From the 9:05 Northeast Regional
By Zibia Bardin
Characteristic of me, I get carsick on the plane, have to put the seat back and stare into the blank eyes of the baby behind me until I calm down. I ran into Fred at Joan Didion’s memorial. He told me he’s been very lucky the last two years, and I wasn’t quite sure what he meant. You’ve been away for so long. Strange for you to still be a Figure to me but oh, well. I believe in Figures anyways. I figure you and I might have a lot to talk about if I could get you back onto the couch in the kitchen, which we kept for the purpose of having a couch in the kitchen. I find your ambivalence sexy. I like to watch your opinions play out in the expressions you make before speaking. My coworker tells me in a thick Argentinian accent that he inherited a house from a friend in Jersey City, that he wants the house in the Catskills in the divorce too. He’s got a pond there and the water is treated. A customer comes in with her husband, looking for wedding bands. She asks a lot of questions. She might be high-strung. After she leaves, he sighs heavily, disgusted, says “Can you imagine fucking that thing? I worked with a Japanese woman once …” I successfully resist the urge to grab the bridge of his nose and ask him which way he wants it broken. Sometimes I get this feeling like—today in the car, I wanted to cry thinking about how my father’s tattoo will still be on his body when he dies. Good or bad? Anyways, the lady who gave him the house, the one in Jersey City, died at her own 90th birthday party, high on coke and wasted on dirty martinis (no olives). She said she was going to take a nap but she was actually going to die: “I went upstairs to check on her and she was like [closes his eyes and sticks his huge tongue out to the left; laughs]. She was dead! She had a cup of vodka in her hand too. We tried to take it out but you know how dead bodies get …” (I don’t.) I didn’t sleep last night. I’m tired but can’t sleep now. I’m only 19 but I’m losing my eyesight. Every year the trees in Central Park blur a little more, but today my retiring eyes render them so beautifully, all color and movement like moth wings. I whisper a tiny thank you. When I met you I felt a moth wing blink inside me, but much more dramatic than that, like a moth wing if it were not a moth wing, but the first electron. I’ve never been so unable to make eye contact with a person in my life. I think you may have invented the electron. I’m serious. Over the summer I went to visit my grandparents. I caught the 9:05 Northeast Regional departing from Moynihan. Outside the train window they advertise Jesus and Injury Lawyers in the same strip. Everything is texture and harmless rattling. You don’t know me yet, but you will. I brought my grandparents bourekas. A statement disguised as a gesture: I’m still Jewish even if you don’t think I am, even if it’s not the way you wanted. I stare at my grandfather's massive knees for two hours. His calves are purple and bulge in some places. When I move to leave, my grandmother gives the bourekas back to me. “For the train,” she says. I cry in the lobby of their apartment building and eat the bourekas. Characteristic of me, I eat my own gestures. There’s a brilliance to your uncertainty, I think. In fact, I think I could go on loving people for the rest of my life and never get sick of it. In fact, I am beginning to thank the door frames for the people they bring me. Through the door frame to my left, my friends are washing the dishes and talking. I’m beginning to see the statement in the gesture, and I find it beautiful, find the contradictions less twisty, prefer the magnetic folds of time and their meticulous, cochlear jokes. I like that you don’t answer the phone and that you play the drums and tie your shoes funny. I like the way you articulate yourself and the color of your hair and the cadence of your voice, and when you speak in class I have to hide my adoration so as not to appear strange.
The whole thing makes me mute; wordless like my decaying retinas, I begin to dissolve.