the color of water

the color of the water

“have you SEEN the color of that water?” sara says to me, again, for what seems like the millionth time.

“it’s so beautiful.” i reply. and i mean it.

the color of the water in the cove is a seductive shade of perfect turquoise. it sings a silent song, which beckons you to its shore, the allure too strong and too serene to resist. like moths to a flame, even we land babies cannot resist the color of that water, the gentle bluffs rising from the waters edge, the quaking leaves of cedar, elm, oak and ash. the intermittent splash of baby bass, the distant echo of faraway voices from the opposite side of the shady cove, the yelp of a small dog, the billow of a big one. the honking of geese, too rebellious to adhere to their genetic makeup and fly north for the hot winter months.

Casey, his beard curled and greyed, his legs white, his eyes a bit down-turned and defeated, takes the old silver canoe without a paddle and splashes about the cove, until alone he capsizes. It’s shallow and he can swim. We lazily look over to the splashing from our perches atop the dock.

“Is he ok?”
“Yeah I see splashing, he’s fine.”
“Should we uh….help him or something?”
“Yeah I guess.”

And Reis walks over, helps Casey, and thus begins the casual teasing of the one-man-canoe-capsize for the remainder of the weekend.

“Who carries their birth certificate in their wallet?” we tease Casey as he assesses the soaked situation he has now found himself in.

“What’s next, Case, your social security card?” I tease as he begrudgingly pulls his floppy, wet social security card out of his dripping wallet. Cackles of laughter ensue, echoing off the bluffs, the metal interior of the dock, the supports of the pontoon boat swaying slowly beside us.

Sara and Jason crack Keystone Light after Keystone Light, and puff cigarette after cigarette, an exhibition of excessive intake, but fuck it; we’re on vacation. Reis and his friend Kim, visiting from Fort Collins, lounge on the table and chairs on the wooden planks of the dock. Kim does her best to keep it all in stride, but the wrinkles between her shoulder blades and rapid darting of her eyes suggests she may be a bit out of here element here in the middle of the Ozarks. And not that we can blame her – we’re one hell of a smoking, drinking, swearing motley crue, welcoming but abrasive to new faces. We do not accommodate, but we carry no judgement and heed no expectation.

i took some drugs. you know, to enhance the experience. LSD, my substance of choice, came on quickly and much stronger than expected. this was only my second time experimenting with this realm – the first time had been at this same location nearly a year ago. the colors’ vibrancy turned up, the butterflies scouting about the dripping karst rock formation near the dock expounded in infinite numbers, the clouds trailed off in spirals, whirlpools of the heavens. each leaf of rustling oaks melted into each other like flecks of cheddar on hot sourdough. cigarette after cigarette was smoked, the result of an unabiding oral fixation. using my phone was a challenge, i cannot comprehend the intricacies of technology in this primitive state of mind.

the experience was much more intense than planned – i guess that’s why they call it a “trip”? i couldn’t take the words, the colors, the stimulation of normalcy. so i took my little dog for a nap in the back of the VW, the world floating around us. for hours, we lay together, chasing an elusive sleep until the dial of the drugs ebbed down with time, and we emerged into the woods in time for the earliest embers of a campfire.

as the flames licked oak stumps, Sara opened package after package of smoked meat, lay it about casually on the iron grill. i cranked the tunes on the VW, grabbed my hoop and pulsed my brain and body, still alive with LSD, about the woods, moving my every inch to the demands of the hula hoop. beastie boys. bob dylan. band of heathens, talking heads. gorillaz. tom petty. we listened to anything and everything as the sun began to set over the pines and gentle rolling hills of the distance.

we spent sunset on the dock, Casey, Matt and i.

“I wish I could hit the pause button on this sunset.” i said, as I kicked my legs into the hammock Reis had hung earlier.

We blasted AMERICA, FUCK YEAH on Matt’s phone, and i laughed so hard, my face hurt. Casey vented some girl problems and i reassured him that women were in fact crazy, and he had nothing to worry about; he was a kind, sweet man, and if he waited, the right woman would come along. I hope this will not come to be a lie in later years. I sincerely hope.

And, as expected, the sun set, as it always seems to do. And we wandered up the lavender-butterfly covered bluff to the campfire and listened to music and cooked meat and drank and smoked and laughed. And laughed. I held court and held my belly as my stomach muscles stung with the extasy of laughter. A real good time, a genuinely happy moment among my motley crue of Arkansawyers.

I have never been this happy. I will always remember this feeling, of love, of wilderness, of pine trees, the gentle scent of smoke and cannabis and a cozy breeze coating everything in stillness. I slept in the back of the VW, my sweet dog lying soundly by my side, the light of nearby campfire reflecting about the wagon, the softness of it all. The ubiquity of perfection, here by the lake.

In the morning we cooked bacon, we tended the coals, we said one final goodbye to the dock and the emerald green waters of Beaver Lake.

“Have you SEEN the color of this water?!” Sara yelled to me from her perch atop a rocky outcropping.

“I can’t get enough of it!” I yelled back.

Sometimes, when looking down into the emerald water, i think it is perhaps gazing back up at me, my hazel eyes turned an envious green, if just for a moment. And the butterflies flit about, and the water drips slowly, and somewhere in the distance, the echoes of time reflect back up into my mind, a lost place of stillness; oh, the haunting color of that water. In dreams, it finds me still.

 

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rescue me, beneath the live oaks, the falling sky

rescue me, beneath the live oaks, the falling sky

i have been saved, it appears. not by some dude in a white robe and a long beard, but by a man who knows not of the power he possesses over my heart, over my mind, over every atom and inch of my being which i choose to give. i won’t give it all, but i’m willing to part with most of it.

we met for the first time in 3 trips around the sun. it was like picking up the best book you’ve ever read and putting it down, only to return to it later and find that its luster sustained through the years, that the characters are just as vivacious, the desire to turn page after page after page is not only strong, but importunately weighted upon your fingertips like anchors on the fins of fish.

i relish this moment. i look into this man’s eyes and he sees me. he looks into me like no one has, and in this moment of stillness i feel whirled into the stars at a million miles an hour, my heart races, i swallow, i glance downward, i am moved.

we checked into our hotel room – the ultimate bow to tie onto this weekend: one bed, or two? he goes with one. a king. it’s that kind of getaway.

we look coyly at the bed, throw our stuff down, and head out the door to imbibe, take the edge off, reconnect. we walk to Magazine street and duck into a small pub. bruce springsteen rocks the jukebox and i tell him “bruce is my favorite” and he tells me we can “agree to disagree” and we toss back a few more (and by a few i mean a few) and proceed next door for mexican grub and conversation and i’m still so nervous i can barely form sentences.

we return to the hotel room. we do what two people who haven’t seen each other in three years do in a hotel room. and it was spectacular. we lay in bed and stare at each other, falling asleep as the birds begin to rouse, as the sun begins to peek through the blinds. my face hurts from smiling.

in the morning we make our way to the St. Charles Cafe as finely dressed families filter in and out to the sounds of live guitar music, celebrating Mother’s Day. the city is slow today, i am in no hurry. cheesy grits, bacon, black coffee, he palms at my hands. this is it.

we filter in and out of the crescent city, talking of things that matter, things that don’t. he rolls cigarettes with his fingers as we walk, i take pictures of trees and wax poetically on Faulkner, Welty, Andrew Jackson. we edge the curbs to avoid panhandlers, admire the squared balconies of the French Quarter, laden with ivy, moss, low-hanging ferns and centuries of city sludge. he holds my hand, our arms extended fully, a perfect fit, palm to palm ambling along the cobblestones.

we admire drakes quacking about the lakes of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. “Why is this place so empty?” he asks. “Beats me, it’s beautiful”. we spot a kingfisher, steadfast and unmoved at the edge of a lake, eying his next meal.

we are everywhere we’re supposed to be, we are becoming who we should. we are together in this moment. it’s fucking perfect, nothing like i would imagine, for imagining leads to the ultimate doom of expectation, unrealized dreams, disappointment. for this man, i will not travel to that land, because i would go anywhere else to be with him.

we sit on a bench in City Park, beneath the fern-drenched boughs of Live Oaks. “If I wasn’t wearing a skirt, I would lay down and put my head in your lap” I say. “You can do that anyway.” he replies.

i comes time to leave. we hold hands. we hold each other’s faces. i look into blue eyes, he brown. this is one of he best weekends of my life, aside from the one we shared together, when i first met you, nearly 5 years ago. it’s meant to be this way again. it might be meant to be this way forever.

but that’s forever away. and for now, we’ll have phone conversations, witty banter, letters and thoughts and smiles and a thin white string running from wherever i am, to wherever you are.