Monday, September 24, 2018

Re-programmed

Muscles tense as I bench press to a new personal best. Power levels rising, planning to hit well over nine-thousand. Stronger then ever. Resolute. A honed and toned machine. Re-invented, re-processed, re-programmed, re-packaged for a modern era. No longer weak, meek, and pining over yesterday. Free of the ex. Free of the hex. No longer mourning the loss of the"one and only" in-between pricks from the needle or shots from the bottle. Clean living. Clean diet. Life's a mother fucking riot. No longer dreaming of her, or then, or us. Love's labour is now lost. Eyes pressed forward - in perpetual motion - can't stop, like a shark, or I die and lie belly-up in murky black water. Trance turned to trap. Blue pill turned red. Eyes open wide, no longer content to misguide or cry "woe is me", no longer a dreamer trapped in a nightmare... No, this is real life. Do or die. I'm a sophisticated machine sent back in time to reclaim what is mine. Version 2.0. Upgraded and meticulously calibrated. Balanced not just physically, but spiritually - self-aware. "Woke." I quietly meditate, for once content to be perfectly still. To be alone, just me and my thoughts, which no longer bring me pain or sorrow. Cross-legged in the lotus set adrift in my bubble. To be alone in the company of number one. Or my son. Or my beautiful daughter. Soul mate, what's that? A life-long lie I spent much too long living by, striving to find, obsessing over, searching every dark corner. A comical dog, intent in catching it's own tail. A deluded fool believing in myths and fables. There is no "she" only me, only the life I choose to create - the reality I choose to shape with every breath I take, with every ache, with every dollar I make, as every second passes - an efficiency of motion, utter discipline and devotion. Continuously improving. Learning. Un-moving. Solid as an ancient oak tree which has been around since before Buddha. A brave new world awaits the man who chooses to push aside the curtain. A brave new world exists, unseen until the veil is lifted. Discovered when a man is finally unburdened. A man who is finally undeserving of the perfect, beautiful, filthy lie cultivated by society that he's lived by his entire life - and rather, a man who finds comfort in simply... being.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

ruin

" This was once home to a magnificent civilization you know," he grips a filthy bandanna in a tight fist while with his other hand he waves, presenting the barren desolation before us with a magnificent flourish. "Travelers from all over the place would congregate here to exchange their stories, to speak of their dreams, desires, fears..."

I place my hands on my hips and stare out into the vastness. It's deathly quiet; nary a sound except the soft whistle of the dry incessant wind blowing through my helmet and the soft trickle of arid sand struggling to creep into my goggles. It's a dead world. A drab, nondescript sea of dunes. Undulating waves that ebb and flow briefly revealing fragments of stone - the foundation of ancient structures - and just as quickly cover them up again.

My guide continues, "Yep, all of the trade routes passed through here once. They say this was a place where reality could give way to the fantastic. And the fantastic, it could be passed off as the mundane and real." He strides to the edge of the cliff, inches away from the precarious drop-off, and points toward a small outcropping of sand and rock miles away from our vantage point. "The great library of the Seraphim was rumored to sit right there, right in that very spot!" He lets out a snort as he drags his handkerchief across his sweaty forehead. "If you ask me, it's all bullshit."

I arch a brow. "Why would you say that?"

"If this place was so wondrous and amazing, then why was it abandoned so many years ago? Why's it been allowed to deteriorate to... to this? Where are the travelers, the thinkers, the scholars, and the dreamers - where are they now?"

I inhale sharply, a clever answer on the tip of my tongue, then I catch myself in pause. I know my response would have been the incorrect one - an inadequate one. I turn away from the guide, my gaze returning to the sprawling, vacuous darkness.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rebirth

He walks slowly down the abandoned halls which are now silted in dust and cobwebs, sadly smiling to himself as he reminisces over what once long was. The sharp undertow of forgotten memories, some good – most of them bad, causes him to stop and steady himself with a sure hand as he pauses to process the resonating turmoil of people, places, and words which softly drum upon the recessed canopy of his thoughts. Shadowy movements in his peripheral vision makes him turn, curiously cocking his head, unmistakable human forms held in tight embrace dancing in a club, deeply swallowed inside the swirling notes and synthetic beats. Which as quickly as they appeared, immediately fade away. The familiar yet unfamiliar. He hears the sharp clink of glasses behind him and the faintest sound of laughter. He turns to find an empty room containing only thick, heavy blackness blanketing a dilapidated bed.

He trudges on. The barrage of auditory and visual cues increasing. Faces, songs, and abandoned words dart out of the darkness, playfully tease him, and then scamper away quietly giggling. A worn painting hangs from a wall – a portrait. She has long black hair and dark eyes which gaze at him keenly through the layers of peeled paint and matted wet soil. Beckoning, sad eyes which seem to perpetually mourn. The unmistakable sound of distant whimpering whispering. He listens intently as the soft rhythmic words build in speed and tone. He cannot understand what they say, only bits and pieces. City lights. Magic. Love. Betrayal. The woman’s eyes continue to relentlessly stare, looking out into the vastness which is the brief and wondrous eternity of his life, and he turns away. The spell no longer having its desired effect. The crackling incantations are now lost to him. And the whispering slowly dies away to only be replaced by the humming silence.

In the distance his eyes affix on a flickering light. It is dull and tiny. He feels his way through the darkness, at first an unsteady stumble, but as he approaches the light his stride and sure footedness increases. The light becomes brighter and clearer, flooding the darkness. Wiping away the grime with the strong swipe of a sponge removing a streak of mud off of a glass surface. The intensity is blinding. And in the middle of this exploding star stands the silhouette of a woman and a small child, crying out to him to follow. 

And he loyally follows,allowing the cascading light to fully embrace him.

Monday, February 27, 2012

the li(v)es that were

So it snows again and I think I’ve heard this song before. I stand outside and smoke listening to it’s hushed lyrics as I close my eyes and think about a night another lifetime ago. Inside, where it is warm, my friends sing and dance, everyone so happy, we live our lives as though the world will end tomorrow. Laugh and cry, sing and fight. Do or die. Everyone is so happy and in love and so optimistic.. everyone except of course...

What were we doing that night? Yes, it was right before Christmas. You and I drove around with my camera in hand, hopped up on coffee and cigarettes, in search of the tackiest Christmas House. “The Griswold House” is what you called it. Such an innocuous, disposable moment, which I cannot help but recall again and again and again and again. Like a scratched record repeating itself, a distant song. An antiquated voice accompanied by bittersweet, profoundly beautiful violins, another dimension outside of mine. It’s scope so unfathomable and incomprehensible to me now but then it seemed like I was in such control. Taking it for granted like an arrogant fool. Oblivious to my idiocy except now I can see..

Is it a reasonable assumption to make that I was in fact the same man then as I am now as I was a decade ago as I will be a decade from now? Alone I bemoan yesterdays and chase ghosts. Surrounded by four claustrophobic corners in a grungy room I can’t be anything else but what I am but what I was. We were beautiful you and I yet I know even now I would have done the same thing and let you go accusing you of being a “whore.” Yet who am I to have judged what you were?

A voice from inside invites me in to do another line and another shot, another soft and delicate bite of the Lotus blossom so I may try, and fail, to forget you and yesterday.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Click

It is raining as I write this. I listen to the incessant drum of the water as it beats against the roof and upon the unused patio furniture. The soft clink of a coffee can I left outside collects rain as well as cigarette butts, an acerbic soup. The house is empty and all is quiet save for the soft hum of the refrigerator - which, by the way, is empty.

And I’d thought I had forgotten about you. About us. About that pivotal moment frozen in time you and I shared whose magnitude rivals even the birth of my own child.

You know I caught myself singing our song today, “your song.” And I realized I broke promises I made to you and we have both suffered for it. I know you are lost, out there wandering about the wasteland completely unaware of what you are, or what it is you should be, only knowing what it is you once had... and I am right there with you. We are so exceptionally similar in this regard and the stark truth of this frightens me. We are both empty vessels searching desperately for that which will complete us, and we both know that this crucial element is unobtainable… yet, so drastically close. It is so within grasp as we only have to extend our hand and it would be there as if plucking an apple from a tree.

However we tried… many times… and each time either myself, and then later on you, weren’t ready. And perhaps we will never be ready. Or perhaps it will take several lifetimes to finally be ready. To embrace that which “needs to be.” Or the other option is death.

I don’t know anymore.

I remember that night last December, several weeks before Christmas, I spent at your house. I remember your touch and how it felt so distantly familiar, your taste.. your smell. Yet, at the same time, so utterly alien and reptilian. Beyond that of even a stranger.

Monday, November 08, 2010

cancer

The uncaring wind blows in large billowing clouds of frigid snow determined to hide the world in a white blanket of merriment and Christmas carols. To hide away the pain, as I have chosen to, under a dense shroud with a smile painstakingly painted onto the surface. I wear this shroud over my face as my body lies dormant and inert encased in glass, a reliquary of pain to remind travelling pilgrims to stray clear of this path I have chosen for nothing beautiful or joyous can result in this.

I blankly stare at the flashing neon sign by the door; an untouched beer sits in front of me bleeding into the grimy table. Surrounded by flesh I no longer have the desire to seek out. And it’s a curse. We’ve inherited this curse, I’ve determined, my sister and I, to forever remain incomplete. Love is an elusive shadow I oftentimes think I see standing beside me in my peripheral vision only to disappear when I turn my head. And now, more than ever, I am a hollow vessel. I once mistakenly carried optimism as a mule humps its burden, a foolish, stubborn belief in karma and true love and soul-mates and sugar and spice and everything nice. I truly thought in the end, I would be reunited with her, and together we’d hurtle toward Xibalba or possibly be reborn as cats.

I know better now.

It was a foolish paradigm I conjured out of hope and air to grasp to as a Titanic survivor holds on to a paddle or life vest listening for the shrill whistle which may or may not come – for salvation. But the loveliness is that I have finally learned to accept this curse. She and I dance this lovely dance, spinning and circling into the sky like cigarette smoke. I’ve been burned again and again, or some would argue, burned others again and again leaving in my wake a sticky, dense oily slick in which birds perish.

I’ve decided to do the world a favor and remain forever alone.

I’ve given up. I no longer wish to search or even entertain the notion I may find “her” because I know she doesn’t exist - she is a myth. And here I hide in plain site. Either at the strip club with my cousin or the blank walls of my empty, spartan apartment my sanctuary.

Interesting that word, apartment.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

illusory

“Look out at the city Tuzik. Do you know why the lights twinkle the way they do?” I turn to her and smile tenderly. She looks at me with dark, almond eyes and then turns back to the distant city. She smiles as we both soak in the soft sighing of the wind and the hum of the power lines.

“You told me this once.” She laughs. “But I don't remember.”

A familiar song and it feels good to hear it. It feels good to sing it – and after eight years, I can still remember the words.

“Well...” I softly chuckle. “ ...what makes the lights twinkle is the fact there are so many of them. Countless lights out there, you could venture to say one light for every person.” R___ quietly listens. “What causes the lights to twinkle the way they do, is people turning their lights on or off.” I pause, carefully gauging her reaction.

She hesitates, looking at me with beautiful unsureness. She starts to say something and then stops herself. She looks at the throbbing city again. “Really baby? If you say that's what it is then that’s what it is.”

I pull her closer; she fits perfectly underneath my arm.

“Now, look up. At the stars.”

R___ smirks, excited to play a new game. She looks to the stars.

“Do you realize we are looking at the same sky people that lived ten thousand years ago looked at? The same stars the Pharaohs and even early man, huddling in caves, looked at… and it’s-it's all a lie.”

“What do you mean?”

“Many of those stars up there have already died, yet to us, they continue to shine. Other stars we cannot see yet because they have been born but their light hasn't reached us. The distance is unimaginable and it takes thousands of years for that light to reach us”

“So what are you saying babe?”

“What I'm saying is we study and believe only that which we can see. And in the case of the sky, what we see is not necessarily what exists.”

She nods. Perhaps she understands or perhaps she doesn't or perhaps she doesn't even attempt to try, however she nods.

I look away and tap the packet of smokes I bought earlier in the palm of my hand. There is a long silence and then she asks:

“I see you sitting next to me, again, after eight years of thinking of you as a dream - as a memory. However, I can't help but ask myself if your love for me still exists.”

I look at her and my words fail me.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Santiago

I look at the old man as the sea birds screech around us. The cold breeze carries the smell of the ocean - it envelops us. Storm clouds gather overhead. I study him for a moment, watching his eyes as he watches the sea. I finally muster the courage to ask him: “So when did you finally give up on it?”

He pulls another tug from his tobacco pipe, scratches the bristly whiskers on his face as he gazes out at the ocean as if in contemplation. “Gave up on what?”

“Love... true love. Fate. Destiny. All of that stuff.” I re-consider my words, “When did you turn your back on the fairy tale?”

He chuckles as he tugs at the line, gently tapping the pole, wise eyes examining the surface of the waves searching for a darting flash of silver or copper. “I haven’t given up, really.” He turns and looks at me. There is a shaky conviction in his aged voice, it is strong but scratched. Listening to him speak reminds me of listening to my grandfather’s Caruso records so long ago when I was a kid. “I’ve lived a good life... a good life. I have beautiful children. They’re all grown up now and gone. I got grandchildren too. They’re so beautiful.” He pauses. “I can’t say I ever loved someone. But I’m still waitin’... “ He re-lights his pipe and draws a deep breath and holds it for a moment. He exhales. “I’m still waitin’.”

I nod and look out at the ocean. In the distance a fishing vessel shrouded in fog slowly makes its way back to the harbor.

Friday, August 06, 2010

at last

Let me tell you a story about redemption.

It’s been eight years. Eight years of “what if,” “what now,” “will I ever,” and “I will never.” Eight years of questions, emptiness, desolation, and desperation. Eight years I have tread water barely staying afloat, through an ocean of coke, X, booze, whores, flings, fights.

Eight years of regret.

“I close my eyes and I see you. Here in front of me, I love your smile. Your eyes.

I am there

Heh, you always have been. I’d close my eyes and visit you... for eight years I have visited you.

What did we do in those visits?

I’d reach out and touch your lips. I’d run my fingers down your face. I’d say something silly and make you laugh. We’d love. We’d be.

I want you to touch me all over for many many days.

I want to crawl inside you and never leave. ”

I sabotaged everything. I insured I would have the ability to pursue you, should you have chosen to return to me. I broke someone's heart. I have lived alone, in desolation, a monastic life. I have dealt with the backlash of humiliation and my pride has weathered crushing blow after crushing blow. But you know what R____? It was all worth it.

We are on the verge of realizing what we could only dream about. Yes, when you told me you couldn't move on, echoing my same inability, my soul sang. And then, you confessed to me that I am your soul mate. And that you want to grow old with me. And that you want to give me a baby. And that you want to fall asleep with me inside of you and then wake up with me still inside you. You told me you miss my smell and ironing my work shirts, and therein you could find happiness.

And most importantly, you told me you forgive me.

No I am not in love with your memory R____, nor am I in love with what I used to be, or what we used to be, I am one hundred percent certain that I am completely in love with you. With YOU... with your soul.

And above all R____, I am grateful I do not have to wait to see you again as a cat.

You tell me you keep expecting to wake up, as you so often had to in the past, only to find we are apart. I feel precisely the same. But this isn’t a dream. And there’s no place like home tuzik.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hope.

We stay in touch. every few weeks an almost frantic text-message exchange followed immediately by silence. Always instigated with a simple “hello, are you married yet lol?” My typical reply is “no, hardly.” I proceed to explain to R___ why I see no future between M___ and I. I try to articulate, in 120 characters or less, why I love my girlfriend and maintain this “thing” although I know in my heart, and with utmost certainty, that it's fleeting - that it lacks permanence and is doomed to die and ultimately be left by the roadside like every other dead relationship I’ve walked away from. I tell her I believe it will end soon, and that I give it a month. Of course I’ve been telling her this for the past six months and yet somehow M____ and I continue on. It’s at this point I attempt to turn the tables and inquire about HER “man.” She dismisses it as a deep platonic friendship and nothing more - a platonic friend she just happens to live with and fuck. My cousin tells me “she’s not going to sit around and wait for you, but she’s sitting around waiting for you.” He advises me to pursue whatever path I wish but let it be known that our circle of friends (the Guido’s and Guidette’s) all believe I should be with R___ in the end, and that we should have children, and live happily ever after.

I tell R__ that I really want to have more children. And she constantly reminds me how beautiful our kids could look. And I tell her in our next life we’ll have lots of children. And she laughs and asks me what we’ll be resurrected as, and I tell her we’ll be cats. And so on and so on we continue this back and forth... this tango. She’ll advance and I’ll retreat, I’ll advance and she’ll retreat. Like the time I told her I still love her when I was in Vegas rolling on E and seeing angels. And then she asked me if I was also texting my girlfriend? I replied yes and then silence. She continues to haunt me both in thought and form. I see her face everyday on my computer, I read her words, and my emotions are convoluted much like this post.

And I believe I really do love M____, and I know in my heart it’s possible to love more than one person at the same time. I also know I love H_____, and A_____, and that Persian girl I met in Vegas when I was twenty-one with whom I had a four day love affair and possibly impregnated - wouldn’t that be nice? And I think about this often too. I think about what it would be like if I were to get a phone call or a friends request on Facebook from her, to tell me I have a beautiful daughter with almond shaped eyes green as emeralds.

Unfortunately she will never find me cause I told her my name was Arturo Bandini.