Fly On The Wall

“I know I’m south of the Mason-Dixon line when my cornbread ain’t sweet,” Jon says over the chatter of my Buddhist friends as we gather to celebrate Alan’s 52nd birthday. He goes on to expound on the differences between sweet cornbread and true (Southern) cornbread.

Meanwhile Tharpa is lost to his own melodies, heart caught up in the soft chestnut wood of his hand built flamenco guitar, each note landing like drops of chocolate dropped onto the tongue. His wife Kim plays with her new digital camera from across the table. Click. “Now that, that right there,” she says showing me the image, “is the man I love. His true colors.”

It is a weeknight and I have a full day tomorrow. There is writing and reading yet to be done, cleaning at home to do, a sore throat growing hotter by the minute, and yet…I am sixty miles from home in a suburban, antique house among spiritual friends in a yellow kitchen with a copper painted ceiling. We drink margaritas, chant our Ki-Ki-So-So’s, toast again with sparkling wine, then kisses all around and yes, life is so sweet.

When I shake my head no, as the French-Canadian hostess and new bride of the birthday man refills my glass, she winks her wood-brown eyes and says with her charming, dramatic accent: “Au contraire, just four more drops my dear,” then fills my glass up to the salt. “Oui, oui, c’est bon,” I reply.

She sits down then, for the first time in a while, her hand softly falling into Alan’s lap. They do not make eye contact as he is caught up in conversation with Jack about real estate, but they make contact all the same. Charlotte is eccentric in the most beautiful ways, holding herself with the pride of a town square statue but so much more life. In a tipsy moment, she later confesses to me that she shops at TJ Max and laughs louder than everyone at all her parties. But eccentric can be beautiful, just like sale items at any store can be a find and laughs are the eloquent verbal slivers of our souls.

I watch the couple further, enraptured by their obvious love. I see how they talk without speaking, understand without hearing, touch without seeing. I think how later they will make love, their two children asleep one story above the master bedroom. How deep their love is, like the ocean they just vacationed at for the first time as a new family. I think how commitment must change everything – completely eliminating the question of being alone for all eternity and therefore finally allowing a resting place for true lovers to really meet. Maybe it is something like Ringo’s Octopus’ Garden – some song and dance, very special, often private, sometimes a party, but occasionally suffocating (like the water on all sides).

The table of friends is rich with light and laughter, song and dance. Tharpa plays Chuck Berrry, Grateful Dead, and The Allman Brothers. I sing a Bulgarian chant and Kim snaps photos unbeknownst to me. “See, you’re a queen,” she says, showing me the image. “Oh, she is so classic,” says Charlotte. “Like the Greeks.”

And I must have frowned, or at least I was too tired to smile, because then she adds: “Ahh, but we don’t see ourselves so kindly. We are not to loving of ourselves,” Charlotte keeps one eye on me. I hesitate to correct her, knowing there are three margaritas running through my blood– but in my heart I just think, No, no. It’s not that same old story. Some days I see and feel the beauty. Some days I allow it, almost as simply as sleeping in on a Sunday. It’s really just that when I drink I’m occasionally lonely for a man. I retreat into myself and my empty heart beat echoes in my eardrums as if it were pounding in the bottom of a well.

When I get home, well into Friday, already considering the number of espresso shots it will take for me to get through opening shift at the coffeehouse, I am under the weather, sick, fading like sunlight into the soft horizon of sleep, comfort of bed, staleness of pillow, smooth fit of pajamas.

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