A late night on the road. Moonlight reflects off the ocean like a white dot scribbled on water. There is no room for poetry in your life, just the sound of the waves on the shoreline. The digital glow of the car radio lights up your face; only halfway, the rest of you a mystery. The crystal outline of ships at sea firelight the dark horizon. California sleeps behind us and the ocean sleeps in front of us and we are caught in a space that is nothing and everything all at once. I resent the waves. They applaud you on the shore; like they agree with your decision to leave.
The beachfront of this city stretches down the coastline in a pearl of million dollar homes. I tell you I’ll live in one of those expensive mansions when my writing makes me rich. We laugh because we both know that will never happen. But we pretend what life would be like on that balcony on the hill that stretches out over the highway towards the ocean. Our wine glasses on that balcony would always be filled. The wooden beams keeping us from falling over would always be sturdy. We would catch sand flakes between our toes and sleep on beach chairs with the ocean breeze blowing torrents and tussling our hair. And the moon, always full, would shine the light on all of your face to keep me from guessing.
I drive you home and almost two years later I park my car in the same parking lot and think of the London town I will fly to in a few weeks time. You have been long gone. I have been long here. The pearly white mansions don’t look the same; they look hollow. That balcony still rests on the hillside; it looks sunken. The nighttime swings me again. The Los Angeles winds push my back as I stand on this cliff side and watch the waves crash below. You are not the waves; they always roll back in foam and froth. You are more like this night sky…cloudless, that’s what you are; an endless arrangement of possibility.
A few months pass.
London wraps me in its European weather. The coffee shop I write in smells like rainfall. Everyone walks by me and I wonder if everyone walks by you, wherever you are. I leave the coffee shop and wander to a play at the Open Air Theater in Regent Park. Trees and singing birds border the amphitheater while the early evening light hovers over the stage. The play is an adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. You might remember that it’s my favorite book. And the play is wonderful; it perks me up, Scout and Atticus and Jem jump from the pages of Harper Lee’s novel and come to life in front of me. During the intermission I think about writing my first novel, the novel I always talk about but never write, because the first sentence always trips me up, because I always try to find ways to relate everything to you, maybe that’s my fault, trying to find you in the faces of people who pass me on the street. Some other girl will have to inspire my first paragraph. Do you mind?
There are no beaches here. There are mansions but no balcony floorboards for you to penetrate. There is plenty of wine, believe me, I’ve gone through so many bottles. And there are other women. Nothing permanent. But the temporary nature of them plays with my forever. I see myself in the windows of these homes and find my writing while staring into the rain and into the faces of women who like to hear me talk. I have no wedding ring to give but I have a few more drinks to buy, and cigarettes to light, and photographs to take that remind me of the solitary splendor I have woven around me like the tinsel and ornamentations that hang from a Christmas tree. My flat has pieces of me all over: my clothes in the closet; my toothbrush in the medicine cabinet; my shoes in the cupboards; the water I purchase from the store down the road in the small refrigerator near the window. Can you imagine this place?
If you wonder why I am not where you are, turn to page 1,272 in my journal. I fall apart there. Do you remember? It’s that night near the ocean. I took you home and drove by myself for a time, wondering where life would mistakenly or purposefully take me. The Hollywood hills held nothing for me. The flats of Santa Monica only reminded me of the price I had to pay to live there. And my couch- the one I always wrote on and slept on- had the fabrics of you still imprinted on its threads. I sat on you then, and wrote of you then, and fell apart in a thousand words that blistered and were reborn again in sentiments of at least I knew how to love you. And now I’m chasing something that doesn’t exist. What folly. What a Shakespearian comedy. I read in between the lines yet ignore the meaning behind the non-existent romance that burns like wood on a California beach; a campfire flaring up the good and smoldering the bad in one giant flame that I continue to stare into. I can laugh, thinking about it. My family wants me to laugh. I do, I really do. But it’s this writing of you that knackers me; pesters me; amusingly sings to me when the day runs into the night runs into minutes and hours and hours and minutes spent in predictable contemplation. Andy would shun me for this entry, but Andy is married and knows his wife will always come back to him, because she makes up his waves, and holds his child in her belly. It’s like the last line in To Kill A Mockingbird:
“[Atticus] would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked in the morning.”
By the time the sunset has settled into the Open Air Theater the night sky roars with scarlets and oranges that streak towards the horizon as the western sky inhales them closer into the fiery graveyard of the sun. The lights in the theater boom and the actors look brilliant against the backdrop of trees and stars. I meet a few of them before exiting, and tell them how moved I am by the performance. Then I take a long stroll through the park, sitting on benches here and there to admire the starlight. I think about the non-existent beaches here, and the non-existent balcony that hangs over the highway and stretches towards the sun, and think of you, because that’s what I do best, but not in a way that is remorseful or petty, but in a way that is inspiring and unique. I eventually make my way home in a train filled with drunks and couples and stickers glued to the seats and wonder where the next woman is who can take my broken novel and make it real again…