After a Dream

Andrew Newell Wyeth

Painting by: Andrew Newell Wyeth

My eyes grew weary from the heat filled room with eastward facing windows. The sun continues to turn my bed into a furnace as it shines through the glass during the hottest part of the day. As temperatures rise my eyes continue to gain more weight until they are too heavy to stay open. When my eyelids close out the sunshine all that is left is darkness.

The light kept out allows for a canvas of imagination. Dreams dwindling down the rope of the pulled curtain and left on the stage is the show. But, on this day I have discovered, even there you find me. My escape in my dreams, this hidden fantasy, a place where I can shut everyone out and welcome only those who are welcome, you find me there. You’ve walked into my room on this stage, entering the door as if it’s your own. I leap from the place I have fallen and land into the sea of your arms, until you melt away. You’ve left me on my own stage, in my own imagination, alone with you melted on the floor. Even here, in my own world, created with my own mind, my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, you’ve conquered me. I’ve fallen again, not just in the reality created by all men, but here in my world, I’ve fallen again. I am a fool.

So I’ve awoke from this dream and found myself laying back down in this hot, hot, eastward facing room. And I will stay here, for if I step out the desert breeze will only fill toxic sand in my lungs. I am left with nothing but these dreams I no longer have control of. The welcomed, the unwelcome- entering in and out. I allow my eyes to grow heavy to avoid toxicity within the desert air, for the wine stained clouds that float above this house never pour. Leaving the sun to continue to shine in these eastward facing windows and leaving you, the unwelcome, to enter on that stage door.

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Desert Breeze IV: “Sealed with a Kiss”

A few months had passed since I have left home. A discarded cell phone left ringing at the bottom of a rest stop trash can and the keys to a beaten ’91 Haritage Softail Harley rest in my hands as I waited for the check at a diner.

“Pay at the register, sweetheart.”

The waitress in a pinstriped dress with a white apron handed me the black book showing my dues for a plate of French fries and a coke. I responded with a smile and a nod but sat silently. I only spoke when I needed to. I did plenty of talking within my thoughts

At this point I wasn’t sure if I would ever head home. Each moment I was certain about polar opposite decisions. Being adamant with each only proved my indecisiveness.

I walked to cash rep and handed the lady my check with a twenty. Her mind was focused on each note, counting and recounting each dollar as if linen in the bills were silk. On the counter stacked postcards within a rack, one of which read “Crossroads of America.” I held it in my hand for only a moment. The edges were worn and the photo was faded from the southward facing windows.

“Take the postcard, they don’t sell anyways.”

“Thank you.” –I said, with a mediocre grin

Writing a note on the back would defeat the entire purpose of running away so I kissed it for good luck, which left a red lip stain in the musk back. I then tucked it in my leather jacket and took off on my bike.

I’ve been in this small Midwestern town for four days. People are starting to recognize me as an outsider. Tomorrow I will head out to avoid small talk and questions about who I am and where I am from.

Driving back to the motel I looked at the sun falling behind the clouds, a storm is coming. The sky turned a greyish green and the atmosphere was still. Not a person is out of their home and not a soul is traveling on the road. It’s just me trying to outrun the lightening, a race against the squall.

My room at the motel is on the bottom floor, making the second story a canopy from the falling drops of water. I pulled a fold out chair outside and listened to the pouring rain as a curiously stared at the “Crossroads of America” postcard that was gifted to me. The lipstick stain remained on the back as the senders address was left blank.

At this moment I thought about home. I thought about each person that was left behind and the reasons for that. Mostly, I thought about the friendships I replaced with lonesome days following the backs of cars on the open road. In this moment I thought about how selfish I was to leave. Regret left me slightly discouraged to continue on my journey.

I continued to stare at the blank address space. I thought if only there was a way to move forward without holding on to my past, but most importantly allow them to forget about my past.
I kissed the postcard again for good luck and got back on my bike, an exhilarating feeling driving in the pouring rain. This trip wasn’t intended to be long, just back to town. The sleek roads occasionally made my tired skid, but that did not stop me from accelerating my speed.

When I had reached a blue mailbox and held the handle for some time while nervously tapping the card with my other hand on my left leg.

I got back on bike even though I could hardly see the roads. The storm worsened but stopping now would only leave me in the middle of the country, between two corn fields, waiting out the storm. At the time, I thought it would be best to tough it out.

When I reached the final turn I skidded again, this time losing complete control. The bike tipped and slid until my entire body wrapped around a telephone pole. From then on, I only saw light. The sun beaming from the sky and all the worlds darkness escaped through the holes in the clouds. I rested there, peacefully, enjoying the sun’s rays drying my rain drenched body.

kisspostcard

It’s been months since any of us have heard from her, but I could never forget her handwriting, especially after years of passing notes in high school. I knew it was my best friend. This is her obscure way of telling me that she loves me and everything is ok. Secretes even from miles away are best kept between the greatest friendships. So I spoke to sky, thinking that her free spirit could hear me, “love you too.”

 

 

 

Red Dress

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She walked into the room with her red dress
Heads turned with eye fixated on her assets

“Look at her, just look at her.”
The men held desire to feel the alabaster skin
The women envied her, wanting nothing more than to be her twin

She sat at the end of the bar
Alone
And lit her cigarette
The tip orange
The end stained with lipstick

The look on her face was relentless
But held no regret

Waiting
Waiting for no one
Waiting for nothing
Waiting for the time to gently pass

She sipped her glass

He spent his day watching minutes on a clock
Nine to five tapping a pencil on oak desk top
Loosened his tie and walked in

“Cognac”

His eyes caught hers

Whispering sweet nothings into her ear
At the end of the night they both disappeared

Clothes scattered across the floor

She woke up and zipped up her dress
No longer looking like someone to impress

She spent her day watching minutes on a clock
Nine to five tapping a pencil on oak desk top

He lay still alone in his bed
Not knowing he will never see her again

Awoke with a look on his face that was relentless
But held no regret

He sat at the end the bar waiting

Waiting for someone
Waiting for something
Waiting for the time to gently pass
Waiting for that red dress

Fallen Warriors of Love

judy-garland-in-a-star-is-born-directed-by-george-cukor-1954When hearing stories about great loves it almost seems like a fairy tale. Everything appears to be magical. Kathy and Mark met in their mid twenties, dated for a week, got married, and two weeks ago celebrated their twenty-sixth wedding anniversary in Palm Springs. “After only one week, I asked her to marry me.” -Mark said. They experienced their forth date at the beach. Kathy turned around to look at the ocean as Mark was admiring her beauty. “At this moment I knew she was the love of my life.” Mark got down on one knee and asked for Kathy’s hand. Twenty-six years later I’m here in Palm Springs hearing the two reminisce the greatest moments of their marriage.  Baffled by the fact any relationship could be so perfect I asked the couple, “What is the secrete to a long lasting relationship?” Kathy and Mark were holding each other’s hands turned and looked each other in the eyes, smiled, then gave me this response, “compromise and understanding.” It seems simple enough. Any diplomatic action can be resolved with those characteristics at the foundation.

Unfortunately not everyone is a Mark and Kathy. Not all great love stories end like this fairy tale. What Kathy and Mark have is truly special. Knowing this is important. However, hearing all these glorious tales make not-so-glorious relationships last longer than they should, in hopes that they are a Mark and Kathy. Smoke in mirrors creating an illusion of happiness only to result in a tragedy. The one thing love doesn’t have is a warning label. “Warning: the emotions you are about to engage in will cause moments of euphoria but when taken away have the severe and at times fatal side effects.” And when in disbelief of this warning you can refer to any of love’s fallen warriors: Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, and Vincent van Gogh.

The woman who had everything or so it perceived to be. The body of a goddess and the fame envied by all. Miss Monroe captured the hearts of any man who ever saw her, athletes and the president. Even with everything she felt as though she had nothing. This controversial death took place in a time when Marilyn’s love life seemed to continue to go unfulfilled. “I have to many fantasies to become a housewife. I guess I am a fantasy.” -Marilyn Monroe… A fantasy held by a woman every girl fantasies to be.

We were all young once sitting in the living room watching Judy Garland go from a sophia toned screen to colored images in a land that was “somewhere over the rainbow.” “As for my feelings toward ‘Over the Rainbow,’ it’s become part of my life. It is so symbolic of all my dreams and wishes that I’m sure that’s why people sometimes get tears in their eyes when they hear it.” -Judy Garland. Three months after marrying her fifth husband, Mickey Deans, Garland was found dead from a drug overdose. This tragedy occurred in the 1960’s but her personal troubles began in the early 1940’s after her marriage David Rose ended in 1944.

Known for falling in love with vulnerable women in hopes that he would be their knight in shinning armor, Vincent van Gogh went to all the extremes to express and maintain his passionate feelings for the love of his life. He was a intrigued with concept of love, famously quoted saying, “Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.” Van Gogh is another tragic love story, not quiet fantasy, resulting in the amputation of his ear and attempted suicide.

Love can bring you down just as quickly as it can pick you up. Love is the blood diamond of emotions, beautiful and worth so much but at times dangerously sought after and maintained. The fallen warriors of love are examples of this tragic emotion. Kathy and Mark are an example of its beauty. When seeking love think of its beauty but do not forget its darkness.

References:

“Judy Garland, 47, Found Dead.” New York Times. 23 June 1969. http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/04/09/specials/garland-obit.html

“Vincent van Gogh Biography.” bio True Story. http://www.biography.com/people/vincent-van-gogh-9515695

“Marilyn Monroe.” Good Reads. http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/82952.Marilyn_Monroe

Desert Breeze Part III: “Light My Fire”

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“Desert Breeze” is a work in progress novel about a girl wanting nothing more than an escape. Parts 1-3 are not in sequence but provide more detail about what to expect… Enjoy!
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We’ve been best friends since childhood; but, I never learn an address of the Broker’s. I know in six months it will change. I also, never memorize a phone number. I know in six weeks it will change. Stability is unnatural for the Broker’s, much like the hair color on Ashley’s head. The only thing stable about this household is their gypsy persona.

“Text me the address.”

“Ok, see you soon.”

Our phone calls are short. Always.

Ashley: the only friendship I have been able to destroy and repair multiple times. I guess that means this is the only friendship I have been able to maintain. I’ve never been the girl who gets along with everyone. I’ve always been the one to say the words you do not want to hear. I act on impulse and the consequences of those impulsive actions result in a small group of friends. Aside from that, I get screwed over a lot.

I have arrived.

When I get to the door I don’t bother to knock. I pull the spare key hidden form inside the bushes and let myself in. At this point in my life the Broker’s are more my family than any other. This is as much my home as it is theirs; proven with my toothbrush left in the bathroom upstairs.

Isabella is already there talking and the two girls are sitting on the floor of the room fixing themselves up in preparation for whatever it is we will be doing later that evening.

Isabella is chatty.

“Mamas! Como estas?”

“Bien, amiga. Y tu?”

“Bien, bonita. Gracias.”

At times I envy her. Isabella leads a double life. She has the one here in California. She has me, Ashley, and Devon. Here in California she is single. Here she drinks, smokes, parties. But, she also has Mexico. There she has romance, education, and stability. When one life turns upside down she turns to the other: Cali to Mexico, Mexico to Cali. I’m jealous. I envy her ability to be two separate people. I can hardly stand pretending to just be me, yet alone pushing the personalities of two separate individuals.

Devon is also coming. It has always been the four of us. We each have other friends that have come and gone but when push comes to shove no relationship bond has been stronger than us girls.

It is very typical of us to meet at the Broker’s. Denise, Ashley’s mother, is more of a friend. Unlike our own families we do not have to pretend to be anything other than the rebellious disappointments that we are. Sitting in a row we have the almost didn’t graduate from highschool, falls in love with every man she meets, tongue piercing, and soon joining us left home at seventeen. We each have our character flaws. The problem is, every time we go home we are reminded of them. Every time we go to the Broker’s, they are embraced.

Devon called Ashley.

“You bitches ready?”

“Yeah, where are you?”

“I’m outside, let’s go.”

“Where?”

“Mike is having a bonfire out in Thousand Palms.”

None of us really knew the guy. Ashley might have met him once before. Isabella and I looked at each other shook our heads in agreement and began to walk out of the door. It is common for us to end up at a party of a friend’s friend’s friend or at a biker bar in the middle of nowhere signing karaoke drunkenly. At the beginning of the day we do not know where we will end up. The only person is hesitant about this group characteristic is Isabella. The rest of us are fearless, never afraid to step into the unknown. Not knowing how a night will end up is the reason why I continue to engage in these exertions. It is the next best thing to being on the top of the mountain. Each time I get wasted, I get closer to god.

Devon is all country. She’s wearing her short denim skirt with a cowgirl hat and boots. The music blasting is Kenny Chesney and I just have the biggest feeling that Mike is very similar. I’ve never been a fan and that is obvious just by looking at how oppositely I am dressed from Devon. We often but heads because of our opposing political views and likes/dislikes; but, after a couple shots of tequila those differences seem to fade. Suddenly we are confessing our love on the front steps of a bar entrance waiting for a cab.

“So who is this Mike?” Isabella asks.

“Just a guy I met through Brandon’s cousin Sam.”

Just as I thought, none of us really know Mike and the only person interested in knowing him is Isabella.

When we arrive the sun is setting. We are in Thousand Palms in the middle of nothing and nowhere. This beautiful home in the middle of the desert is outlined with an orange glow from the fire burning in the backyard. We walk through the sand towards the back of the ranch style home. The bonfire is burning far above my head and its beauty is mesmerizing. I sat down and watched it in silence as my girls poured drinks and talked to cowboys.

These are not the people I typically like to associate with. Talk about guns and Budweiser is exchanged among those sitting around the fire. I just came for the beer, the food, and my girls support. Isabella hands me two cups. One of which was filled with a shot of tequila. I look at her with eyes of sincerity and said “Thank you.” There is nothing more that I need than the feeling of lightheadedness, escape.

Silently, I observe all the people. There is about thirty of us all talking at once. As the sun slowly drops behind the captivating valley walls it quickly turns to darkness, leaving us with only the light of fire illuminating our faces. The night, however, is still young.

Across the fire I see a man unlike all the others. Dark eyes, olive skin, and long black hair that spiraled. He was bohemian, not country. He was artistic and had a spirit more free than any other man sitting around the fire. Playing a quiet tune on the guitar that did not match the country blasting sound in the background. I stared at him from a distance, noting his smooth movement and calm demeanor. That was until I decided to approach him.

“Hi”

“Hi”

That was all we needed to say to each other. When looking each other in the eyes it was obvious that we were both unlike all the others sitting and drinking around the fire. He continued to play and I continued to listen for a few moments.

“Would you like a drink” he said.

“Love one.” I responded

I followed him into the kitchen. In a typical red cup he poured gin and tonic.

“Never thought I would see such a drink here, I was only expecting Bud light.” –I said

“I brought my own. I know Mike too well to know he’d have anything other than cheap beer.”
Silently I was trying to guess how such an unrestricted man would know a guy like Mike. He responded to my puzzled look, almost as if he knew exactly what I was thinking.

“He’s my brother… Mike. I’m Damien.”

“Nice to meet you, Damien. I’m Leigha.”

One drink led to two, two to three, three to his bedroom where we irresponsibly slept together until the sun came back up from behind the mountains.

Desert Breeze: Part II

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A segment from my novel. Desert Breeze is about a girl who is looking for nothing more than an escape from her dysfunction.

The sounds of crashing, the lights of the night spinning, turning around, round, round. I lost control of the wheel as I tried to avoid the shadow in the street. This loss of control was followed by a sudden strike of a pole. The air bag inflated and my panic turned into darkness. Paralyzed with shock all I could feel was the cold thin stream of blood running down my cheek. I sat there for a while. Bounded by the seat and the rough pillow of air, I took a deep breath. Then, I struggled my way out of the car. My only escape from life was in ruins.

In the street I saw the shadow. Its eyes staring back at me. Maybe, it was the devil that made me crash. I looked into the devils eyes and asked, “Why?” There was no response. Just then, I was sure, I was now trapped between the mountains. I was locked in the valley. I my ticket to freedom taken from me and all that I was left with was hysteria. The shadow turned from me and disappeared into the desert night.

I looked at my jeep in ruins. There was nothing left to repair.

Crushed.

I was wearing a cotton button up shirt with a camisole underneath. I took off my blouse and put it in the gas tank. Pulled the lighter out of my purse and lit the blouse on fire. I walked away. Once I was far enough I turned around and saw the clouds of the fire rising beyond to heaven and the amber glow. Destruction, regret, and hate can look so beautiful in flames.

In the middle of nowhere and next to nothing is a Pilot Gas Stop.

“May I use you phone?”

“You ok, young lady?”

“I’m fine. May I use your phone?”

“Yes, of course.”

The strange man then handed over the corded phone with apprehension that I might be trouble.

I called my younger brother.

“Can you come pick me up?”

“Where are you?”

“The Pilot off of Indian Canyon.”

“I’ll be there in thirty minutes. Don’t talk to anyone.”

It only takes one road to get here, but it’s a long road, and it took him no more, no less, than thirty minutes.

Strangers, loving strangers, silently sitting in the car. Without a sound other than that of the radio lightly amplified from the stereo.

Moments pass.
And suddenly, he speaks.

“What the fuck are you doing with yourself, sis?”

Silence for only a moment later as I collected the courage to respond.

“I’m running away.” I said.

“You always say that.”

“I know I do and one day I’m not coming home.” I responded.

“It’s all in your head you know. Things are not as crazy as they appear. We’re normal. If anyone else in the world can get over it, we can.” He told me.

“It’s more than imagination. Can’t you see that? It’s me. It’s my life. Just because it’s in my head, doesn’t make it any less real.” I said.

There was more silence filled with white nose of the stereo and I spoke once more.

“I’m running away.”

The rest of the ride home was still. Not a word from him and not a word from me. I kept my eyes out the passenger window but in my peripherals I could see, for the first time, a tear from my younger brother’s eye. I did not comfort him. I did not apologize for our circumstances. I too needed to be comforted. I too needed an apology. I will not lie and say that everything will be alright, because that’s not a guarantee. Instead, I sat there. I sat there silently waiting for what would happen next.

Desert Breeze: Part I

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Out of all the things desired in the world, the one thing I desire is nothingness. Continuing to drive until the city rests far behind me. It is not much of a city as it is. Surrounded by mountains a simple resort oasis for the elite to hideaway on a weekend get-a-way. As for the rest of us? The mountains trap souls and inhibit the talents of those residing individuals. What is peaceful to some is suffocating to others. And for this very reason, I drive.

Looking back in my rear view I see all that is left behind me; which also happens to be what lies ahead. I know if I keep on driving I will eventually end up in a desolate desert; as opposed to a non-desolate desert. I will be exactly where I want to be and far, far, far away from my problems.

I have arrived.

The hissing of rattlesnakes buzz in my ears as I open the door. Terrified of nothing, I step out and climb to the top of the mountain peaking in front of me. I like to climb mountains. When I get to the top I always feel as though I can do anything. Up there, it’s just me. When in the clouds nothing below matters. It’s a powerful feeling being in the sky. This is how I know heaven is up above; it’s the feeling of security when detached from life on earth. That’s what heaven is. Heaven is not the romanticized place in which you read about in books or see in movies. Heaven is here, at the very top of this mountain.

“Helllooo?”

I scream.

I cry.

As my voice echoes off the valley walls I am no longer a person running from my problems but a person shouting for help without a soul to hear me. As the ecstasy and empowerment turns into loneliness, I climb back down.

Back in my car the radio is loud. Music of yesterday’s youth plays. The windows down and the hot air blows my curls in all directions.

The most painful part of driving to nowhere is having to drive back to your problems. For my problems will never disappear. Running from them only leaves me driving back with the sun in my eyes and my ego torn.