Killing Christina – Part 2

S1420005 (2)

I tried telling myself lies about her:
She’s an idiot.
She’s unstable.
She’s not that beautiful.
The charms of her smiles, her thoughts, and her scents have no effect on me.
But every lie was so foul that it made me sick to pretend they were true.

I tried imagining parallel realities where we never met, or where we met under different conditions, ones that made us immediate incompatibility.

I tried to push thoughts of her out of my mind, but even that involved thinking about her, and once that starts, I’m lost.

So I came to the most remote place I know to strangle the life out of my love for Christina and give it a proper burial.

I felt from the start that we were on a timer. The weight of my feelings for her, compared to the weight of hers for me, made us too lopsided a couple to stand together very long without tipping over. When we came to the inevitable crash-and-burn part of our relationship I had to get away from everything – not just Christina but every habit and object in and about my life – to find canyons of silence and emptiness where the enormous resolution I need has enough room to move around and to find me. If it can find me anywhere, it will be in this most sacred space: halfway up a mountain, in my Uncle Bob’s cabin in the Catskills.

Uncle Bob is an old vinyl guy and the depth of his record collection fascinated me even when I was a boy. I pick out a disc at random and put it on the turntable, then I grab a beer and start a fire. I don’t look at the album cover so I don’t know which one I picked until I hear the gravelly voice of Louis Armstrong hitting the nail a little too sharply on the head, singing:

In my solitude
You haunt me
With reveries of days gone by
In my solitude
You taunt me
With memories that never die

S1420008

Killing Christina – Part 1

IMG_3709

Lies are dangerous things.

None are more deadly than the ones we tell ourselves.

Of all the lies I’ve known there is none worse than the one I told myself about Christina, that she could love me as much as I loved her.

* * *

Time has its own way of breaking things down. Even plastic and styrofoam biodegrade eventually. There is no rush. People don’t retire when they reach a certain age because they can’t do our jobs anymore. Most jobs, unless they require physical labor, are done more quickly and easily by people with experience. The reason we retire is that the rationale behind our occupations inevitably falls apart, like newspaper in a gutter. Love is the only thing I know of that resists time’s efforts to break it down. It withstands onslaughts of alcohol and infidelity. It is almost indestructible. So, if my love for Christina is going to die, something is going to have to kill it.

Before we go any further, I would like to alleviate any apprehension I’ve caused by calling my story Killing Christina. You could be forgiven for imagining that this is going to be another of those stories where a sick, possessive man commits an act of intolerable cruelty against a woman. It is not. I am not going to kill Christina. Neither is anybody else. I would not see any harm come to her. I am in love with Christina and it is that – my love for her – that I have come here to kill.

We met in the most enjoyable place two people can meet: a bar. My first image of Christina was on a bar stool, reading. A song was playing that I hadn’t heard in years and I got a little more excited about it that I should have. I bumped into her and spilled her cocktail all over the bar. She might remember it differently but the way I remember it, I let out an astonishingly unmanly shriek. I grabbed a handful of napkins from the bartender’s plastic caddy and tried to sop up her drink. “I’ll buy you another,” I said.

And she smiled.

Just that. Just a kind, simple smile to a bumbling stranger, and I was undone. I knew, as sure as I know how to breathe, that if I have a moment before I die, to look back at all the strange and wonderful moments of my life, that handful of soggy napkins is going to be part of one of them.

“It was a martini,” she said. I interrupted the bartender who was cleaning up my mess to order two martinis. “I’ll pay for that one too,” I said, pointing at the spill.

It wasn’t until the drinks came that it struck me that I’d never had a martini. “Cheers,” I said and we clinked our glasses.

I sipped and  watched her long slow swallow. The lighter fluid in my mouth didn’t taste like anything I wanted to swallow. As badly as I wanted to spit the martini back into its glass, and would have in front of anybody else, I couldn’t do that in front of her, so I forced it down. In an attempt to distract her from the repulsive look on my face I pointed to her book and said, “I’ve never read anything by Virginia Woolf.”

The skin of her nose wrinkled, disclosing freckles that reflected the neon lights above her. “You should,” she said, and within minutes we were locking in an intense conversation about Haruki Murakami. We’d each read a few of his books, but none of the same ones.

After an evening of deepening conversation we went back to my place and talked some more, about books, and the exploration of our solar system, and the development of photography, and its impact on our sociology. We talked about her beloved second-grade teacher and my despised Little League coach. We talked about insects and religion and dreams.

“So,” she said during a pause in our inexhaustible revelations, “What do you think?”

“About what?” I said.

“About me.”

“You’re devastating,” I said. She smiled. She knew that about herself. She just wanted to see if I knew.

We continued until the sun came up and our talk of dreams rolled into the one where we were lovers and the universe belonged to us.

 

Falling

There is a reason we call it falling in love
We are always looking forward
and neglect to see the thing
lying at our feet, across the path

It only takes a little tangle in our
toes or in our ankles
to bring our tower of illusions crashing down

Crumbling rationality and reason
independence and clarity
future and past
continuity
sanity

Love leaves us humbled, lying flat
squinting up at her blinding light
grateful for the warmth

IMG_4482

Drawing

CCF09302019_00000

I thought I might do a drawing today
and maybe you would pose for me
You don’t need to reveal anything that makes you feel uncomfortable
I can see all that I need in the skin
under your eyes
and the positions of your fingers
and the width and length of your lips

Instead a person I love died
and my eyes won’t work that way today
I won’t see fingernails or eyelashes
I won’t see the geometry of your crossed legs
or the devastation of the sunlight that rampages through your hair

The things I see are in-between this
world and another one
One that comes before and also after
the world that embraces both stages of infancy

His cold breath is on all our necks
He wears a watch that tells no time
that only ticks and doesn’t move
that bruises and stretches and breathes heavily

This morning I felt the sun on my chest
like it didn’t know summer was over
that lit a new path for my feet to follow
and offered plausible explanations for
the lies I told myself
about how I’d draw you in stuttering sunlight
and ask you all I want to know
like I didn’t know summer was over

Threes and Sevens are Magic Numbers

37

IMG_4466

There is something beautiful and mysterious about the number three. To the ancient Greeks, 1 stood for unity and 2 for chaos. The combination of the two – the numeral 3 – stood for harmony. In the Christian church, God is a trinity – the father, son, and Holy Spirit – and Jesus spent three days in the tomb before his resurrection. Other civilizations also divided their divinity in threes. For the Egyptians they were Osiris, Isis, and Horus. To the Greeks it was Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades. The magical properties of our third number is universally recognized.

IMG_4472

Seven is the only other number that can rival the magic of three. We divide our week into seven days, and the notes of a musical scale, almost infinite in variation of pitch, are divided into sevens, with every eighth note repeating as an octave. To those who find a path to enlightenment through meditation there are seven human chakras, corresponding to the 7 colors of the rainbow represented in the anagram ROYGBIV, and to the body parts that align in the lotus position, from the root to the crown. When I meditate today, I will be thinking of your inspiration.

These two numbers have an almost sacred power. In combination, their force is multiplied. To anyone entering one of those most special ages, turning 37 or 73, I hope you have the most magical year of your life.

Do Not Go Gentle

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 

Time is Running Out…

IMG_4101

Did you ever get the feeling that time is running out? For your country? Your planet? Your patience?

Time is certainly running out for your chance to get tickets to Mr. Mike’s Mostly Musical Mashup.

Hope to see you this Sunday, the 22nd, at 7:00 PM.

 Get your tickets here.

Although I will be digging back in time for some of the songs we’ll be performing on Sunday, this is no trip down memory lane. The show will be a mix of older songs and ones I’ve written over the last few years, songs that speak to the passions and problems – personal and political, psychological and social – of today. I am excited to share them with you.

A couple of centuries ago Thomas Paine wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls” and it feels like we are in those times again. One of the best things we can do in trying times like these is to gather together and share our concerns, our dreams, our laughter, our love, and our music. I hope you can share some with me on September 22.

Love,
Mike

P.S. Here is one of my recent songs, about time running out, that I will be performing at the show: Butterfingers.