New years eve, 10 minutes before 12 I screamed coyote in a quiet house between shots of bourbon–I grabbed someone and danced, cantando se me acabo la fuerza de mi mano izquierda/voy a dejarte el mundo para ti solita/como al caballo blanco le solte la rienda/a ti también te suelto y te me vas ahorita.
2013, the hand that I held you with is tired and trying to let you go: the world is yours, horsey; the world is yours and you are reinless; the world is yours, so leave me alone.
Last year pulled me in for a kiss that tasted like old vodka six months after my father had passed, chinning my shoulder to whisper: “I’m here. I’ll take care of you. It will all be okay.” That year I did not drink. That year I was a graduate in a room full of Gilbert High School seniors sitting at a grand piano and afraid to go home because home does not speak the language of celebration any more: when we decorate a tree, it is withering under my father gazing from family pictures. But in this room, people are tipsy from kisses and spiked cider–they are dancing with each other to the sad music I play on the piano playing against Lil John’s Get out of Your Mind.
A friend walks over to me and puts his hand on my head.
“Come on, join us. It’s a New Year.”
He leaves when some lipstick and a party dress winks at him, and I only get up to set off fire-works on the front lawn.
In 2013, my roomie knocked on my door for the third time in 10 minutes, knowing I said we’d finish soon. 2013 looked up from my bed and said I should move off campus because it’d be better for our relationship–“in fact,” it said, “Move in with me.” But instead it moved in next door, as years tend to do, and I found respite from my sexless roomie on its couch–bi-nightly dinners, the best meal we cooked was fancy macaroni: truffles, asiago, colby jack, and something italian under burnt onions. We ate it from matching bowls drinking Country Time Lemonade from wine glasses. We pretended this was the life, and tired of it as months went by.
“I still love you,” 2013 said.
On the cusp of summer I said we were over, full knowing there were 7 months left until the new year. But, alas, I pretended this was the life and rejoined my friends in Arizona, invited them into my home, and celebrated as I hadn’t in a year–there were no trees to decorate, no holiday beyond labor day, 4th of July, or my birthday; I kissed my mother and sister’s cheek a hundred times; I danced on the edge of Huntington Beach without clothes; I put my tongue on a woman’s chest and tasted her heartbeat while Barry White played in the background and 2013 peered knowingly from my bedroom window.
Me and my mother sat by a fireplace roasting marshmallows while my sister’s friends ran circles in the living room–it was a warm sunset in and out of the house; we breathed each other’s air as if we hadn’t before, relishing, both mother and sun, in how gentle the day had been and how nice it was to hear laughter.
“Tienes que tener cuidado, mijo.”
“Ya sabes con que. Con tu corazoncito y el de otros–a veces son uno mismo.”
“Y a veces parecen serlo, mami, y más veces aun no lo son.”
“Por eso,” she breathed, smiling softly, “Ten cuidado.”
I squeezed her hand and kissed her cheek–the skin was thick and thin. She is getting older. We got up and played with the kids until they fainted on the couches, and then we went to her room to watch telenovelas while the fire burnt itself out with the sun. At dawn, we slept.
New years eve, I know: I have not been very careful. There is a hollowness mid-torso where I hold all my apologies and it had begun to form a bruise on my gut–I rubbed cherry blossom oil on and it was a slick, shiny, purple blotch like a bullseye: hit me right here, it said. But nobody did.
Thirty minutes before the new year I tip toed to the bathroom and sat on the toilet; with two fingers I pressed down on the bruise, looking upwards, my eyes closed: I am sorry, you are worth more than me; you are beautiful and full of life–the world knows it and watches with jealousy and pride as you walk holding the guardrail like it belongs to you, but it DOES belong to you. I think of 2013 and the seasons passing many suns and moons settling in the earth, unknowing their time even when they’ve peaked and we tell them, from below them, I love you.
I love you. I’m sorry. But it’s a new year.
–story by BRIAN MARTIN