Sunday, March 2, 2008

this story ends

i read this thing i wrote at a 'salon' last night in clinton hill. it was well received. the greek themed snacks probably helped (a+ on the bak lava, but the fruity powdery gelatonous squares were not so awesome). the audience was very attentive and laughed at all the right parts. they even laughed at one part that i didn't mean to be funny, but after they laughed i realized that it was funny. this was a kick to my almost lifeless writing horse. i totally feel confident again. so thank you penn for hosting and including me in the totally talented lineup, thank you anna heather nikki and laura for coming. here it is for all of the internets to see.

this story ends

for some reason, whenever i go to the grocery store i buy an onion. a red onion, a white onion, a spanish onion, doesn't matter. i put it in my cart without really giving it much thought. three out of four times i come home to discover that i already have an onion either in the fridge cut in half from the last meal i cooked (which could have been a week ago considering how often i have the opportunity) or a whole untouched onion sitting on the dry goods rack or in the cupboard on my designated shelf.

my roommate brent has this habit with bananas, so he totally understands. my other roommate jason does it with avocadoes. i'm guessing each of you has an item that you get at the store that you can never remember that you already have at home. Mine used to be potatoes. there are also things i always forget, like rosemary. i've been wanting to pick up rosemary for months and just can't seem to make it stick in my head when i'm shopping.

anyway, a couple weekends ago i found an onion sprouting a new stalk on said dry goods rack. it looks like a gigantic scallion. and although you'd assume it is nasty when food starts to show signs of life, this particular sprouting onion is actually quite nice. it's a pretty green, and it looks very healthy. i put it in the living room on top of the television cabinet. both of the guys i live with think it's pretty cool. it's gotten to be somewhat tall--i'd say about a foot.

serendipity has happened to me. i like how it looks. i like the direction it's going. i have put it on display. but i don't have plans for this onion. i don't plan to plant the bulb in the ground so that i can nurture the onion or invest the time and resources that it would take to research what this onion needs to flourish.

i will most probably let the onion continue to sit there, abandoned but still in my awareness, until it eventually softens into a mushy decay and i am forced to take the one easy action of tossing it into the trash, mostly forgetting about it other than having a vague abstract anecdote to retell at a future cocktail party (or as inspiration for a last minute piece to read at a literary salon).

i have onions sprouting all over the goddamn place. but i will let them rot because i am lazy, because i am paralyzed by indecision, and because i often feel that if God intended for the onion to survive then it would do so with or without my intervention.

He smelled like Christmas, like fresh pine, ginger, fire in the hearth.

"I don't understand you," he said, while I quietly cried. We were on the brink of spring, the air still heavy with last night's rain, and my favorite heels were ruined. They were a creamy taupe once, when I bought them. But now, they were stained along the sides with grayish brown dishwater blossoms.

When I met him, I wore only one pair of shoes, bronze sandals that carried me around summertime Seattle and along the dirt trails of Mount Rainier. He had driven me there, so I could stare out sideways and every few minutes say, "look at that!" We pulled over at one point because the view demanded it, and while I gawked at the sky and the trees, he knelt to pick a daisy for me.

He encircled me then, like a picture frame, and made me feel like a treasured captured moment. Later, I learned I was the glass, smudged and scratched and one fall away from breaking. But then, in those precious days climbing grassy peaks to see the sea, he was a gift to me.

Sometimes, your best friends deceive you. Sometimes, they only know to do what is right for them, what brings them happiness. The way to be a friend to them is to let them, you know, go.

But, sometimes, you love them so much you want to trap them in a tiny, clear box and watch them make a nest. And sometimes you forget to poke holes.

The onion stalk has sprouted new shoots, and the tip has begun to blossom. Jason put it into a tall cylindrical vase by the window. I'd say it's grown to about mid-thigh height when I'm standing next to it, so it's doubled in length from when I first found it a month ago. The buds at the tip smell like onion, surprisingly. Or maybe i am more surprised that I am surprised that not all flowers smell sweet.

I once learned about a flower that emits an aroma of decomposing flesh, although I don't remember where I learned it. It's called Amorphophallus titanum. I do remember thinking how sinister the fact sounded, and how sexy. I thought there should be a story about a serial killer whose signature bouquet of stinking corpse flowers signaled eminent death for his victim. Terrifying, right? But then I Googled it and discovered the plant exceeds six feet in height and so obviously too unwieldy of a calling card.

The onion still looks like an onion, meaning the outer skin is like yellow tissue paper and without bruises. The stalk has grown in thickness as it grows in length, and I wonder if it will expand to a breaking point. I imagine its thickness to shatter the onion in the same way that the Incredible Hulk's angry muscles ripped his plaid shirt to pieces. It will happen when I'm admiring the onion's progress one day, and suddenly I'll hear a pop. The root of the stalk will be revealed to be a throbbing, neglected heart.

In the autumn, he came here to New York, and I saw him in the context of my real life. In New York, I am bound to the clock, to my peers and colleagues and total strangers on the streets. I wear different shoes everyday. I always carry an umbrella. I don't need a man to drive me to the mountains, give me flowers, and hold me to the morning.

Before, I carelessly fell in love with him within the confines of a vacation. We rendezvoused in Austin and shared marinated meats. We navigated the night streets strewn with drunk Greeks. We boiled ourselves on the mid-summer banks of fresh water springs and slept coiled into puddles of each other's sweat. He loved me, too, but it's easy to love someone so free.
"I don't understand you," he said, while I cried with my back to him. We woke together in the morning, a scowl imprinted on my cheek, a streak of sleep drying on his. My eyes were swollen from the previous night's tears, and I wanted him to vanish. But he, as a visitor in this city, did not know he should get up, get dressed, and get out. He said he was hungry, and he looked at me to respond in kind.

I hated him, then, hated him for needing me to provide for him, for making me look like the villain when he was so clearly in the wrong. I felt tricked by his Cheshire grin, his sharp blue eyes, the way he kissed me, and his stupid hilarious stories.

He had told me about a former girlfriend who gave him a blowjob while he drove. Roadhead, he called it. Pantomiming his hands at the wheel and drowsy, happy eyes gloating to other drivers, he said he warned her, "Baby, I'm going to come." And when she felt him coming, she aimed his own ejaculate at his face. "She smiled," he said, laughing. "She planned it all along."

I thought of her this morning and how I wished I were as cunning as she.

It's finally happened. I'm not sure when it started. I just noticed it today. Half of the onion has deflated into a soggy black desperation. The leaves on the stalk have wilted, and the tips of the leaves now look like the original tissue paper skin. I can't just leave it there, so I throw the whole thing in the garbage. I've brought three new onions home, anyway.

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