And it was at that moment that felt so picturesque like a college movie scene. The conversations are dry but the apartment room humid with sublimity—back from work after a 6-hour shift, the time is nigh at 9 PM, when the store signs and streetlights emanate their round clouds of light in between the dense air’s. There is no backdrop tune to raise a mood with its strong hands, nothing but silence but to drop the mood to the open and closing of our tight mouths, while these white walls speak with their short tongues the teal-ish tinge of the fading barriers of the ceiling’s incandescent light bulbs.
And my roommates, my subtly dry friends, whom the audience knows are important but shed no tears for, gather around as I collect their money for Chinese takeout.
It’s a 20 minute walk, a 3 minute drive. I walk outside.
It’s an Art
I brought her to the blank canvas of our white bed sheets and rubbed the pigments of love against her smooth palette as she stroked the brush to confirm the texture to the tip. We were going to paint together, the scene and evidence of our desires with the warm body shades of lust. We paused and our eyes met with pupils seeking out an illumination of insight.
Mused by the arousal, I proceeded to whisper what I would do next, beginning to trace the outline of her breasts to the very tips of her nipples. The engagement of skin upon skin excreted the scent of inspiration from our faces—mine to her hips.
She got onto her knees, saying it was her turn to cover the bottom end. It was pleasure, but pleasure was enough. I pushed her to the canvas. We spilled the ink. She cried, the emotions of her heart, smearing the water paint of her sweat against the page. Oiled, and wet, we brushed the sheet together, tossing and turning a masterpiece in the making.
I slowed down, and shared the touch of smooth to rough textures as she grazed them with her fingertips. We craved the exhilaration and thirsted for each other’s embrace as we ran our hands against each other’s skin. We moaned out our troubles and pounded out the stress of just being alive for a reason that gave us one to. We laughed and fell over with the sweet stick of creative passion still on us.
Together, we were each other’s reason for the color in our lives.
They’d whisper to me, “shy away from madness.” I become the sane soul that calms the nerves of strangers. Strangers whose names are of no particular importance. Strangers that could never dream to know who I truly am. In the midst of the silence, I found the noise. In the midst of peace, I have called forth wars deep inside the fortress of my mind. Blood has been spilled and shots fired. Enemies. Friends. The line between them are blurred and I am drowned in my own fantasy of normalcy that could never exist.
Dissipating reality. Illusion overtakes the remnants of me. Madness becomes my shadow and I display it with pride. Madness gives me the strength to write in my own blood. Madness gives me power over the sane.
They could never dream of a thousand lies, only speak it. They could never love a hundred times, they only fake it.
I was never much of the type for hip-hop. I found it for the more wild of folk, that gangster rollin’ or booty bumpin’ sort of mentality. To be frank, I was on the opposite side of the loose-cannon spectrum. I was a guy who was into indie rock, alternative, house, and lounge jazz, the kind easy for the ears and soothing for the mind.
There was one day, however, when I met Sam. It was in a coffee shop. The sound of Landon Pigg was lightly pouring it way from the roof speaker into the cups of my ears as I browsed with the local Wi-Fi on my white Mac Book Pro. I took a sip of my latte and looked up a bit to observe my surroundings and across from me sat an interesting figure in the glow of the seeping sunlight.
This, I thought, wasn’t much, but she seemed both in and out of place of this hispter cafe. She was in a light blue floral sundress, shining with the sound of a bright violin, and brown laced boots high enough to cover a little bit half of her shins that stomped with the kick of a bass drum. Flowing from her head was a river of deeply curled red hair that rested on the plateaus of her slim shoulders. I could hear the crashing cymbals of the falling water. It was evident that it was dyed, but it bled with the pain and joy of an acoustic guitar. Perhaps the most notable feature that caught my attention though was a mole rousing my eyes to the front of her left cheek, where I knew no sound, only sight.
She was reading a book, 2033, and produced the most adorable smile I had ever seen. She must have been reading the stories about relationships towards the end and I felt tempted to inquire on her opinions but it seemed ridiculous considering the fact that she had two dropping white lines from her earphones plugging her ear drums.
I closed the top of my Mac Book and placed it back into its bag and walked forward, coffee in hand. She looked up from her book and stared me in my eyes still with that smile. I wasn’t sure where to go, but the pull of curiosity in that muted sound pulled me towards her and she looked down back to her book as if already knowing I was making my way closer.
“Hello, that’s a good book you’re reading,” I said pointing at the open pages on the tabletop.
She took off her earphones, flipping back her hair in the process, and cocked up her head towards me and responded with the same smile, “Sorry about that. I couldn’t hear you over the music. What were you saying?”
“I was just saying how good that book you have is.”
“Oh this?” she said with a laugh, “This is a book a friend of mine gave me awhile back. I just got to it. But my name’s Samantha. It’s nice to meet you. I didn’t catch your name. You probably said it while I was still listening to my music.”
There was something about her chuckle at that moment that made me lower my guard. I let my shoulders drop and smiled back, “Oh no, I didn’t! You’re fine haha. My name is Jeremy. It’s nice to meet you too. What were you listening to? I personally find the music here good enough to run without having to turn on my music player unlike other places that just play music from the radio.”
“Oh yeah! Totally! I get so bummed out from always having to hear the same songs again and again! But I was just listening to some old hip-hop tracks that I recently re-downloaded.”
My jaw dropped, metaphorically of course. That would have been rude. But hip-hop? Here? From her? That was the least of my expectations.
“Here, take a listen! I’m sure you’ll find it much more satisfying than this melancholy hipster music they always play here,” she said and handed me one of her plugs.
I was reluctant to take it, but I didn’t want to invoke any hostile feelings from her, and proceeded to place the bud in my ear while preparing for the worst.
She flipped through her player searching for a song and clicked Play. I was surprised. It sounded like jazz, and something familiarly yet unfamiliarity somber from the 70s in the orchestra echoing in the background. This wasn’t hip-hop I thought. There’s no way anyone could be shaking their ass or riding up in a low rider in this kind of music.
“You know, you don’t seem like the type to listen to this kind of stuff,” she said head down while scribbling on a notepad on the table, “but you know, there’s a reason why I love it so much, this hip-hop stuff. It’s because it takes a little bit of everything and puts it together into something. See, like those strings you’re hearing in the background? It’s a sample from Bill Withers, tossed and turned around in different measures to produce a different yet familiar pattern. You don’t find much sound like that these days, it’s why the producer of this song chose it. That beat you’re feeling? That’s a classic breakbeat, reproduced with the sound of a jazz drum kit. And then, to set the vibe all down, there’s that clean guitar overlapping all of it in the bridge with the authenticity of the light screech from sliding down its neck behind it. And these lyrics? They’re not at all what you find on the radio. They’re thought out—puns, metaphors, a vast scale of imagery—the work of artists, true artists who put their knowledge and wit into a physical form in the form of verbal exertion. It’s like the poetry of the streets. All these things, they just come together, you know? It’s why I love it. I mean, I grew up with it, not all of it, but for the parts that I didn’t, I came to add to my pool of appreciation.” She paused and ended her loose speech with her head still down as she doodled away. “I just wanted to share that with you.”
It was inevitable that we dated after that and I began to fall in love with hip-hop just as much as I fell in love with her. It seemed my affinity for all sorts of different genres grew as our love did the more I grew to understand them both. However, my love wasn’t just for the fact that everything about music came together in hip-hop, it was also because everything about her seemed to fall right into it too.
On Being a Writer
If I could go back and choose what I what I wanted to be…
Let’s face it, honey, when you were a kid you didn’t want to be a writer, you wanted to be an astronaut, a fireman, a police officer, and actor, or just like mommy/daddy.
When I was a kid I wanted to be like my mom. I wanted to be an actor. I wanted to be a teacher. Hell, when I was in second grade I wanted to be a nun. (Can you see me as a nun? I assure you, I cannot.) I cannot remember a time when I was young thinking, “When I grow up I want to be be a writer.”
I was however an avid reader. (You don’t use words like facetious in first grade without being a reader… Though, I also happen to have been raised by a certified “English Nazi.”) You know what my mom read to us when my sister and I were little? Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising series. I remember The Grey King best. I have since read the series twice. I started reading Harry Potter in second grade. Now, I know most of my generation started reading that around the same time. But a lot of the people that I knew did not. They started around fifth grade. Well, in fifth grade I started reading Anne Rice novels. Now, whether you like her writing or not is beside the point. Anne Rice’s work is well and above the reading comprehension level of fifth graders. Still, I understood her words. I devoured the vampire novels.
Anyway, my point is that I didn’t choose to be a writer. The words found me. I find that I often speak of words as if they’re alive. As if words are their own living entity entirely of themselves. Perhaps this is strange, even of writers. But that’s how it is for me. I find that words start circling in my head and I have to get them written. This is how it has always been.
I think I started writing around fifth grade. Not just for class, though we did have writing assignments, but for recreation. I wrote poems, I even still have some of them. I wrote a few short stories, even. Though I think those were in sixth or seventh grade. I remember one about a woman with split personality disorder. One named Sakura and the other named… Shoot I can’t remember. Her daughter’s name was honey. The other personality, the one whose name I can’t remember, was a serial killer. She chose men in bars, bars on the wrong side of town, and she lured them to abandoned buildings and dark alleys. She cut them up while they were alive and then laughed as the light left their eyes. Come to think of it now, why didn’t anyone try to put me in therapy? What sixth grader writes like that?
I didn’t choose to be a writer. I became one. I was born one. I just was. I never really shared my writing, except those pieces I did for class. I remember in seventh grade, my teacher knew I was a writer. Even if I didn’t. She set it up that I went to Natchitoches for a Writer’s Retreat. I got to go to NSU and take a few writing classes. That’s pretty cool for a kid. Anyway, Ms. Mac knew I was writer well before I ever realized it. Even in high school I thought I’d be an actor or a psychologist. Since then I’ve noticed that while I can be those things too, it is a writer that I am in my heart.
I only started sharing my words in the last few months. Until I joined tumblr I only shared what I wrote with privileged few, unless it was for an event or class. Occasionally I’d post something other social networking websites- but hidden from the masses. I don’t know why I started letting people read my work. But that isn’t the point, really.
The point is that I didn’t ask for this. I am this. And I think that that must be what being an artist is. You write because you have to. You paint because you’re driven to. Art is, we create because it must be so. We are both privileged and cursed by our artistry. We are what we are, and that’s it. We can’t be more than what we are. We can’t be anything but what we are. We can put on the masks society offers us and give it a good run, but in the end we are artists.
I’m an artist because I am, because I have to be. I want to be, but it wasn’t always so. That doesn’t matter though, because I know who and what I am.
Elizabeth was fond of beautiful things. She basked in it, danced in it, and bathed in it. And of all the beautiful things she owned, perhaps the most beautiful, she thought, was herself. Her skin was flawless, pale, and her body was perfectly curved in every area a man found desirable. However, there was always a way to amplify one’s beauty, and so whatever she could adorn herself with, she took and made a part of herself. There was never enough for her.
On her 20th birthday, she had began her first trip to the ocean for she had heard of its beauty countless times in her court. If the ocean was a tangible object, she thought, she would wear its luster around her neck, and adorn her dress with its waves. She would make the ocean hers in any way a mortal could.
Her carriage stopped at a village, a lighthouse at the end of the cliff.
Her father’s head adviser strutted off the steps with a stiff chin upwards and sniffed, “My lady, if you care to see the ocean, there is a beach nearby. The edge here is no place for a woman of your caliber. It is the end for the pathetic lots who drop to their own doom because they cannot bear their own wretchedness. Let us pity them and depart.”
Though curious, she followed to the shore and walked crookedly across the sand. Disregarding her stature in society, she let down her umbrella and relieved herself of her slippers. Stephan, her male companion laid on the mats under cover as Elizabeth waded into the water.
The endless count of broken shells and waves along the coast were pretty, she would admit, but her eyes lingered at a rock far off in the distance. The foam of the crashing water transfixed her attention for detail. Such complimentary colors. The calming sea green and the fluffness of white against such a rough object intrigued her and her thirst for beauty.
Through her days in the village, from the windows in her quarters, she observed even on the ugliest of days the ocean maintained its allure. To be eternally beautiful, yes, even when the world around defied with its ugliness, that was her dream. She would be the light, the inspiration, in the darkest of times.
On the day prior to a storm, as the sun had just barely began to rise from its shallow grave, Elizabeth stepped out from her estate and wandered to the edge of the cliff she was told to avoid. There she stared into the roaring ocean, the water pounding against the stone much like her aching to jump.
"It’s beautiful, and to keep all of its beauty to itself. I see now why they chose to fall from this end."
Without looking up again, she plummeted herself into the gray abyss. She had become one with the being so eternally beautiful.