- I was on a plane once a long time ago and the woman sitting next to me had never been on a plane before. She was young, perhaps 19 and she explained that she was going to visit her boyfriend at college in Atlanta and that he would be meeting her at the gate. This was when you could still meet people at the gate and see all the sweet reunions at the gate which are not as common to see now in the baggage claim area because a gate is so immediate and so much time has passed by the time you get to the baggage claim area that it is really just not the same. She liked the plane ride a great deal and was so happy about seeing the clouds right there next to her like floating travel companions and so enchanted by the sliding window shade and the sturdy window the shade slid over and the view of big things made tiny from our astonishing height. And the inside of the plane thrilled her too, the tray tables and the controls and buttons overhead, especially the air control which she fiddled with the whoosh of quite often. She mostly just appreciated everything about her ride including her complimentary beverage and her complimentary meal and the way it fit on the tray table exactly and the tiny salt packet it included and she really could hardly understand the people reading books when there was so much excitement to experience on the plane itself . She said, "I've been looking forward to this for such a long time. I just think this is amazing. We really are flying. We really are in this gigantic thing that is like a bird with wings only it is not a bird. Everything about this is an invention!" I enjoyed her enthusiasm and it made me appreciate what had become a little familiar to me and put some magic and dimension back into it. Then we landed which was of course a wonder to her too and we said goodbye and she gathered up her things and I was right behind her as we made our way through the narrow aisle. She was eager to get out then and adorably so. I saw which waiting human was the one that she called boyfriend right away. He was blond and quite plump in an unexpected sweetly, sensuous way like a pie can be. He was pink in the face from the blood in him rushing up so suddenly at the sight of her. He took his hands out of his pockets and lifted them up in a spontaneous gesture that seemed to be welcoming and reaching out to her all at once. He seemed to vibrate a bit and had to steady himself as if from a jolt. He was bashful and his bangs obscured some of his expressions but the feeling inside him was not bashful at all. It was a big feeling and it spread out from him and she walked directly into it's beam. It was so glorious and brave how she did that even though she did it so naturally, as if she did not know a different way it could be, the way the whole thing could be, as I certainly did know, I did and I was not much older than she. I wish I hadn't known the other ways it could be- ways of pretending or sorrow or obligations or fighting, or mismatched affections. I gathered from that moment all I could and stored it somewhere for so many years and didn't take it out much to study at all. I want you to know that I am really not telling you this story for any specific reason having to do with us. It is just a memory I had, just something I was thinking about recently and wanted to finally write down the details of and share with you and now it seems that I have.
So I tried to call you today and you weren't there, but I got the voice of you instructing me to do the usual, so I did. I didn't leave my number because you have my number. Mostly I asked you about whether you thought the music of head-rubbing was interesting music, because one's ears are so close to the fingers moving upon one's head that it sounds a little sea-shellish. I asked too if you thought it was appropriate to call that music or if you would just call it noise? I said something about music being in the eye of the beholder, but then I corrected myself and said ear of the beholder. Then I laughed a little. I said something about Susan Sontag too and how I'd read this piece of hers about the differences between art and nature and how she said something about how no one describes a sunset as interesting and so I asked you if you'd ever seen an interesting sunset? I have seen some, but only after reading that thing by Susan Sontag. Then I asked you if you thought there were any positive aspects to shyness because I couldn't think of one. Then I said in this very serious voice, "Shyness is the enemy of the human." Then I asked if you could think of any positive things at all about shyness. I said if you could, to please e-mail the things to me because I'd been beating myself up a little for my own shyness problems. Then I practiced eye-contact with an invisible you, the kind of eye-contact where you are not boring a hole into the person's eyes, but more of a pleasant gazing kind and I completely forgot I was on the phone. Then the recording came on and asked me if I was satisfied with my message. I didn't know if I was or not. There wasn't an in-between choice. There was however an option to listen to the whole thing, so I chose that just to buy some time. In the end I chose to re-record, and started telling you about the eye-contact thing, but truthfully that sounded insane. Then I wondered exactly how much a telephone is really like an ear and if it were possible to convey the head-rub sound through the phone. I held my phone to my head and then realized it wouldn't work if it wasn't your head and it wouldn't work anyway. I got a little confused about what was possible in the whole regard of hearing. I thought then that there should be phones that looked like ears and felt like ears so one could talk on an ear. The possibilities of shapes and colors were stunning to me at that moment. Then I tried to say something slightly erotic, but realized there wasn't really a lead-in after the ears so it could have been slightly jarring. So, I just chose to re-record again and that is the message you finally got, the one that said, "Hi, it's me. Call me back." But it occurred to me later, because you hadn't called me back yet, that maybe you did hear the other two messages. Maybe you even heard them as I was leaving them? Maybe I pressed the wrong buttons? Come to think of it, there may have been three messages. I decided then though, that if you did hear them you listened to them in this very compassionate way and with the deep enjoyment of someone who loves me in return and appreciates all I comprise.
I bought you these chestnuts from the Japanese grocery store. As you can see on the package, they are organic and they have been roasted. Do you like the package? I think the Japanese writing on it looks a little graffiti-ish and I like the cartoon chestnut guy. He looks fairly happy in his cannibalistic chestnut life. I know it is really not chestnut season, being July and all, but what can you do? Okay, so to confess, one of the reasons I bought these for you is because of the word "chestnuts," because see, inside human chests are hearts. And sometimes inside the shell of a nut, the edible part is called the meat, and so the chestnut is both a chest and a heart. I'm probably taking all this too far and now I see that the chestnut resembles more of a wooden chest of drawers than a human chest, but I wanted you to understand my initial thinking about it and what I had in mind because I bought a bag for myself too and I have to tell you that these chestnuts from Japan are really not very nice tasting at all, so I am really just giving you an idea more than anything else, which is probably not good enough. Is anything good enough though, in love and what is enough anyway? Enough is hard to pin down. I'm thinking now of that Janis Joplin song, the one about taking a little piece of her heart. She sounds a little sarcastic and angry in her offering of the pieces. It almost sounds like with every verse, she is dying more and more and might even need a heart transplant if she keeps telling whomever she's singing to to take more and more. The pieces I'm offering though come from a different place. Now that you've read this though, you can probably throw the chestnuts out. They were just a visual aid that you could hold while you read this and probably not necessary.