I haven’t posted in awhile as I haven’t been traveling much lately, but I felt the need to keep up. I had this dream last night about an old girlfriend. It was odd, and being a dream, it doesn’t totally make sense (why was she at prom?) but in trying to keep up with writing, I thought I’d make a story out of it as close to the dream as I could. Enjoy!
Across the river, in a gravel parking lot, the limousines pulled up. I stood watching from another gravel parking lot on opposite of them as the doors open and smiling couple after smiling couple exited. The boys in their black tuxes with white shirts and shined shoes, the girls in their dresses with hair done up and corsages pinned to the shoulder straps of their gowns all glowing for the night that every highschooler waits for: the prom.
Her date was a boy about her height, with short red hair, glasses, and neatly kempt beard and mustache. Between their gravel parking lot and my gravel parking lot, between us, the river flowed on, not raging, not sleeping, but working along, agitated, frustrated in an irritated movement, holding back, bottling up, and just trying to continue on.
I felt under dressed for the occasion, though I wasn’t a part of it, in my black shirt and shoes, jeans and a green zip up hoodie. I felt like I needed to be dressed better, looking more done up, or dressed down to make a separation between myself and her date. I had my workbooks in my trunk and my old red flannel shirt, the one I can’t part with and opted to change. I walked back to the car and kicked off my nice shoes and tied up my dirty, oil and grease stained Wolverines, but kept the green hoodie on. Dickies and Wolverines with Levi jeans. I looked like a construction worker.
The prom kids made their way across the bridge, over the rolling river and the thick green shrubs and trees that make their homes on the steep banks. It was an old railroad bridge that has been converted into a walking trail and bike path, but it was left as much as possible as its former self still with railroad ties and rusted beams and girders. I wanted to meet her at the right moment, so I started across the parking lot, kicking up dust and gravel, running past the concrete support for the bridge and underneath its oil soaked wooden ties. I made it to the other side and ran up the stairs, but just missed her. The prom procession moved on and off to a great dance hall where they could hold each other, laugh, kiss, stand as wallflowers, or dance the night away as friends.
The town had romance in the air and was playing into it for the teenagers.
“Comfort me”/said she,/ “with your conversation. / With the cocktails /and the candlelight in your eyes”* filled the night, echoing from some distant speakers, slow and lovingly for the couples walking hand in hand in their nice clothes, sparkling gowns, and expensive jewelry. I watched them as I made my way to the peak of the bridge. Not the walking path part, but the observation point at the top that one can climb a set of stairs to reach. There I could get a full view, above the tree tops, church steeples, and historic homes, and overlook the town, the postcard perfect image that it is.
I stayed up there for awhile and listened to the music that kept playing from out of nowhere.
Well the last time I remember the train stopping at the depot/ was when me and my aunt Veta/ came a-ridin’ back from Waco*
The sunlight faded and electric lights came on, the streets and walking path lit brilliantly like the small town of my childhood at Christmas. As the night crawled along, I stayed where I was until the dance was over and until the dance hall opened its massive doors and the kids made their way out, heading to the backseat of cars, to parties, or to home to sleep alone. I spotted her walking by herself, her date not anywhere in sight and now changed out of her gown. She was wearing jeans, a plain tank top and a light green jacket, but with her hair still done up and her makeup on and her earrings dancing as she moved.
Counting the days/ the sun shone golden on her head/ lyin’ on the banks of a bayou’s edge/ kickin’ up some southeast Texas sand*
I waited for her to get closer to the bridge before I ran down the stairs so I could meet her there, so she’d see me. So she’d know I was still around.
I hurried down and stopped at the bottom step, still divided by the steel frame of the bridge, it’s beams crisscrossing between us and she stopped and looked up from the ground, and looked at me, eye level and with blank expression, turned and walked away, against the flow of the crowd, and on back toward the dance hall.
I ran around the beams and after her, but lost her in the masses of prom goers, adults, and strangers.
I’m her lover/, not a man bent on revenge/ hanging out here on the fringe/ of my native border land*
(*indicates lines from “The Ballad of the Snow Leopard and the Tanqueray Cowboy” by David Rodriguez and “Texas Trilogy: Train Ride” by Steven Fromholz. Both songs were playing during the dream and both versions are from Lyle Lovett’s Step Inside This House album. The photo used was one I took on Bourbon St in New Orleans this summer. It was just blurry enough to be ambiguous.)