Story Of A Poke
I had only ever been to two operas so far. Both at the Met, both with a woman, each a different woman, both times made me cry, years and years apart. The first hadn’t been planned. I had planned a grand romantic night that involved a play. Thirty minutes before that curtain, we learned the actress we came to see roll around in her underwear, would not perform this night. Annoyed, I grabbed my true loves hand, left the theater, hailed us a cab, went to the only place I knew would be better, bought us tickets in the orchestra, went in, sat down and waited, mere moments. The lights went down, the stage slowly glowed brighter and the lone dark figure of a man started his moaning over some strings singing, moaning, even lower than him. It had only been a few seconds of lovely noise, but I was crying like I never had before. I couldn’t stop until he did. Then I spent the next hour waiting for the intermission so I could pee. These two feelings, were both, incredibly painful, just as it was when this woman slipped away before I could catch her, years later.
The next wanted to go with me to an opera as I think I told her how much the first had meant and she had never been. The Met was so close to my home, I wanted to take her. We got dressed up, we walked outside my home, we had my neighbor take a photograph of us, I hailed us a cab and we went. We held hands, we went inside, found what would turn out to be our private box and when it started, they played the one piece, the only piece I wanted or came to hear, they got it out of the way, just for me. When it was over, I watched her look around and listen and stare back at me. When she wasn’t looking, I would wipe away the random tear before she could see it. You see, she was already the wife of another even though I met her first. Later, when she had left him and found me again, she met her next husband while we were together.
I was on a plane somewhere once and had to stop at an in between somewhere to switch flights. My second flight got delayed, many many many hours. I got bored and checked a social site I usually didn’t. On this site, I learned the woman I was to see where I was going was “in a relationship” with someone that made her “all kinds of happy.” She knew I was to see her, you see, she had invited me to without telling me all this. Not much longer later, another woman who no longer wanted me around, much to do because of this other, I saw on this site was still using my photograph of her, well, us, as her icon. She wouldn’t return my calls or my notes or see me, but there we were for her all to see. This same site also wouldn’t stop showing me those I chose not to see and this site was showing me my images, that I did not want there, of those that also no longer desired me, using my images of them to meet their next. All these things were incredibly painful.
On July 11, 2009, I had spent the day making something, like I always do on this day. DIES SATURNI XI JULIUS MMIX. It had been a long day, a stressful day. I lost a competition I didn’t want to, I walked in the woods making things because I couldn’t forget something, I had recently returned from a journey far away full of wonderment, the one I wanted to see here this night was not in town and I drove, a lot. It was getting late, I didn’t want to stop making things, I didn’t want to lose my mood. Yet, I was invited to a party and I wanted to go, so I did. I walked around in the crowd where I didn’t know anyone, I wanted to leave. I found the birthday man, wished him his well and turned to leave. He pointed to the corner, in this corner I saw a circle of men I believe to be my brothers, so I stayed. The night got better, just like that. Before I left this crowd, I met a woman. We exchanged hello’s and she took a picture of us together, she in fact took two. Later in the following days, she invited me to know her on this or that same social site. I accepted, I blushed and sent her the pictures I took, well, she took, we took, then that was that.
Over the next year and half, on this social site, I watched this woman from the party post self portraits, often. Very often. They were from all over the place. Not just down the street in my once city, but all over and further away. I liked this. At some point, long after it happen, as I didn’t visit this site often, I noticed she had poked me. I liked this, too. I never responded, I just like seeing it there, whenever I visited this place, over all this time. She knows more photographers than I do. She knows more about the photographers I sometimes secretly wish I was than I do, too. She’s been on more sets than I ever will. She knows legends, like you and I cannot or ever will. All because she does what she does, very well. All the sudden, a year and half later after this party, I had a thought: I really miss New York City, I really want to go to the opera again and I really want to go, with her. We had not spoken since this party. So I went to the site I didn’t want to and I wrote her, I asked her, I told her the short story of this old poke. Shortly there after, she agreed, in fact, she, “Happily accepted.” So long as her work didn’t take her far away again and she also told me, “Most flattering message ever.” I told her this note of hers made me blush, again.
I didn’t tell her this was the real why I was coming to New York City. I pretended I was there to see the city. I pretended I was there to meet the clients. I pretended I was there to see what it felt like to return after all my time away and the friends of mine I saw there all really knew, the real why without it being said. But all that I could know without visiting and I was right, all that was just what I thought, but I was here, I was returning for just one thing. I was here for a night like only New York City offers. I was here, for this date, with her. I bought my plane ticket, I bought us opera tickets and the dates worked, it was time to go.
I liked this.
I hadn’t heard her voice since that summer night so long ago. I didn’t want to either, not until I could see her face with it. We slowly started texting as the night grew closer. She asked me what colors I would be wearing and I told her. We would be matching, we would be dressed as we should, for a night just like this. I arrived early, very early. I walked in circles all around this famous place. It was the coldest night of the year here and I couldn’t feel my hands as I looked at things with my machine. We started texting more frequently as that curtain time drew near. She was almost on her way. She asked me if I would remember her, I told her through the pain of my cold fingers, almost unable to type, “Yes.” I kept walking in circles. It was still an hour to curtain.
I could feel she was close. I put my machine away and went inside, my useless, painfully cold hands jammed into my pockets. I thought that if I were to touch her with them in a hello, I did not want them cold. If we were to touch hello, I wanted it warm and pleasant for her. I saw her through the glass in a door of circles, I think I saw her before she saw me but I don’t know. I remember smiling and seeing her do the same. I remember almost nothing else in this moment other than that I was happy she was here. I was happy she showed up. I was happy she was my date and that I no longer felt any cold.
I liked this.
I checked our coats. I bought us wine to eat and I bought us cookies to drink. We stood there in this building draped in red telling each other stories about how we maybe ended up here together this night and what we both do in our time when not here. Everyone else was taking their seats but we kept talking. She asked me if she could have a print of mine someday, I told her, “Any.” The lights flickered and we found our seats, almost against that curtain that finally rose once we sat. She sat right near the rail and I sat just to her right and slightly behind her. I couldn’t see the stage so well but I didn’t really want to, she was here, they were about to sing to me, I had everything I wanted this night.
I liked this.
I sat there in the dark, listening, daydreaming, nightdreaming, my eyes open, my eyes closed, listening more, staring at this, staring at that and yes, staring at her. Every so often, she would fidget in her seat and toss her hair. I would toss it back, just so she’d turn and look back at me. I liked this but I don’t think she did, so I stopped. During the intermissions the lights would arise and we would look around at everyone else, looking around and at one another. Everyone was beautiful from up here in this inside warm sky.
I let her catch me staring at her leg. I reached out and moved her dress just so, making sure the skin of my thumb ran across and could feel the texture of her hose. It was beautiful, it felt beautiful and she let me take a photograph of this, it looks beautiful too.
For a year and half I had watched her take photographs of herself and then share them with me, everyone. Now here we were, here I was, next to her, in this specific place. She was holding my machine, she out stretched her arm and with my machine, she took her own photograph.
I liked this.
We bundled back up and braved the frigid air to find a place to share a meal. It was now somehow even colder outside than it was before. I hailed us a chariot. I told her, “Anywhere.” She chose her favorite. It was in her neighborhood. It was two blocks from her apartment. As happenstance would have it, it was my old neighborhood. It was on my old block. It was feet, feet from my door of 13 years and for many of these years, it was our neighborhood, at least until I had left it. While we ate, while we told each other stories, I thought that if I could erase these walls, drill a hole through these walls, stick my arm through these walls, right where I was now sitting, here this night, less than 25 feet from where I sat for those 13 years, dreaming of telling stories just like this one… If I could just reach that old me still sitting there, I would tell him:
I hailed her a chariot as she requested, it was too late, it was too cold and her heels too high to be walking those two long long blocks to her home. I stood there in that New York City slush in the middle of the street and watched her go down that street in that yellow chariot, down my street, already remembering what her hair felt like brushing against me as we embraced good night.
Then I stood under my tree, the one tree in front of my door I have hundreds of photographs of and I photographed it again, I don’t know why. It was snowing again. I turned around and stood in my doorway that is no longer mine. I stared at my name, still on the buzzer now without me really there. I wanted to try the door, I know how to open it without the key, but I didn’t. I turned around and then I made the left I made thousands of times out of the doorway to the end of the block. Then I made the left I made thousands of times down the next the block. Then I photographed that lock I photographed hundreds of times. Then I crossed the avenue I have crossed thousands of times. Then I crossed the street I crossed thousands of times. Then I made the left down the block I made thousands of times. Then I made the right down Broadway I made thousands of times. Then I waited for the train I waited for thousands of times. Then I sat on the train I sat on thousands of times.
Then I thought to myself, my date was the most beautiful woman at the opera and we don’t know anything about each other, but we were both still there.
I thought these things because they were both true.
I liked this, but I never want to go to an opera again.
She never told me which print of mine she wanted & I cannot go back to my home, even when I want to.
This Night 365 Nights Ago
People have told me time heals all wounds thousands of times but I think they are liars because I still feel everything, I ever did.