Everything around you wants in, everything within you wants out, and you cough, and she laughs like pine trees; and the man in you, he wants to dance.
Part of the the land of if collection
Sidney is a storm descending on Boulder’s streets after you abandon the car at the motel, ducking into every bookstore – “look, it’s signed by Ginsberg!” – knocking over haphazard stacks of books as she pummels the proprietor of the Beat Book Shop for answers – what was he like? What did they say? – and too much hip and man and he looks at her with eyes that dig her, dig into her and she whirls around and smells and hugs the books and hands them over the shelf to you, all the while “read it, read it, get what it says” and she looks ready to make love to the written word. She, suddenly sober and serious, composes her face and asks, “Are you hiring?” to which the response is – not right now, thanks, but keep checking! And when you finally drag her out of the store, she grasps tightly onto your arm and tells you, “Oh the smell of books! I’d go crazy working here, I’d be in the bathroom reading and fucking my brain all day.” Next door she swoops in and snaps up two packs of Djarum Blacks, “have you smoked a clove before? You might hate them. Everyone hates them. Smoke one!” and she’s got two in her mouth and lights one for you and your throat wraps around the sweetness of its smoke, the spicy flavors remind you of holidays and home and Christmas mornings. Sidney grabs your hand, “They’re good, yeah? You’re hooked.”
And you are hooked, racing up and down the brick that paves the mall in the early Colorado evening, chasing Sidney, chasing her excitement and everything feels as if the Divine himself had wrapped Boulder up in a gift box for you, all shiny and new and birthdays. In the Nepali import store everything on the walls and the shelves and the floors, crystals and nag champa and statues of Ganesha, of Hanuman, thangkas with their Buddhas and their Taras, candles and singing bowls, a hundred thousand individual things that heretofore evaded your attention brought now to your direct focus by her dancing fingertips. She tries on clothes and jewelry and the owners stand back behind their counter, smiling and beholding this young and electric Kali Ma loose in their shop. Sidney would devour this world if she could, but only to know every taste and quality of the world she’s created.
The buskers are still playing, a violist down the street, a shirtless hippie on the didgeridoo over by the courthouse lawn, and a man singing Bob Dylan songs for spare change in front of the Boulder Café and you stop for coffee. Sidney takes off just as you open the Starbucks door, and as you order and wait you can see her bouncing from group to group, introducing, saying hi, shaking hands, a hippie hug and you’re wondering what they’ll be calling her in a few days when you all meet on the street. It’s when you step back out she’s in front of you, half-a-head shorter with all the homeless, vagrants, hippies and college boys on the street following her with their eyes. She is the terrible attractive face of their dissolution. In an uncanny moment just after a Boulder cop strolls by on his beat an orange pill bottle appears in her palm out of those shorts with no room for pockets and she pops it open and inside it’s packed full with green and sparkling buds bristling with tiny hair.
“You got coffee, I got tea!” she laughs and tugs you around the corner, “where can we roll this?” And you don’t know, you haven’t touched weed since college, but Boulder’s full of alleys and that doesn’t matter anyway, you both can smell pot like orange peels dropped on an overgrown lawn, mowed short and tilled under – “it smells like happy teenagers!” she shouts – in the air on the mall, so right there on the corner on the top of a green metal railing outside a burrito joint she crumbles the weed and rolls it into a thick, beautiful stick and licks the paper and seals it shut at both ends.
She takes a massive slug of your coffee and lights up the joint; it’s now far enough dark that the flickering lighter lights up her face. Lazy rock’n’roll jumps out of the burrito bar as a door opens and closes, and from across the street plays a salsa and she smokes and tokes and sways to the sounds just barely brushing against you as she takes her drag. She doesn’t even ask if you want it, it’s between your fingers and she’s holding the lighter in front of you and waiting for you to puff and you do; and it fills your lungs with a great blast of heat, you hold it in as it tickles your throat and you taste it, taste your coffee and the milk and the sugar and then the city wraps around your head and you fall inward (inward) and feel the pressure of all your thoughts and all your wants and everything pushing outward (outward) against your forehead. Everything around you wants in, everything within you wants out, and you cough, and she laughs like pine trees; and the man in you, he wants to dance.
Now you’re the leader and the mall is swarming and the streetlights swearing and streaking and circling around. You take it all in and she takes it all in as the two of you finish the joint, but all of its power in that first long drag and each one that follows sinks you deeper and lifts you up higher, and with your hand firmly holding hers all of everything passes between you unspoken, unbroken, and you’re in a pub, handing her a PBR and keeping one for yourself and she’s in the front of the crowd, and so are you. So are you, the band playing jazz and blues and you’re nothing but music, nothing but vibrations plucked on a string. Your feet move to the drums, your waist shakes to the bass and your arms and your head are the rest of the band. They watch the two of you, they play harder, you dance harder, and the crowd gives you room to burn. Sidney’s face close to yours and you know her joyful unbridled love, love, life without limit and she smiles with every pore and her eyes drinking what she sees in you. That’s how the night goes and the crowd laughs and cheers, hold beers in their hands and you’re the reason they’re smiling; you’re the lovely madness of the music and they too find freedom in your dance. You’ve come undone, and everybody’s watching and nobody’s watching. And when the band finishes up for the night the two of you run into the cool street and she wraps her arms around your neck.
“You can keep up with me!” she says, “you don’t dance like other boys!” And she’s damp with sweat and your face is red and wet and she whispers, “and you’re not all over me, I’m free!” as you stumble and rumble back to the motel. Sidney slips into the shower and it sings its hot-water whistle for forty-five minutes as she washes off all the road and all of her past. You lay back in the semi-darkened room on the bed and let the world spin around you, settling into its dizziness. When she emerges she’s in a pair of boxers and a white dagotee and leaps onto the bed next to you and pulls your arm around her. She’s warm and smells like motel soap and you want this forever.
Your fingers tease at the pale downy hair that covers her stomach and your lips bite at the curve of her shoulder where it meets her arm and she sighs and she complements you, fitting like a puzzle piece and you slip away from this heavy high without break into the weightless unmeasurable stratosphere of desire, and she says “thank you.” and then you touch her and she says “touch me.” and together you slide her shirt up over her torso and toss it into the shadows and there, there across the wide pale territory of her back is a road, inked in black, a curving ribbon of dark ink rising northwest. You follow the road with your fingertips from its beginning all the way until it disappears on a horizon of freckled stars, tracing her tattoo’s slightly raised edges, she trembles, and these are tears on your cheeks, and you want to give it the right words, but all you can say it’s beautiful, it’s beautiful, and it’s everything all at once.