Honest expression eluded itself from me, or should I say that I eluded myself from it? I wore apathy like a coat of armor, shielding me from feeling anything. Numb to it all, I felt ease and lightness.
But in this lightness, I wonder if maybe Kundera was right: that there exists an unbearable quality to such lightness; that with such lightness, an inherent burden becomes itself in its spaciousness; and that lightness demands its counterpart.
Perhaps, after all, the perceived lightness is just that, a perception. Is it that honesty frees us from the burdens of our lightness?
He’d started saying something, I don’t remember very well; I distracted myself looking at his fingers. He played a tapping rhythm on the plate of his half-eaten meal, while he sang a story about his time as a trouble-seeking teenager.
Something about the cops and how his friends had left him high and dry, he explained. “They were such assholes.”
"But they were your friends!"
"Well, yeah, but…" He defended. "Doesn’t mean they’re not assholes."
He amused me, and my heart endeared itself to him and his unyielding, shameless honesty. I forgot the rest of his story. Now, I distracted myself with admiration.
"It was a lesson." And he laughed and he looked down.
Looking up with a half smile, his eyes met mine. Between us, a desire whispered to me, seeking a comforting, mutual bravery.
"Well, I have a story of this one time…" I began.
The comfort of red wine cradles me while my thoughts of you flow in and out of my muddled mind. I wear your shirt and sleepy eyes.
Certain, I watered my confidence and felt it grow with every mile I escaped from where you are. Left behind, our city and familiarity disappeared into a strange foreignness.
In its place, my city reached for me and offered freedom. City streets — uptown and downtown, new, repaved, or dilapidated — provided a new playground, a solace away from you. Turning corners and meeting alleyways, I discovered and thrived.
Here, in San Francisco, I’m ever only reminded of you when I meet dead ends.
Just finished cooking, I ladled a small bowlful of the lentil soup. Rather than wait until properly sitting and consuming like a lady, I stood and held my hour-and-a-half creation and now — too eager, too hungry — I demanded a taste.
I slammed the bowl back onto the table and stepped back, while a bridge of tears formed along my lower lashes.
No, the soup wasn’t bad; actually, the soup tasted great. (Thank you, Jamie Oliver!) But it was hot. Like, beyond “Fuck, is my tongue okay?” hot and more toward, “Do I still have a fucking tongue?!!??!111” hot.
My mouth felt scalded. I mean, as it should. The lentil soup was boiling off the burner and into my mouth in a hot ten seconds. What the fuck else was I to expect? A senseless and impulsive action that garnered every bit of my shock.
Through blurry eyes, I blinked away stray tears and pouted at my steaming bowl of soup. I crossed my arms, officially forming a standoff between this soup (of which is not cooling fast enough) and myself (hungry, bossy stomach included). Patience, I thought.
My eyes darted around the kitchen, the setting for which my patience is tested. Rogue vegetable choppings decorated the counter, and dirty dishes needed to be cleaned. Empty shot glasses by the sink tell a story of the weekend. I am tired and hungry, and the clock on the oven showed it was a little past seven o’clock. A quick calculation of my total cook time compelled me to end the standoff.
That, and Patience, which I invited lovingly into my kitchen, is being an uncommitted little bitch.
Patience is waiting to find a good lentil soup recipe, instead of choosing the first Google result in-between assignments at work. Patience is waiting in a line at Trader Joe’s during a mad rush of middle-aged San Francisco mothers, who’ve grown to become experts of patience through their diligent practice of childrearing. (In fact, such patience displayed by such mothers in comparison looks foreign on my face.)
Further, patience is the careful dicing of the vegetables and the churning of Jamie Oliver’s recommended red and green lentils until they softened. Most important of all, patience is choosing not to order food-to-go (read: a juicy cheeseburger) in favor of the virtuous task of cooking myself something nutritious.
But, somewhere between adding more water to the thickening soup and serving myself a bowl for dinner, I outgrew such patience. Patience has blood on its hands now, for my seemingly charred tastebuds render me incapable of enjoying the fruits of my labor.
What little ounce of lady-like behavior left in me now evaporated by the boil of my anger. Appropriately, my tongue — although burnt — remained knife-sharp and yelled for Patience to go fuck itself.
Bravery fueled by impatience, I attempt another spoonful. Gloriously yum, but painfully ow.