LAST SWIM WITH THE THINKER


I love to swim; water has been my home since I was born.  I wrote the Thinker stories in  the water because I  know the water. It was an experimental impulse to write as I did.    I know when you break the surface;  reality is  indifferent.  Breaking barriers, in water, in love, in business,  is all the same.   I have to work up a mental sweat to write, to create a dinner, a concept.  Nothing is meaninglessness to me.  I want everything to matter.

After the Thinker left, I have had two weeks of suck time to reflect the alchemy of our relationship. I believe in examination of relationships. It is the key to understanding who we are, who we don’t want to be, who we wish to be.  I have ironed out the swimming with the Thinker. It is a bridge to my courage,  to know it is time to leave Santa Fe. If you have ever lived here, you know it is not  ‘ the land of enchantment’ , rather the land of entrapment.  I don’t know who coined the phrase; but it is as true as Los Angeles being the land 20140528_194204of movie stars.  You may not become a movie star, any more than you may  leave Santa Fe.   I chose the challenge of living here.   I discovered  the conflict of leaving,  and living it now as I write.  I know I came to Santa Fe to discover the underbelly. That is what the Thinker gave to me.

THE THINKER – THE IMPROVISER.


I was there a few days before I noticed a figure darting from one sea-lion to another. He gestured for me to follow but I couldn’t catch him.

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He caught me by surprise from behind and wiggled over to me.
‘Let’s eat. I’m starved.” The Thinker dove down then up above my head. He cupped his fins around my head and pulled my hair.
“Where you been my Fins?” I asked.
“Why?” He said as he let go of me.
“ It’s just a normal question?”
“I don’t answer those kinds of questions. I am building my sand castle! Wait till you see it–it’s going to blow you away. Everyone will be blown away!”
“Exciting! I’m so happy for you. Will you show me?”
“ Maybe. Don’t look at me like that. Your eyes, they draw me in. It scars me. I don’t know what to do with you little one. Who are you?”
He lowered his eyes and sucked in his gills.
“I really love you. I mean I want to be with you forever!”
You should make a book of shells and tell their stories. ”
” You’re right! I know their stories too!”
” You could make a lot of money.”
” I don’t think about that. When I need money I just ask for it and it comes. All you do is count what you have. ”
” You think that!”
“Yes I said it didn’t I. ”
We carolled between starlight nights and crimson sunsets on the rock porch exploring varieties of sea mates. He used his fancy fish feet to get us into private ceremonies, and parties. The fish authorities didn’t bother us at all. We crashed into a party of penguins, and we weren’t eaten alive. My eyes were always on the thinker; as pleasurable anticipation bubbled inside.  In the morning he read to me from his bible, and watched the seagulls. He drove me in many directions, unfamiliar ideas, and habits that got me to thinking so when we swam we were always talking.
“You need to lower your voice. Make it deeper.”
“Why?”
“Trust me.”
One day he swam me to a blow-hole.
“I’m not sure I can get through as easy as you do.” I said.
“Don’t say that. Follow me.” so I followed. I’d waited a long time to see the sand castle. As we expanded our gills and soared upward, my eyes searched for the castle.
“You see it? Isn’t it spectacular?”
“I see the sand yes, but where is the castle?”
“You don’t see it? Come on—really. ”
“No my fin. I don’t see anything but piles of sand.”
“ Look beyond the piles. You have to see between the lines. You don’t get it do you? You only look at what’s right in front of you. There’s castles everywhere; huts, hideouts, back alleys. ”
“Is this what you mean by patience?”
“ No! This is conciseness of the universe. We’re not alone you know. The skeletons and ghosts are here.”
“ Have you seen them?”
“ The water of Santa Fe is as crowded as pavement. I’m telling you what no one else will. You should thank me for that. I’m handing you the key to the universe.”
“ How about the key to a warm place to rest and food?”
“ You’re such a brat. Come on. I’ll take you
to shore.”
I met his power posse; and they all assured me they could reverse or  promote anything I wanted.
“If you are ever in trouble call me. I can fix it.”  the Thinker said.
“ Like what?”
“ Whatever you ask. You want to live forever under our safety net. You have to trust me. You’re a city cougar with a Range Rover and a brick house above water. Come on–don’t you see that. Most of the fish hate you. You need me.”
His eyes narrowed into dagger like bits of darkness.
“I’m not a cougar. You are the first young exotic fish I’ve swam with.”
“ Oh really. That’s not what I heard.
“ What did you hear?”
“ I know about you?”
“ Really. Then tell me what they say?”
“ You’re impatient, aloof and swim alone. ”
“ I’m not like that always.”
“ Well I know, I’ve seen inside you.”
One day he emerged as a sea monster, holding empty bottles and wailing. I felt a rush of empathy and covered him with my body. He wrestled in pain for days and then when he surfaced, he was wearing a different face, and his touch was absent. His teddy bear eyes were like bricks of strength.
“ I’m not coming back.” He said
“ Why?” I pleaded
“ Wrong question.”
“ What did I do?”
“ You don’t see my castle. I can’t be with you. All you think about is lobster and hotel vacations.”
“ I haven’t had lobster in years, or a hotel vacation.” He swam away, just as suddenly as he appeared.
It was like a knife severing me from one place to another. He despised me. His curiosity and mischievous cleverness triumphed over affection and companionship. His splashes exploded into monsoons of tears inside of me. I returned to my brick house and closed the drapes. Every night I danced and cooked. I sat on the porch in a spray of solemn sunlight and didn’t miss the waves or blow holes. I’d missed my dance music, old movies, journal and sanctuary of comfort. I made him vanish with a vow.

As I cut his sunflower from my yard, placed it in a vase and said, ‘when the flower dies so does my love for the Thinker.’ The sunflower died yesterday. I pulled off the wrinkled yellow petals and scattered them in a planted pot. Maybe he will come back as the beautiful sunflower I once knew.  But I know he won’t. Love is in all of us. How we give it and cherish it  is unique.  I still have my love. No one can take that.                           20141122_143530[1]

 

 

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SNOW DRIFT TO DANCE


SMILEY’S DICE-ADVENTURES IN LIVINGNESS

White Wolf introduced himself to me when he worked Valet at La Posada Resort. He was the kool one with enough style and manners to attract attention. I learned he also provided private airport transportation and luxury limo service. A trip to Albany, New York was on my schedule, so I asked White Wolf if he’d drive me to the Albuquerque Airport.  When I told him my flight left at 6:30 AM, he didn’t flinch, ‘I’ll be at your house at 4:00 AM with Starbucks-what’s your drink?’

He showed up, loaded the car, asked me to select my own music, and off we went. I felt like I was riding with James Bond; smooth shifts, minor breaks, all the time engaging me in conversation. The combination relieved my pre-boarding stress and woke me up. From then on, I chose White Wolf’sairport service. When he picked me up from Albuquerque, he had Fiji water, Travel & Leisure Magazine, chewing gum, and he played Vic Damone. ‘Chill, sit back, tell me all about the trip.’

At my kitchen counter, on a twenty-below morning, White Wolf leaned back against a bar stool too petite for a swarthy 6’ 4” man. His Johnson & Johnson silky blond hair is swept back, and I want to touch it, but we don’t play with physical affections. White Wolf’s forty, looks thirty, and thinks like he served an attitude and values apprenticeship under a wise guru. He’s on a break; from plowing snow at Albertsons, the Yoga Center, and private homes. This is before he reports for work at Geronimo Restaurant, where he not only parks the cars, but walks the ladies indoors, keeps the Zapata’s outdoors, and directs traffic on Canyon Road until midnight. He’s wearing a sheet white Polo turtleneck and black slacks, his day look, and I’m about to serve pesto, prosciutto and feta cheese frittata for late breakfast.

White Wolf is sipping a sixteen-once Chai and unwinding his broad shoulders in a circular motion as he considers current consciousness of Santa Fe.       

     “It’s a different kind of materialism. You really want it but you can’t have it. The most simple things; a toaster, a new phone, pinion wood–cause we’re cold–it’s so cold! The guy in front of the Homeless Shelter was near frozen when I drove by to drop off a bundle of clothes. Why is it so cold? Even the valet has to wear BMW beanies. These are some funny times.”

     “What’s so funny about not having money?” I snapped.

White Wolf breaks into a full body laughing recess. His sailor-blue eyes are just slightly turned up when he laughs. This transmits his effortless humorous pitch on life.

     “It’s different,” I said. I mean everything feels unfamiliar.”

     “Yea, its okay to feel,” White Wolf said. “Things are rattling around. That’s why the Gorge Bridge felt so stable the day I drove up to Taos.  I think it’s the most stable thing in my life right now! Hah.”

I had placed the frittata in front of White Wolf, but he hadn’t touched it yet. Even when he’s starved; he lets the food sit there and cool off.  I’ve never seen a man not eat when food is placed in front of him. I was already biting into the frittata; relishing a real meal.

 I found a momentary silent inlet and asked him if the food was cool enough. White Wolf looked down, touched it with his index finger, and then his appetite fired off. After a few pensive moments, as if he were saying grace, he took a proper bite. He takes the food seriously, intensely. He’ll make a remarkable husband for some woman. He talks a lot about marriage, and the songs he’ll sing to his bride’s mother the day of the wedding. He confides in me uninhibitedly, as if we were two teenagers, cutting class. I feel youthful when he’s in the house; the absence of masks, emotional camouflage, and exaggeration is how I remember adolescence. When you’re so much yourself, even the most serious student, is humorous in his self-absorbance.   

    “What’d you say Wednesday was–on your new schedule?”   he asked.

    “Wednesday… I forgot since you showed up. I know! It’s Gallery LouLou marketing.”

     “We have to give out two cards a week. I want you to pass out two everyday.”

I nodded my head and bowed.     

     “Geronimo been slow, no A-list celebrity types, no mothers and daughters; cause the daughters don’t want to come here anymore.”  

     “Neither do single me, I interrupted.  And if they do they’re from Los Alamos. Can you see me with a scientist or an engineer? I’d make them crazy.”    

     “Listen–someone asks you out for an Ecco latte, don’t be a bitch. Just do it! You reverse sweat it. If he’s a jerk; deebo him.”  Deebo is the guy who shows up late, and should have been on time. His quip is unabashed, and he handles himself like Sean Penn; smoking and all smiles while he reverses blame.      

     “Can we change the subject?” I said.

     “No! I want to know why you’re not even trying to hook up?”

     “Because I’m convinced the man I want isn’t in Santa Fe. The ones I’ve met are looking for a caretaker, a fly-fishing partner, or a biker. Look, there are two types of men: one loves a woman because she’s not a man, and the other one seeks a mother who he can bash around.”

     “I want to rat those guys out–like the ones that pinch and don’t tip. Give a name to that.”  

      “ Listen to this; the newly coined slogan for New Mexico is Truth.” I said.

     “ Truth. About what?” 

     “ Exactly! What truth are they referring to? How bout’ the naked truth? Picture a Native American woman out in the arroyo in a leather crop top, her black hair elevated in strands by the wind, dust on her cheekbones. New Mexico is naked, isn’t it?” I asked.

     “It’s isolated. If you can afford to come to Santa Fe and not blow your brains out, or go broke, you deserve to be here. Right?”  He is smiling. Even the painful truths, are reformed as tests of endurance rather than complaints.   He developed his own poetic rap dialogue that I suppose comes from growing up in two cultures: one in the hood, and the other in the wealthiest homes in Santa Fe. 

      “ Then it’s a good place for you. Like your friend that takes her poodle to Hospice. I really respect her for that. That’s what she’s doing with Santa Fe.” He said.

     “What do you do with Santa Fe?” I asked.

     “I’m the union organizer for luxury limo drivers. Like, iron your shirt and shine your shoes, have CD’s in the car, and water. You know–like this is New Mexico but we can spell Burberry. On the weekends I’m the ladies traffic controller!”

     “ What is that?”

     “At the clubs. Some of the guys are okay, all suited up, hoping for a dance, but some are like, I’ll buy you a cocktail if I can follow you home. Someone has to protect them. Ladies can’t drive home cause they’ve cocktailed all night, or they can’t find their car keys, or they want to impress their friends with the Viking chauffeur. It’s chill; they’re good girls during the day.” 

The morning turned into afternoon, and now I was cleaning dishes, and watching the birds from the kitchen window. Every hour or so I stop responding to White Wolf, and let him talk. I can feel the rush of his life; how he sprints from limo driver, to Geronimo valet, then to Albuquerque, the gym, and his family. People who live intensely engaged in a variety of relationships; stir their surroundings like a human wind.  Every time White Wolf leaves, I’m bouncing through the living room and dancing.  

When I tuned into the conversation he was recounting his day in ardent animation. His laughter echoes; almost like he’s singing a song and it last a long time.

     “I don’t mind giving back to our greedy city tax roll.  I feed the meters at the Lensic; that quarter made a difference. Huh?”… more laughter and he repeats, ‘we’re down to quarters.’

     “Those meter guys were writing tickets like, here take that, and then on to the next car. Don’t bother coming back to Santa Fe, and it’s the weekend! That’s the barometer of my city—-hurry hurry write that ticket. Once it’s done it’s done.”  Suddenly he stands, positioning his legs a few feet apart, he leans over, picks up his keys, and his phone.

     “Come on let’s go for a quick creep.”

     “A what?”

     “Cruise the plaza, get you outdoors, come on it’ll make you feel better.”

     “I’m not dressed for outdoors..”

     “Put on a pair of low brow boots, and a jacket. Not fashioning this afternoon. You won’t even get out of the car. Come on.”

I listened because White Wolf is definitive in decisions. He doesn’t waver back and forth or want to argue. I rushed upstairs, zipped up my boots and grabbed a down jacket. He was standing by the window.

    “We have twenty-minutes.” He said pointing to his watch.

We hopped into his silver VW GTI and he told me to pick a CD. I shuffled through the stack, while he backed out. Just then I noticed a car pull out across Palace Avenue.

     “Wolf! Watch out!”

     “I got it.” He leaned back, shot eyeball calmness to me and asked what CD I wanted to hear. He didn’t scold me for my alarm and doubt. After that I knew my caution was unnecessary. You learn a lot about a man by his driving. It’s a graph of his responsiveness, confidence, and how he handles sudden movement. White Wolf cruised over the icy asphalt and into the empty Plaza, all white and brown like a two envelopes sitting side by side. He was now slouching back, one hand on the wheel, messing with something in the open compartment, and driving 15 mph. There weren’t a lot of cars, but I had the feeling White Wolf didn’t care if there was someone behind us. We drove past Santa Fe Dry Goods, and he stopped, “Empty– that’s sad. No one buying fuzzy boots or hats.”

He drove by every shop and looked in, as if he was monitoring shopping trends. His eyes swept the streets, the alleyways, and I mimicked him, because I knew this was for me. We went slow as a couple of tired horses, so the eyes could bring in the unknown: a homeless man on a corner, the Indian woman selling jewelry, the Mideastern jewelers smoking cigarettes, and a few locals trotting back to work from a break. I looked up to the sky and found a patch of blue, and pointed it out to White Wolf,” and he turned to me and said, “I’m happy you noticed.”

     “It’s two o’clock already.” I said.

     “How’d it get to be two o’clock?” White Wolf kept the engine at crawl speed all the way back to the house. “You have to go to Santa Fe Spa–at least go see people! And go after six.” I nodded my head as I got out of the car, went inside, turned on the Rolling Stones and danced.