Wednesday, November 12, 2008

i decided to clean out my desk

i'm rifling through years and years of hoarded papers.
receipts, articles, zines, poetry, drawings, flyers
and letters.
stacks of know, hand written, sent in the mail...from before the internet came along.
in these letters i found her, again.
its been a while.

now, i've known plenty of heroin addicts. i've lost some. some made it back. why i didn't end up hooked myself i'll never know.
i've also known plenty of sex workers...some had to do it...some chose to do it. some of us lived in the grey space between had to and chose to.

and i've had a couple of lower class lovers.
but her and i had something special between us.
that potent combination of "trash, whore and revolution" she would say.
we were poets. we were survivors. we did whatever it took. we had an understanding.there was no judgement, no suspicion, no need to pass. it was ok to be exactly who we were....damaged, vulnerable, gorgeous and dangerous.
but she had it worse than me. honestly. and she held me to it, she wouldn't let me forget or fuck up.

having run in predominately white middle class downwardly mobile circles in my young-adult life, i got used to being the only poor person. like the real, live, -right now- poor person. not the -oh listen to my tale of childhood hardship before i went to college- person.or one of the many that adopted some sort of rough around the edges persona after college in order to embrace their idea of anarchism.
but she was a glaring exception. an abusive junkie dad,on her own turning tricks since she was 13...the constant struggle to stay clean and alive.

Although we ended up in san francisco, we met while living together in a crowded, chaotic house of queers in north portland. at the time i was a full time thief.seriously. i would get up in the morning, take the bus to the trendy shopping district and lift anything that had either resale value or was just useful in my life. i'd head home on the bus with my bag heavy with loot. she had come from the bay area and was always looking for work... whatever she could find in a town without much of a sex industry.

honestly, she scared me a bit. i felt that familiar cold draft of nothing swirling around her and it scared me. in the end this would be my fault line.

it took some work to dislodge myself from my back up against the wall stance i'd grown accustomed to.i was pretty good at pointing the finger at classism. not so familar with checking my own shit.
she helped me sharpen my class awareness to a cutting edge.

she had a theory that the middle class didn't know intimacy like we wasn't possible. that the pretense of economic privilege and comfort prevented it. so it was ours to covet. our secret weapon.
i believed her...i believe it now. i search for it still. the wordless knowing. no judgement . no need to pass.

in the end i fucked up. i hurt her. my fault line cracked wide open and i made choices to essentially utilize my ticket to ride, save my own ass and leave her behind. i was lured away by the warmth of proximity to the middle class. anything to escape the cold draft.and even then, she understood, heartbroken but forgiving...who wouldn't escape if they could?

so here i am today, at my desk which is covered with her letters. love letters, calling me on my shit letters, letters of desperation, fear and hope. i close my eyes and i can see her. her thin fidgety fingers. her bright red lipstick and greenest eyes.

cold draft swirls around me still. always will. as its mine.


jacket said...

do you think of this as a ghost story?

erin ambrose said...

its funny you say that because i kind of do...but i resist because it sort of makes the assumption that she's dead...which i don't want to believe. but yes, it feels like a ghost story.

sighing said...

Who were you then?
Who are you now?
You did what you had to do.
I played the game of what if and if only till I almost lost it. Not a good game.
You did what you had to do.