What I kind of liked about you fell asleep again on the winter afternoon train going back to the city and what I kind of liked about you fell asleep despite all of the noise the bustle the bells phones sliding doors robotic voices screeching brakes on the tracks and just as your eyes closed and you felt yourself going a surge of memories of a hand caressing the curls of hair around your ear washed over you and what could I have possibly liked more than this? This was a glowing burning thing that threatened me with an easy seduction, that wanted to swallow me whole and give me the only possible warmth, just as you slipped into sleep, just as we coasted into yet another station.
What I kind of liked about you was the way you didn’t want to go out, go to the party, meet for dinner, answer the phone, reply to emails, go to sleep when everyone else was going to sleep and wake up in the morning to go to work, stare down the enormous sky, look at the faces of strangers only to eat lunch without looking at the faces of strangers, put on clothes, be acceptable, pay the bills and make the rent, walk upright. Not to get too deep here, but imagine, we were sitting across the table having this conversation and the insects were swarming around us and we were drinking tea and staring at the lights reflected on the lake and we talked like old friends even though we had just met.
What I kind of liked about you wouldn’t stop floating away. I tried to catch it with a net, but it was the wrong kind of net, and things slipped through the loosely knit mesh. I tried catching it in my palms, but I was nervous and afraid and my fingers wouldn’t come together. I tried to call for help, but everyone just looked at me and sat in their little groups, making so much noise as if no one else in the world existed other than them and they laughed like children, spitting their sunflower seeds all over the floor, throwing their garbage everywhere, smoking their cigarettes inside and when I asked again, they looked at me straight on, laughed again like vicious and horrible children. So I ran along the roads and the lake side chasing something I could no longer see. I said, come back, but I knew it didn’t matter.
What I kind of liked about you fell out of a book I was reading on a long bus journey over windy roads and desperate mountain passes. The bus skidded and swerved over patches of mud and gravel. Some people stared at the edges of the cliff. Others into books and others closed their eyes and said nothing. I tried to read. I felt sick. I turned a page and a postcard fell at my feet. It was a painting of a forest somewhere. I looked out the window and saw no trees, no forest, only rocks being pushed up out of the earth, jagged, gnarled, in confounding and immense formations.
What I kind of liked about you wasn’t a flower blooming along with a thousand others out of the wall while I was having a vision. And it wasn’t a pair of eyes blinking in the mirror that repeated in a circle all across my face like a penrose mosaic. And it also wasn’t the way the orange sunlight washed warm against the wall one afternoon as I sat there and smiled. It wasn’t a letter I wrote and slipped into your shirt pocket about the meaning of life and the way my head and heart were bursting over with happiness and love. It wasn’t a glass of chilled white wine with a lime floating in it that I drank alone in the dark while I talked to myself, pretending for an hour or two that maybe I was crazy, on a hot summer evening. And it wasn’t a moment when I looked up at the ceiling and saw a great glowing eye and all around it were dancing letters from a flame alphabet of indiscernible origin. Flowers sprouted from the undulating mandala wooden paneling all around the bookcases that stretched way up to the ceiling and held so many books and made me feel like an insect crawling on the top of a mountain and that wasn’t it either.
What I kind of liked about you rode into town on a dead horse and said, hey, I think I’ve been here before and I think my horse is dead! Everyone nodded and said, yup, you’ve been here before and yup, that horse sure ‘nuff dead as dead can be. And you nodded and kicked your spurs into that skeletal flank and galloped off into a familiar sunset, wondering to yourself, what terrain will I revisit next? what landscape will I re-arrive at? what previously discovered country will I discover again?
What I kind of liked about you lived in a bright wooden house on a bright white street, in a city full of staircases and fog, perched on the side of a mountain where the roads were all twisted and the higher you went the whiter it got, but despite the cracking plaster and moldy wooden beams, all the flowers that sprouted up on the side of the road were bright and big and even though the sun didn’t come up so often people took off their clothes and wandered around as if it were perpetually summer and they were perpetually young, even though it wasn’t and they weren’t. Just as waistlines sag and features droop, the city slouched towards the edge of the cliff and the house on the bright white street got a little less bright each day. The plaster flaked off and the beams grew grey and tired. And when the sun came up, the people who lived in the house sprang into action with coveralls, rollers, tarps, paint brushes and buckets, and when the sun slipped back over the mountain everyone raised their paint splattered arms and brought their bright white hands to their heads and got drunk, took off their clothes, and went out naked, and stumbled down the staircases and into the winding alleyways, full of joy and life.
What I kind of liked about you was that dress you wore in summer, or the way you stared out the window when I was talking at some unknown thing and when I said what are you looking at you just said nothing nothing nothing at all, or the way your mood changed with the weather and in the deepest days of winter you were so far away it was almost as if you were dead, but on this day it wasn’t summer and it wasn’t winter and the sun had already sunk under the apartment window and the room buzzed with the sound of not talking.
What I kind of liked about you moved in wild patterns with your thoughts. Your brain was like the wild west! Someone got killed every second and the dust storms blew down the main street and the tumbleweeds came to visit just as often. When it rained it flooded. When people got drunk they could breath fire and shoot lightening bolts from their eyes. When we got drunk we threw our arms around each other and said the stupidest things. When you got drunk you came to find me in the middle of the night. I love you so much, you screamed to me from beneath my window sunk up to your knees in mud. It’s a tornado on the horizon, I called back, you better seek shelter. But you didn’t hear me. In fact, you seemed to rise up into the atmosphere, holding your face just so, like a spirit of the air untethered from the ground, rising quickly, full of helium, hydrogen, hot air, all the stuff that floats, rapidly expanding thoughts, beauty and sadness boiling together in whistling kettle, and like a rocket you went off roaring into the atmosphere.
What I kind of liked about you was the way you rode into town on a ghostly old horse, maybe it was already dead from the long ride, but no one, not you, not the limits of the natural world or even the horse’s body, bothered to tell it. So astride a horse at the edge of its life, plum tuckered out, beat, real exhausted, worn down to the nub, and thoroughly depleted, you looked all the more vibrant. Your lips were the color of ripe plums and yeah, I’ve used that line on a hundred girls, but none of them rode into my life on a dead horse or a horse that should have been done for a hundred miles back. And as you sat in the saddle composed and beautiful, I wanted to tell you that you were oh so and such a, you know, but, but the horse heaved and hawed and fell over in the dust and there was a big commotion all around. What would you say in such a situation? Probably not a whole lot, which is pretty much what I said, not a whole lot.