Friday, April 13, 2007

Sand on My Tongue

"These fragments I have shored against my ruins." ~T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

It happened again last night.

No matter how many times I hit "repeat" — no matter how many times I began the same song, over and over — I could scarcely hear a word of it before my mind was a million miles from my feet.

And then, later, lifting, I retired my music to my gym bag and still found myself wandering from machine to machine with my wits everywhere but about me.

I was zoning out on people:

The petite girl with a long ponytail and a body she's worked hard for, flirting with her personal trainer (he was blushing, avoiding eye contact as if to acknowledge the contrast between appropriateness and desire).

The thin man standing guard over a machine as a female friend lifted the bar to her chest, and then up again. He held his hands just inches from it — never touching it, never touching her — but I could tell (in the way that our eyes so often betray us) that he wanted to. That he wanted to rest his arms on her shoulders until she turned to him and smiled.

And so it goes, like Tantalus in his pond.

But there were the Eleanor Rigbys, too. The people who not only work out alone... but also appear quite lonely.

Like the obese man out of breath by his tenth calorie (I see the desperation on his face — feel it — as he turns down the speed and wipes the sweat from his brow). Or the female in her late 30s or early 40s who lifted a braided band over and around her shoulders, carrying more weight than I'd ever dare to attempt.

There was a resigned anger on her face — no, sadness — as she pulled the band, again and again, her baggy shirt and shorts just as telling as her clinched jaw and distant stare.

I imagine circumstances for all of these people. The abusive husbands, the unfaithful spouse. The sneers of co-workers or the children caught in-between.

I wanted to tell these people — all of them — that everything will be all right.

But I know better.

And then there was this girl I caught mid-way to the locker room, staring empty through semi-translucent glass. Long gray sweat pants that are anything but stylish; sweat trapped in a shirt that read, quite simply, "EXIST." Her gaze defeated: searching for everything and finding nothing.

Tell me that's not me. She thinks. Tell me I'm not one of them.

But she knows better.

And so she walks, left and then right. Left and then right. No cause but to return home, shower, and hope that — by the time the opportunity presents itself — she might still retain fragments of a thought. Enough fragments, she hopes — after the traffic lights, after the honked horns, after the cat's meow and the shaved legs and the oatmeal dinner — that there will be enough.

Still enough.

To say.


Woodrow said...

Oatmeal: It's not just for breakfast anymore.

Anonymous said...

I just finished Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland. It was an interesting read and made me think about how loneliness affects people and how people deal with it. The one question that kept seeming to come up is "Which is worse, to be in a bad relationship or to be alone?"

The bad part? It isn't one choice. It is a continuous choice. "How much longer can I stand this lousy relationship?" "How many more Friday nights of DVDs alone can I handle?"

The thought that went through my mind last night was "No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, it will never be enough." Days like that, I wonder if She is really out there. And if She is, why the hell would She want to spend time with me?

People watching at the gym is always interesting because people are rarely their for themselves. They are usually trying to look better/maintain their looks for someone they want/they don't want to lose. The exceptions are the narcissists who love how they look in the mirror. (Being one of the former type, I really hate the latter.) I could be overly cycnical and there are actually people there who are there for health.

Man I am brining me down.


thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Woodrow: When I "cook" for myself, I eat breakfast foods — even for lunch and dinner — about 70% of the time.

Weird, I know. I also have a lifelong love affair with cereal.

Oh and. Blueberry pancakes.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

BPP - I was bringing myself down with this post.


I think everyone is lonely in some way. Regardless of their relationship status.

Winter said...

Thirdworst: I honestly am so glad you are not a man, because I think I would have fallen in love with you because of this post.

I agree completely, everyone has to be lonely.

I don't want to think I'm that sad. said...

...the Eleanor Rigbys...

I love that.

Anonymous said...

I know it is cliche but there is only one thing worse than feeling alone in a room full of people and that is feeling alone when it is just you and the person you love. Yes, everyone is lonely in some way.

disgruntled world citizen said...

and so it goes. exist.

Stacy said...

You're not one of them, you're not one of them. . .

Anonymous said...

making lives out of pictures of lives...


thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Winter - Oddly enough, readers who don't know me generally think I'm a boy.

That disturbs me. I'm not entirely sure why, except that I suppose it means my writing defies my identity.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Stephanie: I love that song. Plus, I'm a fan of turning proper names into groups (a la Benedict Arnolds). Verbs into adjectives.


thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

DWC - We should all strive for something more, I think. For example: if often occurs to me that I should add the words "Prove You" to the back of that shirt.

Stacy - No matter how many times I tell myself that, there's no denying the truth.

DS - The gym is my own personal story time.

Winter said...

Thridworst: I think you do write more of like a man.

No that there is anything wrong with that.