sand & ache – song for lady j.

page one.

I don’t think I ever told her what led me to her that day — a conversation with Jane, of all things. We’d been on the phone and she’d read me the riot act about my most recent fucked-up, long distance romance — another straight woman, of course,

“For fuck’s sake, find someone queer. And one that lives in the same state, at least.”

I’m not really into the whole get in my face about stuff and judge my life sort of thing, so I hung up on her. I did apologize for my part in things, though, to my credit. Then a day or so later, this friend of mine, Bobby, posts a photo of himself with some random, Dolores Park weirdo. He wrote,

“It’s crazy how we’ve gotten so connected that we’re disconnected. Willing and ready to meet people on a social network that live across the world but not to speak to the magical Collin at the Park.”

“Okay Universe, I hear you, motherfucker,”

I cursed under my breath as I logged on that day. Perused a few and then,

“This is dumb,”

and then,


and then,

*in my head*

“Make an effort, at least, to appease, and then you can put it to bed.”

Sure, it would be my second try, but there wasn’t anyone else who’d caught my eye — it was she who had that something I like. And I didn’t expect she’d ever reply.

page two.

I knew that day at the beach. It was only the second time we hung out, I think. We took a day trip, drove out to Mt. Tam and Bolinas, Muir Beach, and I think I’m forgetting one more. Stinson.

that day in may.

It wasn’t any one thing, nothing I can put my finger on, really. It was just. Something I felt. Inherent. Or maybe it was everything. She took us over the highway, the road curving this way and that through the hills, neither of us saying much. I sat there. Just. Overcome. I had to turn to look out the window, away from her so she wouldn’t see me, though I knew she already had, as she took my breath and my words that day, bruises still aching, wounds not yet fused, not yet healed from heartbreak and riot on the freeway. She’d asked me about it. I shrugged it off and she copped to being a little quiet, too. By the time I got home I had her fire in my belly, that beautiful musey feeling spewing forth on my novel pages…

late night buzzing.

… and in late nights together, buzzing on micheladas, smoking weed in my living room over one long, meandering conversation, interrupting each other just to get to the next little something. She even let me show up for her, after a while. I don’t know that I ever told her how much that meant to me, her trust in me. At least I never said it in any definitive way, I don’t think.

page three.

Probably sounds dramatic. Maybe it is. Knowing her history, though. Some of it, at least. You know a bit about me, about my past. Small potatoes, compared to hers. It felt like we could help each other. Become. I was beginning to see the possibility with her, the more time we spent — making art, sharing my books with her. I’d told her once she was free to borrow any she’d like. The eagerness in the way she’d accepted… I can’t even tell you what that did to me.

pretty things.

She’d once talked about laying around together in her hammock, in a park somewhere, together in the forest — setting the scene as she put pretty things in my hair. Decorations and that, she wrapped some of them in yarn, affixed adornments, I guess you could call them — trinkets and that. I can’t even tell you what that did to me, either. Fucking joy, man. I wanted to look through her eyes for a while. We’d crossed paths with a fellow traveler in Bolinas that day. Fellow on her part — she’d recently sold off all of her stuff, sublet her apartment so she’d be that much more free to travel. He smoked us out on the beach as the two of them traded road stories. It wasn’t as though they spoke in code or anything, but they were both part of a tribe, I could see it, feel it as I sat next to her, listening. I was looking in from the outside, wanting to be a part of it, but wary of barging in. The warmth of her hand taking mine told me she must have sensed what I was feeling. I so loved that she did that. She’d leave things behind every time she was here. I loved finding them, tokens of her in my hand as I tried in vain to grasp boozy, cloudy images between flashes of breaths out of the haze of the night before. I had a flash one morning of having told her I was in love with her and wrote that she’d left sand in my bed and an ache in my heart…

page four.

She made my knees weak when I looked at her or even just thought about her. Punk rock blonde with a wicked undercut, heavy surgical steel in her ears, warm, blue eyes, curves and ink for days. Intelligent, no question there. She surprised me, with some of the things she’d say. Not so much academic as it was showing me a new way to look at something, without meaning to. Or maybe she did, I don’t know. I sometimes felt so shy around her, awkward, like a teenage boy. She’d get so annoyed when I’d slip and call her,


And, man, could she make me laugh. I felt her magic inside of me. She’d talk herself up, at times. Her hands on her hips, shoulders wide, like she was ready for a fight, bragging with stories of how mean she could be. I’d already seen the vulnerability in the curve of her cheek, though. I knew. Know that there’s more to her than that, just like there’s more to me, our broken little girls always lurking just around the corner. I think she probably knows the same of me, too.

She just. Saw. Got me. My androgyny. I’d melted the first time she said I was

“beautifully handsome.”

She saw my prince and I never even had to show him to her. Next day I came across this,

“so I have this girlfriend, right? and she sees me in a way no one who has ever loved me has seen me. Sometimes she calls me her boyfriend and compliments my shitty attempts at slicking back my hair and she says that she saw it in me before she ever met me. That’s true love, folks. Having my princeness recognized is so magical.” — Courtney Trouble

page five.

Just as much I loved being a girl with her, too. She bought me three gifts for my birthday — an owl painting, a tiny notebook, and a silver cuff engraved

“Think Happy Thoughts.”


I’d already begun planning hers. She had left her Grandmother’s watch here, so I took it in and had it repaired. The inscription. She knew about my Fairytale, but I hadn’t shown her yet. I thought I’d write her a postcard, a reply to the one she’d written for me when she was out on the road, in Fiji. I’d planned on using one she’d made on one of our art nights, one side fractals in hues of orange and yellow.

She’d been stuck on the freeway that night we’d shut it down. I could have walked right fucking by her and now I wonder if I did. The North Face trail pack I’d found on the street a few months before I’d met her? Had a purpose in my life it didn’t have before, on my back in some faraway country with her, living Marty’s dream on the back of her postcard. Our hoodies ripped in the same spot on the pockets and playing fucking catch, months and days of birthdays and that. Was saying,

“I hear you, motherfucker”

a lot more frequently. Serendipity, man, let me tell you.

page six.

Something felt off when I saw her that Monday. I’d asked her about it, she’d chalked it up to an upset stomach and her hug had been different than all of the others when we’d said good-bye — still warm, just different, somehow. And as she drove away I thought to myself that it was probably going to be a long time before I ever saw her again. Didn’t have the heart to put it in ink, though. Kept reminding myself of what she said when she’d left here Saturday morning — the night before had been the best she’d had in a while, she said and then asked me when she could come back.

She’d resurfaced after a week, I was supposed to go to L.A. and replied she might as well tell me. So she did. The hurt and that, bewilderment surging forth, I let her have it and threw her stuff in the trash, raged and cried, rescued and washed, then drove up to Tahoe, instead. I found Nancy’s old place on San Francisco St. and sat on the dried up shore with the dogs, in the shade of dock posts once submerged by water. I drove past fires burning across the canyon from the highway on the way home, stopped and smoked a cigarette next to a roadside memorial for someone named Yolanda, wild fire burning in the distance, and through the smoke saw clearly we both deserved far better than what we gave each other in the end, our broken little girls smashing the other’s window. I so wish I could take it back, apologize, at least.

the last page?

There are times when I think it’d be better to forget her. There are times when I wish I was the sort that could. But the “I hear you, motherfucker”s, they continue — Silver Hyundais all over the neighborhood, the strawberry stains outside of my door faded only a little, a photo of a Mrs. Darling on the Pacific Crest Trail — all goad the pan flute of my pen, my story, my song, and my confession, her magic inside of me, still. I’d like to think maybe someday she’ll hear my song, find her way back to me. If anything, at least I’ll have blown something beautiful for us. She’s one I know I’ll write stories for. I already have. Yeah. Like The Prince.

The sum of the writer and their muse.

At the beginning I wrote that she left sand in my bed and an ache in my heart. The sand is gone but the ache remains…

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