The City. You are Alone-but-not. A trick of geography and body heat. Surrounded by people more beautiful and those less; information gathered in a single cursory glance; pressed in by boots and scarves and things you should buy; items you can afford and items you cannot. The streets are throbbing with colors and snatches of stories and you are Alone-but-not. Seeing those you want because their advertising appeals to you; the gifts their parents gave; a straight nose, blonde hair; the objects the world sold them; a pencil skirt that hugs; a ripped vest that tells you as much as a conversation and your own advertising appeals to them or does not. if it does not -you are alone and less -and if it does -you have a friend or a lover or something else- perhaps a heart or a heartbreak.
The City will make you a citizen, you will adapt or die off or move. Change your heart; change your temperature. Everyone is a glance; a brief period of time that you exist in a subway or a bar. Speak rapidly, walk quickly, there is no time because if there were there would be too much, too much. But I exist. The person I bump into notices me for a split second; the man that stares in the coffee shop wants more of my existence, or a part of it, as does the little girl who stares at my bracelets; the woman who glares at my tights pants; I have impacted them- I have given them reasons and goals, to want something of mine just as the skinny girl with the afro makes my heart pound because I want what she has and she has not a look for me.
A farm; the Woods; you are Alone-but-not. There is no one to impress. Nothing to covet but that which always remains; leaves and sweet dirt and a brook and you are Alone-but-not with yourself.
The Woods may as well be an empty department store.
I am Alone in the City but I am comforted. Comforted the way a razor appeals more than the machete. One form of solitude is a poison preferable to the other. But comfort is a hand not a high heel.
The Woods do not comfort me; they remind me that I am not a person but a billboard, an ipod and computer and I am simply the culmination of the things I worship. In the City I am distracted. I can be afraid of other men instead of my own heart.
I am comforted by the things I created, subconsciously soothed by the power of men. In the Woods I am aware of nothing I created, only that which created me. Dirt from the ground I did not make, water from a lake and not a laboratory, seasons which philosophy and science predict but cannot emulate.
God asked David to not count his men and so be comforted in the dark by human power; Christ told Peter to lay down his sword and so what do I do with my weapons? There are soldiers in my clothing; assassins in my mascara and snipers in my heels. I command an army every morning; to triumph over men and convert women. I am the head of an army that will turn on me with age and fear; all beautiful women will die by their own hand; friendly fire by that which was most beloved.
And the men that love these women will stay because they are settled or stay because they loved beyond the tricks or be snatched by another army and can you really blame them?
Repentance; to all the women in the City who told me I looked great and asked how they could be skinny too and I should have been honest and said; “feel like shit and believe you are not worthy of food and that no one will ever love you and there is a 50/50 chance you will blow up like a balloon or shrink to a stick”. But instead I told them to be vegan.
The product they want is death-that-looks-like-life and I have dealt it; gladly given it to them; idolized it.
I learned this in the Woods; not the City. And I hate the Woods for it.
In the Woods I meet plain, hippie women. They immediately ask me ‘what is wrong?’ and I say ‘nothing’ but the word ‘everything’ is all that we hear. I do not want to be like them. This indicates that I am Sick, that I am judging them as walking advertisements which I do no want to buy. The fact is my gaze rests on beautiful women lacking serenity or compassion but filled with the frantic palpitations of high fashion. I would rather spend endless seconds consuming rushing sea of clothing and colors and hair styles then have to stare in the clean, calm eyes of women that are not like me. Women that do not want to be like me, but still look me in the eye. These women radiate comfort the way my friends radiate urban outfitters. They are accepting where my culture is bored with things they do not know and cynical of everything except their own fashion and arrogance.
Fashion distracts and hides what is true and what I know to be true from spending four hours in a sweat tent with several very naked and very wet people; humans are not different separate from that we choose to hide in; silk or cotton; cashmere or henna; bikers boors and tennis shoes; the labels we hide behind; the visual communications we offer the world; the signs and symbols that point us out to like minded people and tell the rest to stay away. Those who wear all black and metal studs (but there is a human in there) are this and this and so must go over there. Those indie hipster kids believe this and that so I will strike up cynical, ironic conversation with them (but there is a human in there) ; those women hide in jeans and sweaters and I will hide with them (but there is a human...). Clothing keeps secrets that should be shared while telling stories that should not.
The City makes me a billboard; the Woods make me a nudist.
The City makes me a satisfied atheist (and how could it not when surrounded by things God did not create) or at least a heartbroken Christian (surrounded by people made in the image of God and reformed by Prada and Target) and the Woods make me a believer and a mourner. Progression looks like transgression from this view, and whether the world is taken over by robots or nuclear weapons the world is already taken over.
Lustlove is a drug; like the first sip; the first coil of smoke sliding down your throat; the perfect purchase; and you feel alive, alive (the first kiss, the first touch) but then your lust is expensive and consuming and you are still selfish, still Alone-but-not and I learned all that in the City. But I learned it was Not Good in the Forest. In the Forest you cannot buy seasons, you can buy heaters and bathing suits, but you cannot bribe fall or spring. This tells me about love; the death feeds to life and growth and all the pretty things that will come after. My love is supposed to be sensual in one time, the dying-to-live in another. But we fall in lustlove in the summer and fake tan in the winter; find new lovers and new summers, we all want a life of endless spring nights. Maybe this is why we cheat and divorce and grow cold and bored because winter reminds us of death but beginnings feel like birth forever and ever and so we jump from place to person to heart to bed to cold floor. I don’t want this. How can I avoid it.
There is a woman at these Woods who is beautiful whether she likes it or not. Short, cropped blonde hair; wide blue eyes; slender form. She is gentle and speaks slowly and carefully. At first I dismissed her, she had nothing I wanted. But I stared at her yesterday and dreamt of her that night. She said to me, “I didn’t think we would like each other when we first met, but I think we will be good friends now.”
I hope so. Words make up poetry and promises just as easily as they make up lies and justifications. For right now, these are just words.
(last December I was in the City watching golden sunlight slide against wood floors and my mind slipped with it. The light faded into darkness and so did I.
this December I am in a tree house watching the sun peek back and forth through swaying trees. My eyes are lit up like amber and then dark again, light and shade, and my mind is steady, strumming and moving along like the brook barely in my sight. Praise you Christ, Lord of the crazy and sane, Savior of cities and forests and Lover of the whole damn world.)