I was not there, yet I was there. That’s not a dreadfully uncommon thing for me to feel. Sometimes I think that I live my whole life that way. Maybe it’s the other way around, though—I was there, yet I was not there. Yea, that’s probably more apt. Floating along like a young wee damselfly, a green one perhaps, drifting like that guy, Jack London I think, or Charlie Chaplin, or at least his character, it wasn’t ever him was it right?
Maybe it’s the drugs. Yea. You know, now that I think about it, they’ve been going on for about as long—the drugs and the being there/not being there, that is. It all started with that girl, what was her name, Rosita? Roseanna? No, that wasn’t it. I keep wanting to think it’s an R name because my mouth always wants to go “RRR” but maybe there was just an R in the middle of her name somewhere, maybe at the end, or maybe she just growled a lot.
Oh, how she used to growl. Just like a, a, I don’t know, whatever animal tends to growl, a parakeet perhaps? Just like a parakeet she’d start off slow and seemingly unaware of it. And then, also just like a parakeet, she’d continue slowly only now very deliberate. The deliberateness stayed throughout, the only thing that was ever really constant about her. Deliberate and, and, oh, I know there was something else, I just know it, why can’t I think of it?
Anyway, so after the slow/deliberate stage came the quicker/louder/deliberate-r stage. Oh, that was a good one. Worked her way right up, she did. She didn’t fuck around. She went right to work after that. Bearing her teeth and her soul with one mighty call and then it was gone as quickly as it had come—quicker, in fact, now that I think about it, because it didn’t come on very quickly now did it? Sometimes cliches are so bloody useless. What’s that all about?
Woah, digression. Where was I? Oh, yes, Rory. Was that it? Oh, there are an awful lot of R sounds there. Much more than any other four-letter word out there, I bet. Or maybe Leonor. Lauren. Did it have an L? Oh wait… no.
Ok, so, Heather was the one that started the whole mess. She just had to be there that night looking all cute in her majorette outfit, drawn to me immediately, naturally, because of the baton I had in my hand. Actually, it wasn’t a baton at all—she just thought it was—it was the spin stick of a set of devil sticks that just happened to match the stripes on her skirt and on her socks. I didn’t have the control sticks at the time—they were in the repairshop that week. I think those bastards spent more time with my repairfolk than they ever did with me. I had a bad habit of—when I lost control of my spin stick and it fell to the ground—of aggressively slapping down my control stick—usually my right-handed one—to snap up the spin stick back into action. It was an effective tool for street-performing but not so much for the control sticks, which would crack and splinter and eventually bust in two—usually in mid-toss, and I’d try my hardest not to let the spin stick fly out as passersby. Usually it’d just fall to the ground.
So anyway I’m at this bar when Rachael comes up to me. She sat next to me, on the other side of my friend Chapman, with whom I was having the most illuminating conversation about the rise of criticism for the modern state system after World War II. Jennifer was sitting so quietly that I didn’t even notice her until well into a heated debate about whether or not neofunctionalism could actually work in the context of the European Union, so I couldn’t tell you how long she was sitting there, clearly waiting for me to notice her.
And when I suddenly did notice this riveting presence beside me, I turned and there she was. Leonor, in all her majorette beauty. I didn’t realize it then, but in turning away from my companion and toward Krista, I was metaphorically and later actually giving up my old life and starting a new one. A new life that somehow involved majorettes.
My old life—well, now, that was harder to say. There had been, as far as I could tell, no majorettes in my life up until that point. No. Instead, there were impassioned discussions about Winston Churchill and “cradle-to-grave” coverage and even the quickly squashed yet always intriguing and enigmatic world federalism. There was Guinness on tap at this, my local Irish pub. There were companions. Like Chapman.
Oh, my dearest Chapman. If only I could see your smiling dark-caramel-colored face. Those eyes that lit up at the mere mention of the EEC. Those eyes—the whites of your eyes were—so white. I can remember now all the glorious times we had. Hobnobbing at O’Hanlon’s, flirting with bartenders, bantering the prospect of the UN becoming the world government and having a United States of the Planet, eating at our favorite Indian restaurant, never too many samosas and way too many laughs. Oh—wait—it was the other way around. Right. Ok.
Walking around the dark lit streets at night philosophizing about the way life was and the way it could be, or just enjoying a comfortable silence on our favorite bench in Tompkins Square Park, fending off squirrels and laughing at the tempting tourists they’d attack with their sharp wee teeth or a thwack of their bushy tail. Sitting in coffeeshops and bookstores, imagining the glory of far-off places, places we’d seen only in a book or in a film or from an airplane. The beauty of the aforementioned devil sticks as they spun graciously and gracefully beneath my control, and the even greater beauty of the clink of a coin as it met the lining of my cap, of which I’d occasionally catch a glimmer out of my peripheral visions if the sun hit it right.
Ah, yes. The old life. How quickly that all fell away once I saw the hem of Kristin’s skirt. How quickly one forgets the simple pleasures of a complex life when one is faced with the complex pleasures of a simple life. This can be a challenging decision for one to make, I’m told. But for me—there was no challenge. There was no long drawn-out decision-making process. There was not even a short one. I took one look at what she held in those rugged yet somehow supple fingers of hers and my life was simply in her hands. In more ways than even she or I could have known on that fateful day. The day I met Lara.