Sometimes I like to let go and follow a blind path.
Even if that path finds me crashing a convention at a nearby hotel. Keeping my distance and drinking alone.
Even if that path offers up men who are brave enough to approach, but have no way to reach me.
Because sometimes that path leads me into a story I’ve never been told.
And sometimes it delivers me into the hands of a man who understands the path’s curves.
Like the curly-haired tattoo boy, who somehow looks to be 20 despite having lived its double.
He says simply, “I feel you,” when I am busted for taking a non-complimentary drink. And then he pays for it for me.
And just like that, I’ve found my home for the evening.
Fresh joy captured as in a butterfly net.
That space between his front teeth. The easy laughter. The open front.
Grew up in Texas. Without a father. Smoked crack. Ran away.
Fought to stay alive. No, for real. 21 matches and
Got a tattoo. Got a tattoo. Got a tattoo.
I touch the various markings leading up his arm. He has baby-soft skin.
Around us, the convention begins to empty.
“So you write?” he attempts.
I stare at him, unanswering. He grins.
“C’mon. What do you write?” he asks.
Discovered Lao Tzu, discovered Buddha, discovered God. Stopped there.
Got married. Had a child. Felt happy. Finally so.
Wife left them. Alone. Together.
Wife left them.
He runs his hands through his hair.
“That was a long time ago,” he says, looking confused. “I’m not even sure how I started talking about that.”
I tuck a loose curl behind his mangled ear.
“Excuse me,” a member of the cleaning crew interrupts. “Could you find somewhere else to finish your drinks?”
“Do you live close?” he wants to know.
“Should we go to yours?”
“Would you remember how to find it later?”
“Yes. I think so.”
“Then no, we shouldn’t.”
Instead we sit side-by-side in the back of my Jeep, my boots sticking out the window, slowly sipping our beers.
“May I just say…I appreciate your journalistic approach, but it’s becoming painfully obvious that you have yet to reveal anything about yourself.”
I look over my shoulder at him, and he prompts me with his a slow lifting of his eyebrows. Expectant.
I pull my boots in the window and sit on my knees, facing him.
“I’m going to kiss you now, okay?” I ask, touching his delicate face.
I raise up on my knees and hover just above him, hand on his shoulder.
This is the story of my childhood, my eyes meeting his say.
I wait for his feel somewhere on me.
And here is my adolescence, as I draw a line up his neck with my the back of my fingertips.
He slides his hands around my hips.
Here’s how lost I’ve always been, my mouth seeking his.
I smother him with my lips, my face, my hair.
He lifts me onto his lap, and uncovers the rest of my story.
* * *