Swimming

A spatula, sisters, and Phuong Nam

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CHEAP EATS The ice that I am on is thin. It's so thin it might not even be ice. I could be Jesus, skating on pure belief, or a dream. Certainly, things are surreal here.

On my gloves and knees, I press my lips to the thin line between world and world and kiss fish. I can only imagine what they, and the Germans, are thinking. Even the ducks have stopped speaking to me. I suppose I could take that as a compliment. They no longer see me as news?

Yesterday went I out the snow into, because it seemed beautiful, and the Thing To Do while one's love of one's life is with their ex, talking it over. Right? You walk in the snow, in the failing light, and feel real sorry for yourself. Who wouldn't? And you cry and curse in as many languages as possible, under your breath. Or just a little bit over it.

In a dark, cold, hard, way, and especially in the snow, this town is almost beautiful.

*

It's been decided, as if I didn't already know. I never had a chance. Ah, thus the headaches of summer, and the anxiety of fall, whereas now I feel smashed flat but finally sane. I'm so proud of my body! It's like it knew what my big dumb brain and nutty, naïve heart could not: That I would never have a chance.

I am an unfolded newspaper. I am a sticker off of a piece of fruit, the pool of blood, a rug, the grooves that our love-making made in the bedroom hardwood. I can form thoughts and poetry, sure, but can't pull my pancaked self up, without help, from this griddle or pond.

On the plus side, my brother mailed me a spatula! He did. It's true.

*

Help me here: the person who breaks up with the person just one month after bringing the person to the cold dark hard place where she doesn't know a soul, or speak the language ... that person, the breaker-upper, goes, right? Has to go.

Nein!

"What, are you kicking me out?" the psychologist said, in shock and disbelief.

Um ... "Can't you go stay with your ex?" I said. She didn't want to. "Well then," I said. "Can I?"

To her credit, and mine, she laughed. But she said that I couldn't.

*

One of Romea's lesbian friends, who has been with men too, says that being in a relationship with a man is like swimming in a swimming pool, whereas being with a woman is like swimming in the sea.

I usually prefer to save my reductionism for sauces and such, but this has been slow-simmering for some time, so let's call it sauce.

I'm thinking: kids, water wings, beach balls, and, if you're lucky, a slide vs. sharks, sleeper waves, undertow, endlessness ... I can see arguments for both sides.

Being with a trans woman, though, ain't like swimming anywhere; it's like walking on water. You. Just. Have. To. Believe. And Romea, ultimately, sadly, tragically, for me, didn't.

But wait, but isn't it supposed to be hard to be sad while playing a ukulele? Or is that just an expression I just made up that isn't even true? It reminds me of the last place we ate there, a very mirrory Vietnamese joint in downtown Oakland with a collection of miniature stringed instruments all along one wall. The food was not at all memorable, but the mirrors ... I remember thinking I would probably never again be able to see my love from so many different angles while sitting so still and eating noodles.

Why didn't I see this one? The goer-backer-to-the-exer side, oy.

I did manage to get my money back for the German course I won't need to finish, and am off to the train station. I will write you next week from France, where I have sisters. And that is exactly what I need right now. A spatula, and sisters.

PHUONG NAM

Mon.–Sat.: 11 a.m.–9 p.m.

1615 Clay, Oakl.

(510) 663-9811

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