Later this afternoon I’ll go back to Williamsburg with Alex. I’ll be cold on the subway and he’ll take off his leather jacket and put it over my shoulders. It will be the kindest gesture anyone will do for me for the rest of my life, and I have a sense of it, in that moment. Once we’re back in his horrible apartment, we will begin to make love. And even though he’s three inches from my face- And he’s looking directly into my eyes. I can see that he is miles away and is thinking of someone else. And he feels so good. And I feel so good. And he holds me. And he holds me and he holds me and he holds me. And he holds me for a long time. And he holds me until I hear his long deep exhale that I’ve come to know means that he is asleep. And he is asleep and I am awake and- OK the thing with guys, when they make love to you it’s like they’re running into your arms. And if you look really close at their faces, you can see if they’re running towards you or running away from something else- and you just got in the way. And I got a good look at Alex’s face and- he was definitely fleeing someone or something and I was road kill. I mean beautiful road kill… I sneak out of bed and go to my laptop computer, get on line, and quickly type in the name, “Mitchell Green” and look at this photograph of this guy next door for a very long time. And then I find the sleek new gimp bracelet I made- which is just so orange- and I, with the merest suggestion of pageantry, slide it on his wrist. And I go to sleep just content as like a…’cause I know- wherever he is. Whoever. Whoever he’s with. He’s wearing that bracelet and. I’m with- I’m. So, you see, a lot can be said about the psychologically healing powers of jewelry.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
There was a lynching mob that came before a judge who accused them of hanging a man without a fair and objective trial. "Oh, your Honor," the leader said, "we listened very fairly and objectively to every word he had to say. Then we hung the son of a bitch." I wanted to maintain my objectivity, but Mother Miriam wouldn't believe that. Oh, she couldn't have known about Marie, but she must have suspected something. Marie was my younger sister, who decided she had a vocation to the convent when she was fifteen. So my mother sent her off without a second thought, and I never saw her again. I received a message late one night that Marie had died of acute, and unattended, appendicitis because her Mother Superior wouldn't send her to a hospital. (She laughs.) Well, no, I guess at heart I couldn't be very fair and objective, could I? But I tried. I remember waiting to view Marie's body in a little convent room, and staring at those spotless walls and floors and thinking, my God, what a metaphor for their minds. And that's when I realized that my religion, my Christ, is this. The mind. Everything I do not understand in this world is contained in these few cubic inches. Within this shell of skin and bone and blood I have the secret to everything. I look at a tree and I think, isn't it wonderful that I have created something so green. God isn't out there. He's in here. God is you. Or rather you are God. Mother Miriam couldn't understand that, of course.
A 'C'? A 'C'? I got a 'C' on my coat hanger sculpture? How could anyone get a 'C' in coat hanger sculpture? May I ask a question? Was I judged on the piece of sculpture itself? If so, is it not true that time alone can judge a work of art? Or was I judged on my talent? If so, is it fair that I be judged on a part of my life over which I have no control? If I was judged on my effort, then I was judged unfairly, for I tried as hard as I could! Was I judged on what I had learned about this project? If so, then were not you, my teacher, also being judged on your ability to transmit your knowledge to me? Are you willing to share my 'C'? Perhaps I was being judged on the quality of coat hanger itself out of which my creation was made...now is this not also unfair? Am I to be judged by the quality of coat hangers that are used by the dry cleaning establishment that returns our garments? Is that not the responsibility of my parents? Should they not share my 'C'?
I used to think Clive was the one who liked sex. But then I found I missed it. I used to touch myself when I was very little, I thought I’d invented something wonderful. I used to do it to go to sleep with or to cheer myself up, and one day it was raining and I was under the kitchen table, and my mother saw me with my hand under my dress rubbing away, and she dragged me out so quickly I hit my head and it bled and I was sick, and nothing was said, and I never did it again till this year. I thought if Clive wasn’t looking at me there wasn’t a person there. And one night in bed in my flat I was so frightened I started touching myself. I thought my hand might go through into space. I touch my face, it was there, my arm, my breast, and my hand sent down where I thought it shouldn’t, and I thought well there is somebody there. It felt very sweet, it was a feeling from very long ago, it was very soft, just barely touching and I felt myself gathering together more and more and I felt angry with Clive and angry with my mother and I went on and on defying them, and there was this vast feeling growing in me and all around me and they couldn’t stop me and no one could stop me and I was there and coming and coming. Afterwards I thought I’d betrayed Clive. My mother would kill me. But I felt triumphant because I was a separate person from them. And I cried because I didn’t want to be. But I don’t cry about it any more. Sometimes I do it three times in one night and it really is great fun.
At a Mardi Gras ball some--some boy that took me to it got too drunk to stand up! I wanted to go home. My coat was in the cloakroom, they couldn't find the check for it in his pockets. I said, "Oh hell, let it go!"--I started for a taxi. Somebody took my arm and said, "I'll drive you home." He took off his coat as we left the hotel and put it over my shoulders, and then I looked at him and--I don't think I'd ever even seem him before then, really!--He took me home in his car but took me another place first. We stopped near the Duelling Oaks at the end of Esplanade Street...Stopped!--I said, "What for?"--He didn't answer, just struck a match in the car to light a cigarette in the car and I looked at him in the car and I knew "what for"!--I think I got out of the car before he got out of the car, and we walked through the wet grass to the great misty oaks as if somebody was calling us for help there! He took me home and said an awful thing to me. "We'd better forget it," he said, "my wife's expecting a child and--."--I just entered the house and sat there thinking a little and then I suddenly called a taxi and went right back to the Roosevelt Hotel ballroom. The ball was still going on. I thought I'd gone back to pick up my borrowed coat but that wasn't what I'd gone back for. I'd gone back to make a scene on the floor of the ballroom, yes, I didn't stop at the cloakroom to pick up Aunt Violet's old mink stole, no, I rushed into the ballroom and spotted him on the floor and ran up to him and beat him as hard as I could in the face and chest with my fists 'till--Cousin Sebastian took me away.
Well, I had an adventure today. Went into town, thought I'd shake 'em up a little, so I tried to find me a topless bathing suit. Yes, I did. I went into what's-their-names', and I went straight up to the swim-wear, as they call it, department and I got me an eighteen-nineties schoolteacher type, who wondered what she could do for me. And I felt like telling her, "Not much, sweetheart"....But I said, "Hello, there, I'm in the market for a topless swimsuit." "A what, Miss?" she said, which I didn't know whether to take as a compliment or not. "A topless swimsuit," I said. "I don't know what you mean," she said after a beat. "Oh, certainly you do," I said, "No top, stops at the waist, latest thing, lots of freedom." "Oh yes," she said, looking at me like she was seeing the local madam for the first time, "those." Then a real sniff. "I'm afraid we don't carry...those." "Well, in that case," I told her, "Do you have any seperates?" "Those we carry," she said, "those we do." And she started going under the counter, and I said, "I'll just buy the bottoms of one of those." She came up from under the counter, adjusted her spectacles and said, "What did you say?" I said, "I said, 'I'll buy the bottom of one of those'." She thought for a minute, and then she said, with ice in her voice, "And what will we do with the tops?" "Well," I said, "Why don't you save 'em? Maybe bottomless swimsuits'll be in next year." Then the poor sweet thing gave me a look I couldn't tell was either a D-minus, or she was going to send me home with a letter to my mother, and she said, sort of far away, "I think you need the manager." And off she walked.
Do you know how I would like to spend my life? All of it? Sitting on the ground at his feet, looking up into his eyes, just listening to him talk. You don't know how he can talk. He knows everything--everything that there is to know in the world, and he tells you such things! The things that you always have known yourself, in your heart, and you couldn't find out how to say them. Even when you don't understand, it is wonderful, his voice...I don't know how to explain it, but it is his voice...a voice that seems as if it had been talking to you ever since the day you were born! You don't hear it only with your ears, but with your whole body. It's like the air which you see and breathe and taste, and which smells so sweetly in the garden beneath the tree of paradise. Ah, Mother! The first day he said to me, "Teresa"--you see what simple thing it was, my name, Teresa--why, it seemed to me as if nobody ever called me by my name before, as if I never heard it, and when he went away, I ran up and down the street saying to myself "Teresa, Teresa"--under my breath, without knowing what I was doing, as if I walked on air!