Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letters From South America #2


You have to watch yourself in Lima, or you may find that when you leave it, you could be missing not only your wallet but also the skin of your teeth. Yet Lima is not only a den of thieves, theives that watch for you to drop your guard with unblinking eyes, it is also a city that indulges in a self professed necessity for love. In Lover’s Park, the flowers bloom with such vigor they could only have been conjured by Aphrodite herself, as she broods over those who come to share or bask in her pious gifts. The gardens are enclosed by mosaic walls, each exhibiting a unique pattern and arrangement of colours; no piece is the same as any other. Each shard represents a fragment of a love affair, and although they are quite small and insignificant on their own, when brought together they can create more beauty, more colour and more light than one person could comprehend with just their eyes, causing  their hearts explode in a shower of colored glass. This is the nature of love; it can create beauty out of things that were once broken, and bring the most unlikely pieces together to create a work of art. There are so many different types of love for so many different types of people; there are so many different ways to say I love you.

Yet life is all about duality; if you allow your soul to be lost to another in the rip tide of first dates, first kisses, and first ‘I Love You’s’, and do not keep a small fragment for yourself, you might wake up one day to find yourself standing on the edge of Suicide Bridge (built precariously close to Lover’s Park) without knowing how you even got there.

That night at Ormond Hall I stood with my face drawn up from its usual downward gaze to the eyes of that man and his guitar. Most people say that at gigs they lose all sense of self awareness and just melt into the music permeating the atmosphere, but that night I felt almost hyper aware of my body; I could feel the fine hair on the inside of my thighs brush together as I moved each one slowly past the other, in a sort of musically initiated dance that had started in time but soon became independent of the beat. I wondered if I continued it for long enough I could conjure up some fleeting sense of electricity. It was noticing these details that always made me feel abnormal, even more so than my more obvious defects; other people never thought or felt like this, I would think. Is this another genetic defect, or is there something wrong with me on the soul level, too?  I thought about the angles of my legs, the warped, triangular shape they naturally made.  They weren’t the right shape to fit around that man and his guitar, but I still wanted him. Maybe our relationship could begin as a purely platonic one, fueled by conversation and a mutual love of The Beatles, and the angles of limbs would be completely irrelevant. Out of the rich and fertile earth laid down by our intimate soul connection, our love would soon grow like hot house flowers; wild and striking from the depths of an unnatural environment, freakishly beautiful despite an inorganic cultivation. We would not be made of perfect puzzle pieces, we would exist as a mosaic; glued specks of tile and mirror onto his guitar, shards extracted from where they were embedded in his heart, painted ticks burrowing into the wounds to make him scratch at his chest and sing these sad, sad songs. We would glue the pieces of our broken hearts together to make murals, like the ones on his album covers, and if there were any cracks still showing we would paint over them.
But if he were happy, happier with me, with his legs wrapped around my uneven hips, his hand running down the jolting curve of my spine, then where would the songs come from? No one wants to listen to a completely content musician; they cannot relate to him, they will stop buying his records.  I would have to let him beat me, he would have a raging temper, and he would be an alcoholic, or a junkie. I would have to hide my jewelry from him, including my engagement ring, I would steal money from the safe he kept underneath our bed, I would buy a gun. Then we could be together.

But he never even gave us that chance. On April 5, 1994, he died of a self inflicted shotgun wound to the head, leaving his wife, his daughter, and me behind.

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