i’ve been sitting on my balcony, looking west down 17th in oakland, the way i used to walk to bart when we were all still allowed to go to work. i am not missing the job, but i am craving the encounters—the man in the red track suit with tears on his face, the construction worker admonishing the driver of a bmw, the woman with the slanted mouth. now, we are all alone with our bodies. to pass the time, we do things to change them. today, everything reminded me of something else, but that’s been happening for years.
i’ve been running more. drinking more, too. but isn’t everyone, these days? my arms are tightening, finding new lines to push up the ink i bled into them last night out of boredom. my legs burn with repeated activity. still, it’s not a linear firming. my stomach getting softer. my hips are over-tuned. the left one—the hip i plan to tattoo with bent oak trees, the hip i used to ask him to bite, the hip that betrays the rest of me whenever i forget to stretch it out, the hip that spasms when bent past 45 degrees for too long, the hip i keep bumping off walls because i still forget how much space my body takes up in the world, the hip that someone once compared to a stick to a knife to the only alter he'd ever pray at, the hip that makes me feel like an old man, the hip with a freckle just inside the bend, the hip that i used to jut out as i called across parties, the hip with a bruise that kept resurfacing for a year like a recharged toxin, the hip that might be the only part of my body i enjoy thinking about, the hip that pokes through my thin pants when i lay down on the ground and stretch both arms high, so high above my head. It usually suffers less when I am alone.
outside, people eye each other, looking for the same careless beauty reflected in the other. the sadness of being away from the person you love can be occasionally abated by the dull pricks of excitement that come from male attention. these days, i’ll hold eye contact for too long, seeing if anything will wake me up. today, i saw a man who reminded me of someone specific from my childhood. it didn’t matter. when you aren’t allowed to go anywhere, all you want are the places you didn’t know you’d been craving your whole life until you bruise your shins running into them. no luck so far.
these days, i’m trying to write while lost seagulls caw down the street. i wake up from stress dreams about increasingly complicated job descriptions. i wake up from dreams in which his face melts into something inhuman, but when i wake up i can never remember what it is. i wake up, unsure if i was masturbating in my sleep. i fall back into dreams of having sex on a boat, rocking against the water. outside, couples scream their happiness in my face and i am suddenly so sorry for every choice i’ve made.
last sunday, i got very sad and couldn’t even blame the rain. on tuesday, i became more aware of the nerves bracing inside me. today, my left hip put me on the ground, said, alright now, ok, come on, it’ll pass, just lay here for a bit, stretch both arms high high high above your head.