This is the first draft. It is rough. The final draft appears in the soon-to-be-published Things I would like to do with you, available at Elephant Books.
“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest.
The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits.
People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.” ~ Ernest Hemingway
Things I would like to do with you this Springtime.
This is Spring: it is cold, it is warm. It is gray above.
Now it is sunny. At night, I hear the rain. Yesterday, the flowers were blooming. The day before that, it snowed again—for the last time I think. Suddenly, today, the stark gray thin deadlike branches have budded: sticky bright green. Each morning, the birds’ song wakes me and the sun blinds my bed’s old white wool blankets…but the cool breeze lets me dream one more dream.
And I am tired. And this is Spring.
I would like to look at your eyes, not into them—I am still sleepy, shy beneath the hot morning sun of our new love. Only a week ago, I swam the swamp of Alone. Only a week ago I would wake cold, thinking of a love I did not have. Sure: during the day I saw friends and laughed and joked and listened, but then again I was alone as soon as my friends left to return to their lives of good company. I shopped for and ate dinner alone. I went to bed alone. I woke with loneliness.
But then I met you, a fresh yet familiar sight as you approached me and my beautiful friend in the square.
This morning is only one week later and yet living my life is like reading a different book. This morning, waking to your hands, as if praying before your closed eyes, I am foolish with giddy gratitude. Your eyes are the green seen through the blue ocean water on a vacation I have not yet taken; or they are the grayblack of the moon’s shadow on a warm Spring evening.
It is bright in my morning bedroom and I am scared of losing you to reality, so I take the sheet over our heads for another moment of naked dreams together. Your body in the shade is varnished sailboat wood. I rest my hand on the side of your thigh and say, “Good morning.” You touch my face with seafoam nails and say nothing. In the bright shade, your dark red lips do not smile. You just look and I am pleasantly surprised.
I have seen this look twice or three times before: you look in love.
Later, our love would roll and fall and shatter and float and rise and finally tangle, for years, off and on. And though it rose high, it ended as low as all our little loves.
I have lost so many sweet hearts because of miscommunication, because of my focus on work, because of distance, because of one drink too many, because of an awkward fear, or simply because a good relationship has run its course.
And yet like a wintry wolf, I can smell the Spring. And I still feel She is out there. A complement, a fun friend to dance with.
I do not look for perfection: She is not on the map. I do look for dry wood, coupled with fire (friendship, and lust) gathered together in a hearth (a common vision of being of benefit to others) coupled with, someday, a good armchair and a hot drink (family). All I require is one match to kindle it.
But do not rush: I have my work, my home, my life—and I love living it.
I do not write these words to sound sicklysweet, emotional, even romantic. I write truth and whatever comes out comes out and I am this.
I would like to know you, but you are not here. You are on the map, but I do not know what to search for. And I am where the Great golden, now-suburb-filled Plains join the High Red Mountains, in this green valley full of Victorians.
You will return.
Spring is the coming together of Winter and Summer—it is the wholesome pain of birth, the delighted cycle of exuberance, a been-too-long sunshine day followed by wet snow over humbled flowers.
I would like to meet you at a party, an art party. You are in a room with a friend of mine and another friend of yours. I walk in, make a joke, we start talking, I start trying to talk your language, because you are not from here. I am clumsy at it, but better than one would think. You are flattering, tall, stylish, foreign, new: a spring flower. I have recently been dropped for not communicating, not being available, and I understand and I am happy with my freedom, but sad at losing my life and my heart to my work again, again.
Too few flowers value a plot of land worked over by old tools and oxen and heavy boots to make food for others.
The party is large and bright and self-consciously hip, which is insecure and pretentious but…I am a warrior, and I recognize subtle aggression (poverty mentality) when I see it. I know many, here–I am charming, relaxed, loud and I look for you again, after our first conversation. But you are surrounded by your friends, my friends, and there is no full moment to flirt further. And so I go to another party, and another bar, and I forget you.
But I wake up in the sunshine, in my wide wooly bed with gray sheets, and I remember you.
But I do not know how to contact you, and so I forget you, again.
But the memory of your eyes blinds my forgetfulness, and I remember you.
But you are gone.
And then, two days later, in the midst of a big busy day, I bicycle downtown: late for a late lunch meeting. I talk with friends on the way in, and sit down for my meeting. And then, talking to the restaurant’s manager, I see you. You are sitting in the corner with three friends, one of them little.
This is a little magic: because you are gone to me, and do not live here. But you are here.
You get up and I talk with you, your bright eyes nearly blinding my eyes. We smile and say things. I make funny faces and play with and hide from and search for the little girl who is at your table. I politely say hello to the older lady, and to your younger friend. Sometimes I am not charming, but today I am charming. And, mostly, I talk with you. When we talk we are on our own, and the world blurs. I try and mostly fail to speak your language, and you enjoy my trying and mostly failing. We are mutually amused.
I return to my meeting. Later, finished, you begin to leave the restaurant, and though my meeting continues, I turn as you pass and say, “You can’t leave without saying ‘bye, that’d be rude,” smiling into you. And you smile back: “I didn’t want to be rude, you were in a meeting.” And I say, “Well, then, you’re rude either way.” I stand up and straight up ask for your number, and you put it into my phone. You are leaving tomorrow morning for the far-away Black and White City. But you are returning in a month.
In the meantime we first text and then write long letters and get to know.
How little we all know one another.
And you ask things about me, and I tell you about myself. I do not know why I tell you so much truth, but you are beautiful and I am tired—so tired, and lonely, though I am attached, too, to my alone-ness. The longing is right here: the longing for a match, for a friend, for a gold lover to stretch out and pleasure on my king size mattress. The longing to love and like and even bicker about the little things: the longing is right here.
Summertime will come: the heat will inspire us to wear very little and bike and swim. Still, I will mostly work in too-cold overly air-conditioned cafés (swamp coolers and passive solar shade and breezes are preferable). But I will get out for hikes and meals and music.
And I will love some of you with some of me, and then all of you with all of me, if you let me and if I let you, as we get to know. And I hope we each have the honor and pleasure to feel sad, together, and joy, together, and lust, together…and lunch on the lawn at Farmers’ Market, together. I like dumplings with too much hot sauce.
There is nothing sweeter than warm sadness, than waking on a Saturday morning to rumpled sheets and an agenda for two.
A few more Things (there’s many more than this, if you care to search on elephant)