Monday, January 25, 2010

Christmas in Florida

This was no Rockwell Christmas, no roast duck, no tree, no presents, no family. This is no picture perfect landscape, not here. This was Florida, sunshine, tourists, heat, where the snow is as fake as the hospitality industry camaraderie. This was a bleak, sweaty landscape just like so many other bleak, sweaty landscapes he'd faced before: quiet, dust motes floating in the warm air, solitary.

Only this year, the nuance had changed, making it both more and less harsh. This year, his Christmas was not quiet, but filled with rapid breathing and hiccups of pleasure. This year, it was hotter and he wasn't thinking of the temperature as he crested another hill, one of the many he'd conquered that day in the wilds of Lake County. And this year, although he wasn't alone for the first time in a very long while, he was lonely.

He skidded around the corner, scattering gravel but still upright and powered up. Ghosts of Christmas past stretched their claws to grab him, send his delight into the gutter with all his other Christmas disappointments, from missing weenie whistles to sweaters that didn't fit to rings thrown back at him. Memory of waking fought with resentment of separation. Whoever said parting was a sweet sorrow was an ass. There was nothing sweet it. There wasn't even anything sweet about the anticipation of reunion, because there were no sure things in this universe, not his universe or in his life anyway. Nothing sure ever, uncertainty and unpredictability was the only thing he counted on.

Snowflakes of joy melted into soggy disappointment.

He switched back into the big ring. Downhill rush sent a tingle to his groin, sore from his earlier exertions. He shifted back on the saddle, pressed down against the nose, tucked his knees tighter against the frame and watched the indicator on the speedometer rise.

Why did she leave?

Why did she have to leave?

Over the last few months, she'd cracked his isolation, pealed the flesh from him like vernix from a newborn and now she'd left him, lonelier for the knowledge that he was truly alone. Knowledge is a terrible thing, joy tasted and revoked. He was Tantalus, thirsty, hungry, and could barely graze her life giving wetness with his tongue, nip at the flesh swinging just beyond his bared teeth. Once you've tasted ambrosia, everything else is sawdust.

Another hill to climb, more sweat, more hot wind. Christmas was supposed to be cold, snowy, family gathered round the crackling log fireplace and he had aching muscles, sore knees and exploding lungs from the sucker punch her words had landed. His guts wanted to spill out, leave a trail for the ever present turkey vultures. Sisyphus and Prometheus now. He knew a few bits and pieces of classical mythology, but now he could mix and match gods and demigods with ease. Another set of trivial information she'd gifted him with, along with all the others.

How could she leave?

Was she thinking of him?

He turned towards home, the place that held him. "And I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep."

1 comment:

Andylucho said...

sorry about your Christmas! i like your blog too!