423

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Before you read this I recommend the prelude. If you haven’t read the prelude this wouldn’t make sense. If you have read it, you’re going to think I made this part up, which most people do believe. People who know me better think that I might not have been 100% right in my head that night, that’s fine, I’m not sure if I was all there either.

You see, I went to my bench down by the river on April 23rd fully expecting to die. My dream was so vivid, I kept seeing the numbers, people were telling me the significance of the numbers with aliens, I was having more nightmares, I hardly slept. I was paranoid. After getting into a fight with R because she thought I was nuts, I just kind of calmed and realized I don’t want to be in my room.

So I sit on my bench, writing. Writing, back then, for me, was lazy. Up until college I wrote short stories and plays and I was really trying to hone my craft, I was trying to put life down on paper. Once I got to college I became kind of lazy and ambitionless. Poetry was easy, it’s the kind of thing where, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you put down some alliterations, add some angst and you call it a poem. In reality, it was a waste of ten minutes (and sometimes less). You didn’t grow at all, you didn’t learn anything new.

But that sort of defined me at that point. Working on a C- second semester sophomore year, in danger of losing my scholarships, fucking up all my relationships, drinking and smoking everyday and my writing, the one thing I always stuck with since I was literally six or seven years old, the one thing I always loved to do, was completely turning to shit. Poetry, in my rationale, was a means to get my feelings on paper without needing a story. I couldn’t find my story; I was too lazy to look for one.

What I didn’t realize is that life gives you a story, everyday.

So I’m on bench and nothing happens. I sit there for over an hour and I write crap and I wait and I say, “Fuck it.” I get up to go back to the dorm, turn around and see a woman walking towards me.

A woman with long black hair, in a black dress, carrying a red rose. Just like the woman in my dream. The one that was holding up a piece of paper that said “423”.

And I jumped and stared at her in horror, thinking this was it.

And she laughed as she got closer and asked me if I was all right.

“I thought you were going to kill me.”

She laughs again and assures me she won’t. I opt not to tell her about the dream, because I’m smart like that. She was a beautiful Columbian girl, Carolina, with a smile that, now almost seven years later, still gets me nostalgic and sad. Robin is the love of my life but Carolina was literally the girl of my dreams; how many guys can say they actually met the girl of their dreams?

And then we had one of those nights. We had a storybook kind of night.

Turns out she was out with her boyfriend, having dinner, nice restaurant and they got into a fight and she left. I told her I got into a fight with my girlfriend and came here, to my bench.

“This is my bench,” she tells me. I call her a liar; I sit here almost every night and I’ve never seen her. She tells me she sits here every morning, after she jogs. Sometimes she comes in the afternoon and draws. But she’s there almost everyday, just like me.

We talk. She tells me about crew, she’s a coxswain, which is something I made fun of my whole life but now I found it really cool. We sit in the grass and she yells out “stroke” to see if I can keep up with the pace of a crew team. I can’t.

We talk about life, the deep stuff, the stuff you don’t talk to strangers about. We talk about our families and our friends and our lives away from college and our lives in college. We both feel like two people out of touch, like everything’s going to shit and we’re helpless to stop it.

She also a dancer and I remembered a few things; we waltz under the moon to no music. The whole time laughing, joking and stepping on each others feet.

We talk about love, about our partners. Their shortfalls, our shortfalls. What we expect and what we get. Both of our relationships are over, we both realize it, but we hang on. Carolina has a belief it can get better, I have a belief that I need R in my life.

We lay in the grass, looking up at the sky. I’m pointing out constellations to here, making most of them up. For a moment we turn to each other and are about to kiss.

“I have a girlfriend,” I tell her and we pull away. It was a perfect moment and I let a dying remnant of my soon to be past stop it. We decide to go home. I don’t see Carolina again until the next semester.

This isn’t the whole story; this is just the beginning of it. I already touched upon other things that happened in between April 23rd and the start of the next school year. R and I broke up; my Uncle Alex died of AIDS and my own shortfalls and hypocritical, selfish outlooks on life became painfully obvious. But a lot happened in between those events as well. I don’t want to go into clichés like deconstruction and reconstruction but I definitely hit my bottom and came back with a vengeance. And for the first time in two years, I found a story. And I’ve been looking back at life since, and seeing the story in everything, and that’s what this website has become.

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