It’s the guy with the blonde mohawk’s birthday, and I think I just punched him in the face.
But if I did, it was a right friendly punch. Sensa Yuma is playing the Au, and everybody’s dancing like a writhing lunatic. You could call it moshing. But you’d be wrong. This is a collective orgasm.
I danced so hard that I had to stop and rest against the wall. I guess that’s when I met Will. We exchanged giddy grins, both in a panting search for our breath. I motioned with my hands, one finger, two, three, and we both jumped back into the fray.
Single hand gestures that determine the events of entire years. The barely noticable countdowns that spark the fuse of the dynamite that will explode one spring day when you’ve stopped remembering whether or not that band played an encore or what the singer’s face looked like.
By the time the show ended, it was 1:40. In other words, Filter and I had missed the last train back to Frankfurt Innenstadt, a fact we were forced to come to terms with on the empty Rödelheim platform. We examined the map hanging next to the train schedule. And the map I so cleverly meant to put in my coat pocket is asleep at home in my bed. From 2 am, Frankfurt looks pretty fucking far away. Fuck.
Option 1: Curl up in a dry-looking gutter and sleep until the trains start running again at 5. Option 2: Follow the drinking gourd to…wait a fucking minute, I can’t even see the fucking stars. Option 3: Go back to the Au and ask around until we find a ride.
Option 3 it is.
As we’re heading back in, Will is heading out. “Hey so we have a bit of a problem,” I tell him. “We missed the last train into Frankfurt, and we have no fucking clue how to get home.”
“Yeah, that is a problem,” he replies. Yes, yes it is. But instead of shrugging and telling us to fuck off, he asks us where we’re from and then brings us to his friend’s car and tries to convince him to fit us in the trunk. “If he won’t take you,” he tells us as we walk to the car, “I’ll walk you back myself. But you have to be nice,” he tells me, “unbeliebably nice. He’s had problems with his liscense and he doesn’t want to lose it again.”
But the trunk is very clearly full (no it’s not a closed trunk, this wasn’t going to be kidnap-style transport) and the answer is a very clear no that no amount of ‘unbeliebaly nice’ is going to change.
It’s looking like option 2 after all.
We walked for ten minutes, twenty, thirty, an hour, two, a trail of butts and empties stretching out behind us Hansel-and-Grettel style. But! At last! At long last! Nordend!
Filter turned off at her flat, wet, tired, a half-remembered goodbye spat between her disappearing back and the slamming door. An I-live-near-here that convinced me to accept Will’s offer to walk me the four more blocks to mine.
The distortion of memory leaves only the details. Authors’ details, woven loosely together into dirty skeletons, empty halls that readers’ imaginations will later flesh out into muscle, flesh, arteries, pumping blood. A simple hand gesture. A wrought iron fence felt through a coat, against your back. A hand on the back of your neck. A promise that you’ll call. A folded peice of paper in the back of your wallet.
Promise me, promise me that you’ll call.
We stay up all night talking about the paintings on the wall, passing the ember between us, the patterns on the ceiling burning themselves slowly into our consciousness, and we lay curled together beneath one blanket so we don’t have to turn on the heat.
And in the morning I forget most of our conversations.
And maybe, in the mornings, you forget most of me.
Retrospect is a bitch.
Once I called you in the middle of the night. I’m standing in front of a blue gas station, I said, and I don’t know where I am. You were with a friend. He gave me directions. You came to get me. I never found a damn thing I painted that night. I never do. Three a.m. has a way of erasing your memory that no hangover can compete with.
I roam the city photographing graffiti and listening to music and thinking of you and there are songs that are moments and I listen to them like memories, over and over again so that they can be with me in the present. You are the present. If you became the future I would lose you. You would become that guy who doesn’t call when I need him to, and I would become that girl who always cries at the wrong time.
I still remember how it felt the first time I was in your room. I got lost on the way to your house. I was always lost, calling you to figure out how to get to where I was trying to go. I got lost so many times on the way to your house. And you’d always come find me, lead me back to your place where we’d smoke another joint and giggle and watch that video of those stomp people throwing books on the floor in rhythm.
You came to find me with Deftones in your headphones, and that was the night that I asked you what you believed in. And you told me. And I told you about everything, even about the printing presses I was dreaming of putting in the little garage behind the used book store that I would run in that small town.
I wonder if you can read this. I wonder if they will black out the important lines at customs. It’s hard to tell, these days. They’re searching everybody’s bags.
You called me while I was writing this and now my hands are shaking, as if I’ve been caught in the act.
We’ve been doing this now for over a year.
It’s not true really. I do know a few things about you. I know about where you work and what you did last night. I know that you don’t like red wine. I know that sometimes you’re too tired to climb the ladder to your lofted bed and you sleep on the pull-out futon beneath it. I know that you roll your own cigarettes and try to quit and that there’s a pile of costumes on the chair in your room, and that I forgot my hoodie here three months ago. That hoodie. Fuck.
We’ve been doing this for over a year.
There was that morning when we had breakfast with D and K. When I asked for jam because nothing was vegan and D couldn’t believe I wanted a sweet breakfast.
There was that night when you called me late. You were having a party at your place and I came over when I was done babysitting. Before we even went into D’s room we disappeared into yours. You were drunk and silly and kept chanting “Kikerikoo kikerikoo Blut in mein shuh!” And you spoke English with me for the first time and you spoke English like a western and I spoke German like a child and we laughed at that. We laughed and we touched knees as your friends argued about birth control. That was how it was back then.
There was a night when I thought it was over. I came over and you were playing with the new drum machine, had been for hours. We watched Hannibal dubbed in German and then Vanilla Sky. I fell asleep until the credits rolled. On cue, I woke up, and turned to you. It always takes a movie or two before we forget that we’re too nervous to find each others’ hands.
The first time you came to my apartment, I finally started to believe that you existed. “You know,” I told you, “I’ve never seen you outside of your apartment. I was beginning to think you weren’t real.” You didn’t laugh. I changed the subject.
The first time I met someone else who knew you, who said your name out loud, I got nervous. I was beginning to think you were a phantom. A muse I dreamed about. You were my muse. I wrote for you. I write to you. Letters that you’ll never read. There are boxes of them. Someday my grandchildren will burn them while I’m asleep, and it won’t matter anymore that secretly, I was in love with you.
The first time you were in my apartment we slept with our heads at the broken side of the bed. And we lay cuddled together under one blanket so we didn’t have to turn on the heat.
“Do you want a coffee?” I just came to get my hoodie. I drink a coffee instead. Just friends is ok. Just friends is perfect. Just friends. Just friends. I’ve convinced myself that this was your idea.
We exchange stories, projects, buttons, patches, but when I say I have to go, you put your hand on my leg.
“Listen,” I said, taking your hand in mine, “There’s someone in my life now…I don’t want to fuck it up. We can’t make out.” He doesn’t want a girlfriend. He’s not in love. But all the same it’s too complicated. I can’t get my multiplication tables right anymore. It’s time to go back to addition.
He shrugged, his eyes almost big. Almost as if he hadn’t heard me.
“I thought the same thing must have happened to you, you hadn’t called in so long…”
“I was busy, that’s all.” His hand began to move. Calming, familiar. I know these hands. I know what they can do. I trust them. Can you lose something you never had?
“Openess means talking then doing, not doing then talking,” I plead.
“But we should go to bed one last time.”
“Then when, if not today?”
I grab his hand again, in self defense.
“I have to leave before I do something stupid.”
He’s rubbing my stomach now.
“This is hard, you feel really good, but I can’t.”
“You do too.” Inching further, seeing how far my weakness will take me.
“You make me weak.”
Now a hug, his head on my chest. “No. I have to go, now, before I do something I’ll regret.” His hand reaching farther now, but I’ve already hugged him goodbye and run out of the apartment.
And I’m running all day, walking fast, as if some phantom is chasing me. He’s always behind me, and I can’t walk fast enough. My hands are shaking. There is no safe place, no hug waiting down the block, no sympathetic ear. Just a silent phone and the echo of footsteps somewhere in the distance. I’ve got to keep walking. I have no other choice. And when the footsteps have finally faded into the distance, it’s the silence I’ll be running from, the echo of potential, the refrain of this song I’ve been writing.