The week brings the simplest and strangest of circumstances. For once I look at my surroundings, and they are as new as the day is long. Going out with friend Kelly, getting drunk in the night, dancing awkwardly, losing my feet, strappings of conversations that don’t really prove any points (oil pipeline politics and the inner conspiracy workings of the Nazis) and then a spur-of-the-moment-friend’s house, a climber. He abashed while you vent your problems with your man and I return enthusiasm, and then not realizing it’s morning, daylight streaming through, he ushers us off as he goes to bed. And then walking and wondering with you, you leading the way, walking up grey-haired Mtatsminda, holy mountain, and today it is holy.
I’d always seen the damn Ferris wheel light and Space Needle circus lights, visible from anywhere in the city, citadel to gain bearings of direction, but up top it’s beautiful, a wetland, misty morning wonder, paths leading through, a waterfall full and muddy and cold. And we slide down the mountain path, slip muddy and groping. You throw your clothes off in innocent comfort to go swimming, skin white and beautiful beneath, unassuming breasts, natural. And I awkward with little coaxing make it about as far as one shoe left on and my underwear remains, the water is fucking freezing. I get half wet in the onward gush and then in a rush of desire throw my arms around you, completely uninterested in the cold water.
You march at first in defense away from the water. But then see my goodwill, I like your man, and you love him well. But I feel my sex crying out, and my dick is warm next to you. We walk back up in the grey magic morning, see the red roofs of the city below, the churches and old buildings, picturesque is the closest approximation to describe it. The buildings shine red and religious, round tops not flat, lovely, bricks and castles, years and years of building and rebuilding, thousands of years. I’d always gauged the metaphor of time as hundreds, here it was kind of irrelevant. The glass bridge over the water, limp in the grey morning without its modern lights, looks like a big slug.
I put my arm in yours, Georgian fashion, without any ill intent, as close friends. You, I’m sure you don’t miss the metaphor. Walk down the steps on top of the world. Past the churches, Kelly playing the part of yourself, scoff comments of superiority of the opiate of the masses, and through old steps and quiet stones, calm, soothing, careening in the rain. We get in a taxi, sit close, you say “let’s go to your house and drink some vodka,” in a fuck-all attitude, good times frame of mind. At my house there’s no vodka, we’re both reeling drunk, morning streaming in.
You tell me secrets of your life, hard times, your dad killed himself in his car with monoxide, you heard it secondhand, never from your mom—good time gal—, from a friend, your man knew about it before you. Such instances of cowardice, you’d talked about your mom a lot, in mock ditsy impersonation, but obviously you loved her. Such minute instances of your life. And telling me about Alex, how he cheated on you, maybe you guys are more open about such things as sex than I allow myself to be a part of, still conserved in such matters, despite my opinions of a free spirit. I give you the comfort of a friend, I try to.
Vadi had been bare, protective, more jealous than me in such matters. I hold friendship higher, but not sure if love on a morning would move the winds one way or another. Anyway, with excuses of a more comfortable bed, you go to sleep with me in mine. And I want you, and you want me, your eyes are blue, not pale, but like the sky, golden hair over your white face. And a foot away from each other, we ache, want, need, this feeling of closeness, of the warmth of your body touching mine, we stare into each other’s eyes. Your eyes sparkle, I kiss you on the forehead with affection, “goodnight friend,” you mutter motions of self-pity, beautiful in your need, and I don’t make my move. I know that if you decide, I won’t push you away, I’ll fly in strength, in smooth touch, in my other half, and lose myself in this thing called life, wonderful in such moments, alive, free, thinking as much as a tree swaying in the breeze, warm under the sun, it’s leaves coming alive, no pondering or praying or regrets or hopes, the whole boatload of human emotion. I feel my beating heart, feel yours, I reach out.
But I am a man, decide to let it be, friendship be friendship, I don’t want it behind anyone’s back. You see tiredness instead of sparkles in my eyes. We talk a lot, drift to sleep, the sun shines golden in your hair. And the next day you puke well into the night. Drunker than I it seems, but not really. Such are the winds of the world today. We spends some days together, sleep ’til 5, I have the house alone. Eventually you go home, hug me goodbye, it’s been good. We shared a lot about life. From two different sides of the world, lives not all so different, just different situations. We learn a little from each other. Strange how the lost children conglomerate in strange places such as Georgia, from all over, for different reasons, maybe I should have loved you that morning, it would have been good. I guess it comes out to the same effect anyway.
The next day I walked, wondered the mountains close to home, the city was smaller from up here, crawled down the valleys, walked among the shepherds with their sheep, went places they could not. The sun shone bright and warm. I sat and thought for a while. A rainbow struck itself proud over the city, it stayed a long time, until I walked back down, only visible from the great heights, leprechauns ever beyond your reach, this was my city, oh Tbiliso. Reminded me of Portland, one day on top of a park, I imagined other cities down there, changes in my life, Vadi had fought with me that day, left me cold and pissed, walking in the rain, fighting over deadlines, drop zones, organization, differences between me and you. And after spending all night in an endeavor for you, not me, you had found an excuse for its limitations, it shortfalls, it powder drifts over the road.
The night before the wind had picked up again while Kelly and I were talking. It was going fucking crazy, rattling all the windows, sweeping through the valley like it does here, Kelly and I could hardly hear each other. Then in the distance, midnight, the church bells started ringing. You could hear it through the rattle and the roar. I couldn’t pick it out at first, it wasn’t a sound I was used to at that time of night. Easter had begun, the all night solace, praying red eggs, semblance of blood. Then they stopped. Without realizing it the wind had stopped too. For no particular reason, just shut off, gone by the time I realized it, lost in thought or something. Images of the supernatural had filled my head. Images of complete serenity. Not a word was said.
On the mountains, the city was like any other, houses dotted the proud peaks. Families were in the villages, spending time at the cemeteries, I was alone and content and climbing. The streams rushed brown and cold here too. When I went back down, I wondered through back yards, side paths, it wasn’t concrete here, but green hills between complexes, bullfrogs going crazy in a rainy pond, man-made contrivances gone wild again, loud and beautiful sounds, seeking love. There were man-made fences, pieces of whatever strapped together, tin, tubes, tires, concrete… to make temporary boundaries, people sheltering blossoming trees, white and unreal, gardens, bushes, grape vines long from fruit. There was also the sound of children—stark contrast to the silent serenity of the mountains—and car alarms, and old men sitting outside, drinking. playing backgammon.
Home again and hungry and food and simple sensation. Life is really good sometimes. Sometimes you don’t even have a good reason for it. Nowhere close to what I’d like to do. Not writing books, not teaching, not changing the world, just feeling the freedom of sensation, like sitting on your steps in the field, and watching your children play. Some days I can do it well.
Once as a kid I sat on top of a hill in Missouri, late summer, and the grass was tall and the ground hot, close to evening, and the grasshoppers buzzed and flew everywhere, and smells were in the air, and life was breathing. I imagined a girl sitting up there with me. It was similar.
Joey Carney was born in Springfield, MO. He currently resides in Peru where he works on a river boat, teaches, and writes.