"You, darkness, that I come from. I love you more than all the fires that fence in the world, for the fire makes a circle of light for everyone and then no one outside learns of you. But the darkness pulls in everything- shapes and fires, animals and myself, how easily it gathers them! - powers and people- and it is possible a great presence is moving near me. I have faith in nights" -Rainer Maria Rilke
Lovely meditation here.
Cherry comes over about 11:30, and we walk down King Street, have huevos rancheros at Rarebit, then write all afternoon at Blacktap. She's got poreless, almost ceramic looking pale skin, and a white-blonde tuft of short hair, which she wears in a stylish poof, like a cockatoo, adding about three inches to her height. Loud, adorable: we met her while she was working as a guard at a gallery opening a few months back. She instantly become one of my dearest friends. We're tapping away, and after a while CJ comes over, too- flushed from her bicycle ride, her long, coppery hair all a-tangle in her russet scarf, and the two of them chatter about love & Charleston, while I press on...
Then we're wandering downtown, aimless and hungry. Browsing antique stores, a gallery: we talk about paintings, painters, drug abuse, Philip Seymour Hoffman, drinking, the best drinks on deals- and so we end up at Husk on the bar side. Exposed rafters and crumbly bricks. Plushy rich-fellow chairs. The most artfully crafted whiskey drinks I've had since the Manhattan Christian made for me at his birthday party- and the three of us get louder & louder, more and more flamboyant: the wealthy patrons are pleasantly scandalized by our talk: unsavory escapades and redemptions, geishas, Lamborghinis. Drink drink drink. Then cheeseburgers.
Then we're off to meet the boys: my Andrew & a lovely German engineer, Denis, who's heading back home to his village near the Rhine at the end of the month... and Zhenya, who is at Rarebit... aha, and the night comes full circle, I'm talking with Denis about fishing in Spain, in Germany; arguing with Zhenya's Aikido instructor, Trey, about what we agree to call 'the hugeness.'
I say that it is impossible to know anything with certainty until after death, at which point perhaps there is nothing to know- but his view is more faith based, metaphysics based, and so we go round and round...and the bar is loud and of course we have been drinking for hours. End with hugs, confusion on the sidewalk; we're separated from Zhenya as we look for the hot dog stand. Denis gets a late night love call, and Andrew & I are suddenly alone; the crowds have gone, we're walking home in the warm night, holding gleeful hands.
A few blocks later he recognizes some friends with a sausage stand- and they feed us exquisite things: a bratwurst made with cream & white pepper- sweet & tangy, toothsomely resistant sauerkraut. All house made. 'Tomorrow, tomorrow,' we say; 'come over, we can watch the Olympics...'
Brunch at CJ's with Cherry, Andrew & I; then a long walk through Magnolia. Alligators & camellias. That night, an impromptu dinner with friends- with everyone from Saturday, including the sausage makers... so this is 30!
What would you think, someone said, as we drove home from Magnolia, if you’d known at 18 where you’d be, today?
To know I’d be with my Andrew in Charleston. Andrew!
He wasn’t even a speck in my eye when I was 18. I remember meeting him when I was 19. The way he looked at me, then. I was with someone else, my high school sweetheart- if you’d told me then everything that would come- ah, wow-
Sometimes I write out a timeline for myself, to keep it all straight. How can so much happen so quickly?
I texted Andrew. “Can you imagine if, when you were 18, you found out you’d end up in Charleston with me?”
Because while we knew of one another in our home town- he just was one of my brother’s innumerable friends. Handsome, but jesus, so young! Two years then was an an eternity of difference.
-I, the shy, bookish redhead- and he, the devilish madman-
“Yes, duh!” he says.
I am the luckiest girl I know.
Of course my future now is as equally unimaginable to me now, as my present was to the girl-that-i-was...
And this makes me happy, and this makes me sad.
Is it possible to have many simultaneous truths?
The girl-that-i-was- I think she’d like me ok. I've recognized my past self before- in another girl, a parallel girl, who was much younger than me. She was 11, and I was-oh, I suppose I was 19. I was in college, I was her nanny. We looked for bird eggs because she wanted a pet raven, we told stories that never ended, we drew and giggled and rarely wore shoes-
She’s a raving beauty now, a yogi queen. Oh, Katherine! Kitty Kat! I think of you often still!
(the quiet ones, we do love so deeply)
Yes, I think the child-I-was would like me-now. I hope to live so that the ‘I” am will like me still, years from now, wherever I am going.
And Girl-I-was- would she like my friends now, if all of us were children?
Yes- and I think we would have seceded from this civilization, to form another all our own- perhaps its just as well we were kept apart then.
Or is it?
Someday, oh someday. I want to have lots of land, and to make on it a village of arts, of philosophy, of freedom and intention.
Pauline West's first novel, EVENING’S LAND, is a Library Journal Self-e Selection, winner of the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation Award and recipient of the Carol Marie Smith Memorial Scholarship for the NOEPE Center of Literary Arts.
Pauline West's books on Goodreads
Candlemoth: A Holy City Romance
ratings: 27 (avg rating 4.04)
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Candlemoth Volume 2: How To Spend It
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.40)
Candlemoth Book 3: A Twist of Fate
ratings: 6 (avg rating 4.17)
Stalker: A Gothic Thriller
ratings: 4 (avg rating 4.25)