Friday, April 18, 2014

The ‘she’ I deserve

July 15, 1982

The day swelters around me, sun beams pouring glisten off the windows of the famous Passaic Street tower, a building mockingly used as the front cover of a religious newspaper although no religious institutions occupy it.
I stroll under its shadow, waiting as I have waited before, if not for this woman, then for another, who once worked in this place – who has in two years become as vague a memory as the shivering shadows my feet step over.
I used to write here while she worked, and now times have changed, and I return here like a criminal to the scene of a crime I did not actually commit, hiding from time as if from the police, hating the injustice memory brings.
I sit where I once sat, and watch the traffic rumbling by down Main Street, an older love caught inside of me like a splinter, triggering old feelings – good and bad, fears and joys jabbing me as my thoughts turn this way or that. I am awash in a changing tide over which I have no control.
How much has changed in my life since I last sat here, and now when I expect to see again an even older lover than the one whose memory clings to this place, a lover who returns to my life at a time when I am most vulnerable.
By brain boils with an overflow of thought and feeling, hormones coming back into play after long slumber, telling me I have no changed at all, and remain the same desperate soul that once stole money to seek out love in the far west. Down deep, remains the same yearning boy I was then, now a hungry man, caged and desperate, lusting for love or in love with lusting.
And this place, this tower, rising over me like an old friend, a stop over back in my most distant youth when I changed buses here for the second leg of a trip to a job where I met my first love. And somehow, I connect the dots and come up with this idea that there is some even more significant connection I just can’t put my finger on, but know it is there, one more shadow in a world of shifting shadows.
Behind me, the old Number 2 bus roles by, huffing and puffing with black exhaust, the engine that could that has kept going far too long, with memories for passengers, many of which are my memories – such as the kisses I exchanged on the bus stop and the secret movement of my hands under her jacket as we parted, me going back home at the end of the shift, she returning to her parents’ home, me, later, standing on the bus stop as I sit beside this one, missing her when she was gone, aching for a return I am only getting all these years later.
And so here, outside this office, near this bus bench where I sit, I get confused, over this love and that love, and which love I want most to return, and so I stand up and take a walk around this tall building, searching the shadows for some clue as to what I really want, and to sort through the catalogue of memories for which matter most to me – the long miles stretching out over the long years, wavering in the intense July heat, boiling up inside of me, making me mistake a more recent summer for one long ago, that summer “she” came to work here, for that summer I make the trip to where I worked with another “she,” and wondering now, which “she” I will see and which I want to see, and after all these years yearning for the first, mourning the loss of the second, which “she” I actually deserve, suffering the heat of indecision as this intense sun pounds down on me.

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