People often fail on the verge of success; take care at the end as at the beginning

Some summer afternoons we would go out to dinner in a neighboring town. We’d take the backroads and meander through dust and meadows and pepper trees. On these drives, talk would turn lazy and philosophical.  They were our best moments by far.

Now, I’m just tired. When I regain balance, she knocks me off my feet again. This is breaking my heart little by little.

Regarding life after 50: I asked, “Do you ever do something and think this will be the last time I’ll do this?”

And her answer: “Absolutely.”

She asks me if I know this group or that group, have seen this film or that film.  When I say no, she laughs and says, “Oh, of course,” as if just remembering.

I believe problems of imbalance don’t work out. In my experience, they just don’t. On the other hand, I want them to.  So I continue to try.

She was eighteen years my senior. She didn’t know I kept a shrine with everything she’d ever given me in it. I began a passionate interest in female jazz singers solely because of her interest. I see hints and omens everywhere.

She hit a squirrel on one of our drives. She looked back in the mirror and dismissed it as Darwinism. “Slow one,” she laughed.

Here’s what I was trying to say. I found it: That which goes against the Tao comes to an early end.

“Don’t work so hard. Don’t worry so much,” said she. But what do you do when doing what comes naturally is too much? And sometimes there are things to worry about. I worry that she thinks I worry too much.

She bought me a book of comics from two cities away and reads it with me in bed.  I think for a moment that this is perfect.  We make love and the energy is slightly off but I push down the feeling.

She is a singer.  At cafes at bars at parties.  A torch singer by preference.  Reluctant rock singer by circumstance.  Husky-voiced smoker.  Not the worst, nor the best.  I didn’t meet her in a club.  I was slightly embarrassed when I first saw her perform, but I can’t exactly explain why.

We met in Mexico.  She was sunny, sexy, mysterious.  She laughed easily.  I loved to watch the curve of her hips as she laid in the bed in the southern sun.  An example of a vacation fling taken too far too long.

She may or may not have broken up with her ex-boyfriend.  I remember her telling me that she needed to get away, that she was relieved, that she didn’t want to see him again.  Later, they are friends.  Or maybe something else.  Do I want to know this?

Asked in a café: “Do you have a tea that will keep me from crying?” Action is the antidote to despair.

We get high and I look at her face which looks unfamiliar and vaguely sinister.  I wonder, is it the hard-lived life, or just years?  I want to roll with this, but it is never the same again.  A djinn out of the bottle.

We travel half a state away to go to a party.  Her old friends.  People she used to party with.  I guess still does.  Everyone is high.  I pass.  I need a break from the madness.  I drink a beer and then another.  She is giving a hazy lapdance to a man I’ve known as long as I’ve known her.  He is handsome in a generic California surfer bro sort of way.  I always suspected they had been or would end up being lovers.

I wander into the kitchen and inexplicably pocket a bottle of fancy hot sauce. I make the rounds, am friendly and amiable, the hot sauce a secret that bumps against my side.  Then I quietly slip away, telling no one.

I walk all night in the Hollywood hills. Near sunrise, I hear a train whistle and know I have to ride that train home.  The train yard is quiet and empty, awash in the yellow billion killowatt glare of sodium vapor lamps.  My train sits waiting for me like an old and familiar lover.

The enduring lure of solitude has always had an undeniable grip on me.

Let it go. Let it go. Let it go. A mantra. I am learning slowly. Still learning. Oh, so slowly.

Meanwhile, she is still driving.   A dust plume in the distance settles into a low haze.

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