Monday, February 6, 2012

Stranger In This Night...



Found myself restless the other evening. Just out of sorts and unable to find the right shift of my hip, curl of my spine or rhythmic swoosh of my knife. This “out of sorts” deal has been plaguing far too much lately. It’s as if I’m only halfway doing things; food, wine, sex, passion, writing, listening, feeling…halfway. Total bullshit and not at all me. Not sure when or why it started but I’ve grown not only bored but weary of feeling like I’m rolling around on the kiddie lane of the bowling alley. I hit the puffy bumper guards and keep rolling along. Fuck. I need to slam against something, feel that jarring smack of life and laugh, cry, scream, cum, dance, stumble and gather my vibrating self for the next hit. Feels like I’m eating a steak with a condom on my tongue and living in a bubble of make believe and disinfectant spray.

That feeling was sitting heavy on my shoulders as I poured myself a glass of wine, chopped veggies, seared chicken and tossed little bits of savory into a pot for dinner. Not upset or not wanting to do it, just wishing it was bringing me more…something. Made my way through dinner, smiled and tried my best to be charming, or at the very least funny, the whole time feeling like I was just one vacuous comment away from ripping my clothes off and running naked from the comfort and quiet of my own home. Missing, feels like something is so missing from my life right now and I find myself so turned around, spun, that I’m beginning to realize that I don’t quite know how to navigate without it….whatever it is. Not even assured enough in my own step and over-flooded head to sort through the possibilities. Thus I’ve been waking, showering, working, cooking, making my husband laugh, (still sharp enough to remember to make him laugh, hard, at least once a day) cleaning, climbing into my jammies, crashing and starting all over again the next day. A dull loop that just keeps replaying and doesn’t feed the me that needs more to keep stomping, biting, tasting, crying, laughing. 



After dinner I found myself once again at my laptop. Part of me running, the other part searching and neither making me feel any more vibrant in my skin. The internet, with all its promise, hope, energy, fast talk and connecting was staring back at me, blank and hollow. My “friends” on Facebook posting pictures of their kids, political links, ranting about the lines at the market but not one of them talking to me. To Me. The lonely making my back shrink, my face age, my green eyes fill with tears. My thoughts flashed to my mother, her mother and how sad and alone they were their whole lives. How their proper and approved behavior, acceptance of things they really didn’t want in order to make things simple, smooth, wave-less, showed when I would look in those unfulfilled eyes and frown damaged faces. Their ingrained need to paint the, “everything is fine” picture truly told by the deep valleys of discontent that ran along the sides of their mouths and the bite with which they would punish me should I ever laugh too hard, stay out too late, question or cause a ruckus.

Reflecting on that from the sweetly safe confines of my empty dining room table, knowing that those two would be so satisfied with seeing me “settle” and live quietly I felt that same bubble of “fuck this” that I used to feel when I’d look into my mother’s raging eyes, her venom frothing at her lips as she hissed, “I wouldn’t fuck you with someone else's body!” or “you think he loves you? You’re a bigger fool than I thought you were”. She may have been right, I might have been a fool but at least I was alive. More than she could say and no matter how guilty I felt for making her feel uncomfortable, how angry I was at her, there was always part of me that knew I held the upper hand. Could have been the arrogance of youth, the pride that mistakenly graces a sixteen year old, my own rage at feeling like she should have done more to protect and nurture me. I didn’t learn to be a woman from my mother, I learned in spite of her. And now, now I found myself, unsatisfied and pissed about it. Fuck that…

Tried the usual fix, bigger glass of wine and Dave Matthews, (for the love of God dude, turn on your Google alert. I’m dying here waiting for you to realize how in love we are) to try and make my skin stretch tight, make my tiny hairs stand ready….make me feel something. Dave, (Seriously? C’mon man) making my eyes heavy with want, my ears swallowing each sensually strung together line inspiring that same feeling that used to make me slither out my bedroom window. That promise of sin, kisses, escaping the confines of, “right” for the immeasurable pleasure of “Oh, this is so right”. I know, now, that it wasn’t the touches of fumbling boys, men, it was the way I felt knowing I was breaking the rules…and making them break them as well.

“I just need to be outside” I told my husband as I slipped my toes into my flip-flops and headed out the door. Shoved my cigarettes into my pocket and began my walk down the street to, wherever. No plan other than filling my lungs with cool air and breaking the work, come home, cook and watch tv cycle I’ve been in. The idea of settling into other people’s ideas of proper behavior making me put one foot in front of the other, this missing chunk of vibrancy, my vibrancy, quickening my pace. Passed the gas stations, closed shops and nearly empty fast food joints that line my street, wandered into a sleepy, blaringly silent housing tract, all the doors closed, most of the lights out, not one car parked along the curb, waiting for visiting guests to pile inside before making the drive home. Just blank, desolate, far too quiet for me. 



Made my way through the tract and found a street that dumped me back on the large street on which my apartment complex sits. No one else on foot and barely any cars on the road. I looked at my watch, 12:13 AM. I settled myself on a bus stop bench, looked up at the moon then back to the wide empty lanes of my normally busy street. I was feeling something alright, I was feeling really fucking alone. Sure I could go home, there was a man there that has loved me for nearly 20 years and, as it turns out, loves me even more now than when we met. And while my love for him is just as pure and real as ever, this settling into “Oh it’s Tuesday so we do this” routine is just not the woman I am cut out to be, and I’m sure if I let myself tumble any further down that shallow hole, I would lose part of what he, or anyone else that is nutty enough to love me for that matter, is drawn to.  Not ready to go home, just yet…

I looked down at my exposed forearms and wondered why I hadn’t thought to grab my sweatshirt on my way out the door. Not sure if it was the chill in the air or the one running through me that was causing it but I was covered in goose bumps. Lit a cigarette and leaned back on the damp bench, taking drags so deep that I could feel the insides of my cheeks slipping between my back teeth. My neck arching and head back against my shoulders as I exhaled the poison from my lungs, an extra push through pursed lips trying to rid myself of the complacency that was robbing me of my energy, desire, passion, palate, drive. “Enough” I told myself as I took the last puff of my cigarette and looked for a trash can to dispose of the spent butt. Saw an ashtray across the street and hoisted my thick ass off the bench, grabbed the waistband of my too-big-jeans and darted across the empty street. 



“Goddamn it!” I muttered as I felt the slap of wet denim whipping along my heels. I’d stepped in a puddle in my dash across the street and my baggy jeans were now even heavier as the frayed white shreds of wear were now soaked in dirty street water. Made a rather awkward “Hold my pants up” walk on my tippy toes, feeling even colder than before and now skeeved out by having my beloved not fitting jeans covered in wet street yuck, walk to the trash receptacle. So yeah, tippy toes, extended cigarette butt pinched between my fingers and the , “Dude, ewe” face all over me as I made my way to the ashtray that was sitting just outside the lit and covered with, “We cash food stamps and have cold beer” handwritten posters of a rather depressing liquor store. Tossed the smokers evidence in the bin and stood there under the grotesque blue lighting, big beer posters and Lotto ticket signs making me feel even smaller and more helpless.

“I go out walking, after midnight, out in the moonlight” fucking Patsy Cline. If I were a believer in things such as fate and paths, well I might have dropped down to my knees. Instead I tilted my head much like puppies do, trying to figure out where the sound was coming from, my eyebrow arched as I walked the barely lit, aside from the creepy liquor store, strip mall. The slurp and splat of the bottom of my jeans sticking to my heels with each step, my hands still full of gathered denim as I tip-toed past the dark windows, the boating shop, game store and trading card depot. I approached each door with anticipation, my ears peeled and wondering if somewhere in there someone was playing the song that seemed to be tugging me along. Was met with still desks and registers in the dark each time I peered in the windows as I made my way down the line of half a dozen stores. Thinking that I must have finally cracked I crossed the little birth of pavement and asphalt that separated the strip mall from the main drag of that big street. My right foot on the curb, just about to dart back across the quiet big street and, “Real love, I’m searching for a real love. Someone to set my heart free” Mary J. Blige. I took one last look over my shoulder to see that there was one more door, an open and lit one that was emitting both a warm hum of music and the whips of illegal smoking. Shoved my cold hands in my pockets, my fingers resting upon a ten dollar bill left over from my lunch, my wet heels spun around and I found myself pushing back a flap of cigarette saturated cloth and stepping into a sparsely populated bar. 



My heart was rattling away in my chest as I scanned the faintly lit room. Pool tables with twenty-somethings gathered around them, a couple at the end of the bar that had probably been there since 1989, still drunk, old and pissed at one another. Guys in sideways caps and wife-beaters, huffing at one another and chugging beers. I wasn’t sure what I was doing there, moreover wasn’t sure I wanted to stay. My chest full and struggling with which was more powerful, the awkwardness or fear of that shallow rabbit hole, I took one more scan and saw a harmless, rather “business class” looking cat sipping something brown and over ice at the far right of the bar. “I’ll have a Sapphire martini, straight up” I gurgled as I sat beside him.

“You want olives?” the weathered bartender asked. “Um, no…do you have onion?” my voice cracking and the shifting in my seat making it very clear to everyone that I was not a regular. “Onion? No. We don’t got any onions” my face hot and red as her words made it clear that I was out of place. Felt something…”Lime will be fine” I told her and waited for my drink. “My wife orders those too. I tell you this for two reasons. One, because it’s true and second, so you know I’m married and am not just hitting on you” the business class guy. Dockers, white dress shirt, one sleeve rolled up, wavy head of salt and pepper hair and a face that reminded me of Patrick Dempsey…older, more life worn and tired. I cracked a smile in his direction and gave him the, “Dude, I know you aren’t trying to mack on me” nod. We both laughed as my drink arrived with a half a lime floating in it.



Fished the citrus carcass from my cocktail and rested it upon the napkin that sat beneath the sleek stem of my glass. Was three sips in when the warm began to scurry down my spine. The soothing  purr of alcohol slipping into my belly and loosening the rest of me. I let my eyes turn back to the gentleman beside me, his rolled up sleeve revealing rough and gnarled skin, a scar of serious proportion. “Motorcycle accident” my neighbor told me, my eyes reverting back to my icy and statuesque glass before looking back at him only to be met with warm brown eyes and a smile. “I’m sorry” I said with a sheepish grin, “Just doesn’t fit the…uniform?” he laughed before leaning closer and whispering, “Don’t let the uniform fool you”.

Anthony. His name was Anthony and he too had happened upon this sad little bar full of lonely souls…ours included, looking for something just a little more. He and his martini drinking wife in yet another tiff. He in disbelief that he had become too much like his father, she wishing he were even more so. Me watching as he let the ice melt and he puddled into becoming him; bright, beautiful, intellectual, soul searching, big wage earing hot shot….listened as he told me stories of riding off on his motorcycle for months at a time and never, even once, dreaming his life would end up like this. There was an honesty to his words, a raw and painful sadness in his confessions to a blonde stranger that just happened to sit beside him, wearing the same, “how did we get here?” face. I listened, asked questions, urged him to keep talking and before I knew what was happening I was letting my fingers run along the bumpy surface of his exposed and monumental scar. I knew what I was doing. I was not trying to seduce him, just trying to encourage him to tell me everything. The deep lines in his face softened, he dropped his head, looked at me, ordered us both another drink and said, “I came in here for a drink and to hear Patsy Cline’s voice make me believe someone understood me” his fingers now holding my jaw and tugging on my earlobes, “How weird is this?” I laughed and hung my head before looking up at him, his warm and rough hands still cradling my jaw as I admitted, “I only came in here because I heard Pasty. Had this ten dollars and a gnawing in my belly”



Two hours later we were on last call. We had discussed so much, laughed as if we’d known each other for decades, trusted in a way that would seem unnatural if it weren’t so…natural. As the bartender shut off the lights to the back half of the bar we sipped slowly on the last little bits of our drinks. Eyes locked and knowing that there could be nothing better added to this night. We would not exchange emails or cell numbers and once we said goodbye it would be like twisting a cap on this one perfect evening. “Can I drive you home?” even as he said it I knew there was a cheapening of what we both found so enriching. I cocked my head, held his handsome face in my hands and said, “No. I should do this on my own. Thank you though. Hey, I can’t let you leave without hearing what happened here” my palms running along the marred and textured flesh on his arm. He chuckled while rolling down his sleeve, “It’s so stupid. I was working at a winery in Napa in the 70’s. I got really shitfaced one night and there was an incident involving a tractor and I lost. What happened to that guy?” he said with a grin that nearly made me rethink that drive home, “Well, I think I just met him” I said before kissing him on the cheek, shaking my head and beginning my walk home. 



Twisted the doorknob of my quiet little apartment and flipped on the lights. My husband long ago gone to bed, trusting that I would be safe, knowing the woman I am and understanding that sometimes, walking after midnight is what I need to keep being the woman he is so madly in love with. Slipped into the bedroom, flicker of ESPN greeting me along with the subtle sawing of my beloved’s snore. I wiggled from my now dry but still too big jeans, reached around and unhooked my bra, let out an audible groan as my heavy breasts were freed and let he goose bumps of rejuvenation ripple over my exposed body. Had to chuckle at myself and gathered my pajamas before quietly slipping off to the other bathroom to wash my face and brush my gin stained teeth. 



Not quite ready for bed I nestled into my couch, Law & Order keeping me company as I sipped on a glass of 2006 Westwood Winery Tennat. Letting the gamey, flinty, rugged fruit melt across my tongue. Thinking of the passionate man that makes that wine, a dear friend and someone I can say, without hesitation, that I love. One that I met through being that woman, the one my mother and grandmother would have snarled at and been disappointed with. The feral wine speaking to my wild and untamed heart that no matter how much I try to ignore, is the core of who I am and drives me to do what it is I do.

No more complacency….



I raised my glass
To Anthony, to John Kelly at Westwood, to everyone I know that is in the pursuit of happiness...one glass at a time.

Ready for Napa and those wine writers who will assuredly tell me I’m doing it wrong
I’m sure I am,
But I’m doing what I have to, what I need to
To be me….   

19 comments:

Alfonso Cevola said...

Nobody's gonna tell you you're doing it wrong...

Samantha Dugan said...

Okay good. They might however tell me I'm doing it long.. What the hell?! Took me forever to scroll down just to leave a comment. Sheesh. When I'm trying to bust through writer's block I go BIG. Can't wait to see ya kid, and meet Kim!

Thomas said...

Have a nice trip, although it appears that you already are having one...

"I go out walking, after midnight..."

One of my favorite Cline tunes to play on my piano. Sometimes, I get into a cycle playing it and can't--or don't want to--get out.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
One of my favorite songs of all time. Never fails to give me goose bumps. Would love to hear you play it someday...

John M. Kelly said...

Know what I love? I love other people telling me I'm "doing it wrong." As if they could do it better. As if they would have the time to tell me how what I'm doing doesn't fit the paradigm that is working so well for them, if it was actually working? Seriously, branded merchandise in my tasting room? Really, we should hire a brand manager - some douche laid off from his last manager job because his paradigm didn't work there either, who knows nothing and cares nothing about us, but is just desperate enough to take our money? Yeah, I'll get right on that.

Whew got that off my chest. Glad I could play a small role in this film noir bit of your life. Hope we can see each other when you are up this way.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

The way your piece speaks of longing and desire, it beautifully echoes the voice and music of Patsy Cline. And the tale of your late night odyssey made me yearn for something similar to break me out of my rut.

I can't remember having been so moved by a post. It stirred something deep inside me. But, sadly, that longing will probably once again get buried in the dreary day-to-day.

I love you...

Samantha Dugan said...

John,
Well I'm glad you were a part of it as well. Thank you for the beautiful wine my dear friend.

Ron My Love,
Don't let it. Feel me loving you each and every day and know that as long as I'm around, there will be someone walking, after midnight, searching for You.
I love you too.

Thomas said...

When I get a chance to figure out how to plug the keyboard into my Garage Band software, I'll email an MP3 version of me playing it.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Thomas,

Do you do requests? Play "Misty" for me.

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
I don't know what any of that means but...okay.

Thomas said...

Hey Clint,

I can play "Misty." Another of my favorites. Ah, all good music is my favorite music.

Sam,

It means that I'm supposed to be able to plug my electronic keyboard into my Mac, access a program named Garage Band and create a digital file of whatever I play. The problem is, even if I can do it, I cannot find the time to figure it out, and with that, it's back to work for me (got 181 pages of the first draft of the book, which means I'm not even close to being finished).

Selyndria said...

I truly needed this. I shook my complacency off by saying Yes to Daniel's proposal and signing up for culinary classes.

I should have tried your method. Way cooler.

Oh and if they say you're doing it wrong, then you know you're doing it better than they ever dreamed they could.

Sara Louise said...

Sometimes I feel like there is nothing I can say in this comment box that will truly describe what it is that I feel about your post and this is one of those times. All I can say is, I get it.
xo

Winey the Elder said...

The alchemy of the midnight hour: from a rut to a groove.

Haunting and beautiful, as always.

Merci. winey

Alfonso Cevola said...

I find probiotics to be a good remedy for writers block..

Samantha Dugan said...

Thomas,
Well darlin' stop reading my silly crap and get to work!

Selyndria,
Oh I think your method is working just fine for you, and congratulations again on both exciting developments.

Sara,
Thanks lovely. Always appreciate it when you stop by and let me know you were here.

Winey,
I was worried that it might be too, well dark, but as it turns out one can find beauty in those dark places...just have to be open to feeling them out. Had a strong suspicion that dark or not, people would understand. Appears that you have and and for that I'm grateful.

Alfonso,
Goddamn it. I'm so sick of poo yogurt.

Valerie said...

Yep. You're ready. 2nd time I've read about Tannat today, by the way - friend's bringing me a bottle from VA. Supposed to be Tannic, maybe a little rough (never had it - but am intrigued) - I'm guessing pairs well with that raw emotion you let fly here today. Fuck can you write, sister. Knock-em dead up there!

ADoC said...

Oh darlin', you and I have been in the same place. And oddly enough, late the other night Pandora cued up Patsy's 'Walkin After Midnight'. I slipped outside, sat under the stars in the bitter cold, and tried to remember the me I've lost. The one that has gotten smothered by this place, and stuck in the routine of nothingness.

Cheers, beautiful girl, to finding our spark again.

Samantha Dugan said...

Val,
Let me know what you thought of the Tennat. You've never had one? Not even Madiran? And can I just say that I grinned from ear to ear when I read, "Fuck you can write sister" how could I not love a compliment that involves the word fuck? Thanks lady and congrats on passing your exam.

ADoC,
What the hell is it about Patsy, and especially that song? If I had to pick a soundtrack for that night I would have gone directly to that song. Longing at it's best. Keep your chin up sweet girl and find someway to find you out there in that wretched tiny town. Keep writing beautiful, take it from me, it helps so fucking much. Sending you hugs.