the same thing again. There was nothing I could do but cry and pray for a miracle, and of course make every promise in the world to return to the city to make my living and be closer to my dear Ruben and all of that cheesy nonsense that really never ends up happening even in the loveliest of love stories.
            It was devastating to know that not only would I be leaving the city, but that I would be leaving the city while also holding on tip the strings that had attached me to it in the first place: the poets. They had taught me all I wanted to know while I was there. They had helped me grow into the person I was now becoming. Because of that, I knew that, in my state of growth, I must now move on.
            Ruben made promises; he would see me during the weekend, we’d get to be alone together for a short while. He wanted to feel how “tight” I was. He had also requested a final gift before I left the city. He wanted me to write poetry on a pair of (ahem) panties and give it to him as a gift. Awkward as the suggestion was, I obliged him, if only to leave him with something to remember me by. Now, I can’t remember precisely what poem I wrote on this pair of panties, but I do recall writing it with a black marker, and I wrote something about the difficulties in saying goodbye to someone so dear, and how difficult it would be to move on without him. For a pair of panties, I thought it was all quite nice to be perfectly honest.
            I recall talking to Fritz about leaving even though he didn’t have me as a student anymore. He was a great teacher, a good person at heart. A student like me couldn’t help but seek wisdom from someone like him. He told me never to return to the city, not even to visit. “This place sucks you in. If you don’t get out immediately, you never will.” He knew what had been going on throughout my summer, it was almost obvious. When I admitted to him who it had been that I fallen in love with over the summer, he nodded at the word Ruben. “I know.” I was appalled to hear that. But after a little bit of advice from him, and a short sharing of stories of love, he told me something I’ll never forget hearing. “You may not think he’s taking advantage of you, but people sometimes do it to others without really realizing that they’re doing it or even that they’re doing something wrong. Break it off. You’ll be happier to know that you had the summer, but don’t drag it on, because you’ll just end up hurting both of you.”
            Oh Fritz, if only you could see me now. And you actually used to rather like Ruben and his work from what I remember.
            Despite Ruben’s “efforts”, I didn’t get to see him the weekend before the final poetry read; I didn’t get to talk to him very much at all. I showed up a little overdone: my very favorite purple lip gloss, short skirt(of course that’s only after my mother dropped me off and I changed out of my black capris which had a fresh new button sewn on), tank top, and a pair of tall-heeled sandals that were severely difficult to walk in. I arrived almost an hour before anyone else because my mother had a series of errands she needed to run off and take care of. I drank a coffee while I waited for someone, anyone else to show up.
            I hung around with a few of the other poets (poets that, while wonderful friends during that summer, had nothing to do with this situation or, for that matter, me after things with Ruben and I blew up) until Ruben arrived. His car was screwed up and he had gotten a ride from Jess and her boyfriend. He showed up almost an hour late.
            We took the first chance we got to be alone together. At first, we just stood outside to talk for a moment while he smoked a cigarette, but he snuck to the bathroom with me some time into the poetry read, which was actually going pretty well. If Ruben hadn’t been there, I still would have enjoyed the visiting poets. We walked down through an empty stairwell leading to nowhere important because we stood at the mid-section of the staircase and didn’t bother to hide any further than that. I remember how it felt to have his hands wrapped around me, like the rest of the world wasn’t important, like I could almost believe he loved me more than anything.
            To be honest, nothing too terribly interesting happened in that stairwell. I leaned back onto the stairs, pulling him down with me, wishing, hoping and at the same time not. I wanted to have his love, completely and entirely, but in my heart I knew I might never truly have it and that nothing I did would ever really make him give it to me. Alas, I’m getting a bit too far ahead of myself.
            We tried, god how we tried to get alone with each other that night. As many times as we ended up alone, we finally gave up on our final attempts for me to give what I knew he wanted to have. He told me that, in the end, he would want me more with each passing day that he didn’t have me. Ruben would be willing to wait it out for me; he wanted me more when he knew he couldn’t have me. Later, Ruben would say that it took all he had in him not to take me that very night, and thinking back now I wonder if he should have. Would that have ended our summer long infatuation? Would we have been caught that very night and been unable to see each other ever again? Who knows…
            I gave him his gift, and he gave me mine, a gift that I had suspected, but had not completely expected from him. He gave me a beautiful notebook with a Japanese drawing of waves on it. In fact, this is the exact drawing it had on it:                                                                                            
            Yeah. It was really pretty. He handed it to me casually and said, “I expect to get this back full.” I almost cried. I haven’t been able to find one like it since that day. There was a Canadian poetry slam sticker on the inside of it, and about 3 or 4 of Ruben’s own poems in it, a few on the front and a couple on the back, upside down. I was going through his black notebook when he handed it to me and told me to take one; I couldn’t morally do it. I loved all of his poems, my favorite being one of the longest he had in there. Instead I took the shortest one he had, a 2 page love poem I had once heard him read at school.
            The poetry read ended a lot sooner than I had hoped it would. We stood outside to talk as everyone else gathered their things and prepared to leave. We were talking, I was leaning against the brick wall outside the shop when Ruben looked over my shoulder and told me that a friend of his was watching. Of course, I gave myself completely away by turning around and looking over at him after Ruben said this. That guy blocked me on Facebook shortly after that day.
            I remember looking at him and wishing for one last beautiful, endearing assurance that this would not be the last time I saw him. I wanted something strong enough for me to hold on to; I wanted love. I looked up at him, asked him for one final request before I had to leave the comfort of the city, the beauty in our short moments together. “Lie to me.” I said. There was no beating around the bush, no tip-toeing around what I wanted from him; he knew what was being asked of him.
            “Lie? But why? Why not wait until I mean it, until there’s more to this than what we have?” He rocked a bit on his heels, looking around some, but never really taking his attention off the matter at hand.
            “I need this. I need to be able to leave knowing that something more happened here than the imaginative crush of a 16 year old girl who is never going to be in this position again.”
            “If I wasn’t in the situation I’m in…” He trailed off, looked around some more. He looked at me with a look on his face that would have made someone think he was proposing sex to me if they had looked out the window of the coffee shop. “I love you.”
            He didn’t say it loud; he probably didn’t even mean it. But I jumped into his arms and kissed him one last time, the last time my lips ever came in contact with his. He pulled me off immediately, asking if I was crazy. We were almost caught, probably seen by the guy who worked at the coffee shop in fact. I would’ve cared if I wasn’t absolutely sure this would be the last time I saw him. This was the night; the first time I ever heard that word slip passed his lips like he was breathing it into mine, “Lolita”.
            Ruben said that I made him think of her because of the way I talked, the way I behaved in conversation with him. The way I bit my lip sometimes when I wanted him… I had never seen the movie, never read the book. He told me I had some studying to do then, and that I should read the book sometime.
            I couldn’t kiss him goodbye, couldn’t tell him how much I loved him, or make my promises to see him again. I could only hug him like everyone else as I left; make arms lingered a second longer around him than around anyone else, my body pressed against his only a moment longer than against anyone else. He could say only that he would miss me and that we’d see each other again real soon and advise me to find a poetry slam where I was moving or create one myself. Oh Ruben, if only you knew how far I’ve come. If you only knew the things I’ve done since I left you, the hurt and happiness I’ve faced since that final terrible day…
            My mother came for me; the song “Happy” by Leona Lewis was playing in the car. For those of you who have never heard it before, here is the link:
            I can’t say I didn’t cry, didn’t curse my mother for taking me away from the city right when I had found my place and right when I had decided I was truly happy. But this, though it was the last time I would ever see Ruben or the other poets again, was not the end. Had I ended things here, at this moment, I might have saved myself what heartache this relationship caused me. I might have continued to love Ruben as I once did. I might have, in fact, even possibly been able to see him again when I made my summer trip to the city. One can only things would have been different, but the what ifs can never change the now….

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Terrible Half-Ass Part before the Ultimate End...if you'd like to call it that

            Looking over that last post a second time, I remember last night when I was lying in bed about to go to sleep and suddenly thought about that night. I remember looking up at him at one point, wondering how I ended up in his arms, amazed at the idea that something like this came so easily. He looked back at me, “What?” And then I kissed him, deeply, because I didn’t think words would be appropriate to get the point across to him. “Oh, that.” He smiled…
            I guess the real highlight of that night for me was the fact that I wanted him so bad, but he said that he had too much respect for me to ever let things happened that way. Just thinking that he actually said he respected me…
            I’m not going to drag this on too much farther, so I’ll tell you all about the night I got drunk while babysitting. It really isn’t as bad as it sounds. I was babysitting with my friend at a neighbor’s house. When they came home, after the children had been put down for the night, they brought back Four Lokos. Not only that, but there mother, Mindy, wanted me to taste some vanilla vodka she had hidden in the fridge. Ruben was at a poetry competition out of state during this time.
            After a few drinks, when I couldn’t find him online, I saw his friend and fellow poet (one of the founders of their poetry group, and very out-spoken, feminist poet), Jess online. Now, with the drinking I had been doing, I was also beginning to feel rather guilty for what was going on between Ruben and myself. I clicked on Facebook chat. Now, once again, because Facebook didn’t save those at the time, I, once again, cannot necessarily describe exactly what went on during this conversation, so a brief description will have to do. At first, I asked who all she was with and, as it turned out, she was with all of the poets who had gone to competition that summer. I basically told her that I had done something terrible and that she was going to hate me forever and I felt so guilty. She asked what was wrong, and told me that she and all the poets still had tons of love for me, and I told her that I was having an inappropriate relationship with an older guy. I’m pretty sure it was obvious enough that I had been drinking.
            Jess told me to quit tip-toeing around the subject because she didn’t like games. Eventually though, the conversation turned gears round and round until she decided that she had to go to bed. I said okay and that I was sorry for irritating the hell out of her. Just as she got offline, Ruben came online. I knew that I was obviously in for it.
            He was forgiving enough, probably because he had been drinking at the time as well. I told him how sorry I was for talking to Jess and that I needed to get together with him at some point to talk to him about what was going on between us.
            Long story short, mostly because I was drunk, I basically told him that I was starting to fall in love with him. He said that there was no way it could ever work out for us, fed me a bunch of bullshit about waiting until I was 17, the Texas state age of consent when we could be around each other without worrying about what people thought. I almost laughed at this. People who had seen me with him had usually thought he was my dad…
            I’m not going to go too far into detail of what all happened, but in the end, I told him that he was a really difficult person not to love. He told me that I was too.
            I guess the whole reason I had begun feeling like that after drinking a bit was just the fact that he had said many times the last night we were together that he really liked me. At the moment, I had felt as if he were trying to hold back from admitting he loved me, but alas, I was probably wrong. I was wrong about a lot of things. But that night, he decided to be perfectly honest with me – so he told me that he had lied to me previously about his age, which I had originally thought was 30. It was, in fact, actually 35; a year older than my stepfather.
            He laughed when I told him this, explained that it didn’t matter to him as long as I wasn’t bothered by it, and we left it at that. I tried not to dwell on this somewhat disgusting fact; I was young and carefree as one would call it. And I believed that true love knew no boundaries, none whatsoever. I never wanted Ruben to think I was uncomfortable with anything that went on between the two of us because I thought it seemed immature for some reason. Being uncomfortable with Ruben’s age was like telling him that I didn’t want to see him anymore, and I was completely intent on keeping Ruben around as long as I possibly could.
            Many could say that I wanted him because he was a writer, or because he worked for a comic book publishing company, and had published a bit of his own work, because he defeated the odds so to speak. But it wasn’t that, not at all. He was a poet, he was the type of person I had always imagined myself ending up with.
            I wouldn’t see him again until September 7th for the very last time.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Never Want To Let It Go

            I can’t really say what all happened between that time and the next time we saw each other. We chatted a few times on FB chat but as I believe I mentioned in a previous post, that was quite a bit before Facebook started saving chat messages. I can say honestly that I thought about what had happened every day until I saw him again. After all, 2 weeks isn’t exactly that long to go without seeing someone.
            Is the poetry read really all that important when it comes to this? I considered the possibility of a skirt, but decided against it because my excuse to my mother was that I was staying the night at Ruben’s house to babysit. I wore a black and red checkered halter top/almost corset type shirt that tied behind the neck with a short sleeve black shirt underneath it so I wouldn’t look like I was showing too much. With that, I also wore a pair of light blue denim capris and my chucks sent to me by my dad as a birthday gift earlier in the year. It was July now and he would be leaving soon for an event held exclusively for poets which would have him gone for a few weeks.
            He actually asked permission to sit next to me on the sofa in the cafĂ©. I said yes, and he complimented a choker I was wearing. I tried not to blush and acted fairly casual as the poetry read commenced. He made fun of my love for My Chemical Romance, a band who I still support almost fully though they aren’t quite as good anymore without their drummer, Bob Bryar. Off on another subject though. Ruben and the other poets did their poetry; I remember reading a poem with a title to the extent of “I Don’t Love You”. I remember reading it and one of the poets who had hosted that particular read (a close friend of Ruben’s) looking over at him after I was done and jokingly saying “Yeah Ruben! She doesn’t love you!” I laughed just as Ruben laughed, but turned red and was unable to think of anything other than how horrifying it had been that he had said that. For a moment I almost thought that he and I were done for.
            But alas, we weren’t and when the poetry read ended, we were once again left alone outside waiting for my mother who would never come. I remember the way the city looked; the bank across the street, where I would always look up and wonder what was going on in those offices, the bright lights all around that seemed to make the night look like a dimly lit day. I loved it; this was where I wanted to spend the rest of my career, the rest of my life…
            Ruben took me to a park he knew of. It was on the side of the mountain. It was small, had two benches, and an iron fence up where the edge of a somewhat tall cliff stood. I looked down at the house below and imagined myself sitting or even leaning against this fence. I looked out at the city where the lights were like millions of tiny multi-colored (but mostly yellow) dots and wondered how my life in this city would be. I remembered Fritz once calling it a black hole that sucked you in if you weren’t careful. He told me to take my life and run the moment I had a chance because if I didn’t, I never would. There was no way someone could see the city in such a way. It had been what I had dreamed about spending my life in before I had ever actually moved there; it wasn’t too big, just big enough downtown to satisfy one’s ever changing interests, and most importantly, it was my home. Why would anyone want to give that up?
            I was reflecting on this as I stared out into the lights, imaging myself being absorbed by them, blanketed in their warmth, their experience, the good and bad and whispering to Ruben how beautiful it was when he pulled me to him and asked to check out my choker. He gently brushed my hair back away from my neck and kissed it, making me sigh as he moved up higher to my mouth. When he kissed me, I took in an image of the two of us standing there in the middle of that tiny over-look park, the lights gleaming behind us. There was something about it that wasn’t simply thrilling, it was beautiful in my eyes, we were beautiful in my eyes. I never wanted to have to let go of that. There was nothing like it, and I must admit, I don’t think there ever really will be.
            Ruben sat down on the concrete against the iron gate. “I’m going to be a dirty old man now. Come here little girl and sit in my lap.”
            I laughed at him when he said this. But I sat in his lap and kissed him deeply. He tasted like coffee and cigarettes, a taste that was almost sweet to me. I looked at him, held his stubble-bearded face in my hand, ran my fingers through his black slicked back hair. I wanted the moment to last a lifetime. Sometimes in my mind, it did, there was nothing else but that moment. At other times, it almost never existed. I turned away from him as he gently unbuttoned my capris and slid his fingers down into them. He never put his fingers inside me necessarily, only moved them up and down gently, maybe wishful thinking….
            He asked me to stand up so he could have a better look at me. “I love that you have your own little style going there.”
            I remember the smell of the grass that day, and the way the night seemed to surround us, as if the day would never torment us again and we could stay in this moment forever. But neither of us was that lucky. I knew that what was happening here was wrong, but I didn’t care, I wanted Ruben, fully and affectionately I wanted nothing but him.
            There was a slight warm breeze, and words hanging in the air that neither of us cared to notice, we were at peace and nothing at that moment could break it. But I suppose he decided that where we were was not the particular place he wanted to be, so we left. He took my hand; I slipped it out of his hand to adjust. It was odd. To me, holding hands is like a dance, the man should lead; so when I hold someone’s hand, I’m most comfortable with my thumb on the bottom. He wrinkled his brow, grinning at my awkward explanation, but he led me down the hill.
            He walked along the sidewalk, talking and staring at the empty street. I remember once being out with friends in the middle of the night and laying out on the middle of the street probably because it was so full of danger yet so void of it all at once. Now, walking with Ruben, I got this same feeling, the feeling to lay out somewhere and connect my body with the road, give it my warmth, something slightly different from the day to day. I’m not sure if I voiced this awkward feeling to Ruben, but I wanted to lie there, or somewhere, anywhere really too just look up at the summer stars and think.           
            I was thinking about this when I heard him say “duck”. Now, because I knew there were quite a few people who actually owned ducks where we lived (not for any particular reason, I don’t think, after all, it was a pretty dry place), I said “where”. In turn, I was almost hit in the face with a branch. I blushed and laughed a little at this embarrassing moment, but otherwise brushed it off.
            We arrived at another park, somewhat different from the one we had just left, a park with a children’s play area. There was a jungle gym in a sand box walled in with a 2 foot tall concrete ring around the entire area. I sat down on the concrete, one leg on either side and leaned back to look up at the sky. Ruben sat opposite to me. I remember looking at him and wishing more than anything that he would kiss me again. But he didn’t.
            Instead, he talked to me, simply talked. He talked to me about his son, and about his odd living arrangement with his ex. Apparently, because we were in a recession, no one moved out upon their breakup, but one simply moved into a different room. But because I didn’t want to pry into his private affairs. After all, we had both agreed that what we were doing was simply just for fun, and because I didn’t want to lose what I had hoped would grow, I didn’t want to be angry with him. I wanted to believe that he was being perfectly honest with me. He told me about his son, and what it was like to have him, what it was like to be a father, and how hard he was trying to be there for him. I told him about my parents and how, even when there’s a parent who’s out of the picture, there’s always going to be a little bit of resentment for it, but that it always eventually fades once you begin to really understand your parents as well as yourself.
            We ended up talking for well over an hour, but eventually realized we were off on a tangent and finally, he looked at me and asked how we even got on the subject we were on (which I, for one reason or another, have forgotten and would rather not take the time to attempt remembering) and he scooted closer to me. I scooted closer to him, and well, did exactly what I had wished he would’ve done earlier. I remember the fluttering in my heart, my stomach, everywhere that I had gotten when I kissed him, the feeling I wanted back again with an aching desire.
            I pressed my body against his, slowly lifting my legs so that he was holding me in his lap, hugging him to me almost as if to push so close together that we’d become one. He pushed my face to the side with his and kissed my neck softly, barely touching my skin to his lips. Obviously he knew that if he left any marks on me, my parents would immediately know that I wasn’t out babysitting with him. But there was something else, something about the fact that he was just barely touching me that made me want him more, made me wish we could be more alone together, made me almost wish he would love me like he sometimes seemed to.
            At one point he stopped and stared over at the jungle gym. Before I could ask what he was thinking, he picked me up and carried me over to it, placing me on it I was sitting on it and he was standing, still able to reach my face. I remember hearing him whisper “you know, I really like you”. He said that so many times that night… And I remember how it felt to hear him tell me that, it was almost as good as if he was actually saying he loved me. I felt like I could fly, like I was flying.
            What I want more than anything here is to make you, my readers to understand how it felt to be in that position. It was more intense than anything I’d ever felt before in my life, this was the way he made me feel. I never wanted him to leave, and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to handle walking away from him.
            He kissed my cheek and whispered to me to lean back. He kissed forehead, my neck, and I think you know where this is going. Ruben unbuttoned my capris, and I remember the feeling of his lips on my stomach, smoothly running down my body. This was our summer, my summer. I remember hearing him whisper to me about how sweet I was, how small… When he was done, he asked if I had ever done it in a park before, I said no. Then he told me he respected me too much to do that to me.
            I remember trying so hard to stop him from taking me home, to make him stay with me for just a few more hours, a few more moments, anything to stop the night from ending. Orion’s constellation was glistening in the sky, and I looked up at it, remembering summers before this one, summers before when I had imagined being in love so intensely that I there was little to keep me from drifting off into the stars. This was that intense love.
            I kissed him intensely before he left me, kissed him like I would never see him again. And as I watched his car fade into the dust, I called this love; I called this the greatest thing that could ever happen to both our lives…
            You know, I think about these things now, and never forget what he said that night. “I respect you too much to do that to you…” No one had ever said something like that to me before. When he said that, I believed it with everything I had in me…
  As he was leaving, I told myself that i would never forget this night, never let go of the time I spent with him, even if I moved to the other side of the world. I never wanted to let it go...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Take Me Home

            Ruben and I were walking back into the Perk at the end of our walk when he opened the door for me and I leaned in close to him and whispered that he should drive me home. He grinned and I convinced Kat to leave a few minutes before me with her mother. The rest of the poetry read went as one would assume. I recall Kat reading a poem she had written about her older sister’s husband who once kissed her, a poem about hurting someone of your own blood. It was actually rather sad. Kat always had this mysterious seductive quality that one simply could not resist.
            Anyway, Ruben and I were alone outside with two other poets whom I had just barely met that day waiting for my mother to come pick me up when he asked me if I would like a ride so that he wouldn’t have to wait outside with me all night. I accepted. As we walked away, I thought about how cheesy he had sounded but didn’t really dwell on the awkwardness of other people standing outside and watching me and Ruben.
            Now, I’m going to point out that during this time, there was another girl interested in Ruben. I’m not going to say her name because I’m both too lazy to come up with a fitting pseudonym for her, and she’s not really all that relevant in this story. But she was a poet. She was also a lot closer to Ruben’s age than I was, in fact, I do believe she had one or two children somewhere between ages five and nine. Anyway, I hadn’t known her very long, but we were nevertheless pretty friendly toward each other. Not full on friends, or even Facebook friendly, but acquaintance friendly. She was interested, but Ruben wasn’t; she apparently wasn’t his type. His type was the 16 year old girl he was giving a ride home with the excuse that her mother wasn’t coming for her.                                                                                                                                                                 No, that’s not fair. Not all of this is his fault. I was the one making the decisions for me, and nothing anyone else would’ve said to me about it would have stopped me. This is just the way things happened. As once put in a poem by Ruben: “We are all products of our own decisions.” And admittedly, he was right; of course, there would be quite a few things later on that he would say that would turn out to be completely true and right, but completely out of context of what he would say but that’s a different part of our story.
            I lived in a fairly secluded part of the city, out in the desert away from civilization. The closest thing to my house was an empty stable from when an old man named Sid had died and his son had sold the horses. Ruben drove past my house to a dead end near those stables. I can’t necessarily say what happened before we got out of his car, but it probably wouldn’t have been as important as what happened after anyway. I recall looking up at the night sky with the song “Airplanes” from that summer playing through my head.
            I kissed him. My lips trembled against his. We held each other close. I imagined the sun coming up and the night disintegrating before us to reveal nothing left of these moments, of anything we had just had. I didn’t believe Ruben was kissing me. His hands wandered, struggled to undo my bra, his mouth softly wrapping around my nipple…
            I remember him struggling to undo the black capris I was wearing, and ripping the button completely off by accident. I remember hearing it hit the gravel and disappearing beneath our feet before he plunged his hand into me, gently sliding his fingers up and down. I remember holding his rod in my hand. And I remember pretending that he loved me, that I meant something to him during all of this.
            I kissed him and imagined us somewhere else, somewhere that wasn’t the gravel desert road near my house.  I remember him once gently trying to push my head down. I told him no, no, I couldn’t give him so much on the first night…

                         I’m sorry; I can’t give much more than that except to say that he took me home when he was done. We didn’t have sex, and I enjoyed it at the time and would later miss that brief meeting terribly, but it’s one of the hardest things for me to go back to and admit that I did. This really isn’t so easy….