Saturday, February 17, 2007

Catch and Release

You might, Gentle Readers, observe the hour of this posting and conclude that the salmon has been landed...

PowerGirl and I drive outside the city, we have done twenty minutes exactly of shoe shopping and vowed to return, rushed into the slush and onto the icy highway by Folk Rocker’s show. We still miss the opening act. I am tired of being late for things, I’ve been so prompt until just lately, but it’s not too late, I will re-synch with the schedule of the world.

Folk Rocker is in rare form. I realize that clearly, his life has not gotten better. The protests, formerly a bit requisite, the angry white guy who truly does understand but can’t quite get the distance for irony, or the closeness for empathy rather than sympathy, have deepened, connected to something broken in him. Everyone makes better art when they’ve been broken. Not just the slog through almost-fame and almost-ease, but the place that bears the strain and fights and loses, the caryatid finally fallen under her stone.

(Lover’s art got better after we had a true breakup, not just a break. I don’t think it’s just practice. It was the only time I’ve seen him weep.)

He does not open with the song about love and the rose, he is no longer clinging to that illusion. He is in a different key, ‘a lover is more condoling.’ The venue is a church, and he frequently looks to God, who is, I think, in the best seats (in the bodily church, the uncushioned pews make our asses numb). There is a new song, about being broken, and wanting union and faith, and running out of everything, and when he sings it I want more than anything to go with him to the hotel, wash him, lie down with him, give him my body and all that he wants from it, no requests necessary, not even the effort of asking, receive, receive. It occurs to me that this is the secret to, if not good art, at least good tragic performance. The audience should want to fuck you until you feel better.

After the show, PowerGirl and I wait patiently in a pew, near the line of adoring admirers with CD’s clutched in fingers trembling to make the compliment, ask the question that will connect them. Folk Rocker sees me over the shoulder of a fan he hugs, I smile and wait, I am not part of the line, I am not a smile-and-hug, I’m with the band.

Sadly, the band is staying at the venue manager’s house.

She’s fantastic, a clutter of red hair and photography and teenage slightly insolent son and young getting-into-Shakespeare son and tea mugs that must be washed before Folk Rocker pours. PowerGirl anchors a sofa corner, I wash the mugs, and Folk Rocker tells me he’s being minded, he’s a guest, he reassures me, bless him, though I understand. I look fantastic. He notices. We touch as much as we can, and the unwatched pot boils damn fast. Yes, things are worse. I wish, I wish, I wish. I say, “I hope next time...” I think, I will purge you. I will absolve you. I will not heal you, but I will open the door to the recovery room. Part of this I voice, and he, also, knows it to be true.

Everyone watches everyone else’s videos on YouTube. Folk Rocker and I sit side by side. We walk out to the car, and PowerGirl warms it up as I go to him. Shaking in the cold, no time to waste, at least, in this moment only, we are in the same place at the same time. My mouth is on his, we breathe the same breath, I softly suck his tongue, he moves his mouth over mine.

“It would have been lovely.”

“It will be lovely.”

PowerGirl speeds us home, and I write this in the car, gloves insulating my thighs from the bottom of the cold laptop. We stop at 24-Hour Fine Food and gather yogurt, grape leaves, two-bite brownies. The deli guy flirts with me, I flirt back, Lebanese men always love me. I think of my brother, six blocks over, I have not called, he has not returned my calls in five months. The only way to see him is to leave a message: “I’ll be at Restaurant at noon tomorrow, call me if you won’t be there.” I want him, would have him were he not gay, HIV+, and my brother, in that order. I wonder if I come back in the morning if he will be there, organic this and that, swiping the bank card, perhaps meeting my eyes and smiling over gourmet cheese, both knowing that even a hundred lovers are not enough, we have to give, we have to receive, we have to matter and it’s the cock that tells us so.

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