There are little more than country roads and a small yet troubled city across the river. The river is flat and shallow yet divides this pathetic region between chaos and control, crime and law. The skyline could be rebuilt with cardboard boxes and the suburban neighborhoods across the river are full of undertow, soccer fields with no teams and small bakeries which close down four years after they open. You’re here with me.
The moon is white as the trains go by with horns and grinds which call out the meaning of progress, the ugly schematics of having what you want when you want it. Your shoulder fits so perfectly under my arm, your head cradled into my shoulder as we contemplate our own self-worth, our own artistic demise, our own suffering at the hands of our self-limited mediocrity. Your hair is pulled back, the roots showing your dye fading yet framing your face like a family photo. You nod off as I go on about something which has no effect on anyone, be it Cole Porter or the George W. Bush library or the heaving cough our beagle sometimes has. We had finished dreaming before you fell asleep.
I miss you already. I miss the world you give me in the hypes of consciousness, of laughing at death until we actually do have to solve problems. There is a raft which carries me through each flood, and it’s the slightly-upturned lip and flash of perfectly imperfect teeth, white and stoic, only the slightest shade of stains from coffee and nicotine. It’s okay. I have them, too.
I do not believe in magic. I do not believe some great clock had ground its gears into nothingness until we had met. I believe in chance. I believe in the mixed Brownian social order with which we found each other. How ugly it is to find the person you want to spend every minute with and chalk it up to such a cold hand as “fate”, such an impersonal wind as who is “meant” for us. Fuck that. I found you and you found me. We worked through failed relationships and bankruptcies and miscarriages from the time of our birth to the end of the day where we found each other on marble steps, outlining platonic plans with little more than pen, paper, and your damned smile. That was us. This is our’s to celebrate.
And ever since it has been you. It has been your anxiety and your happiness. Your love affair with music which I beg you to indulge in, the books I pass you and the idiotic stories I try to relate. The fears you have and every other thing stopping you from enjoying that white moon, that sullen river, that city across the way we have no business being near. There is no map to you, no preset path I can take to make our life easier or even your pain smaller. There is only the brush we set aside, a trail of torn down bushes and scorched earth by our intermittent anger, our temporary frustration, our bouts of whiskey-fueled duels and sunrises and apologies and of-course-I-didn’t-mean-that’s. You believe you have infested me with your world but I am the one polluting, I am the smokestack creating fog between us, towering skyscrapers though we may be. We all want to believe we’re Paris when we’re Shanghai or Detroit.
Last week we traversed the Turnpike; from Harrisburg to Philly to Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. It’s a long and boring drive yet far from pointless. Even if the destination is unfulfilled the mere journey, the very existence of somewhere other than here forces one to shut down the phones and the GPS and the radio, merely appreciating how many roads I can take from such a straight path. You chain-smoked as semis swerved between us, seemingly dancing to break the monotony of weighing ten tons and going 80 MPH downhill. Although it makes you nervous, we must get where we’re going. We must appreciate the risk of driving at all, the danger of becoming streak marks on a median wall. And although the two of us are on a journey, it’s your open sea which keeps me going. Your endless and turbulent waves which leave me clinging to the hull, staring up into the storm, and smiling at the impossibility of who we are and who we want to become. I’m comfortable; are you?