Your handwritten manuscript is stuffed into a manila folder that’s crammed into a magazine holder that pouts on the bottom right of the six shelves of books at the foot of my bed. I won’t look at it, and can’t remember if I ever have. In fact, somehow I’d forgotten that it even was there, until it recently reasserted itself in my consciousness. But I won’t look at it because I love you and it will hurt.
I’m not sure I remember your voice. I’d recognize it, of course — but if someone asked me to sing all of Appalachian Spring, I could — all the parts, really, of the original ballet. If they asked me to mimic my father, I couldn’t. I’d blame this on being a musician instead of an actor, but I wouldn’t buy my own warsh. If I’m so damn smart, if I’m such a fucking listener, if I’m so careful with my craft, why can’t I replicate a man I carry in my bones? Why can’t I raise him
The wall of bookcases watches Manhattan.
If I pressed myself against the wall, miming the shelves, Manhattan would stand erect right back at me.
It’s clear tonight: the East River is striped orange and blue, mirroring the Bridge; Queens is low-slung and wide. Manhattan is. If I’d shelled out 40% more for a corner unit and snugly bungeed myself into my balcony, I’d tell you that sullen Brooklyn is chillin’, too. But I didn’t, so I won’t.
I traffic in ephemera. I read read read read read all day at work, read read read at home, am too tired to read books, so then I’ll read blogs, I’ll flip through Feedly, I’ll devour Vogue. I write emails and memos and emails and gchats and god damn it why does this new Mac keep auto-correcting “gchats”
I traffic in ephemera and I always have. Why is this satisfying? To play, to teach, to speak, to cajole. I trade in experiences: I’ll make you think and burn and cry and horny, but I won’t make you breakfast in bed, and I won’t sketch your profile, and I won’t knit you a sweater, and I can’t shoot a pheasant out of the gray sky, or reel in a Wisconsin Walleye and love it with butter and heat. But when my competitive core burns white, I can make you root for someone else, I can play you a tune that will make your fucking heart explode, you’ll learn trig with all the joy and trepidation of pubescent masturbation.
I mostly fuck lawyers. Really, Dad, I’ve tried to branch out, I swear; but we seem fond of each other. I have
binders full of women a cell phone that presents infinite parades of strangers for my swipe-left or -right, and yet the ones who stick are lawyers (whom I probably would’ve met anyway). I go to Croatia, and a season later, an arrogant lad continues to harangue me over the internet. I catch a flight in El Salvador and a man named Ulysses (no shit) (but pronounced the Spanish way), a “criminal finance lawyer” (we clarified — the useful translation is “white collar defense”) is smitten, but, thankfully, too polite to push things. (But he was handsome.)
One of the fun things about dating non-lawyers, then — or lawyers who are artists, or athletes — is how they will love this body. I’ve got thick dark hair and a favorable waist-to-ass ratio, so yes, with lawyers, too, I do fine. But a doctor will examine every bit of you with wonder, and a sculptor will trace your textures. An engineer will manipulate your joints and muscles, and a painter will love you in the light.
My photographer-lawyer respected me for my backbone; desired me for my brain; melted for my heart and laugh. And he loves the portraits he caught on the landfill. I see my Bad Side, shit posture, a gut borne thereof, no discernible upper-arm muscles, and a woman who struggles to remember whether she wants a higher or lower aperture. He sees a woman he may or may not love. And when others view these portraits, they see her, too.
Nick — you remember Nick — Nick’s making me art. Something big and alive, some love to press into an unadorned white wall watching Manhattan. What do you want? I don’t know, you’re the artist. What do you like? I don’t know — I just know when I like stuff. What kind? I don’t know. What if I do a portrait of your dad?
What if he does a portrait of my dad?