Falling upstairs

I like campfires.

Heat on the front, cold against my back, light and crackling, bright and flickering against the night. I hear the soft muttering of friends, conversation, laughs. Maybe I’m a part of it, or maybe I’ve seeked this quiet, the solace of thought in the middle of dueling sensations.

This is a perfect moment in a lot of ways- apart from days and lives, sharing this together. Maybe there’s marshmallows and guitars and blankets and lawn chairs, or maybe we’re just there, sitting on branches, hands extended as someone who knows pushes a log into it, bringing new heat, sending small sparks into the air as it crackles more intently. It’s a kind of intimacy, even here in the open field.

I wish you were here.

I’m sitting on the couch, hands folded in my lap. She’s here, but I’m unable to look over, unable to meet her eyes. There’s a bitter irony in this, one that I couldn’t see then.

The silence hangs heavy- is it on my back? Is that why I’m hunched over, staring forward or down, unable to break it with words?

She gets up, as if needing to add a physical distance to the emotional one that already hangs over us, and I hear her words and steps as if in a daze, even though they are right here. In the moment, the separation feels like my own fault, but like the silence, it is something we shared.

I wish you weren’t here.

I sit in my room, smiling softly, hands resting just short of the keyboard, a familiar place for them. It’s weird to me that this is fulfilling, when I think about it abstractly- connections made over distance and time, text and voice sometimes even more poignant than those I’ve made face to face. In that abstraction, I wonder if it is a shield for me, but I try not to dwell on it. I appreciate it for what it is.

Even in that fulfillment, there is sadness- sadness in NOT having the immediacy of contact. Laughing over a joke, eyes meeting across the room, being with someone, handshakes or high fives or hugs affirming a connection in a way that no amount of written prose and sharing can.

I wish you were here.

I wrap my hands, slowly but surely, the snugness and repetition bringing a security of some sort. I may not even need the tape, but I want it. Much like having the punching bag itself, it’s not something I explain.

I’m frustrated, seething, angry as I put my earphones in that night. The door to the room is closed, and I let the music and solitude take me away. I don’t need to be patient or calm or collected or funny as I stretch. Not here, alone, with no one to preen for, no one to impress.

I let it go, for a time, unloading it all against my shadow, and then against the bag, as if it were the point of my frustration. I feel the burn of muscles as I keep punching, the tension that stays even as I keep going. I see the stresses, the frustrations, played out behind my eyes again, unburdened here by my overactive mind.

I wish you weren’t here.

Why am I responsible? How did I get all this? I didn’t earn it.

I laugh without mirth as I sit down and close the phone, pondering what this man said, wondering if and how I could actually do what he said. I have business cards now, sitting on the shelf near my computer. Maybe that’s why. Did I fool them all, somehow?

I think further, and admire my parents even more than I do. The worries, the insecurities, the struggles- maybe they don’t go away. Maybe they do just get bigger. I told someone that, once. Was that insightful, or was I digging for some comfort in the moment? Maybe they need to say it back to me.

I wish you were here.

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2 thoughts on “Falling upstairs

  1. Mark Vorenkamp

    I love it Dave. It made me sad in that way that only good writing can.
    Part of me wants to associate myself to you, one writer to another, while part of me wishes there were moments I was that good. But maybe that’s all writers.
    Brava

  2. DaveC Post author

    Thanks, Mark, really appreciate your thoughts. Got a few different responses on it, which is usually a sign I’ve done some good writing.

    I think the best writing is stuff we can associate and relate to, because it strikes that chord in us. If I hit that in one person (well, one who’s not me), I’ve done well.

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