Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hard Times

It came down to a 15-minute walk to home and three-day old rice or a 5 minute ride to West Bank and getting lost trying to find this restaurant I've been dying to be at(since, hmm, the last 24 hours).Well, five minutes later, I found myself staring at a chalk board (vegetarian!) menu that says:
Coffee: $1.00
Stupid Questions: $5.00

People, I've fallen in love with Hard Times Cafe. Rather, fallen in love with the idea of me - this very uninteresting, barely alive, woman with deep-seated faith in a (now) conservative religion, the establishment/system, and order - stepping into a place that flaunts it's anarchist history (and present) and finally feeling like I'm home.

Like always, paused an awkward second while deciding whether to give my real name for the tab or that shorter-but-easier-on-the-american-tongue form I so hate and then spelt out a-s-h. The guy writing it down notices that I'd hesitated and wants to know if that's my undercover name. I whip out my card to pay for my food and was told they accept only cash. of course.

I find a table in a corner crawling with white etchings of what looks like somebody's thesis in theoretical physics. There's crazy graffiti all over the wine-red walls. Wine-red walls. My idea of a perfect room has been, for a long time: wine-red walls, moroccan rugs, mood lighting and the faint smell of an existence steeped in leisure. I look around for a blue-haired person, there's gotta be one in a place like this, hollywood says so. It turns out, the blue-haired woman with a mysterious air about her, who later in the night changes your life forever, is, in fact, a language major with raven black hair. She's scribbling furiously onto her legal notepad, I peer and discover she's practicing the devanagari script. of course.

At this point, I'm wondering if the novelty of West Bank will ever wear off. Been 18 months since I first stumbled onto this side of the river and I always find something to gape at for a bit longer than is acceptable. I catch a glimpse of a mural of a many-armed being with one hand clutching a severed head before a group of somalians obscures it again, a highly inappropriately placed hindu god, I reckon. A visibly stoned guy is smiling a benignant smile at me. I find out that my quesadilla is seasoned with lime. The visibly stoned guy is now feeling around on his table for his coffee mug while still smiling his benignant smile. I find out that spicy really means spicy out here. The somalians want to know why there's no music. Some ancient, awkwardly-tuned cambodian song with shrill female vocals and a hint of a western rhythm blares outta speakers placed right over my head. I pull out my copy of English, August: it's been on that reading list way too long. Perhaps, it was meant to be that I read of unbelonging at this very point in my life.

Spent two hours absorbing the dull clamor and irreverence in the air before making a trip to the loo. The restroom's walls scream out a hundred different thoughts scrawled on by those not satisfied with the larger, more open canvas outside. Some responsible citizen had carved out a list of 'chariots' - cab phone numbers - near the mirror. Zoned out for a bit in that tiny room, could feel a presence in there, it felt like the comforting touch of a million lost souls, felt like there's no place I'd belong to, no place that'd like me, none that I'd be at peace with and knew for the first time that it was alright. I walked out into a wall of cold air ten minutes later and for once didn't hate Minneapolis all that much.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

rough seas and the northern star

a momentary surge in the machinations of your circulatory system and an arguably audible snap in your oblangata coupled with a horrible sight of your own suicide and a generous helping of primal fear. this is how you resist insistent condemnation. accused of vandalism when you were only trying to gather the broken pieces. you respond with righteous anger and a reflex of self-pity. held for murder when you were only trying to help. you fightback with eloquent silence and a faith in goodness. for innocence is much too dignified to protest. and the truth isn't too good to be itself. you hope to be understood. by the inebriated mind of the self appointed vigilante. from above the din of flying daggers and hopelessly accurate fists, you wish for another time. another place. another chance.

can you be wrongfully right?

You may have tried.with intentions as honorable as self-less courage. sparing no practical effort and swearing an allegiance for life and the thereafter. when no distance is far enough, you ask yourself this. how far can you go, if the collateral is hope. would you stop, if the end is the only incentive? falter, if pain is the only inspiration? you don't risk asking questions, if the answer spawns a mist of despair. tempted to look back and take stock, you trust your gut and keep moving. to retrospect, is to risk fatigue. and to tire, is to die. you stand up tall. on your knees. living out a lifetime's worth. of anguished anticipation. of steel chaired waiting rooms. of dogeared magazines and the smell of disinfectant. you close your fists.take the name of the lord. in vain desperation. you stare with suspicion. at your own new-found religion. wishing for help, you wander. between begging without pride.death before dishonor is a distant luxury. you wish nothing changed. things are always different. from what you remember. people aren't always the same. as those you remember. we have waited all this while. with different perspectives. in different time lines.

how difficult is staying happy?

i have been loved. to know that, to hold that hand that wanted to hold you back, to kiss that face that wanted to kiss you back, has been the greatest gift of my life. i knew her. more than the fact, that she was the one. i knew her. as the only one. when you are living out a fairytale, its easy to dream. its easier to get confused. between whats necessary. and whats possible. between an ordinary present. and a better future. i wanted her. she wanted us. not the same thing. like resilience and resistance. like pure silence and deafening noise. she was willing to wait. till the tide and tilt at sunset. and i was holding her tight. till she lost her patience and breath. i din want to lose her. while i dug my nails in. i din want to let go. while i was pinning her down. i did not know. that the reason why we were the greatest love story on earth could flit between plain vanity and the genuine truth. i want to clean my non-existent act and still look into her eyes. i want to promise change and still make her smile. you never know you've lost it. until you notice the absence. i have begun to notice. and i want her to know. that i love her. i can't be sorry without the obvious triviality of the word. i can't take us back there despite the impossibility of the thought. but i want us to want to sleep together again. i want us to dream away the nightmares, this time.

P.S : she hates the seemingly disconnected rant i just posted. but she'd understand the underlying purpose of it. we have hit a rough trail, my friend. and we are fighting to keep us alive.