Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Part VIII: NYC Subway Map - July, 22, 2001 Edition

It is several weeks earlier and we have decided to pretend to date. Here is how pretending to date works. We somehow come to a mutual decision to have dinner together under the auspice of it being for me to introduce her to a Japanese restaurant I think she'll like. I interpret this as a romantic date with intentions of it leading to something more substantial, all while she interprets it as a friendly dinner out with a man she finds attractive but is oddly not attracted to. We will both be completely self-aware of our individual interpretations as well as both have a fairly strong suspicion as to the other persons feelings. Nothing is a secret in real life and this is what makes playing pretend so painful once you've grown up.

Dinner with "J" consists of conversation I can no longer recall, though I'm positive it contained many instances of my profusely complimenting her on any number of things; her appearance, her language skills, her strong will. I have undoubtably complimented her appearance too many times. I'm compensating for not having any real charisma to speak of. Compliments are easy to give, and easy for the receiving party to deflect modestly, and they inevitably give the impression that the small-talk of insignificant conversation was filled with the heady bluster of solid discourse. Nothing memorable is said but a vague impression based on past patterns can be forged. I'm sure I've told her how beautiful she is at least five times before the end of the meal and I will tell her five more times while we sit on the park bench in Union Square. I will tell her five more times after I awkwardly kiss her, just to fill up the dead air surrounding our lips, to keep from saying what I want to say, what I should say, that I can tell she doesn't ever want to kiss me again, and didn't even want that kiss to begin with.

Her body stiffens the second our lips meet, though I'm not really kissing her lips, since she has pulled them in, so what my lips are pressed against is the taut stretched skin around her mouth. I'm holding onto her arms as they are slumped along her sides, her hands cupped together in her lap. I'm holding her there waiting for her to respond in some way that would express a positive reaction to this act of intimacy I've just committed, waiting for the signs of passionate acquiescence; her lips to slightly part, her head to softly bend, her back to gently arch. After seconds of awkward stillness, I pull away from her motionless face, release her rigid body and smile to cover my complete sense of humiliation and fear. She smiles, too, most certainly to help me in my recovery. I can no longer recall if I complimented her right then, but I'm sure I did shortly thereafter. I'm almost positive that's exactly what I would have done.

We hold hands on the subway platform as we await the N train that will take her two stops and me fourteen. We smile at each other repeatedly. She says something incredibly sweet to me that now, all these years later, I can not remember, but I know I was caught off-guard by her seeming sincerity and confused by her intent. Despite the uneasy kiss on the park bench, I'm left convinced our feelings are mutual, that she is perhaps only sexually prudish in public, my show of public affection too much for her too early. She holds my hand in her lap as we sit side by side on the train the two stops to 28th Street Station, the stop nearest the Empire State Building.


It is the week before and there are friends from out of town, visiting from San Francisco, and there is a chance meeting on a corner in the East Village, and there are art students involved, homemade t-shirts, and a Japanese girl in town for the U.S. Open. As of this writing, I am in contact with none of these people, and I'm almost certain that's entirely by choice.

There is one night spent in an underground saké bar with the two girls from San Francisco, a boyfriend of one of those girls, a student photographer, myself, and "J". We drink and eat and talk about nothing at all that matters, except that in the moment it brings forth laughter and happiness, which is all most conversation is good for. Conversation is a drug like any other, that is momentarily abused, exploited for pleasure, leaving behind vague cavernous pits in the skin and memory. It's harmless, mostly, but it can kill in the wrong hands. On this night, it's so harmless as to be instantly forgettable, as to vanish into the air like clean white puffs of perfumed smoke pouring forth from a lit pipe. I'm sat next to "J" in the dimly lit booth, she holding my left hand clasped in hers nested in her lap, in a private embrace hidden from view under the table. Periodically, I will exchange my left hand for my right hand so that I may place my left hand on the small of her back, right at the point where the soft concave arch rounds out into buttock. Through the soft fabric of her blue floral-print cotton summer-weight dress, I can feel the slight depressed edge of the thin waistband of her panties. With a nonchalant air, I allow my fingers to play over this soft ridge with gentle ease. She smiles for my friends at the table. She smiles at me. It will be the closest thing to sexual intimacy we will ever share.

In early September, 2001, I have a job and a "girlfriend", albeit, with quotation marks (though I am not aware of the quotation marks 'til later). Money freely pours forth from ATM machines located throughout the five boroughs, and smiles grace the faces of all those who call those boroughs home. The sky is a shade of blue its' blueness has not been witnessed before. The chirping of MetroCards being run through turnstiles fills the air like joyous flocks of birds singing out songs of peace. It's the dawn of another wonderful Autumn in New York. Good morning, sunshine. Good morning, Empire State. Have you your personal belongings? Next stop, Rector Street.

1 comment:

opium80s said...

Intriguing. Please write more... often. :)