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Kymberlie Ingalls is native to the Bay Area in California. She is a pioneer in blogging, having self-published online since 1997. Her style is loose, experimental, and a journey in stream of consciousness. Works include personal essay, prose, short fictional stories, and a memoir in progress. Thank you for taking a moment of your time to visit. Beware of the occasional falling opinions. For editing services: http://www.kymberlieingalls.com/p/editing-services.html

Monday, July 25, 2011

Come Some Rainy Day

“The first time I saw you, I knew I would love you.  When I kissed you, I lost my heart completely, and all we wanted was just to stay that way…”

A road that winds through my memory.  Trees covered in leaves, each a sliver of remembrance.  Crystal waters, and cool, crisp air.  Sometimes when I breathe deep, it's still with me.  The freshness, the joy… the sorrows. 

One stolen weekend, two lost hearts.

*              *              *              *              *

Flash.  It was a number I hadn’t called in so many years, but once had dialed it several hundred times in young, breathy anticipation.  I was calling a print shop for a current project I’d been working on.  It all came rushing at me in a fierce gale of memories – the stolen moments of watching him at work – waiting for a glance, a word, or a thought.  A minute of sinful dereliction, followed by an hour of selfish remorse, and an eternity of yearning.

He hadn’t worked there in ages, and neither had I patronized the store, in fear of being haunted by the two crossed lovers that lingered in my mind.  A young woman, perched on the counter from to , talking away some nights, quietly lending her presence on others.  The broken spirit of a weary ghosted man whose graveyard became his haven.

A love lost in the dark corners of my mind came scurrying into the light, and I couldn’t sit anything but still, as it overtook me, blocking out the sun and taking me back to those lost, desperate times.

Sure, I’ve had wonderings – where is he?  What’s he doing now? Did he ever..  but it’s been a long… long time since I sat and reminisced.  This is one that I’ve been afraid to remember.  I don’t like to live my life by what-if’s – there’s no use in it.  No point in conjuring up fantasies because if it was meant to be, it would have been.  The realist in me has always been a knife to the heart of the romanticist. 

I grew up learning not to want for much.  Were we poor?  No.  A bed to sleep in, toys to play with, food to eat.  What was lacking, and secretly coveted, couldn’t be bought with saved up pennies.  Love, security, self-awareness. 

As adulthood came rushing at me long before it should have, I vacated further into a well of isolation.  Siblings I couldn’t rely on, shifted from home to home, feeling quite unwanted, I was like a pinball – bouncing senselessly, with noise all around, but made of steel. 

In my early twenties and already feeling in my forties, living alone, I don’t know which was stronger, the hunger or the anger.  I had absolutely no reason for living, nothing to keep me going other than my unwanted survival instinct.  I wasn’t a beautiful creature, didn’t stand out in a crowd.  Eyes cast downward, not wanting to see much of anything, and yet seeing too much of everything.

One night I walked into an all-night copy store, and fell into the rabbit hole.  A vortex of feelings swept over me, and it’s something I’ve not ever felt since.  Blue eyes, a worldly charm of yesteryear in his familiar smile, a stab of desire at my hollow heart – all came together in a complex melody that echoed inside, pulling me under to drown, and for the first time there was no inclination to save myself.

Somewhere, I’d known this man.  I’d known him in past lives, in this current one, and I was going to know him in a future life.  Though hazy at times as the moon passes overhead, this sudden understanding I felt that evening has never wavered.

That night was the beginning of a sweeping affair that spanned over the next few years.  I shouldn’t feel so breathless now, remembering, but I’m betrayed by my heart.  The words are difficult in coming – how do you describe a flame that destroys what its own rich colors create?

And, she knew.  His wife knew.  I had no remorse, and still don’t.  It was his sense of “honor,” refusing to leave his children, that captivated and wounded me both.  He was someone who was never going to hurt his children by “walking away.” 

I hear this a lot, in my conversations with men.  What parents don’t seem to predict is what happens when the kids find out.  What does one say to their little girl, who discovers her daddy isn’t the hero she wants to find and marry when she grows up?  How about to their son when finding out he knows more than they think he does about what goes on in an unhappy marriage?  The best thing my parents did was call it quits.  I was only a year old, my brother was five, but we would have lived in misery listening to them scream at each other. 

Little did we know we’d grow up with it anyway throughout endless custody battles.

There were other men in between our trysts.   Sometimes months went by without a word between us, as our lives flowed alongside each other, separate currents that occasionally joined together for a moment.  Most often I preferred my company to be older.  Looking back, I can see that in probing their minds, I was searching for answers to possibly understand my own paternal relationship.  Funny, I think that perhaps I spent much of our time away from each other drawing parallels to my father, and his distance from his children. 
               
But I stand by their decision.  Nobody should live their life being unhappy at the end of every day. 
               
I stand by my own decisions as well, and it’s a hard stance to take.  Just today, at the mere mention of him, my lifelong friend reminded me rather harshly of the higher road that she walked.  There hadn’t been any support when I needed it, from the few whom I’d trusted to tell.  It seemed at the time, and even still, more important to hold their morals high above them like a banner, rather than hold out a hand to their friend.

I was simply the outsider, not the one making the decision to break their vows.  It wasn’t my marriage to answer to.  There are things we are powerless to, and the intensity of my feelings for this man left me vulnerable in its wake.  It was an unfamiliar feeling, and like a child given a box with all the wisdom in the world inside, I had no idea what to do with it. 

Scattered moments were collected like seashells.  A day spent at the piers in San Francisco, looking out over the sea lions as the wind brushed against us, giving us reason to hold each other close against it.  We felt free that day – nobody knew we were a secret.  Hands held together in the light of day, kisses that blazed with the sun setting over the bay.
               
For the first time, caution was thrown to the waves, and I allowed myself to drown in these feelings.  His renaissance air had me in a spell.  In his eyes, there was a reflection of the beauty he seemed to see in me.  Any other relationship that had occurred in my young life was always held at arm’s length.   I wanted to revel in this grown-up love.  And I did love him.  The pull that I still feel in my heart at the thought of him tells me so.
               
I remember clearly the day that I told him.  We’d gone away to Tahoe for the weekend, and were walking along the banks of Emerald Bay.  It was spring, the colors were beautifully bright, families were everywhere and we seemed to be the only lovers to walk hand in hand.  The breeze whispered all around us as I gave my feelings to him.  It had been about two years of stealing moments whenever and wherever we could, moments like rare gems. 
               
He gently let me know that while he had a great passion for me, and the woman he’d seen me become, he couldn’t say he was in love with me.  In his world, love was reserved strictly for his children.  He’d tossed his own needs aside for so long, he didn’t ever expect to ask anything of anyone anymore – of his wife, or of me.  This he didn’t say aloud, but I knew.  I admired his loyalty, and loathed it equally.
               
It wasn’t clear to me then how he could confide his dreams, share his wishes, and tell me stories of his life with the need for me to know him as no one else did – and yet, he wouldn’t love me.
               
Something else about that trip has stayed in my memory.  It was the first night of the weekend, and we were staying in a cozy little attic room at a Tahoe chalet hotel.  With fifteen years between us in age, I was young and understood passion to mean only one thing – the craving of the other’s body, the possession of the other’s desire.
               
The flames that had consumed us on those first fiery nights together, in the beginning of our romance, were now smoldering ashes to glow in the darkened room.

Lying in bed, I’ll never forget these words: “Can we just hold each other?  That’s what I miss the most...”  He had a faraway look in his eyes, as they pleaded with me to understand. 

I had absolutely no concept of this.  Just to hold each other?  I wasn’t comfortable enough with such intimacy.  Sex, yes – touch and go on my merry way.  Allowing someone to hold me in his arms all night? 
               
I wanted to flee like a ghost into the night. 
               
And when we returned, I did. 
               
Perhaps it was trying to sort through this mess I now found myself in that prompted me to be so open about my deep harbored feelings.  It certainly wasn’t out of courage, or hope. 
               
Truthfully, looking back, I think it was my way to end things.  On some level, I knew the feelings wouldn’t be reciprocated, that my pride would be the outlet to walking away. 
               
We returned home with the unspoken knowledge that this was to be a lost weekend, and a last one. 
               
It was a year later, maybe two, that we crossed paths.  Standing there making small talk at the flea market while his son clung to his hand was torture.  Finding out that my resolve to move on was nothing more than a sand castle crumbling beneath a crashing wave struck me hard. 
               
I’d managed to begin and end a relationship in that time. 
               
When the call came, I agreed to see him.  What he had to tell me left me silent, and disbelieving. 
               
It had been several years that I’d loved this man.  Years of tear-filled nights, pent up frustration and anger at secretly wanting what I could not have – fury at being powerless against any of it.  Moments of teetering on the edge of sanity, wrapped up in this inferno. 
               
Now.. now he had a proposal.  Now he wanted to tell me that he was beginning to envision a life with me.  That he’d spent much of our time apart wishing that we hadn’t been. 
               
Now he wanted me.
               
And I walked away. 


I walked away, terrified and refusing to let the river break free – a river of emotions, a river filled with tears. 
               
If I’d just stayed.. if I’d taken his hand in mine and accepted what was mine at last…
               
If…
               
And now I’ll never know.  But I do know the need to be held.  I get it now, all these years later.  It is an ache that comes from a dark place that lives in each of us, and it’s called loneliness.
               
I never saw him again.  Life moved on, as I struggled to.  I broke down at some point, beneath the weight of it all.  I crumbled like the sand castle that was the statue of my resolve.  The days blurred, and a familiar numbness settled into my weary bones.  Not only had I fallen hard, but I stood with the scarlet shadow painted all over me.  I was left to stand alone to face the choices I’d made.  But, was it a choice?  Can we, in fact, choose whom we love?  It seems if we had that power, the mystical magic of it would vanish.   

I went on to destroy what little esteem I’d ever had, with my self-destructive behavior.  I didn’t seem to care much anymore whom I gave my body to, as long as my heart and mind stayed barbed and guarded, and intoxicated.

It would be an eternity before allowing myself to feel anything so profound again.  When that day came, I didn’t run.  Now, lying beside my husband every night gives me the peace of knowing I chose wisely. 
               
Still, there are times when I wish that being right didn’t have to hurt so damn much.
               
“How could I know that everything would change, except the way I miss you – I still catch my breath when someone mentions you.  We move on and put those dreams away, hoping that we’ll find them, come some rainy day…”



© Kymberlie Ingalls, April 1, 2010
Lyrics: Come Some Rainy Day / Wynonna Judd
                Leaving’s Not The Only Way To Go / Roger Miller

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Caught Between The Moon And New York City


          Once in your life, you find them – someone who turns your heart around… wake up and it’s still with you, even though you left them way across town, wondering to yourself ‘hey, what’ve I found?’”

          Terry makes me smile. 
          We haven’t talked in… I don’t even remember the last time, it was through FaceBook or something – a place he never really hangs out at and our emails are non-existent now.  It’s been nine years since we last talked regularly, in 2001.  I’d just met Roger, and like so many of my guy friends, I let go of him.  Once the hand is dropped, you never quite go back to holding them again. 
          But thinking of Terry, even now, is a warm summer breeze in my memory of twists and turns, hurricanes and tornadoes. 
          He lived in New York, and I in California.  We were online buddies – not even sure where or how on the internet we found each other.  But we clicked, we confided, and we laughed.  This is why Terry stands out to me.  Someone who gave me the genuine giggles with his warmth, someone that liked who I was behind the mask.  There were no false bravados with this one.  I had nothing to lose – he wasn’t a potential date, being thirty-seven states away and all.  Talking with him was like slipping into an old, faded pair of blue jeans.  Relaxed, and comforting. 
          All of my life, I have had crushes on the men around me.  Not just slight infatuations, but anything from sparkling cherry crushes to deep mind-bending obsessions.  Terry was a tasty treat, like a sno-cone on a hot day after running around in my bare feet with the green grass tickling my toes and beach songs playing all around me in a summery symphony. 
          He was a small comfort in a year that saw me lose my home, and my family. 
          Our conversations were effortlessly meaningful.  I don’t think we held much of anything back – baring our skin without having to bare our souls.  While constantly feeling with others that I was always holding something back, or hiding behind trees thick with secrets, it all fell away whenever Terry greeted me with a sunny, funny message. 
                    OMT:           Hey Dix, what’s the haps?
                    Dixi89:         Heya baby, how’s it hangin’..?
                    OMT:           Gotta send you the latest mail from a woman
                                      who is clearly out of her mind.
                    Dixi89:         Oh, really
                    OMT:           Shit headed your way.. INCOMING!
                    Dixi89:         Let me read…
         
And so it would go.  We passed many an hour sharing and advising on our dating horrors. We could have sold popcorn to these events and walked away richer for it.  I liked to compare us to the likes of George and Gracie.  He humored me without fault, and I loved him dearly for it.  I loved to set him up so he could knock his one-liners out of the park. 
          It wasn’t all sunshine and roses – we had our deeper conversations too.  Over time, the friendship bloomed, and followed many paths across the hills and valleys of our separate lives.  I don’t know that Terry ever realized how vastly different our worlds were.  He was an intellect – an intelligent, scientific book-smart type with charisma, wealth and was still so down-to-earth.  I was a blue-collar worker, street-smart with my head in the clouds and a raw charm that my looks never lived up to. 
          We shared a love of speed.  Fast cars and faster men/women to entertain us.  He would tell me of his beloved Ducati, a bullet bike he would ride up and down the state of New York, to New Jersey when he began to commute there.  My tales were relegated to sillier things that escaped me in between my meager shifts that left me dizzy with exhaustion. 
                   Dixi89:         I did have some fun, at least, at that
                                     miserable job last night
                   OMT:           How so?
                   Dixi89:         Turned the parking lot into a hi-speed
                                     road course with my newest toy acquisition
                   OMT:           Which is?
                   Dixi89:         an r/c hot rod
                   OMT:           I’m somehow not surprised  :-P
                   Dixi89:         I love how well you do that
                   OMT:           Do what?  Humor you?  Or surprise you?
                   Dixi89:         humor me – few ever bother to try   :-\

          There came a summer when our banter turned flirty without either of us realizing it.  It wasn’t intense, just fun and light-hearted.  We’d begun to mix phone conversations with our online chatter.  There came one warm evening when things seemed to take an unexpected turn.   
                   OMT:           You know, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to
                                      hear that beautiful voice of yours
                                      right now
                   Dixi89:         ah, aren’t you the sweet one tonight
                   OMT:           Seriously, Dix… if you could read my mind
                                     right now, it’s not “sweet” thoughts running
                                     through it…

          I was taken aback, and yet immensely curious at the same time.  I was twenty-eight years old, and had lost my innocence a million moons ago.  But this night, Terry sparked some sort of virginal wonder in me.
          I don’t know how it happened, really.  Perhaps there was a magic moment for one split second in our friendship, like a portal in time that knew nothing of reality.  Maybe it was staring out our windows upon the same moon with three thousand miles between us – a whisper in the wind to tell us that anything said at that moment would never see the light of day. 
          When I heard his husky voice over the phone, carrying me along in a river of fervent ardor, something overcame me, and I allowed him to take me on this sexy journey where inhibitions were left far behind. 
          I’d never experienced anything like it before, and much like any other “first,” there would never be a moment like it. 
          For a brief time, I began to see Terry in a different light.  Suddenly, I wondered what he looked like.  I wondered how it might feel to share a kiss, following a long candlelit conversation.  I wondered a million other little things, but mostly wondered how in the hell I was going to convey this to him. 
          Suddenly, I had something to hide.
          Over that summer, I came into a small inheritance.  There was much turmoil in settling my grandmother’s estate, of which I was an unwilling participant.   I was torn between wanting to shun her “gift” that came with strings re-attaching me to my family, whom I’d spent the last year cutting ties from, and needing to pay the mounting stack of bills on the corner of my secondhand desk. 
          Once the decision was made to accept the money, I decided I’d earned enough of it to do something completely impulsive and daring.  I began making plans to take my older sister on a trip to New York.  Conveniently, why not ask Terry if he would like to rendezvous upstate in Saratoga while I was there? 
          It took every bit of courage I could muster up in my insecure bones to ask him that.  I just about fell out of my chair when he agreed.  Not sure if we had the same intentions or not, that would be something to clear up later.  Like when we were “dancing down the street with a cloud at our feet.  I was ready for the moon to hit my eyes like a big pizza pie.  I was ready for amore. 
I was at the very least open to the idea of it, anyway.
The fantasies were innocent at first.  Like a schoolgirl, I had dreams of kisses beneath the New York autumn moon.  Our talks were tinged with my hidden feelings.  If he ever suspected them, I never knew and he was a gentleman enough to not tell me.
My sister knew nothing of any of this.  All she knew was that for a day or two I’d be going off on my own to meet a friend.  Truth so far as I knew it.  But in typical fashion, she ended up making things so complicated that the expense grew beyond anything I could afford.   With a heavy heart, I cancelled the trip.
Terry and I were never to meet.

Things do happen for a reason. 
The holidays were coming upon us – the fall had come and gone and winter was barking at the door.  I continued to talk to him about getting on a plane by myself and coming to his side of the world.  Maybe after the new year. 
I had been ill with a mystery virus for several months, and was losing my will to fight it.  I was tired.  It wasn’t a depression like I’d experienced in years past.  My body was wracked with fever, my life had been in upheaval over the past year, yet there was no time for recovery.  Work wasn’t a luxury and in my line of minimum-paying jobs, there were no sick days.  I wouldn’t have fought the end if it’d come into sight.
The year 2000 was coming to a close, and the official start of the new millennium was screaming down the pike.
                   Dixi89:         So, what are the big NYE plans?
                   OMT:           Hmm.  See friends, hang out, don’t
                                     drive.  The usual.  You?
                   Dixi89:         thinkin’ I’m just gonna stay home
                   OMT:           That’s too bad – messing around with
                                     the maladjusted is kinda fun.  Still not
                                     feeling well?
Dixi89:         I kind of like the idea of staying home
                  and just vegging.  Hang out with my
                  favorite movie couple.
                   OMT:           Who are..? 
                   Dixi89:         Harry and Sally, natch.  Watch it every
                                     New Year’s.  Fits well with that whole
                                     “resolution” thing.
                   OMT:           Resolve.  A wonderful thing in the right
                                     doses.
                   Dixi89:         Agreed.

          Two days later I received the email that would change everything.  On that first day of the new century, my husband would make his first appearance in the rest of my life.
          Terry was there to see all of it. 
                  
                   OMT:           You seem rather squirrely these
                                      days…
                   Dixi89:         {giggle}
OMT:           Yeah – and full of those lately too..
                  baby girl, are you gettin’ laid out there
                  on the west coast?  I’m so completely
                  jealous.
                    Dixi89:       Ter, I've never been so happy... hell, I've
                                     just plain never been happy that I can
                                     recall... this is the best thing, I can tell
                                     ya that
                   OMT:           I’m genuinely glad for you
                   Dixi89:         Feel free to slap me down when I get too
                                     happy, mmk?
                   OMT:           Nope, no such luck.  Enjoy it, run with it.

          Over the next year, Terry himself would meet the love of his life.  He’s gone on to have a wonderful life and cherishes his wife, his family, and his work.   I was quite amused at his diatribe of how Helen slowly wore his bachelor lifestyle down. 
          There are few bright spots in this life I’ve lead.  So much of it has been touched with sadness, confusion and disillusionment.  I’ve wondered a time or two what might have happened, had I ever made it to New York.  I do know for certain it was never meant to be.
          We’ve been relegated to the occasional small talk via brief emails, every year or two.  That is my touch of sadness with Terry.  I miss our repartee, our connection.   Love comes and goes in many forms, such as leaving me a memory to store away in my trunk of sentiments.
          I’m surprised at myself, to feel the sting of tears determined to find something bittersweet despite my smile at the thought of him. I don’t know that I ever cross his mind at all until I show up in his inbox.  Skipping the stones of our words into a lake as the sun slowly sets. 
          When the hell did I turn into this walking, talking Hallmark commercial?
          And why do people always have to leave?
          If you get caught between the moon and New York City, the best that you can do is fall in love…”


© Kymberlie Ingalls
Lyrics: Arthur’s Theme / Christopher Cross

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Air




            The gold streaks of the sun melted into the violet sky.  Miles beneath, they basked in the cool shade of a towering willow tree, the wispy branches sheltering them from watchful eyes.  The soft green leaves whispered in the breeze that swept over them, bringing welcome respite and tickling her where beads of wetness made their way down the hills and valleys beneath the soft cotton dress that she wore.  He lay at her feet, imagining a journey through those curves.
            She read to him from a book, filled with poetic words that seemed nonsensical to her, and a quiet laugh escaped from her lips every so often.  He gazed upward at her mouth, forming words that sounded pretty but escaped him just the same.  Such ripe berry-colored lips that he longed to taste with his wanting tongue.  He just knew they would be sweet and his mouth watered at the thought.
            From two different worlds, they were.  He, a military man baptized in Southern blood, with a code of honor that carried him, made decisions for him, and forbid him to do anything but harbor this secret desire for another man’s wife.  He was tall and lanky, but his well-built form caught her eye.  He could see it when she glanced hurriedly downward after her gaze had traveled from his boyishly handsome face and amiable smile to the muscled arms and sturdy chest beneath the casual shirt tucked into blue denim. 
            She hailed from the western coastal state of oceans and golden hills, and he could see the mountain lakes reflected in the slate blue of her eyes, and could see the survivalist within longing to be understood.  He wanted to toss away the book of poems and hear instead the stories that darkened her, but the rare whimsy she exhibited at the silly prose captivated him. 
            Playing softly in the air surrounding them was a symphony of Bach, wafting from the small transistor radio nestled in the grass.  The violins rose and fell in time with her breathing; he couldn’t take his eyes from her blouse that barely fluttered up and down as the gentle wind teased them.  Long notes serenaded them, carrying them back to a simpler time when stolen moments were like rare gems. 
            He felt a stirring, a pulsing, as the sweet candy sound of her voice tickled him, and the flush that awakened in him had little to do with the summer rays.  He longed to take her voluptuous curves in his arms, to do things to her that would be improper in any other setting.  The glint of diamonds and gold against the soft white of her hand reflected on his own simple ring.  Somehow that only excited him more.
            The tightness he felt against his leg warned him that he was about to tread into dangerous waters.  The black-cherry auburn of her hair lay against her pale shoulders in stark contrast, the tendrils were wild and careless as they hid her face.  Moving to a sitting position, he reached past the long legs hidden in the sea of her skirt to sweep them away from her left cheek to tuck behind her ear.  The flashing of blue told him she hadn’t invited him to touch, but didn’t dispel him either. 
            Dare he take her lips as his own?  Could he stop there?  This simmering between them didn’t come from the warmth of the day.  He wanted to be inside of her, swimming in her thoughts, collecting them like ripe fruit from a summer tree.  Could he hold her hand in his without the two rings burning into their flesh as a reminder of their sin?  He wanted to rain kisses on her bare shoulders, to tug at the eyelet cotton that wrapped around them. 
            As he shook his head in an attempt to break the reverie that swelled in his muddled mind, a warm pink flush crept over her.  This only charmed him more.  The sounds of yesterday that drifted around them didn’t chase away his desire.  Her husky voice coursed through his ears in a mad rush through his bloodstream. 
            He leaned in, his resistance worn, inching closer to the delectable lips that smiled at him in beguilement.  But, knowing he would not be able to stop himself, and suspecting the same of her, he veered away from his daydream and rested his head in the crux of her lap with a sigh borne of reluctant nobility, as she turned the page in her book, placing her hand on his chest. 
            Shelving his weakness, he closed his eyes against the fantastical wishes that melted in his weary mind like golden streaks into a violet sky.



© Kymberlie Ingalls, June 12, 2011