Birdman Up in His Trees

“I want you to be happy, but we need to be financially stable. I need you to start thinking about a career. Look at Tom, he’s already…”

The noise stopped. I clicked the end of a cigarette and flipped a wave of smoke across the room, an amorphous hammer-head set on a Sherman inspired death march. The last bits dripped across a small space between our eyes and she waved her left hand back and forth across her face. “…is there anything you want to say, to help me understand where we’re at?”

“I don’t know Rachel, I have a job and I work and that’s what we’re all supposed to do. I don’t know what else you want me to say. I show up in the morning and stay until they ask me to at the end of the day, and then at the end of two weeks they pay me for it. That’s my only attachment to it, I can’t let it bother me anymore.” I sent the expended tobacco into an ashtray on the black cork coffee table and brought the filter back to my lips. She sat up from my next to me and moved across the room to the other couch.

“Stop smoking for a minute and listen to me. I want you to be happy. I know it’s good you’re making money, but I see all these kids in my classes that you are so much smarter than, and I feel like you’re just wasting your talent in that office. I only want what’s best for you.”

I stopped myself from opening another pack and thought out loud. “What’s best for me or what’s best for you, what’s best for the rest of the working world, for this consumer society at large?” I had been drinking red wine before she got home.

She leaned herself back against her shoulder blades, angelic half circles, blossoming from her tank top and against the  end of the loveseat. The smoke had settled into the carpet fibers of the studio apartment. “You don’t care about what’s best for us? Forget about society and this bullshit artist role you try to play, this mindset of not giving into the demands of society. If you want to live your life like that then you need to let me know, because I need a partner who is stable emotionally and financially, within this society.”

Living as a sucessful 20-somethinger had become clearer and clearer to me… it wasn’t a refutation or an abandonment of dreams…those had become worm food since teenage years… now it was an acceptance of the whirling dollar dervish as the control mechanism for everything except the movements of the birds. Her eyes fluttered back and forth, beautiful and evil within the same blinks.

“I really don’t know what to say, honestly. I want to be with you, I love you, and I’ll work my way through whatever we need, but I can’t sit here and talk about a career with you. I really can’t. It doesn’t register for me.” My face began cultivating beads of sweat and my eyes closed exhausted. Summer cobwebs fell heavy with heat and humidity, me with my red wine.

I wanted to fly.


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