Desi wiped sweat all over the front of his white shirt as I scream about how hot the pavement is – and he hates it – the word pavement. It reminds him of being in his 20’s, when the woman he loved fucked their mutual friend in their home in their bed more than once. He was the singer for Pavement. “Pavement” he cringes like cocaine California sniffing a muse. Now I carry the urge to listen to Slanted and Enchanted knowing his dissidence put me in the mood to irritate his 47 year old pelvis with my timid hip displacement. He smacks me three times – as if I were 13, for effect and compulsion – his palm recites double-entendre. His favorite. Rapesque. The original virgin. One part of him wishes he was back home in his favorite chair with his cat nuzzling his hands. The other part wishes he could strip his clothes off in public and run away into the desert with a bottle of Espolon Blanco in his left and my wrist in his right. Instead he lets his bare feet burn on the pavement. A.J. piled pillows into his mouth like bedroom talk between the trees. I was staggering around Oxfordshire with one foot in the mud and the other in my mouth. He hollered at me to adjust my jumper and stand straight – my lower body swollen and losing spare change as I stumbled from one gravel road to the next. That was his excuse to put his hands on me, and I felt like a child again. There was never a caveman that carried this level of swanky superiority in the way he hunted for flaky pastry and custardy chardonnay. His hair caught a gust of wind and sent a cologne so redacted in rosemary that I nearly tripped over my own ankles. That was his smell. I remembered there was a chorus underneath my skin, molding into my bones, setting the earth on fire. His 5 children screamed in the distance. He told them I was a friend of the family. Mr. H is what the pizza boy called him every Sunday afternoon, like clockwork, 45 minutes after we got stoned on West 10th. How rude. The decaying plum turned to prune from sitting on the fire escape for months at a time. It was like an epiphany – to watch the cradle hypothesize new skin and bones during every performance of Theater Girl Summer, like it were brand new, like I was the first teenager to turn mistress for an actor and camp out in New York among the marginalized gays and glorified manuscripts. He was all hands and no teeth, all mouth with no speak, all knees with no feet. I felt that. The storm he threw in my direction at lightning speed like a curse from the Red Sox being hurdled through my chest every time I dared to taste his morning breath. It felt sleazy to know he was sucking my toes while his girlfriend was at home alone thinking he was out of town. Elliott hijacked part of my youth without ever laying a hand on me. The house in Tacoma with a mortgage owned by heroin strangers we’d never met, walking distance to the mall where they sold those soft pretzels with cheese that we both craved at 7 in the evening. Halloween and homelessness, he wore heavy metal and wrote poetries about whisky as he smoked papers from the neighbors who kept sleeping bags in the dining room. I was the queen of Roseanne. I turned her to underage Shakespeare. That one drop of snow that forced me to indict myself of stealing another person’s jacket to cover my elbows and knees – I looked colder than that single snowflake. Without his guitar he was talkative and obsessed with telling people I was his little sister. As if older brothers write songs about kissing their little sisters.
I don’t ever want to hear the term “Eskimo Brothers” again. My love to me is not a game or a jump rope sing-a-long. My Little Girl has come to play, which of these boys will steal you away? It’s so hard to be you, we all agree, but I hope the boy you choose is me! I resent every time I heard one of your drooling mouths sing that song. Even when I sleep I still hear every one of you hum in tandem like a fucking chorus line.
You’re all grown men and I’ve never been anything other than a child with four nicknames and a uterus.
Men are memory. Each one tied to their own specific nerve somewhere in my brain – I think about them rudely, separately, continuously, and unconnected to one another except by how each one changed something in me before the next one came along. How each one changed something in me that can never be undone.
None of them have touched the same skin on me because the cells have died and crumbled from my body like snakes and cinder while I slept, covering my cotton sheets and making me the newest version of my oldest me.
Hearts do not work the same way as skin.
*all men mentioned above I met by the age of 13 – some of the relationships started earlier, and some later.