Saturday, April 3, 2010


I did not want to see anyone I knew this morning, and so I took the back roads on my walk to the cigarette store. On my way I saw Sue, who is a dear, but talks so fast and must catch up on family and howareyou and whatareyoudoingthesedays. On my way home I ran into Dirty, and shit fire it was good to see that boy for all that he is clean these days and soon to go overseas.
While I did my laundry I kept my head down and my earphones on and talked a while with my landlord who was walking by.
On my way to work I ran into Miriam, sweet Miriam who is doing so well.
Work was busy because it was a live music night and don't you know I knew the singer, I think she slept with my dad once and we did not speak but she knew who I was.
And Dave walked in and Allyson, who is now a blond bombshell and we say "Oh it has been so long!" and they ask "Where have you been?". And again, after work who but Big E who wants to know where I've been. And I say, "I've been around, I don't get out much anymore."
At work I say, "Tangled Up in Blue" is the only Bob Dylan song I don't like." and Owen says, "Why? Why don't you like it? Is it because of J-?" because he knew me when and I hold up one hand like a stop sign and I say, "We do not speak of J-." and I walk back out of the kitchen and into the dining room to say hello to some regulars who just walked through the door. "What is wrong?" They ask. And then they introduce me to their friend who I already know through Ezzie whom we agree is a magnificent woman.
Can't I just not like a song?

Here is the sweetest thing: Two weeks ago I was so far away that I could walk down the street and not know anyone at all.
Here is a funny thing: When I am home, in my hometown, everyone I meet is nice and asks about my life and my family and they smile and they look into my eyes and I feel so desperately self conscious and exposed, so naked and raw, that no matter how nice they are I want to hide. Everywhere I go I see these very nice people, and I do not know why but it makes me feel scrubby and small. And so that is what I think I am.
When I went on my trip to see my friend Ezra (not his real name) it was not what either of us expected. I have known Ezra since before my youngest sister was born, and she was born when I was eleven so perhaps I was nine or ten, I don't remember. Ezra and his family lived in an Airstream trailer pulled by a (help me out here, Mama) '56 (?) Belle Aire (God what a pretty car, it looked like a rocket on the inside). They traveled the country while his daddy played the blues and his Mama taught the kids and once a year they would park in our driveway and Hank and I would get to stay home from school just to play. It was marvelous.
As kids we would put on shows for our parents and play truth or dare and roam the neighborhood and those boys (Ezra is one year older than me, his brother one year younger) were not like the kids at school, they were more like us. They had Imagination, and we could get them caught up in our worlds. Behind every fence there is a forest and that is where the children go. But then we grew up. Sort of.
Ezra and I kept in touch through letters. So many letters sent to Wyoming, to New Orleans, to Washington. Sometimes we were sweethearts, most of the time we just were, we had no name for this friendship that stayed mostly on a page. We talked on the phone, usually late at night. I've fallen asleep talking to him, but he never seemed to mind. It's always been earlier wherever he is. We kept in touch through boyfriends, through girlfriends, through heartbreak and marriage, through divorce and broken bones and babies born. He has two, aged eleven and seven. The last time I saw him was a long long time ago and so, when he offered to spot me a plane ticket, I packed my bags.
The family talked, afraid I would not come back. We aren't like that, I said. Mmmm hmmm, they said. But how do you explain a relationship spread out so long?
I am different now. I am not the girl who got in her truck at age nineteen and set out across the country. I am not the girl who went to Ghana and planted trees, or the girl who went to Paris and learned how to walk. I am not so free and easy, I am heavy, I just am. And I was afraid of that. It's one thing to talk on the phone and email and laugh and tell a million jokes and another to be face to face with your imaginary friend. I was afraid he would see how old I am now. I was afraid we'd run out of things to say. I was looking at myself through my hometown eyes.
It's a funny thing to see a childhood friend all grown up. He still looks the same in his smile and his eyes. He is famous in his town, and everywhere we went people knew him. He is the proprietor of a store and co-owner of an art gallery.


I hadn't been on a plane in so long, I didn't know how to do it. I watched the people in front of me take off their shoes and coats and put everything in bins to be x-rayed, and I followed suit, but when I asked if I needed to take my sweater off they laughed at me and told me that they'd let me keep my top on. I blushed at their belief in my stupidity (I was wearing a shirt under my sweater) and stood dumb as a cow in sock feet while they checked my shoes for explosives. "What if I had just walked through a fireworks warehouse?" I asked. "That could be a problem." they said. Note to self: Do not fly around the fourth of July.
I was afraid that I would be afraid of falling, afraid of crowds, afraid of birds flying into the engines or errant turbulence slapping my head into the ceiling and later causing death, but I wasn't. Alone at the top of a very high thing and I am terrified, trapped in a large metal tube hurdling through the air- no problem. I tried to sleep without drooling on myself.
I had some idea that I would freshen up once the plane got close to Seattle, so that when I saw Ezra for the first time I would look as good as I could under the circumstances. That plan was amended to "Eat a Mint" because there is no freshening in an airplane toilet, I would've had to stand in the aisle sideways to brush my hair, and for that I would've had to stand on a baby because there were so many babies on the plane. I will not stand on a baby to brush my hair.
I got off the plane and took the tram and barreled up the stairs and walked out into the sea of airport proper and turned around and there was Ezra. He had tried to hide, but couldn't once he saw me. The waters parted, I dropped my bags, and he snatched me up.
I felt so shy I couldn't look at him full on, I had to look at him in sideways bits and bites. He looked the same, he looked just fine, he looked like my friend, he grinned like a fool and after we picked up my luggage and got in his van we felt like we'd gotten away with something and no one was the wiser.
It took me three days to believe in the reality of him, it took three more to believe in his reality of me, and by that time I was home.
Every day I would wake up early and walk to get coffee and write, and then sneak back in to wake his sleepy self up and we'd go rambling. We went to the shore to look at horrible popping seastars and found a barnacle that looked like a tooth and stuck it in our mouths and said Golleeee and later I broke it. We went to breakfast with his friends and I ate blood oranges and offered to show them my breasts and was flattered by their silence. We went to an opening at his gallery and I got to meet the woman who is his partner and his best friend there and she is beautiful and makes beautiful art, she is a real artist and she has gorgeous eyes and sees gorgeous things with those eyes and puts those things, those luminescent things on giant canvases for everyone to see the gorgeous things in her eyes. We went to little towns and he is famous even there and we met the illusive Anacordes Mustache Bandit. We went to a military forte and discovered the tiny driftwood houses on the other side and we crawled into them like children and had adult conversations inside.
This friend, this friend, this friend took my awkwardness and my anxieties and was kind. He is my go-to man and whatever I wanted to do we did and whatever I needed he gave and whatever I was excited about he let me babble on, no matter how little he cared about that thing he just watched me with his whole face.
It wasn't easy for me. Here at home I try to be invisible and I can't be because everywhere I go I run into people I have known my whole life. There, with Ezra, I was invisible to the crowds and the seals and the waitresses (you should see how they look at him) but observed so closely by him I felt highlighted. I am a watcher too and I watched to memorize the way he picked up a rock or brushed his teeth or put on his hat or turned his head. I watched the way he looked at me, and the way he looked at everyone else.
How do you describe a friend, and why you like them? He is kind to strangers and tells good jokes. He has strong hands. He appreciates a good mustache. He will eat what I cannot finish. He loves his children. He wants everyone to have a good time and makes it so. He is not bothered by small things. He is very very patient, perhaps to a fault.
He took me to Seattle again toward the end of my stay and I found that I love Seattle. I love the colors and the people. We toured the underground and learned that Seattle's history is based on terrible plumbing, prostitution, and crooked merchants. We ate salmon every day and don't you know that made me happy? Every where we went he knew how to get along and so all I had to do was keep my eyes open and follow. At night in Seattle you can walk to the water and the factories look like stars.
In the end I came home, like I said I would. The Pacific Northwest has an energy like a mist blanket that settles around you and calms and quiets. It is a lulling thing and comfortable, but it is not my home.
Honeyluna took care of my house and cat while I was gone. When I got back it was cleaner than I left it and the bad cat was sweet and well behaved. She left me the sweetest notes telling me what she did while I was gone and how much she loves me. Sometimes I am just shocked by how altogether amazing that girl is.
I don't know, my friends. I'm glad to be home but I don't like my job and I feel that strange irritation of having been quiet and still for too long. A trip can mix things up and confuse things, it can make your life look different. It isn't that I want to be there, but here isn't any great shakes either. (And by here I don't mean Tallahassee per se, I mean what I've done with the place.) I tell myself I need to write more, but the words don't come, I think I should go out but I get so sleepy. In trying to be good, I do nothing at all. I read a thousand books. I have a bad attitude at work. I draw pictures of a table set, and do not color in the flowers. I will figure out the next right thing, it just takes me a very long time to do so. I have to put it in the back of my mind and pretend I'm not looking at it directly. And in the meantime this is life.
The thing is, I guess, that we can do anything, but we are bound by the constraints of what we want to do and what we feel comfortable with and what we can live with ourselves with if we do the things and so therefore we really can't do anything. But that which we can do is proabably a lot bigger than we give ourselves credit for. It's a matter of perspective. And it's no good trying to see ourselves through other people's eyes because that is always changing and to really understand we'd have to have their brains as well. So somehow, I've got to clear away the layers of desire to please and the neediness, and what I think I should do based on what I think is expected of me, and find that place inside that has wishes and dreams and let that air out. If I can. I do believe that a heart ignored is what causes bitterness and disatisfaction.
I am thankful for my friend for taking me away from my comfort zone. For making me laugh and showing me things. For waking me and shaking me, and getting me to open my eyes.


Ms. Moon said...

"I will not stand on a baby to brush my hair."
This is the best line ever in the history of all blogs.
Baby. You were talking to yourself here but you were talking to others too. Me, for one. Sometimes I think we are too much alike. I was joking with Kathleen about my "agoraphobia" the other day and how yes, I use it as an excuse. If I don't want to go somewhere to do something (mostly because I'll run into someone I know, of course), I can just say, "I have agoraphobia," and they say, "Oh. Okay."
And Kathleen wants you to be in a play next fall and you would be perfect in it. PERFECT! And I said, "Well, you know May has agoraphobia like I do." And we laughed.
I am glad that Ezra D got you to get on a plane and I know that feeling of WTF? Keep my mouth shut, pray no one planted a bomb in my vagina when I wasn't looking because GAWD I do not want to go to airport prison.
Every time I see that you have put up a new post, it honestly gives me a hot flash because I know I'm going to love it so much.
Excuse me. I have to go drink some water now and find a fan.
I love you.

downtown guy said...

May-O! Adventure is right on the other side of summer.

May said...

Mama- Yes, we are sisters in the agoraphobia disease. The thought of getting on stage almost gives ME a hotflash. Oh God. And your line about a bomb in your vagina?! My second laugh out loud of the day. Shit, at least we're funny.

DTG- Are you still in? We need to do some walking! Tonight, perchance?

downtown guy said...

I'm totally still in. I may limp the first 100 miles, but I will stroll the last.

I can't tonight - if I walk, it'll just about around the block a few times - but what about tomorrow? I'm thinking I may stop going to trivia.

Steph(anie) said...

Ezra sounds like a real good friend.

Mwa said...

I agree with your mother - I was going to say that was the best line ever as well.

It's strange, but I have never met you, and only read bits of your mind's goings on, and yet I love you like I could only love a friend.

Django said...

Baby-standing and bombginas. You are on the cutting edge of blog commentary!

Ezra is very glad you came to visit. He told me so himself. He also asked me to pass the following note to you (actually written by Ezra).

Thank you for visiting me and my little world. I see you and your ways in my head still. Fresh but fading. Sometimes very vividly, sometimes more ghosty and abstract. I wish I'd taken more pictures of you and of us and of the places we went.

Everyone you met here has asked how you are more than once. If you moved here tomorrow, it would take a week before you couldn't go ten feet without finding someone you knew.

I've known you for more than two thirds of my life. We've been best friends and imaginary friends for that whole time, and I don't think we've spent six weeks face-to-face.

Let's not wait quite so long next time, okay? I wouldn't mind having seen you for up to a total of twelve weeks by the time I'm 40.

You are exactly as beautiful and funny and kind as I'd built you up to be in my mind, which is no mean feat, as my mind is an expert builder. Thank you ten hundred times. For coming to visit, but also for always being there for me at exactly the right time.



PS - It was a '55 Chevy. By the end, it had three quarters of a million miles on the odometer. It was a casualty of Katrina, but it didn't exactly drown. That's a long story.

PPS - Do you have your joker?

Ok. Django here again. I'd be embarrassed to write some of that stuff in a public forum, but that Ezra, he just says it like he sees it.

I like your writing a lot. If I were prone to hot flashes, I'd be in the water line with your mama. But not in a "your mama" joke kind of way. Just a regular old water line. Because of the hot flashes. That I don't get but would if I... Nevermind. Keep writing. I read every letter. Ezra too.

May said...

Steph- He is. I am a lucky lady indeed.

Mwa- I feel the same way! You saying that makes me feel so good, you are so funny, sweet, and sharp, and such a good mama. It makes me feel proud to have you as a heart-friend.

Django and Ezra- You guys. (Yes, I have my joker.) So many things I did not write about, but have stored up in my head. Thank you for letting me visit. Thank you for taking care of me. Blarg, I'm getting too sappy. Yes, we will see each other before we are 40. We will make it happen.

Mel said...

May, I never know what to say after I read your posts, I mostly want to just hug you, because I understand almost everything you are saying, and I'm mesmerized by how well you say it all. And I'm with Mwa, I love you like a friend too. Maybe we're all a little agoraphobic and this format just works for us. I mostly try to be invisible too, because I can't fathom small talk and I can't exactly spill my guts to the people who "know" me either. I think I'm still busy trying to know myself. It's so very hard to figure out where to be and what to be doing. Hopefully you've figured out that no matter what else you do, you need to be writing. Sharing it with us is a gift, and I want to thank you and your amazing mom for the bursts of laughter in my soggy morning, and for the thoughts I'll ponder today. It's so wonderful that you have a friendship that transcends space and time. Lucky, lucky, lucky!

Sarcastic Bastard said...

This is beautiful and so are you.

Your friend sounds like a really, really good person. What a gift that is, when we encounter it in life.

You are loved, May.


SJ said...

Baby -that second to last paragraph was so perfect I almost can't stand it. I too, am torn so perfectly between home and away that someimes the paradox and parallels are just too much to handle. I work here (I pretty much HAVE to work here) and my heart is almost alwasy a hundred miles away. BUT...this is my home, too. When I am gone, I miss this old city of mine.

But I know what you mean, about knowing every street corner and every person knowing you when you wore big glasses and had braces on your teeth (or maybe that was me.) usual, I get it, and you said it so much better than I could. Love, love, sister mine.

Jo said...

The wonder of invisible friends :) Long may they light our way.

I think you should focus on the good of you more. The things you're worried about don't seem so important, and that you're hiding the things that count, missing them because you're hiding with your eyes shut.

Of course you don't like your job. You're living in the inbetween and it's time to move on out and up.

I love that your beautiful friend opened your eyes up to a different picture of you. This all sounds so familiar, it's hypocritcal of me to give advice... but just.. the sooner the better. Go for it, while you still want to flash your boobs at people :)

Petit fleur said...

Love your words.

Love you more.

Happy you got all shook up. It's good for the soul.

xoxo m

Bethany said...

I love the baby and brush hair line too.
Love all this. The adventure, connection, musings.
Wonderful stuff.
I really like how you wrote about what we really CAN do. I agree.
You'll figure it out.
It's weird though isn't it, how home can make you feel so dead sometimes?
Your friend sounds magnificent.
Her sure loves you.

Charmless said...

Huh... so I didn't say anything when you offered to show your breasts? One of two things happened then. Either 1) I didn't hear, or 2) I had only known you a few hours. If it had been the next day, I would have said, "Yes, ok."

Never the less, you should definitely consider being wildly impulsive and moving here. We can add you to the roster of Sunday morning breakfast patrons and discuss spaceships making whooshing sounds in a vacuum until the topic has all the flavor chewed out of it.

May said...

Charmless- Not just spaceships! Proton torpedoes! Space explosions! In space, no one can hear you.... blow up an enemy warship. Or can they?
I think you were more entranced with your pancakes than you were with the idea of my breasts. Your pancakes WERE very large and pillowy, I have to say.
Anyways, I am quite flattered that you stopped by, and I don't think I'll be moving there any time soon even though it is tempting. What I really want to know is, do you have your joker?

Charmless said...

Or am I lying, and my pants are off right now?

These are mysteries that will echo through history.

Django said...

Unfortunately, having his joker present does not keep Charmless' pants on. I think he's confused about the way the game works.

I really haven't wanted to hang out with him much.

May said...

Yea, he shall be called... Pantsless!

Della said...

I totally understand where you are. This is a little of where I am right now.
I'm Sensitive......BACK OFF!!
When you do seem to be starting to care again...the good and the bad comes.

That car stopped in front of my house...WHY? Aggravating. That person just walked through my yard. Aggravating. Why are you breathing so loud?!?!?!?!

OK...way too far! LOL but true.
Chronic Pain can make you CRAZY!!

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