A Story or Something Like It
by Jody Coughlin
I went for a walk late at night this past week. All the colors you see in the day time take on such a mysterious glow when the sun is down and the streetlights are burning brightly. I walked and I walked. It was serene and beautiful and a little creepy which I liked. A lot. Eery. Dark. Brooding. A feast for the senses. The air is still. Water rushes by by by. Everyone is asleep except for the little lightning bugs. They make the dewy grass sparkle. The occasional car goes by. Again and again??
My mother was a little angry when I told her I had been out alone in the dark. She said to at least take my incredibly vicious dog with me next time. And so I shall. Her fur is so black she will fade in the shadows and frighten would-be perpetrators upon commencement of assault. Of course, there was nobody else around that I could see. If there was they would not have known I carry various weapons on my person at all times and they would not know I have spent hours upon hours figuring out the most efficient ways to use them and conceal them.
Eyeballs would be gouged out. Testicles would be severed. Penises would be impaled through their menacing shafts. I would remain unscathed. My dog would lick the blood. Evil men would die.
**My family reads this blog. I know this and yet I carry on as if I am living such a life of anonymity. Sorry guys. There are just these days when this stuff is in my head and if it doesn't come out I will go blind. Or worse.**
Of course, my success lies in the fact that nobody really knows if I am joking or if I am serious and that is a shade of grey that I find matches my eyes perfectly. I wear it all the time with a push-up bra and lipgloss.
Summer is almost here. I can't believe I will never live within the realms of those killer sunsets and gentle breezes of Palmer Road ever again. Life changes so quickly when it decides it's time. The inner vastness of my soul is closing in and morphing into a compacted jewel box of pleasure and it is marvelous in my eyes.
I am happy to report I have wiped the slate clean on the artistic front. I am trying something new/old. I am taking an indefinite hiatus from teaching, internet sales, art shows and painting for profit in general. In the place of all of this I have been working on a very large scale painting that is all my own with the winds of inspiration blowing through my brain in the form of the love I have for the artist whom I feel may be considered the best of the best and that would be Klimpt. You know who I mean, don't cha?
I am very nervously happy about this whole enterprise. It makes me feel at ease inside myself to know I have no commitments to make this summer other than the one with my own studio and easel and canvas and paints. It brings me back to the innocence of the days when we lived in Saint John. I don't know why but when I look back I realize there are moments within that time frame where I found bits and pieces of myself that I know to be genuinely me.
When I am at my best I feel the same as I did then. A déjà vu occurs, if you will.
I remember the struggle but I also remember the sense of freedom I felt for the first time in my life (sheltered existence and easy to please). A expanse of possibilities. Something new around every corner. An independence of thought and mind. A feeling of electricity like just before a storm is about to erupt. I like it out there on that particular cliff.
I remember the solitude and the darkened days where I would endlessly and hopelessly pull images from my mind. Back then I only ever painted the things that truly struck. I had what may have been a false sense of purpose (fear of failure?) and maybe even snobbery about myself. I was choosy about my work. I did not slut myself out to anyone and anything to turn a quick buck. I wanted the sales. But only if it meant gallery representation or something equal to it.
Life undulated this way... I only walked the streets I liked the most. I only did the things I really wanted to do. I walked out on several jobs and friendships and so on. I felt life was meant to be lived on the fringe of extremity. It seemed so pure somehow. There was a raging energy. A liquid sadness. A rebellious awakening.
But being a mother, I would only allow myself to go so far and then I pulled it back. Way way back.
I indulged in my own depravity on some small level. This gave me the wicked sense of foreboding I still feel at times. It is much like the feeling I get when I look at the head of a porcelain doll after it has sat out in the elements for years on end. Unloved but not always unloved. Beautiful in its brokenness but not always broken. Purity in the cracked paint. The chipped porcelain. The ragged clothes. The vacant eyes that hold back so much more than anyone could ever guess. Just like a vacant Victorian mansion with busted windows and rotting wood. Muted history. Stains on the wall. Mysteriously cold rooms. A stirring down below in the basement of my body.
One day, before we moved home, I walked downtown alone. I walked past a wooden bannister that someone had carved a message in. The message read "choose life" and at the time I thought I was. I picked up the receiver of the nearest pay phone and I called a guy who was not my husband but a calamity that occurred out of nowhere. A collision. I don't know how or why. He was my nemesis. My muse. My source of unwitting adoration. The fine line between love and hatred. All right there on the other end. Speaking to me with a voice I could not interpret. Sexy. Masculine. Seductively detached. Aren't these shameful actions on my part? Aren't they?
I used my last quarter to make the call. I swallowed what was left of my fears. I had a plan. It was this: I was going to walk to his apartment and give him everything I had to give and then some more--physically speaking. I wanted it (read him) so badly I ached for it (read him). I wanted to swim in the oblivion of this--my desire. I wanted to drown in it if only for a while. I was sure I was in some sort of love. Maybe fervent heat is a better way to say it. Maybe. Maybe I was a cloud being carried by a strange wind. I do not know. But it haunts me even now that I would do something like this. It is so unlike the me you know.
Nothing happened in the end. Not that day. We did not meet. For all my efforts towards this reckless objective I somehow failed. And then I went away--home to where I wondered if I had become lesser of a person or more of a person because I dared to make a choice. I had dared to live my life.
Black snake wailing into the wind: Jody liked high places. High up... on the hills.
I walked back home feeling like I had somehow dodged a bullet of my own design. The gun that would have fired the thing that may or may not have pierced my heart for good sunk somewhere out in that deep dark ocean when I threw it as far as I could toward the water. With it went my heart. Well, a piece of it anyway. Sorrow ebbed and flowed. My cheeks flushed red with remorse.
Why did I do that? Why did I do that? Am I a fool? Am I insane? What doesn't kill a person will invariably make them stronger. A little stronger at least. Why torture myself this way? To gain strength? Emotional endurance? Perhaps.
The fact that I was married held no weight for me at the time. I felt like the marriage contract had been broken somehow anyway. I am the orphaned wild child of the planes of freedom. Don't fence me in. Don't tie me down.
Who do I think I am anyway? Brush it off. Walk it off. Take a breath. Smoke a cigarette. Get over it whatever way you can. Jeff Buckley consoled me as much as he could from his grave. I walked the longest way home... I didn't know what I was asking for.
There are times when we choose life and then there are times when life chooses us. There are times when you find yourself in a forest collecting rubies you didn't know you wanted or even needed. And the need turns to something else. A nameless thing. A drug? An addiction? Affliction? A hopeless sense of romance? A vampire's wet dream?
I am thirty three years old now. I am on the cusp of letting go of this uninhibited side of myself. But I don't want to be shackled and so? I don't know. Better to cut off the arm that causes you to sin some would say. A lobotomy is in order I guess. Not today. But maybe someday.
Nobody owns me. I am free. I am half darkness and sometimes wholly light. It has to be that way. It just does.
Thusly concludes my tale of lust and love. Thusly I convey my human nature. I don't care if you didn't like it.