Every so often, my dreams will try to pull back the layers underneath the fabrication. This is one of them, experienced around 11 a.m. today:
I was at work. They finally started telling me why they keep moving my desk. At some point toward the middle of the day when I go for that fifth cup of coffee, I looked down and noticed my blouse is slightly askew, and that I’ve been wearing the same two-piece outfit for two days straight (even though I won the office prize). I could’ve gotten away with wearing it again, nobody cared, since another deadline loomed.
But on a whim (yeah, right), I decided to head back home quickly to swap blouses at least. It wouldn’t take long, I figured, even though doing so would be a major interruption of my creative flow. I forced myself to stop in the middle of a train of thought — important for a writer — and left, only to find myself stuck in front of a young man demonstrating his new weight loss regimen.
I couldn’t tell right away if he was on my cell phone screen or in front of me, in the flesh — until he grinned, looking right at me, and proceeded to jiggle his protruding stomach for a before and after. I looked at my own (suddenly) smooth, flat stomach, years of disease wore away at the flesh; it was my dirty little secret. I breathed a sigh of relief.
He wasn’t demonstrating this for me.
He shook out folds of clothes underneath his shirt to reveal his own smooth, flat six-pack of a stomach. I found myself reaching out my hand, “Can I touch you?” and—
Almost against his will, he began to lean in closer to me and I responded in kind, because we felt drawn to one another before we realized who we really were outside of these clothes and these bodies and these wildly disparate random lives.
He kissed me, as if it wouldn’t last. Then, he spoke, his words pouring out in a flood to my lava, and I remembered… everything about him in an instant: that intensity when he spoke of division, the burst of laughter at the most obscene, absurd, his smell, catching me over and over again, refusing to leave, when he would rail, his entire body would shake like a 6.1 earthquake. How I’d cling to that body.
I felt him shake uncontrollably, as it recognized me before his mind did, buried beneath decades of decay and outside influence. His hardness. Oh, how I wanted his hard to rip my soft insides, like before.
His words enveloped me, insistent, corrupted, insanely pure in its urgency. “This is my last day here, we’re moving back to the Middle East. Come with me and my family. They’re all here. I’ll make them understand, my mother, she reads Deepak Chopra. We can start over. To hell with everything. I can’t believe—”
“We can’t. It’s impossible. Look at us, please. Please go.”
I pressed my hand to his chest, one last time. “You know it’s right.”
Later, I watched him go about the remainder of his errands, cleaning the hotel pool, greeting the stragglers, helping his family pack — one of his sisters has a baby, a moment more beside the beach, where he allows himself to explode in bursts as the guests try to ignore a strange young man with midnight for eyes raise his voice in a verbal puzzle, arms twisting in the air, a misshapen mass in the shadows, raising his face finally to the sun outside.
This young man goes on for quite awhile, breathing in the remains of my memory. I can’t believe it is me who can provoke such agony. I bury my own through sheer force of will, the same will he shares.
I’ve dreamed of him before, once while decompressing in Hawaii several years ago. The Fifth Dimension’s “Up Up And Away” played. He was again, very poor. He could not take care of me. He begged me to try anyway. “We can live as vagabonds. So long as we’re together.” He had the soul of a poet, while I, the mind of a bank executive. (So that’s where I get it from.)
Again, I turned him down.
I was born into a family of families under the Jack of Hearts, the Sacrifice Card. I have to sacrifice myself again and again, until everybody else in my family of families is happy. That is my destiny and my burden.
I watched him float away on a balloon he fashioned together. One final wave, and then I woke up in my Waikiki hotel room struggling to breathe.
That is the way of the soul mate.
They aren’t meant to be together. They often, all too often, meet on the way to somewhere else, as if by accident, the ultimate distraction from… what? Meager disparities in the end, the endless busy work we’ve constructed to survive?