Sitting at the Beach Side Bar Like an Asshole

I watch this woman sitting at the beach side bar, sipping her yellowy wine. Must be chardonnay because it’s too dark in color to be a Sauv Blanc. Looks buttery, too. The way it slides a tiny bit slower down the sides and back into place when she sets it back down on the counter. A Sauv is crisper, lighter, more refreshing. Perfect for summer. Perfect for now (no, it really isn’t), as I sit on the other side of the gigantic ocean-facing restaurant with my husband who is sipping respectably on his Cape May IPA. I never liked beer. Beer was not my thing. Well, maybe it was back in college when it was really the only alcohol available at parties besides hard liquor mixed with some kind of Hawaiian Punch type deal. Christ, the shit we used to drink was sickening but at least we drank gallons of it.

Wine wasn’t part of my everyday until I became a far more sophisticated female alcoholic than I had previously been. Classier. More grown-up. That’s the bit, you see what I mean. It isn’t just the wine it’s the whole persona of the drinking of the wine and what that instantly makes you. Or should we say, how it makes you appear to the outside world, and since we believe ourselves to be who we make the world believe we are, we are pleased as that trashy college punch with ourselves and the whole fucked up, fun-house mirror of distortions we have managed to fabricate but believe happens naturally just by holding a glass of this shit. It’s impressive in a way. Amusing, even. Our little psycho-delectations.

Watching the waves slam heavy into the shoreline just a few yards away, we point to the seventeen or so surfers who rise and fall and coast along at varying levels of water-slicked prowess. It’s a very rough and strange day. One minute the sun is shining bright and you have to come out of your hoodie because it’s so damn hot, and the next minute the giant dark storm clouds roll in, the wind kicks up in the opposite direction and drops everything twenty degrees. No sooner do you apply your sunscreeen than the cold drizzle pricks against your sunglasses, making you wonder why in the fuck you made the hour drive to begin with.

But multiple outfit changes aside, the ocean is wild, thunderous and beautiful. The smell of salt, sand, and sea is so good for the soul. My soul, our souls. It’s weird how you can be sitting next to other humans and feel a million miles away from them at the same time. I don’t know what is going through the chardonnay lady’s head as she scrolls her phone and adjusts her oversized sun hat. I imagine her blood warming, her mind slowing, and everything around her getting fuzzy. I think about how it’s only 12:30 in the afternoon and when I started drinking that early in the day it was a non-stop frustration for the rest of the day to balance quenching my craving for more and more with wanting to not pass out on the beach and feel hungover by dinner.

My husband, gorgeous sweet man that he is, asks the young bartender if he has any zero proof liquor. The gentleman smirks and stares stupified at both of us. It’s very possible he thinks this question is a joke and a truly hilarious one at that. I know it sounds outrageous and insane. That anyone would actually want a gin martini made with alcohol-free botanicals, juniper, and possibly seaweed extract. I know how pointless that sounds. You don’t drink to get healthier, you nimrod, this guy is probably thinking. What in the actual fuck are you even talking about. Why the fuck are you sitting at my gloriously glossy bar ordering tonic and lime, talking some shit about booze without the booze in it, ordering your pretentious antipasto salad at lunch when it’s only on the dinner menu.

Because I’m sober, asshole. And sometimes I feel like a motherfucking boss about it and other times, in the blink of an eye, I suddenly feel like throwing back every bottle of liquor you have so skillfully displayed in that cleverly stacked pyramid formation without so much as coming up for air to make up for the pathetic one hundred and forty nine days I’ve spent clean. And, just like you, I do not understand what life is supposed to be anymore without my precious drink of choice in my hand. Let alone on the holiday weekend that jump starts everybody’s summer. Let alone how the weather changes from brilliant to menacing every five goddamn minutes.

Summertime Madness (audio)

The chirping birds and I watch the world with our beady eyes. In the back of my mind there is a humming that just won’t quit. Anxiety. All the little birds all around and around in the trees which tower and sway and clump together like giant beasts, and the noise which is so relentlessly pleasant it nests in your ears and drives you mad.

You imagine me like a small butterfly in your palm. You watch my wings, my colors, my tiny antennae probing in all directions. At the center of the earth is your heart on fire with a kind of smoldering passion. The dark parts of what makes you up begin to pulse to life. I wish I could write something worth your time. I would like to bring forth a story, a world, conjure something up that fits perfectly into the cave of your most burning desire.

The trouble is when I picture you in my mind, I am always just a little off. I see not you but through you, as if you exist but only barely. Perhaps I am the only one who can see you. If that were true, would I know it? Or would you?

You tell me talking nonsense will only exhaust my thinking and amount to jitters and aches in the end, so instead of taking you too seriously I step barefoot into the garden and light the last cigarette from the pack I swear will be my last but promises are pie-crusted and broken, it always seems, when entrusted to my own hands.

The summer is hazy as it caresses my bare skin. It’s too hot to do much of anything except slink into the cool pool water and stare out across the brittle sweet grass. The clouded sky above me is as blue as a robin’s egg and exactly as fragile. Do you ever find yourself remembering my lips on yours? Sometimes I do. I fantasize about the way you take your time stroking me. Your hands and your scent and my weakness for your impossible strength.

I take a swallow of ice-cold gin, examine my thighs as they part silently underneath the crystal water. My skin is the tension of a cracked eggshell sky, and it all buzzes in my brain like a sunlit agitation.

. . . .

Perhaps not the best recording. I just wanted to open my mouth and feel words come out. It helps me somehow. I guess to feel real. Whatever that means.

The Knots Begin

It’s the part of the morning when the sky is whitish-pink, blush. With a kiss of promise, thin. Fleeting. The knots begin their tightening in my stomach, and I worry: will this be a good, safe day? Somewhere it isn’t. And I am so porous (I misspell this, pourous, and imagine my body as a vessel, emptying, emptying, like a flood crushes stone) I’m not sure I can tell anymore what’s in here, and what’s out there. It’s all come inside, inside and crouches like an animal. Coils and coils of panicked stillness. Trembling hesitation. Everything is covered with eyes, all blinked observation. Everything from all sides, inside, outside, watching. Vigilance without aim is fear. Peach light seeping over the grass, melting wet and buzzing in the trees.

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT

The Beat Goes On

In the early morning light as it cuts corners into stark shapes along the buildings arranged in rows, a kind of hot energy bends and breaks itself upon the edges of the shadows. I hear and see things they cannot perceive and it both drains and fortifies me.

Watch as the sun rises and falls, remember it stays the same, remember it is motionless and without need. White as cold ice melting at the bottom of a late night glass.

As I fold my few things into a suitcase, the ocean plays itself in soft foam waves in my mind. Where in the world can we ever be free? We try and we try and we run the pavement.

He pours his coffee in the kitchen, I hear the mug slide onto the marble counter and something inside of me echoes inside of his daily routine. How do we tear our hearts out of this place.

Sweet froths of pleasure sewn into the pain.

Landscapes, seascapes, the heart is a difficult and unnatural terrain. A summer of protests, the heat of violence, injustice, screaming and wrecking and pleading in the steaming streets.

As I was taking down the words of Janaya Khan, something in their beauty tore a fire straight down the center of me. The Future. Their words full of fists, their soul full of dazzling light. I want to be changed. I want their hands on my skin, my wrists, my face, fingers in my blood.

Don’t let me stay too long; don’t let me stay the same. They say the only punch that hurts is the one you don’t see coming.

Eyes open now, beloved.

Head up now, child.

It’s time we learned ourselves a tough lesson.

It’s time we held each other closer to the flames.

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