12.15.2012

La Petite Mort.

I was asleep when my plane was approaching Melbourne, but when the wheels of my 737 hit the tarmac it jarred me awake immediately; I woke so suddenly that my heart pounded stiffly in my ribcage and my eyes flew open wide, but the adrenaline wore quickly and my face broke into a wide smile when I realized where I was. That's it, right outside, I thought to myself while peering out the tiny window, out there is Australia, and you've finally made it here. It's weird to think of this now, of what I thought it was going to be like before I'd actually been, because although I was far from disappointed, the fantasy I had of Melbourne and the reality of being there were nothing alike.

I'm home now, and by home I mean that I'm in New York, which is the closest place I have to a home anywhere. It feels like home here, and when I'm anywhere else I usually can't wait to return. I tend to get complacent in smaller cities; I fall into a routine of ease and let myself go inside the luxury of time and a slower pace and I don't really like who that makes me. It's like a little death, letting go like that, and I always hate myself for, even briefly, giving in to the fallacy that the slow security of my hometown or some warm southern metropolis is something I need in my life. I don't. I spent over three years chasing security, found it in the strong arm of the wrong man, and coveted it to a fault. Trust me: I'm better off insecure. I do bolder things when I don't know what's happening next.

I’ve been searched before going through customs. A long time ago in my early twenties I was stopped, albeit randomly, in Cancun. I wasn't allowed to leave the airport until they had removed everything from my entire bag and lined its contents up on a long table right beside the aisle where all the disembarking international travelers queue through. There was no judgment from the immigrations officer, but I heard more then a few snickers from other passengers as he pulled several generous handfuls of condoms from my zippered front pocket and began to pile them in a multi-colored mountain right in the eye line of every passer by. Even he couldn't help but releasing a small titter; he looked at me and shook his head just a little bit and smiled.

"It's spring break," I said, shrugging my shoulders and giggling, as if that explained why I needed almost 100 condoms for a week’s vacation in Playa Del Carmen.

Getting searched in Australia was far from a giggling matter.

"So I'm finally right about to leave customs, I mean, I can see the door, and the agent who takes my declaration form suddenly gets a stick up his ass because all I have with me is one small backpack." I'm telling this story back in New York, just a few days ago, to Noah upon his return from Florida. I had been laying sick in his bed for almost two weeks in his absence, and while it seemed weird at first to be sleeping in his bed with him gone it was suddenly odd to have him there. Home. In his own room. Lounging on his own bed with me.

"So they searched you?" He asked me.

"And interrogated me. Like 'what brings you here' and 'who do you know here' and 'oh is this Thao guy your soulmate' and all this business. It was crazy! They took every, single, thing from my bag. They unfolded and read all of my receipts. The counted my American cash and asked me how much money was in my checking account. They took my laptop and read whatever they could find in a couple of hours. Then they handed me my phone and asked me to enter my password."

"Why, I don't get it. What did they do with your phone?" I laughed when he asked this.

"They looked at every picture and read all my text messages. And then they came across one I sent to you a couple days before I left. They were, like, infuriated. And were all: 'who is this Noah?' and 'how do you know him?' and all of this stuff. They completely flipped out. I had no idea what to say."

"What? which one?" He then reached for his own phone, curious as to what I could have possibly sent to him that was so incendiary in the eyes of Australian customs, but I beat him to the discovery and refreshed his memory. It was a picture, actually: I had sent him a photo of a single Vicodin. One. Solitary. Vicodin.

"Oh, shit. What did you say?"

"What was I supposed to say?" That's not a lie. I mean, what was I supposed to say? I'd been dreaming of coming to this country for the vast majority of my life, and now I was walking a fine line of being granted entry or immediate deportation. Had I done anything wrong? Well, actually, I had forgotton to declare a few ounces of Chinese tea that I had acquired during my brief stint in Shanghai, but that was an honest mistake that they didn't even care too much about. No, the tea wasn't a big deal. Rather, they were very intrigued about who this man was on the other end of the oh-so-illicit Vicodin text message.

"Who is he?" They asked me. When I related this story back to Noah, I guess I just let him believe that I said something dismissive and simple, but the truth is that I was already a couple hours into being questioned and was starting to lay myself completely bare. I feared telling a mis-truth, more even than I usually do, and equated any omission to my possible deportation. Put simply I was starting to panic, and some kind of undeserved guilt was building up in my chest that was feeling tighter and tighter with every minute that passed.

"What do you mean?" I asked the small blond agent, who was at the time holding my iPhone in her latex gloved hand.

"Who is this Noah? Who is he to you?" I swallowed hard when I heard her repeat the question.

"Who is Noah to me?"

"Yes, it's fairly straightforward."

"Straightforward?" I countered, "You think that question is straightforward? I've spent the better part of this year trying to answer that question, and you think I'm suddenly going to know, now, after having spent the last two days traveling here all the way from Brooklyn where I left him; you think now I'm suddenly going to be able to tell you who Noah is to me?"

It's been over a month now since that day entering Australia for the first time, and I'm apparently no closer to answering that question. Things changed for me overseas; my plans changed. I'm supposed to be in Florida right now, but instead I'm waiting around till at least Monday to interview for a job I'm not positive that I want as part of a plan that I'm not sure I want to pursue. Everything is so up in the air. But this is my wheelhouse, I tell myself when I start to panic about my current state of flux, this is what I do. I figure it out as I go along. I go big. I live boldly. But sometimes the mantra just isn't enough.

After finally making it through customs I spent a huge portion of the next 24 hours wishing I was back in New York. I felt disenfranchised and tired; but halfway through Saturday I got a message from Thao beckoning me to come to the bar that night. Part of me didn't even want to go--Australia wasn't turning out like I thought it would and my yet only friend had already gone to Sydney that morning while I slept--but I agreed, eager to turn things around.

I met Ryan that night.

So you could say that things definitely turned around.

It only took another day or so for "I want to go home" to turn into "I never want to leave."

But I did. Leave, I mean. And then I was sick. And I spent long days and nights in Noah's bed trying to figure out what I was going to do next but only hitting the hard wall of lingering illness. And then Noah came home, home to New York, and, suitcase in tow, found me still lounging about in his bed upon his return.

It's weird to think of this now, of what I thought it was going to be like when Noah came home before he actually came, because the fantasy I had of how I thought I would behave and the reality of what happened were nothing alike.

I had been in New York for almost two weeks, but it suddenly felt like home with him framed in his bedroom doorway, him with his perfect fucking beardface and careful smile that I know so well that I hadn't seen in so long, and I wrapped my arms around his neck and felt the welcoming little death of security.

"So, good times then?" Ryan asked me the next day about reuniting with Noah.

"
I guess so. It's complicated. But I'm glad he's home this week," That's not a lie. I am glad he's home this week, but it's not exactly like I took the time to explain to Ryan that the little death of embracing security was nothing when compared to la petite mort of embracing Noah. I omitted the rest unconsciously feigning that it didn't matter anyway, but since then I think I've started to panic, and the layers of my decision have begun to unfold, and some kind of undeserved guilt has been building up in my chest and it feels tighter and tighter with every minute that passes.

But this is my wheelhouse, I tell myself, sometimes I am rashThis is what I do. I figure it out as I go along. I go big. I live boldly. 

But sometimes the mantra just isn't enough.

--M



(P. S. -- This piece is the result of a request from Julia. You are similarly always allowed to make requests of me if you have a favo[u]rite story of mine, and I will most likely indulge you. Also: VANESSA, if you are reading this, and I hope you are, email me at M@MirandaMoure.com. I didn't get to say goodbye before I left The Disco for Northcote.)

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