I’ve Seen the Blood Moon
There is always a certain sadness that is felt upon leaving the Indio Polo Grounds in the early hours of a Monday in April, long before the sun has risen or reached its point in the sky where you can no longer escape its rays. There is an instant longing for the magic that is spending three days in the desert with the one you absolutely love, or with close friends, or sharing in debauchery and dancing with someone strange and new—pausing to kiss at dusk while Calvin Harris plays “We Found Love in a Hopeless Place” and segues into “Sweet Nothing” just as you peak. And then, you come down.
The next night, reveling in my Post-Coachella depression, I watched the Blood Moon eclipse with my roommates, Jeff, De Maio and Tatiana. We read excerpts from Annie Dillard’s “Total Eclipse” aloud while sipping port and eating truffles. I told them about how I saw her on Sunday. I told them that, strangely, I would have rather watched her walk into a bedroom with him than see her holding his hand, guiding him through the crowd in a place that used to be ours. I was a devout Catholic watching an unconfirmed sinner take the sacrament and get blessed with Holy Water. It was bullshit.
“What are the odds of that, Adam?”
“Yeah, dude. You have to write about this.”
I stared at the Blood Moon, an orange-reddish circle that looked tangible, if only I’d just reach up and pull it down. I was afraid. What would happen if I reached up to touch it and it wasn’t real? It looked like a clementine. I wanted to pull it down and rip open its skin, peel it to its bare flesh and taste the citrusy pulpiness burst in my mouth—a mouth that had dried out from talking and crying and yelling and talking and talking and talking about a girl with a perfectly circular mole in between her big wide eyes.
Looking up at the Blood Moon, I waited for my Rustin Cohle moment of clarity. I waited for the sky to open up, for all worlds to connect in my brain, and for time to flatten. A wave of anxiety rushed over me, like the time I watched the uninterrupted six-minute shoot-out scene in the fourth episode of True Detective. Sometimes love becomes a botched drug deal. I wondered if we were doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over. I stopped fighting and let the wave hit me, and as the eclipse began to lift, I felt a sense of hope that everything is cyclical. There is a time for happiness, sadness and more happiness—then, more sadness and that is life and it comes with seasons. It’s all circles – Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds and Tea Cups – and patience is what keeps us still in between the phases of the moon and the tides that wash in and out of our consciousness.
“A Conversation at a Coffee Shop”
“How are things with your boyfriend?”
She smirks at me.
I chuckle back and force out, “How are things with Hilgard?”
I can tell she is shocked and I myself am shocked that it came out of my mouth. It took me three years to get here. And it doesn’t hurt the way I thought it would.
We are sitting in my bedroom; a room she has never slept in. A room littered with Coachella posters, books, movies, a ukulele, articles of clothing (somewhere buried in a dresser drawer is the “Cupid’s Chokehold” Gym Class Heroes t-shirt I bought on our first date) and other knick-knacks she bought me over the years. A room she’s had no physical presence in until now. We are working on a gift for our godchild, and it feels all right. We share our recent shortcomings, vices, lack of consistent income, and how we thought it was ironic that we started smoking a lot of pot these last few years when, together, we were staunchly against it.
“You’re totally judging me right not, aren’t you?”
“Nah, I tried coke once at Coachella with Jon and Diego a couple of years ago. It was weird. My face was all numb for a few minutes, and I had this tunnel-vision focus walking from our campsite to the entrance. I didn’t want to do it again.”
“Ew, I’m totally judging you right now.”
We both laugh.
We carve our names into the frame of the canvas, a Mother’s Day gift for our godchild, Omi and her mother, Irish (Manang). That is a strange word to see as I type: The possessive adjective our. We are not a we – nothing is ours together, except for the six years of memories we both spent the last few years, and will perhaps spend a lifetime, trying to forget. The canvas is beautiful. I am proud of it. We made it together, despite us being not together. It is a sepia-toned photograph she took of Manang standing in front of horizontal window shades, the light bursting through each blind, illuminating her beautiful pregnant body. Manang is in the center with her baby bump, her little seed sitting inside of her, pointed to the right. She is a silhouette, a moon in total eclipse, surrounded by the words of a poem I wrote, “A Flower Blooms in Virginia.” The words surround her like stars in the night sky.
When we finish carving initials, birth dates and hearts into the wooden frame, we go for a walk.
“Sorry I didn’t tell you ‘Happy Birthday,’ it’s just that, you know, I hate you.” I laugh.
“Yeah, I know, it’s okay.”
“Let me buy you a belated birthday drink.”
“No, it’s fine.”
“No, let me. I have a gift card.”
“Oh. Well, then, yeah. Cool,” she says, with her dorky chuckle.
As we sit outside of the coffee shop across the street from my apartment, drinking our caffeinated drinks, I tell her, “It’s not that I’m not over you, it’s just that—the hardest part has been that I lost my best friend and I miss that. You’re the only person I’ve ever met who just got me and I feel like I got you, too.”
I try to avoid eye contact because my voice is shaky and I think I might cry but I make it anyways and see that her eyes are welling up too and she says, “me too.”
“Girl With Mole”
Her mole. That was the first thing I noticed—the mole on the bridge of her nose. It was nearly hidden by her black-framed, rectangular glasses that matched her equally black hair. Perfectly circular and protruding thickly off of her face, pulling me in like a black hole, full of mystery.
I met her at orientation, at UC Riverside, in 2004. After lunch, outside of a dining hall full of hot-blooded virgins, we participated in various Ice Breakers like “name your favorite band.”
“The Smiths,” I said, looking in her direction.
“Hot Hot Heat,” she said, as if it were some kind of retort.
She thought I was cool. I thought she was, too.
We played “the human knot,” clasping onto each other’s arms with the goal of trying to unthread the mess of body parts; just two shy strangers then.
I sat next to her in University Hall while a corny “Welcome Freshman” type of informative film about the exciting adventure that is living on campus played in the background. I caught the reflection of the film in her glasses while I snuck glances at her face. I found myself attracted to her face in a way I’d never been attracted to a face before.
After a day of guided tours and choosing fall quarter classes, it was time to go home—back to whatever routines and familiar faces we were accustomed to on sweltering summer nights that were melting quicker than ice filling red cups. She and I exchanged numbers, which led to texting. “Call me, Jojo.” She handed me my phone with her number freshly added – a number that is still in my phone, changed from “Baby” to “Anne” and erased from my memory.
A single text from her about borrowing a book prompted a dialogue between the two of us that led to a love I am not sure how to remember or forget. I continued to text her and soon, we learned each other’s schedules. I waited for her at a tree between the Bell Tower, Watkins Hall and Rivera library, walking back and forth from the tree to the corner of Watkins, placing myself back at the tree, pretending I had just arrived there when she finally made her way around the corner. From there, I walked her to her class in Olmsted Hall. For weeks, I took these brief moments to get to know more about a girl I was growing increasingly fond of with every footstep.
Soon, she invited me over to watch a movie at the apartment she shared with her older sister, Irish. I brought over Garden State and I sat utterly frozen, mouth closed, breathing through my nose, one hand gripping the couch cushion and the other on the arm of the couch.
Our love story did not begin as one of Hipsterdom. Coachella transformed us into monstrous music snobs. Music was our thing and we protected it with a pretentious air. It was our secret. Initially, Hip-Hop is what we bonded over. Jay-Z was my favorite rapper, I was really into Kanye West, and I loved all things that had to do with Pharrell Williams. She loved Pharrell for reasons that made me jealous but I was just glad I found someone who knew who N.E.R.D. was. I thought “underground” rap was Mos Def, Talib Kweli and The Roots but she quickly showed me through the door of indie rap with, Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, El-P, Sage Francis, and the Living Legends, and I fell in love with this music as quickly as I fell in love with her.
At the time, I was also into emo and post-hardcore. I showed her Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. I invited her to a show at the House of Blues on Sunset. This is where I first took her by the hand as we made our way through the crowd to watch Gym Class Heroes, Fallout Boy and the Academy Is… sing pop-punk songs about the importance of teenage love, while sad teenagers made out, moshed, and bloodied each other’s noses.
On our way home, we stopped at In-N-Out, and in the backseat, I watched Anne slowly and meticulously nibble at her cheeseburger, taking the entire ride home to finish. I found her coyness completely charming and I followed suit early on in our relationship when she brought me a burger and fries from In-N-Out after her shift working there. I carefully and quietly ate my meal in a span of an hour and a half as we watched Battle Royale in my dorm room. I didn’t want to ruin my chances with impolite eating habits.
We began dating, officially, on March 27th, 2005. The night before, I had been in Pomona watching a band called Northstar at The Glasshouse. She called me and told me there was a spider in the kitchen and it scared her. Her excuse was enough to make me leave the diner I was at to drive to her apartment. That night, after the spider mysteriously disappeared before my arrival, we watched The Ring with the lights off. We shared a blanket and told ghost stories after, as a candle flickered and gave us cause to snuggle just a little closer than before. To distill the quiet, we shared a Guinness and then, I finally kissed her. This is when Anne became “Jojo” to me and I was inducted into the intimately familial world in which she had been nicknamed after her mother’s friend. I felt privileged. This is where I lost myself completely to that unexplainable, inescapable feeling we are blessed and cursed to experience every so often in life.
The next months were pure magic. The stuff Puppy Love is made of. The stuff that made us go half on a half-Basenji, half-German Shepard puppy we called Luca, after a few years together. We named him after the Brand New song, which is about the character, Luca Brassi from The Godfather, one of her favorite movies. Early on, we spent our days ditching lectures, playing tennis, browsing through CDs at Mad Platter, and eating tacos from Del Taco and drinking Vitamin Waters every Tuesday.
We took trips frequent trips to Melrose and La Brea to shop at Buffalo Exchange, Wasteland, Urban Outfitters, and Crossroads, and spent hours watching Family Guy, Chappelle’s Show reruns, HGTV, and other junk TV. We celebrated month-versaries and romanced each other in a way only naïve lovers know how: Surprise picnics at botanical gardens, Hershey’s Kisses trails leading to bedrooms filled with balloons and rose petals like it was our own private prom, lipstick love letters on bathroom mirrors, living room concerts covering Savage Garden’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply,” and Foo Fighters’ “Everlong.”
Over the years we went to so many shows, fighting our way to the barricade in front of the stage – I still have a shoebox full of ticket stubs and wristbands of all the bands that we spent days and nights watching together, lying in the grass or holding hands, kissing, hugging, brushing bangs from each other’s foreheads and fighting off taller, sweatier people in the crowds just to reach the front of the stage for.
Our first capricious trip to Coachella was in 2005. We went to watch Coldplay. We camped in the desert and fell in love with the festival culture we found. Novices of the festival circuit, we learned quickly that to be in close proximity to a headlining act, you must dedicate hours of waiting at a particular stage. At first, I was devastated when we couldn’t get anywhere near the front to see Chris Martin sing hits from Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head and newer stuff from X&Y, but my bad mood was quelled as we lied on our backs in the grass, completely absorbed by the beauty that was us. Coldplay became our background noise.
When we came home from the desert, we bathed together after a weekend of dirt and sweat and no showers. It wasn’t much later that I lost my virginity to Jo. It was spring and I wanted this forever. Spending days and whole weekends, drinking whatever alcohol our underage selves could get our hands on and indulging, only separated by sleep. She twitched when she slept.
Three years later, I cheated on her. It was a sloppy, drunken kiss that I barely remember. Maybe it’s because I saw betrayal followed by vague forgiveness in the home I grew up in and I thought that all couples worked the same. I was scared it was too good to be true anyways and it would eventually end. Maybe it was the fact that she wasn’t a virgin when we met, and I was, and that notion gnawed at my immature mind. Or maybe it was just a case of you always want what you don’t have and I didn’t have the freedom to sow my wild oats like young adults are encouraged to do.
And then we tried and tried to make it work for three more years. And then it finally ended. And then my whole life changed like the first time I met her. And I’ve never been the same. And I started to find the irony in my birth name, with the Forbidden Fruit, and all. I began to look at myself differently and I wanted to see the good in me. Instead, all I heard was myself repeating, “And I did this to myself and I did this to you, but you were brave enough to be happy without me, and you are happy now, and that is just what you deserve.” Slowly, I unraveled and didn’t know what to do with myself. I wrote songs and shot videos in which I got rid of all of the cute pictures of us and the cards and notes but it didn’t help. And I wrote poems about how much of a wreck I’d become – how jealous and impatient and needy I now was. And it was Richard and Irish consoling me often, and suddenly, I had become a let down.
“Days after the 4th”
It was the day after the 4th of July 2011 and I had taken Luca to visit my parents for the holiday while Jo was out of town with her family. I was in the middle of walking him at dusk when the fireworks began. I should have known better, he started to freak out. We rushed back to my parents’ small apartment and he jumped into their bathroom tub, shaking from the shrill Piccolo Pete’s and M-80s. I held him and stroked the back of his ears until he fell asleep.
The next day, Anne and I broke up. There wasn’t an argument this time. Not like the times before. It wasn’t out of the blue, but it wasn’t expected either. I fought it, but the words she said to me were like a sedative. She gently put me to sleep.
“I know I don’t want to be with anyone else but you, but right now, I just need to be on my own. I can see us getting back together in the future, in a few years. You’re what I want. You’re who I want to end up with.”
I was draped in an anesthetic fog. Surrounded by these words I played back over and over. Her soft words that I clung tightly to like a body pillow. The things people say when there is nothing left to say become the keepsakes we’d rather not keep. They burrow into our brains and eat away at our delicate membranes until we are swallowed up and completely digested.
I saw her three months after later. She had already started seeing someone new. She wasted no time. We were at the bar underneath her loft in Brea with Manang and Bernard. I drank way too much and she spent the night with me in her bathroom. She nursed me, like always, and I cried, asking, “why are you with him?” and I took it out on her porcelain. I woke up with a blaring headache but everything felt okay because, somehow, we’d ended up lying on her bed and I was holding her the way I used to. And that was the first of many awkward interactions between us struggling to find a balance between ex-lovers and best friends (see: Atmosphere “Body Pillow”)
Some people dive deep into fitness, while others focus on their careers to distract themselves from a broken heart. Art was my catharsis. I wrote an EP called Three Days in the Desert, rapping over songs from bands we’d watched together at Coachella. I shot several music videos, trying to figure out ways to destroy any and all sentimental pieces of our relationship I had clung to. In the video for “You Win” a rap cover of the song “A Walk in the Park” by Beach House, I walked along the Santa Monica Pier to toss a Tootsie Roll lollipop flower she had made me one Valentine’s Day into the Pacific Ocean. I passed lovers, young and old, holding hands, kids playing on the boardwalk and in the arcade, a belly dancer, a trapeze artist, a sad clown making balloon animals, a psychic, troubadours with their guitar cases open for spare change, fishermen with guts in buckets, a spinning Ferris wheel, and a fortune-teller machine as I walked those wooden planks towards the open sea, fake flowers in hand – despair being filmed for others to see, be entertained by and feel pity for.
These are the rituals of the post-modern broken-hearted. Every action must be dramatized to the degree of which we feel an emotion in order for us to believe in the pop culture and/or art that we define ourselves by. These acts, of course, have to be sensationalized in writing, whether they are nonfiction or not, for fiction is already a given the second we perceive a moment in time through the senses and the image presented to us in our brains – a replica of an incident that becomes highly romanticized. It is the artist and the writer’s choice, or some may feel, responsibility, to produce a work of art that does not shy away from such perceived anguish so that someone searching for meaning in a time of heartbreak can chance upon it and identify with well thought-out, aggregated keywords.
I thought of all of the poems I had written about Anne in my thesis, the thesis that I had successfully defended a few months prior in November 2013. I was a recent graduate from a dual master degree program with no clear direction. I was not well. By Spring, as I cried and began to write the makings of this piece, I thought of the song “This Modern Love” by Bloc Party and how much it meant to us. I thought of another song called “Anne with an ‘E’” by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Perhaps it is the English major in me that could allow the romanticization of death, the idealization of dying from heartbreak—a tragic Shakespearean death, and Anne gave me that pure, unadulterated heartache that only a First Love, only someone who was everything to you and took and gave everything that made you, you, to push my mind even slightly in that direction.
“Watching Blood Orange at Coachella 2014”
I dreamt of her on a Saturday at Coachella, nearly three years since we broke up. I hadn’t thought much of it. I had plenty of dreams of her since she became my ex. Despite my near-constant anxious state, I was happy I had survived the weekend without running into her.
I was watching Blood Orange with a girl that had potential. A girl that I slept with. A girl that hurt me. A girl that I had fleeting feelings for. A girl that I wanted to sleep with again because what else was there to do. A girl that was there to distract me from the anxious and depressive state I had been in for months now. But when I saw Anne walk mere feet in front of me, boyfriend tailing behind her, an eclipse fell over it all.
In that moment, the girl became a shadow and I thought of various scenarios: Me calling out Anne’s name, Anne turning around and me sticking my tongue down this girl’s throat in the coolest way possible; me walking up to Anne and her boyfriend, saying “hey,” and punching him; Anne turning around and seeing me and it ruining her day.
It was in the upper 90s to low 100s and my face was on fire, burning with sadness and defeat, tears forming. My throat closed up for a moment, I stared ahead at the stage and watched Devonté Hynes sing, “Time will tell if you can figure this and work it out/No one’s waiting for you anyways so don’t be stressed now/ Even if it’s something that you’ve had your eye on/It is what it is.” I kept my eye on her in my peripheral vision and I realized something: after three years, I never truly let her go.
I couldn’t bring myself to tear up the two remaining photos of her. One a wallet-sized college graduation photo that I found in an old commencement announcement from 2008, the other from the Los Angeles County Fair in 2005. I wore Aviators and sported a shaved head. She had on that pure smile that was always too good for me, along with a black beaded necklace and top that accentuated her jet-black hair, eyes and the mole that I loved so much but always made her so insecure. She wore a sheer long aqua blue skirt that came down to her sandals and life was good.
I was tearing up trying to tear them apart, listening to Just Once EP by How To Dress Well. I participated in this pathetic ritual on her 28th birthday, and the first one in nearly a decade that I did not bother to call, email, or text her a simple “Happy Birthday.” It was difficult and I cracked up and it’d been three years and I didn’t know why I was still all fucked up.
The day began with me cracking jokes to myself and singing the lyrics to “Unhappy Birthday” by The Smiths. I thought, maybe I’ll tweet the link to the YouTube video, or post it to Facebook. Maybe one of our mutual friends or followers will see it and know what I mean by posting it. And maybe it’ll reach her and maybe she’ll think of me for just a moment of her day. Maybe it’ll bum her out, just a little.
I tried to distract myself by cleaning my apartment. I started in the kitchen, and made my way to the living room. After I Lysoled every inch of the bathroom, I finally got to my room and lied on the floor with sweat on my forehead. I thought of how ritualistic and methodical I had made the “getting over” process over the years; it was almost unnatural – too sterile. I’ve heard people say that it takes half of the time you’ve dated someone to get over them, or, for saps like me, it could double in length. Anne and I were together, on and off, for six years. The first six years of our adult lives. I knew nothing else. I no longer remembered the person I was that first quarter of college. He is a fictional character in my brain. With three years behind me, I was either right on time or a quarter of the way there. When I started to accept that I wasn’t going to get her back like in TV shows and movies or like my mom, with her motherly intuition, would claim for a time, I wanted desperately to speed up the process of moving on. I wanted it too badly. Just as The Supremes sang, “you can’t hurry love,” well, you can’t hurry healing. Everything in due time—it all depends upon the ticking of the clock. The clock is the object that one must surrender to in order to truly get where one hopes to be, instead of being a dog chasing its tail. We make this big deal about healing, like it has to be this ritualistic thing. Like we have to wait to go to therapy or have a religious conversion to see progress when really, it is something that happens naturally over time. The moment you feel the pain, the healing has already begun.
“Baptism in Sacramento”
We hadn’t spoken for three months, but for a weekend in August, we stayed up late every night, drinking beers and talking. Talking about us. Talking about her and Hilgard. God. Work. Music. Talking about anything. I just wanted to talk to her. I just wanted to sit with her in perfect silence and look at her and think about what she was thinking.
I glanced at her.
She glanced back and looked away sharply, asking, “What?” and laughing.
“Nothing, what?” I laughed back.
There was a lot of nervous laughter, like when you meet someone that makes you nervous in an exciting way, and for a moment, I had my best friend again and all was well in my world. But then, I’d see her phone light up. She’d walk out of the room, and I knew my place in reality.
“You can’t do that, man.” She said, whenever I brought something up that reminded her of the times we’ve shared. The good times.
“You didn’t fight for me.”
She said that because I had gotten so close to Manang, she didn’t have anywhere else to turn, and that’s where he came along—maybe in the same way I came along once.
On the drive to Omi’s Baptism, I rode with her cousins, Jay and Ida.
“Adam, have you met Jojo’s boyfriend?”
“No, not yet.” I said, chuckling.
“He is nice. He’s kind of like you.”
“Yeah? Then, I hope you like him.”
“We like you, Adam. Why did you and Jojo break up?”
“It wasn’t up to me,”
“Well, you know, Adam, maybe you will get back together in the future. You never know. We hope so.”
“Time will tell.” I said, turning my attention from Jay and Ida to their son, Jacob, who was sitting next to me in the backseat, asking about going to the mall to eat Panda Express.
We arrived at the church on Sunday, August 10th, 2014. It was a bright day, it was mid-afternoon, and hope was in the air. I’m not Catholic, or even baptized, so the first thing I did after hanging up with Manang and Bernard on the day they asked me to be Omi’s godfather was Google, “Godfather’s duty at baptism”. As Manang prepared Omi in her white baptismal gown and bonnet, Jo and I stood awkwardly in a pew, anticipating.
“You nervous?” I asked, not looking at her, but staring ahead towards the altar, where the sunlight burst through the round skylight, onto a crucified Jesus Christ hanging over a regal pulpit, which was surrounded by lush plants and golden candelabras.
“I’m all nerves. I don’t even know what we’re supposed to do.” I was enchanted by the majesty of the cathedral and I thought it was the perfect place for Omi, a queen in the making, to be dedicated.
“We’ll be okay.” I finally looked at her with a half-smile. The priest called us over – it was time to begin.
The Baptism was picturesque. We surrounded the baptismal fountain and as soon as the priest, Anne’s cousin, started praying, I felt a calm and I prayed every prayer. I prayed as hard as I could for Omi, her parents, and for Anne and I to be protectors, providers of love and guidance, and godly godparents. I prayed to lead by example. We stood side by side, Anne and I, as Omi was blessed with Holy Water. We said various “I do’s” like, do you believe in God, do you believe he suffered for us, do you renounce the devil and all of his pomp? Anne lit the candle and held it near Omi, as a symbol of God’s light. It shone brilliantly on her forehead.
As everything beautiful in life, the ceremony was over quickly and we were taking pictures with the mighty Omi, servant of God. We returned to Jay and Ida’s and I devoured plates and plates of delicious Filipino food that I’d missed for years without realizing.
Tired from her big day, Omi napped, while the rest of us drank and ate in her honor. I watched Anne take shots with her dad and cousins. I took their photo to commemorate the occasion. In the photo, she holds the shot with her left hand, and the tattoo on her bicep is seen clearly. Flowers entangled in the words, This Modern Love Rhymes With Fire. Her smile stood out to me. It always stands out. Sometimes all you can do is smile.
On the drive back to Southern California, I sat with her father in the front. I still call him uncle as a sign of respect. She sat in the very back of their maroon Toyota Sequoia with her mother, whom I still call auntie. Anne and I texted from the front to back seat through out the drive. Separated by years and sleep. We got home and went back to separate routines.
“Songs I’d rather not sing”
I remember playing “The Highest Commitment” by Qwel over and over again in my freshman dorm room on the weekend that she showed it to me. It was raining and I spent all of Saturday playing Bomber Man, Dr. Mario, Dig Dug, or some other video game from my childhood, on an NES emulator. It was the same when she showed me El-P’s “TOJ.” It resonates with me now that I can say that I used to be in love when he raps, “and one time when I was deep inside your body, you purred/And I was sure that you were gonna have my baby.” This is how the verse ends, immediately followed by the aching hook, “And you can tell that maybe time is out of joint, my love/So this is maybe just an S.O.S. shrapnel/An echo of dead sentiment/Measurement tossed to nothing for no one/A wasted effort/A shrug.”
There was a time when I was certain that Jo and I would marry and have kids and we would never end in this mortal life. In that way, I always imagined our story to be unfinished and that made me feel safe. When we broke up it felt unfinished in a completely devastating way. It felt as though we’d spent years writing this remarkable story and the paper we had written it on got decimated in a fire because she left a candle burning or I fell asleep with a cigarette in my mouth; or maybe the sheets got drenched in a flood, causing the ink to smear and ooze down the page, forming one giant abject blot of ink.
Some songs will haunt me. Any song by Atmosphere will do the trick. I traded in Gwen Stefani’s “Real Thing,” which I once recorded a cover of for her birthday, for “Cool,” hoping we’ll eventually get there. I think about No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom album cover, with the moldy, rotten oranges with holes in them. And I think that’s what I’d become. Then, I think back to that Blood Moon eclipse in its wholeness and rejuvenating vitality. And I knew that, all this time, I had started to foster a new sense of self in a singular way.
“Boarding a plane to Virginia”
It’s December, and I’m boarding a plane to Virginia Beach to visit Omi for her first birthday. And the ruminating starts again. But that is okay, because I will be fine, and I will recover like I have in the past. And she will always be there, and I will always be there, and there will always be some form of love.
I think about how we all fall in and out of love. I think about how we’ll sit in Manang and Bernard’s living room on these late winter nights like we did in Sacramento. And I wonder if, for one glance, we’ll fall in love all over again.
“You made a huge mistake being with him. Why are you so afraid of being alone? All you do is jump from one relationship to the next. I resent you for not taking the time to be completely on your own—to be your own person, because you have so much to offer yourself.”
She’s staring at me in shock with tears welling in her big wide eyes.
“I miss you. But I guess I should thank you for leaving me because it was what I needed.” We’ve being drinking a few beers while we sit on the couch. In an inebriated stupor, I just go for it. “Look, Jo, I love you still. I do. I wish I didn’t but I do. I dream about you at least once a week. I haven’t met another girl who has come close to you.”
The fact that I’ve just divulged this information frustrates me. “You said I didn’t fight for you enough? That’s bullshit. I fought for you. And then I fought myself, and sometimes, I still do. And I daydream about being the person you settle down with. What it would be like to come home to you, after work. Or what it would be like to see you walk in the door after a long day, and I’ve just taken Luca out for a walk, and he runs up to greet you, and you talk to him sweetly.”
The plane hasn’t even left the ground yet. Everything turns to a maybe again.
Maybe I’ll tell her how I’ve been writing this for the better part of a year now and it’s something that finally feels right, after all the shitty fiction, and poems, and songs indebted to my own personal Lucy (see: Atmosphere “Fuck You, Lucy”). And maybe in a few months time, if I should be so lucky or blessed or whatever the fuck you call it, maybe it’ll get published. Maybe I’ll turn it into a perzine and make Xeroxed copies. Maybe I’ll gift her copy and sign it, “Jo, I still love you like the first time. Love, Adam.” Or maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe we can be friends and she can start listening to my music again, because, even though she’s with someone new, it’s been too hard for her or whatever.
Or maybe I’ve been missing the point this whole time. Maybe this is bigger than us. Maybe we can be cordial godparents and Omi will never need to know that Ninong and Ninong used to be in love, because maybe that beautiful girl was why we were brought into each other’s lives in the first place. Maybe that’s all the hope I’ll ever need in this story that remains unfinished in a way that doesn’t frighten me, because now, we are bound together by a beautiful girl. I’m sure most exes would love nothing more than to put planets between each other, histories of biblical proportions, to make it so that they were from two different dimensions entirely. But this is what it is. As the plane ascends, I can rest easy knowing that Coachella is coming up. It will be my tenth and final year, and I know I won’t be running into her again. Instead, there will be birthday parties and holidays where we’ll sit and reminisce for a few hours as we watch Omi grow.
Adam Daniel Martinez is a musician, writer, and native of the Inland Empire region of Southern California. He holds a B.A. in English from UC Riverside and an M.A./M.F.A. in English and Creative Writing with an emphasis on poetry from Chapman University.