Thursday, July 26, 2012

the carousel.

Remember that time we raced Jenna and Tony to the carousel?
To be fair, they had a head start. It was covered with a thick red tarp that made the whole ride into a tent because it was night and all the tourist kids who would have paid a dollar to ride it had gone back on the ferry or were tucked in for the night.  They always covered the carousel at night for protection. Only the adult-children with their ridiculous hamburger hats and slurred speech and teetering walks down the main drag remained. They were always bent on destruction, themselves or anything they could get their hands on. Usually themselves, but the carousel could have easily caught one of their eyes and been torn down to the ground. The bars weren't packed, but they were busy enough. It was a Tuesday, Wednesday, maybe, our evening off.
We, you and I, slid under the tarp sometimes, at night. I'd run my hands over all the muscled wood arranged in a ring, their antique bodies painted garishly and shined to a shimmer, even in the darkness. We'd plot how you'd take me on the fish I'd named Petey the Perch, the lazy wind whispering through the shadows and the dorm building we lived in last summer just a stone's throw away. All I wanted was to have you on that stupid child's toy, to sail into oblivion balanced precariously on the wooden spine of that antique fish. It wasn't for the irony, just the rush of doing something wrong. I felt so much of that those summers, and the stakes were getting higher and higher. I was scared to go through with it though, waiting for your sure decision to tell me it was okay. Waiting for you to slip off a shoe or a shirt or pop off your hat the way you always did. I was willing to wait. No one else knew our plan. But that night, by accident, I let it slip to Jenna that a late night trip to the carousel for two was what I was getting for my birthday. She and Tony took off into the darkness without a word as I hollered your name and watched their scrawny backs disappear from my place on the front porch. I waited for you, hoping from foot to foot, and then we sprinted, me barefoot, trailing them as fast as we could.
We got there and it was too late, after all. They had already stripped down and mounted each other on one of the painted horses, triumphant but not really caring too much about our matching destroyed expressions, I guess they had some physical distraction. They were already so far away. They beat us at our own game. 
That night after we found them, I sat, still under the big tarp on one of the massive red sleds that mothers hold their babies on before they can sit on their own on the ride. I felt like such a child. I don't know why I didn't slip back under the tent and keep on walking into the night, away from you, or them. Another disappointment. Their bodies writhing so close to ours, but the notion of privacy too abstracted by two summers here that I didn't even think to leave. Had I been on the main land, maybe I would have torn out of there, embarrassed to have been such an intrusion. Still, I sat, and eventually you sat down next to me, alluded that we could still do it, you know, right here, as you touched me, inquiring gently. This upset me more than letting them cross the threshold before us. That's when I left.
Later I reasoned that I should have maybe been mad at Jenna and Tony for what they'd done, for taking away something I'd said in secret. But more than anything I found I was jealous. Jealous of their daring, their passion, their total lack of commitment, yet complete focus on one another,  Watching them made our lack so much heavier, the gap growing between us so much wider. Had we ever been able to bring ourselves that close?
Isn't it funny how we lay in bed at night with our lovers, confessing timidly the moment we KNEW we had fallen in love with the other, but we never share the moment when we KNEW we had fallen out of it? Wouldn't that help bring some necessary closure?
Maybe, I don' t know. But I think that was when I knew that your presence in my life, as strong and important as it seemed, was also fleeting.
That night, you followed me into the star-pricked dark as the tent dropped back down over Jenna and Tony, not saying anything until you caught up with me, in long, pigeon-toed strides. You touched my arm and as I turned, and you slipped a pair of enormous flip-flops to me, motioning at my bare feet. I love walking barefoot in the summer, but something must have told you that while sprinting toward the carousel I'd carelessly scraped the soles of my feet to dickens on the gravel alley. I slipped them on, feeling warmth and the odd sensation of walking in too-big shoes, like dress-up, and I reached for your hand. We walked soundlessly up to my bedroom.
You offered to pay for me to get a tattoo for my birthday instead, a few days later, but it felt like a consolation prize. I've sat up nights since, thankful that I didn't let you pay for any ink on my body.
You put enough in my mind

1 comment:

  1. This was beautiful and sad. Thanks for sharing.