The Dotted Line

[photo courtesy margolove]

Today, the world is gray: sky, ground, the air between our mouths. The wind gusts and gasps and leaves crackle and snap from the trees; it's cold and it's drizzling and I've left my umbrella in some other life.

He's got the whole world in his hands... A bearded old man sings on the corner, his voice warm and rich and heavy, filling the space between buildings, spilling like syrup down alleys and gutters, and between each word is the clack, clack, clack of my boots on concrete, the gust and the gasp and the crack and the snap, the cold and the drizzle and the gray between our mouths, and suddenly-- it is winter.


Three years ago, I wrote:

My first few months in Madison I could have walked a thousand miles without recognizing the sound of someone's sneeze. I went to the movies by myself, I went to dinner by myself; the sun rose and set on my solitude. I wrote every day and I walked every day and the world was the most beautiful it's ever been, ever.

My courage and independence are two of my greatest strengths, but they are packaged side-by-side with isolation, a sort of self-inflicted quarantine. This conflicts with my ideals of community, ideals about which I feel passionately. It's as though I want that community to thrive just outside my bedroom door, like laughter down the hall and dirty soup bowls you find on the counter. I want to exist on its periphery and smile to myself that people are so good to each other. I fall in love with strangers because they don't expect to walk me home.

Sometimes I wonder if someday I will meet someone whose presence won't feel like an ill-fitting overcoat, like something heavy in my pocket that I should've left at home. Someone whose footsteps will fall next to mine like the sound of my own breath, whose body will sleep next to mine like an extension of my own, an eight-limbed Shiva tangled in the sheets.

Love has always felt to me like forging my own signature. Like signing my name backwards and left-handed, with a pen that never had any ink.

But with this one, I am right-side up. With this one, my well is brimming and bottomless, my hand steady and sure. With this one, I have already signed.

A thousand times over, I have already signed.