Don’t dwell on the past.
In so many words, my comrades have been telling me that, for ages.
They wait for me at the agreed-upon intersections in San Francisco, at New York delis, or at coffee shops — when in LA-LA. Some hear me speeding by, in search of parking, while simultaneously texting them: “b there in a min.” They watch me march into a joint, with my hair pulled back. (Unless traveling long distances up the coast, with all the windows rolled down, I keep that mane tamed at all costs.) I walk into my rendezvous, smiling at the clerks and saying hello to strangers; then, I scan the room for my beloveds.
I see them and immediately move in for a hug:
“It’s been so long. So happy to see you. Ah.”
I wrap myself with their bodies: I am not big on personal spaces between beloveds.
And when that’s all done, I start dumping my loads onto the nearby chairs, peeling off my purses and sweaters. I’m the type of a broad who carries a first-aid kit at the bottom of her endless bag. A nail file. A pair of scissors. A tampon (always!). A dozen hairpins. And a sewing kit: Never know when you may need one. And you bet your sweet ass, I have a notebook somewhere in there, as well. I just have to look for it.
“Well, maybe I left it in the car.”
I don’t even own one of those dainty purses I see other girls carry on their forearms into clubs. Those things always make me wonder about the gap between the purpose they’re meant to represent and their actual functionality. It’s a metaphor gone awry. A promise meant to be disappointing.
But then again, the lesser the load — the lighter the female, right?
Perhaps. But I doubt it.
In my defense, with time — with age — I’ve gotten significantly lighter, it seems. It wasn’t a determined decision to drop the endless self-flagellation ceremonies of my 20s. Instead, they just sort of slipped out of my daily routines; giving room to more decisiveness or to very tired surrender. Having realized I’m merely an impossible debater to defeat, I stay out of arguments — with myself.
And so, I’ve gotten significantly lighter. And so have my baggages.
I flop into the chair, across from the face I have now loved for ages, and I let down my mane:
“Ah. Can I get you something to drink?”
It’s a habit that just won’t go away:
I examine the needs of my beloveds before I check up on my own.
But they’re fine. My people — are always fine. They are resilient. Strong and competent, never helpless. And even if they’re not fine — that’s fine too; because if ever they ask me for help, I never go telling on them. And neither do I ever mention it again.
“Seriously. Don’t mention it. My honor!” I say, as if threatening.
Love comes with no ties attached.
We begin to talk: A quick game of catching up with the lapsed time. A survival of our separations. If it were up to me, I would have all of my beloveds live with me in a commune: Some Victorian house balancing on a cliff above the ocean, with a menu of attics and basements, and hiding places for their selection. And at night, we would gather at a giant wooden table in the middle of an orchard, and we would search our oversized bags — and baggages — for nighttime stories and lovely fairytales about surrender.
But my people — are vagabonds and gypsies; and they go off to conquer their dreams, and to defeat their fears, on the way.
After enough is said to make me want to have a drink or to toast, I finally get up from the chair and start making my way to the counter, smiling at the clerk, again. In a couple of steps though, I look back, flip my mane and say:
“Sure you don’t want anything?”
Equipped with replenishing elixirs and an item in place of bread that we can break together, I come back to the table, rummage through my purse for a napkin and jumpstart the next round of storytelling. And I guarantee, most of the time, these are stories of broken loves and departed lovers.
But my people are fine, of course. They are resilient. Carefully, they process their losses; and they start dreaming of the next adventure. The next love. The next story.
“I’ll drink to that,” I say and tip my mane back while chugging down my drink.
When it’s my turn, however, my stories don’t come out with an obvious ending. Instead, they offer endless lessons and questions. For years, for decades, I have been known to mourn my lovers. I flip each story on its head; and as if yet another endless bag of mine, I rummage through it for details and conclusions.
And that’s when my comrades try to put an end to it:
“Don’t dwell on the past,” they say, and they go to the counter for a refill.
I don’t really know what that means:
None of my stories are ever put to rest. And neither are my loves.
Instead, they bounce around, at the bottom of my endless baggage, waiting to be pulled out the next time I am in the midst of rummaging for words. Which must be why I retell each tale so many times, committing it to my own memory and to the memory of my beloveds.
So, dwelling on the past: I don’t really mind that, as long as I don’t dwell in it. And in my defense, I have gotten lighter, with time, and with age. And so have my baggages.