Spanish Harlem

I never told you what it was like—there in Spanish Harlem early summer sweat hot rain. Sitting around the table with the strangers that are your friends, the drops falling from the outdoor umbrella drenching my back. The sculptor, Italian and a bit too obvious in his script, leaving little room for me to improvise and play because he’d prewritten each response for me. And the one moment of surprise when he drunkenly pointed through the trees and said “firefly” and I looked over and the sky had fallen, thousands of stars lay bare in the endless backyard tree that must have been planted some 45 years ago. The stars coming towards me-with wings. Firefly. Mark Twain said the difference between genuine connection and mere rote care is the difference between lighting and a lightning bug, which I tell him but he doesn’t hear me. He’s looking over my shoulder at wine or the pipe or another woman and then down to my thigh where he whispers, “I like women”, to which I reply “yes, I know”.

It was your admission that lured me in. This notion that there might be a soul…. mate. That was the flame.

You’re next to me and as you point out I am watching and emulating how they do this, the world of casual interaction. A world foreign to me. I feel like a prince and these people are the dragons I must slay, with conversation and wit and attention, in order to have your hand. It's the social thing to do, the cordial thing, so we switch chairs and are separated. I am like a cat bewildered, eyes locked, watching and wondering. My head moves back and forth to the ping pong positions that are happening as people move about. I wonder if I will be placed next to the woman who clearly has her ownership tag on you, the one who snarl smiled at me and whispered in womanese, “don’t even try it, there is no way that you are going to win with me”. And, like I said, I was disoriented, confused and I was just moving the chair so that someone or another who was staggering over towards me to sit could sit down with some with ease. But then the chair behind it fell and I leaned towards it to pick it up like I always do and you said, quietly, beneath the surface of the evening, “I got it”. Of course, I continued because no one ever really means that and it’s simply more efficient to continue and stop with the posturing. But then, again your hand is on my wrist and you’re whispering “no really, I got it” and i feel something emerging from me, perhaps the way a wildflower would feel as the pistol pushes forth in the spring, soft and dewy. The woman of me came out.

Because there was a man there to meet her.

And, as if entirely naked, skin having never before touched air, I sat trembling, so that anyone would have assumed I was in the arctic rather than tropical rain New York. You turned your head, but you turned it in my direction in a way that penetrated the shiver – i felt the warm gust of you. The way an EMT can speak through the terror and confusion and broken glass straight to the last remnant of soul capable of responding. You are in there with me.

We are walking through Harlem and it’s late. 2am? 3am? The strangest time and place for romance. Of course, I’m in heels and the black dress which you asked me if I wore for you, which of course I did, but could skirt around by saying I wore it to my teaching gig, which was also true. But come now. I am this white girl walking through Harlem and you’re there next to me, inky black and dredlocked. This is your home turf and there in the middle of it are men with Colt 45 bottles and guys wearing parkas in summer, throwing dice. We pass an alley garden and slow to the speed of high school walking. YOu know that pace set because at some point you want to kiss and you aren’t sure if the other person does and you are milking each step, never before so conscious of each step. You’re saying something about unconventional, out of the box and how you want to do what you want to do. And I can sense okay, yep, here it is. Here is the “baby I don’t wanna be tied down, I don’t wanna answer to anybody” line. It strikes me that sex is where women play hard to get and love is where men do and both are dying. And its funny that (let’s be honest) despite the face that I don’t live in a convent and all my chips are not on this number, it still pinches. Like when the Persian men at the market say, “oh that, that is 20 dollars, but for you it is 10” and it’s like come on give me something new to work with. That whole schtick is so tired.

Or maybe I really do just want to be the one who you don’t say that to. Maybe I want you to look at me and go to pick up that same old protective armor that you wear everyday, take a second look in my direction and just drop it.

Until we are in my room. And it is exactly as expected – as much as beauty can be expected or predicted or premeditated. Dumbstruck is the word. I am struck dumb by this beauty that pours from you – a beauty that makes my eyes shy. Full bodied in its expression, from the visual to the auditory. As I press down on your chest, your legs hanging over the bed, there are things so benign that stir me, like the plaid of your boxers, just an inch peeking over your jeans, or the sound of your voice untouched by cynicism, a purity in the way that you affirm that you have been touched. No reached – deeply.

Until we are kissing and it’s like that perfect rhythm, that percussion of pistons all firing and firing with precision. Untold perfection in the meeting. The smack, the contact at the exact moment it wants to happen. Neither balking or racing. And like the old miniature golf games when you get it in at just the perfect moment and a secret doorway opens. A secret doorway opens and we slip through. Or maybe slip out – out of the bodies we’ve inhabited that have been such a royal pain in the ass. But also kind of sexy. Like it feels good to slip out of them and to finally get to grope you as directly and as much as I want to. Not glimpsing you out on a street or hearing your voice pass through my mind but to be there with you and have you. And to have you take and touch my pussy which is our gateway into the next place. Deeper yet deeper.

And I’ll be honest here and say that it is not unlike with the chair – where i was ready to do it alone. I don’t expect to see you at the next descent. And then there we are and a mouth is locked onto my pussy. The rest of my body feeling like a ribbon or a flag in the wind. And there you are. Yes, there you are. Again. That same way of “don’t worry, I got ya”. I feel silly for having doubted. But it’s the best feeling silly I’ve ever felt.

And now it is days later and I know this will be our last time for a long time, because I am leaving Harlem and moving on with the tour. And I know how this goes. Time becomes dust over an experience like this. Time with the other men who will come through my room. Time with the women who will watch you from across the table and tremble as you give them that "good guy kiss", you know the one, the -I -just- love -women- and- don’t- necessarily -ask -anything -of them- because- I can -afford -it -kiss that you give them and that we both know melts them. And those women will likely cross some threshold and my footprints will get covered up. And there’ll be a text, likely clever, here and there. And my guess is that for both of us, like it or not, this one will require a bit more than the usual to package up and put on the shelf because both of us sensed something. More enduring perhaps.

This is all running through my head and my body is tight like a bud. I am lying without panties and my pussy is on your leg and yet there is nothing. Dead air, because it has all been sucked up into the cabin of my mind which is fretting and preparing to not… love you. And I don’t know. How did it happen? I’m still not sure.

But your mouth is on my mouth, my lips perfectly placed between yours and the molecules feel thick and fat. I hear that slight smack that sounds like waves against a pier. And that beating, the smack of our kisses, hypnotizes, until something that has been sealed opens and I am sucked through and my pussy begins to convulse on your leg. And the force that moves through shudders me down, until my bones are knocking against each other like teeth chattering. You continue to kiss me and reach around and hold my hand. And you hold my hand the way someone does at a bed side or a bat mitzvah – tightly, as if recognizing that there is a crossing over occurring. And love that had been stored and preserved begins to flood out like a shaken coke bottle. And my pussy beats against your leg like birds’ wings, trying not this time to get out, but to get in. Your hand reaches around the small of my back and pulls me in. You whisper “I want so bad to be inside of you with you coming like this” and I think “oh my god he knows”. My eye catches yours and that same feeling – like with your hand on my wrist and the “I gotcha”.

There is a man there to meet me.

In the morning, you’ve kissed me on the cheek good bye, you are gone and I am getting a good last Harlem walk in, stopping for coffee at the shop where they make a heart shape in the milk foam. I step out the door and hear the crack of lightning.

No lightning bug I think. That was lightning.